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Yorktown's Journal
Yorktown's Journal
May 21, 2015

New Religions: (2) The First Church of Shatnerology.

The complete corpus of doctrine of Shatnerology is a bit difficult to explain. What is simple is that they worship William Shatner (Captain Kirk of the USS Entreprise). They also have a scene of resurrection in episode 376 ("He's dead, Jim&quot . For some obscure reason, Shatner's toupee is considered a sacred object.

But that Church must be tops, because they have real good testimonials on their web page:

• You are visitor number 3487654263745. This page is best viewed with. . .umm. . .okay, let's be honest here. This page is best not viewed at all.
• Here at the First Church of Shatnerology, we worship the holy essences of the most benevolent ShatnerBeing! We are transfixed by his magnificent TOUPEE and girth! As you read, you will learn secrets that will change your life! Seductive philosophy huh?!
Putting a Shatnerologist in a room full of ordinary people is like putting a velociraptor in a room full of wiener dogs.
• You should become a member of the First Church of Shatnerology. Your IQ will drop by at least 100 points. You will gain the confidence to turkey-bowl in the frozen food section of your local grocery store. Dwarf-tossing will become your sport of choice! Yes, the world is your lobster. . .The First Church of Shatnerology can be your drawn butter!

To be noted there was a schism in the year 30 of our Shatner, and a Second National Church of Shatnerology was created (they stay in good terms with the First Church of Shatnerology though) http://www.chaseclub.com/shatner.html

There is also a Church of the One True Shatner [OTSHT]

It's sad these guys are heretics, because their main doctrine is reasonable:
The path to salvation runs through The Shatner. The Shatner is Love, and Love is The Shatner.? No Shatner, no peace. Know Shatner, know peace.

Anyway, whatever its branches, Shatnerism is a respectable religion (and a minority one).

And therefore, like any religion, it has some good points which we should respect.
May 21, 2015

New Religions: (1) the United Church of Bacon

About the Church
The United Church of Bacon is a real, legal church based in Las Vegas, Nevada with nearly 10,000 members worldwide.

We chose a funny bacon name to expose how wrong it is for society to give automatic respect and special legal privileges to religions. Is our saying we worship Bacon really any stranger than Catholics who say that communion wafers become the body of Christ? Unlike God, who is invisible, at least we can see Bacon. Bacon is demonstrably real.

Our name has nothing to do with a rude term for police officers. We respect the police and our founder is a decorated veteran.

We were founded in 2010 by friends of magician Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller. We now have nearly 10,000 members from around the world.

Beliefs and Mission
The United Church of Bacon holds to a list of 9 Bacon Commandments. We tried to make it 10, but ran out of space on the tablets and didn’t want to start over.

Our mission is:

We oppose supernatural claims. We are skeptics and atheists. In our religion, we doubt religion.
We fight discrimination. Atheists are not inferior and should not be hated and marginalized.
We raise money for charity while accepting no donations for ourselves.
We perform legal weddings, always for free. How joyful!
We expose religious privileges as silly by claiming the same rights for Bacon.
We praise Bacon! If you don’t like pigs, praise Vegetarian Bacon or Turkey Bacon.

May 20, 2015

O'Reilly: Christianity's decline could lead to collapse of USA

He hits all the possible points: religion is going down because of music and drugs (he skipped sex, that's sloppy) while claiming the Founding Fathers did not want the US to be secular (see quotes below)

O'Reilly: "Although the founding fathers wanted freedom of religion, they did not want a secular nation. That’s clear in the writings of Jefferson and Madison. The founders believing that a strong moral code put forth by religion protects people from harm and avarice."

Video transcript: http://www.breitbart.com/video/2015/05/13/oreilly-christianitys-decline-in-america-could-lead-to-collapse-like-roman-empire/

Enjoy the whole rant:

O'Reilly: "Although the founding fathers wanted freedom of religion, they did not want a secular nation."

May 20, 2015

Thou Shalt Worship None of the Above

'Spirituality' is evolving towards DIY 'beliefs' by

(people) who believe in God, do not go to church, but trust (their) internal voices to direct (them) on a spiritual path.

If my internal voices tell me I myself am god, is it OK?

Thou Shalt Worship None of the Above

(..) The rise of the religiously unaffiliated, by Pew’s accounting, has been so swift (up more than six percentage points of the total population in seven years), and the simultaneous decline among members of Catholic and Protestant churches so severe (down about the same when combined), that coverage of the survey has largely presented the religious lives of Americans as numbers on a score card. As USA Today put it, “Christians drop, ‘nones’ soar.”

Religion, however, is not a zero sum game. (..) The Pew study itself acknowledges this, and it does so mainly as it applies to non-affiliation. “Nones,” who according to the study now account for nearly 23 percent of all Americans, are made up of people who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.” Within these denominations of the unaffiliated, there are in fact deep theological divisions. Though the survey’s “nones” include those who have little use for belief or the acts associated with it, others in the category “believe in God, pray at least occasionally and think of themselves as spiritual people.”
This history suggests that, despite the headlines to the contrary, we are not necessarily seeing a period of religious decline. Rather, this may be just the latest in a series of moments when more Americans are intent on custom-tailoring their religious identities. The Pew numbers support this: At least a third of Americans today do not maintain the affiliation with which they were raised.
More recently, Americans’ desire in the 1970s and ’80s to devise spiritual identities apart from traditional categories was labeled “Sheilaism” by the sociologist Robert Bellah, for a woman called Sheila who believed in God, did not go to church, but trusted her own internal voice to direct her on a spiritual path.

Many of today’s “nones” are yesterday’s “Sheilas,” and some of them may be spiritual descendants of those New Lights whose innovative ways of being (and not being) religious established trends in American belief nearly three centuries ago. (..)

(..) the next Great Awakening (..) might be led by those with too many spiritual influences to choose just one.

Peter Manseau is the author, most recently, of “One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History.”

May 20, 2015

Checking Charlie Hebdo’s Privilege (Douthat, NYT)

Checking Charlie Hebdo’s Privilege

APRIL 18, 2015 - Ross Douthat - NYT

A LIVING cartoonist lecturing his murdered peers makes for a curious spectacle, but that’s what transpired at journalism’s George Polk Awards a week ago. The lecturer was Garry Trudeau, of “Doonesbury” fame; his subject was the cartoonists for Charlie Hebdo, (..)
“ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny — it’s just mean.”

Trudeau is hardly the first writer to accuse the Hebdo cartoonists of “punching down.” (..) David Frum, in a response to Trudeau, distilled as follows: In any given conflict, first “identify the bearer of privilege,” then “hold the privilege-bearer responsible.”
on the contemporary left, the theory’s simplicity is becoming a kind of intellectual straitjacket. The Hebdo massacre is just one of many cases in which today’s progressives, in the name of overthrowing hierarchies, end up assuming that lines of power are predictable, permanent and clear.

Which they are not, for several reasons.

First, while power flows from pre-existing privilege, it also grows from the barrel of a gun, and the willingness to deal out violence changes power dynamics, even when it doesn’t have a truly revolutionary outcome. The terrorist’s veto on portrayals of Islam is itself a very real form of power, and as long as journalists who challenge it end up dead, the idea that they are “up” and their targets are “down” reflects a denial of life-and-death reality. (..)

Second, we live in a world where William Gibson’s insight that “the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed” is vindicated every day, and where migration and communication bring cultures that are experiencing this uneven distribution into constant contact. In a globalized world, the faith that the Hebdo cartoonists mocked is the faith of both the powerless and the powerful, (..)

Third and finally, almost every official hierarchy of victimhood tends toward some kind of blindness or partiality.


May 20, 2015

Free Trade Is Not the Enemy - (William Daley in NYT)

Free Trade Is Not the Enemy

By WILLIAM M. DALEY - MAY 19, 2015
William M. Daley, a managing partner at Argentière Capital AG, was secretary of commerce from 1997 to 2001 and President Obama’s chief of staff from 2011 to 2012.

CHICAGO — IN 1993, President Bill Clinton tapped me as special counsel to lead the fight to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement. (..)

During the Nafta debate, America was on the precipice of great change.(..) So we muscled the agreement through Congress over fierce Democratic opposition.

The economic impact of the deal was immediately undercut by the collapse of the Mexican peso in 1994. But opponents’ predictions of “a giant sucking sound” accompanying the departure of millions of jobs from American workers never materialized, either. (..)

Now Congress is set to weigh in on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which encompasses 12 nations on four continents and dwarfs Nafta in economic size and geopolitical importance. (..)

There is no path to middle-class prosperity without tearing down barriers to American exports. By 2030, the world economy is expected to grow by $60 trillion, with almost 90 percent of the growth occurring outside the United States. Our success depends on how much of that new wealth is spent on American products. But today, of the 40 largest economies, the United States ranks 39th in the share of our gross domestic product that comes from exports. This is because our products face very high barriers to entry overseas in the form of tariffs, quotas and outright discrimination.

When barriers disappear, we prosper. In the 17 trade deals the United States has concluded since 2000, our balance of trade in the blue-collar-goods sector went from minus $3 billion to plus $31 billion, according to an analysis of government data by the centrist policy institute Third Way, on whose board I sit. According to the International Trade Administration, export-related jobs pay 18 percent more than similar jobs in the same sector.

Geopolitically, President Obama is also right. If we don’t set the rules for commerce in the Asia-Pacific region, China will. (..)
Finally, there is the question of politics. Denying the president the authority to negotiate an agreement to bring before Congress would be a serious rebuke. (..)

Nafta’s shadow hangs over this deal, but the truth is that both its upside and its downside are smaller than anyone likes to admit. Now we have a chance to guide a huge section of the world’s economy to reflect our own high standards for commerce. Why would we deny the president the opportunity to seize this moment?

May 20, 2015

Do you support religious arbitration courts? (Irving TX controversy)

(A preamble: the debate can be tainted by irrelevant and nasty political posturing
- some GOP politicians will stoke the fire of xenophobia to rally a gawd-help-us base
- some activists will side Islam reflexively in the name of protecting minorities)

The case as presented by UK's The Independent:

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne has become a hero for conservatives after backing a state law that stipulated that foreign laws do not apply in US courts.

Clearly, she's dishonest as she doesn't mention religion (her Christian electorate might balk at seeing religion taken to tasks as such, might create a precedent)

My take on it: whatever that particular Mayor's real motivations, I'd say a non-binding 'Islam consultative chamber' would be admissible, but that Shariah islamic courts should be outlawed. Because in normal parlance, 'courts' arte vested with authority. If you are an impressionable 15yo girl and a 'court' tells you it's OK to get married, you might give in. If you are a depressive middle aged woman being divorced by the 3 times repetition of 'I divorce thee' by her husband, you might end up accepting whatever rights the Shariah 'court' grants you.

Anyway, I marvelled at the very disingenuous answer of the militant religious opposing the proposed bill. The Independent:
Senior members of the Muslim community said the law is unnecessary as US courts are already obliged not to follow laws that infringe upon American law. However, they believe if the bill is passed, it could stop US courts upholding contracts – including wedding or adoption agreements – based on religious law.

The gall! Of course, I hope any contract based on religious law to be invalid.

Let people make misguided deals on the basis of their beliefs if they will, but 'religious law' should be proscribed from being invoked as a basis in any transaction document legally binding two parties. Legal = State = separated from Church (religions).

To be noted the wonderful submissiveness of The Independent's title, hinting that PC-ness should push people to take side with religion to avoid causing believers 'anguish'
Shariah law: Texas sparks anguish with legislation that Muslims say stokes Islamophobia

The Independent article: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/shariah-law-texas-sparks-anguish-with-legislation-that-muslims-say-stokes-islamophobia-10130549.html

In local Texas paper: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/northwest-dallas-county/headlines/20150319-national-islamic-furor-focuses-on-irving-vote-tonight.ece
May 18, 2015

On the hair trigger sensitivity of DU 'hides'

I'm a 2015 member with 600 comments or so. And two 'hides'.
I'm not complaining, just discussing the 'hides' mechanism.

Both my posts were jokes. The first one was just relaying an internet animated gif which could be misinterpreted, hidden 5-2, why not.

But the second post was meant as a lighthearted joke, and having asked him/her after the hide, the person concerned had indeed interpreted my post as a joke. Which raises two questions IMHO:

1- the person who 'alerted' a jury is most probably one on the opposite side from me in that lounge. Unless the alerter has a thin skin by procuration, is the 'alert' business used to settle scores?

2- the post as I meant it and as it was read by the person concerned was a joke. The jury was about split 4-3, and I suppose the fact someone bothered to create an alert tipped the scale. In essence, the jury misinterpreted the post as understood by the two persons involved. Should hides be decided when the vote goes 5-2, not just 4-3?

In the meantime, I'll stick to a strict no-jokes policy. A bit over-PC to my mind, but so be it.

May 15, 2015

Strong decline of religion in the US over the past 7 years

Full report here: http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

Amazingly, the percentage of religious people appears to have dropped by one percent point each year

Going from 83% in 2007 to 76.5% in 2014

Reciprocally, the number of unaffiliated rises from 16% to nearly 23% (almost one quarter of the population)

Even more remarkable, the fastest growth groups are atheists and agnostics.

Atheists neatly double from 1.6 to 3.1%. Agnostics almost double from 2.4 to a round 4%.

May 11, 2015

Jeb probably just handed 2016 to Hillary

GW is the recent president with the lowest image among voters:


Not to mention historians:

In 2008, the History News Network unscientific poll of 109 professional historians found that 98% believe that the George W. Bush presidency is a failure.
A 2010 Siena College poll of 238 Presidential scholars found that Bush was ranked 39th out of 43,

Assuming Jeb is the most likely Republican finalist, his recent statements probably spell doom for him:

• Jeb: George W. Bush is a top foreign policy adviser

• Jeb Bush: ‘I would have invaded Iraq’ like my brother did

And he was already trailing in the polls: National President - CNN/Opinion Research

Clinton (D) 56
Bush (R) 39
Clinton (D) +17.0


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