Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Saturday, April 30, 2016


It's time for the monthly End of Month Meme Dump (EOMMD), where I purge many of the images I collected throughout the last month but didn't post yet on the blog or elsewhere.

Friday, April 29, 2016


Swedish pop death-metal band Ghost is stirring up the rubes in America. 

Psst! Hey! Don't worry, because they are not the "Devil." The Devil doesn't exist! It's art, ok?

from Wikipedia


Ghost's music has been categorized in many genres, though critics usually classify them as heavy metaldoom metal,[41][42] hard rock, and to a lesser extent progressive rock[43] and psychedelic rock.[44] Adrien Begrand of PopMatters stated that Ghost recalls "the early sounds of Black SabbathPentagram, and Judas Priest, as well as the progressive and psychedelic rock of the late '60s."[45] Speaking to, a Nameless Ghoul described Ghost as a black metal band in the traditional sense, but said that they probably do not fit into the norms of the current black metal scene. This Nameless Ghoul described Ghost's music as a mix between pop music and death metal.[46]
In an interview, a Nameless Ghoul said they are influenced by "everything ranging from classic rock to the extreme underground metal bands of the ’80s to film scores to the grandeur of emotional harmonic music."[3] A member of the band said the Swedish and Scandinavian black metal movement of the early '90s plays a major role in their act,[41]and said that each member has come from a metal background.[4] However, the band has stated several times that they do not aim to be a metal band.[4][13] For their second album, Ghost chose a more diverse songwriting style; a member said, "we tried to deliberately have every song have its own signature."[47] Only two members actually write songs; vocalist Papa Emeritus is not one of them.[48][49] The writers compose an acoustic outline of songs before other instrumentation is added so it sounds like a group, rather than being dominated by guitar.[48]

[edit]Their lyrics are blatantly Satanic; one Ghoul said, "the first album is about the forthcoming arrival of the Devil, spoken very much in biblical terms, much like the church will say that doomsday is near. [Infestissumam] is about the presence of the Devil and the presence of the Antichrist."[37]However, the band has said several times their image is all tongue-in-cheek, citing that "We have no militant agenda. We are an entertainment group."[2] Infestissumam also deals with "how people relate to a deity or God, themes like submission and superstition, the horrors of being religious."[4]Additionally, a Nameless Ghoul said the second album is about "how mankind—predominantly men—what they have deemed to be the presence of the Devil, throughout history and even nowadays. And that’s why the record is so fueled with sexual themes and females ... the Inquisition was basically men accusing women of being the Devil just because they had a hard-on for them."[34] The group's theatrics are influenced by KissDavid Bowie and Alice Cooper, but a member said they are more influenced by Pink Floyd.[4] A Ghoul later cited Death SS as an influence on their "gimmick" but not their music.[50]
Ghost's Satanic theme has proven problematic for the group, especially in the United States. While recording Infestissumam in Nashville, Tennessee, they were unable to find choral singers who would sing their lyrics, forcing them to record the parts in Hollywood.[51] The group was unable to find a record manufacturer in the US to press the album because it featured artwork showing nudity, which resulted in a delay to the album's release.[20] When one interviewer suggested that the band's music had become more "radio-friendly" and that they were being accepted into the US mainstream, a Nameless Ghoul replied that in the US their music was banned from major chain stores, most late-night television shows, and most commercial radio stations. He said, "So, yes, mainstream America is absolutely welcoming us with open legs."[52] During an interview with Loudwire in October 2015, a band member stated that as of 2015, the US had become more accepting of their music and imagery, further evidenced by their appearance as the main musical guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on October 30, 2015, during a Halloween themed episode. This was Ghost's first live television appearance in the United States.
Chicago heavy metal-themed restaurant Kuma's Corner added a hamburger called "The Ghost" to its menu in tribute to Ghost. Its recipe includes goat shoulder, red wine reduction, and a communion wafer. Local Catholic institutions have called the burger "tasteless" and demanded Kuma's Corner to remove it from the menu. The restaurant's owner has refused and stated the burger is quite popular and tasty.[53][54]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jamie Raskin

Jamie Raskin won the Democratic primary for Maryland's US House District 8. This is the seat that Chris van Hollen gave up to run for (and win) the Democratic primary to replace retiring Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski.

So there's a good chance Raskin will in fact become the ONLY openly humanist member of the US House (or Senate).

One down. If up to 25% of the US population now reports as having "no religion" I think we should have quite a few more atheist/agnostic/humanist members in Congress. 

from Patheos

Jamie Raskin, An Openly Humanist U.S. House Candidate from Maryland, Just Won His Primary

While the focus of U.S. politics tonight is on Donald Trump‘s sweep over his Republican rivals, and Hillary Clinton‘s continued dominance over Bernie Sanders, there’s one race that may have slipped under the radar of atheists.
In Maryland, State Senator Jamie Raskin just won his primary for the U.S. House:
Why is that relevant?
Raskin, below, could become the next (and only) openly non-theistic member of Congress. And tonight, he overcame his biggest hurdle. In 2014, Democrat Rep. Chris Van Hollen won the same seat with 60% of the votes.

Raskin came to my attention years ago for a memorable retort he made (before he was in elected office) at a hearing concerning same-sex marriage:
“People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don’t put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible,” he said.
He’s not the first person to have said a variation of that line, but he was clearly someone who supported church/state separation.
In 2008, Raskin accepted an award from the American Humanist Association and joked in his acceptance speech about how he had the choice of declining the honor:
I’d never even heard of a politician turning down an award before, much less asking the offering party to keep the whole thing hush-hush. Has it gotten so edgy out there that those of us in public life are afraid to be associated with the great tradition of philosophical and ethical humanism? Do we actually have to whisper about the fact that many Americans still identify with the Enlightenment values of our Founders and refuse to organize their political thoughts according to sectarian religious dogma? I vowed to show up in person so people could see at least one other elected official besides the great U.S. Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) who isn’t afraid to utter the “h” word in public.
Raskin was also quoted in a New York Times piece in 2014 about constitutional provisions in several states that cannot be enforced but still ban atheists from holding public office:
Paging through a copy of the State Constitution, [Raskin] said the atheist ban was only part of the “flotsam and jetsam” that needed to be wiped from the document. “It’s an obsolete but lingering insult to people,” he said.
“In the breathtaking pluralism of American religious and social life, politicians have to pay attention to secularists just the same as everybody else,” Mr. Raskin said. “If a Mormon can run for president and Muslims can demand official school holidays, surely the secularists can ask the states for some basic constitutional manners.”
And last August, he received the support of the Freethought Equality Fund PAC:
“We are dedicated to ensuring Jamie Raskin’s election to Congress as the first candidate who openly identifies as a humanist with a commitment to champion the First Amendment principles of our Constitution,” said PAC Manager Bishop McNeill.
While some candidates would shy away from that endorsement, Raskin welcomed it:
“I am fighting for a politics that has all of humanity in mind and does not divide people based on race, gender, sexual orientation or religion,” said Senator Raskin. “I’m delighted to accept the endorsement of the Freethought Equality Fund and everyone else who wants to make sure that we base public policy on science, reason and humanist values that take into account the interests of all people.”
Raskin has been in the Maryland State Senate since 2006 and was selected as majority whip in 2012. He has the experience that recent atheist candidates for public office have lacked and a very real shot at winning the seat. More importantly, while he doesn’t hide the fact that he’s not religious, he also doesn’t flaunt it in a way that might alienate religious voters. It’s a non-issue for him — which is exactly how it should be. (The more interesting question will be whether his opponent will try to use his Humanism against him.)
If Raskin wins his race, he would become the first openly non-religious candidate to win a new seat in Congress. (Pete Stark’s admission came long after he first entered political office; he won two re-elections after coming out as a non-theist.)
If you’d like to donate to his campaign, you can do that right here.

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