Friday, February 29, 2008

Oh my god, no pun intended

[via PZ Myers]
Check this out... Then, if you can stomach it, watch the rest here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Joseph Smith Papers

So, the LDS church has just unveiled their new publisher's imprint, Church Historian's Press. Their first project is to be a collection of all "known personal papers, correspondence, journals and other primary sources" of Joseph Smith. If indeed that is what they publish, then that collection promises to be eminently enlightening, though perhaps not in the way the church intends...

The church was initially shopping around for university presses, particularly Oxford University, to publish the Smith papers, but they elected to scrap that and start their own press in order to "maintain editorial control."

Maybe it's just me, but I read that as saying "we want to be able to cut, redact or otherwise downplay anything that is not faith affirming," as the LDS church is so very very skilled at doing.

I'm not sure if Joe ever wrote journals or correspondence about his otherwise documented pre-BOM treasure hunting, fraud trial, or claims of magical power. If he did though, I'm willing to bet money that none of that will be in this book.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this will truly be an exhaustive collection that is truly what it purports to be. If so, then I welcome it. The Mormon church has a long history of supressing, downplaying, or (with the advent of the internet) simply telling their members to ignore anything that might call the veracity of Smith and others into question.

For instance, just now, I searched on for the Kinderhook Plates, the forged "ancient" plates brought to Smith by critics of the church in order for him to attempt translation and make him look foolish.

According to in their intro to the topic: "Joseph Smith did not make the hoped-for translation. In fact, no evidence exists that he manifested any further interest in the plates after early examination of them, although some members of the Church hoped that they would prove to be significant."

As you might guess, this is inaccurate. There indeed is evidence that Smith attempted translation, with Smith stating that "I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth." does actually include that quote, which kind of surprised me. But they immediately follow it up with a dismissal, saying that the words were not from Smith, but from William Clayton. Who was Clayton? Oh, you know, just some guy who happened to be employed as Jospeh Smith's scribe! And since Smith never wrote those words himself (you know, because he was largely illiterate), the account cannot be trusted, according to the church. Though numerous other texts attributed to Smith were actually written by a scribe (not the least of which is the Book of Mormon).

This is just dishonesty.

Okay, enough on the historical jiggery pokery of the LDS church. I'm trying to pull this post to some sort of elegant close, but I think I might instead just end in mid sente

Monday, February 18, 2008

Music, part 3

Okay, so I'm three weeks into the weekly music post, and I totally spaced it on Saturday...

So, first, I'm removing "Saturday" from the title of the music post, as it's obvious that I can't commit to that...

And second, here's an unorthodox cover of the Beatle's "Hey Jude" by an up-and-coming new artist...

Yeah, I was feeling kind of uninspired this week.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Anitbama

Remember that inspirational Barrack Obama music video I posted a while back?

Well, someone put together a BRILLIANT follow-up, now with John McCain!

Somehow, it seems less inspirational when the speech being sung-along to says "I don't believe Americans are concerned if we're there (Iraq) for a hundred years or a thousand years or ten thousand years."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Moving time -- potentially, anyway

So, someone made on offer on our condo today. We have no idea what the offer is, but we'll find out tomorrow and see if we can start our search in earnest for some new digs to call home.

Be sure to pray to Yahweh, the Invisible Pink Unicorn, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster to make everything go well. If you could sacrifice a couple of rams as well, that might just do the trick!

We may be calling upon any who read this to help us move. You have been warned.


Monday, February 11, 2008

The difference between Christians and Atheists

Check out this post on the Friendly Atheist to learn the simple difference between Christians and Atheists.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

(delayed) Saturday Music Blog

Canada has been home to a whole host of talented musicians lately. From Stars to Metric to Feist to Broken Social Scene (who members of Stars, Metric and Feist have all guested for).

I've been a fan of Metric in particular since I first heard their album Old World Underground, Where are you Now?

This track, "Poster of Girl," comes from their excellent album Live it Out.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why I support Obama...

Why, I'll let him speak for himself (via Wil Wheaton) :
“When I am this party's nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; or that I supported Bush-Cheney policies of not talking to leaders that we don't like. And he will not be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether or not it is ok for America to torture — because it is never ok… I will end the war in Iraq… I will close Guantanamo. I will restore habeas corpus. I will finish the fight against Al Qaeda. And I will lead the world to combat the common threats of the 21st century: nuclear weapons and terrorism; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. And I will send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, 'You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.'”
The first half of that cannot be said for Hillary Clinton. Granted, Obama was not IN the senate to vote for or against the Iraq War resolution, but he has steadfastly supported ending the war and not getting ourselves embroiled in other uneeded conflicts.

And from Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

I’m for Obama knowing perfectly well that, as Bill Clinton suggested, it’s a “roll of the dice”. A roll of the dice for Democrats, for progressives, for those of us who’ve fought so hard against the right-wing frames that Obama sometimes (sometimes craftily, sometimes naively) deploys. Because I think a Hillary Clinton candidacy will be another game of inches, yielding—at best—another four or eight years of knifework in the dark. Because I think an Obama candidacy might actually shake up the whole gameboard, energize good people, create room and space for real change.

Because he seems to know something extraordinarily important, something so frequently missing from progressive politics in this country, in this time: how to hearten people. Because when I watch him speak, I see fearful people becoming brave.

Obama certainly speaks with the gravitas of the likes of Jefferson, King and Kennedy. Time will tell if he can become one of the nation's Great Presidents. In any event, it's eminently exciting to be able to cast a ballot for a candidate who is not just "better than Bush" (like Kerry was in '04), but truly is someone I would choose as leader of this nation.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Now that the covetted Scarlett Johansson endorsement is in...

With just Clinton and Obama left in the race for the democratic nomination (well, those two and Gravel), I want to come out and officially say I want Barack Obama to be the nominee.

I was talking the other day (this was before Edwards had bowed out) that I would be genuinely satisfied with any of the contenders for the nomination. I think Hillary Clinton would be a strong leader, with the mettle to be taken seriously on the world stage (unlike, for instance, a particular current U.S. president).

But I gotta say, I like Obama a hell of a lot. I feel that he is much more in line with me on a whole host of social issues.

Now all of that said, I'm not sure what to make of this new celebrity-infused "music video" produced by and Bob Dylan's other son. It's certainly inspiring, and feels like a "We are the world" sort of call to action, only instead of worldwide poverty or the AIDS epidemic, the issue at hand is Super Tuesday. The video is gorgeous, intermixing an Obama stump speech with celebrities singing or speaking Barack's words.

The video's makers say that the Obama campaign was not involved, and might not even know if the video exists... I don't know if I buy that. And it frankly doesn't matter to me who Scarlett Johansson, Herbie Hancock or Kelly Hu endorse for president, except maybe that it makes me like Scarlett Johansen a little bit more (purely for her acting talent and personality! Honest!!!).

The whole thing feels a little over the top... But oh well, I guess if Obama inspires people, that's a good thing... Anyway, here's the vid:

Saturday Music Blog

I've decided to devote at least one post each Saturday to music, sharing an artist or a song, or just waxing about whatever tune is stuck in my head.

Several months ago, I discovered The Bird and the Bee, a superb, quirky, underrated electro-indie-pop-whatever duo. I just saw the video for their Polite Dance Song (it's kind of a fun song, listen closely to the lyrics), and couldn't resist posting it. It is made all the better because the red-shirted dance god with the magic triangle looks nearly identical to someone I work with (Sorry, Danny!).

Behold, the glory of Polite Dance Song, the greatest music video ever: