Updating Stoicism for the 21st Century…

 

 

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TODD WALTON: Bill and Ted Arrive

 

129things

129 Things photo diptych by Max Greenstreet

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“Four score and…seven minutes ago, we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure, conceived by our new friends: Bill and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition, which was true in my time, just as it’s true today. Be excellent to each other and Party On, Dudes!” Abraham Lincoln in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

We recently watched the movie Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve. Arrival is a well-meaning and humorless look at the arrival on earth of beings from another solar system, and how contemporary humans might react to such an arrival. Denis Villeneuve is also the director of the soon-to-be-released Blade Runner sequel, and he has recently been signed to direct yet another movie-version of Dune. Based on how Denis did with Arrival, I’m not optimistic his Dune will be much better than the previous Dune disasters.

Richard Dawkins: Religion is the Root of All Evil?

 


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New Zealand: A trial is to be held for Susan Austen, charged with aiding a suicide

 

Susan Austen in the dock at the Wellington District Court.

MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ Susan Austen in the dock at the Wellington District Court.

From New Zealand

A Lower Hutt woman and pro-euthanasia campaigner has pleaded not guilty to aiding a suicide and importing a drug that can be used for euthanasia.

Susan Dale Austen, 65, has been charged with aiding Annemarie Niesje Treadwell to commit suicide between December 2015 and June 2016.

She also faces two charges of importing the narcotic sedative pentobarbitone.

Treadwell​ was a Wellington woman who supported Voluntary Euthanasia Society president Maryan Street’s petition in support of assisted dying.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Mother’s Day and the Bible

 

From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

Mother’s Day once again is here with the Sunday sermons filled with clichés, platitudes and banalities. So perhaps it is time to take a good, hard look at what the bible and the church have actually done to degrade women. The treatment of women in the bible is characterized by such indecency and utter contempt that it is total travesty to call this book the “word” of God.

Dr. Gerald Larue, Distinguished professor emeritus of biblical history and archaeology at the University of Southern California, wrote these words: “The Bible has been one of the most powerful social weapons in the arsenal of those who restrict and curtail the freedom of women. No matter what Bible you use, the message is the same: WOMEN ARE INFERIOR. Their inferiority is, moreover, ordained by God. How long are we going to let people who lived and died thousands of years ago dictate the way we live and think today?”

The bible is man-made, written BY men FOR men and promoting the ludicrous party line that they are taking orders from a male God.

FREETHINKER: Robert Owen

 

 

From Freedom From Religion Foundation

On this date in 1771, reformer and philanthropist Robert Owen was born in Wales. He became known as “a capitalist who became the first Socialist.”

Owen started work as a clerk at age nine. With help from a sympathetic cloth merchant to whom he was apprenticed, Owen educated himself. Owen was an unbeliever by 14, influenced by Seneca, and his acquaintance with chemist John Dalton and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. By 18, Owen established a small spinning mill in Manchester. He married the daughter of a Glasgow cotton manufacturer, purchasing his father-in-law’s New Lanark mills in Scotland.

Owen set out to put his humanitarian creed into practice, and turned New Lanark into a model community attracting the attention of reformers around the world.

Oklahoma Republican Declares That Rape Is The ‘Will Of God’

 

From Church and State

Women should get as far away from Oklahoma as soon as possible because Christian Sharia law is about to make their lives a living hell.

If Oklahoma state GOP Rep. George Faught has his way, rape will be on the path to being legal in the state. At least that’s what rapists are hoping for after Faught made a frightening statement on the subject during a debate on House Bill 1549, which restricts abortion.

Democratic Rep. Cory Williams masterfully cornered Faught during the hearing by asking him if he believes rape and incest are the “will of God” since the legislation has no exceptions for either, meaning women would be forced to give birth to their rapist’s baby.

Faught’s reply is absolutely appalling and demonstrates once again why women should never vote for Republicans, especially Republicans who want to base our laws on the Bible.

Trump presidency is over. Buh bye! Hatch now getting security briefings…

 

“Trump’s Presidency Ended May 9th” – Hatch Getting Security Briefings
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IMPEACH TRUMP!

 


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Facebook Has Been Regularly Shutting Down Atheist and Ex-Muslim Groups…

 

From HeatStreet

Yesterday, Facebook restricted and then shut down the public pages of Ex-Muslims of North America (24k followers) and Atheist Republic (1,6 million followers) –groups that advocate secularism and provide support to “apostates” (people who leave Islam and who often face persecution).

In fact, the ex-Muslim group claims that for the last several years, Facebook has been continuously blocking groups like it. The ex-Muslims have written an open letter to the social media giant, calling on it to “to stop exercising intellectual persecution” against atheist and ex-Muslim organizations and to “whitelist” such vulnerable groups from organized false flagging attacks.

On Monday, Muhammad Syed, the president of the Ex-Muslims of North Americatook to Twitter to report that the Facebook pages of Ex-Muslims and Atheist Republic were restricted (and the next morning shut down) “in violation of Facebook’s community standards”. No details were given as to what standards were violated. On Tuesday, after appealing the case, both groups were able to regain full access to their pages.

Syed believes the pages had been targeted in coordinated attacks by Muslim fundamentalists using “simple and effective” Facebook flagging tools to report that pages falsely for standards violations. Facebook, Syed said, isn’t doing enough to protect “groups vulnerable to malicious attacks”.

In the open letter to Facebook, which was revealed to Heat Street, Syed pressures the social media company to take measures to improve its reporting mechanisms and to protect ex-Muslim groups.

The Trump Team: They are all going to jail including many in GOP…

 

https://patribotics.blog/2017/05/11/designated-survior-sources-russia-probe-should-result-in-president-hatch/


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TODD WALTON: Bumble Buzzing

 

Spider Web photo by Todd

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“That buzzing-noise means something. You don’t get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without it’s meaning something. If there’s a buzzing-noise, somebody’s making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you’re a bee.” A.A. Milne

Yesterday I went out to the woodshed to get firewood. The shed is fourteen-feet-wide and sixteen-feet-long with a high ceiling and a plywood floor. When I picked up a few pieces from the Small Log section, I heard the sound of small waves crashing on a distant shore. Then the sound stopped. So I picked up another couple little logs and the sound came again, only this time it sounded more like a choir of Tibetan monks singing far in the distance.

I carried the wood into the house and wondered what could be making those strangely beautiful sounds. So I returned to the woodshed and removed a few more small logs, and the sound came again, but only for a moment; and for the first time I thought the makers of the sounds might be bees. I then retrieved wood from another part of the shed, and this removal did not cause the bees to sound. Thus I was able to say with some assurance that the hive, if that’s what I had disturbed, was located in the southeast corner of the shed behind firewood created from a few small redwood trees we had felled last year.

Thinking Marcia might enjoy hearing the strangely beautiful sounds, I fetched her from her studio and we went to the shed where my removal of a log caused the loudest humming sounds yet. Marcia backed out of the shed and said, “I’m scared.”

Thom Hartmann: How Republicans Quietly Sabotaged Obamacare Long Before Trump Came into Office

 

 

From Thom Hartmann

Billions that should go to Obamacare are missing, thanks to senators like Marco Rubio.

Donald Trump suggested that the Affordable Care Act was a clever ruse by our first black president and his Democratic friends to have a successful health-care system in place for his own presidency, but was set up to fail in the first year of the next president’s term.

Trump said (on 3/10/2017) that this year “would be a disaster for Obamacare. That’s the year it was meant to explode, because Obama won’t be here. That’s when it was supposed to be, get even worse. As bad as it is now, it’ll get even worse.”

While most people are rolling their eyes (why would President Obama do that, particularly when everybody expected the next president to be Hillary?), there’s actually a substantial grain of truth to Trump’s assertion. However, he has identified the wrong culprit as the person who poison-pilled Obamacare for 2017. That distinction would go to Marco Rubio (and his Republican helpers in the Senate).

Let’s step back to 2015 for the entire story, which is bizarre and fascinating.

Joan Baez: Nasty Man

 


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Stephen Fry being investigated for blasphemy is just the beginning. Around the world blasphemy laws are getting more and more severe…

 

From The Independent, UK

Islamic states often justify their blasphemy laws by pointing to the existence of those in Europe, calling Europeans hypocrites for advocating for abolition whilst still having their own

He’s one of Britain’s wittiest men but the fact that humanist Stephen Fry is under investigation by police in the Republic of Ireland for blasphemy is beyond a joke.

Fry’s alleged offence two years ago was to give an eloquent restatement of the classic theological argument known as “the problem of evil”: how can an all-loving God be responsible for a world that includes so much suffering, such as “bone cancer in children”, in his words? As one head of RE at a secondary school here in England tweeted, “I use this clip at GCSE & A Level for prob of evil. If RE teachers in Ireland have are they also ‘guilty’ of blasphemy?”

Debate and discussion over powerful and emotive topics like religion and belief are, by their nature, endlessly provocative. They are also vital, and when so many countries still try to use the force of law to shut down these discussions, we all risk intellectual impoverishment.

In England and Wales the blasphemy law was repealed in 2008. In Scotland and Northern Ireland blasphemy laws remain in place, although they have not been used in recent years. Perhaps we might not expect them to be – but then did we expect them to be in Ireland? And, similarly, Denmark this year decided to bring a prosecution under its blasphemy laws for the first time in 46 years.

Other European countries such as Italy, Austria, Poland and Turkey still have laws that are actively in use. In Greece, in 2014, Philippos Loizos was handed a ten-month suspended prison sentence for mocking up a picture of a Greek Orthodox patriarch, Elder Paisios, as a pasta dish. While in Russia, blasphemy laws were notoriously used to sentence the band Pussy Riot to hard labour after they performed in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral. This year they are also being used to prosecute a humanist blogger who filmed himself playing Pokémon Go in a church.

The most serious uses of blasphemy laws around the world are not in Europe, but in Islamic states, 13 of which punish blasphemy by death. These include Mohamed Cheikh Ould M’kheitir in Mauritania, charged with “insulting the prophet” for an article challenging slavery; humanist Ahmadreza Djalali, who worked as a Professor in Brussels but is now sentenced to death in his native Iran; and Saudi Arabia, which just last week sentenced Ahmad Al Shamri to death for “atheism”, while others such as Raif Badawi also sit on death row.

Fabricating Jesus — An Interview with Former Minister David Chumney

 


How the gospel stories in the New Testament came to be.

David Chumney spent almost three decades as an ordained Presbyterian minister before quietly exiting the ministry and Christianity itself. He now describes himself as agnostic, but his exodus from the Church didn’t end his fascination with New Testament studies or his quest to separate history from mythology in the biblical record. He tackles the fraught topic in his new book, Jesus Eclipsed.

Recently I interviewed David Fitzgerald, author of the three-volume series, Jesus: Mything in Action. Fitzgerald takes a position held by very few biblical scholars—that the Bible’s stories about Jesus lack any historical kernel, however small. Chumney disagrees, but acknowledges that Fitzgerald may be closer to the truth than most Christians would like to think:

If someone were to ask me, “Is there credible historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed?” I would say, “Yes, but precious little.” If someone were to ask me, “Is some of what the gospels preserve about Jesus a product of pious imagination and religious devotion?” I would say, “Yes, nearly all of it.” In other words, I am convinced that Jesus of Nazareth really did exist, but I am equally convinced that the Gospels comprise, as Randel Helms has said, “largely fictional accounts concerning an historical figure.”

The “precious little” that Chumney finds historically persuasive includes a handful of passing references to James, the brother of Jesus, and a crucifixion under Pontius Pilate. Other references provide ample evidence about emerging Christian beliefs, he says, but no direct evidence of the man shrouded in the mists of historiography and mythology.

What about the rest of what people think they know about Jesus? What about his lineage and birth in Bethlehem, the incident when he clears money changers from the temple, his reputation as a healer, or his baptism? What about that final week when he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, is arrested, put on trial, and led to his execution? Elements of the passion story have decorated church walls for over a millennium as the Stations of the Cross. If these gospel stories about Jesus aren’t gospel truth, what are they? Why do they exist, and where do they come from?

Chumney makes a persuasive argument that many of the stories in the Gospels are adapted from earlier biblical texts (i.e., what Christians call the Old Testament). Early Christians, having concluded that Jesus was the prophesied Christ, sought to construct what must be the details of his birth, life, and death from the content—and even words—of the Jewish Scriptures.

Sam Harris…

 


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Freethinker: George Will

 

From FFRF

On this date in 1941, one of America’s top conservatives, columnist, journalist and author George Frederick Will was born in Champaign, Ill. Will has a Bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. (1962), a Master’s in politics from Oxford University (1964) and a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University (1968). Will taught political philosophy at Michigan State University and the University of Toronto. He taught at Harvard in 1995 and in 1998. He served on the staff of U.S. Senator Gordon L. Allott (R-Colo.) from 1970-1972.

He edited National Review from 1972 to 1978. Beginning in 1974, Will wrote a twice-weekly column for the Washington Post and by 1976, he was a contributing editor and columnist for Newsweek. He still writes both columns for those publications. He has been a news analyst for ABC since the early 1980s, and a regular panelist of ABC’s “This Week” since 1981.

Will won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977. His Newsweek and newspaper columns have been published in five books, and he has authored books on other subjects such as political philosophy and baseball. His book Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball (1989) was the top national bestseller for over two months. Will has three children from his first marriage with Madeline Marion (divorced 1991). He has been married to Mari Maseng Will since 1991. They have one son together.

George Will: I’m a heathen.
Stephen Colbert: Are you an atheist?
Will: I’m not decisive enough to be an atheist.
Colbert: You’re agnostic?
Will: Yes.

—George Will, interviewed on “The Colbert Report,” June 3, 2008

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TODD WALTON: Self-Archaeology

 

 

rolling wheels

Rolling Wheels and Hills of Gold by Katharine Grey

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“Well-ordered self-love is right and natural.” Thomas Aquinas

Recent excavations on the shelves of my office have turned up some long-forgotten artifacts, including books and plays I wrote in my youth and loved enough to carry with me through several major moves over the course of forty years.

Indeed, one of my finds, a play I wrote when I was in my early twenties, has traveled with me since the 1970’s when I could carry all my earthly possessions onto a train or bus with me. In my pre-car days, the sum total of my stuff was: a guitar in a flimsy case, a large backpack full of clothes and basic survival gear, and one big cardboard box full of books and manuscripts and pens and paper and sketchpads, the box tied up with a length of sturdy rope.

Among the books I always carried with me, and still have today, were the two-volume The Greek Myths by Robert Graves, On Bear’s Head poems by Philip Whalen, Selected Poems of Robert Duncan, Collected Poems of Robert Graves, Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis, Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen, and Suzuki Roshi’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

This ancient play I unearthed is entitled The Last Temptation, and I read the faded pages with the curiosity of an archaeologist stumbling upon an opus writ on papyrus two thousand years ago. On the title page, a note from the young author explains: The title of the play and the setting of Act One were inspired by the novel The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis. Pilate’s dog in Act Two was inspired by Mikhail Bulgakov’s book The Master and Margarita.

Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl — Animated Book Summary

 


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The National Blues

 

 

From James Kunstler

While the news waves groan with stories about “America’s Opioid Epidemic” you may discern that there is little effort to actually understand what’s behind it, namely, the fact that life in the United States has become unspeakably depressing, empty, and purposeless for a large class of citizens. I mean unspeakably literally. If you want evidence of our inability to construct a coherent story about what’s happening in this country, there it is.

I live in a corner of Flyover Red America where you can easily read these conditions on the landscape — the vacant Main Streets, especially after dark, the houses uncared for and decrepitating year by year, the derelict farms with barns falling down, harvesters rusting in the rain, and pastures overgrown with sumacs, the parasitical national chain stores like tumors at the edge of every town.

You can read it in the bodies of the people in the new town square, i.e. the supermarket: people prematurely old, fattened and sickened by bad food made to look and taste irresistible to con those sunk in despair, a deadly consolation for lives otherwise filled by empty hours, trash television, addictive computer games, and their own family melodramas concocted to give some narrative meaning to lives otherwise bereft of event or effort.

Why should you read War and Peace?

 

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The Materialism Trap

 


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Humanist Global: Humanism in Uganda can alleviate many of the region’s life-threatening problems…

 

From Humanist Global

Humanism 1) promotes rational thinking / debunks superstition 2) provides an option to the conflict between Christianity and Islam 3) supports women’s education 4) supports condom use 4) supports family planning 5) supports tolerance of other tribes 6) supports gay rights 6) promotes education for both genders 7) supports environmental concerns

HG’s humanism is outlined in The Code for Global Ethics: Ten Humanist Principles by Rodrigue Tremblay. We deliver the poster below to our African humanist communities, plus we send our own humanist lectures.

 

Africa Needs Humanism – by Leo Igwe

Millions of Africans suffer under the tyranny of fear and ignorance

Africa needs humanism to realize its potential!

  • Humanists can provide a place where Africans can think freely without the fear of god.
  • Humanists can help African children by campaigning for improvement of education.
  • Humanists can help women and girls achieve equality in their societies.
  • Humanists can help the elderly and disabled, ensuring they are not abused, branded as witches, and killed.
  • Humanists can speak up for gay people, for their dignity, humanity and equal rights.
  • Humanists can combat exploitation by prophets, pastors and imams.
  • Humanists can free people from the bondage of superstition, fanaticism and dogma.
  • Humanists can campaign for secular society and government based on the will of the people.

Dark Age forces – religious extremism, dogma, superstition – hijack African politics, corrupt democracy, hamper social progress and human rights.

Priests, pastors, prophets, imams, and witch doctors confuse, manipulate and exploit ignorant folks.

Witch hunters, jihadists and ‘crusaders’ – in Mali, Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, Somalia, Algeria – incite people to kill, maim and abuse, in the name of their god.

Humanism can be a force for peace, freedom and emancipation.

Many Africans are at war due to religious bigotry; many live in slavish situations due to irrational superstition. Religious violence ravages communities leaving death and destruction.

African Humanists can promote Peace, Emancipation and Enlightenment…

…to further the African Renaissance.
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Religious Horrors – A Grim Pattern

 

Excerpt from Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness, by James A. Haught (Prometheus Books, 2002). 

From Church & State, UK

Introduction

— In 1766 at Abbeville, France, a teen-age boy was accused of singing irreligious songs, mocking the Virgin Mary, marring a crucifix, and wearing his hat while a religious procession passed. Criticizing the church was punishable by death. The youth, Chevalier de La Barre, was sentenced to have his tongue cut out, his right hand cut off, and to be burned at the stake. The great writer Voltaire attempted to save him. The case was appealed to Parliament in Paris. The clergy demanded death, warning of the dire spread of doubt. Parliament showed mercy by allowing the youth to be decapitated instead of mutilated and burned alive. He was first tortured to extract a fuller confession, then executed on July 1, 1766. His corpse was burned, along with a copy of Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary.

— In 1980 at Moradabad, India, a pig caused hundreds of people to kill each other. The animal walked through a Muslim holy ground. Muslims, who think pigs are an embodiment of Satan, accused Hindus of driving the pig into the sacred spot. Members of both faiths went on a rampage, stabbing and clubbing. The pig riot spread to a dozen cities and left 200 dead.

— In the 1500s in Mexico, the Aztec theocracy sacrificed thousands of people to many gods. Aztecs believed that the sun would disappear without the daily “nourishment” of human hearts ripped from victims on stone altars. To appease the rain god, priests killed shrieking children so that their tears might induce rain. In a rite to the maize goddess, a virgin danced 24 hours, then was killed and skinned; her skin was then worn by a priest in further dancing.

— In the 1980s, Iran’s Shiite theocracy—“the government of God on earth”—decreed that Baha’i believers who wouldn’t convert to Islam must be killed. About 200 Baha’is, including women and teenagers, were hanged or shot by firing squads. Some 40,000 others fled Iran.

I Grew Up In A Fundamentalist Cult — ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Was My Reality

 

From The Establishment

It was a cold morning on the campus of the little Christian college I attended in Western Pennsylvania. Along with about 20 other students, I’d trundled in and unwrapped my coat and scarf. Now we all sat there sipping our coffees, waiting for the hardest class of the year to get rolling.

Our literary criticism professor paused as he announced the optional reading titles on our list for the next week, a funny look on his face.

“This one,” he said, “you may not like. It was written in 1984, published in ’85 or ’86, and was a reaction against the rise of the religious right — against the values that places like our school stand for. It’s pro-feminist, and anti-complementarian — against traditional gender roles. It sort of parodies what we believe in, in an interesting way. I’m curious what you’ll make of it.”

The shade thrown by my usually soft-spoken professor caught my attention. I had to read this book.

And so I did, unwittingly cracking open the beginning of the end for meek, conservative Christian me.

Carl Sagan Predicts the Decline of America: Unable to Know “What’s True,” We Will Slide, “Without Noticing, Back into Superstition & Darkness” (1995)…

 

From Open Culture

There have been many theories of how human history works. Some, like German thinker G.W.F. Hegel, have thought of progress as inevitable. Others have embraced a more static view, full of “Great Men” and an immutable natural order. Then we have the counter-Enlightenment thinker Giambattista Vico. The 18th century Neapolitan philosopher took human irrationalism seriously, and wrote about our tendency to rely on myth and metaphor rather than reason or nature. Vico’s most “revolutionary move,” wrote Isaiah Berlin, “is to have denied the doctrine of a timeless natural law” that could be “known in principle to any man, at any time, anywhere.”

Vico’s theory of history included inevitable periods of decline (and heavily influenced the historical thinking of James Joyce and Friedrich Nietzsche). He describes his concept “most colorfully,” writes Alexander Bertland at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “when he gives this axiom”:

Men first felt necessity then look for utility, next attend to comfort, still later amuse themselves with pleasure, thence grow dissolute in luxury, and finally go mad and waste their substance.

The description may remind us of Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man.” But for Vico, Bertland notes, every decline heralds a new beginning. History is “presented clearly as a circular motion in which nations rise and fall… over and over again.”

Neil Tyson tired of God…

 


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Neil de Grasse Tyson on the afterlife

 


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Talking Heads: Take Me To The River…

  


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TODD WALTON: My Grandmothers

 

Goody, Red, and William

Goody with Bill and Red 

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity.” Kahlil Gibran

Whilst thoroughly cleaning my office, something I do every five years whether the office needs cleaning or not, I came upon a small cache of letters from my maternal and paternal grandmothers. Neither of my grandfathers ever wrote to me. Why I saved these letters—the most recent dated 1981—I do not know, having thrown out hundreds of other family letters over the years, but I’m glad I saved these because I had a fascinating time reading them and appreciating the influence of these two very different women on their progeny and grand progeny.

My father’s parents were white Anglo Saxon Protestants, intelligent, humorless, and proud members of the John Birch Society. They disowned my father when he was twenty-one because he married my Jewish mother. However, some years later when they needed financial help and eventually became economically dependent on my father, they re-owned him, and by association us, their half-breed grandchildren.

My mother’s parents were born in Michigan to Jewish parents who came to America from Poland in the late 1800’s. Goody and Casey (Gertrude and Myron) changed their last name from Weinstein to Winton during the Great Depression so they could get housing and jobs in that time of extreme anti-Semitism. Goody was brilliant and multi-talented and largely self-educated; and she loved to mix Yiddish with her English when she told jokes and stories.

Here is a birthday letter my paternal grandmother Helen wrote to me shortly before I dropped out of college in 1969.

Michael Laybourn: There seems to be a some confusion about Sonoma Clean Power’s offer to include Mendocino County…

 

From Michael Laybourn
Hopland

There seems to be a some confusion about Sonoma Clean Power’s offer to include Mendocino County. Maybe this will clear things up a bit: A CCA or “Community Choice Energy” gives customers a choice in their energy provider. With Community Choice Energy, cities and counties contract with a licensed energy service provider to purchase greener energy in bulk and charge less in some cases. help local business to build renewable energy generating facilities, and implement energy efficiency programs. This efficient public/private partnership makes it possible to get the greenest energy at the best rates. This is how we should be able to purchase energy. It is local control. From a local company that doesn’t need to have a huge profit to make shareholders happy and overpay it’s executives.

But PG&E doesn’t like competition. We saw that when they spent 45 million dollars to change the California constitution to eliminate the competition to stop Marin County and other Community Choice Energy projects. And lost, because they were wrong.

More PG&E facts from the San Jose Mercury News: “At 6:11:12 pm PDT on September 9, 2010, a huge explosion occurred in the Crestmoor residential neighborhood of San Bruno, near Skyline Boulevard and San Bruno Avenue. This caused a fire, which quickly engulfed nearby houses. The explosion and resulting fire leveled 35 houses and damaged many more. Three of the damaged houses, deemed uninhabitable, were torn down in December, bringing the total to 38. As of September 29, 2010, the death toll was eight people.

In January 13, 2012, an independent audit from the State of California issued a report stating that PG&E had illegally diverted over $100 million from a fund used for safety operations, and instead used it for executive compensation and bonuses. In August, 2016, PG&E was convicted of six felony counts for crimes the company committed before and after the 2010 San Bruno explosion, which killed those eight people and destroyed the residential area.”

FINLAND: Basic income experiment – what we know

 

From Basic Income Earth Network

In the last week, the basic income experiment in Finland has gone viral, making headlines around the world, from UK-based Telegraph to Russia Today. Not all the reports however were correct. Here is what we know.

Update March 2016: KELA has published its recommendations – see a summary here.

Some articles mistakenly gave the impression that the Finnish government has already made plans to introduce a nation-wide basic income. As we reported before here and here, for now the government has committed to implement a basic income experiment. KELA, the Finnish government agency in charge of welfare benefits, rectified the misperception on Tuesday.

In a previous statement released on November 19, KELA provided additional information about the experiment. It highlighted four objectives behind the program. It aims to find feasible options for an overhaul of the social security system in response to labor market changes. Some of these trends include the growth of temporary contracts and freelance work that is not covered by the current work-based benefits structure. The experiment will also explore how to make the system more effective in terms of providing incentives for work, and avoiding the poverty trap – benefit recipients are discouraged from taking up employment, if the additional income received from a job is only marginally higher than means-tested benefits. Another goal is to reduce bureaucracy and simplify complex and costly procedures for administering benefits.

The experiment will be carried out in a context marked by three years of economic downturn, which has led to rising unemployment and pressures on public spending. The current center-right government took office after general elections in April this year, and is carrying out a wide-ranging program of cuts that will affect education, health and welfare provisions.

Sam Harris: How To Defend Donald Trump

 


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WILLIAM EDELEN: More Robert Ingersoll

 

 

From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

One of the joyful rewards of writing a column is to receive the delightful letters that arrive in response, with often developing new friendships. After my column on Robert Ingersoll, many wrote, or called, saying the column brought back a bit of nostalgia, because “I remembered how my father (or grandfather, or mother) used to rave about Robert Ingersoll… and I had forgotten.

Since my last column was primarily introducing the man to those who had not heard of him, I did not have space to give examples of the gems that flowed from his pen.

Women: “The men who declare that woman is the intellectual inferior of man, do not and cannot, by offering themselves in evidence, substantiate their declaration. Husbands as a rule, do not know a great deal, and it will not do for every wife to depend on the ignorance of her worst half… It is the women of today who are the great readers. No woman should have to live with a man whom she abhors. I despise the man that has to be begged for money by his wife. ‘Please give me a dollar?’… ‘What did you do with the 50 cents I gave you last Christmas?’ he asks.”

Government: “I despise the doctrine of state sovereignty. States are political conveniences. Rising above states as the Alps above valleys are the rights of man, the sublime rights of the people… Nothing is farther from democracy than the application of the veto power. It should be abolished… I do not believe in being the servant of any political party. I am not the property of any organization, I do not believe in giving a mortgage on yourself or a deed of trust for any purpose. It is better to be free.”

Church and state: “Church and state should be absolutely

What’s the greatest pop song of the 20th Century?

 

From Jeff Cox

So I’m thinking–what’s the greatest pop song of the 20th Century? Is this even a valid question, since the answer might vary from day to day, from mood to mood, from mindset to mindset?

I thought long and hard about it, since I like everything from George M. Cohan tunes to Gershwin, to Harold Arlen to Cole Porter to Richard Rogers, from early rock to psychedelia to the present day. But when it came down to a decision, I chose a tune that combines everything:

Great guitar playing that references the lyrics, and perfect drumming, lyrics that are simultaneously accurate, snarky, satirical, and brilliantly spiritual, Layer upon layer of meaning, References to madness, lyrics and music that hits you in all seven chakras at once, references that shoot all over the place (even to the Beatles with Goo Goo Ga-Joob), references to Yankee baseball and heroic disappearance, all put together with a fantastically ingenious melody, sung by two great harmonizers. And a song so creative and original that there’s never been anything like it since.
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