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This Bill Maher and Ben Affleck Exchange Is Incredibly Important For Liberals and Conservatives


Let me first just say that I’m not sure if keeping score on something like this is good for anyone… But Bill had a strong point to make, but so did Ben actually.

Wow… I love a good debate, and this really was a huge debate to watch. On one side you have the liberal force of “tolerance” so that we don’t lump groups in a distortion of their true character (represented by Mr. Affleck), and on the other side we have the liberal cornerstone of an activism that has zero tolerance for any social and economic oppression subjugated by any ideology (represented by Mr. Maher). This article sums up a good portion of how I feel, but I think there is more to it. I think that what Bill was saying is incredibly important, and I think that what Ben was saying is crucial to actually solving the problem. Bill was pointing out that renouncing your faith should not be cause for being put to death, which it is perceived to be for many people. He quoted that something like 90% of Egyptians felt that leaving Islam should result in capital punishment, and I thought I’d heard the same about Saudi Arabia. That is astounding to me, and assuming that the polling is correct I am left terrified of how we might bridge the divide in our cultures.

Ben however, was taking a firm stance that you can’t just throw entire regions and cultures out like this – which I find admirable in terms of how we may ever have to address this problem. Where I find myself frustrated on this front is the double standard between the Middle East and the Heartland of America. Liberals like Ben (and maybe not him more specifically) almost predictably take this stance of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater on people and their cultures, until it comes to the Christian coalition (not the necessarily the actual organization with that name) of people across this country who are reamed constantly by the media for having faith. Some groups and individuals who call themselves Christians probably deserve some harsh feedback, but we don’t usually hear this same kind of nuanced approach with Christianity in America.

If someone wants to go after religion they don’t necessarily hurt my feelings – society needs people like that so you don’t end up with a population that thinks we should kill people who don’t believe in what we believe in and can’t prove. BUT, if you are going to do it you should remain consistent, and nuanced in your value judgements of these differing groups and their ideas. I wish Bill wouldn’t be so willing to throw people out like he does, and I wish Ben would clarify his standard, as well as recognize that what Bill was saying is scary. If those poll numbers don’t scare you then you must not be paying attention…

I will actually be taking a trip in November with my good buddy Gavin to Egypt, and I just want to say that I can’t wait to meet these people who are often villainized by the media – and who like me don’t have the world figured out yet. I’m sure we could come up with some astounding polling from the United States over the last century, so to side with Ben for a second I hope that we can work on finding our common ground so that maybe we can work on exchanging our best ideas, and not just harp on our differences.

So, here is the exchange, and below is a very interesting article about the whole thing. Please feel free to give me your feedback:

And due to neither of these men being representatives of Islam I figured we’d throw in this Reza Aslan interview that would most support Ben’s thinking for before you read an article about why Bill is right:

The Daily Beast

Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0

The Real Time host’s spat with the Gone Girl star gets to the heart of a major and longtime problem within contemporary Western liberalism

Every once in a great while, something happens on television that you know while you’re watching it: Well, this is unusual. Those old enough to know what I’m talking about when I say “Al Campanis”  will remember that that was one of your more extreme cases. The exchange between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on last Friday’s Real Time wasn’t a Campanis moment, but I knew instantly—watching it in, well, real time, as it were—that this was going to spark discussion,  as indeed it has.

In case you missed it, the two—both committed and thoughtful liberals—got into it on the question of whether Western liberals can or should criticize Islam. Mentioning freedom of speech and equal rights, Maher said: “These are liberal principles that liberals applaud for, but then when you say in the Muslim world, this is what’s lacking, then they get upset.” Sam Harris, the atheist author, agreed with Maher and said, “The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people. That is intellectually ridiculous.” Affleck, as if on cue, challenged Harris: “Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam?” And then: “So you’re saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing?” Right after, Affleck said that such criticisms of Islam were “gross” and “racist” and “like saying [to Maher] ‘you’re a shifty Jew.’”

It was cracking good TV, but it was more—it hit home because they were describing one of the most important debates within liberalism of the last…10 years certainly, as pertains to Islam, but 40 or 50 years as relates to arguments between the developed and the developing world, and close to a century when it comes to discussions of how culture should affect our understanding of universal, or as some would have it “universal,” principles. Reluctance to criticize the failures of other cultures has been a problem within contemporary liberalism, with negative consequences I’ll go into below. So this liberal is firmly on Maher’s side, even as I recognize that his rendering is something of a caricature.

Here’s some quick history for you. First, the Enlightenment happened, and humankind developed the idea of universal rights. ’Round about the 1920s, some scholars in the then-newish field of cultural anthropology started to argue that all rights, or at least values, were not universal, and that we (the West) should be careful about imposing our values on societies with traditions and customs so removed from our own.

A big moment here came with the debate over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which asserted the universalist position without apology and which was pushed mostly by mainstream political liberals (Eleanor Roosevelt most notably). There were many critiques of the declaration from what we would today call “the left,” but those voices had little juice in those days, and when the UN adopted the declaration, it was a great victory for liberalism.

Fade in, fade out. Then came the anti-colonialist uprisings of the 1950s, Frantz Fanon, postmodern political theory, Vietnam, the Israeli occupation, the intifada, et cetera et cetera. All of these and many other kindred events seeped into the liberal bloodstream, still rich in universalist cells but now also coursing with the competing cells of cultural relativism (invariably a pejorative these days, although it wasn’t always).

And so, yes, we have seen in recent years from liberalism, or at least from some liberals (a crucial distinction, in fact), an unwillingness to criticize the reactionary aspects or expressions of other cultures, expressions that these liberals would have no hesitation whatsover in criticizing if they were exhibited by, say, Southern white Christians.

The most obvious example that comes to mind is that of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Muslim-African-Dutch-and-finally-American feminist intellectual. She of course is famous, now mostly for some of her more incendiary comments, but recall how she first became so: She and her collaborator, Theo van Gogh, had made a film critical of the oppression of women in the Muslim world. He was murdered, and she received death threats. She fled to the United States.

Now, here was a key moment: When she came to America in 2006, where was Hirsi Ali going to plant her flag? As she tells the story in her book Nomad, she met with liberal and conservative outfits. She says the liberal ones were “tentative” in their support for her and her ideas, but the conservative American Enterprise Institute embraced her totally, even though on certain issues (like abortion rights) she’s no conservative.

Hirsi Ali, of course, has subsequently gone on to say, quite controversially, that not just radical Islam but “Islam, period” must be “defeated.” But here’s the question: Before she started talking like that, why was she unable to find a home within American liberalism? It should be, and should have been, a core part of the mission of liberalism to support secular humanists and small-d democrats from all over the world, but from the Muslim world in particular. Most of these people are themselves liberals by Western standards, and they are desperate for the United States to do what it can to oppose the theocracies and autocracies under which they’re forced to live.

Maher, and certainly conservative critics, overstate the extent to which liberals fail to make common cause with such folks. Christian evangelicals who do work on, say, genital mutilation (which Hirsi Ali suffered) get a lot more attention in the media, because it’s more “interesting” that white conservatives give a crap about something happening to nonwhite women halfway across the world. But as the writer Michelle Goldberg pointed out in a review of Hirsi Ali’s Nomad for the journal I edit, Democracy, numerous women’s organizations and feminist groups do work to advance women’s rights in the Muslim world.

Goldberg wrote: “A few years ago, I visited Tasaru Ntomonok, which is the kind of place Hirsi Ali would probably love—it’s a Kenyan shelter that houses and educates girls fleeing female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Among its supporters are the high profile feminist Eve Ensler, the feminist NGO Equality Now, and the United Nations Population Fund, a bête noire of many conservatives. There are similar grassroots organizations working toward women’s liberation all over the world.”

Even so, Maher has identified a problem within Western liberalism today. Debates about multiculturalism are appropriate to a later stage of development of the infrastructure of rights and liberties than one finds in some other parts of the world. That infrastructure has existed in Western countries for a century, and it is the very fact that it was so solidly entrenched that opened up the space for us to start having debates about multiculturalism in the 1970s and ’80s.

But in much of the Arab and Muslim world, that infrastructure barely exists. So—and how’s this for a paradox?—to insist that our Western standards that call for multiculturalist values should be applied to countries that haven’t yet fully developed the basic rights infrastructure constitutes its own kind of imposition of our values onto them. A liberated woman or a gay man who lives in a country where being either of those things is at best unaccepted and at worst illegal doesn’t need multiculturalism. They’re desperate for a little universalism, and we Western liberals need to pay more attention to this.

via Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0 – The Daily Beast.

Lamborn starts losing allies over military controversy | MSNBC

Yes, this is from the blog of the partisan and divisive Rachel Maddow, but the topic being discussed is very interesting to me. It will probably become partisan by comparison of the different political parties, but let’s talk about what this congressman was saying. Is it a good idea for United States military commanders to walk away because of the Presidents so-called inaction? Is this different from liberals asking for anyone and everyone to walk away from perceived adventurous overaction by Commanders-in-Chief of either party in the past (minus Carter who was pretty much the only President who is claimed to have never “fired a shot” while acting as President – but including every other President since FDR in the 40’s)? Are we the world’s police? Should we go it alone? Even if so should congress first vote on it as the constitution demands (assuming it will last over 60 days, which would constitutionally mean that the President doesn’t have enough authority to conduct a war on his/her own, regardless of if we’ve done it in the past). What is the end game with this war?

You see, I find that this is all very complicated, and I actually very much appreciate that the President has been thoughtful about getting us back into another conflict in the Middle East, without a clear directive… I find that it’s hardly presumptuous to say that I’m not alone in feeling this way. I do think that the President has played some political games, but which President hasn’t done that, and let’s please be clear in defining what we think those games are. My biggest hang up was how he talked about a Red Line in the sand on chemical weapons in Syria last year, and when we discovered that they were used he seemed grasp at straws as to why we shouldn’t go to war. He, as well as the rest of us, were lucky that some reporter at a press conference asked Secretary Kerry what would stop us from going to war, and he incredulously said that we wouldn’t go if they handed the weapons over. Much to the shagrin of the warhawks around the world, they handed them over and we didn’t go to war… And now we are stuck trying to figure out how to disavow the Assad regime, as well as dismember their newest local rebellion “ISIS/ISOL”, which fills the vacuum that is left due to a lack of infrastructure and accountability around the border of Iraq and Syria.

I point all of these things out simply to say that I find it truly offensive that in a time like this, when we do have foes abroad who will need to be addressed (and hopefully with the compliance of the world community) that we have have members of our United States Congress publicly asking the leadership in our military to act as the leadership in congress has over the past several years by demanding non-compliance with the President of The United States of America for political gain… This is hardly a speculation, this is quite simply the truth. Again, I’m not saying that the President has been perfect, but I don’t even his job, and actually I truly appreciate that we haven’t rushed to war and repeated some of our mistakes of the last half century (primarily the last decade).

If you’re wondering what I’m going on and on about please feel free read the article I’ve posted below, or just click the link just below this babbling culmination of my simple understandings about geopolitical conflict.

*Ok, I thought I was done, but I would like to add one more thing – I am wary of how the President has treated the situation in Iraq (as well as Syria actually) with regard to the intelligence community. He seems to have responded by saying that information was misrepresented, while I was just hoping it was his overall caution with respect to conflict in the region. I am not sure how I feel about how he’s handling all of this, but I don’t envy his job, and I’m glad we didn’t go in sooner and do all of the things that team McCain/Graham would’ve preferred (I think we would’ve done our nation and it’s image a great disservice).

Rant Done

Lamborn starts losing allies over military controversy | MSNBC.


In this May 2, 2012 file photo, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., speaks at the Capitol in Denver.
In this May 2, 2012 file photo, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., speaks at the Capitol in Denver.
Ed Andrieski, File/AP Photo

Lamborn starts losing allies over military controversy

09/30/14 08:37 AM—UPDATED 09/30/14 09:21 AM

By Steve Benen

For any politician facing a political controversy, there’s one sure sign of trouble: the loss of political allies. Most political figures are accustomed to criticism from the other side of the aisle, and they expect scrutiny from journalists, but when members of their own party start turning on them, it’s a real problem.
Which brings us back to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who boasted last week that he’s urged active-duty U.S. generals to resign, during a war, in order to undermine the Obama administration.
The Colorado Springs’ newspaper, The Gazette, reports today that Lamborn is now facing rebukes from two high-profile Republicans from Colorado’s congressional delegation.
On Sunday night, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora, tweeted a link to a story about Lamborn’s comments and said, “As a Marine and combat veteran, I know to keep my politics off the battlefield.”
And when asked about Lamborn’s statement, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, said: “There is no room for partisan politics when it comes to our men and women in uniform.”
To be sure, these aren’t sweeping condemnations, but let’s not overlook the context: with 35 days to go before Election Day, Coffman is in the middle of one of the nation’s most competitive U.S. House races, while Gardner is running in one of the nation’s most competitive U.S. Senate races. They’re both Republicans, but neither one of these congressmen are prepared to offer even a halfhearted defense for Lamborn’s controversial remarks.
Coffman and Gardner could have phrased this any number of ways to try and extend support to their GOP ally, but they chose to rebuke him instead. And while Gardner’s comments came in response to a reporter’s question, note that Coffman’s admonition was unprompted – he just wanted the public to know what Lamborn did was wrong.
How long until House Republican leaders are pressured to weigh in, too? For that matter, how long until House Democrats start pushing for Lamborn’s removal from the House Armed Services Committee?
This doesn’t appear to be going away. Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald published an item yesterday that didn’t hold back the emotional outrage.
Congressman Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, is an un-American demagogue, willing to sabotage this country for his own grandstanding narcissism. If his words are to be believed, this brigadier blowhard is thoroughly unfit for public office and instead should be rotting in jail on charges of treason. […]
Lamborn is the latest type of political muck America needs to scrape off the bottom of its national shoe: an officeholder so absorbed with his hatred of the opposing party that he is willing to do anything, no matter how much it damages our national security and the underpinnings of our democracy, if it will win him some applause and maybe a couple of votes.
The Associated Press, meanwhile, has also picked up on the controversy, and quoted a Lamborn aide saying yesterday that the congressman “was referencing prior occasions, such as the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy or budget cuts.”
The problem with the defense is that it’s still literally unbelievable. As we discussed yesterday, a voter made some bizarre anti-Obama comments at a local event, while urging the congressman to “support the generals and the troops.” The congressman replied, “[L]et me reassure you on this. A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation. You know, let’s have a public resignation, and state your protest, and go out in a blaze of glory.’”
All of this was in present tense. For that matter, the U.S. was still at war in 2010 (during the debate over DADT repeal) and in 2013 (during the debate over sequestration), so it’s not as if the defense is especially compelling anyway – for a congressman to push for wartime resignations to undermine U.S. policy is problematic no matter when it happens.
And so the questions for the Republican congressman remain the same: When you said “a lot of us” are pushing generals to resign, who else is involved in this effort? Which generals have you talked to “behind the scenes”? Why would it help U.S. interests for generals to resign during a war? Exactly how many times did you talk to the generals about this, and when was the last conversation?
The questions for House Republican leaders are just as straightforward: Doug Lamborn bragged publicly about basically trying to incite mutiny among America’s generals during war time. Is that acceptable behavior?

This Man Was Given 2 Years To Live With ALS In 1963, And He’s Still Alive… And That’s Not Even The Most Interesting Thing About Him.


Stephen Hawking has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Did I just blow your mind? Discovering this bit of information was actually somewhat exciting for me, as I have always thought of the disease to be an absolute guarantee of death within a few years. I realize that a lot of people that I know do not like Mr. Hawking, and you don’t have to (no one can make you), but it is probably worth at least learning his story, and what makes him significant (other than the fact that he’s survived having ALS for half of a century). It will probably comfort a lot of my friends at least somewhat to know that Mr. Hawking isn’t as militant an atheist as some. He has actually been quoted saying:

“An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!” – Stephen Hawking


The recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has been unbelievably successful. Much of the success of this campaign is probably correlated with the fact that there seemed to be a very simple, and kind of fun activity that tangibly allows people to at least do something, other than give money. The other side of the campaign that is probably responsible for having raised $94.3 million, in less than a month (as opposed to $2.7 million in the same time period the previous year) is the outpouring of personal stories. I recently read the book “You Are Now Less Dumb”, and in this book David McRaney attempts to establish that the most basic of human instincts is to have a narrative – we must make sense of it all. He tries to explain how we tell ourselves simple lies sometimes just to make sense of our environment. It might seem like I’m bringing this up to say that religion is an opiate, but that is not my intent. I simply want to describe the importance in the human condition of relating to others. This is what Stephen looked like before ALS took over his body:



SO, here is my challenge to you: I challenge you to watch this and try to address your prejudices against Mr. Hawking, be they ideological or biological – or simply watch it and enjoy it. I believe there is a God, and that in principle is why I would want to hear as much from someone like Hawking as possible. If you don’t have time for the video I at least urge you to read about some of Mr. Hawking’s discoveries and theories, he is a pretty smart fellow. Now I think I’ll go listen to the audiobook for his record breaking best selling book “A Brief History of Time”.

via Hawking 2013 – YouTube.

Skin In The Game: High Stakes on High Temps


When there is a big debate I love to hear “the facts” as we know them, but I also love hearing about the passion with which those in close proximity to the item in question conveys their perspective. Does the person speaking have anything to gain or lose in this debate? Like when I hear people talk about the gospel: the most compelling argument (to me anyway) that Jesus was who people say that he says he was is that his disciples, who lived among him, were almost all reportedly tortuously murdered still claiming what they had been sentenced to death for proclaiming. They had “skin in the game”, and it didn’t shake their resolve. This matter of course still requires faith, just as many consequential aspects of life can require faith in planning, but they had first-hand experience with something and they were willing to die horrifically for that thing (or so it is told, and believing in these events does require faith).

This video describes multiple groups with “skin in the game” (whether it be professional, financial, or actual physical skin) in regards to the climate of our planet possibly changing – and they believe that the climate is experiencing change. One thing about “free markets” is that they can indicate much about items unknowable, yet consequential, and how those with skin in the game estimate they should act. Can we guarantee that people in the United States will continue to gain weight, and keep paying for care which allows them to experience less indigestion but maintain too much weight? No, but if you were to bet on it how would you bet? Billions of dollars are bet every year, by people who don’t like losing money, on the idea that people are not going to lose weight, and those people make a lot of money. If you were an insurance company would you haphazardly put billions of dollars at stake for something that is “laughable”? Well, those companies which have the opportunity to bet on whether or not the climate is changing detrimentally to some degree are making the bets that would indicate that they think we have a problem with the health of our little planet’s climate. I guess if the free market can’t inform some conservatives then I’m not sure that it’s going to happen anytime soon.

This speech from Senator Whitehouse is from December of 2013, and it seems to have just recently picked up some more traction in the social media world. He is speaking against Oklahoma Senator (and apparently very nice guy) Senator Inhofe. I have had multiple friends work for Inhofe, and the reports seem to be that he’s sincere, but that doesn’t mean that he’s right.

What Is Real News? What Would You Do If You Saw It? #NSFW


Living in a nation that sits in the crosshairs of entertainment news sometimes it can get tiring just being bickering over and over. Of course everyone should be allowed to experience their greatest struggles with consideration that they are their greatest struggles – but upon finding out that there are struggles much worse than your own can truly change your approach to your own.

Do you considered yourself someone who loves people all around the world? Do you try to know the struggles of other people, regardless of where they live? Are you saying yes, but also telling yourself that you just aren’t exposed to a lot about the world? Do you get tired of our infighting even bigotry in our political system? Well, assuming this that you are watching this from the United States (as over 90% of my readers reside) these news pieces will probably seem like something that could never happen to you, and for that you should be very thankful…

Warning: this is Not Safe For Work (NSFW), it is very violent, and profane at times, but Very real.

If you’d like to see the post show interview with the reporters don’t worry, it’s right here.

The Untold History of the United States: Episode 3, The Bomb


Do you like hearing truth? I mean, do you want to know what is and isn’t even if it’s going to be uncomfortable? Well, if you are like me and you just want to be leveled with I’ve got a video for you. The show “Oliver Stone’s: Untold History of the United States” is automatically uncomfortable/controversial for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that he is considered a pillar in liberal media. Whether that makes listening to him more or less appealing for you it is probably worth at least learning what he has to say. This episode of “Untold History of the United States” is tough for a few reasons, as it calls in to question the intentions of some of our nations leaders during WWII, and the humanity of some of our foreign policies. The greatest question for many that is addressed in this episode will be whether or not we had to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. I would imagine that this is a question that will be debated for a long time, or at least until the Atomic Bomb kills us all (kind of kidding), and feel that anything that is likely to divide us so needs to be stared in the face.

Many people admire President’s Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, especially people who were alive during their Presidencies. These 2 men however aren’t necessarily as publicly linked to the atomic bomb in the eye of the public as they maybe should be, as “the bomb” is not as popular as they were/are. FDR was the president when the Manhattan Project  was developed (which was lead by Robert Oppenheimer, and if you’ve read my favorite book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell you might remember that he tried to kill his professor as a young man…), and Truman made sure that it was not a wasted venture by the United States government. This story is one in particular that I think should be told, and discussed by the public as much as possible. I think that if there is anything that could kill us all, and we get to elect those with the fingers that will be placed on the always spring-loaded trigger we should at least have a conversation about it.

*WARNING: This film is graphic

If you’ve come this far you might as well watch this short clip of people in Honolulu celebrating after the dropping of the bomb.

“VJ Day 1945: The Bravest Generation Celebrates WWII’s End”

To follow up those videos I thought it might be worthwhile to look at some statistics about the bomb and what it actually did.

The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Total Casualties

There has been great difficulty in estimating the total casualties in the Japanese cities as a result of the atomic bombing. The extensive destruction of civil installations (hospitals, fire and police department, and government agencies) the state of utter confusion immediately following the explosion, as well as the uncertainty regarding the actual population before the bombing, contribute to the difficulty of making estimates of casualties. The Japanese periodic censuses are not complete. Finally, the great fires that raged in each city totally consumed many bodies.

The number of total casualties has been estimated at various times since the bombings with wide discrepancies. The Manhattan Engineer District’s best available figures are:

TABLE A: Estimates of Casualties
Hiroshima Nagasaki
Pre-raid population 255,000 195,000
Dead 66,000 39,000
Injured 69,000 25,000
Total Casualties 135,000 64,000

The relation of total casualties to distance from X, the center of damage and point directly under the air-burst explosion of the bomb, is of great importance in evaluating the casualty-producing effect of the bombs. This relationship for the total population of Nagasaki is shown in the table below, based on the first-obtained casualty figures of the District:

TABLE B: Relation of Total Casualties to Distance from X
Distance from X,
Killed Injured Missing Total
per square mile
0 – 1,640 7,505 960 1,127 9,592 24,7OO
1,640 – 3,300 3,688 1,478 1,799 6,965 4,040
3,300 – 4,900 8,678 17,137 3,597 29,412 5,710
4,900 – 6,550 221 11,958 28 12,207 125
6,550 – 9,850 112 9,460 17 9,589 20

No figure for total pre-raid population at these different distances were available. Such figures would be necessary in order to compute per cent mortality. A calculation made by the British Mission to Japan and based on a preliminary analysis of the study of the Joint Medical-Atomic Bomb Investigating Commission gives the following calculated values for per cent mortality at increasing distances from X:

TABLE C: Percent Mortality at Various Distances
Distance from X,
in feet
Percent Mortality
0 – 1000 93.0%
1000 – 2000 92.0
2000 – 3000 86.0
3000 – 4000 69.0
4000 – 5000 49.0
5000 – 6000 31.5
6000 – 7000 12.5
7000 – 8000 1.3
8000 – 9000 0.5
9000 – 10,000 0.0

It seems almost certain from the various reports that the greatest total number of deaths were those occurring immediately after the bombing. The causes of many of the deaths can only be surmised, and of course many persons near the center of explosion suffered fatal injuries from more than one of the bomb effects. The proper order of importance for possible causes of death is: burns, mechanical injury, and gamma radiation. Early estimates by the Japanese are shown in D below:

TABLE D: Cause of Immediate Deaths
Cause of Death Percent of Total
Burns 60%
Falling debris 30
Other 10
Cause of Death Percent of Total
Burns 95%
Falling debris 9
Flying glass 7
Other 7

Thank you for your help with “No Shave November”!


I just got an email thanking me for helping raise money for the American Cancer Society, in the “No Shave November” campaign. We ended up raising $420, just for growing a scrappy beard! Thank you to everyone who donated, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Oh, and this was pretty much the end product, well after a little bit of trimming of course…


What Will We Say About President Obama’s Legacy in 20 Years?


Pres. Obama’s future legacy continues to be hotly debated and estimated, as it has been over the last few years. Considering how the pages of his biography will read is a fascinating to me. His first big policy agenda was about Health in America. This healthcare policy has been debated, is being debated, it likely will be debated for a long time. What seems important to note however is that one way or another this will reflect in large part how he is to be remembered.

What seems to many to most likely to be the next major policy battle is immigration reform. I think it will be interesting to watch with both parties reshuffling amidst some rather chaotic times – primarily the Republicans however with the splintering factions in the party. It seems possible that The Republican Party might find a rebound from struggling lately by sponsoring and helping to pass some type of immigration reform, but I personally don’t see this as likely with this new generation of warlike primary season. I suspect that the Democrats will probably push to pass this legislation, and I would imagine it will be the second half major legislation of this president’s term. I would love to see the Republicans talk about governing on this, because they care about border security, and that’s okay. So this is just my guess, but I think this is what we’ll be talking about next.

With all of that said what I think is a fascinating topic for us to be completely skipping over his guns. With 90% of the population seemingly supporting legislation for universal background checks it was blocked by a a minority in congress. Now hear me out my conservative friends, just hear me out. While I think securing our borders is important last year we had net 0 (people) with illegal immigration… and we can talk about the effect of immigrants and society, but that is unless the debate the mass violence in this nation. People are the talking points about guns, it is very sensitive subject – well I know it is in Oklahoma at least… one thing that we must all recognize though is that we always brag about how great America is, but we are killing each other with guns more than any other nation in this world. We need to have a grown-up discussion about this, especially with their having been so many mass shootings in the last few years. It’s finally on our minds, these deaths happen all the time, but when it’s one there, anyone there, and three there, nobody cares… We need to have some serious discussions from serious people about what we can do as individuals to make a difference.

I don’t know that we should pass more gun laws, I think we probably should (although I don’t know what they are), but I don’t think we can sit here and do nothing. Maybe we should get some friendly feedback and ask others around the world why they think we have so much gun violence and they don’t. It’s what you would do if you thought you had something in your teeth, you’d ask a friend to give you some feedback really quick so you don’t look like an idiot. And of course more people are killed by other means than gun in very poverty-stricken parts of the world, so that seems probable to skew the data pool. We’re the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of mankind, but to the world it seems that with these challenging issues we can’t stop hitting ourselves in the face.


One reason that the gun debate has become so divisive is the attachment to the racial divide. Some people consider it to be a conversation about race bating, but while I think that race is a part of the conversation it’s not about one race against the another, other than the blind eye that we seem to turn towards gun ravaged communities in the inner-city. There is no question that “black-on-black” gun violence is the most prevalent gun violence in our nation, but we have to ask the tough questions about how we can change our inner-cities. Even with marginal improvements in many areas of the country we are still the most violent gun nation in the world, at least on record… That just doesn’t seem acceptable to me. The main problem seems to lie with hand guns. So outside of outlawing them how can we make a dent in this situation where people can so secretively be armed with deadly force?


The unbelievable decorum, and disrespect in the public square is really astonishing. Maybe take this opportunity to think of someone who you disagree with, and will probably never agree with on something and you let them know that you love them. You know why? You should do it because they probably mean it too when they express their beliefs, and that alone is worth something. They probably earnestly care about and fully believe in the things that they say, even if it seems ridiculous to you. Tell them why you think they’re wrong, and ask why they believe what they believe. If they freak out move on, at least you tried, but remember there were defensive because they care about something. Just let them know that you’re interested in why they believe what they believe. If you find that your discussion isn’t getting anywhere it’s okay to move on, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to get to know someone a little better. Plain and simple the sooner we start learning how to engage with others who have different beliefs the sooner we can stop being the guy sitting in the corner pulling our own hair out.

I don’t think that I’m superior because I’m an American, but I think we have a great country and we can set a good example for the rest of the world. The way that we shoot each other, and the way that we govern each other we have to ask what kind of an example we are setting for the other 95.5% of the world. Well whatever is written in the history books it will seemingly fall on the shoulders of President Obama in the minds of many, or at least that’s how it’s worked in our past. So hopefully: healthcare will become less expensive as we become healthier, will figure out how to start having the conversation about immigration reform as adults should, and we stop shooting one another. Of course there are many other things that are on the table, but the seem especially pertinent. I hope that our president end’s up with a positive legacy, because that means that we will have done well.


I’m including a great investigative report by VICE about guns in Chicago “Chiraq”.

Richard Dawkins vs. Cardinal George Pell on Q&A (10-4-12)

As much as people don’t seem to generally love debates, or questioning their own faith, I really love finding a good religious debate YouTube. I thought this one was pretty great. Have a great Sunday.

Astride The Broken Glass – Losing My Grandmother, And Keeping My Hope

Astride The Broken Glass – Losing My Grandmother, And Keeping My Hope

From my journal on 10-1-12

I originally journaled the writing below on October 1, 2012. What inspired me to write it in the first place was a conversation with my grandma Dede. Dede’s “grown up” name is Dorma, and she has been sick for the last few years, and she has slowly gotten weaker and weaker. That sickness recently took a turn for the worse, and she passed away on Sunday night at 8 PM. This is been very hard for our family, but we had quite a bit of time to prepare ourselves, and everyone got to say goodbye. We all told her that it was time to let go, and fifteen minutes after my dad told her it was time and came home she took her last breath. I’m getting pretty worked up thinking about this right now, but it’s still a very fresh wound.

Over the last few years Dede has lived about a mile and a half from my parents, and so I’ve gotten to see her all a lot. I decided to record some of our conversations on my phone’s voice memo app (I recommend doing this with your loved ones), and I plan to go back through those and listen to them to share with others, because some of them are pretty long.

Dede raised three wonderful children, including my dad, and she has lived through having 2 successful marriages that each tragically ended too early. She was always very politically aware, and more up-to-date on current events than any of the young people in our family… She had become a pro at knowing who to listen to, to find out what was going on in the world, or at least who was saying what. In the last few days of being able to speak she actually said to my cousin Travis that he needed to watch Morning Joe everyday (it’s free on iTunes), because “they are the fairest option right now”, and she insisted that it’s important to know what’s going on. I’m very proud and happy the Dede has been and will continue to be part of my life. I probably should’ve shown her this journal entry before she passed away, but she would still want me to post it, as I think that she would’ve appreciated much of what it says, but was were able to talk about plenty and I won’t have regrets.

One thing that I usually try to avoid when people start talking about death is what I will get to keep from them in terms of possessions. I usually don’t care at all, however I decided a little while back that I wanted to ask Dede for her signed Hillary Clinton book “It Takes a Village”, she was very proud of that when I was little boy, and my sister Claire found it on her bookshelf, and so that and a few other books that represent our relationship pretty well. I’m sorry this is so long, but it’s hard to lose someone, and when I stop writing part of me is saying goodbye… I love Dede, and I’m so glad that she was a part of my life. Sorry for being sappy, but this is my blog, and she was my wonderful grandma. I hope you enjoy the journal entry, as I’m sure she would have. This is a journal entry, so it’s not perfect, but it comes straight from my heart, which is grieving right now, and it feels right to post it. Maybe it’s time to take a moment in your day to call someone that you love, and maybe just put it in your calendar to do it regularly so that it becomes a habit. And maybe record your conversations with your grandparents on your phone, or something like that – just plan ahead to fit people who you love into your life.


Astride the Broken Glass

I would like to discuss the lives of my mother and my grandmothers. It’s difficult to write about my mother and grandmothers in such a personal way while they are alive, life’s closest bonds can seem to feel like a secret. Sometimes being in a crowd with someone you adore feels like a private understanding of faith and trust in someone that should remain unspoken.

My mother has encouraged me my entire life that no question is a bad question, and by that I mean that no question makes you a bad person if it is asked sincerely with earnest curiosity. I’ve felt this since I was a young boy. But as stories change in time (ie: a big fish story), so changes the way one comes to understand one whom they admire. I want to tell the story of my mother and grandmothers, whom I admire.

Hearing a story about someone who loves their parent is not all too foreign a story in the world, but I feel that we are living in a time where the parental paradigm has shifted, and I feel like I’ve had a front row sweat. When a family member is lost the tenth degree of inconvenient cannot describe the vacuum that one can feel in their center. I have been fortunate not to lose too many members of my family. But as I’ve witnessed the lives of the women who occupy my own life I notice a growth that has become a mysterious trove of history in my family that I have felt incredibly blessed to have observed. Both of my grandmothers are still alive, and though they are very different from one another they both have had very profound impacts of my life.

DeDe: She tends to want to talk about the now, and the future. She is always very up-to-date on what is going on. Dede has been a passive leader of my family, and managed to raised 3 successful children with strength and grace. We weren’t as close when I was young, but at some point I figured out that her role in my life is unique, she’s helped to teach me boundaries and expectations.


Dede was always very well kept. She was a very classy woman.


Honey: My mother’s mother loves to talk about the past, as she has very high expectations for humankind. She is very religious, and sometimes it’s almost as if she has been picked right of the 1950’s. She has experienced a lot of grief in her life, and she still manages to laugh, and I love our family so much. She has strength that I’ll probably never know.


Honey and I took an impromptu nap while she was telling me stories recently.

Mom: My mother has been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember, and she is now flipping houses (where did that come from?!)… She raised 3 college graduates (and 2 highly educated women – a doctor of psychology, and a lawyer). She has been an example of how to surround yourself with love, and also how to be strong through pain. And when I say pain I mean physical pain, as she has undergone a multitude of major surgeries on her back shoulders and hip, and yet she won’t slow down… Sometimes I like to try to picture her on my grandpa’s old ranch land, just being a little cowgirl, because in a lot of ways she still is.




The degree of personal freedom for women has changed over a few generations, and things are getting better! Of course for a lot of people this starts to sound like a conversation about abortion, but that’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about women being treated with dignity and respect for their abilities. When I look at the lives of my grandmas, my mother, and my sisters there are some very stark contrasts when it comes to opportunities and expectations. My grandmothers were obviously supposed to be homemakers, according to society. My mother was able to live through a period of time where women could work, but obviously there was a stigma about what kind of jobs they could have (ie: Mad Men), and she was able to watch the discussion brew over women working and making it home. Now women like my sisters, and others in their generation are much more likely to have high-paying, or more powerful jobs, and for some of them the debate is not how to both have a job and make a home, but whether or not to do both. We are still living in a very transformative time. I think that as people realize this they need to start asking the question about how they can support women progressing in this world, and my best guess is that it’s done a microlevel with the woman that you know, encourage them! Regardless of the national debate over policy and laws for women’s freedom and what course it might take, the real fight will be lead by women who make a change – like my mother, and like my grandmothers.

I don’t believe that having a fighting spirit is something to be shunned, yet I still consider myself an altruist. Women in leadership roles will continue to encounter struggle, but I can’t help but be inspired by watching this flower bloom, and my sister’s have become the next peddle on the rose… Having a since of human pride I am sometimes slow to concede to my sister’s, but they have crossed a void that I will doubtfully ever cross by comparison. One of my sisters is a doctor and the other is a lawyer (this sounds like some kind of a joke I know), and they have each been met with challenges, and they have taken those challenges head on. Thanks to women like Dede and Honey there has been a path and an example for women like my mom. Observing the chain reaction between my grandmothers and my mother, and then from my mother to my sisters has been very humbling. Younger women like my sisters are going to change the world… And I couldn’t be more proud.


We’ll miss you Dede, and I’ll be listening to our old conversations for a long, long time 🙂




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