A Small Thought

We have heard much screaming over Mr. Trump suggesting we might destroy cultural sites in Iran. Not ancient sites, obviously, but the more recent islamic ones which support the ‘mandate of allah.’

This is not just bad, but evil. Destroying cultural artifacts is more evil than killing. More evil than starving. More evil than letting girls burn to death in their flaming school because there were not properly dressed.

 

Right?

So why is it not egregiously evil to destroy cultural sites in America? Statues of Robert E. Lee. Murals of Columbus. Thomas Jefferson?

Buddhas of Bamyan

Based on the verdict of the clergymen and the decision of the supreme court of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) all the statues around Afghanistan must be destroyed.”

“According to Islam, I don’t worry about anything. My job is the implementation of Islamic order. The breaking of statues is an Islamic order and I have given this decision in the light of a fatwa of the ulema (clerics) and the supreme court of Afghanistan. Islamic law is the only law acceptable to me.”

“Only Allah, the Almighty, deserves to be worshipped, not anyone or anything else.

— Mullah Mohammad Omar[2In 2014, media reported destruction of multiple, Sunni and Shiite, mosques and shrines throughout areas captured by ISIL.[6] Among them were the Al-Qubba Husseiniya Mosque in Mosul, Sheikh Jawad Al-Sadiq Mosque, Mosque of Arnā’ūt, Mosque of Qado, Mosque of Askar e- Mullah and Saad Bin Aqeel Shrine in Tal Afar, Sufi Ahmed al-Rifai Shrine and tomb and Sheikh Ibrahim shrine in Mahlabiya District and the so-called Tomb of the Girl (Qabr al-Bint) in Mosul.[6] The Tomb of the Girl, reputed to honour a girl who died of a broken heart, was actually believed to be the tomb of medieval scholar Ali ibn al-Athir.[7]

In June 2014, ISIL bulldozed the two buildings in the complex of the shrine of Fathi al-Ka’en.[8]

On 24 September 2014, the Arba’een Wali Mosque and Shrine in Tikrit, containing forty tombs from the Umar era, was blown up.[9] On 26 February 2015 ISIL blew up the 12th century Green Mosque in central Mosul.[10]

In Mosul, ISIL also targeted several tombs with shrines built over them. In July 2014, ISIL destroyed one of the tombs of prophet Daniel (located in Mosul) by planted explosives.[11] On 24 July 2014, the tomb and mosque of the prophet Jonah was destroyed with explosives.[12] On 27 July, ISIL destroyed the tomb of Prophet Jirjis (George).[13]

On 25 July 2014, the 13th-century shrine of Imam Awn al-Din in Mosul, one of the few structures to have survived the 13th-century Mongol invasion, was destroyed by ISIL.[citation needed] The destruction was mostly carried out with explosive devices, but in some cases bulldozers were used.[6]

In March 2015, ISIL reportedly bulldozed to the ground the Hamu Al-Qadu Mosque in Mosul, dating back to 1880. The Hamu-Al-Qadu mosque contained an earlier tomb of Ala-al-din Ibn Abdul Qadir Gilani.[14] In the same year ISIL ordered the removal of all decorative elements and frescoes from mosques in Mosul, even those containing Quranic verses that mention Allah.[15] They were regarded by ISIL as “an erroneous form of creativity, contradicting the basics of sharia.” At least one imam in Mosul opposing that order was shot to death.[15]

Leaning minaret of the Great Mosque of Al-nuri. Destroyed by ISIL on 22 June 2017 during the Battle of Mosul.

ISIL also destroyed Sufi shrines near Tripoli, Libya, in March 2015. The shrines were destroyed by sledgehammers and bulldozers.[16]

In June 2015, it was announced that ISIL had blown up the ancient tombs of Mohammed bin Ali and Nizar Abu Bahaaeddine, located close to the ruins of Palmyra.[17]

In 2016, ISIL destroyed the Minaret of Anah located in Al Anbar Province, which dates back to the Abbasid era. The minaret was only rebuilt in 2013 after the destruction by an unknown perpetrator in 2006.[18][19]

In 2017, ISIL destroyed the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its leaning minaret. This was the mosque where ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the Islamic State caliphate three years prior

In June 2014, it was reported that ISIL elements had been instructed to destroy all churches in Mosul.[21] Since then, most churches within the city have been destroyed.

  • The Virgin Mary Church was destroyed with several improvised explosive devices in July 2014.[22]
  • Dair Mar Elia, the oldest monastery in Iraq, was demolished sometime between late August and September 2014. The destruction went unreported until January 2016.[23][24]
  • The Al-Tahera Church, built in the early 20th century, was possibly blown up in early February 2015.[1] However, there is no evidence that the church was actually destroyed.[25]
  • St Markourkas Church, a 10th-century Chaldean Catholic church, was destroyed on 9 March 2015, according to the Iraqi government official Dureid Hikmat Tobia. A nearby cemetery was also bulldozed.[26]
  • Another church, which was reportedly “thousands of years” old, was blown up in July 2015. According to Kurdish sources, four children were inadvertently killed when the church was destroyed.[27]
  • The Sa’a Qadima Church, which was built in 1872, was blown up in April 2016.

 

ISIL also blew up or demolished a number of other churches elsewhere in Iraq or in Syria. The Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir ez-Zor, Syria was blown up by ISIL militants on 21 September 2014.[29][30]

On 24 September 2014 ISIL militants destroyed with improvised explosive devices the 7th-century Green Church (also known as St Ahoadamah Church) belonging to the Assyrian Church of the East in Tikrit.[31]

The Mar Behnam Monastery in Khidr Ilyas near Bakhdida, Iraq was destroyed by ISIL in March 2015.[32][33]

As of 5 April 2015, ISIL destroyed the Assyrian Christian Virgin Mary Church on Easter Sunday in the Syrian town of Tel Nasri. “As the ‘joint forces’ of Kurdish People’s Protection Units and local Assyrian fighters attempted to enter the town”, ISIL set off the explosives destroying what remained of the church.[34] ISIL had controlled the church since 7 March 2015.

In May 2014, ISIL members smashed a 3,000-year-old neo-Assyrian statue from Tel Ajaja.[37] Later reports indicated that over 40% of the artifacts at Tel Ajaja (Saddikanni) were looted by ISIS

In January 2015, ISIL reportedly destroyed large parts of the Nineveh Wall in al-Tahrir neighborhood of Mosul.[41] Further parts of the walls, including the Mashka and Adad Gate, were blown up in April 2016.[42]

In the Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIL publicly ordered the bulldozing of a colossal ancient Assyrian gateway lion sculpture from the 8th century BC.[43] Another lion statue was also destroyed. Both statues originated from the Arslan Tash archaeological site.[44] The destruction was published in the ISIL magazine, Dabiq. Among the lost statues are those of Mulla Uthman al-Mawsili, of a woman carrying an urn, and of Abu Tammam.[citation needed]

On 26 February 2015, ISIL released a video showing the destruction of various ancient artifacts in the Mosul Museum.[10] The affected artifacts originate from the Assyrian era and from the ancient city of Hatra.[10] The video in particular shows the defacement of a granite lamassu statue from the right side of the Nergal Gate by a jackhammer. The statue remained buried until 1941 when heavy rains eroded the soil around the gate and exposed two statues on both sides.[45] Several other defaced items in the museum were claimed to be copies,[10] but this was later rebutted by Iraq’s Minister of Culture, Adel Sharshab who said: “Mosul Museum had many ancient artifacts, big and small. None of them were transported to the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Thus, all artifacts destroyed in Mosul are original except for four pieces that were made of gypsum“.[46]

Palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud, pictured in 2007. ISIL reportedly bulldozed the city in March 2015

On 5 March 2015, ISIL reportedly started the demolition of Nimrud, an Assyrian city from the 13th century BC. The local palace was bulldozed, while lamassu statues at the gates of the palace of Ashurnasirpal II were smashed.[47] A video showing the destruction of Nimrud was released in April 2015.[48]

On 7 March 2015, Kurdish sources reported that ISIL had begun the bulldozing of Hatra,[49][50][51] which has been under threat of demolition after ISIL had occupied the adjacent area. The next day ISIL sacked Dur-Sharrukin, according to a Kurdish official from Mosul, Saeed Mamuzini.[52]

The Iraqi Tourism and Antiquities Ministry launched the related investigation on the same day.[52] On 8 April 2015, the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism reported that ISIL destroyed the remnants of the 12th-century Bash Tapia Castle in Mosul.[53] As of early July 2015, 20% of Iraq’s 10,000 archaeological sites has been under ISIL control.[54]

In 2015 the face of the Winged Bull of Nineveh was damaged.[55]

Palmyra

Temple of Bel in Palmyra, which was blown up by ISIL in August 2015

Following the capture of Palmyra in Syria, ISIL was reported as not intending to demolish the city’s World Heritage Site (while still intending to destroy any statues deemed ‘polytheistic‘).[56] On 27 May 2015, ISIL released an 87-second video showing parts of the apparently undamaged ancient colonnades, the Temple of Bel and the Roman theatre.[56] On 27 June 2015, however, ISIL demolished the ancient Lion of Al-lāt statue in Palmyra. (It has since been restored, and is in storage in a Damascus museum until it can be determined that the statue can be safely returned to Palmyra.) Several other statues from Palmyra reportedly confiscated from a smuggler were also destroyed by ISIL.[54] On 23 August 2015, it was reported that ISIL had blown up the 1st-century Temple of Baalshamin.[57][58] On 30 August 2015, ISIL demolished the Temple of Bel with explosives. Satellite imagery of the site taken shortly after showed almost nothing remained.[59]

According to the report issued on September 3, 2015 by ASOR Syrian Heritage initiative, ISIL also destroyed seven ancient tower tombs in Palmyra since the end of June over two phases.[60] The last phase of destruction occurred between August 27 and September 2, 2015, including the destruction of the 2nd-century AD Tower of Elahbel, called “the most prominent example of Palmyra’s distinct funerary monuments”.[60] Earlier, the ancient tombs of Iamliku and Atenaten were also destroyed.[60] The Monumental Arch was also blown up in October.[61]

When Palmyra was recaptured by Syrian government forces in March 2016, retreating ISIL fighters blew up parts of the 13th-century Palmyra Castle, causing extensive damage.[62]

ISIL has also looted and demolished the Parthian/Roman city of Dura-Europos in east of Syria.[63] Nicknamed “the Pompeii of the desert”, the city was of particular archaeological significance.

It was reported on 1 January 2019 that Syrian authorities recovered two Roman-era funerary busts smuggled from Palmyra from an abandoned ISIL site in the Al-Sukhnah countryside.[64]

ISIL has burned or stolen collections of books and papers from various locations, including the Central Library of Mosul (which they rigged with explosives and burned down),[70] the library at the University of Mosul, a Sunni Muslim library, a 265-year-old Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers, and the Mosul Museum Library. Some destroyed or stolen works date back to 5000 BC and include “Iraq newspapers dating to the early 20th century, maps and books from the Ottoman Empire, and book collections contributed by about 100 of Mosul’s establishment families.” The stated goal is to destroy all non-Islamic books.

Saudi Arabia

The Tomb of Eve, also known as Eve’s Grave and Eve’s Tomb, is an archeological site located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (21°29′31″N 39°11′24″E). It is considered by some Muslims to be the burial place of Eve. Prince Faisal, Viceroy of Hejaz, destroyed it in 1928. In 1975, the site was also sealed with concrete by religious authorities, who disapprove of pilgrims praying at tombs.

The house of Mawlid where Muhammad is believed to have been born in 570. Originally turned into a library, it now lies under a rundown building which was built 70 years ago as a compromise after Wahhabi clerics called for it to be demolished.

The house of Khadija, Muhammad’s first wife. Muslims believe he received some of the first revelations there. It was also where his children Zainab bint Muhammad, Ruqayyah bint Muhammad, Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad, Fatimah, Qasim and Abd-Allah ibn Muhammad were born. After it was rediscovered during the Haram extensions in 1989, it was covered over and it was made into a library.[citation needed]

A Hilton hotel stands on the site of the house of Islam’s first caliph, Abu Bakr.[23]

House of Muhammed in Medina, where he lived after the migration from Mecca.[21]

Dar e Arqam, the first Islamic school where Muhammad taught.[22] It now lies under the extension of the Masjid Alharam of Mecca.[citation needed]

Qubbat’ al-Thanaya, the burial site of Muhammed’s incisor that was broken in the Battle of Uhud.[13]

Mashrubat Umm Ibrahim, built to mark the location of the house where Muhammad’s son, Ibrahim, was born to Mariah.[citation needed]

Dome which served as a canopy over the Well of Zamzam.[21]

Bayt al-Ahzan of Sayyida Fatima, in Medina.[21]

House of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, in Medina.[21]

Mahhalla complex of Banu Hashim, in Mecca.[21]

House of Ali where Hasan and Husayn were born

In August 2017, the 1792 monument to Christopher Columbus in Baltimore, the oldest in the United States, was destroyed by a sledgehammer, and the perpetrators posted a video online of themselves destroying it

The monument to Christopher Columbus in New York City’s Columbus Circle, whose hands were defaced with red paint on September 12, 2017.

A statue of Columbus in Yonkers, New York was decapitated

The statue of Joan of Arc, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, was painted with the words “Tear it Down” in early 2017.

In August, 2017, a bust of Abraham Lincoln in West Englewood, Chicago was spray-painted black and later covered in tar and set on fire.

Under cover of darkness, city workers removed a statue in August 2017 of former Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney that had been on the State House’s front lawn for 145 years. Taney authored the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, which held that African-Americans could not be U.S. citizens. The city’s Republican mayor said through a spokesman that it was removed “as a matter of public safety.”

Shih Huang Ti, the first emperor of China, ordered both the construction of the Great Wall and the burning of all the books written before his time.

The Fear Monger’s Shop

How to Frighten For Fun and Profit

 

The first rule of fear mongering is: One cannot prove a negative.

People feign ignorance, but they know this.

The second rule of fear mongering is: A pungent idea is hard to get out of one’s mind.

The reason Kleenex pops up is that there are little faeries trapped in the box. Every time you pull one out, the next fairy escapes and pops up the next sheet. And the fairy dies. Try to disprove that. Try to forget it.

The third rule of fear mongering is: We all think we are fakes.

I built my own side arm. It was a lot of work. It took a long time. It is worth thousands more than I spent on the parts. I am very proud of it. But if anyone wants to take me down, they need only say, ‘No, you did not build that.’ I did not manufacture every part. I did not harvest the iron and chrome ore. I did not prospect the mine. ‘How can it be worth that if you only paid for the parts?’ Or, did you bake a cake from scratch if you did not grind the flour? Harvest the grain? Sew the field? Domesticate wheat from spelt? Make your own flour mill? I can only claim to have done anything in those people’s view if I created the universe. That seems a high bar.

When I have a truly original idea which enlightens a small part of the world, someone can tell me that someone else thought of it decades or centuries ago. I would have to spend my entire life to disprove it. Or they say, ‘So what?’ I am particularly susceptible to that last one, and my brother has know of this weakness since we were little boys.

The fourth rule of fear mongering is: We are suckers for things we know not.

You study at school for a long time. You know an immense amount about tiny areas of human thought. You comport yourself as an expert. And you are. But there is so much to know. Some times and places it is an economic risk to admit to ignorance. Someone important says to you, ‘You are educated. What do you think of this MIT engineer’s plan to refine titanium electrolytically?’ [I fell for that one.] Do you want to pretend to wisdom you do not possess? Do you wish to appear less than they think you to be?

The fifth rule of fear mongering is: We live in the most special time in history.

This is the most important election ever! If we don’t do it now it cannot ever be done! If we do not achieve utopia today, then we will have used too much of the planet’s resources, and all our descendants will be cursed to living on a ball of mud and excrement forever without the means to do anything major ever again.

The Date of Doom is generally between the time of retirement and expected lifespan for academicians and writers. When Vinge invented the modern Singularity, he placed it between 2012 and 2020. He did not expect to be called to the carpet. He might be dead. He might be retired. He might be too old to berate. And it might happen.

When Ray Kurzweil took over the Singularity from Vinge, he set it at 2045, He would be 97 then.

For politicians, the deadline is their last viable election. Al Gore told us that if we did not do anything about global warming, then ‘Our children by 2012 will not know what snow was.’ [I took that as a promise. Now we are headed into a fimbulwinter. Dagnabit.]

Alexandria Occasio Cortez tells us the world will be lost ‘In twelve years’ if we do not follow her. Do you believe her political career will be viable by 2029? She obviously believed she will be out of office or a permanent fixture by then, past caring about her predictions.

The last rule of fear mongering is: We want to do something good. Something important.

Tending our own gardens is not good enough. We must remake the world or save the planet. Anyone who can talk us into such a goal has us forever, for it will never happen.

UAH_LT_1979_thru_May_2019_v6

 

Disappointment and Humiliation

I am disappointed in my fellow Americans. Less than a month ago we had two groups of true-believing UFO aficionados close together in Las Vegas and Rachel, Nevada. People who pine to see the alien autopsy remains. The crashed flying saucers. The reverse engineered spacecraft. Maybe even the Ark of the Covenant.

And yet, Nobody pranked them! When will there be another chance like that? What engineering student couldn’t put up some clear bags of hydrogen towing a silver balloon and flaming magnesium ribbon! Perhaps leading to the hydrogen filled balloons. A UFO shaped dirigible drone. A black quadra-copter with a load of laser pointers and some compact speakers. A trebuchet loaded with road flares. A fleet of Japanese lanterns, for pity’s sake. When will there be another such gathering of the easily gulled?

Where is the practical spirit to humiliate one’s fellow man?

Maybe I can set up a totally ridiculous presidential candidate….

 

The Loving Curse of History

A balanced thought from Cyril Kornbluth:

https://wordsenvisioned.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/His-Share-of-Glory-Cyril-M-Kornbluth-portrait-Photo-courtesy-of-Robert-A-Madle-1939.jpg

The Loving Curse of History

Bless the bright Cro-Magnon for inventing the bow

And Damn him for inventing missle warfare.

Bless the stubby little Sumerians for miracles in gold and lapis lazuli

And Damn them for burying a dead queen’s handmaidens alive in her tomb.

Bless Shih Huang Ti for building the Great Wall between northern barbarism and southern culture,

And Damn him for burning every book in China.

Bless King Minos for the ease of Knossian flush toilets,

And Damn him for his yearly tribute of Greek sacrificial victims.

Bless Pharaoh for peace,

And Damn him for slavery.

Bless the Greeks for restricting population so the well-fed few could kindle a watch-tower in the West,

And Damn the prostitution and sodomy and wars of colonization by which they did it.

Bless the Romans for their strength to smash down every wall that hemmed their building genius,

And Damn them for their weakness that never broke the bloody grip of Etruscan savagery on their minds.

Bless the Jews who discovered the fatherhood of God,

And Damn them who limited it to the survivors of a surgical operation.

Bless the Christians who abolished the surgical preliminaries,

And Damn them who substituted a thousand cerebral quibbles

Bless Justinian for the Code of the Law,

And Damn him for his countless treacheries that were the prototype of the Wretched Byzantine millennium.

Bless the churchmen for teaching and preaching,

And Damn them for drawing a line beyond which they could only teach and preach in peril of the stake,

Bless the navigators who opened the new world to famine-ridden Europe,

And Damn them for syphilis.

Bless the Redskins who bred maize, the great preserver of life,

And Damn them for breeding maize, the great destroyer of top-soil.

Bless the Virginia planters for the solace of tobacco

And Damn them for the red gullies they left where forests had stood.

Bless the obstetricians with forceps who eased the agony of labor,

And Damn them for bringing countless monsters into the world to reproduce their kind.

Bless the Point Four boys who slew the malaria mosquitoes of Ceylon,

And Damn them for letting more Sinhalese be born than five Ceylons could feed.

Bless the founding fathers for the exquisitely Newtonian eighteenth-century machinery of the Constitution,

And Damn them for visiting it in all its unworkable beauty on the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

– Cyril Kornbluth

Can Newsreaders Do Math?

7-30-’19

I just saw the most interesting story on the news. Earlier this year there was a story about 36 nurses in one clinic who were pregnant at the same time. Tonight there was a puff piece on after the births.

We sure love to read about nurses who are pregnant at the same time. The Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery nurses at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, Missouri, must have set the record, with 36 babies due in 2019.

The nurses care for premature and “the sickest of the sick” babies all day at the Missouri’s hospital, said Jake Jacobson, the hospital’s public relations director. During and after their shifts, nurses say they take care of each other as pregnant women and moms.

“We can chat about it and vent about it and be excited for each other,” said NICU nurse Michelle Janes, who’s due Nov. 29 and has a 2-year-old son. “Especially those of us who already have kids. Many of us give each other opinions on things. We have a Facebook group and we weigh in on everything from diaper rash to kids crawling out of their crib.”

Janes, 32, of Shawnee, Missouri, wants the sex of her baby to be a surprise. Of the 20 babies born so far, only two have been girls.

Someone cannot do math. I see three choices:

A- Sex selective abortions.

B- Clinical trials of a drug which changes the birth ratio.

C- Something I cannot see.

The odds otherwise are nearly impossible. Of course out of thirty-six total, eighteen boys is right in the ballpark.

Changing Philosophy

 

It is time I change my philosophy.

A year ago I heard a history prof describe stoicism as ‘a philosophy for losers.’ That stung.

I was raised a stoic. Do your job. Don’t complain. If you break a leg, well, walk it off. Be the one who keeps his head. Let others lean on you. Lean on no one.

I still thing that is how you build a civilization. How a society builds a history of heroes.

But were we having fun?

What else is there? Real cynics such as Diogenes and Henry David Thoreau are the philosophy for life’s losers. You cannot be enslaved if you won’t be. You cannot be dispossessed if you have nothing. If the place for an honest man in a dishonest society is jail, a cynic may endure that. There is great freedom in Diogenes, sunbathing, telling Alexander to get out of his light.

But a cynic makes nothing. He goes nowhere. He leaves nothing behind for his kith and kin. Can a parent even be a cynic? Cynics don’t seem to be having fun in the way I would enjoy.

Epicurus said some very interesting things. ‘If a man won’t be satisfied with enough, then he can not be satisfied.’ That does not strike me as what our society calls Epicureanism. He fraternized with women. He walked in gardens, sang, ate simple, good meals, and had wide ranging discussions. ‘Of the means which wisdom ensures happiness, the best is friendship.’

His cure for life?

Ἄφοβον ὁ θεός,
ἀνύποπτον ὁ θάνατος
καὶ τἀγαθὸν μὲν εὔκτητον,
τὸ δὲ δεινὸν εὐεκκαρτέρητον

Don’t fear god,
Don’t worry about death;
What is good is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure.

That sounds like fun. But it doesn’t leave a furrow behind. You look back and see an unchanged sea.

I am thinking more like Feynman and Fermi. They strove to be smart, audacious, and entertained. They accomplished much. Their achievements, human and technical, abound for all who look. Feynman entertained himself and had fun wherever he went. He made stories of his adventures. Actively irresponsible, he would not be constrained by convention. He learned to drum, to paint. He traveled. Had children. He loved. He worked out some of his science in a topless bar because he liked the view. He quit drinking by conviction. Neither could be called thoughtless.

That seems more like it.

Thor and Lies

 

The man and woman wore Thor’s hammers on their necks. Not the silly cube of the movies, but the intricately chased device of Viking images. Matching. Bronze. Because I am a jerk, I said “Mjölnir?”

Yes,” said they.

I just said that because it is hard to say.” I replied.

Yes, the children are having trouble with that in their religious education.” said the woman.

_ _ _

I was floored. Until now, I have never heard of children being raised heathen. This year I have come across maybe five families. I don’t believe anyone has had a religious experience involving the Germanic gods in over a millennium. I just assumed such things to be a proxy for identification with their Germanic ancestry. Such people are not scholars. [I was wrong. I just met an Eddic scholar. He was not a good scholar.] One had Balder tattooed on his right knuckles and Odin on his left. Balder was misspelled. [As a child I had a very good dictionary. I memorized a few different alphabets. To me runes were exactly as cool and exotic as Cyrillic. Not too.]

Years ago I had a long, deep conversation with a woman who identified as Wiccan. She liked the rituals but did not think they worked. She liked the fashions which she identified with the religion. I came away feeling that she enjoyed posing, and thought the imagery was almost as nice as annoying the right people. She felt no need to raise her children as such.

What to think of such people. As a simple man, I think I should believe in the truth. Science, politics, or religion. I try not to believe in lies. When people pushing a probably true thing lie to me, then I become more doubtful.

Perhaps I am more motivated in opposing liars than following the truth. It is easier to spot a lie than a great truth. Alas, the two processes are not the same. I once told a friend that I was sure CO2 would warm the world greatly. I have since learned quite a bit, but primarily I have seen profound lies. An interest in the Maunder Minimum causes doubts, but seeing unadmitted lies makes me not trust at all and suspect I am being manipulated. Years ago signs were put up in Glacier National Park telling visitors that the glaciers would be gone by 2020. Those signs were scrubbed of the date earlier this year. Last winter I feigned anger at the very cold and snowy winter. ‘Al Gore promised us that if we did nothing, by 2012 our children would not know what snow was!’

Odin and Thor partly leave me cold because my mind’s eye can see the religion changing and rejecting parts of itself. [Elsewhere I have commented on the vanished god, Tiu.] If I saw Newtonian mechanics changing so, I wouldn’t trust engineering.

I have great disdain for revisionist historians. Not because we cannot improve our understanding of the truth, but because they don’t seem to believe in truth at all. Howard Zinn said that impartiality was not only impossible, but also undesirable. That’s as blatant a call for propaganda as I have ever heard. Need I state that I consider propaganda to be lies?

When Hillary Rodham was running for president I heard Malcolm Gladwell making an analogy to a female artist who failed to make it into the big British art academy. She barely failed in the 1880’s, and because she failed it took many years for a woman to gain membership. She herself was no longer considered worthy although her art was even better technically as time went on. Gladwell found her work in a storage room. Gladwell rhapsodized about her near photographic realism. Gladwell implied that if we failed to elect Hillary – even were she unworthy – we would set women back greatly.

Gladwell knows better. The reason that woman never made it was that art changed. Photographic realism was pointless once we had better photography. Art was then an emotional response. Precision came to be seen as mere draftsmanship. Was Van Gogh a bad artist because he was a poor draftsman? That was what Gladwell was implying. A very convenient and well thought-out lie. And I no longer trust Malcolm Gladwell.

Thus I despise creationists. Not because I doubt their premise, but because their very arguments are lies and manipulations. That is not how science or logic work. That is how propaganda works.

When one paints a lying world view, I rebel. I care not if it is religion, science, or history. It is hard enough to find truth without intentional errors.