Friday, January 13, 2012

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Breaking Local News: 19 year old girl charged with Felony; Bedford Co. DA Gloats

Note: Just as in my previous piece, Bedford (PA) County Drug Task Force Creates Jobs , I do not condone or support any illegal activities. Drugs are illegal, and selling them is idiotic. Don't do it.

Another drug bust in Bedford County, this time without a catchy operation designation. How about Operation: Lolita? Operation: Goodbye Future? Operation: Welcome to Adulthood?

Via my local sports section disguised as a newspaper, The Altoona Mirror: (They do not have this story posted online yet. When they do, I will provide a link as long as they still only publish the mugshots in the print version.)

The case is pretty basic. Idiots drive to Baltimore. Idiots buy decent amount of heroin. Cops get tip and stop idiots on their way back from Baltimore. I'm not even going to use the "innocent until proven guilty" cliche this time.

The idiots involved and charged in this case are a 29 year old man, a 31 year old man, and....a 19 year old girl.

They are idiots, and they got caught. And now their lives are forever changed thanks to the unattainable quest to eliminate drugs from our society. They are victims as well.

Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins was overjoyed at the arrests.

Our relentless attack on drug dealers in Bedford County is not going to slow down. We have far more information about the dealers than they think, and we will continue to use that information to our advantage. [Male Suspects Name withheld by blogger] thought he had a nice little enterprise going. It's over now.

Yes, the enterprise is over, although another will fill the role quickly. And a large part of the suspects future is also over. What isn't over is their addictions or this pointless war against our citizens.

19 with a felony, and the DA can do nothing but gloat.

Linking to LEAP and shutting up....

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Full schedule today, but I want to at least touch on a few things quickly....

Item: Crazy, in over his head quarterback continues to be worshiped by crazy fans.

A handful of Denver fans have decided a customized Tim Tebow jersey would make for the perfect Christmas gift. What could possibly be troubling about that? A whole lot, depending on who you ask.

Rather than have the last name "Tebow" on the back of the Broncos jersey, these fans have placed "Jesus" above Tebow's No. 15.


Remember, this past Sunday Tebow was 2 for 8 for 69 yards passing. Somehow I think Jesus would have a better completion percentage. If he existed, that is.

But I am much less interested in what crazy football fans or crazy Jesus fans do to worship their new saint of Denver than the larger perception of the story.

He's the model citizen, the guy you want your daughter to date

Really? Brain dead religiosity, anti-abortion Super Bowl commercials, and writing Bible verses on your eye black make you a model citizen? No wonder our democracy is in trouble. And, no, if I had a daughter, Tebow would not be on my list of men I wanted her to date.

Item: GOP candidates live in a fantasy land.

Via Yahoo News....

Republican presidential hopefuls are assaulting a proposal by GOP lawmakers on a bipartisan deficit-reduction panel that calls for increased tax revenues even as the special supercommittee appears increasingly headed for deadlock.

Can we officially point and laugh every time a Republican uses the word bipartisan now?

Item: Understatement of the Year Award, Penn State Edition.

From the Chicago Tribune, because I hate linking to my local fish wrap.

Jerry Sandusky: "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."

Unfortunately, the article doesn't say if he followed that admission with "the anal and oral sex was probably a bad idea as well, but hey, hindsight is 20/20."

Blog News....

Greetings once again, readers of Foster Disbelief. (Yes, all three of you.) Apologies for the sporadic updates. Most of my time recently has been devoted to work, family, and sleep. The holiday shopping season seems to start earlier every year, and more shoppers means more business and more hours at my place of employment. My very Christian sister and her very Christian new husband are leaving Florida to visit us in PA, and with my mother's health, I've been helping her prepare for company. And perhaps most importantly, it appears that the last gasps of methadone withdrawal have finally disappeared. Sleep is no longer a pipe dream, and when I do fall asleep I no longer stay out for 12 hours.

I've also made a decision regarding this blog a few weeks ago that has affected the amount of updates. Rather than force out scatter-shot daily updates that only end up being read by a few people, I have decided to post more selectively and on the issues that matter the most to me. Eventually something I write will find an audience, and I will revisit the option of daily updates. Something like this blast from the past from July 2008, my first article that actually got noticed. Evidence? Who needs evidence to start a panic?

If I would have had a clear head in 2008, there is a decent chance you would now be reading an established blog. Instead, the needle and I chose to let opportunity keep on knocking. One mistake I will not make again.

So what will you see here? There will still be a healthy dose of snark for the religious right and the current Republican leadership, but politics on the whole will take the back seat. Every now and then I may pull out the soapbox, especially during the coming election, but as we all know, there are already too many political bloggers. Instead, I will be concentrating on subjects in my wheelhouse. Science (Anti-Vax, Evolution v. Creationism, Cognitive Dissonance), Skepticism (Especially when I can tie it in with my past as a witch/druid/pagan/whatever), and Atheism. My past hasn't changed, so there will also be pieces on the drug war, and perhaps a touch or two upon music and culture.

That is all. Keep coming back, keep reading, and hopefully, you will find something worth your time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What If They Held an Election and Nobody Showed?

Election Day is upon us once again, and like most off year elections, only a distressing minority of the electorate will bother sacrificing a few moments of their precious time to make their voice heard.

The projected turn out in my state was listed as 20 to 25% of eligible voters. Most commentators I've read consider even that projection to be an overestimation of the probable result. From the Altoona Mirror (print edition only, it's an AP story so I'm linking to it at PhillyBlurbs):

Political science professor Christopher Borick, of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, predicted Monday only 20 to 25 percent of the state's 8.2 million registered voters will bother to cast ballots in the election, which comes between last year's elections for governor and a U.S. Senate seat and next year's campaigns for president and the other Senate seat.

Franklin & Marshall College pollster Terry Madonna, in Lancaster, leaned toward the lower end of Borick's turnout range.

"I think, if we get to 20 (percent), declare victory," Madonna said.

Why is the estimated turn out so low? Let's take my home county as an example.

For Tuesday's election, Blair County has 83,650 registered voters, the county's voter registration office reports. Those who go to the polls will be able to cast ballots for county commissioner, municipal and school board candidates and judicial candidates for the commonwealth, superior and magisterial district courts.

Two years ago, with the same kind of public offices up for grabs, 19.93 percent of Blair County's 84,305 registered voters showed up to cast ballots.

In contrast, more than twice that - 43.4 percent - voted in November 2010 when the ballot had gubernatorial and legislative contenders.

In November 2008, when Barack Obama and John McCain were seeking the nation's presidency, Blair County's voter turnout was 64.87 percent.

Above quote from an online Altoona Mirror article on voter turn out. Why they have two separate articles on the same subject with the same message, one for the fish wrap and one for the interwebs, is a question I can not answer.

Pushing that mystery to the side, we see a rough 60/40/20 split in turn out, depending on the offices up for grabs. Presidential elections get about 60% of my neighbors off their ass, State elections draw 40ish%, and local contests are decided by a few people who got lost and randomly showed up at the polling place on their way to lunch.

I know this isn't a glamorous election year locally. I realize that judicial elections in PA are a strange beast that end up confusing more than a few voters. I assume that more than a few people who would never think of missing a presidential election are staying home today because they think this election doesn't really matter.

And turn out like this causes me to worry about the future of democracy in our nation. People get sucked in to the big races, the nationwide and statewide contests, to the point that they forget how local elections actually effect their lives. Other than 2 state judicial elections, today's ballot also included retention votes on several other judges, the election of Blair County commissioners and leadership positions for individual municipalities, and school board contests for most local school districts. These offices set local tax rates and make decisions that effect every citizen in the area, decisions that can arguably effect us all much more than decisions made at the National or State level, and yet only 20% of my neighbors will take the five minutes required to cast a ballot.

While I was at my polling place, only one other voter showed up. Two high school students with the look of the truly bored roamed the parking lot with campaign literature on the local school board race. Four poll workers with an average apparent age of 70 cackled, drank coffee, and gossiped loudly about how the town liberal showed up for another year. This is democracy?

If 60% of registered voters showed up at the polls today, I can honestly say that my vote would have been worthless. Since I am from an incredibly red district in a bluish state, most local elections offer me no real choices. If a Democrat even bothers to run for whatever office is up for election, they get crushed 70-30, and half the local offices have unopposed Republicans, which leads to some creative write in votes. In cases like that, I pick out one ignorant, far right, wingnut who's annoyed me recently, and take solace in the fact that I just cancelled out his vote.

But when only 20% bother to cast ballots, every member of that 20 suddenly has much more clout than they should. It is still 1 person, 1 vote, but when 80% of voters check themselves off the list, that 1 vote is cast in a louder voice. What havoc could we cause if a significant portion of local registered Democrats made it a point to go to the polls no matter what the contest? Could we turn the county blue, if only for a year?

Voting is a right people are willing to die for, yet we voluntarily sacrifice the right for no good reason.

All elections affect you. Your vote counts. Wake the fuck up and be a citizen of the country you claim so much to love.

Yes, the system is damaged, if not broken. Yes, change is needed. But not voting is not an effective strategy for self-governance, or for change.

Vote or shut the fuck up.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Help, Help, They're Being Oppressed!!!

Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars over at Freethought Blogs has a story detailing yet another horrible example of persecution against Christians.

The EEOC recently ruled against an employee of the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment who complained of religious harassment because the director of the agency sent an email to all employees about an office party to celebrate another employee’s marriage. The employee, who is Pentecostal, didn’t like that because it was a same-sex marriage. And apparently, informing him that he works with gay people is stomping all over his religious views.

Oh no's! I werk wit teh gays!

In case you suspect I am selectively quoting in order to make the complainant sound like an idiot, The Volokh Conspiracy provides excerpts from the ruling, Walker v. Jackson (EEOC Oct. 6, 2011).

On December 1, 2011 [sic], Complainant filed a formal EEO complaint alleging that he was subjected to harassment and reprisal on the basis of his religious beliefs (Pentecostal). Briefly, the complaint alleged that, on November 18, 2010 [sic], Complainant was the recipient of an email from the Acting Director, sent to the NCEA [EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment] global list-serve (which includes Complainant and all other NCEA employees), announcing an on-site celebration of a same-sex marriage of an employee which read as follows:
[Employee A] and his partner [named] are getting married this Sunday. The IO is sponsoring an informal celebration to congratulate [Employee A] on this happy event. Please feeI free to drop by the IO conference room on Thursday, October 7 at 4:30 P.M. to wish them well.
Thirteen days later, on October 18, 2010, Complainant responded to the Acting Director’s email, with a copy to the NCEA global list-serve, with the following message:
I feel your message announcing the celebration of the “union” of [Employee A] and his “Partner” was offensive and insensitive to my religious faith as a Christian. I think it is general knowledge that the Christian faith only condones “marriages” between men and women, not men and other men. As acting Office Director, I feel you could have been more “sensitive” and “neutral” with regards to this issue.
The next day, NCEA employees sent approximately 15–20 emails on the global list-serve (including Complainant) congratulating Employee A on his marriage. None of these emails specifically mentioned Complainant or his email. The record does show that two employees did email Complainant personally (not sent to the NCEA global list-serve) and expressed the opinion that Complainant’s email was insensitive because it was sent to everyone, including Employee A, rather than just to the Acting Director.

By final decision dated April 14, 2011, the Agency dismissed the complaint, pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 1614.107(a)(1), for failure to state a claim. The instant appeal followed. On appeal, Complainant argues that the 15 employees who copied him on the congratulatory emails despite receiving his email protesting the Acting Director’s original email were retaliating against him and harassing him because of his religious faith and beliefs. Complainant claimed that the barrage of emails “affected his psychological well-being in the office.” ...

Oh no's! I werk wit teh gays!

People. Your religious faith, no matter how strongly you believe, does not give you the right to not be offended. Gays do not have to go back into the closet if the very knowledge of their proximity gives you the cold sweats. Your co-workers do not have to agree with or respect your bigotry. You are not being oppressed.

Volokh sums it up perfectly:

Hint: If you publicly complain about a colleague’s celebration, and a bunch of people respond by conspicuously congratulating the colleague, that’s disagreement — it’s not harassment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


The Atheist Experience gets email. Sometimes that email contains questions from believers trying to understand the atheist position and coherent arguments intended to start a dialogue both sides can learn and grow from.

This is not one of those emails.

Normally, I would just let Kazim's response speak for itself. The gang over at The Atheist Experience needs no help from me to deal with this attempt at apologetics.

But I just had to clean coffee off my monitor, the wall behind my monitor, my keyboard, and my desk. Not only was I forced to spit-take by this email, but I almost choked on my beverage. This email owes me.

All quotes are from the email to The Atheist Experience, written by someone with the handle “Advanced Technology Solutions.”

I have a few questions for you. I am a Christian, and a strong Man in my faith, therefore these questions may be hard for you to respond to

I hope they are difficult. I love a good argument. Allows me to strengthen my own points, and perhaps learn something new. Bring on the intellectual stimulation!

1.) Are you a scientist?
2.) Do you speak, write, or translate Hebrew, or Greek?
3.) Are you a parent?

Wait, what? Those are random. I bet he's building to a killer argument, starting with three seemingly unconnected questions before dropping the proverbial hammer that ties everything together. The only reasons I am not literally quaking in my boots in fear of my faith in atheism being destroyed are my complete lack of faith and my current lack of boots. I've dealt with too many bad arguments lately, but this one shows promise, if only because I have no idea what rabbit hole I will wind up down. I need to arm myself for this one. Bible, stack of books on atheism and counter-apologetics, textbooks on Christianity, and french pressed coffee; I am prepared, do your worst.

1) No I am not, although I am studying psychology with the goal of doing research. So no, I am not yet a scientist. Although, philosophically, are we not all scientists? Our whole existence is a series of experiments, from which we learn about ourselves and our world, using the resulting data to build our lives.

2) No, I can not. I would love to have that knowledge and the ability to read the bible and the apocryphal texts in the original language, and perhaps someday I will, but one can not be an expert at everything. I still take classes on Christianity, other religions, and biblical scholarship when I can, but psychology takes up the majority of my time and effort.

3) No, I am not a parent, although my ex has two little girls whom I love and fathered for 4 years. Since they were not my seed, I can not say this with complete confidence, but I feel like I loved them as my own.

Below are my reasons for asking these questions

I can not wait to see where this is heading.

1.) If you are not a scientist, then in fact you must take the word of someone you have never met, and use it as evidence for your case. Guess who else does that? That’s right Christians do that every day.

*insert raised eyebrow here*

Is that really "in fact" what I must do? I, as well as all other atheists, just take anything some random "scientist" says and immediately incorporate it into my worldview as gospel truth? Do I really have to explain how science works again?

Scientist looks at issue. Scientist develops a hypothesis concerning the issue. Scientist tests the hypothesis. Scientist publishes the results of the test. Other scientists read the published paper, critique it, and try to replicate the results of the test. Scientists either confirm or debunk the results of the first test. Each scientist and his/her test brings a little more knowledge to our table of understanding the issue. Eventually, if enough scientists and their tests all converge on one answer, the hypothesis may become strong enough to be called a theory. Even then, scientists will continue to poke, prod, and test the theory, using new methods, new ideas and new evidence to try to either strengthen or bring down the theory. Some theories have been tested and confirmed by so many scientists with so much evidence that they are considered by everyone who honestly examines the evidence to be fact. Some of the strongest theories include the germ theory of disease, the theory of relativity, the theory of a spherical earth, and the theory of evolution by natural selection. No matter how strong a theory may be, there will always be scientists examining the evidence and retesting them, because producing the evidence to overturn an established theory is the career equivalent of winning the Powerball for scientists.

I can see how you got confused. Cause believing a Bronze Age text was written by your god, accepting everything your priest/pastor tells you, and having faith that billions of people and their beliefs are wrong while you know the true mind of God is exactly the fucking same.


2.) If you answer no o this question, then how can you understand how these ancient texts were to be translated? Oh I know you rely on an expert who has studied these sorts of things their entire life. They have read the books, and been well educated. Let me ask who wrote these books? Men, flawed creatures, who believed the world was flat, and that the center of everything was the earth. Again blind faith in Men.

The stupid is starting to hurt. Is he arguing with himself in this paragraph? Let me see if I can get this straight. I can not read/translate Hebrew and Greek, therefore I must depend upon experts who have studied the languages and the texts to translate them for me. But it doesn't matter either way, because the ancient texts were written by flawed men from the Bronze Age.

If “Advanced Technology Solutions” is arguing that belief in the Bible as the word of God is blind faith in flawed men, men who clearly did not understand the world and the universe, and thus an outdated worldview, he'll get no argument from me. I know the bible was written by men from a pre-scientific time who used a tribal deity to account for their ignorance of the world they lived on. I know scribes added and subtracted from the manuscripts, I know certain books were written with ulterior motives, I know some books were outright forgeries, and I know the gospels were each written to make specific points, not as history. I also am aware of how the Bible was pieced together, by flawed men, and that there were many other books they could have included in the bible, yet instead decided to burn. Flawed men once again making the decision. And I am not even going to touch on the many different flavors of Christianity jockeying for dominance prior to the establishment of orthodoxy. Established once again, you guessed it, by flawed men.

At least we agree on something.

Although I get the feeling that what “Advanced Technology Solutions” really means here is that his experts have a direct line to God and can accurately explain the meaning of Scripture, while secular experts, who we apparently lack the ability to question, can only fuck it all up.

And if that is what he meant, he is not only an idiot, but an arrogant idiot.

On to number 3. Don't take a drink while reading.

3.) If the answer is yes, then you understand the rage of God “The Father.” Sometimes as parents we do become angry with our children, and we tell them “you will understand when your older.” And things of this nature. And to say that God is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow is correct. Look in exodus where he plans to kill the Israelites, but Moses intercedes for them, and God spares them. We see his rage in the great flood, and his compassion, and we read in the new testament that Jesus is seated at his right hand and makes intercession for us. He gives one reason for his wrath, he cannot stand Sin, but Jesus intercedes for us so that he not wipe us out.

If I was a believer, I would be praying right now that “Advanced Technology Solutions" is not only not a parent, but also infertile and unable to ever adopt.

Think that's a bit harsh? Then reread what he wrote. If you are a parent, then you understand the "rage" of God.

That quite frankly scares the shit out of me. My ex has two little girls whom I love dearly. While I was their step-father, I could never have raised a hand against them, let alone drown them, turn them to salt, stone them, have them gang raped to death, have them gang raped (but not to death this time), sacrifice them as a burnt offering, have sex with them, sell them, kick them out for eating fruit, tell them their sex makes them second class citizens, and/or condemn them to eternal torment.

Of course, he'd just claim that I don't understand any of those passages in the Bible, although I'm not really sure how else to interpret them. So fine, I'll toss the Bible aside, his own words are enough.

Look in exodus where he plans to kill the Israelites, but Moses intercedes for them, and God spares them......He gives one reason for his wrath, he cannot stand Sin, but Jesus intercedes for us so that he not wipe us out.

So when one of your kids does something bad, someone has to stop you from fucking killing them?

We see his rage in the great flood, and his compassion,

So if you had 5 kids and they did something bad, and your wife wasn't around to stop you, your bipolar response would be to kill 4 of them and compassionately allow 1 to live?

You either are sick, or just completely fail at constructing analogies. As much as I hope it is the latter, I still wouldn't let you within 100 yards of any children I know.

On a side note. If you are going to accuse Christians of Being “Stupid” You should understand that without proper theological training that you have no case for the non-existence of God, Just as I am not a Plumber, therefore, I must take his word when he says “frozen pipes.” The point is Pastors, or other men with theological training are here to help us make sense of the teachings in the bible, just as your “experts” help you understand the world. Without objection (right, everyone has an agenda, even Atheist) In closing learn Hebrew, and Greek, Translate the Bible for yourself, and ask where is YOUR proof that God does not exist, not the proof from another group of “experts” Who like everyone else is left roaming the earth looking for a

[It just cuts off there]

I do not claim that Christians are stupid. Misguided, mistaken, and wrong, perhaps, but not stupid. You, however ......

You are not a plumber, so you have to take it on faith when he tells you that your pipes are frozen? I so wish I was your plumber. $$$$$

So without theological training, I have no place in the debate? Then cough up your PhD in Theology or shut the fuck up.

The point is Pastors, or other men with theological training

Why do I get the notion that his idea of "theological training" has nothing to do with any University and everything to do with bible study at the local church?

In closing learn Hebrew, and Greek, Translate the Bible for yourself

Why? Didn't you already say that the bible was written by flawed men? And even if I could translate it myself, I don't have the rigorous theological training you claim I need to make sense of it anyway.

ask where is YOUR proof that God does not exist

Burden of proof. I don't claim to be able to disprove the existence of God, only that there is no evidence to make me believe one exists. You're the one making the claim, you're the one who needs to bring the evidence. Disagree?

Then disprove my invisible pink unicorn.


I can only assume that while composing this letter, “Advanced Technology Solutions” believed he was writing a scathing, effective rebuke of atheist arguments.

Which makes reading his critique of atheism even more painful.

When I first began reading Christian responses to atheist arguments, I would immediately chalk pieces like this up as a Poe and move on to the next. I spent a lot of time and effort going over the atheist position and studying Christianity and other religions. It is obviously an issue I care deeply about, and I wanted to make sure that my arguments were well thought out, rational, and effective. I assumed that since Christians believe their eternal soul is at stake, they would seriously examine their own beliefs and be able to coherently explain not only what they believe, but why as well.

It took about 1 day for me to shelve that notion. I don’t pretend to understand why so many believers lack the ability to win an debate with a piece of lint, but I’ve argued with enough of them to no longer be shocked at the low quality of arguments they consistently put forth.

Their confidence while spewing forth these horrid arguments however, never ceases to amaze me.

This is the non-Kirk/Ray equivalent of the banana debunking evolution. 3 questions that have no bearing on the topic whatsoever, that he strongly felt would rock the foundation of atheism and force us all to find God. Normally, the points I see repeated by those suffering under blind faith are points that have been dealt with so many times that they are ex-parrots, only not pushing up daisies due to being nailed to the perch of apologetics. This however, this is just nonsense. I know 4 year olds who can structure a better argument. Things like this, they make me laugh, but then they get me depressed. Presumably, “Advanced Technology Solutions” is an adult with probably at least a high school education, and in his mind this was an effective argument.

And that is just sad.