Monday, October 27, 2014

Bankers And Brokers Have Bought Themselves A US Senate

If you didn't already know this, the fix is in. The winner of the US Senate races will be bankers and brokers. The securities and investment industry has already purchased the Republican leadership, and they will dominate public policy after the GOP takes power.

The Washington Post published an article about the top 13 most consequential races this election. Using data from Open Secrets, I found the top contributors for both sides in every race.

Below is a list of Republican Senate candidates with how high up the Securities and Investment industry ranked among their top donors:

Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) - S&I rank: 1
Scott Brown (New Hampshire) - S&I rank: 1
Thom Tillis (North Carolina) - S&I rank: 3
David Perdue (Georgia) - S&I rank: 2
Joni Ernst (Iowa) - S&I rank: 3
Pat Roberts (Kansas) - S&I rank: 3
Cory Gardner (Colorado) - S&I rank: 3
Dan Sullivan (Alaska) - S&I rank: 1
Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) - S&I rank: 4
Tom Cotton (Arkansas) - S&I rank: 1
Mike Rounds (South Dakota) - S&I rank: 4
Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) - S&I rank: 5
Steven Daines (Montana) - S&I rank: 1

In five of the 13 races, it is the top contributor. The top categories in the remaining eight races are:

Retired (Tillis, Perdue, Ernst, Gardner, Capito)
Leadership PACs (Roberts, Rounds)
Health Professionals (Cassidy)

As you can see there's only one actual industry in this group! I'll dig into this some more soon, but the rankings here speak for themselves. When the GOP takes power there is one group of people who will get their calls returned. Every time.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Orwell And Dumbledore: More One Star Reviews Of Classic Literature

All reviews and excerpts are from Goodreads. Enjoy.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (3.84 stars)

If I want to read about shiftless rich people and their drunken machinations, I'll read the Hollywood Reporter or TMZ. - Zeke

What a pretentious load of crap about a bunch of useless, vapid, hypocritical, materialistic, racist, drunk socialites! Maybe this is a good depiction of life in the 20's for rich people... I don't really know, nor do I really care. I'm neither rich, nor do I live in the 20's. - Andrew

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! - Guy Terry


1984 by George Orwell (4.09 stars)

I seriously disliked this book. I think what I dislike the most is that it is on reading lists for teens and it will filled with sex scenes and sexual innuendos. In my readings, I've come across far more appropriately written books without all the immorality and promiscuity that is NOT needed to share. Some immediate recommendations coming to my mind are: Living with Agenda 21, the Mysterious Benedict Society, The Bridge at Andau. And honestly, just listening to what's going on in our world now is helpful. Podcasts such as Nothing But Truth. Or the movie Agenda. - Shiloah

The middle really bothered me, I felt like the characters were going nowhere and I couldn't stand having them sitting around thinking their thoughts without anything really happening to them. The last 100 pages were filled with violence and only made me angry that a novel with such an interesting premise could turn so sour. - Snorkle

Maybe this was ahead of it's time, at it's time. I thought classics were supposed to hold their value, but this just doesn't. Yeah, yeah Big Brother this, Big Brother that, watch out for the thought police, do your exercises in front of the telescreens...blah blah blah. I mean big brother, thought police, telescreens...this had the potential of being really cool, but it wasn't (what’s up with the two minutes hate thing?). Winston had zero personality, which I'm sure partially came from the oppression, but come on, he was a REBEL, a member of Dumbledore's army!!!! - Sandra Hestand


The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (4.28 stars)

I know it makes me look ignorant and uncouth to declare a masterpiece of literature by one of the greats to be awful, but here I am. - Tania

I started this book twice before I finally finished it. I thought I just wasn't giving good ol' Dostoevsky a fair chance. He totally betrayed my trust. - Danielle

Let me save you 900 pages and untold man hours: rich Russian asshole family members drink, yell, whore, steal one another's mates, murder, more screaming, philosophizing, more screaming, no subtlety to anything, all conversation between characters so over-the-top and full of passion as to be unrelatable. - Eric Althoff


The Sound And The Fury by William Faulkner (3.85 stars)

I was so freaked about taking the test on this book, that I went and got the Cliff notes on it. I read the Cliff notes and literally turned back to the cover to make sure I'd gotten the right notes. I mean, I read them, and asked myself: "What the f@k? Is this the same book I read?" - J. Yandell

This book has inspired me to start a list of crap that is admired only because no one has the guts to admit they have no idea what the hell is going on. Although technically in this category, I give James Joyce the benefit of the doubt simply because I can't understand anyone from Ireland anyway. - Cliff

 I do not like William Faulkner and his stream of consciousness writing ways. - Teardra

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

50 Ways To Describe The Repulsiveness Of Pat Robertson

50. Pat Robertson is a hypocrite.
49. Pat Robertson is hateful.
48. Pat Robertson is divisive
47. Pat Robertson is crazy.
46. Pat Robertson is too stupid to know when to stop.
45. Pat Robertson is too smart to forgive for his stupidity.
44. Pat Robertson is repetitive, and therefore boring.
43. Pat Robertson is an embarrassment, not just to Christians in particular, not just to religious people in general, but to everyone who has faith in anything. He brings shame to the act of belief itself. He makes the guy who has a system with Lotto tickets feel uncomfortable.
42. Pat Robertson is exploring new ways to be a dick. Which means you can't get used to it. You can't develop a kind of emotional callus towards him.
41. Pat Robertson makes co-hosts sit there and nod while he spouts his insanity, and that ruins lives and careers.
40. Pat Robertson lives in Virginia Beach, where I live, and he actually makes it worse.
39. Pat Robertson's first name is Marion, and you can tell.
38. Pat Robertson's the kind of old racist white man who smiles while he says the hideous things he says, so you wonder if he really means it, and any African American person dealing with him feels as though they're in a bizarre psychological thriller. He's why white people can never be trusted.
37. If Pat Robertson were incinerated in a blast furnace the chemically pure calcium left behind would still be somehow off.
36. If Pat Robertson complimented your child you'd get a new one.
35. Every time Pat Robertson rings a bell an angel... just kidding. There aren't any angels, because Pat Robertson's existence proves there is no God.
34. Pat Robertson is one of the worst people to come from the South. Yes, I know. Yes, I'm counting Florida.
33. Pat Robertson gives Republican media moguls a bad name.
32. When hearing Pat Robertson speak, the only appropriate feeling to have is something like what you got that last Thanksgiving before your parents finally went through with the divorce.
31. You wouldn't want to hunt Pat Robertson for sport, because that would mean spending more time with Pat Robertson. And because he can't be killed by anything of this earth.
30. Pat Robertson also gives TV preachers a bad name.
29. Pat Robertson doesn't pray hurricanes away. They avoid him out of a sense of decency.
28. Pat Robertson's show actually makes fundamentalists dumber.
27. When Pat Robertson rejected creationism it caused everyone want to crunch the numbers again.
26. Fred Rogers would punch Pat Robertson on sight.
25. Pat Robertson is the exception to Rule 37.
24. If you threw Pat Robertson into a dumpster of medical waste you'd ruin it.
23. Pat Robertson doesn't like porn, because he can only masturbate to atrocity footage.
22. Pat Robertson is why the aliens will never visit.
21. Pat Robertson is who the Boogeyman's mother warned him about.
20. Pat Robertson likes getting wrinkles, because he wants to trap all the light he can.
19. Every American child loses hope in this country on the day he learns Pat Robertson's name. The stuff about the smallpox blankets comes later.
18. Three people have had sex with Pat Robertson, and they've all been chopped up, vacuum-packed, and shot into the sun. Because that's what they wanted afterwards.
17. Pat Robertson is what bird flu looks like if it grows into a big enough colony.
16. The Romans knew Pat Robertson was coming someday, and they just gave up.
15. Pat Robertson can eat raw turkey. Because nothing in it is going to make him worse.
14. Pat Robertson is what lemmings are trying to get away from.
13. If you watch Pat Robertson's show for five minutes it will flush tapeworms out of your system.
12. The trembling of Pat Robertson's head happens because he's digesting souls.
11. The reason the devil is only frozen up to his waist in Dante's hell is because he's sitting on Pat Robertson's shoulders.
10. Pat Robertson is what you get when you feed Jeffrey Dahmer after midnight.
9. Pat Robertson can't stop moving or we'll all die.
8. Pat Robertson makes cancer come back by laughing at your jokes.
7. If you have two bullets and a time machine, you kill Pat Robertson and then go back so you can kill him in the past.
6. They don't allow Pat Robertson near the Large Hadron Collider, because then it would fart Cthulhu.
5. Pat Robertson loses a pound of skin every day. And by morning he's stolen enough to replace it. No one ever asks where.
4. Pat Robertson is always right behind you, whenever you feel a chill in the air, or hear the sound of something in pain.
3. You could fill the space Pat Robertson occupies with literally anything, and it would be less of a waste than filling it with Pat Robertson. Yes, I've considered Joseph Goebbels holding a shopping bag of monkey shit and Maroon 5 records. Because you could execute Goebbels, and that shopping bag would be a solid way to prank an enemy. But there is nothing to be done with Pat Robertson.
2. Pat Robertson is the absolute worst way to arrange every one of the molecules that compose him. There is no other structure you could make with them that would be viler. It's a statistical miracle.
1. Pat Robertson is just not very nice.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is a horror novel about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Pat Robertson Is Not Even Trying




You've probably already heard the "gays are terrorists" rant by Pat Robertson, haven't you? You already know how weird and nasty it is. I'm just kind of piling on with this. Anyway, the guy says the following:

...It's something else to take the arm of a government to force somebody to do something that is against, that is contrary to their religion... No Christian in his right mind would ever try to force somebody against their belief or else suffer jail...

Googling for a quote exposing him as a hypocrite in 3, 2, 1...

"Islam is a violent--I was going to say religion--but it's not a religion. It's a political system. It's a violent political system bent on the overthrow of governments of the world and world domination." They talk about infidels and all this. But the truth is, that's what the game is. You're dealing with not a religion. You're dealing with a political system. And I think you should treat it as such and treat it's adherents as such. As we would members of the Communist party and members of some Fascist group." 

This is from a 2009 article in the Washington Post. So, Christians wouldn't use the government to persecute someone for their religion. Unless they'd first reclassified it as something they could persecute you for. Is that it? Man, that was too easy.

I feel like doing more... I didn't get my fix, you know? Let's just use that as number 50 of my countdown: 50 Ways To Describe How Awful Pat Robertson Is.

Soon.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

The Skeptic's Annotated Bible And The Horror At The Heart Of Scripture

The Bible is a giant triple fudge sundae of murder, rape, and destruction, and the love of a hippy carpenter is the cherry on top. This is - and I'm choosing my words carefully - the only decent way to describe the Bible. The book is soaked in blood, and a large portion of western cultural history has been a story of people scurrying to bleach down the crime scene before the CSI guys get here.

We know this. We've been told before. We ignore it, because it's in our nature. People are afraid of death, meaninglessness, and sometimes vaginas. Religion helps us deal. Visit the gift shop on your way out.

One of the most famous tales in the book is about how God drowned the whole world about five seconds after He made it, and we turned that into a cuddly word picture of two giraffes sticking their heads out of a goddamn boat. We covered up a genocide with a crayon rainbow. If you can't grasp how wrong that is, you don't have a functioning nervous system. But then again, many of us seem to get by without one.

All of this is why The Skeptic's Annotated Bible is an important public service. The website (run by one very pissed-off guy named Steve Wells) catalogs every awful item you can find throughout what is perhaps the most influential text in our society. You can read the entire thing straight through, or you can use the tags to browse through each kind of terrible verse - like violence, misogyny, logical contradictions, or intolerance. He also has annotated versions of the Quran and the Book of Mormon. I read large portions of it as I was preparing my novel. (I'll describe the process in greater detail later.)

I think Wells's biggest contribution is to put all this hideousness in one place. The reason is that the meaning behind the Bible is always a matter of argument. Because it's a collection of dozens of books in multiple languages over thousands of years, you can always make the case that the terrible thing you think you just read isn't really terrible at all. This is one of the more common tasks of the apologist. Elisha seems to have used his holy powers to have two bears rip a crowd of children to shreds. God seems to have planned a slaughter of innocents in Egypt. The Israelites seem to have committed atrocity after atrocity under the direction of the Almighty. But wait! If you translate the words differently and make a series of inferences and squint just right... Presto! The bad stories become "difficult" or "problematic." Or my favorite - they become "starting points for a conversation." The Skeptics Annotated Bible eloquently shows how this is nonsense. Because there is simply too much monstrous crap in that book for the horror to go away with a few arguments. The genocidal insanity really is the Bible's most salient feature. I know there's some good stuff too. Believe me. But if you stuck a chord progression for Charles Manson's favorite Monkees tune at the end of Helter Skelter, that wouldn't make it a music book.

Christians often say they don't believe in the Bible's infallibility - that they know it's the product of ignorant men in an ignorant time. And then there's always the question of how they define their God if they can't agree on what parts of the book describe Him. (And this is ultimately why I'm a nonbeliever.) But it's important to say that even though this attitude makes for a less coherent faith, it's really the only moral option. We start there. We can agree on that. It's immoral to believe in an infallible Bible. Believing that means you make excuses for the inexcusable.

And again, we all know this. The story of our society has always been about ignoring the obvious. We bring the horror on ourselves, and I wish we'd stop.

NOTE: I am the author of a novel about the dark side of Scripture. It is called The Black Book Of Children’s Bible Stories, and you can find it Amazon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"God Never Sends You More Than You Can Handle," By A Drone Operator

You look like crud, Trev. You really do. This thing with Karen's getting to you. You don't talk about it, but I can tell, man. I can just - wait...

Hotel Three-Five. Geronimo. Still loitering at the target. No action. Copy that, Hotel? No action.

Look, you love her, and she loves you. And the Big Guy's got a plan for you both. You're going through something that might look really awful now, but it's going to make you stronger in the end, okay?

I know you've got mixed feelings on religion. But just... just hear me out on this. I believe when bad things happen to us it's like a kind of test. It's not always clear. But that doubt you feel - that's part of the test, you know? Just like...

I see it, Hotel Three-Five. I got two SUVs moving south toward the target. About 700 meters and closing. Standing by. Repeat. We are standing by.

...Just like when I went through all that school stuff with my daughter. I mean, how many weeks did that last, right? It seemed as if Mackenzie was going to end up at some horrible community college or something. Judy and I didn't know what to do. We prayed and prayed about it. It tore us apart. And then one day, I remember...

The first SUV stopped, and I got three, uh, three militants getting out and entering the target. Waiting on the second.

I remember just getting this feeling, this voice in my head. "I care about you." That's what the voice said. "Whatever happens, I will be here." It gave me chills, man.

There's the second. Repeat, the second SUV is parked, and I've got... I've got four more militants entering the building. Someone's meeting them at the door. A person holding a small... it's a small dog, Hotel Three-Five. A dog. Permission to engage target.

Someone's up there, Trev. Someone is looking out for you. Believe it.

Missile off the rail. And... target hit. Target hit, Hotel Three-Five. Waiting to see... yeah, we took it out. We destroyed the target, Hotel. 

Don't start, Trev. It was a dog. You heard the briefing. A dog, okay?

We're going to loiter another ten and then head back. Good job everybody. Over.

Why don't you come to church with Judy and me this Sunday? You don't have to join or anything... I'm not asking that. Just think about it.

It really helped me find some answers.

NOTE: 
I am the author of a novel about the dark side of Scripture. It is called The Black Book Of Children’s Bible Stories, and you can find it on Amazon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Dracula Can Teach You About The Bible

One of the creepiest elements of Stoker’s vampire novel doesn't bite or turn into a bat. It’s a collection of wax cylinders. Dr. Seward dictates his notes onto them through a phonograph, telling his part of the story while at his job. They’re scary because of what they hint at.

“You’ve got to imagine the sounds that are behind his voice,” the scholar Bryan Alexander points out. Seward worked at an asylum. One would hear the screams and sounds of crying drifting through the halls, the tones indecipherable, barely audible.

Alexander is a writer and an academic who published Dracula as a series of blog posts. The novel was told through the notes and journal entries of the characters, and Alexander uploaded each of them on the date it was written so readers could experience the tale unfolding in “real time.” 

Dracula, a tale in fragments, was the ancestor of the found footage horror movie. These kinds of stories are disturbing because the media within them – the cylinders, film cans, and videotape – suggest an entire dark world just outside the borders of what you can see and know. Which brings us, of course, to the Bible.

The Bible is the original Western tale of fragments isn’t it? It’s a library of different genres and styles by an army of authors, some of them hidden from history. And it sits embedded in centuries of commentary and dogma about where each word came from and what it really means. But you have to pay attention to the borders of this book. The borders are where the victims are. 

Every divine plague and every righteous massacre suggests a world of small horrors just beyond the edges of the story:

The mother smothers her baby just after the walls of Jericho fall and the Israelite army spills in.

The little boy clings to the wreckage of his home as the flood waters sweep his family away.

To the extent the Bible is true these stories are true as well. There are no unimportant characters in an account like this – even if the truth is of a metaphorical or metaphysical kind. If you’re supposed to read this book for answers then the obscenity of Scripture – obvious and undeniable – is part of the narrative. It runs through every passage, and it turns each happy tale of survival and faith into a record of loss and despair. And so the Book’s real message, the answer to all those easy Sunday school lessons, becomes apparent:

You must open your eyes to horror, or you will shut your heart to suffering.

Yes. It's clear now. Remember it.

NOTE: 
I am the author of a novel about the dark side of Scripture. It is called The Black Book Of Children’s Bible Stories, and you can find it on Amazon.
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