US Politics: Bachmann a POE?

US republican party hopeful, Michelle Bachmann, recently “joked” that the earthquake and hurricane was god trying to get Washington’s attention.

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?'” Bachmann said at a campaign event in Sarasota on Sunday.

She has since recanted, saying that she has a “great sense of humor” and that it was a joke.

But what was the joke?

Is she suggesting that she knows that weather and disasters are not god’s punishment on people? Her base tends to skew that way, after all.

Given her history of being associated with pray away the gay and trying to demonstrate she’s plain folk from the same Iowa hometown as John Wayne – well, John Wayne Gacey, but 2 of 3 is pretty close, right?

And her recent birthday wishes for Elvis on the 34th anniversary of his death….

This Americana candidate doesn’t seem to be much in touch with Americana – and she’s not a very credible POE, either, which is about the only joke that is reasonably interpreted.

Perhaps it’s time people realize that the joke is nothing short of Michelle Bachmann and that hopefully, her fifteen minutes will soon be over.


Lawsuit in FL Regarding Retaliation For Atheism (via Attorney Jeffrey Brown)

Reporting the story, not endorsing the law firm.

My interest in the story is as an example of gross workplace bullying and management retaliation for the employee standing up for themselves – but also because it demonstrates a serious problem with religion and people who think that that they, and they alone, are right.

An atheist has filed a lawsuit in Tampa recently alleging that the Polk County sheriff, who is an evangelical Christian, harassed and unnecessarily arrested her as retaliation for being an atheist and for trying to keep prayer out of public meetings. Ellen Beth Wachs has asked the court to prevent the sheriff, Grady Judd, from conducting any new investigations, arrests or complaints which resulted from her atheist views. Thus far, the Sheriff’s a … Read More

via Attorney Jeffrey Brown

You know it’s Wrong – A Guide to Religion (via Occurrence of Opinion)

a fine example of calm-mongering

You know it's Wrong - A Guide to Religion I am a humanitarian and an atheist. The two sit nicely in each others hands. You can't really have one without the other, and I hope many fellow humanitarians and atheists feel the same, which they most surely do. And combined with my love of humans, I love being alive, and being able to enjoy this universe to the best of my human brains capacity. I love knowing the symphony that plays in orbits, and stellar nurseries and the gentle movement of w … Read More

via Occurrence of Opinion

Learning from Movies

I’ve also been watching a lot of movies – especially 1940s through 1960s and I’ve noticed a few things.

1. Movies used to be about people – now they are about what people do.

2. Movies used to be about people who learned something – they had a realization that we either got with them or just ahead of them – now it’s about learning what you want isn’t what you need – too simplistic and no realizations there

3. Movie characters were committed to unique points of view or “POV” and  each character reacted within their POV and related to each other from within that POV – not everyone having a shared or universal POV like in movies now.

What is allowed was for more dynamic characters, since a character interacting with a second would behave in a particular way unique to 1st and 2nd character interactions and when the first interacted with a third character, would take on aspects in their behaviour of how that third character viewed the first. This allowed for the true nature of the first character to emerge only when with both the second and third.

4. Character’s POVs were directly a result of the character’s backstory, socioeconomic status and personality – older movies took the first 30 minutes to set up these characters – but in modern movies, we rush in the first 15 minutes to establish not only the main characters, but an idea as to the quest or goal of the story and onto the first major plot point at the 30 minute mark. We race to establish the plot and audience expectations, rather than allow the characters and plot to unfold at a more leisurely pace. Some modern filmmakers just throw the audience into the middle of the story and let them sort out the catching up themselves – this is deemed to be edgy rather than merely avoiding the set up.

5. Characters really felt things and their emotions drove their actions – now, characters have blunt one dimensional feelings and are reactive to situations rather than driving them – unless it’s a romantic comedy, in which case, the character is reactive until the final act when they are committed to being committed.

People connect to characters because either the character is like them, or they need to come to the same realization as the character.This is often why movie characters instead of obtaining their goal end up learning something else that they  – and the audience – really needed to learn.

Which makes modern movies harder to relate to or glean anything from since modern characters usually only work out problems, not the issues and values that underlay the problems.

Modern movie characters, like modern people, seem more concerned with lurching from action to reaction, rather than what drives the actions or reactions. In this way, we are so consumed with surface concerns that we can’t appreciate or anticipate what’s the motivations, what’s really at stake.

Toplessness in Canada

Toronto has another topless protest on the front page.

In the 1990’s, a University of Toronto student, Gwen Jacobs, went topless on campus on a hot summer day and ignited a protest across Canada when she was arrested.

I covered the Vancouver march as a reporter, and ended up doffing my shirt and bra and joining – although I did put AIDs awareness stickers over my nipples – and let me tell you, going totally bare would have been preferable to later removing said stickers. Even the local tv news reporter flashed in support.

In the end, the right of women to be as topless as men prevailed in the court – however, despite the legality, there remain not only safety but social acceptability issues.

Bare chested is okay but bare breasted remains controversial – when can we ever just accept that we’re all naked under our clothes and on hot days, clothes should be optional.

Mere nudity is not sexual or obscene.

Coatless Canadians back in Canada

Victoria, BC was our final port of call.

We Coatless Canadians would have liked more time in Alaska, that being the foreign country to us – so it was with some dismay that I had a conversation with an American passenger who had the same thought as me. But coming from her, the idea of more time in Alaska and less in Victoria was her not being willing to explore a city in another country.

For me, being from the lower mainland of BC and a short ferry ride from Victoria, stopping there wasn’t a big deal to me – but for her, being from the American south – Victoria was an exotic port of call – and it was a let down that she wasn’t as interested in her country neighbour as we were.

Heading down the gangplank, we passed what I thought were two security guards, but who turned out to be Canada customs – and I hadn’t realized because we just breezed passed them without a pause or question.

Instead of being met with people hawking tours and wares, we were met by volunteers in 1800’s period costumes who handed out walking maps and tourist information.

Unlike the small Alaska towns, Victoria is our provincial capitol and isn’t designed to center around tourist cruises – so the dock was not central, but a walking distance from the downtown core.

We would have stayed on the ship, but needed to run an errand (shhhhhhh to James and Rebecca!). I thought it was really interesting that Canada Post mailboxes were on the street in pairs – one designed for Vancouver Island mail and the other for off island mail. It certainly was an easy cost effective step for Canada Post to have the public do the initial rough sorting.

While I did take my camera, we were there in the evening and digital is not as forgiving about dusk and dark as film cameras, although, I did get this nice shot of the Parliament building, which is lit up after dark and looks much nicer when clicked on than this thumbnail:

Parliment building after dark

We headed back to the ship and watched the crew play tug of war with a huge rope on the dock for a while – then it was to the room to pack. Luggage had to be in the hallway by 1 am so it could be placed in the unloading queue and disembarkation schedule.

We packed, doubled checked, left the luggage out in the hallway and headed up for our last night in the Crow’s Nest aka 10-Forward to have final drinks and conversation with Skeptic conference participants.

The bar was strangely empty, but for a few Skeptics, so we compared Victoria town trips, trip highlights – one of the group had done a whale watching tour and had seen an Orca leap from the water and the debate whether anyone had gotten a photo was hot. None of the group had seen the humpback whale on the trip up and we were the only ones in the group who had gone to the Fortress of the Bears but most had gone to the raptor centre in Sitka. It was the orca whale pod we encountered heading to Victoria that was the shared wonderous experience and highlight of the trip.

Other than the conference and getting to mix and meet with so many other skeptics from around the US and a few of us from Canada.

In the morning, we prepared to leave and owing to a packing malfunction, I ended up disembarking the ship and going through Canada Customs bra-less; which my bright pink Juneau hoodie helped to somewhat disguise.