Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – hypocrisy on parade again in the US Supreme Court, the Hobby Lobby decision


Again, we have wannabee theocrats making decisions based on their religion that affects many people in this country. The usual suspects on the US Supreme Court have decided that some people’s religion trumps other people’s religion (or lack thereof) in the US. They have also decided that corporations can have religion.

The case was if companies, Hobby Lobby is the cited one, can deny any medical procedure it wants, in this case birth control, to its employees because of religious beliefs. The decision now declares that the assenting justices are “only* supporting the RFRA, and it’s okay for some people can force their religions on others when it comes to birth control on people who work for them for fair compensation. This makes one set of religious beliefs more important than others. It also declares that a corporation can have religion beliefs, which can be pretty amusing to contemplate.   This is q quote from Hobby Lobby’s website “We believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured.”  How great this god is for allowing a craft store to flourish and not getting around to, oh I don’t know, help people who need safety and food around the world.

Now, how can one determine if a corporation has beliefs and, perhaps more importantly, that it is following these beliefs as defined by some officially recognized religion? If we have a Christian corporation, is it going to heaven? Is it “saved”? Evidently the lawyers and owners of Hobby Lobby think so. Does it have to follow the commandments listed by its god?  It certainly seems like they should considering this quoe from their website: “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.”

Does Hobby Lobby advocate murdering everyone working on a Sunday? We do know that they aren’t open on Sundays but I’m sure that they rely on suppliers who have distribution centers that are open on Sundays, factories open on Sundays (oh say in Asia where most of their stock comes from, like Gildan tshirts ), container ships and their crews who bring these supplies to our shores, truckers who must work on Sundays to get their product on the shelves and I’m sure they will complain if those supplies aren’t on time where they want them.  Golly, do they pick and choose just like human believers do?

And that second commandment, no graven images. Seems like HL stocks at least one image that breaks this gem and damns them to hell. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” (the commandment goes onto add that you shouldn’t worship this image either, two distinct commands.) Of course if we keep going, we can see that Hobby Lobby the corporation has to approve of slavery since that is part of their god’s commandments too.   The bible also has that any believer should accept whatever its government says as law, without question since its god put those people in power.  Putting up a defense against the gov’t is saying that their god is wrong for allowing Obamacare to be enacted into law.  It did, didn’t it since this god controls everything in the world?  Oh but not all Christians believe in this.  Hmmm.

Insert "birth control" and still watch the tumbleweeds blow when it comes to inconvenient things that theists don't like to mention.
Insert “birth control” and still watch the tumbleweeds blow when it comes to inconvenient things that theists don’t like to mention.

So, is Hobby Lobby the corporation really Christian? Many Christians would claim otherwise, even if the family who created Hobby Lobby claimed to have created the company with religious concepts in mind.  The court now has put its toe in the water of deciding who has the “right” beliefs.

Ah, hypocrisy, isn’t great? It against shows that religion is nothing more than the claims that some imaginary powerful being agrees with human. It’ll be great to watch any company that tries to invoke this decision will be shown to be just as hypocritical and dishonest as any individual believer.

The decision is limited to a not publicly traded company, e.g. “closely held” e.g. family owned like the Westboro Baptist Church, eh?  (which should be fun if the family doesn’t agree amongst itself). It also says that the government can still step in and say that anything else that these corporations wants to do regarding their religions, e.g. you can’t claim that taxes are against your religion or that public health issues are against your religion, can’t be done. Essentially, this law only applies to certain kinds of contraception, and women can still get birth control thanks to Obamacare. I’m sure that theists will whine about this, because it says that they can’t force their other nonsense on people.  Of course, other corporations will try to push other ideas in front of the court.

In my opinion, the worst problem with the SCOTUS saying that its only supporting the RFRA, is that it directly says that some people’s religion trumps others. The RFRA says “ (a) IN GENERAL. — Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b). (b) EXCEPTION. — Government may burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person — (1) furthers a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. (c) JUDICIAL RELIEF. — A person whose religious exercise has been substantially burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government. Standing to assert a claim or defense under this section shall be governed by the general rules of standing under article III of the Constitution.”

So whose religion gets primacy? If I believe that my god supports birth control, then why does another person get to say my religion is wrong and theirs is what is to be followed? If I believe that my religion supports multiple partner marriages, how can my boss, or the government, say that my religion is wrong and only certain ones is right? Can I say that my religion says that people of a different ancestry are demonic and I don’t have to hire them? Can the government, or anyone else say that my religion is wrong if it doesn’t bother government at all?

There is another possible twist to this. Seems like the conservative justices on the SCOTUS, by citing the RFRA, have now reinforced the idea that they can’t forbid much of anything as long as religion believe is invoked. So, now we come to the problem, who has the “real” religions, and who has the most “sincere” claim a la Linus in the pumpkin patch? Are theists willing to have each of their sects and religions judged as “real” by others? Shucks, Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Thomas, all Catholics and on the SCOTUS are sure that any other Christian sect are false at worst and badly misguided at best. You want them to decide that your big ol’ mega church isn’t a true religion? You want the Jewish justices to decide that Christianity isn’t a real religion since there’s no reason to believe that Jesus Christ was the “messiah”? I’m guessing that my theist readers would be horrified if religions were judged on whose qualify, but now that’s what we can have so we can know for sure that the RFRA is being applied correctly. How can we know if someone has a “real” religion, and hasn’t just made one up to get its nonsense accepted as legal?

Now, what I would like to see is that since the SCOTUS says that they can step in to protect people from other stupid religious claims, i.e. refusing blood transfusions, no vaccines, no medical care, this would mean that parents who kill their children, or attempt to kill them, because of their religious beliefs would be punished to the fullest extent of the law. This decision does give support to the idea that religion isn’t quite the legal cover that many wannabe theocrats would wish it is. I’m guessing that there’s not a chance of this, because, as much as the conservative justices want to claim that they can refuse some religious claims, they won’t go that far to save lives, no matter how much they claim to be “pro-life”.

Again, hypocrisy always rules religion.

Postscript: Found this whilst looking at commandments “26 And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.” – Exodus 20. So this god can’t tell its believers about underwear? The Israelites have nothing like underwear? God is offended by seeing body parts it supposedly created? Or is there some magic that suddenly exposes your penis if you use steps near an altar?

Postscript 2 – Congratulations to the usual teabaggers.  You were so afraid of Obama introducing Sharia law.  And now, we have your fellow conservatives enabling it!   Yep, you now have precedent to allow anyone to claim the right to do anything, as long as they sincerely believe it.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – on the anonymous ad about the same sex marriage decision in the Harrisburg Patriot News

Support-Traditional-MarriageTo get myself in the mood for ridiculing bigots, I’m watching Blazing Saddles and The Constitution USA with Peter Sagal as I write this post. On June 22, 2014, there appeared an anonymous advertisement on page A16 of the Harrisburg Patriot News (Harrisburg, PA). It was ostensibly about how “wrong” Judge Jones III was when he struck down Pennsylvania’s protection of heterosexual marriage nonsense.

It’s quite a word salad, always using a $5 word where a $1 word would do. What it boils down to is the old claims that if we allow homosexual marriage, then we’ll allow people to marry trees and that the marriage of two heterosexuals is the only “natural” marriage because it’ll result in children. I guess that my marriage of 20+ years isn’t a “natural marriage”. I’m guessing that we can safely assume that our anonymous ad poster is a Roman Catholic, since they are so impressed by claims of “natural” whatever and having children. Of course, I probably offended our anonymous source by saying that such a TrueChristian is a Catholic since, you know, Catholics are sun worshippers, or Satanists or Papists, or whatever Protestant Christians want to call them in their Christian “love”.

The above is all I really need to say about the ad, thanks to the usual lack of creativity of the average TrueChristian. However, it’s just too much fun to actually read this mess and point out its failures. Let’s proceed, shall we? Alas, this isn’t available online, since it’s just an ad and not actually part of the paper. I’ll do my best of picking out the best and most representative quotes from our anonymous TrueChristian source. I think I’ll call them “Annie”, just like a character I particularly revile from the unfortunate prequels from the Star Wars universe….. (If someone really wants to look at this mess in the original, just ask and I’ll scan it in.)

First Paragraph: “In effect, he (Judge Jones) reinforced the truth that all are created equal and have individual rights that can’t be denied; thereby, proving that homosexual individuals have been discriminated against.”

Isn’t it great that a TrueChristian has admitted that they’ve been lying all along and that everyone is created equal and deserves individual rights? Why, Annie is admitting that there is indeed discrimination. I wonder, would Annie support the attempts to pass laws in PA to prevent discrimination of homosexuals in jobs and other daily activities? I somehow doubt this but alas, we can’t ask Annie since he/she is hiding.

Ah, but then Annie decides that the problem with Judge Jones’ decision is that homosexual marriages and heterosexual marriages are innately different and thus can’t be considered “equal”. Our Annie claims that Judge Jones did this “In doing so, he immediately stepped away from the Constitutional protections of due process, and the rights and equality of individuals.”   Annie wants to claim that unions are different from individuals and thus have different rights. If the marriages aren’t “equal”, then Annie claims, they can’t be treated as equal.

So, how aren’t these marriages equal? Why yes, dear reader, it’s because marriages are only expected to produce children. Again, per Annie, my marriage of over 20 years isn’t a real marriage, only marriages that he/she approves of are “real”. Let’s see what Annie says: “An essential importance that focuses on the core difference is that a homosexual union hasn’t the physical structure, or capability within itself, to conceive another human being, or raise offspring with a male (father) and female (mother) influence as intended by a marriage.” Just like our other TrueChristian, Brandon McGinley, we get to see TrueChristians insisting that no one but them and those who agree with them have real marriages and real families. At least our Annie has decided that families with adoptive children are real families as opposed to Mr. McGinley. Alas, they are only “real” families if they have a male and a female in the household, so sorry you folks who have single parents thanks to divorce, death or any other reason. You simply don’t qualify. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – on the anonymous ad about the same sex marriage decision in the Harrisburg Patriot News”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – More TrueChristian antics in Pennsylvania, ten commandments, mottos, etc

Click on and read.
Click on and read.

Here in PA, we have the usual nonsense. In one more instance of trying to pander to the theocrats, we have one of the usual state legislators again trying to get his particular religion forced on everyone in the public schools; now it’s “optional”.  We also have the usual attempts by TrueChristians trying to keep one of those Ten Commandments monuments from the Ten Commandments movie(made in 1956 – which will be notable later) on public school grounds. Funny how Hollywood is usually attacked by TrueChristians, but when it’s on their side, what good friends they are!

In a telling instance, the folks who are trying to keep a lump of rock with the first ten commandments on it have to claim that they had a “good number” of people come to their gathering. Hmmm, seems that citing actual numbers might be a tad embarrassing for groups like “Thou Shalt Not Move” when they tout just how effective they are. Of course, we have the usual attempts to claim that the monument isn’t religious and how dare someone think that it’s only for one religion. ““Even if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, even if you don’t believe in the Lord God, it’s freedom for all. It’s a standard of respect to everyone.” Well, except for that first and foremost commandment, “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me.” And all of those other commandments that came right after those first ten, still all supposedly straight from this god, and so very inconvenient for modern Americans. And shucks, if one has to allow anyone’s opinion to remain unchallenged as a “standard of respect”, then surely no one needed to go to Europe in the 1940s or to the US south in the 50s and 60s because t’s just “respect” to allow such nonsense like concentration camps and keeping people from voting to exist. Sorry, no need to respect things that are baseless and cause harm.

It’s also wonderful to see that the TrueChristians who support these commandments, ignore one really big one, though shalt not bear false witness, e.g. Don’t lie. We have this lovely quote from Rev. Marietta ““This is our heritage. When our ancestors landed in Jamestown in 1607, the first thing that they did was to enact the Ten Commandments as law.” – Pgh Tribune, May 14, 2014 It seems that the reverend needs to attend the school that he wants to force religion on, since he’s failed in history. Nope, the first ten commandments were not enacted as “law”. What was enacted as law was English Common Law as it was under James I. (a sidebar: the first chaplain of the Jamestown colony was a minister, Robert Hunt, who had to leave his last posting because of an adulterous relationship. We can also see religious intolerance from the beginning where this man is declared “a man not in any way to be touched with the rebellious humours of a popish spirit”.) One can see how religious laws were enacted and again more anti-Catholic nonsense here.

In other news, Rep. Saccone, a serial theocrat, wants “In God We Trust” to be able to be placed in schools (HB 1728). Again, we have the problem of the majority forcing their baseless beliefs on the minority, even if they claim that it is “optional”.

“In God We Trust” is indeed the US National Motto. It has been since 1956, and what was going on then? Yep, the Cold War, where people were stupid and scared (and putting up useless images of the first ten commandments from a movie). Apparently thinking that saying “god” would cause those “commies” to burst into flame, US legislators added such nonsense as a “motto” (it has been on the currency for quite a long time, also with no effect whatsoever, other than to amuse non-Christians because of how money is decried by the supposed Christian savior). Now, this seems to be believing in magic, that if we appease some magical being by mentioning it all of the time, then it’ll have good thoughts about us and nothing bad will happen to the US.   Of course, this can’t be shown to be true at all, that prayer or mentioning any god helps anyone, much less a country.

We did get to see how the “poor children” of Pennsylvania are claimed to not have any possible way to know our national motto, by of course a Republican legislator, Rep. John Maher. Hmmm, now didn’t we just see that this motto is on every piece of currency in the US? Finally, in this case, we have one more example of how TrueChristians depend on lies to get their nonsense forced on everyone. An amendment to the bill that would require local governments and school districts to inform their residents that having such a phrase on their public school wall could engender expensive lawsuits was rejected. Add to this the rejection of an amendment that would have transferred the responsibility of legal fees to the state shows just how much these people want to defend their nonsense. They want to agitate but not to support people who will follow them.

And gee, Rep. Saccone lied about how atheists “supported” his bill when it was trotted out the first time.

Saccone: Atheists, you know, they look at things their own way, also. They can either interpret that as whatever God that they worship, in the form of, maybe it’s materialism, or something else in life that they look at. I actually talked with the head of the Pennsylvania Atheists who came to me after my last rally and said, “You know what, Rick? I support the bill. I see that it’s historic. And I don’t really have a problem [with it]. I don’t believe in God,” he said, “but I support the bill. It’s a good thing.”

Of course, it wasn’t true (I have contacted Rep. Saccone’s office to give him a chance to apologize or explain and have not heard back yet). What a good TrueChristian. Again, we see that religion needs lies, fear and ignorance to exist.

Next up, an anonymous ad in the local paper that does an excellent job of showing even more antics of Pennsylvanian TrueChristians in regards to the recent approval of same sex marriage (still no “wrath of God” a month after the approval. God approves? God doesn’t exist?). It’s always great to see someone who is so ashamed of his/her own opinion that they won’t even own up to it.

From the kitchen and the bar – grilling lots of meat, my adventures with kimchi and a few new beers

beef at the bottom, then pork and chicken at the top
beef at the bottom, then pork and chicken at the top

My husband and I wanted to try to grill out something other than steak. So, rather than getting one more steak from work, I got a pork tenderloin, a small piece of beef sirloin and a couple of chicken breasts.

We marinated each of these in a different marinade. I did a bit of web surfing to get some ideas and then I worked with what I had in the house.

For the pork, my husband cut the tenderloin up into medallions, across the grain. This made them very tender and the marinade finished the job. This is a riff on a bunch of Korean style barbecue recipes I found.

1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced into ¼” medallions (tenderloins typically run about a pound apiece).
3cloves  garlic grated
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 green onions, chopped
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sriracha

Mix together and marinade pork overnight. Lace onto skewers and grill over charcoal. It’ll only take a few minutes.

I also made some “Korean-Style Coleslaw” from here, making it more simple by using shredded cabbage coleslaw mix from the grocery store. Of course, I made some plain white rice as a side.

before I tried to roll it and ended up with a handful of stuff
before I tried to roll it and ended up with a handful of stuff

Now, as you can see from the coleslaw link, it says to eat the pork with the slaw and some kimchi in a lettuce leaf. I got iceberg lettuce, which I found far too crisp. The leaves just shattered. So, listen to other people and use butter lettuce. I did get some kimchi and that is a bit of a tale to tell….

I got a jar of kimchi at the store, King’s spicy variety. I got it home and found that the metal lid was very domed up. Sure I got myself a bottle of botulism, I opened the jar. One big hiss, and the kimchi shot out about 3 inches, along with bubbling juices. I was sure the stuff was ruined, but decided to do a bit of research since kimchi is a fermented food. Well, thanks to King’s FAQ, I found out that this is normal. It did take me a little while to get used to effervescent food, but I do like it quite a bit.

The beef was done as a satay. Again, my cobbled together recipe from others I’ve seen on the ‘net.

1.5 pounds thinly sliced beef (we used sirloin sliced against the grain)
Two stalks lemongrass , well bruised
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic grated
1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste
1” piece ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. cumin
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 Tbsp. palm sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix everything except beef. Stir fry spice mixture to blend and release the spices. Cool. Add beef and marinate overnight. Grill quickly over charcoal.

I did get some peanut sauce to go with it. I’ve discovered that mixing Wegman’s peanut sauce and House of Tsang’s peanut sauce makes a very good version, not quite so sweet as the first and not quite so spicy as the second.

Finally, we did chicken in a satay style.

1 pound chicken breast, sliced thinly

2 tablespoons fish sauce
1.5 tablespoons grated garlic
2.5 teaspoons soy sauce
2.5 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons red thai curry paste (what I had in the freezer)
1/3 cup coconut milk (I used my coconut milk powder I got from Import Foods, a place I do recommend).

Again, marinate meat for 24 hours. Lace onto skewers and grill quickly over charcoal.

We also spent our “cashback bonus” from one of our credit cards on getting some lobsters. Lobster Gram has a deal with them that if you use $80 of the bonus buying a gift certificate from them, they’ll boost it up to $100. We’ve done this once before and they do provide good frozen lobster tails (we got 8-10 oz ones), shipped with dry ice. They’ll also ship live lobsters but since most of the meat is in the tail, and I don’t want to deal with scrabbling lobsters, we just go with that. Nothing special about how we cook them, just steam them and add copious amounts of butter.

Here are a few new beers.

DuClaw Funk – a nice blueberry and citrus beer tagging along on the popularity of shandy variants. There’s no real sweetness. I don’t really taste the Meyer lemon, but lemon and blueberries do go well together.

Ayinger Urweisse– This is a dark wheat beer, with the familiar Hefeweizen notes of fruit and spice. The spice comes through a bit more strongly than the fruit with this one.

Ayinger Brauweisse – This is the standard Hefeweizen. There wasn’t much of the banana scent to this one, much to my disappointment. I think it’s the travel time that takes some of that away from the beer.

Eat well!

What the Boss Likes – Wisdom from the meat department

oh the odd things I find in Microsoft clip art...
oh the odd things I find in Microsoft clip art…

Here are some random tips, observations and general remarks about a supermarket’s meat department. They are offered to explain some things and make the experience better on both sides of the counter.  Note that they may not all apply to every situation or store and are my own opinions. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may not want to read much further. I am a happy meat eater and know all of the arguments for and against.

First, and foremost, a meat department in a grocery store is not a butcher shop. The meat department does not get entire animals to cut up into custom cuts. Commensurately, the folks there are not trained to do so. Some of us do know a fair amount about how this is done but we often don’t have the supplies, tools or approval to do it. I’d love to own my own butcher shop. Ah, maybe if I win the Powerball this week….

This should go without saying, but be nice to the folks who work in your local meat department and we’ll often do our best to help you as much as we are allowed to do. Treat us as “untouchables” or less  than you because we work retail,  and we’ll be only as courteous as will keep our jobs.

Most grocery stores are trying to shrink labor costs, and insurance costs, and that means we are doing less and less onsite. That means band saws and grinders are vanishing from the departments. This is not the employee’s fault so do not express your anger to those who can’t do anything about it; contact at the corporate level will be your best bet. Often, we can only do knife work, which means you can’t have exactly “X” pounds of some kind of steak or roast because we can only cut around the bones. Also, most of us don’t have formal butchers training so we can’t do any and every cut you’ve ever heard of. Don’t forget, this outsourcing of work does keep down prices for the consumer; but you do pay for it with the lack of choice. My father had a sign in his vehicle repair business: “Cheap, well done or fast. Pick two.” In my experience, you are lucky if you can pick two.

In a similar vein, ground meats of any kind are rarely ground *only* onsite. This is often due to food safety concerns, cross-contamination and tracking. Most ground beef comes in already ground once and with a tracking number that can help with recalls. It is ground again to make it “pretty” with those spaghetti like strands of meat that come from the grinder plate (the thing with the holes). We do not have a carcass in the back that we cut off a chunk and grind “fresh” or cut steaks from for that matter.   You might find this at a butcher shop but you will also pay for that personalized service. You won’t be paying less than $3 for a pound of 80/20 ground beef (80/20 is the percentage ratio of protein to fat in the burger).

Indeed, “fresh” is a confusing term for both employees and customers. Fresh could mean a just killed animal, right at the slaughterhouse. Those would be very tough. Fresh could also recently cut from a larger piece of meat (like an entire loin or rib, called in the trade primal or subprimals) or recently ground again from the bulk ground meat that the store gets.  What you think fresh is and what is possible at the department can widely vary.  The color of the meat has little to do with its “freshness”, depending only on how long the meat has been exposed to oxygen. Bright red means that the myoglobin of the meat has absorbed oxygen. If it is brownish, it could mean that the meat was quickly packed after cutting or grinding and had no time to absorb oxygen. Of course, being brown could also mean that it is decomposing, the enzymes in the meat breaking the proteins down.    Continue reading “What the Boss Likes – Wisdom from the meat department”

What the Boss Likes – Welcome to my garden…

The weather here in south central PA has been good to our garden.  Enough rain has made everything grow like crazy.  Thanks to our new camera, I have some nice photos of what is currently growing.

Our roses


Some random photos of things in the garden

Hope you enjoyed the tour!