Ratfuck Journal

Religion and Politics are venal twins…that's what we're about

Pope Francis Expounds on Christian Love

One assumes the Pope was speaking extempore on January 9th during his daily Mass in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican. At least one hopes the Pope was speaking off-the-cuff, because his remarks about Christian love were muddled and tiresome.

Truly, the man is tiresome.

Yesterday, Pope Franny said Christian love is concrete. And according to the Pope, concrete has only one meaning: particular. And by particular the Pope means Christ’s concept of Christian love.

And let me interject here, the Roman Catholic Church’s ideas on what Christ thought and preached are illusory at best and maddening at the worst, since Christ did not himself expound on what he meant by love when he said “love”.

“Christian love has a particular quality: concreteness,” Pope Franny said. “Christian love is concrete…Jesus Himself, when He speaks of love, speaks to us about concrete things: feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and many concrete things.” The pope did not list the many concrete things Jesus spoke of when he spoke of love. But the pope makes a giant leap by assuming his understanding of love is the same as Jesus’ understanding of love.

SO TIRESOME!

“And when this concreteness is not there,” the pope said, “you can live a Christianity of illusions, because you don’t understand where the center of Jesus’ message is.”

“If you have a hardened heart,” Pope Francis explained, “you cannot love, and you think that love is to imagine things. No, love is concrete,” adding that this concreteness is based on two criteria. “The first criterion: to love with deeds, not words. Words are taken away by the wind! They are here today, tomorrow they are not. The second criterion of concreteness is: in love it is more important to give than to receive, ” Pope Francis added that “the one who loves, gives…Gives things, gives life, gives oneself to God and to others.”

“On the other hand,” the Pope said, “the one who does not love, who is selfish, always seeks to receive, always seeks to have things, to have advantages.”

The irritating thing about the RCC is that its concept of Jesus Christ has become so tiny and constipated. Jesus has gone from being a larger-than-life being that was at one and the same time a truly human being but also was God—so magnificent in His largeness of heart, in His understanding, in His mercy. But now, that concept, in the hands of tiresome little men like co-popes Franny and B16, Jesus Christ is small, constricted, whittled down like a giant tree carved into a three-inch totem—particular and concrete—a teeny, bloodless icon that can only be explained and understood by men who equate love with particular acts, and particular concrete deeds that are sanctioned, organized, listed and codified, and which cannot involve words or fancies because these things are not concrete and therefore not holy.

Is it okay for me to love my cat? May I write love poems and call them hymns and psalms? May I absolutely adore my best friend? May I take joy in and love to get presents? May I take solace in having wildly abandoned fucking and sucking sex that will never, never, never end in a pregnancy? No…Pope Franny tells me that these expressions of my humanness are not expressions of Christian love because the RCC’s dwarfed understanding of love is particular and concrete and does not include the above illusions that I see as love.

And in its unbounded hubris, the RCC says that Christ–who the RCC has made so small I can hold Him and all that He stands for in one hand, with room for a cannoli–would call my ideas of love sinful. When I love, as I believe Christ’s largeness of heart and magnanimity would love for me to love, the Roman Catholic Church, in the form of Pope Francis, says I do not understand the center of Christ message, and in addition, I am a sinner.

What a tiresome church the Roman Catholic Church is. And what a tiresome, arrogant, ignorant and grandiose little man Pope Francis is.

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George Johnson Explains Cancer To You

The Sunday Review section of the New York Times today has a piece written by George Johnson, a former reporter and editor for the NYT. The title of the article is “Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer”. Mr. Johnson is the author of “The Cancer Chronicles”.

Mr. Johnson’s 1,381-word apologia for the cancer industry–and it is an industry–concludes that most of the major deadly diseases have been conquered and, in addition, we are living a long time these days; therefore, if one is not felled in old age by heart disease–which is being conquered–one inevitably will be nailed by cancer. Plus, Mr. Johnson says, cancer is a complicated disease that cannot be cured by one simple approach as small pox was obliterated by a vaccine.

Ergo, everyone seems to have cancer because everyone still living and not dead from heart disease does have cancer.

Mr. Johnson doesn’t venture into the possibility that we all have cancer because our DNA has been damaged by radiation from A-Bomb tests, and I don’t blame him…that’s a topic for another white paper by another apologist on another day. (Besides, David Ropeik explained that away in the NYT last October 22.) Mr. Johnson shortshrifts synthetic chemicals by saying, “only a small percentage of cancers have been traced to the thousands of synthetic chemicals that industry has added to the environment”. Although he does say about synthetic chemicals, “As regulations are further tightened, cancer rates are being reduced a little more.” Which confuses me, but perhaps I am nitpicking…what is “a little more” from “a small percentage”?

And Mr. Johnson doesn’t completely explain why so many children and young people have cancer today. But it sounds right that people have to die from something and with so many diseases having been vanquished, cancer has jumped into the breach.

However, there is a vexing problem that Mr. Johnson does not broach. And since he is a cheerleader for the cancer industry, why should he? But the problem is, the cancer industry has no motive to find a cure for cancer.

No industry has ever knowingly put itself out of business. And that is why we cannot trust and/or believe anything the pharmaceuticals say about the safety of drugs. We cannot trust or believe anything the manufacturers of instruments of war say about the need to make war to defend ourselves. We cannot trust or believe anything hospital managers say about the necessity to run tests, more tests, and ever-more tests on patients.

And we certainly cannot trust or believe anything defenders of the cancer industry say about the inevitability of dying from cancer and the fact that curing cancer may not be possible. Or, as George Johnson puts it, “advances in the science will continue…there are always new possibilities to explore, but barring an elixir for immortality, a body will come to a point where it has outwitted every peril life has thrown at it. And for each added year, more mutations will have accumulated. If the heart holds out, then waiting at the end will be cancer.”

Oh well then…that being the case…yippee! George Johnson will always have a job defending the cancer industry…whoopee! Doctors and hospitals catering to the cancer industry will always make lots of money…and hallelujah! If the cancer industry plays its cards right, a cure for cancer will never be found!

Give me a C, give me an A, give me an N, give me another C, give me an E, give me an R. Cancer forever…YAY!!!!!

The “It’s Good-Enough” Concept

Back in December of 1995, Hallmark Hall of Fame produced a made-for-TV movie called “Journey”. For a number of reasons, I had hopes it would not be one of those treacly, feel-good Hallmark offerings that I had come to detest.

Reason One: The two stars, playing grandparents Marcus and Lottie, had both received Academy Awards. Jason Robards, for his pitch-perfect turn as the Washington Post’s Ben Bradlee in “All the President’s Men” (1976). And Brenda Fricker got an Oscar when she played Christy Brown’s mother in “My Left Foot” (1989).

Reason Two: Glenn Close was Executive Producer on the thing.

Reason Three: Marcus and Lottie’s grandson was Max Pomeranc who had stunned the world when he played a young chess genius in “Searching for Bobby Fischer” (1993).

The big detractor was the name “Journey”. “Journey” had not been picked because the film was about transition or transcendence or even actual treks from here to there. “Journey” was the name of the grandson. Ugh! New Age? Flower Children gone grey? The movie turned out to be delightful and certainly was not icky. And I was introduced to an important concept about life.

The rather complicated story is not important. Marcus and Lottie were having to raise their grandson who was eleven years old. One of the plotlines was that Marcus and Journey had discovered photography together. Journey had become obsessed about his photographs being perfect before he could deem them acceptable.

Grandpa Marcus had a sit-down with Journey and explained the concept of “it’s good enough”.

It’s never going to be perfect, nothing is ever perfect, life is not perfect, but there comes a point when it’s “good enough”, and it’s important to know when that is and to be able to accept things when they are good enough.

That’s it. That’s the “it’s good enough concept”.

I still miss seeing when it’s good enough and appreciating things for what they are rather than wanting them to be perfect. But I don’t miss it as often as I used to.

Your Gift

It snowed this past Sunday. But because the weather forecasters were wrong again, more people came to church than would have done so had they realized the weather poobahs were off by many hours and many inches. And so, those of us who ventured to church at St. Mark’s on Locust Street in Philadelphia last Sunday were greeted with a blinding snow storm at 12:30 when the service was over.

What happened was, I decided to walk home from church. For me, walking home isn’t an option, it’s what I do. I may take the 16th Street bus to church, but waiting for the 17th Street bus to take me back home requires more patience than I possess after a long Episcopal service. Besides, there’s walking to the bus stop and walking from the bus stop and I might as well walk home.

This past Sunday, the forty-five minutes it took me to make a twelve-minute walk after I left church was the most frightening thing I have ever been through. I honestly didn’t think I would make it. Those five blocks from Locust Street to Bainbridge Street, sometimes in the street, sometimes on the sidewalk…slipping, sliding, trying to catch my breath, trying to steady myself on anything…bannisters, trees, cars, walls…and knowing I couldn’t go on but that I had to go on were horrific. My gloves were thin. My hands went from cold to numb. I inched forward, knowing I could never last another block and yet, I did last another block and another and another. When I finally got to Bainbridge Street I stopped to catch my breath and leaned against a wall. I saw a young man getting into his van. He asked if I was okay. I said “No”. I asked him if he could drive me that last block to my apartment building. I figured he was an angel because he said, “Yes…of course.” And he did drive me.

Having told my tale on Facebook, I am now hearing from everyone and his brother-in-law who attends the 11:00 service at St. Mark’s church to say they are sorry they didn’t offer me a ride.

From the time I left my pew to exit the church service until I finally got home, I saw no one I knew. I couldn’t have asked for a ride from a parishioner nor could anyone have offered me a ride because I crossed paths with no one I knew.

In any event, I have received email mea culpas from people who had no way of helping me and now are glorying in feeling guilty for not helping me. And I have even been told that my impulse to handle my own wants and needs is invalid since it robs well-meaning Christians of an opportunity to be of service.

I can only say that the gift of assistance that has strings attached is not a gift but rather, it is a demand note requiring repayment in smug self-satisfaction to the donor. Take a look at your gift…it may be a burden and a millstone.

Doctors Are Killing Us

If you need proof, or at least, if you want ammunition to bolster the contention that the American medical community does not have the well-being of patients at heart, read the November 14th Op/Ed article in the New York Times titled “Don’t Give More Patients Statins”. It was written by John D. Abramson, lecturer at Harvard Medical School and Rita F. Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.

This article is specifically about the serious harm being done by doctors who prescribe statins to patients who don’t need them. But the article is much more far-reaching than that.

The most startling paragraphs are these: “The process by which these latest guidelines were developed gives rise to further skepticism. The group that wrote the recommendations was not sufficiently free of conflicts of interest; several of the experts on the panel have recent or current financial ties to drug makers. In addition, both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, while nonprofit entities, are heavily supported by drug companies.

The American people deserve to have important medical guidelines developed by doctors and scientists on whom they can confidently rely to make judgments free from influence, conscious or unconscious, by the industries that stand to gain or lose.”

This collusion between doctors/hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry has to stop. Doctors’ greed and callous unethical behavior is killing us. Can this be stated more clearly? Can this be said more simply? A person who does not go to a doctor is better off physically (and God knows, mentally) than a person who is under a doctor’s care! Does this make sense in any country, in any world, in any universe? WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!!

Don’t Mind Us Doctors…We’re Just Fucking Around

The nation’s leading doctor gods are at it again.

Not long ago, the medical experts decided women didn’t need all those mammograms that were not only painful, but giving false-positives. Just a few months ago, the medical mavens said we could go ahead and eat salt which, for decades they had said was killing us. There was a time a few years ago when these guys said eggs were killing us, and then they reversed themselves on that one.

The PSA tests for prostate cancer came under scrutiny recently, when the nation’s docs decided they were unreliable and were causing bladder infections.

The cancer pros let it be known in the last few months that many women had been put through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery when, actually, the cancers being treated were tiny and should have been left alone to see what would transpire. One reason they said the cancers should not have been treated at the stage they were treated was because 25% of all cancers disappear on their own.

And now, the nation’s news anchors told us last night, and the New York Times featured a front page article this morning (“Experts Reshape Treatment Guide for Cholesterol”) reporting that the nation’s leading heart organizations have revised their advice about prescribing statins to control cholesterol.

As is usual, in these cases where big-time medical persons reverse themselves, they act as though they are doing us a favor. They never mention the harm done by the old treatments and side-effects. If people now, are being told they don’t need to get their LDL cholesterol down to an acceptable number, how about the people who were told, up until yesterday, that they needed to be put on statins right away and that they would die if they didn’t get their LDL cholesterol number down to 70. What about the damage the statins did to their livers–damage that need not have occurred?

Let’s face it, the Hippocratic Oath aside, medical procedures and treatments are never without side effects and harm done. You cannot take an aspirin without potential harm done. You cannot take a diuretic, a blood pressure pill, a mood elevator, a pill to relieve pain, without also being the recipient of an unwanted side effect. The more draconian the treatment, the more terrible the possible side effect.

And the prescribing of statins to lower cholesterol is draconian. Prescribing statins always has been draconian and always has been controversial. But now, the big-time doctors, with their new advisory guidelines, say they are not sure if more people or less people are going to be prescribed statins…these statins that cause liver damage, muscle aches and fatigue. The experts’ experts say they can’t be sure who is going to be told now that they have to take statins because without them they will die.

If there is anything even remotely funny in this newest statin news, it’s that the big-time doctors who have just changed the cholesterol advisory guidelines said they know a lot of doctors are going to keep on advising their patients to get their LDL cholesterol number down to 70, even though that advice is now considered nonsense. Because the big-time doctors realize that the medical community likes that particular nonsense and will keep on prescribing statins to control what is now nonsense, because the medical community is used to prescribing statins to lower LDL cholesterol to a specific number and the medical community likes to give this advice. Nevermind that you don’t need statins and your liver will disintegrate on statins.

And now, let me ask you a question.

Knowing what you know about the medical community and its woeful lack of integrity and its constantly reversing itself about what will kill you and what will cure you, do you honestly believe this same community that is getting rich from your cancer, is capable of trying to find a cure for cancer?

Do you?

Let’s Talk About Food Stamps

And let’s try not to be emotional and irrational.

I just applied for food stamps because I live on $11,500 per year from Social Security and I am eligible.

Food Stamps are not going to save people from dying in the streets from hunger, as a recent Face Book post suggested.

A homeless person living on the streets will have to get himself into some kind of half-way stable living arrangement before he can apply for and receive Food Stamps. He will have to present himself to the Welfare office and fill out a comprehensive application and answer a lot of questions. A homeless person may be eligible for food stamps but he may not be in a situation where he can receive them and he may simply not want to jump through the hoops that will make him acceptable to the government system. Ergo…food stamps are not guaranteed to keep the homeless and those in dire living conditions from dying from hunger. But food stamps may be a step along the way to help a homeless person get out of the hole he is in, if he qualifies, and if he is willing to put himself into the system.

There are people in churches who love the idea of feeding the poor, as Jesus commanded. They love the idea of soup kitchens where the poor present themselves for a meal because they are hungry. People in churches love the idea of food cupboards where the poor present themselves to the church to pick up bags of grocery items because they would be hungry without these handouts.

Some of the same people who love the idea of feeding the poor also hate the idea that people applying for food stamps may not be hungry. Giving food stamps to people who are having trouble paying their bills because they are making minimum wage, or because Social Security does not give them enough to live on, is not feeding the poor, these churchy folk say. You should be hungry, they say, to receive food stamps. And then, some say, you should not be able to use the food stamps for luxury items, like ice cream.

Back in the early 1980’s I heard parishioners at my church, St. Mark’s on Locust Street, say that people on food stamps should not be able to buy ice cream or luxury items with food stamps…the government wasn’t in business to dole out goodies, they said.

Eventually, the federal government reviewed this dilemma and decided it could not be in the position of deciding what was a luxury food item and what was not.

But for a while, the feds did try to determine what foods qualified as luxury foods. Liverwurst, for sure, was poor people food, as were all internal organs from animals, such as sweetbreads, brains and liver. But, was it okay for rich people to eat poor people food? Of course it was, if that was the déclassé taste of some rich people. But then, the rich started eating sweetbreads…they loooooved sweetbreads. Pretty soon, sweetbreads outpriced itself from poor people because rich people were buying them, so sweetbreads were taken off the poor people list because sweetbreads got to be very pricey and had turned into a rich people luxury food.

And if liverwurst was okay for the poor, what about liver pâté? No, that had a French name. So, liver pâté with a French name shouldn’t be bought by poor people on food stamps. What about soft drinks? No. That was a luxury item that poor people shouldn’t be drinking. What about filet mignon? Oh no. Poor people could eat stews and cheap meats that needed to be cooked a long time, but expensive meats that were tender from the get-go was rich people food and therefore, food stamps should not be used for filet mignon. What about bottom round? Hmmmm…borderline. What about deli meats and prepared foods? No. Poor people should be buying foods they had to cook, not foods that were already cooked. What about candy? Oh no. That’s a luxury. What about cookies? Oh no, that’s a luxury. What about chocolate milk? Hmmmm. What about shrimp? Well, seafood is good for poor people, but shrimp is kind of haughty…so is salmon steak…hmmmm. What about…what about…what about….?

Finally, the federal government threw up its collective hands and said, ENOUGH ALREADY! Poor people can use food stamps to buy all food and drink (except alcoholic beverages) that is classified as food and drink.

And that is where we are today. But this determination of the federal government did not make conservative Republicans and some churches happy. Jesus said “Feed the poor”, he did not say, “Feed the poor with rich people food.” Churches and pious folk reasoned that feeding the poor was not giving them food stamps so they could live better…feeding the poor was feeding hungry folks. Feeding the poor did not mean helping folks in poverty have an easier time of it.

If my application for food stamps is approved, it will mean I will have an easier time of it because I am living below the poverty level. But, I am not, and I have not been hungry.

Churchy folk would rather I were hungry so they could feel good about feeding me. There’s no virtue in helping someone have an easier time of it, particularly if that person may be eating rich people food.

Hold On There, David Ropeik

This morning, an article in the Op/Ed section of the New York Times by David Ropeik (“Fear vs. Radiation: The Mismatch”) states categorically that our fear of radiation fallout from nuclear disasters, a-bomb tests and the bombing of Hiroshima that ended World War II far outweighs the facts about radiation. Basically, Ropeik says, don’t worry, radiation is no threat. Ropeik also says that the psychological damage that the fear is causing is much worse than the exposure itself.

Let’s see who David Ropeik is. Ropeik is a consultant on risk perception, risk communication and risk management. As the info about him on the net says, “he served as the risk communication member of the Congressionally mandated Veterans Affairs Board on Dose Reconstruction, which oversees the joint Department of Defense and Veterans Health Administration program to compensate veterans exposed to nuclear radiation. He was an Advisory Board member of the America Prepared campaign for terrorism and natural disaster preparedness, a joint effort of the Department of Homeland Security, the Advertising Council, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and a consortium of businesses and individuals.”

Bottom line: Ropeik is a government flack. And his opinions can be bought.

Ropeik’s article uses words like, “leading health scientists say”, “the most current analysis states that”, and “these studies have found that”, but he doesn’t cite particulars. Who are these health scientists? What is the most current analysis and who did the analyzing? What studies? The organization Ropeik does cite for info on nuclear disasters and the subsequent danger of radiation exposure is the World Health Organization. Although he fails to mention that the WHO has been in bad odor from accusations of influence peddling and being in bed with the pharmaceutical industry.

Ropeik’s main interest is risk perception. That is, the way our fears about the possibility of disasters affects our decision-making and our lives more than the disasters which probably aren’t going to happen.

The thing that bothers me about Ropeik’s “Mismatch” article is the fact that I have no idea where he is getting his info about the acceptable amounts of nuclear radiation. He says, “research on the bomb survivors (Hiroshima) has found that at lower doses, below 100 millisieverts, radiation causes no detectable elevations in normal rates of illness and disease…the robust evidence that ionizing radiation is a relatively low health risk dramatically contradicts common fears.”

Oh really? Who says so? Whose research is this? Are Ropeik’s conclusions based on the fact that the government doesn’t want to give reparations to veterans who are claiming they were exposed to nuclear radiation?

I find Ropeik’s ideas about risk perception interesting. And I have to agree, that in my own life, my fears about what might happen usually upset me way out of proportion to the actual event, which 90% of the time did not come to pass. But Ropeik has set himself up as an expert in an area where he has a vested interest: he can be hired to state conclusions that will be beneficial to our government and to industries that want to downplay the threat of nuclear radiation.

In the end, I find Ropeik interesting, but I don’t believe him.

Call Me Intransigent

I definitely am unwilling to change my views on some issues. One of those issues is the cause of the upsurge of cancer in the US.

Last night on NBC News anchored by Brian Williams at 6:30 pee-em, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the medical editor for NBC News, opined that cancer, particularly lung cancer, has increased by leaps and bounds over the last several decades because of air pollution.

This assessment surely cannot be argued against. The crap from our industries and the stance by Republicans that there is no air pollution problem and therefore no precautions need be taken (talk about intransigence!) has caused our air to be so polluted that it is dangerous to take one breath while being out-of-doors in the summertime.

But why is no one mentioning that our air has been polluted by radioactive material from A-Bomb tests and nuclear mishaps? This all-encompassing phrase “air pollution” also means radioactive material pollution.

The above-ground A-bomb tests, which did not cease until 1963, dumped radioactive material into our atmosphere and it fell on all of us…not only endangering anyone who was alive, but endangering the unborn as well by damaging our DNA. Back in 1951 our government warned the film industry about A-bomb tests because the fallout fogged film, but our government did not warn the public that the fallout was dangerous for our health.

Fallout only gradually dissipates. Radiation damages our DNA. And damage to our DNA causes cancer. Plus, our ability to fight off diseases was put in jeopardy as well by damaging our auto-immune system, which, of course, led to AIDS.

Why is no one, but NO ONE, not even Dr. Nancy Snyderman on NBC News, addressing this fact? We all are prone to developing cancer and having auto-immune deficiencies because we dumped radioactive material on ourselves in the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. And nuclear tests and all nuclear reactor sites are still doing it.

Is no one going to talk about this?

STUPID AND/OR IGNORANT

It is true, many of the Tea Party Republicans who are gleefully making a mockery of democracy by shutting down the government are stupid. That is, they don’t have the brain power to take in information and understand it. Michele Bachmann is a prime example of stupidity. Every time she opens her mouth she is in error about a fact and her understanding of the fact. But the problem with most of the Tea Partiers is that they are ignorant. They simply don’t know basic facts about the world they live in. And, as with most ignorant people, they are arrogant about their ignorance.

The ignorance of the Tea Party faction was made clear this morning in an article by the New York Times Editorial Board, “The Cost of the Shutdown”.

The Times article gave the facts about what happens when the government is shutdown in terms of costs. These facts should be known and understood by anyone in Congress. But every time the Tea Partiers make a statement about why they are promoting the shutdown and what it will accomplish, they show that they do not know how government works, or what a shutdown really does or how much the shutdown costs in the end.

And the worst thing about the Tea Party’s lack of knowledge is that the Republican Party wooed the Tea Party faction and counted on the fact they are ignorant. Did they know they were being put in Congress because they were so ignorant they could be counted on to do the Republican Party’s dirty work? No, of course not. When anyone lacking intelligence is made a dupe, they do not know. Will there be a backlash when the Tea Partiers find out they were put in Congress because they are dumber than a pile of rocks? No. They’ll never figure it out.

Eventually, the Republican Party will understand that empowering ignorant people never has a positive result. One would think the George W. Bush presidency would have taught that lesson. But here we are, going through it all again because the Republican Party has empowered a bunch of benighted arrogant know-nothings they think they can control. And once again the GOP’s lowest common denominator is running the government.