Monday, June 19, 2017

Does Religion Do Any Good?

This country is virtually carpeted in churches and awash in preachers of various stripes. But, despite volumes, mountains, torrents of preaching and reading and writing about religion, God, morality--proper human conduct--it's not clear that we have even the tiniest bit less lying, cheating, corruption, and even killing.

Human greed and lust impel men to lie, cheat, and murder for the sake of obtaining money, power, position, and sex.

Most people have a conscience--I say "most people" because it is clear that some criminals simply have no conscience whatsoever--but a person can do another person wrong and then confess, and then he is told, "Say twenty Hail Marys," and this institution of the confessional lets him or her shed all feelings of guilt whatsoever. It is said that some Mafiosi would murder other people six days a week and then go to church on Sunday and confess (and receive absolution).

Not only does religion, it seems to me, not lessen the net sum of human evil in the world; but religion sometimes even adds to it. There is evil committed in the name of religion. It is not only Islam (let me hasten to add, "as some people interpret it") that gives us terror attacks, with people being killed, almost daily, these days; but Christianity (if we look at the record) is far from blameless. The Crusades, for example, were very brutal: the aim, as incited by the Pope, to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims not only resulted in many Muslims being brutally killed, but the Crusaders, on their way to the Holy Land, would pass through many towns in Europe and massacre any Jews they happened to find there.

And let us not forget about the Hundred Years War, when Catholics and Protestants were brutally slaughtering one another.

So I am saying, if you care to take a cold and detached look: The good that religion does is, at best over-rated. Yeah, churches sometimes feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, etc. But I feel strongly that these things could and maybe would be done in the absence of religion. And to look at the large picture, as I have tried to do in the opening paragraphs, of whether religion has had success in ameliorating some of the kinds of evil that are prevalent in the world, I don't think it really does much good.

Copyright © 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Donald Trump, Climate Change, and the Paris Accords

Donald Trump has announced he is pulling the United States out of the Paris agreement or accord on climate change. This puts the United States in the company of the only two nations in the entire world who are not party to that agreement: Syria and Nicaragua. Nearly 200 countries are signatories to the accord, in which they pledge to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.
Mr Trump says his first duty is to the US and US jobs. Presumably he means jobs in the fossil fuel industries. Statistics, interestingly, show there are three times as many jobs in renewable energy fields--wind and solar--as there are in coal mining. It looks like Mr Trump's real effort is to aid, not coal miners, but the Koch Brothers, whose wealth depends on fossil fuels, and who are prominent conservatives and big financial supporters of Mr Trump.
If Trump really wanted to help Kentucky coal miners, he would not be taking away health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, which will leave miners suffering from black-lung disease with no health insurance.
By this latest action, Trump may have done a lot to secure his legacy--as the single human being who did the most to help destroy the planet.
Here is an AP (Associated Press) article, available online, that shows the fallacies of Mr Trump's arguments for his decision:
climate change fact-check

Copyright © 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

More Lies from Trump, More Blogging about the Man and His Lies

Donald Trump is a liar, as I've pointed out before. The latest instance is that we've gotten differing and inconsistent accounts of why FBI Director James Comey was fired.

Trump is a horrible, horrible man. He contradicts himself. His statements are contradicted by testimony of others in government. When he says something that makes no sense, his press secretary has the job of explaining that away, and will say something like, "Well, at the time Mr. Trump made that statement, that was what all the available evidence was pointing to." When the media point out that Trump has said something false, or when they say anything critical of him, the tries to discredit the media, using the term "fake news" in a tweet (and Trump is the first president, I am sure, to continually voice himself on Twitter. He not only does it daily but now it's even three tweets a day).

I'd like to believe that many  people who voted for Trump by now have seen their mistake. Still, it's clear that there is a hard core who will never stop supporting him, not even the Kentucky coal miner with black lung disease who stands to lose his health insurance or find that it has become unaffordable, because he has a "pre-existing condition." That man says, "I voted for him and I'd vote for him again."

People want positive feedback for the choices they've made. They want to be told they made a good choice, a good decision--whether it's the car they bought or the political candidate they voted for. This is why some people will reluctantly, or never, confront the fact that they made a very unwise decision in voting for Trump.

Trump is a disgrace and an embarrassment to this country. In France, in their recent presidential election, there was a candidate quite a bit similar to Trump--Marine Le Pen, who was an extreme right-wing candidate running on an anti-immigration platform. The French voters soundly rejected Le Pen. Looks like Frenchmen are smarter than Americans.

Copyright © 2017.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Trump Supporters Haven't Learned

Two people were recently shown in an interview by ABC network's national TV news. These people are in Kentucky, in a county that voted for Donald Trump. And both are people with serious medical problems. Theirs is a coal-mining area, and I think at least one of the two men has black lung disease.

They rely on "Obama Care"; one of the men said he didn't know what he'd do without his health care coverage. Yet he voted for Trump (as did the other man), despite the fact that Trump's promises might well take away this man's health insurance.

Is this illogical only to me? I don't think it's nice to wish anybody ill. But if this man loses his health insurance, I would say to him-given the chance--that he brought that on himself when he cast his ballot for Trump.

Well I guess it's not news that Homo sapiens is not always a completely logical animal. And neither Americans in general nor Kentucky coal miners have any monopoly on illogicality. Yet I was certain that Trump supporters had begun to understand their mistake. So far that does not seem to be the case.

Copyright © 2017.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Donald Trump and "Fake News"

As has been pointed out--by me, here, and by many others at many times and places--Donald Trump dispenses lies, while calling any media stories or articles that he feels are unfavorable to him "fake news." This--as has also been pointed out--is the tactic of a dictator. Dictators feel compelled to deflect criticism of themselves by attacking the media.

To define the term, fake news stories that are wholly manufactured; they are started by some usually unknown person, perhaps on a web site, and then they gain wide circulation via the Internet and social media.

I thought I would make up some "fake news" stories myself.

Fake News: Trump admits that the accusations that Obama wiretapped him were totally made up, and apologizes to Obama and the American people.

Fake News: Trump appoints all people-friendly choices to head his cabinet departments.

Fake News: Kellyanne Conway (Trump advisor) says, "I've been an evil, lying b*itch but I've been converted and now I see my evil ways."

Fake News: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigns, saying "I just can't lie for that clown any longer."

Fake News: Trump resigns!!

Well, since none of these are true, they'd count as fake news; but I admit that to me they're just as much wishful thinking.

Copyright © 2017.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

My Issues with the Feminists

First, let me assert that I am a feminist, at least as far as condemning domestic abuse (and the attitude of men toward women that is shown by men who feel they can do that sort of thing to their spouses and girlfriends), condemning sexual harassment, favoring equal pay and equal opportunity, and encouraging girls to consider any and all traditionally masculine occupations.

Also, I positively applaud when women in third-world countries start businesses; and I believe women should have control over their own health and reproduction, and do not feel that a man should be able to override the woman's decision. (Sadly, in too many countries, women cannot obtain contraception supplies or even counseling because of the objection of a husband, priest, or some other--usually a male).

On the other hand, I find I have to take issue with some of the claims, assertions, and implications that feminist women seem to use.

I used to work for a woman who was quite the energetic feminist. One time when she and I were chatting, I referred to one of my female students--this was community college--as a "girl." Said boss very quickly said, "I she over 16? If she's over 16, don't refer to her as a 'girl'."

Well, this is nonsense. Never mind that many women refer to their fellows of that gender as "girls" (or even guys!). Adult men are often called "boys": the boys in the band, boys' night out, the boys of summer, our boys in the service. And surely many, if not all, of the males to whom this term is applied are over 16.

Can you say "double standard"? Maybe even hypocrisy?

Next, women seem to like to facilitate the idea that cancer is a women's issue: women own cancer, and seem to be trying to make "cancer" synonymous with "breast cancer." Contrary to the impression they foster, breast cancer is not the most common type of cancer. Both of these are false. According to statistics I just saw, one in three women will get cancer, whereas for men the figure is one in two! And breast cancer is the third most common type of cancer. Most common is digestive tract (I would have thought lung cancer). Second most common is male genital tract cancer. In other words, more men die from prostate cancer (possibly lumping it with some other "male genital cancers," if there are others) than women die from breast cancer. Yet, where are all the marches for prostate cancer, the pink ribbons, etc.? Women have been very vocal about all the women who are carried off by breast cancer--and that is a terrible thing, to be sure. (Let me hasten to point out that I have lost more than one friend to breast cancer, and it has stricken my family as well.) But by comparison, I have to suppose that men are just dying in silence.

P.S. Confession, disclaimer, or whatever: I am a survivor of prostate cancer, so maybe I have an axe to grind in all this.

Copyright © 2017.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Donald J. Trump, Car Salesman

Donald Trump is like a car salesman.* He will say whatever comes into his head in an effort to persuade, with little or no thought to whether he is uttering the truth.

Examples: He said that his inauguration drew the largest crowd in US history. Untrue. Photographs of Trump's inauguration crowd on the Washington, D.C. mall and of Barack Obama's inauguration crowd four or eight years earlier clearly showed that the latter was larger.)

He said that he won the election with the largest number of electoral votes, at least among recent presidents. Again, untrue. Most if not all of the four or five most recent presidents received more electoral votes. I believe I heard him say he'd gotten 360 electoral votes. The correct number was 304.

He said that the only reason he did not win the majority of the popular vote in the election  was because of voter fraud. Many people, including people in Trump's own party, have said there is no evidence of significant voter fraud.

It's very interesting, even astonishing, that a speaking event which Trump has scheduled is to be, his team claims, an election event. One can only speculate as to why he is campaigning for re-election when it is not even a month into his present term.

Possibly, out of insecurity, he does not feel confident that he will be able to run, in four years, on a record of solid accomplishments. More likely, he knows that his approval ratings, according to the polls (which Trump publicly denounces and claims contempt for) are very low.

*I apologize for the calumny against car salesmen. Compared to Trump they probably would come off favorably. Also, I want to admit I am engaging in a stereotype. It may be outdated and even if it is not, it is no more accurate than any other stereotype, and doubtless there are many, many car salesmen who are essentially honest and ethical.

Copyright © 2017.