A Believer Being Right for a Change

Neil at Australian LutheranThere is so much annoying nonsense coming from religious believers, it’s tempting to dismiss them all as unreasonable idiots.  But it’s important to give them some credit when credit is due.

Neil writes at a blog titled Lutheran Church of Australia: In My Opinion. He is trying to single handedly reform the leadership of his church when it comes to LGBTQ issues.  He’s good.  He’s worth reading.  He’s entirely too intelligent and reasonable to be a Christian, but he insists that’s what he is.

The leadership of the Christian Church in Australia including the leadership of my own church enjoy a position of real power and influence in this country. They have, for decades, in a coordinated and well-funded manner spoken against our LGBT brothers and sisters labelling them as sinful, disordered and diseased.

But things have changed. Others have voiced their support for LGBT rights and equality and have begun to publicly question the Church. Some have even gone so far as to call the church*s views bigoted and homophobic.

The churches response? Rather than entering into genuine dialogue with those who have been hurt by their teachings,  the Church have pulled up the drawbridge, manned the ramparts, dug deeply into their persecution complex storehouse and cried *Discrimination.*

You’d almost think PZ Myers was his ghost writer.  His latest post is one of his best.

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Religion on Thin Ice

This is a daring, even dangerous, sign for a church to put up.  The only logical result of thinking about doubt is atheism.

Thinking? Dangerous ground for religion to explore.

As secularism gains critical mass, we can expect the churches to become more tolerant of atheists and even doubt, questioning, and yes, thinking.

My domestic partner and main squeeze has started to attend a church on Sundays.  It’s a church in which even I feel comfortable, the First Unitarian Fellowship, a United Universalist church.  The sermons could only be described as secular, with few if any mentions of a sky faerie, and the intellectual environment is several cuts above any other church I’ve ever been in.  They welcome everybody, including atheists.  The stories they read for the children are things like “The Everything Seed” by Carole Martignacco which presents a seed from which came everything as an analogy for the big bang, like an atheist creation myth.  I think a good part of the draw for my partner is a chance to sing in a choir, but she also appreciates the welcoming atmosphere and,  as advertised, the fellowship.

PZ has a post about how we can’t expect churches to go away.  They will adapt and evolve.  We can see this happening already, especially when a church invites us to think.  Of course they want certain conclusions from the thinking they encourage, but that’s only to be expected.  Dream on, you guys.

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Too Much Information

I’ve always hated that phrase, too much information.  It’s usually said by somebody who is squeamish about body functions or your personal and disgusting habits.  But we all have body functions and personal disgusting habits.  I have no problem with people telling me about theirs.

But I’ve found that too much information is really hurting me now.   I thought I knew all about the effects of infant male circumcision.  I didn’t.  I recently found this video, and it explained why my ejaculation is, as she describes it, an “on off switch” rather than a smooth ride to orgasm.

Interesting.  Upsetting. The more I learn about the results of circumcision, the more I personally feel a deep and painful sense of loss.  I wish I could simply ignore her description of the sexual act for an intact man as opposed to a circumcised me, but her description of what sex feels like to me is too spot on.  That’s what it feels like to me.  No smooth ride to climax, but hard humping waiting for something to happen and then, okay, here I come.  An on off switch.

Masturbation has now become at times painful.  I feel like I have to beat the little prick to death to get him to spit it out.  Again, it’s an on off switch, not a smooth ride to the top of the roller coaster.

I’ve never before wanted to be ignorant about anything, but sometimes I wish I had remained ignorant on this subject.  I’ve always loved sex.  It’s been good enough. No, not just good enough, it’s been great. But now as I get older, I find problems that obviously come from having been circumcised and if I were ignorant they wouldn’t have the same sting.  If I were ignorant, as I assume are most circumcised men, I’d just accept it as the way it is with being human.  I wouldn’t feel so cheated and fucked over.

If you are a circumcised man, and I’m now making you feel cheated and fucked over, sorry about that.  But join the campaign.  This kind of thing has to stop.  It was done to us, but it doesn’t need to be done to any more helpless babies.

Fucking doctors with their anti-sexual Abrahamic religion backgrounds, their smug assumption that they can fix things with surgery when no fixing is needed.  Fucking parents with the smug attitude that they can do whatever they want with their baby, even cut off part of his genitals just to make him look more like daddy, though apparently that wasn’t the situation with my father.  My father never allowed me to see his penis.  He had a huge lump of body shame and I never even saw him in a bathing suit.  I found out recently that he wasn’t circumcised.  I’d love to know who sold him on the idea and how a smart man like him could accept it.

Ah, baggage.  Let it go, Darwin.  Let it go.

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I Guess I’m Just a Crank

A crank is a person who is angry and offended by something that everybody else accepts or even desires.

It seems nobody agrees with me on some issues.  That makes me a crank.  There’s no getting away from it.

It has recently been brought to my attention, or more correctly my awareness, through conversations within my family, that I am the only one who is offended by the concept of laws against public nudity.  This isn’t because I wish to, as my sister would put it, prance around in the nude.  It’s simply because being told that I will go to jail if I try it says that there is something wrong with my body, something unacceptable, probably located in the genital area.

“Indecent exposure” is itself an indecent concept.

Stephen Gough, the naked rambler.  Turn him loose.But okay, I’m not completely alone here, though I lack the commitment of Stephen Gough, the naked rambler.

Mr. Gough walked naked from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in 2003-2004 and again in 2005-2006.



Stephen Gough arrested for offending the public. I am not offended by him.  I am offended by the public.

He’s been repeatedly arrested, and is currently serving 6 years in jail for appearing in public naked.  That is so very fucked up.

I wish I had the guts to walk across my country to show solidarity with Stephen Gough.


But back to my original point – Stephen Gough is a crank and so am I.  This is apparent because there’s been no widespread campaign to have him released, no embarrassment in the culture for treating him so shamelessly.  The vast majority of people seem to think that public nudity, which really harms nobody, is quite rightfully illegal.  People who offend us with their naked bodies deserve to be in jail.

Stephen Gough does have his fans and his defenders.  The Hebden Bridge Eccentrics turned out naked, or mostly naked, in solidarity.

Art least some people have a sense of shame.But it’s far from a general outcry.  I am truly offended.  I am furious.   Stephen Gough decided to fight one of the stupidest of our taboos.  He’s harmed nobody, but society feels justified in putting him in jail for what could be life.  By what right?  This is abuse of the law, using it to enforce the preferences of the majority.

New York recently declared that women have the right to appear topless in public.  I want the right to appear bottomless in public.  There is nothing obscene about my body, or yours.

This is a freedom of expression issue that should be important to everybody.  But only cranks like me and Stephen Gough care.

Maybe someday I’ll write up a sign to carry, strip off my clothes, and show my true colours.  It’s tempting, but I really don’t want the attention right now.

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Vancouver Pride 2013 Featuring Intactivists

As always, the Vancouver Pride parade this year was a great party.  There seems to be nothing like celebrating tolerance to bring out the best in people, and though one could easily become cynical at the political and corporate opportunists who are now flocking to raise the rainbow flag, it’s hard to imagine a more pleasant way to spend a summer’s day than surrounded by happy smiling people having fun. (click on any picture to see it more clearly if you can’t read some of the writing on the signs.)

Some of the parade now has nothing to do with being gay, though everybody claims to be celebrating diversity.  Some of it is just showing off and having fun, like these guys on their pedal powered walking sofa.

Paul and George on their walking sofa.  Vancouver Pride 2013

There is still some mild protest going on.

A mild protest of Russia's new anti-gay laws.  Vancouver Pride 2012

And the bondage faction added their usual colour….

The kinky guys and girls show off their pride.  Vancouver Pride 2013

There were eye candy hunks and babes…

Hunks and babes at Vancouver Pride 2013

 But most of the Pride Parade is safely bland good clean fun.

Christianity was well represented, with several churches declaring that the nasty opposition to gay rights is all being done by the other guys.  Not them.

The Anglican Church marchers in Vancouver Pride 2013

Every political party got an oar in the water, even the one that would like to take us back to 1956. But the good guys were also represented.

The Green Party of Canada at Vancouver Pride 2013

Vancouver City Counsillor Adrian Carr at Pride Vancouver 2013

I was very pleased to see the extent of the participation by intactivists such as the Childrens Health and Human Rights Partnership, who had a tent set up at Sunset Beach where the parade ended.

The CHHRP tent at Vancouver Pride 2013

I got to meet Kira and Tim, and thank them in person for their efforts to end the barbaric practice of infant male circumcision. They tirelessly explained the issue, which they correctly label as “forced circumcision”, to a stream of visitors.

Kira Antinuk explains the medical facts at Vancouver Pride 2013

I also met James Loewen under his sign reading “His Penis His Choice”.  James is a video blogger with the BONOBO3D YouTube channel.

James has some great videos on his Bonobo3D Youtube channel.

If you still have any doubts about what circumcision takes away, or about what you have lost yourself, you need to watch this.

One group that couldn’t participate in the parade, but were there to protest was Foreskin Pride .  You really should watch their video from last year.  They had approval for nudity before the parade last year, but there were “complaints”.  The Pride Parade committee to their shame found excuses to exclude them this year.  As their founder said, the Pride Parade is trying to be very “family friendly” and corporation friendly, which means that in your face activism doesn’t fit any more.  So sad that Gay Pride has morphed into this safe and mainstream celebration of diversity, with every politician and corporation jumping literally on the band waggon. Who could be against diversity?  But please… let’s keep it family friendly.  Let’s not offend anybody.

Foreskin Pride - banned from the parade but still there as protesters.

The great thing about Foreskin Pride and their campaign is that these are intact men, lucky bastards.  They are stepping out to refute the claim that a foreskin is dirty, that a foreskin has no importance in sex, and that a foreskin is a bad part of a penis, claims that any thinking person will see as bullshit. It takes men who still have their foreskins to start correcting the myths and misinformation.

My first reaction to these guys was to think, why are they here?  They still have their foreskin, so why should they care?  Why should they be fighting infant male circumcision.  Then I realized that I have no stake in the issue either.  My foreskin is gone and it’s not coming back. I’m an intactavist because I see something being done that is wrong and I want it to stop.  It’s not about me now, it’s about the infants who are still going under the knife.  I also realized that most of the women campaigning against FGM were not mutilated themselves.  They just recognize the crime and the horror.  So I’m grateful that these men as saying no, my foreskin is not ugly and my penis is not dirty.  The foreskin is the most enjoyable part of my body and cutting it off an infant is a crime against human rights and a crime against nature.

Foreskin Pride was banned from the parade, but they were there protesting.  I hope they got more press than I can give them here.

Foreskin Pride signs: Infant Circumkcision is Medical Fraud, Infant Circumcision Violates Medical Ethics, Genital Cutting is NOT a Parental Right Foreskin Pride signs: Forced Circumcision is Assault, Put Down the Knife Step Away From the Baby

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Do Yourself and Do It Yourself

What Nicolaus Hartsoeker imagined he could see in a sperm cell back in 1694, in the days when women only provided the vessel.My partner and I are both too old to have another child, a decision we reached when we found out the odds of having a downs syndrome baby once a woman is over forty.  So we’ve been using the notoriously ineffective coitus interruptus method for birth control.   A condom simply doesn’t work for me.  Put latex on my dick and it might as well be made of wood for all the sensation that makes it through the rubber, one more gift of circumcision.  It takes me long enough to achieve a climax as it is.

I never seem to dribble before I shoot, so coitus interruptus works well for us.  But it has the obvious disadvantage that I have to closely monitor my ejaculation, which pulls me out of the moment.  We both look forward to those times of the month when her period has reduced from a gusher to a trickle, and I can just stay where I want to be and explode into her without fear of contributing genetic material to a rug rat.  That means the really great sex happens once a month, provided I manage to slip through that window of opportunity.

Before we decided that pregnancy was too dangerous, we were trying to have a child.  I still would like one.  She’s never had one.  But two years or so of unprotected sex did not result in a pregnancy.  A while back she wondered out loud whether she is even fertile.  It’s a question.

There’s also a question about my fertility.  For all I knew, I could be shooting blanks.  I’m getting old.  Sex is still great, when it happens, but I do notice a marked reduction in my sex drive.  I’m just not the three times a night stud that I used to be.  Now it’s more like three times a month, if I can get it up.  And that can be a problem too.

Pretty much what my son's microscope looks like, only older.I happen to be visiting my son these days.  He’s a sciency type of guy and owns a microscope.  You can see where this is going, right?  Yesterday I took a…ahem…. sperm sample.  This is not as easy as it once was, but still possible with patience and vigorous stimulation.  I put a drop of my ejaculate on a slide and positioned it on the stage of the microscope.  Focus.  Focus.  My son’s microscope is a bit of an antique, though I’m sure it would have given Charles Darwin a pulge if he could have got his hands on one like it.  I couldn’t get the highest level of magnification to show me anything, and don’t know why.  But the middle objective lens gave me an image. Lo and behold there were dots in my cum.   Very active dots with tails.  Millions of active dots with thrashing tails.

I spent quite a while staring at those wiggling dots with tails.  It’s rather awesome to think that each one of those dots with a tail contains half my genetic material, and that the son I am visiting started out as a similar dot that managed to luck out and find a fertile egg in appropriate place in my first wife.  It was a feeling akin to looking at a newborn baby, except not as cute of course.  Missing those adorable fingers with tiny fingernails.  So strange to see something that came out of my body, yet remains so obviously alive, one might almost say purposeful.  That didn’t last.  After twenty minutes there was nothing to see, as if the cells had dissolved into the background goo.

I’ve read that one ejaculation from a healthy human contains enough sperm to impregnate every woman on the planet.  I don’t know if this is true, but there sure were a fuck of a lot of sperm in that drop of cum, and that drop was just a tiny fraction of my total ejaculation.

This is a bit bigger magnification than I had, but I could tell that those dots were active.That answers the questions about whether I still need to withdraw before I inject sperm into my wife’s vagina.  Now I realize that I could have done a more complete and definitive sperm count if I’d just spent the time for a bit of research.  I should have read this first.

Oh well.  It’s another couple of weeks before my wife joins me at my current location, deep in the back woods of a former British colony.  I have time, and possibly something else, on my hands.  Perhaps I’ll feel motivated to refine my technique and get more definitive.

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Texas? Again? A Vote Against Freedom

Banning abortion does not mean fewer abortions, only more dead women.Oh, they think they are so moral.  They think they are defending babies.  They frame the debate as defending babies against those horrible doctors and women who want to (gasp) kill babies! They say shame on you, you baby killers.  We won’t let you do that.  They are so sure their hearts are in the right place, that God is on their side.   They put the rights of the unborn above the rights of the women who must surrender their bodies to the state.  Such is the freedom loving state of Texas.

The Texas Senate gave final passage on Friday to one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country, legislation championed by Gov. Rick Perry, who rallied the Republican-controlled Legislature late last month after a Democratic filibuster blocked the bill and intensified already passionate resistance by abortion-rights supporters.

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and hold abortion clinics to the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers, among other requirements. Its supporters say that the strengthened requirements for the structures and doctors will protect women’s health; opponents argue that the restrictions are actually intended to put financial pressure on the clinics that perform abortions and will force most of them to shut their doors.

Mr. Perry applauded lawmakers for passing the bill, saying “Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life.” Legislators and anti-abortion activists, he said “tirelessly defended our smallest and most vulnerable Texans and future Texans.”

When self righteous politicians and pious religious ideologues take the personhood away from women and usurp the prerogatives of doctors, priorities are seriously askew.

The people who want government to get out of their business, and let their fertilizer factories blow up for lack of regulation,  have no problem with government taking all rights away from women.  That’s what forcing a woman to carry an embryo to term means – taking away all her rights, for the crime of being pregnant.

The governor who let an innocent man die from a state administered lethal injection is defending babies.  Provided they aren’t born yet.  After they are born, fuck ’em.

Texas.  What an embarrassment to America.

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There Have Always Been Atheists

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Psalm 14.1 A Psalm of David. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.

Even a fool can figure it out.  There is no god.It occurred to me today that the bible would not contain this mini-rant against atheists if there hadn’t been atheists when the bible, in all its manifold iterations and variations, was written.  This is encouraging.  Disparaging atheists has a long and dishonourable tradition, and the practice has been swaddled in lies (To continue the quote from Psalm 14.1: “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good work.”) from the start.  When the first madman who heard “the voice of God” in his head announced the dictates of the Lord, there was somebody in the tribe to call bullshit.   Since he/she was calling bullshit on a madman, that somebody probably got a spear through the heart, thus ending the argument and convincing others not to take up the cause of reason for a few centuries.  But there was somebody there from the beginning saying: This is nonsense.

I always tend to think that it is recently, within the last couple of centuries, since the enlightenment, that humanity has struggled to throw off the shroud of religious belief.  Not so.  Wikipedia says that the term “atheist” didn’t appear until the sixteenth century, but the bible itself provides proof that the concept is ancient indeed.  We have always been there.  Sometimes beaten into silence, but always there.

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Barbarism and Irony

The ever delightful Author, creator of Jesus and Mo, has done it again.  He describes Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’  recent article as “ironic”, and he’s managed to condense the irony into one simple strip.

Jesus and Mo, Slice.   Author has a feel for irony.Nailed it.

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The Autobiography of Charles Darwin – Book Review

Project Gutenberg, what a concept!  Make the knowledge available for free.It’s always a pleasure to discover another book by Charles Darwin that I haven’t read.  Some of his writing is frustratingly dull, though always impressive in the detail and focus of his activities, but for the most part he is accessible and entertaining.  His autobiography, brought to the world for free thanks to the wonderful Project Gutenberg, is a hoot.

It’s so good to find that I still like the man.

We’ve all heard a lot about Darwin’s racism.  Here are two excerpts that seem to bear on that question:

By the way, a negro lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with Waterton, and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds, which he did excellently: he gave me lessons for payment, and I used often to sit with him, for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man.

These don’t sound like the words of a racist to me.  Then there is this passage, a discussion of slavery with the captain of the Beagle which almost got him kicked off the Beagle.

Fitz-Roy’s temper was a most unfortunate one.  It was usually worst in the early morning, and with his eagle eye he could generally detect something amiss about the ship, and was then unsparing in his blame.  He was very kind to me, but was a man very difficult to live with on the intimate terms which necessarily followed from our messing by ourselves in the same cabin.  We had several quarrels; for instance, early in the voyage at Bahia, in Brazil, he defended and praised slavery, which I abominated, and told me that he had just visited a great slave owner, who had called up many of his slaves and asked them whether they were happy . and whether they wished to be free, and all answered “No.”  I then asked him, perhaps with a sneer, whether he thought that the answer of slaves in the presence of their master was worth anything?  This made him excessively angry, and he said that as I doubted his word we could not live any longer together.  I thought that I should have been compelled to leave the ship; but as soon as the news spread, which it did quickly, as the captain sent for the first lieutenant to assuage his anger by abusing me, I was deeply gratified by receiving an invitation fro all the gun-room officers to mess with them.  But after a few hours Fitz-Roy showed his usual magnanimity by sending an officer to me with an apology and a request that I would continue to live with him.

In that day and age, if Darwin was a racist he certainly was mild about it.

It was particularly fun to read about Darwin as a young man.  This passage, for example:

I will give a proof of my zeal: one day, on tearing off some old bark, I saw to rare beetles and seized one in each hand; then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to lose, so that I popped the one which I held in my right hand into my mouth.  Alas! it ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out, which was lost, as was the third one.

Keeping in mind that the autobiography was written in his later years, it’s interesting to read his reflections on his youth, which he seems to have spent in sporting pursuits and shooting, the life of a typical well to do English gentleman with no financial pressure or need to develop a livelihood or career.  He did love to talk to the more accomplished and learned men he met, which prompted this reminiscence:

Looking back, I infer that there must have been something in me a little superior to the common run of youths, otherwise the above-mentioned men, so much older than me and higher in academical positions, would never have allowed me to associate with them.  Certainly I was not aware of any such superiority, and I remember one of my sporting friends, Turner, who saw me at work with my beetles, saying that I should some day be a Fellow of the Royal Society, and the notion seemed to me preposterous.

Like so many young men, he could not imagine achieving eminence equal to those older men he admired.  I wonder what he would think if he could know his position in the history of science today.  I should think he’d be quite gratified.

This is a very personal look at Darwin’s life.  He comments on the way his tastes changed over the years, how he lost interest in shooting, music, poetry, and fiction as he became more and more dedicated to scientific research.  He pays attention to his book sales.  He had ambition, one might almost call it lust, to make a “significant” contribution to science.  It’s interesting to get to know Mr. Darwin and to see him as a human being rather than the icon and legend of science that he has become.



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