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Member since: Tue Jun 1, 2010, 11:14 AM
Number of posts: 1,329

Journal Archives

Rude Pundit- Random Observations on McCutcheon v FEC

As usual, the Rude Pundit nails it.

There's far more dollars than people in this nation. What else do we have, we of the lesser speech? What do we have but volume and bodies? -


Good contest for fiction writers

well-defined rules. Small entry fee. Judges are actually named.


Are You There God? It's Me, Hobby Lobby

From Mother Jones:

On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Inc., the most closely watched case of the year. The stakes are high. Thanks to novel legal arguments and bad science, a ruling in favor of the company threatens any number of significant and revolutionary outcomes, from upending a century's worth of settled corporate law to opening the floodgates to religious challenges to every possible federal statute to gutting the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

But here was the newsflash for me. Hobby Lobby already provided Plan B contraceptives!

On many levels, the Hobby Lobby case is a mess of bad facts, political opportunism, and questionable legal theories that might be laughable had some federal courts not taken them seriously. Take for instance Hobby Lobby's argument that providing coverage for Plan B and Ella substantially limits its religious freedom. The company admits in its complaint that until it considered filing the suit in 2012, its generous health insurance plan actually covered Plan B and Ella (though not IUDs). The burden of this coverage was apparently so insignificant that God, and Hobby Lobby executives, never noticed it until the mandate became a political issue.


The gods are so techie

I'm writing a book (I know, who isn't?), but in doing the research for a chapter I'm calling "God Goes Digital," I got so tickled I had to stop and share. Here's a smattering.

Digital translations of the Bible have been around for a while, but now the Koran can be read in 1s and 0s, too, even in Saudi Arabia.
Spiritual e-books are clearly the wave of the future. One UK hotel has gone the Gideons one better, providing Kindles instead of Bibles in the rooms.

Rather than schlepping them to the synagogue for the traditional one-on-one lessons in person, tech-savvy Jewish parents can now sign their kids up online for the Easy Bar Mitzvah program.

In India, enterprising entrepreneurs have found a way to simplify, and capitalize on, the traditional practice of making “prasad” offerings, usually of food but sometimes of other gifts, to God or to a Guru at the site of a holy temple or shrine. After logging into the web portal, devotees can choose a temple where they want to make an offering and the day on which they want the prasad to be offered. The company, OnlinePrasad, is diversifying to include other product offerings like idols, gemstones and rudrakshas.

If you’re having a hard time praying, Divineoffice.com boasts over 1,000 prayer apps. (And that’s just the number for catholic prayers!) Prayer apps allow you to “submit your very own prayers, pray for others through your iPhones and iPads, and keep track of your submitted prayers.” Many of these include a scrollable prayer subject list for quick selection. Anger, angst, bad dog, bitch next door, Comcast, creditors, etc., etc.

If you’ve checked out the several models available on Amazon you already know that Muslims no longer need to depend on analog prayer clocks. But you may not know that even the Buddhists are going digital.

Traditional Tibetan prayer wheels (called Mani wheels) are rolls of thin paper, imprinted with many, many copies of a mantra, or prayer. Wheels are often placed where they can be spun by wind or by flowing water or spun by the heat rising from a flame or by steam. Prayer wheels are often spun by people entering a shrine, or along the route which people use as they walk slowly around and around a sacred site -- a form of spiritual practice called circumambulation.

Pretty cool, but SO 2012. For the right price you can now turn your hard drive into a prayer wheel. At the very least you can download a prayer wheel screen saver. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, has said that having the mantra on your computer works the same as a traditional Mani wheel. As the digital image spins around on your hard drive, it sends the peaceful prayer of compassion to all directions and purifies the area. Mani wheels are available for both Macintosh and Windows systems.

If you need your demons exorcised you can now use Skype. American Evangelical Pastor Bob Larson has built a business by exorcising demons via video chat, using hand gestures–like crossing people’s foreheads by waving his pointer finger in front of the camera, using virtual eye contact, or thrusting a cross at the laptop.

Raptured.com is your guide to making the most of being left behind. Get soon-to-be-raptured friends to leave you their worldly goods to stop them falling into the hands of the worldwide government of Antichrist. Don't miss the map of how the big day will affect US politics.

Finally, from The Fruitcake Zone at Ship of Fools I learned about software that downloads images from pizzacams around the world, and compares them digitally to the face of Christ. Join the search for a cheese feast with anchovies and our Lord now.

(And let me know, please, if you know of other humorous examples. )

O'Reilly Reacts To President Obama's Funny Or Die Interview: "Abe Lincoln Would Not Have Done It"

Poor Bill.


Putin Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

(and not by the Onion.)

"The committee insists that being nominated does not imply an endorsement on its part.

Putin's chances of winning the prize appear limited given the ongoing crisis in Ukraine."


Killing it softly? Religion and Anti-Gay Legislation

To my shame I read yesterday where my home state, Georgia, has gotten in line with the rash of states (Oklahoma, Hawaii, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Kansas, Tennessee, etc.,) proposing anti-gay legislation under the guise of preserving "religious freedom." We'll see what Jan Brewer does in Arizona, but I think that immense damage has already been done to the GOP and, I hope, in getting many to really look at the hypocrisy inherent in orthodox religion. Young people especially aren't buying. They just aren't as homophobic as the old goats in these Republican-controlled legislatures. A new survey shows that millennials are giving up on religion as a result of anti-gay policies. Something good may be coming out of all this ugliness.


ABNA Novel contest

This is one of the pitches posted as the winner of last year's Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Contest. In the past, 2009, I had a novel that made it to quarter finalist but last year I didn't make it past the pitch stage. I felt rather humiliated actually, until I saw the posting of the pitches for the last two year's winners. Clearly I never had a chance, but just curious. Would you want to read these books?

From General Fiction Winner, 2012, A Beautiful Land.
Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy steals a time machine that's low on batteries and attempts to save girl from impending annihilation... You know how this goes.

Tak O'Leary is a Japanese-American television host who vanished off the grid after a failed suicide attempt. Samira Moheb is an Iranian-American military translator suffering from PTSD as a result of her time in the Iraq War. They have been in love from the moment they met, and because they never told each other, they are destined to be apart forever. But thanks to a mysterious invention buried deep in the Australian Outback, they now have one more chance to get it right.

Of course, it won't be easy. Love never is. First they have to avoid being captured by a powerful and mysterious corporation. Then they must take down a deranged scientist who is trying to unleash a monstrous creature upon the world. Finally, there's the matter of the invention—an impossible machine with the ability to destroy time itself. If Tak and Samira hope to reunite and save the world, they must use this machine to find a theoretical reality constructed by the thoughts of whoever is inside it. They must find the Beautiful Land.

From the 2013 winner, Timebound.

They weren't panic attacks. Of that much, Kate is certain, no matter what the shrink said. But it's even harder to accept the explanation offered by her grandmother—that Kate is reacting to temporal distortions only she can feel, thanks to designer DNA inherited from her time-traveling ancestors. Kate suspects this tale is the result of her grandmother's brain tumor until reality shifts before her very eyes. Her trigonometry teacher morphs into someone else entirely and a stranger sits in her assigned chair, which was empty the second before.

American Idol and spiritual advisers

Last night on American Idol I was shocked, and a little creeped out, to learn that this season, in addition to voice coaches, fashion experts, choreographers and the like, they've added "spiritual advisers" to the teams coaching the contestants. I suppose I could understand, almost, if this man and wife couple were psychologists and the idea was to help contestants deal with stresses of the competition. I'd still think that a little strange, but spiritual advisers? I've done a little digging today and discovered that, while there's a boatload of certification programs for various types of "counselors" you can pretty much become a non-denominational spiritual adviser just be declaring yourself one. That, though is still not really the point. What I want to know is, is it just me, or does anyone else find this not only inappropriate but downright weird?

Recommending a website

I don't often recommend writing websites. Too often they're more focused on selling you something than on helping writers or writing issues and even more often they're badly written. This one, out of the UK, is an exception. The Links page is a great compendium of other good websites for writers. There are some really good articles, and contest entry fees aren't an arm plus a leg. Just in case you haven't already discovered it,


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