Thursday, June 30, 2016

Slowly Awakening from the Second Awakening

Miracle Girl: Slowly Awakening from the Second Awakening

I am of course still in recovery after my awakening from a six-week coma. But the United States is only now beginning to awaken from the Second Awakening, the embrace of fundamentalism that swept the country around the end of the 18th century.

This fundamentalist tide must have shocked the Founding Fathers. Even the nominally religious among them, like John Adams, warned of Second Awakening's threat to liberty and reason.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fight of the Founding Fathers

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
Miracle Girl: Fight of the Founding Fathers.

It was a cage match fought between two secularist Founding Fathers. Neither resembled the dark, funhouse mirror image painted by the other.

In the end, the most virulently anti-Christian president America ever--Thomas Jefferson--won because voters were more afraid of spurious fears of potential religious persecution than a man widely (but inaccurately) accused of atheism.

Politics never changes.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Wounds to the Body Politic

Miracle Girl: Wounds to the Body Politic

As ugly as the coming presidential campaign is looking to be, I think that both parties are being handed an opportunity.

For the Democrats, they may well gain not only the presidency, but the Senate, as well. There's even an outside chance that they could flip the House.

For the Republicans, the likely electoral debacle may give them a chance to clear themselves of the decades of zealotry and hate mongering to reform themselves into a more rational party capable of winning elections in the future.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Change of Hobbit

Homo floresiensis, AKA a hobbit.
Miracle Girl: A Change of Hobbit

I must've read at least a half dozen articles about Homo floresiensis when on the news about their discovery broke. In the months to follow, it grew to dozens.

And we're still learning more. And what we've found is further evidence that our lineage was far from immune to the creative whims of natural selection.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Humpty Trumpty

Miracle Girl: Humpty Trumpty

It must be a heartbreaking time for mainstream Republicans. I'm seeing teeth gnashing portents of doom wherever I go on the internet and in the news.

On the one hand, I'm happy that it looks like campaign of the most dangerous candidate in living memory is imploding even before the GOP convention. But, if the Republican Party shatters after the November election, where will our democracy go from there?

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Times They Are A-Changin'...Again

Miracle Girl: The Times They Are A-Changin'...Again

I've long been a supporter of gay rights and gay marriage. But then I'm a liberal. Yet the revolution of attitudes about LGBT rights hasn't been among social liberals, but mainstream Americans.

Still, the Religious Right hasn't woken to the changes wrought in public attitudes. Unlike my awakening from my coma, they're still living in a state of unconsciousness.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Democratic Doom

Image credit.
Miracle Girl: Democratic Doom

Sad to say, the form of democracy practiced by the Etruscans contributed to their culture's extinction. And there's a warning their fate holds for us, handed down from their tombs.

Have I made it clear that I don't like term limits?

Monday, June 13, 2016

June Gloom

Miracle Girl: June Gloom

My mood usually lifts once we start out on our rehab hikes. But not yesterday. Not really. Yes, I always enjoy them, but I couldn't shake the pall that had fallen on me after I read about the Orlando massacre.

The dark cloud has yet to lift, as the names of the dead continue to roll out like the cloud banks over Southern California in June.

But will the pain and anger create lasting change?

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Limits of Term Limits

Miracle Girl: The Limits of Term Limits

I've always been against term limits. That's what elections are for. And people are always in favor of turning the bums out, though they love their own representatives. It's always those others that people want to kick out.

Meanwhile, politician play musical chairs with political offices. Lobbyists gain power from the politicians' inexperience.

And no one has an incentive to plan for the future.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

California: Never the Bride

Image credit.

Miracle Girl: California: Never the Bride

I knew I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. Something always gets in the way of California mattering in the primary election. Still, it looked like this time it would happen. But first the AP and then New Jersey were determined to steal our thunder.

Once again, the contest was decided before we could make our voices heard.

Women's Lib Circa 600 BCE?

Miracle Girl: Women's Lib Circa 600 BCE?

It really wasn't an argument. Keith thought that Professor Steven L. Tuck had lost his objectivity when depicting Etruscan women as enjoying near-equality in the family.

I was doubtful too...at first. But the slow accumulation of evidence--especially from their abundant funerary art and burial practices--convinced me that this wasn't just the biased opinion of a historian who had fallen in love with the Etruscans.

My further research seems to suggest that Professor Tuck's opinion is in fact shared by the majority of scholars in the field. While Etruscan women weren't exactly equal, they had unparallelled freedom compared to their contemporaries.

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Flight from Uncertainty

Miracle Girl: A Flight from Uncertainty

It was a surreal scene. A half dozen grad students discussing astrology seriously. No, not the subject of belief in astrology, actually saying things like, "Sag's are sooo like that!"

We said nothing, as they changed the subject to the difficulty in teaching critical thinking to students.

I always think of that surreal moment when I start thinking how advanced our society has become.

Surely we have no desire for augurs, like those "primitive Etruscans."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Foundering Foundation Myths

Imagining the kind of flame wars the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Etruscans would've engaged in if their cultures hadn't died out.
If King Tyrsenos didn’t lead the Etruscans from Lydia, why are there Etruscans in Etruria?
I will never understand the mindset of theists....

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.