Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mosque Wars Rage On

NYC construction worker Andy Sullivan has made a name for himself with his public opposition of the WTC "Mosque."  He founded the Hard Hat Pledge, where construction workers pledge to not work on the construction of the Mosque/Community Center.  Now he's moving on to promoting a boycott of teen pop star Justin Bieber, who had the nerve to voice support of the mosque project in an interview with Tiger Beat magazine.

In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, taxpayers are footing the $75,000 bill for legal fees in the doomed-from-the-start legal challenge of the planned construction of a mosque that was approved by Rutherford County earlier this year.

Once again, Evangelical Conservatives remain the largest threat to religious freedom in this country.

Harry Potter A Christian?

Harry Potter is a good guy with a strong value system, so therefore he must be a Christian.  This is the connection Episcopalian author Danielle Tumminio is making in her new book "God and Harry Potter."

Her reasoning:  “I see him best as a seeker in a world where Christianity is not the vocabulary. I see him best as a seeker trying to live a life of faith in the same way a Christian seeker tries to live a life grace,” Tumminio told CNN.

So in a world where Christianity doesn't exist, she sees Harry Potter as a Christian? 

The Harry Potter series has been seriously criticized by conservative Christians, even to the point where it ranks first in the American Library Association’s Top Banned/Challenged books from 2000-2009, and the Salvation Army banned Harry Potter and Twilight toys because they aren't in line with Christian principles.  You can donate a toy gun, but not a figurine of a boy wizard. 

Tumminio argues (correctly) that the Christian stance against Harry Potter is "very narrow," and that criticism of the books "wasn’t just doing the books an injustice, it was doing Christianity an injustice. First of all I was astounded so many of (the critics) hadn’t read the books.”

Personally, I think her argument is a little too narrow.  Christian criticism is not unusual and reserved solely for the Harry Potter series.  Christians are known to take a hard line stance against supernatural things that aren't about Christianity.  And just because Harry Potter is the hero who's always trying to do what's morally right, that doesn't make him a Christian.  In fact, I find the implication that all good people must be Christians even more offensive and narrow minded than Christians rejecting a book series that's supernatural.     

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Broadway Musical I Want To See....

I would brave the bedbugs of NY City to watch this musical by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Avenue Q's Robert Lopez.  The Book Of Mormon opens in March, and I'm sure it will be hilarious and offensive.  According to (which quotes Vogue), the musical is "the story of a pair of teenage missionaries who get sent to Uganda, where can-do Mormon pep meets its match in disease, starvation, and warlords who shoot people in the face." One of the lead characters in the show is gay and will attempt to contain his sexuality.

In my search for photos from the South Park episode "All About The Mormons," I came across a Mormon website called ""  This website compares the portrayal of the Joseph Smith story on South Park to what Mormons actually believe.  Their "truth" is just as crazy, that's for sure, but you've got to admire the Mormons for being so opportunistic and diplomatic with this approach. 

Better Than Bad, It's Good...

photo from ""
Here's a strange Christmas ritual for you.  Caga Tio means "Poop Log" in Spanish, and the Catalonians have a tradition of beating on a log wrapped in a blanket with a stick until it shits out gifts.  They also sing a song about how they don't want any herring, but they only want candy, so they order the log to shit candy out instead of herring.  I'm hoping to adopt this tradition next year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

FCC Net Neutrality a Joke?

The FCC passed their Net Neutrality standards yesterday, and nobody seems to like it. 

The gist is that the new rules allow the FCC to step in and investigate disputes about how internet service providers manage their networks if they think the ISPs are violating their rules.  The problem is, the FCC hasn't even posted the rules yet for the public to see, or hadn't at the time of this post.  So we only have a vague idea of what's going on.  What we do know is that the rules differ slightly between fixed ISPs and wireless providers.  At least for now.  But with Internet service trending more and more towards wireless providers, this doesn't look like true "net neutrality" to me. 

I was kind of waiting to read the rules for myself before I posted, but I'll just have to follow up when they finally do.

Al Franken calls this issue the "most important free speech issue of our time," and I'm kind of starting to agree with him (though every free speech issue is very important).  "...This principle is called 'net neutrality' -- and it's under attack. Internet service giants like Comcast and Verizon want to offer premium and privileged access to the Internet for corporations who can afford to pay for it.
The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission has the power to issue regulations that protect net neutrality. The bad news is that draft regulations written by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski don't do that at all. They're worse than nothing."

I really appreciate the last line in that quote, but I'd like to reserve total judgement until I read the actual rules.  Anybody have any interesting insights or specific concerns about this? 

Palin's Anti-Anti-Obesity Stance...

Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign is nothing new.  Bill Clinton campaigned on Nickelodeon in 2005 to promote physical fitness and healthy nutrition to children, only a year after his quadruple bypass surgery.  George W. Bush urged Americans to improve their health through exercise, proper diet, and regular doctors visits.  Ronald Reagan issued an Executive Order on Physical Fitness and Sports in 1982 "in order to expand the program for physical fitness and sports."  The program that he referred to is the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, which has been around since 1956. 

From 1989 until 1993, Arnold Schwarzenegger was appointed as Council chairman, and traveled to all 50 states to personally advocate the importance of daily physical education in American schools.  Was this considered "interfering with parental freedoms," or "big government telling us how to live our lives"?  Imagine any of George HW Bush's critics complaining about the Council on Physical Fitness, and how Arnold and Bush were "telling us how to live our lives."

But suddenly now, Sarah Palin seems to have a serious problem with Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign.  In a twisted misunderstanding of the campaign itself, Palin has labelled Obama's efforts as an attack on personal freedom.  I don't even really want to quote the dumb bitch.  All I can say is WHAT THE FUCK?  I can't wait to hear this rhetoric thrown my way sometime soon by a fat, bible thumping conservative who can't wait to defend his/her right to commit gluttony...

And just before I blow my top, along comes Mike Huckabee to calm me down and remind me that Evangelicals aren't always irrational about the same things.  From  "With all due respect to my colleague and friend Sarah Palin, I think she's misunderstood what Michelle Obama is trying to do," Huckabee said. "Michelle Obama's not trying to tell people what to eat or force government's desires on people. She's stating the obvious: that we have an obesity crisis in this country."  It's great of Huckabee to side with reality here, and his comments will definitely prevent many Evangelicals from falling for Palin's divisive tactics, but don't forget that Huck believes that Dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth together.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Baby Jesus And A Half...

I love the blog "Hyperbole and a Half," and there's finally something on it that's relevant to Cram and Ballwell.  Just in time, because I'm working on a post idea for tomorrow and I needed some filler for today.

Today's post is called "The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas," and it's an absolute riot.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.  The author recalls her first experience with the story of the Nativity, and how she attempted to improve the story as a 6 year old.  As usual, the drawings are just as funny as the story.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Conservatives Fear DADT Repeal Harms Religious Freedom....WTF?

One thing we can count on is that bigots will usually make themselves heard.  There are atheists in fox holes (Pat Tillman), but there aren't many wallflower bigots.  The rest of us have to be the unofficial bigot police, enforcing our own unwritten "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding bigotry.  The rule goes like this:  "You can think whatever you want.  You can feel however you want.  But when you say something that reeks of hatred or intolerance, it's our responsibility to point it out and ridicule it.  Especially when your voice makes a difference."

How in holy fuck does the repeal of DADT threaten the religious freedoms of Christians in the military, especially Chaplains?  Can anybody on the religious right explain this to me in a way that doesn't sound bigoted?  Cathy Lynn Grossman points out that "Chaplains care for all Service members, including those who claim no religious faith, facilitate the religious requirements of personnel of all faiths, provide faith-specific ministries, and advise the command," but, "A large number of military chaplains (and their followers) believe that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination, and that they are required by God to condemn it as such."  The Chaplains are afraid that if they preach against homosexuality, they'll be punished for "hate speech."  I wonder if Chaplains still speak out against interracial marriage?  I wonder if chaplains still speak out against divorce?  Aren't there already plenty of non-believers in the military?  They need to adapt to it, just like religion has always (reluctantly) adapted to society.

John McCain is really going crazy about this DADT repeal.  "Today is a very sad day," he said on Saturday before the Senate passed the legislation, calling it "great damage" to the military, despite the Pentagon's study suggesting otherwise.  I really hope this harms his career as much as it should, but we'll have to settle for knowing that it will be an ugly black mark on his legacy in the long run.             

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Beefheart steps out of a triangle, into striped light

Captain Beefheart finally cashed is tropical hot dog paycheck, and we at C&B are truly sad. If you ever need a little help remembering that it's okay to be different or just truly strange and weird, listen to some Beefheart and smile. It's dangerous business to walk around thinking that everything has to make sense, that everything not classifiable is odd and unpleasant. If you need a reminder, listen to Beefheart.

Atheist After Dark...

I know this is a total cop out of a post, but this Youtube video by atheistafterdark has all kinds of interesting updates on current happenings that we skeptics would be concerned with.  The most recent installment:  SF DMV worker proselytizes to a transgender woman, Salvation Army throws away toys that are "evil", Texas mega-church launches campaign to publicly shame stores not celebrating Christmas, some Glenn Beck ranting, Macy's Santa fired for questionable judgement.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Possible HIV Cure

A German man received a bone marrow transplant to treat his Leukemia, and it looks like it ended up curing him of HIV.  The result has baffled scientists and doctors, and obviously could lead to big developments in the search for a cure.  It should be interesting to see how this develops, and if the result can be reproduced.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Letter from Atheist Jesus

Why are people so surprised this was created by an atheist?

Display creator Jenelle Embrey clarifies in a comment on the news site that posted this that most of the text was found online by an unknown author, and she found it worthy to post on a sign at the courthouse.

Don't Buy Breast Milk Online....

Every once in a while, I read something in the news that opens my mind to worlds that were previously unknown to me.  This article about the online breastmilk market is a really good example of that.  This seems like something I'd see in a John Waters film, but it's not.  Mothers are actually purchasing breast milk online from other women via online classified ads. 

According to the article, the FDA says that purchasing breast milk on the internet from sites such as is not a good idea, and mothers should instead purchase from approved sources, such as the Human Milk Banking Association Of America.

The idea that people would purchase milk from an unknown person over the internet is absolutely dumbfounding.  Is formula really a bad option when compared to the idea that your baby could potentially be drinking the milk of a drug addict, or a person with a contagious disease?  How do you know if this stuff is even human milk?
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards Deserves To Rest In Peace

Elizabeth Edwards will be buried tomorrow here in Raleigh, NC.  She has been an unfortunate target this week of a bunch of religious nuts who want to criticize her for not being godly enough.  Aren't Christians supposed to refrain from passing judgement?  Isn't God supposed to be the only one who knows a person's heart?  I've argued with Christians about what it means to "pass judgement."  It seems to be a wild card that Christians throw out there when they're defending people they like.  Eddie Long is excused by some Christians (definitely not all) because "the facts aren't out there yet," and we "don't know his heart."  George Bush, Sarah Palin, and company are given the benefit of the doubt, simply because they say that they're Christians.  I'm not arguing that they shouldn't be believed, but I think that same courtesy should be extended across party lines by the religious right.  That's certainly not been the case when it's come to Elizabeth Edwards.  It could be because she was a lawyer, or because she had strong convictions that helping the less fortunate is more important than the wealthy getting tax breaks.  Either way, political affiliation does not constitute a person's level of religious conviction.

By now we've all heard about the Westboro Baptist fuckers who plan to protest at the funeral.  But that sort of lunacy has come to be expected from them.  It would be nice if the irrational criticism of a person's belief system ended there, but it doesn't.  This horrible shit of a man is questioning her faith, and her spiritual capacity:  "Still, at her death bed and giving what most folks are calling a final goodbye, Elizabeth Edwards couldn't find it somewhere down deep to ask for His blessings as she prepares for the hereafter? I guess that nihilism I've been discussing reaches up higher into the hard-left precincts than I thought."  Donald Douglas, you are a serious piece of shit.  Too bad there's not a hell for you to burn in.

For those of you who don't know Edwards' personal theology (which none of us truly do), she has been quoted in the past, saying "I have, I think, somewhat of an odd version of God. I do not have an intervening God. I don't think I can pray to him -- or her -- to cure me of cancer....I don't believe that we should live our lives that way for some promise of eternal life, but because that's what's right. We should do those things because that's what's right."  This is what some Christians are angry about?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cold War On Christmas, 2010

It's finally time to reignite the imaginary war on Christmas!  Atheists everywhere have received their top secret orders in the mail, billboards have been erected that dare to challenge Christian beliefs, and businesses everywhere are wishing people "Happy Holidays." 

In defense of Christmas, brave Christians everywhere are pulling out all the stops, occasionally even casting aside their very values in a last ditch effort to save the season.  Long ago, the baby Jesus and Santa Claus were nearly enemies.  Christians often believed that Santa detracted from the true "reason for the season."  Now, the two are forever joined together, thanks to all of the believers who insist that rampant over-commercialization and holiday consumerism be done in the name of Christ.  "Don't you dare wish me Happy Holidays as I trample over people to purchase this animatronic Sesame Street toy." 

Conservative talking-heads are jumping in eagerly, as is expected.  For eleven months out of the year, they loyally defend the rights of the corporations and businesses.  Raise minimum wage?  Not fair to the business owners.  If you want more money and better benefits, then you should search for work elsewhere.  Scrutinize businesses for not hiring enough minorities?  No way!  These businesses have the right to hire whomever they want, they argue.  But this is war, and sometimes war demands sacrifice.  And sometimes that sacrifice is consistency in values.  Company-wide standards are no longer considered the prerogative of upper management, so long as those standards omit Christmas decorations.  Instead, it's proof of a conspiracy to kill Christmas.  Public offices and buildings that don't allow citizens to decorate their grounds with trees and nativity scenes aren't refraining from favoring a religion, instead they're denying people their rights to celebrate Jesus.

Sometime in the spring...

...Now, in December
The Grinch thought he could stop Christmas by stealing decorations and gifts, only to find out that it's the spirit, attitude and good cheer that make the season so special.  But that's just a story, and this is WAR in the real world!  Holidays only mean what those who celebrate them say they mean.  It appears that Christians fear that Christmas can be taken away exactly how the Grinch planned to, so maybe it really can?                    

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bank Takes Down Tree, Christians Shit Pants On Cue...

A Chase Bank in Southlake, Texas was ordered to take down their Christmas tree last week by their central office.  The tree was provided and decorated by a friend of the bank's manager, Mr. Antonio Morales, owner of the local Bellagio Day Spa who is known throughout the town for his tree decorations.  The people in town are predictably shitting their pants about it, and so are Christians everywhere (just read the comments at the end of the story).

For some reason, every article I find on this seems all too anxious to point out that Mr. Morales annually puts up a Christmas tree in a Jewish friend's office.  A Jewish man who owns his own business certainly has the right to decorate however he wants.  The article I've linked to seems to be the only one that even attempts to explain the fact that Chase Bank has a policy that their banks only use corporate provided decorations.  Maybe somebody complained about allergies?  Maybe somebody was offended?  Who cares, and that's not the point.  Chase bank can do what they want with their decorations, and their branches have to honor their wishes.  That's just the way it is.  This isn't an assault on Christmas.

Cram and Ballwell plan on writing more about the "assault on Christmas," so stay tuned.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

Televangelist Cheats On Wife, Thwarts Extortion Scheme

This is hardly news anymore.  We may as well change our blog name to "Televangelist Watch" with how often this happens.  This time, at least it's a heterosexual affair. 

Reverend Marcus Lamb of Daystar Television Network admitted to an inappropriate sexual affair on the air last week with his wife Joni (above, as "Cockatoo" from Zoobilee Zoo) by his side.  Lamb claims that three people threatened to expose the affair if the couple didn't pay them over $7 million.

Phil Kammer of wrote an interesting piece from a concerned Christian's point of view that's worth reading, if you can get through all of the typos.  Kammer makes some relevant points that you'd hope every Christian would make, but unfortunately many do not:

...This has left the Church with many pastors and leaders who have gotten away with their deeds only to teach our youth that the Grace of Christ is best used to cover our tracks...Mr. Marcus has almost successfully gotten away with adultery on his terms.

Kammer also brings to attention some more interesting dirt that's sprouted from the aftermath:   
...Jeanette Hawkins the Marketing Director for Daystar filed suit against her employer Daystar because the situation became so outrageous that she was no longer able to respect her work place...In a effort to protect Daystar and Mr. Lambs reputation a counter suit was filed against Ms. Hawkins which almost forces me to question what is going on.  Do Christians act in this fashion?

It is also emphasized in this post that Christians are getting tired of defending their leaders to the world.  But isn't your leader supposed to be Jesus Christ?  Isn't the bible supposed to be your guide through your personal walk with the Lord?  Don't Christians always condemn people for "putting their faith in man" rather than Christ?  If the millionaire founder of a television network is considered one of your "Christian leaders," then how do you expect the rest of us to take your spirituality seriously when you're suprised that he's lacking the integrity you expected from him?    

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cheney the original Nigerian E-mail Scammer!

The biggest unapologetic asshole in the world will soon be charged with bribery by the Nigerian government.

The corporate and government secrets site "WikiDrips" has revealed that Cheney is actually the original Nigerian E-mail scammer! Here's the leaked bribe attempt:

Dear Mr. Clement Okon,

First, I must solicit your strictest confidence in this transaction request, as you are a man of G0d. I am the CEO of Halliburton, a the biggest and most important corporation in the whole world, as I'm certain that you are aware. Good man, we are literally seconds taking over the entire free western world, and as you are a man of "faith" and "knowledge" with big, clean hands that can both build and take apart (as has been proven), we require your assistance in what is surely YHWH's plan. The following requires your full attention, just as Moses required of the populace when he read the Ten Amendments.

As you are a man of great "wisdom" you already know that my lesbian daughter (I ask, humbly, as a forgiving man of Christ, to look beyond that painful fact that nags at me like a burning bowel) is trapped in your country, being held ransom by the Smokers. I do not need to tell you who the Smokers are, as you not a man who would be so foolish as to ignore the warnings of Waterworld. These Smokers do not wish us to build our natural gas plant because they believe, stupidly, the fire of their cigarettes would cause them to explode. As our files indicate you already agree that "science" is nothing but rubbish to entertain bird-like men with small hands while they make unimpressive "Business" in the "toilet." So then you certainly agreed long ago that the Smokers' claims are preposterous.

In order to commence this business, we solicit your assistance to enable us to transfer into your account the $6,180,000,000 required to secure her release and build the plant. You will be able to keep 3% of these funds following the transaction. Please send us the name of your bank and your checking account number as soon as possible so that we can accomplish this before YHWH strikes us down for not following His plan. This transaction is 100% safe and guaranteed by the full faith and credit of Jesus Christ himself, of whom you are already aware is a member of our board. (Leviticus 6:23)

In Christ I service you,
Richard "Dick" Cheney, A Man of God (A.H.B.P.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Honoring The Tradition Of Thanksgiving...

We hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving.  We know we did!  Billy Cram and I decided to follow the REAL traditions of Thanksgiving this year.  We consulted the holiest authority on American Christian holidays, the "BuyBull".  The BuyBull is really a great source of knowledge and guidance in this modern and lost world.  Where else can you find information on exactly whom to stone in this day and age?

As you're well aware, there are some minor translation differences between the many versions of the BuyBull.  The BuyBull was written in several variations of the ancient language "Bull," and since nobody really speaks these dialects anymore, we have to consult the expert's divinely inspired best efforts when we decide to take the BuyBull literally.  We looked at both the King Blames Version, and the New Interesting Version.  The New Interesting Version has been recently updated just this year, and so we'll be quoting from the latest and greatest good news, ALRIGHT! 

The King Blames Version states:  "Mount up on thine large and rare beasts, my people.  Kill the manna which I have provided unto you, and eat upon it with thanksgiving in your hearts."

The New Interesting Version is somewhat different:  "Ride on the backs of what one day will be known as dinosaurs, and go kill a turkey.  And then, eat the turkey and call this Thanksgiving." 

 This newest version proves that not only did Dinosaurs walk the earth with humans, but they're also an important part of the Thanksgiving celebration.
Photo from the Creation Museum, borrowed from
Dinosaurs have since become extinct, obviously because they weren't smart enough to build their houses out of those meteor-proof turtle shells like in the movie "Enemy Mine," so we clearly can't mount up on their backs and hunt turkeys.  Therefore, we decided to honor them symbolically, by adorning ourselves with dinosaur hats whilst hunting our manna.

After killing our birds, we compared them, and decided to keep only the best one.  We need just one turkey after all, so no need to be wasteful.

We came back home and prepared the meal according to the scriptures:  "And I command thee, baste thy turkey in his own fluids, and stuff his bowls with bread and other small bits of things.  Drink and be merry, and toss your old and unfit foods of yesterday about thine house in sport, and prepare only foods thou hast killed or ripped from the earth."  And so we did as the scriptures commanded.  We threw our leftover pasta all over the house and Cram rode his "Christ Cycle" around the den in praise.

"...and the elders of the word of the lord shall gather at the table together, and they shall eat and share amongst themselves."  So we gathered together and ate with the inspired voices of the lord:  our fat friend Jerry Falwell, the 1950s version of Billy Graham, the-rent-is-too-damn-high man, and Gargamel.

But Mr. Falwell did not want to share the gravy, so we threw mashed potatoes at him.  When we quoted the King Blames Version that one should "smite thy self, should ye be given to gluttony," Falwell replied with a quote from the Fat Christian's Version of the good book that "All sins are equal in the eyes of the Lord, except for gluttony, which is kind of a secondary offense that can only be combined with a serious offense, and isn't really punishable by itself."  

gif animator

But the best part of Thanksgiving is that we can finally start looking forward to Christmas!  Like it says in the New Interesting Version:  "Render unto Walmart the things that are Walmart's, and unto Best Buy the things that are Best Buy's.  For the birth of our lord shall mean more to man than mere salvation, and shall be personified here, at these sacred grounds.  The lord born as a man shall cause the multitudes to praise his name from the very tops of the markets.  When the rooster crows three times, there shall be hoards among you scattering to praise his name with your tithing not spared!"  And as the old hymn proclaims:  "holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!  Early on Black Friday, we stand in line for thee.  Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty!  Beat them with purses,  blessed spending spree."  This scripture, and this hymn represent the true meaning of Christmas to all believers.  Don't people understand that it's sacrilege to remove the name of Christ from this holy and overly commercial holiday season?  More on this at Christmas time....