Friday, July 08, 2005


I can't tell you how many years I've believed the following characterization of authoritarian people in order to justify my mistrust of conservatives. One of the movies I've always accepted which showed this in the earliest days is the German film "Blue Angel" which was made by Germans in Germany. What am I to think now?

"What was there about the German people that had led to this horror? The answer proposed was that their rigid father-oriented upbringing had caused them to develop an “authoritarian personality,” characterized by an “intolerance of ambiguity” and passive compliance to authority figures. Authoritarianism achieved the status of a psychopathological syndrome in and of itself, to be distinguished from normal psychological functioning; paper-and-pencil scales of it were developed that asked subjects to endorse or reject such statements as “respect for parents and authorities are the most important virtues that children can learn.” To accuse someone of being authoritarian became the same sort of insult that accusing someone of being “passive-aggressive or “sexists’ would later become. Authoritarians were thought to be particularly prevalent on the extremes of the political right and left, although they could be found anywhere. Unlike the rest of us, authoritarians were unthinking, gullible, passive sheep who in group settings could be led by accepted authorities to wreak great havoc on the world." (from HOUSE OF CARDS by Robyn Dawes, p. 201)


America is facing tough economic and cultural times. We need to rally to our secular, scientific and technical traditions. Now is not the time to try to compete with our superstitious, religious, unscientific Moslem neighbors in the Middle East, trying to out-religion them as our fundamentalist Christians would like us to do. Though some Americans can compete with the religiosity, ignorance and anti-intellectual aims of the Moslem nations, most Americans are still, I hope, made of much more realistic and practical stuff. Come on, America, roll up your sleeves and return to the secularism of your founding fathers who built this nation into a mighty engine for democracy, not by religiosity but by industry, science, technology and hard-headed realism. These namby-pamby Christian types will only sink us into the ignorance of the backward Moslem nations we are currently struggling against.


Here's some good science, even twenty something years old by Carl Sagan:

“In my laboratory at Cornell University we work on, among other things, prebiological organic chemistry, making some of the music of life. We mix together and spark the gases of the primitive Earth: hydrogen, water, ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide—all present, incidentally, on the planet Jupiter today and throughout the Cosmos. The sparks correspond to lightning, also present on the ancient Earth and on modern Jupiter. The reaction vessel is initially transparent: the precursor gases are entirely invisible. But after ten minutes of sparking, we see a strange brown pigment slowly streaking the sides of the vessel. The interior gradually becomes opaque, covered with a thick brown tar. If we had used ultraviolet light—simulating the early Sun—the results would have been more or less the same. The tar is an extremely rich collection of complex organic molecules, including the constituent parts of proteins and nucleic acids. The stuff of life, it turns out, can be very easily made.” (COSMOS, Carl Sagan, p. 38)

That's right—life is easily made. It's not so tough that only a hypothetical superbeing can do it. Don't let the religious right, mumbo jumbo us into intellectual backwardness.


Today, I heard a man called a hero because he found a lost child while part of a search party. Is that all it takes to be a hero nowadays? Well, let me tell you, I'm a hero too. Yesterday, in a crowded elevator, I held in a mighty bean fart which might have decimated the entire elevator population. It really hurt to hold that mighty bomb in check, let me tell you.

"Some mornings it just doesn't seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps." —Emo Philips

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