I think it’s very funny how the GOP is trying to bash Bill Maher on the exact same grounds that EVERYONE is bashing Rush Limbaugh for their sexist comments.
The thing is, calling Bill Maher a sexist as an answer to Limbaugh totally misses the point of context. Yes, Bill Maher has made incredible sexist comments, but from what I’ve seen of Maher over the years, the motivation for doing so is VERY different from what Limbaugh did.
DICLAIMER: I don’t think that Maher should use sexist language at all, especially if he’s not actually a sexist. There’s no excuse for that; when he calls Sarah Palin a “bimbo” or some such sexist term, there’s no reason why he can’t use a non-sexist term to make fun of her political ideology. And he should; even if he doesn’t mean it in a chauvinist way, disseminating sexist terminology is only going to make the situation worse.
That said, the difference between Limbaugh and Maher is entirely on the level of political motivation.
First off, I do not believe for a second that Bill Maher is actually a sexist—as in, believes males are superior to females. I have never seen him do or say anything that suggests this fact. I’m fairly certain I have seen him argue for women’s rights quiet a lot. Also, when he lambastes a female, he usually does it because of their political agenda that usually involves TAKING AWAY rights from people. That was a large part of Palin’s platform, after all (as is most of the GOP agenda these days). She believes in disallowing gay marriage and all those other oh so prejudiced and restrictive subjects of law that deserve to be argued against on the basis of their restriction of freedom. THIS is why Maher makes fun of Palin and other politicians (female and male alike), and this is what prompts his often sexist comments (which, again, should be replaced with non-sexist ones—he’d certainly get the same effect, though maybe not as many laughs from the common watcher of his show) as a way to insult the person putting forth these views.
The problem is, when you use a sexist term to insult one person, you’re A) not just insulting that one person, and B) you’re not insulting them based on the thing they’re doing that’s actually insult-worthy, thus deflecting the point of said insult in the first place.
The OTHER problem is that Maher’s show is also a COMEDY show. The sad fact is that people will laugh when he makes sexist jokes like that, and that’s a large part of why his show gets watched. In fact, I wonder if he did this sort of thing nearly as much on Politically Incorrect when he had to worry about language censorship. I don’t remember, it was too long ago…anyway, Maher will probably continue to use sexist language to elicit laughs even though he’s not actually a sexist.
Limbaugh, on the complete other hand, flung his incredibly derisive sexist tirade at a person who was trying to stand up for the rights of people who are in danger of having them stripped from them. Sandra Fluke was A) there to argue FOR women’s rights, B) there not even to argue for herself, but for her friend, and C) wasn’t even ALLOWED to speak at a panel discussing women’s rights in a move that was itself ridiculously sexist.
So when Limbaugh blasts a women with sexist language in THIS setting, one can’t help but think he’s actually a sexist who does not believe women have a right to defend their rights when others are trying to take them away. Furthermore, Limbaugh ISN’T a comedian who thinks it necessary to elicit laughs with crude jokes; he runs an actual political show and is a higher-up representative of his political party. When he says things like this, it’s presented as Republican stance and policy, not comedy like Maher.
In short, the POLITICAL ANGLE of Limbaugh and Maher are quite objectively different. Maher flings sexist remarks at women when they argue for the restriction of rights and legislation based on prejudice, hate, intolerance, and close-mindedness, while Limbaugh does so because he and his party believes in a theocracy in which he and other rich people stay rich, women don’t have a say in their health decisions, and people who don’t share his beliefs do not deserve to have their voices heard.
None of this excuses the sexist language itself, but comparing Maher and Limbaugh politically in terms of their motivation is ridiculous. Of course, Republicans will never admit this fact anyway, because they’re so afraid of the logical contradictions and incorrect assumptions that their platform is base on, and as such they’ll ignore reason as much as they can.
I was wondering recently if people realize that being “spiritual” and being “religious” are two entirely different things.
Tumblr sure doesn’t…the “Spirituality” tag seems to cover all of the “Religious” blogs as well. That’s rather inaccurate, in my opinion.
The way I’ve always looked at it, Spirituality is essentially one’s relationship with one’s non-rational beliefs, how those beliefs get expressed or otherwise acknowledged, and the examination of how these beliefs manifest themselves in every day life. Religion, on the other hand, is an organization of people that share the same belief system independent of what the spiritual qualities of those beliefs are.
In a vast majority of cases, I would imagine, people’s spiritual beliefs line up almost perfectly with their religious beliefs. I would venture to say that the more “religious” someone is, the more their spiritual and religious sides overlap. But even within the bounds of a well-defined religion, levels of spirituality can vastly differ. I’m no expert here, but I’ve known people who follow Christianity who fall on both ends of the spiritual spectrum but both hold firm beliefs in the religious tenets of Christianity. The less spiritual person might go to Church every week, observe the holidays, and have a belief in all that stuff that Christians say about God and Christ and whatnot. The spiritual Christian might infer more intuitive meanings from the words in the bible and change his or her life behavior accordingly. They might even “meditate” more on Christian values (I’m not sure what sort of spiritual practices exist in Christianity…in Judaism this could be like the comparison between someone who just occasionally goes to services—probably primarily for the high holidays and family bar/bat mitzvahs—and someone who is actually into kabbalah). The spiritual often involves personal ritual, while the religious involves communal ritual.
I venture to say that often what people value as “spiritual” does not line up with what they value as “religious.” I, for example, am an atheist who still has a rather spiritual side that largely lines up with Taoism and the personal cultivation that comes from Eastern Thought. I am culturally Jewish, but it is not my religion, and has not been for over a decade (I question whether it really ever was…I certainly never “believed” the way religious people do). My spiritual journey, however, has taken many changes over the years.
When I consider these two facets alongside Faith, I come to the conclusion that Faith, or having faith in something, is NOT solely the property of either religion of spirituality. One can have faith in both realms, as well as different degrees of faith in both. I’ve met a Taoist Spiritualist who was a Ba Gua master and firmly believed in the ability to manipulate personal energy, pass it between people, and use it to heal, yet this person was also a rather devout Christian. He was a fascinating, deep, and HAPPY person who was very enthusiastic to share his diverse views with us.
I also feel that the confusion between religion and spirituality is an important factor in the reason why many religious zealots believe that atheists have no faith. That is simply not true: while one may not believe the tenets of a religion, one may have a deep well of faith in the spiritual—and this spiritual side of said person may not align with any accepted or popular religion at all. Indeed, I ask “why should it have to?”
I actually find that most atheists have a great deal of faith, whether it’s faith in rationalism, science, peace, love, charity…the list goes on. These ARE qualities that are capable of being the target of faith, and they are all worthy of such a link. This is what those who persecute in the name of religion to not understand. Well…that and the fact that they just don’t understand anyone who can be different from them at all (for the extreme ones, anyway).
I think that the overly religious people out there, the zealots, don’t realize that religion and spirituality can be and are very different things for a lot of people. I have a feeling I’m going to become increasingly annoyed at the zealots who insist that atheists are faithless. Clearly they don’t understand the concept of faith AS a concept; they only view it as something only they understand. What a shame.
Lo an behold, here’s the Jefferson quote Maher refers to at the end of the video in my previous post. And much to my surprise, it actually has to do with the Trinity.
Yes, THAT Thomas Jefferson. As in, one of the people who founded and built the country the conservative Christians want to hijack. HE, and many of the other founding fathers thought religion had ZERO PLACE in government. Why should that change now?
I wrote a little more about the founding fathers’ anti-religion-in-government beliefs here.
‘The impact of science on society’ by Bertrand Russell, p.89.
I wish more things had a peer review system. Especially politics…it’d be some much nice to be able to just oust someone from office immediately when they perform some gross violation of the constitution. Like all those religious-based laws that are getting passed or brought up in Virginia and Tennessee. “I’m sorry, Mr. Senator, but on peer review your proposed law is already unconstitutional. It’s dead, and you should go away now.” That’d be so much nicer than having the law passed and then making people face an injustice with no recourse for months or years until some other politician proposes a law or motion to repeal the faulty thing. It’s just so damn inefficient.
What if the Courts could intercept an unconstitutional law before it’s passed instead of after. Why wouldn’t lawmakers consult the judiciary beforehand? Do they or have they ever do or done this? One would think it would be a good idea.
The same goes for religion. “Mr. Christ, you turned water into wine? Can you show us how you did that so that we may try to repeat your results in our own facilites?” “You say the bush was burning but not being consumed? Let’s try this again over here…” Of course, there are irrational yet accepted reasons why this wouldn’t work…but one can dream.
And there’s nothing like Sunday morning pipe dreams….I need more sleep.
A good, fun, popular question…that’s very difficult to answer for a person like me. :) So I’ll break it down into categories:
1. Character I would be for his stuff: The Doctor (no brainer!)
2. Character I would be for his superpowers: Professor X. The ability not just to read minds, but to control people’s minds and memories, too, is just awesome. Muahahahaaa….
3. Character I would be in a “real world”-based fictional setting: Jason Bourne. The man’s got skillz.
4. Character I admire but wouldn’t necessarily want to be: Marv, from Sin City. The man can take a beating AND is as loyal as anyone.
5. Non-human fictional character I would be: Jane, from the Ender Quartet. Trying to describe why without spoilers is hard, but let’s just say she would live forever, has access to all information anywhere, and is very good for “transportation.” If you’ve read the series, you know what I mean. ;)
I think that’s it for now…if I come up with more later I may add to the list. Thanks for the question!
Anyone out there got any? Ask away!
WARNING: There might be some spoilers in here. I’m not sure yet.
I just finished reading Dune Messiah, by Frank Herbert, the other day, something I’ve put off for a long time. Since high school, in fact (I’m 33 now…some 15-odd years or so). And I must say, I was VERY disappointed.
I read Dune back in high school, and I thought it was one of the best science fiction novels I’ve ever read. And I know I’m not alone in this. So, having liked it so much, I of course decided to pick up Dune Messiah and keep going.
I got about 130 pages in or so, and then my interest in finishing it just kind of dwindled out. Many years later, maybe slightly after college, I tried again. Once again, the same thing happened: I got a small chunk, maybe a third, of the way into it and then fizzled.
Finally, now, I made myself finish it. And the first thing I noticed about doing so was that it was HARD! It was literally a chore…it was hard to read, tedious, and boring. On the whole, this made me quite sad.
The story is SO much smaller than Dune. It seriously reads like one tiny episode in the life of Paul Atreides and his friends. The basic plot is that there is a small conspiracy of Paul’s enemies who are trying to bring him down, while a religious Jihad praising Paul as a Messiah rages through the universe. Meanwhile, Paul is upset at this and is depressed. Not too original, really. I suppose it might be considered a natural consequence of what happened in Dune, but I don’t believe that. I found this to be a very weary and boring continuation of the ideas presented in Dune.
But, why did it take so much effort to read this relatively short 330 or so page book? Because a vast majority of what was in it was completely unnecessary. An overwhelming amount of the story is dedicated to Paul simply looking off a balcony and brooding to himself. It’s a TON of the book, and after the first time or two it becomes unnecessary. It’s especially unnecessary after the 10th or 11th time. How much brooding do we really need before we get the point? Not much, and way less than is here.
The whole time I was waiting for someone to actually DO something. And it didn’t happen until the very end.
I will say this though: It’s not bad as far as science fiction actually goes. There is a little bit of stuff in here that builds upon the sci-fi ideas of Dune by adding to it, mostly about the idea of prescience and how that translates into action (SPOILER: the best stuff with this is how Paul is still able to function normally after losing his eyes). But the problem is that the EXACT SAME sci-fi ideas could have been introduced in about 150 pages instead of a whole novel, and the rest of Dune Messiah is filled with brooding, lots of waiting around, lots of characters having uninteresting and pointless conversations that are meant to add flavor and color to the world but don’t, and lots of descriptions of sand and dust blowing over stuff. And lots of annoying, REPEATED rhetorical questions that Paul asks to himself. The book is SO overdone.
And I had such high hopes, too, because I watched the Children of Dune miniseries on the SciFi channel when they were originally broadcast several years ago, and it was AMAZING. Wait, that deserves to be in bold: AMAZING! Much better than the original SciFi channel rendering of Dune itself. And now that I’ve read the book, I can say that part of the reason why it was amazing is because the miniseries got through the Dune Messiah material in FAR less time than it spent on the Children of Dune material (the miniseries covered both Messiah and Children, books 2 and 3, in one event). It was much better for it.
I still might read Children of Dune one day—I probably will—but I can’t right away. I need a break from the monotony. In the meantime, I may watch the Children of Dune miniseries again. It’s that good, highly recommended. Not so much the book of Dune Messiah though. Read the first 3 chapters and the last 3, that’s probably all you need.
Socrates (via philphys)
I love this quote…but, since Socrates never actually wrote anything himself, I’m wondering what source it comes from. Plato?
Lo and behold, I discovered that there is another body in the solar system that is a good candidate to support extra-terrestrial life aside from Europa (which I posted about here)!!
Ceres is the largest body in the Asteroid Belt, and it looks like it has more fresh water on it than on all of Earth. Spectacular! And, two awesome facts:
1. It’s a lot closer than Europa, and thus easier to explore.
2. We’re already on the way to explore it! The Dawn spacecraft is already orbiting Vesta, another protoplanet in the Asteroid Belt, and will reach Ceres in 2015. Exciting!
As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m very interested in all of these bodies that have potential liquid water. The potential for life is greatest somewhere other than Earth in such places. They’re already building a mission to Europa, and Dawn is on it’s way to Ceres…though I’m not sure what useful info it will find in the realm of potential signs of life.
I still want something to land on one of these bodies and drill through the ice to the liquid water. Chances are it won’t happen in my lifetime though. Oh well.
Still, my personal discovery of Ceres makes me quite happy. Though I’m surprised it took me this long, considering my appreciation for the subject.
If anyone’s curious, the way I found it was by looking up the history of the reclassification of Pluto. This whole “dwarf planet” thing is kind of silly. It’s really just a very large asteroid. So is everything else around it. The people who are so fervently against declassifying it as a planet are just silly and overly sentimental. It’s not like classifying Pluto as an asteroid will make it angry or anything. Sheesh!
I read a few Atheist blogs here on Tumblr (because I am one). Many of them answer a lot of questions or comments from readers, several of whom are insulting these intelligent bloggers for their “lack of faith.”
Sometimes the comments they get, or the inflammatory religious items they link to, insult Atheists for their lack of faith, saying things like “we can kill them because they don’t believe in anything,” or some other such consequence for being faithless.
I would like to point out something to religious people:
FAITH DOES NOT EQUAL RELIGION. You do NOT need to consider yourself a member of a religion to qualify in having faith. In turn, faith does not have to be in something religious in nature. Faith is, quite simply, belief. Thus, faith CAN be those things above, but it is not limited to such things. Here is the exact definition of faith according to dictionary.com. Look at definition 4. See? It doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion.
Thus, I’m quite sick of religious people believing that Atheists “have no faith.” On the contrary, I—and I imagine a whole ton of other Athiests out there—have PLENTY of faith. Just not in what religious people people often incorrectly think that faith actually is. Sure, faith can fall perfectly in line with the tenants of a religious system, but by no means does it have to be. They are not the same thing. They are not inexorably linked. The religious and the religious institutions out there would be wise to acknowledge and accept this.
I have a LOT of faith. It just so happens that I have FAITH in SCIENCE and RATIONALITY. I have faith in the ability of human beings to think, to use their brains, the organ that separates and (some would say) elevates humanity above the rest of the planet’s life. Furthermore, I have faith in a personal spirituality that is mostly (but not entirely) in line with philosophical Taoism. I believe in the energy of life and the mind/body interaction that each human being can learn to harness with a dedication to self-knowledge and self-understanding. All of these things are not mutually exclusive by any means.
To call Atheists “faithless” is incredibly insulting not only to them, but to knowledge, the dictionary, the English language, and even to those doing the faithless-calling.
Of course, this “close-minded” argument is nothing new to Atheists, who have to deal with in their arguments all the time. Honestly, it just makes me sad that people will refuse to use logic and facts at certain times. The evidence is out there, apparently just waiting to be ignored by them.
I’m an Atheist, and I have plenty of faith. It’s just in something different from others. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in anything or lack any sort of moral compass. Those things come from experience, intuition, and intelligence. THOSE are the things I have faith in—and like I said, plenty of it.
This is why most remakes shouldn’t be remade. Hollywood hasn’t learned this lesson yet; they have it backwards. They make remakes of films that are already great, thinking to capitalize on the fame of the previously great film, but they thus inevitably make a worse film than the original. There are VERY few exceptions (The Thomas Crown Affair is at the top of that short list). I’m very glad that the one who DOES know this lesson is someone as entertaining as Stephen Chow.