Sunday, February 25, 2007
There is a popularity involved with critiquing 12-step methodology. I can accept that. I can also give a nod to the idea that 12-step programs in general may have some characteristics of cultish behavior. And a vigorous nod to the idea that 12-step program membership is not for everyone seeking to recover from addiction to alcohol, other chemical substances, gambling, sex, love, co-dependency [read: messed up families or relationships], eating disorders, or any other -ism. What I will say is that many people have found a way into a new life via 12-step programs-- whether mandated by drug courts or other legal authorities or not. And other folks have found other ways into a new life.
I have been abstinent from my own addiction on a continuous basis for more than a quarter of a century. I treasure my recovery. I have worked hard to get what I have today and I continue to work hard to keep it.
Britney is no different from any of the rest of us on the inside. She is not the first addict to bounce in and out of rehabs seeking direction but too afraid to stay, nor will she be the last. I am delighted when any addict is able not to use for one day regardless of how they do it. And so I extend my most sincere wish to Britney that she find some real peace.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I.B.M. says the guy was warned four months prior to the incident that got him canned, one year before he would have been eligible for full retirement. Guy says there is age discrim at play and of course he should have been offered a chance at treatment via a sex addictions/internet addiction rehab. [Tasteless joke censored about what group therapy at such places must be like.] Guy further states that he was using the sex chatroom that day to treat his P.T.S.D. which was brought on by the death of a buddy in Nam.
radical sapphoq says: The excuse is lame. Guy should get a different lawyer.
Friday, February 16, 2007
The Internet Book of Shadows at sacred-texts.com
Thoughts on Bashing Fluffy Bunnies
by Ben Gruagach
This article may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, providing that this original copyright notice stays in place at all times.
One unfortunate trend which has become prominent within the online Pagan community is known as "bashing fluffy bunnies." No, it doesn't involve harming animals -- but it does involve verbally attacking those who are perceived to have less scholarly opinions on modern Paganism than the attacker. Personally I think this trend is shameful and disrespectful, unworthy of anyone who claims to be a polytheist or Pagan. To try and draw attention to the issue I present my Thoughts On Bashing Fluffy Bunnies.
The modern Pagan community is diverse and growing. Decades ago, there were a few distinct majority segments: Wiccans, Druids, and Asatruers. At the start of the 21st century there is an ever-growing number of non-Wiccan Witches, assorted Pagan groups, and Reconstructionist Pagans who are working to revive ancient Pagan religions.
With growth comes friction between factions, sometimes escalating into conflict. Minority groups sometimes feel offended when they are lumped in with other groups. Individuals are annoyed when others assume that some idea or philosophy might be common among the majority of Pagan groups.
Instead of strengthening one's group identity by clarifying core ideas, it is common for a group to instead spend a lot of energy saying what it's not about. Sarah M. Pike explored this in some depth in her book "Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community." Wiccan groups have worked hard to insist that they are not Satanists. Non-Wiccan Witches insist that they are not at all like Wiccans. Reconstructionist Pagans insist that they are not Wiccans or Satanists, and often insist they are not following "Earth-based" religions as Wiccans do. Within the Wiccan community, there is an insistence by many that they are not "fluffy bunny" Wiccans which they clearly consider to be a perversion of their religion.
It is becoming quite common, at least on the internet, for these attempts to differentiate the "not-me" through what can only be described as bashing. Instead of discussing the issues and sharing different points of view and theories, those who hold whatever idea is not politically correct for the majority in the discussion become the target for personal insult and antagonistic behavior. In other forums, when a participant purposefully misinterprets another's postings and writes to antagonize, the behaviour would be labeled "trolling" and would be dealt with appropriately. Within many Pagan forums, however, "trolling" appears to be encouraged providing you are politically correct about it and agree with the majority philosophy.
It has become politically correct in many Pagan forums to bash those they label "fluffy bunnies." The term itself is intended to be insulting -- it implies that some people are air-headed idiots more at home in a Walt Disney cartoon than in the Pagan community. Often the label is applied to any group one happens to disagree with. The implication is usually that the "fluffy bunny" hasn't thought through their religious philosophy, that they are really just concerned about shock value or fashion rather than living a religious philosophy. It is also usually assumed that a "fluffy bunny" has little idea about the historical past and physical reality and accepts any claim that is made at face value.
Some groups, such as Reconstructionist Pagans, strive to match their religions as closely as possible to a specific chosen historical model. They feel that they are therefore immune to being labeled "fluffy," because they hold scholarly rigor in such high esteem. It also happens sometimes within Reconstructionist discussions that other groups such as Wiccans are labeled automatically as "fluffy" because of specific discredited historical theories. The problem with these blanket labels is that they are not always accurate. Within the Wiccan community, for instance, there is a surge of scholarly historical research which has thrown new light on the origins of the religion. Many resisted this change at the start, but it is quickly changing so that now it is quite common to find Wiccans who freely incorporate the new ideas about the past into their philosophies. To insist that Wicca is "fluffy" is to ignore many scholarly Wiccans.
Similarly, while there is certainly encouragement within the Reconstructionist community towards scholarly rigor, it does happen that blanket statements are made and assumptions proven false. Like any pet theory, it is often hard to give up even when the evidence starts to mount that it might not be correct. The claim that Reconstructionists are "more scholarly" than other Pagans has lead to a growing arrogance by Reconstructionists towards other Pagans. And as so often happens, with arrogance frequently comes sloppy and uncritical thinking, essentially "resting on one's laurels" from past accomplishments as a substitute for continuing critical work.
It seems rather hypocritical that a community made up of self-professed polytheists (whether "hard polytheists" or not) should be so intolerant of others who have different ideas. It's not just acknowledging that others have different ideas, or accepting that the historical landscape is evolving. The problem is that some are being disrespectful of others and are actively antagonistic in forums where the stated goal is purportedly to share information and debate ideas in a civilized fashion. Bashing is not debating. Debating involves sharing ideas and evidence and discussing the merits of the different points of view. Debating allows disagreements, but does not allow disrespect. When a discussion transforms into personal insults against select participants, or "bashing fluffy bunnies" as some gleefully call it, it is no longer debate but shameful ego assaults.
Perhaps the conflict is a carry-over from the dominant Judeo-Christian-Islamic culture, where it is common for religions to work under the assumption that there is a "One True Way" that is correct while all others are inherently wrong. When there is a "One True Way," individual religions are in jeopardy whenever alternatives are present. If an alternative proves to be reasonable, it implies that others must be inherently incorrect. When there is "One True Way," there can truly be only one. All others must be discredited and eliminated.
Polytheists purportedly accept the idea that there are multiple deities. "Hard polytheists" believe that the deities are all distinct, that the Greek Hermes is most definitely not the same thing as the Egyptian Thoth. Today there are many Pagans, commonly Wiccans, who are not "hard polytheists" but instead accept multiple deities as being aspects or faces of a larger deity and often as one ultimate deity. This point of view is often expressed as "all gods are one God, all goddesses are one Goddess." Dion Fortune popularized this idea in her works in the first half of the twentieth century. Many early Wiccans, who admired Fortune's work, adopted this idea into their Wiccan philosophy.
It is rather odd, then, that with the vast majority of Pagans claiming some version of polytheism as the basis of their religious philosophy, that they would also hold onto the idea that there is such a thing as "One True Way." Some polytheists insist that they do not believe there is "One True Way," yet when they start talking about other groups or philosophies within the Pagan community they act as if they are all pretenders while their own philosophy is the only "correct" one. The most obvious and frequent example of this is the so-called "fluffy bunny bashing" that occurs. Behavior in this case belies the denials.
Debate is healthy and to be encouraged. Discussion that involves personal attack and antagonism should be discouraged. There is a difference between debates of historical theory or the usefulness of different ideas, and discussion that becomes a reinforcement of disrespect. The Pagan community is varied and changing. No one group has exclusive ownership over the labels "Pagan," "Witch," or even "Wiccan." Arguments over who has the right to those labels within our community are just like the arguments within the Christian community over who is a "real Christian." The arguments are divisive and destructive. As a self-proclaimed polytheist community, we should be above these sorts of petty concerns.
Let's resist the shameful bashing that we are committing against each other. Let's encourage and participate in respectful, honest debate and discussion where we allow our evidence and theories to speak for themselves without allowing over-inflated egos to taint the forums. Let's act like real polytheists, respecting others' choices of deities and philosophies. Let's leave the "One True Way" attitudes and behaviour out of our discussions. Those who are "bashing fluffy bunnies" are not winning the hearts, minds, and souls of the Pagan community -- they are defeating the very ideals of polytheism that allow for a multitude of philosophies, deities, and unique paths within our community.
It's time we grew past pointless infighting and arguments over who is "witchier than thou." We need to retire the phrase "fluffy bunny" and other terms meant to demean others in our communities. Issues should be raised, discussed, and debated -- but without insults and trolling. Scholarly criticism should be encouraged if we are to truly grow. Instead of focusing on what we aren't, let's focus on what we are, and respect the diversity that exists within our own community.
[This article was written in 2002. I am re-posting it here under his copyright terms. Thanks, sapphoq. ]
Monday, February 12, 2007
Iran has centrifuges at the ready to produce uranium-enriched power although not quite on the large scale yet. Last year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refused all negotiations. Now, he may be ready for some talking. In a recent election, his buddies lost to more moderate and less hard-line candidates. Sanctions from the United Nations Security Council are already in place and the European Union plans to follow suit with sanctions of its own. The United States has a financial embargo ongoing against Iran, although some European countries are wont to join in that particular endeavor.
Last weekend, Javier Solanger and John-Walter Steinmeier met with Iran's Ali Larijani. Solanger represents the European Union's foreign policy concerns. Steinmeier is Germany's Foreign Minister. Larijani is Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary. But all of that may be for naught since Iran's President Ahmadinejah will not agree to suspend uranium-enrichment activities as a prerequisite to negotiations. The United Nations back on December 23 once again imposed a meaningless two month deadline for Iran to return to the deadlocked talks.
Iran does not want to be sanctioned. Mohammad-Ali Hosseini speaking on behalf of Iran's Foreign Ministry stated that Iranian officials are prepared to help Iranians offset any negative effects of any trade embargos if implemented on February 21rd. Hosseini also stated that the rights of Iran must be upheld as Iran has not violated any international laws in researching uranium enrichment.
Larijani wrote a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency's President Mohamad El-Barade resolving to fix all conflicts over this matter within three weeks. Iran will cooperate with the I.A.E.A. and act within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran and some other countries don't like the idea that Israel has nuclear weaponry but that has not been addressed. Meanwhile, the Iranian centrifuges are being fed processed uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas as you read.
Verdict: One Big Mess which will not go away easily.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Sheriff Department Violates Wiccan's Civil Rights
Theresa Chaze has written several novels. Please support her by a visit to her website. Thanks. radical sapphoq
Friday, February 02, 2007
By now most folks have heard about Bush's proposed tax benefit for medical insurance program-- spend a bunch of money to get a tax deduction. Spend too much money and get whacked by the IRS on April 15th. Don't have the money, you are stuck. A senior or disabled person on Medicare will wind up paying more. Poor people on Medicaid will be given vouchers for three thousand bucks. I swear sometimes the government is trying to kill some of us off. Ultimately, this stuff will result in decreasing funds available for Social Security Retirement beneficiaries. Cat food and medication vs. tuna fish-- you choose.
That is the abbreviated version as presented on physician discussion boards [According to the current Medscape poll, a full 74% of physicians are against the Bush 41 plan]. The fuller version is a maze. Very few folks have come up with a viable alternative. Now, a group of physicians has. The group is called "Physicians for a National Health Program." They are proposing "single payer national health [insurance]." The idea is attractive.
The main difference between their proposal and socialized medicine is that doctors will not be paid by the government. Some other advantages of their proposal are: lowered cost for all, no co-pays, medical decisions will once again be between patient and doctor without interference by insurance agencies whose best interests do not coincide with what is best for our health, and there will be no uninsured AMERICAN CITIZENS.
The website is quite thorough and also refutes arguments put forth by the opposition. One of those arguments is that the United States currently does not ration our health care. Of course it does. Anyone who has had to deal with finding physicians who accept Medicaid will tell you that health care in this country is indeed rationed. So will folks who have to have root canals without anesthesia because their insurance will not pay for anesthesia, folks who need treatment whose H.M.O.s are refusing to pay, folks without dental insurance or insurance for glasses who go without dental care and eye care.
Now, the thing is that this will not result in the creation of a bureaucracy because as stated at:
Won’t this just be another bureaucracy?
The United States has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. Over 24% of every health care dollar goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, and other non-clinical costs. Because the U.S. does not have a system that serves everyone and instead has over 1,500 different insurance plans, each with their own marketing, paperwork, enrollment, premiums, rules, and regulations, our insurance system is both extremely complex and fragmented. The Medicare program operates with just 3% overhead, compared to 15% to 25% overhead at a typical HMO.
It is not necessary to have a huge bureaucracy to decide who gets care and what care they get, if and when everyone is covered and has the same comprehensive benefits. With a universal health care system we would be able to cut our bureaucratic burden in half and save nearly $150 billion per year. [end of quote]Speaking of bureaucracy, I was astonished to learn that Texas is mandating a cervical cancer vaccination for all fifth and sixth grade girls. Because cervical cancer can be gotten from things like rape or a husband, the religious right politicians there went along with it. Because Merck doubled its' production of the vaccine at the same time that it doubled its' lobbying funding for the state of Texas, I can't help but think that the lovely mix of Politicians plus Pharmaceuticals has wielded Power.
My friends tell me that the vaccination only targets cervical cancer, that there are other non-cancer related strains of H.P.V. That has not been mentioned in the news much or in the commercials and it ought to be. Of greater concern is that the vaccination mandation does allow for parents to opt out on religious or philosophical grounds. Yet I think it should be the other way around. The vaccine should be put on the list of "recommended but not required" which would return the decision-making to the parents, doctor, and in a few cases girl involved.
But then Merck would lose out on some of the profits it is making off of our lives.
with shout-outs to Natalie and Megs