Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cave Men Were Sluts

Salon features this interview with Christopher Ryan, the co-author (with Cacilda Jethá) of the book Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Sexuality. Ryan argues that pre-agricultural mankind had non-monogamous sex lives and that our contemporary mixture of sexuality with absolute monogamy in marriage distorts both. Here are some excerpts of Ryan's comments:
Marriage in the West isn’t doing very well because it’s in direct confrontation with the evolved reality of our species. What we argue in the book is that the best way to increase marital stability, which in the modern world is an important part of social stability, is to develop a more tolerant and realistic understanding of human sexuality and how human sexuality is being distorted by our modern conception of marriage. Certainly growing up in the '70s and '80s there were very few kids I knew whose parents weren’t divorced at least once. The economic, emotional, psychological cost of fractured relationships is a major problem in American society — with single mothers and single-parent families. . . . The American sense of relationships and sexuality tends to be very informed by Hollywood: It’s all about the love story. But the love story ends at the wedding and doesn't go into the 40 years that comes after that. . . .And the American insistence on mixing love and sex and expecting passion to last forever is leading to great suffering that we think is tragic and unnecessary.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Statue of Jesus Falling Through the Ice Destroyed by Lightning

Okay, so maybe he wasn't supposed to be falling through the ice, but that's what I think of when I look at this pre-lightning strike image:

Here is an excerpt from the story in The Washington Post:

The sculpture, about 62 feet tall and 40 feet wide at the base, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signaling a touchdown. It was made of plastic foam and fiberglass over a steel frame, which is all that remained Tuesday.

Church officials said they didn't know exactly what prompted the nickname commonly used by people in the area. The nickname is the same used for a famous mural of the resurrected Jesus that overlooks the Notre Dame football stadium.

The fire spread from the statue to an adjacent amphitheater but was confined to the attic area, and no one was injured, police Chief Mark Neu said.
Any chance we can get Pat Robertson to blame the strike on the church member's sinful ways?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Aren't They Arresting the Wrong Guy?

According to this article at Reuters, Army Specialist Bradley Manning has been arrested for leaking the video of American soldiers firing on civilians in Iraq. An excerpt:

The video, which included an audio track of conversation between the fliers, showed an aerial view of the men moving through the square. The helicopter opened fire on the group, killing several people and wounding others.

A military spokesman said the helicopter crew mistook a camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Minutes later, a van approached and began trying to assist the wounded. The fliers apparently became concerned that the vehicle was occupied by militants and fired on it.

WikiLeaks said it obtained the video from military whistleblowers and had been able to view and investigate it after breaking an encryption code.

Some international law and human rights experts say the helicopter crew may have acted illegally.
It should not be much of a surprise. I just finished reading The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo, a book about how social systems may perpetuate unjust actions and condition those involved to fight to protect those systems. Zimbardo recounts how Warrent Officer Hugh Thompson intervened in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, saving the lives of civilians. Thompson was punished for it by his superiors and it was thirty years before his heroism was recognized by the military. The book also recounts how Joe Darby, who exposed the abuses at Abu Grhaib prison, was put in protective custody and his family members were harassed for what was viewed as treasonous activity. But his actions exposed and largely ended widespread abuse in military prisons under Bush and Cheney.

Like Prometheus bringing fire to man or Lucifer liberating Adam and Eve through fruit of the tree of knowledge, the real heroes of civilization are sometimes the ones who are perceived as a threat to it. They'll never appear on a Wheaties box, there won't be songs sung in their honor, and they won't make it into a textbook approved by the Texas board of education. But as Anton LaVey once wrote, "They say a villain is bad but an apathetic drone is far worse."