This is hysterical:
I am often asked during my frequent rants against religion, "If it makes somebody feel better, what does it hurt?" It hurts many thing. It hurts a child to be taught to believe what they are TOLD to believe instead of being an independent thinker. (Can a child REALLY be a Catholic or a Lutheran any more than they can be a Democrat or a Republican?) It hurts society when one religion wants to kill or convert all who don't believe and end up flying planes into buildings. (Don't pretend your shit doesn't stink Christians -- remember The Crusades? The motivation was the same and the tactics equally brutal.) I could go on, but I've found another tragic example from one of my favorite writers/thinkers, James Randi.
In his weekly SWIFT column he writes about the totally unnecessary death of a little girl and the hypocritical reaction from the media. He writes:
Madeline Kara Neumann, 11 years old, died a horrifying death recently. She died from ignorance.
No, not her own ignorance. She was an innocent victim of her righteous parents’ unknowing error. They were led to believe that there exists an invisible deity – somewhere in the sky – who has absolute power to subvert the laws of nature that govern our real world, and they chose to believe that strange notion because everyone they knew and trusted had similarly opted to accept this mythology that has created and supported a vast network of priests and organizations that depend upon the public’s naivety and ignorance. It’s called religion.
The parents’ blind belief was that by pleading for a miracle from this demonstrably capricious, jealous, arrogant, vengeful, deity, they could reject medical assistance that is very capable of successfully treating the ailment from which Madeline suffered. This sort of perverse notion persists among the religious in spite of the plain historical fact that millions of humans were tortured and killed by the Nazis in World War II, by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, by the Holy Roman Inquisition, and by literally hundreds of other mass atrocities. Those people died despite the earnest, desperate, prayers of the victims – and of those who loved them – directed at this deity in whom they invested their faith.
The power of prayer is clearly described in the Holy Bible. There’s no doubt about that. In Proverbs 10:24, it is simply stated: “…the desire of the righteous will be granted.” Oh, but it goes on and on:
Matthew 7:7 – Ask, and it shall be given you.
Matthew 21:22 – And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
James 5:15 – The prayer of faith will heal the sick.
John 14:14 (quoting Christ) – If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
John 15:7 (quoting Christ) – If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
John 16:23 (quoting Christ) – Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
1st John 3:22 – And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him…
This is just a brief selection from Holy Writ. But it’s wrong. It’s all mythology.
The media have grabbed their scythes and torches, and assembled against Dale and Leilani Neumann, Madeline’s parents, whose actions they have described as “unforgivable,” “willful negligence,” “child sacrifice,” and “parental negligence.” Nonsense. Madeline’s long-drawn-out death – involving nausea, vomiting, unbearable thirst, weight loss, and weakness – due to diabetic ketoacidosis – was something that the majority of the rest of our species had been drumming into the Neumanns as an example of what prayer could and would solve, just by applying it. They believed that claim, firmly and absolutely. So who’s really to blame? The Bible-thumpers who convinced the Neumanns of this claptrap, that’s who. They’re the people who are allowed to ignore tax laws, to operate freely any time or any place they want to, to screech their delusions in public and to manipulate their own children like helpless puppets in this monstrous Morality Play that our species so adores. Other parents do not own their children, as these zealots do – and should be prohibited from doing.
What's even more alarming in this calamity is exemplified by one of the ambivalent media headlines: "Ethicists say case unclear." Bio-ethicist Dr. Norman Fost of the University of Wisconsin Medical School is quoted as saying that we should not to be moralistic or pass judgment on parents who think they can heal a child through prayer, an opinion that I share. BBSNews [see tinyurl.com/33j6c6] expressed my own stance very clearly:
The fault lies in society's laudatory attitude toward a "holy book" which teaches superstition and faith-healing, whose passages are latched onto by Bible literalists, and whose obedience to such injunctions has been given a pass in the criminal statutes of many states. The mother, Leilani Neumann, of Weston, Wisconsin, publicly announced: "We need healing. We are going through the healing process." What about the healing process her daughter required? This helpless dependent of a middle-class family had last seen a doctor at the age of three, and recently had been pulled out of public schools for religious home-schooling, possibly to cover up symptoms of her illness, which, according to medical experts, would have surfaced at least six months ago…
As a memorial to the painful, frightening and needless death of Madeline Kara Neumann, the Wisconsin Legislature needs to finally show some gumption, and remove from the statutes its callous exemption sanctifying child homicide in the name of faith.
However, that last paragraph, I must admit, makes me uncomfortable. No law is ever going to affect the decisions of religious zealots who fear damnation for not accepting and believing every word found in a badly-translated set of writings that originated in the ignorance of two thousand years ago. They will continue to treat their kids like chattels and pets, subjecting them to poisonous ideas and substances, and denying them proven life-saving measures. I am philosophically adverse to seeking a cure for ignorance through legislation rather than by education…
We can easily say that Dale and Leilani Neumann were simply stupid. Perhaps so, but more importantly, they – and we – have been swindled by the priests, and society continues not only to tolerate them, but to support them by granting them exemptions from the regulations and ignoring their folly and arrogance.
I couldn't agree more, James. I would highly recommend to anybody who dares to have their beliefs challenged or needs a fresh point of view to take a look at randi.org. You may not agree with all that is said, but at least you are thinking.
As mentioned before, the thinkdaddy family has moved from St. Louis, Missouri to the Miami - Ft. Lauderdale area. I will also mention that moving is a bitch both physically and emotionally. That said, we got out of our old house really easily.
We put some nice time, effort, and money into making the house "show well" and it paid off. Thinkmommy and our two girls got on a plane and moved to Florida on a Friday. I stayed behind took care of typical last minute "stuff." The house would go on the market when I left to drive our car and "Bob the Dog" down to Florida.
I left Saturday morning and was in the car three hours when the realtor called. She had an offer on the house. A damn good offer. A damn good, non-contingent, cash offer.
We took it.
The house sold in THREE hours.
The best part of it was that we would be able to start looking in earnest for houses in Florida right away so we wouldn't be stuck in a temporary apartment for very long. Let's ride the "buyer's market" wave.
Well shit . . . I've never seen a bigger bunch of lazy homeowners/sellers and realtors in my life.
The market down here is really bad. I'd say that more than 75% of the houses we've seen are short sells or foreclosures. People are really down about the housing situation. You are constantly hearing on the news about how horribly hard it is to sell a house. Houses are selling way under their purported value.
Given all of these woes, you would THINK that homeowners would do everything they could to make their houses ready to go. If someone was ready to buy and had the cash, the owners should be able to say, "Paper or plastic? Welcome to your new home."
Why then, in the name of friggin' St. Joseph, can people not be bothered to even clean up their houses when they KNOW potential buyers are coming? Buyers that can lift the burden of these structures off of their swayed backs. Buyers who really, REALLY want to buy.
Of course, this rant doesn't apply to the foreclosures. These houses are empty and dirty. They've essentially been abandoned when their owner's oversized dreams were shattered by the radical (and entirely predictable) increase of their undersized sub-prime, adjustable mortgage payments.
I'm also not talking about general straightening of furniture or vacuuming or "staging" of the house in order to make seem like a nice product.
I'm talking about walking into a house with our realtor and having the owners not even bother to get their asses off of the couch and turn off the basketball game. I'm talking about not leaving piles of dirty dishes in the sinks and dirty ashtrays on the tables. I'm talking about maybe postponing washing the dog in the kitchen SINK until AFTER their showing. I'm talking about maybe not deciding to boil whatever crazy, stinky, vegetable you found at the local farmer's market ten minutes before someone was coming to maybe buy your house. A house that they don't want to imagine stinking like boiled shit if they ever moved in.
These all happened. They were all different houses.
I should add that we're not looking small places in questionable neighborhoods. These are in nice developments with parks, and gates, and guards, and Beaveresque features.
I should also add that we are the IDEAL buyers for todays market. We are pre-qualified for more than double what we're looking at. We don't have any contingencies for closing the deal. We are ready to go NOW!
It makes you wonder if the listing agents should maybe coach their clients a little bit about making their house a bit more appealing. Guess not. Today was the kicker -- check this out:
I schlep the two girls on the 30 minute drive up to see a house today that we were really interested in. It looks GREAT online and meets almost all of our criteria. I was going to check it out, and if it was good, thinkmommy was going to look at it after work and we'd make an offer tomorrow. For some reason, listing agents in certain communities want to be there with you when you visit with YOUR agent. It's a pain in the ass, but a seemingly necessary evil. I show up today at 2:00pm. Right on time. It's getting to be naptime for the girls, but that doesn't matter at the prospect of finding our perfect house. Our realtor is waiting in the driveway, all is looking good.
Nope . . . the other realtor canceled at the last second. There was no lockbox on the door because obviously she was the only realtor that could be trusted in an empty home with potential buyers.
From the outside, it was perfect. Through the windows, it was perfect. But, I dragged the whole circus up there and that fool woman no-showed on us.
It's from these above citations that I make my ultra non-scientific pronouncement:
50% of the housing slump is caused by lazy, unmotivated homeowners that are enabled by their quasi-inept and equally unmotivated realtors.
Well . . . the thinkdaddy family has moved to the south Florida, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area. Culture shock abounds.
I thought that the drivers in St. Louis were awful. Miami makes them look like wagon train participants. I have never seen such shitty, distracted drivers. I postulate that this is because of a high concentration of all of the "bad driver stereotypes" down here.
Next time you roll up behind a slow, confused, traffic-paralyzing driver, try my little game that I call, "Old?, Asian?, or On-the-Phone?"
Predict which stereotypical group that they fall into and earn a point. You can also score doubles if you find an old Asian, or a phone phumphering geriatric.
If you come across an old, Asian that is on the phone -- pull over.
I just got an interesting call from a company identifying themselves as Associated Community Services. They were calling on behalf of a breast cancer foundation. They were very excited that they reached me and wanted to send me one of their latest pledge cards.
While I certainly believe that we (society) should fund all manner of scientific research, I'm always skeptical of these kind of solicitations. I asked, as I always do, about how much of the money actually goes to the charity. The girl kind of bristled and immediately went to her script:
"In order to insure that accurate information is given, I will pass you onto my supervisor"
Another perky girl came on, identified herself as a supervisor and told me she would answer my questions. Very odd.
After I quizzed her, she told me that 20% goes to the charity and 80% goes to administration, collection, and dispersal fees. In other words, if I gave $100 to support breast cancer research -- they would end up getting a nice crisp $20 bill and Associated Community Services would be putting my $80 into THEIR till.
Ladies and Gentlemen -- ask questions about this kind of stuff. Ask about everything. Ask those bell ringers at Christmas who gets the money. Ask the United Way about their administration costs.
Some are very good, some aren't. You may just be helping some telemarketer make his/her monthly numbers.