How many “religious” exemptions to vaccination are phony?

In Northern California, the pastor of a megachurch hands out religious exemption forms to the faithful. A New Mexico state senator will “help you articulate a religious exemption” by pointing to the decades-old use of aborted fetal cells in the development of some vaccines. And a Texas-based evangelist offers exemption letters to anyone — for a suggested “donation” starting at $25.

With workplace vaccine mandates in the offing, opponents are turning to a tried-and-true recourse for avoiding a covid-19 shot: the claim that vaccination interferes with religious beliefs.

No major denomination opposes vaccination. Even the Christian Science Church, whose adherents rely largely on prayer rather than medicine, does not impose an official policy. It counsels “respect for public health authorities and conscientious obedience to the laws of the land, including those requiring vaccination.”

And if a person claims their privately held religious beliefs forbid vaccination, that defense is unlikely to hold up in court if challenged, legal experts say. Although individual clergy members have mounted the anti-vaccine bandwagon, they have no obvious justification in religious texts for their positions. Many seem willing to cater to people who reject vaccination for another reason.

If you “feel it’s real”…then go for it. But, if you’re just another copout looking to cover your buns, shame on you!

Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to put Cold War on hold to join forces against an Alien Invasion


“What’s that up in the sky?”

…During a 2009 interview with Charlie Rose and Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz, Gorbachev revealed that Reagan asked him point-blank if they could set aside their differences in case the world was invaded by aliens…

As far as we know, aliens never tried to take over the planet during the 1980s, so Reagan and Gorbachev’s informal agreement wasn’t put to the test. But perhaps unsurprisingly for a president whose nuclear deterrent plan was nicknamed “Star Wars,” Reagan was a big science-fiction fan. He had grown up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’ epic science-fiction novels, whose characters included John Carter of Mars and Tarzan

Please, please, no one ask El Trumpo if he’s ready to defend the world against Alien Invaders? The former head of Israel’s Space Security agency says Trump almost revealed the “truth” when he was in office but the Galactic Federation stopped him.

Humans are the best at killing off trees!

Almost a third of the world’s tree species are at risk of extinction, while hundreds are on the brink of being wiped out, according to a new report.

The landmark study, published by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) on Wednesday, said some 17,500 tree species – or 30 percent of the total – are at risk of extinction, while 440 species have fewer than 50 specimens left in the wild.

Overall the number of threatened tree species is double the number of threatened mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined…

Trees help support the natural ecosystem and are considered vital for combating global warming and climate change. The extinction of a single tree species could prompt the loss of many others.

I wonder what would happen if scientists discovered that, watching television actually sterilized that portion of men’s brains that stimulates acts of sexual pleasure – thereby endangering the human species. Think we’d stop watching baseball or sitcoms? Monty Python reruns?

Lab-Grown Brains Sprout Human Eyes

Scientists have been using stem cells to grow tiny human brains for years, in order to study the organ’s development. Now they’ve grown one with actual, functional eyes

In a historic first, hundreds of brain organoids grown in Petri dishes from donated human stem cells have sprouted symmetrical pairs of eyes. These rudimentary structures can not only sense the light around them, but send those signals to the rest of the organoid. The impact of this breakthrough is mind-boggling, to say the least…

“These organoids can help to study brain-eye interactions during embryo development, model congenital retinal disorders, and generate patient-specific retinal cell types for personalized drug testing and transplantation therapies,” said Jay Gopalakrishnan, senior author of the study.

You do realize what will happen, sooner or later…now that we’ve moved the bar this far. Someone will succeed in sprouting mouth and vocal cords… and the wee bairn will say, “Mommy!”.

Christian nationalist assault on democracy still trying to be unnoticed

In April 2018, researcher Frederick Clarkson exposed the existence of Project Blitz, a secretive Christian nationalist “bill mill” operating below the radar to shape and enact legislation in dozens of states, using a network of state “prayer caucuses,” many of which had unsuspecting Democratic members. Its plan was to start with innocent-seeming bills, such as requiring public schools to display the national motto, “In God We Trust,” and to culminate with laying the foundations for a “Handmaid’s Tale”-style theocracy, enshrining bigotry in law under the guise of “religious freedom.”

Salon was the first to report and build on Clarkson’s findings, as well as subsequent progressive organizing efforts which eventually drove Project Blitz back underground, following a high-profile USA Today exposé (Salon follow-up here.) Now, three years later, Clarkson, a senior research analyst at Political Research Associates, has unearthed the playbooks Project Blitz has used since going dark, and discussed their implications with Salon in an exclusive interview.

Clarkson told Salon, “While most people to the left of the Christian right view the Project Blitz playbook with revulsion, I see it as a gift to democracy. The playbook and their accompanying briefings and events laid bare their intentions and their game plan.” Because of that, he continued, “We were handed a vital tool for the defense of democratic values and, arguably, the wider defense of democracy itself. The things that happened in response, I think, are underappreciated, even by some of those who should be taking great pride in their victories.”

RTFA. Explains more than a few weird happenstances in our own state of New Mexico. Already had one recent effort to have “in god we trust” emblazoned on every public building in the state. Except this ain’t the bible belt. Yet.

The decline in U.S. fertility


A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle
I wonder why this photo was chosen for the article?

The decline in population growth in the U.S. from 2010 to 2020 is part of a broader national trend linked to falling birth rates, but also immigration changes and other factors. In May of 2021 the scope of that change became clear, with a record low of 55.8 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age in 2020, a 4% drop from 2019. Other countries are facing similar slowdowns in population growth.

This shift has been underway in the U.S. for many years.

Economic opportunities, social norms and changing gender roles – especially expanding education and employment options for many women – help to explain why fertility has slowed in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. That change has repercussions for trends in workforce numbers, employment, health care, housing and education.

And that’s about as much of this article as I care to reproduce (pun intended!). Maybe I missed something; but, the authors avoided the everpresent question in our young(ish) republic. Do we continue to obey the instruction set we receive from religious leaders — or not!

When my father’s family moved here from Canada they hadn’t yet reached their ultimate family size of 10. That’s Grandma, Grandpa, and eight kids. My parents had two of us. Birth control overruled the priest at St.Charles Church on East Main Street. And after my sister and I related our first-day-in-catechism class…how fortunate we were not to be whipped by the nuns who performed that task for the priest in charge…that Sunday morning journey came to an end. My mom…very much self-taught like my dad…picked society-oriented books, fiction and non-fiction, for us to read every week and we discussed them Sunday mornings instead of taking that walk to church.

Over time, we went different ways, different conclusions. My sister married and had two lovely children. I eventually decided marriage could work. My parents example proved that to me. I had no interest in children since I didn’t set out to set the world on economic fire, anyway. Stronger political struggles in the (then) new and growing post-war civil rights movement served as primer for an ever-expanding materialist philosophy. Got a vasectomy when I was 22 years old. The Doc just about freaked out. I never looked back.

Read both the articles I linked to. Make up your own mind. It’s your life to build.