hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music, tech

A Review of “Utopia for Realists”

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 5, 2021

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal WorldUtopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World by Rutger Bregman
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Yeah. Utopia for anything, any reason or topic always sounds good. Do you know how many descriptions like the one this book has here I’ve read over many decades from authors dating back centuries? Do you know how many were right or proven right? Yeah, I do. The answer would be NONE! Why? Cause no matter how brilliant they may seem or even be, these concepts and theories are little but pipe dreams. Fantasy. Let’s give the kids of the world some hope, some premise and promise, something to dedicate their lives too … and then not deliver. Again and again. Over and over.

what-is-a-utopia-n-EDIT1

An obvious example or two. One of the most obvious: Marx and Engels’ semi-brilliant (in theory) deconstruction of economic and political systems to even the playing field for the common man via communism (Marxism). It would be Utopia for the workers. Naturally most western capitalists will gleefully say it was BS, didn’t work out and died the ugly death it deserved. And despite their misguided arrogance, on the whole they’re technically right — in terms of the original and most influential communist system, with the collapse of the Soviet Union (and with China then sliding into a more Sinese type capitalist-centric system while retaining the power elements found throughout the history of typical communist countries), it might seem like communism was inferior to anything else, most notably capitalism. It didn’t work.

Marxism-Fail

But before the Reagan worshippers get too frenzied, while hundreds of books have been written on this so I don’t need to, let’s look at two big, fairly related points. One, did Marxist communism fail to be Utopian, if even fair or safe, because it was a horrible theory, terrible idea, total BS? No. Here’s the truth about nearly every Utopian theory or premise ever thought up and advocated on nearly any subject at all throughout human history. They’re virtually all mere pipe dreams. Cannot and will likely never fulfill their promise, no matter how promising. Because they’re crackpot theories and promises? No, not necessarily and not in the case of communism. The problem is few people ever really take into account the one consistent variable nearly always at the root of any Utopian failure: human nature. Yeah, it’s so simple that it should easily be obvious every time but mankind has this bad habit of rarely learning from past mistakes.

HumanNature-War-EDIT1

Marx actually had some really good ideas. Like the author of this book. Yet Marx’s theories, when implemented – just as surely would seem to be the case with the author – were doomed to fail because not only are people different, but what seems reasonable, rational, logical, FAIR to huge numbers of people will ultimately typically die from within because despite any original good intentions, the fact is it’s impossible to stop power-hungry tyrants, autocrats, dictators, murderers, greedy, fascist EVIL people from being involved or becoming involved, or from falling victim to the lure or power and riches, that despite the original terms used in many such efforts and movements, they’re just semantics and largely meaningless. The Marxist Bolsheviks rebelled against the czar for the people, yet Stalin would become the most famous of the genocidal madmen there to destroy the Utopian dream Marx had described — because he could (with the aid of men like Yezhov and Beria). And he wanted to and took advantage of opportunities and lied and murdered and the term communism was always used but did it fail cause Marx was an idiot? No. Because at heart, much of human nature is evil and those people who “go to the dark side” (Did I get the Star Wars reference right?) abuse that as well as the huge number of people trying to make an honest, sustainable life of it, only to be crushed under the boot of tyranny. (Additionally, the Stalinist interpretation of Marx’s communism was rather warped — thus the war against Trotsky and the edging Lenin out so he could take over…)

However if you think capitalism is the obvious “winner” in this competition, think again. Those who have pushed the fantasy that it can be Utopian if you only pull yourself up by your bootstraps, work your damn ass off (and vote for the “right” political party) and then the American Dream will be possible for all is an even bigger pile of shit because while Marx and his colleagues were naively Ernest, those pushing this capitalist equation to obtain the American Dream, dating further back than “trickle down economics” – a theory so transparent in its lies, non-logic, hypocrisy and true goals, that the fact that so many chump Americans are still spouting bullshit like “America: Love It or Leave It” shows how pathetically stupid, naïve and easily manipulated we are — and sadly that’s not limited just to Americans.

isutopiareallypossible

(And Reagan isn’t to blame. It’s hard to pinpoint an actual individual or group of individuals responsible for foisting this dramady onto the American worker, thus forever using the stick and carrot routine which never fails to work brilliantly. Many attribute this “conspiracy” to powerful men such as JP Morgan, the Rockefellers, some of the major financial leaders (often theorists love to throw in the Rothschild family, which hasn’t been proven but can’t be discounted), but led by a mysterious visitor from Europe who, it was alleged, was. a Rothschild representative. When the Jekyll Island retreat resulted in the invention of a central bank, later to be called the Federal Reserve, or the Fed (and there are a dozen of them around the country, not just one…) — (an interesting aspect to this is the Fed never was and is not still a government agency or government anything, yet many people don’t know that. Why does a largely private bank control the country’s currency, interest rates, print the money, etc., on behalf of the government and the people when it is not at all related to that very government? Who then is benefitting from this little scenario? And when researching history combined with some reflection, it’s interesting to ponder about how a few mysterious but very rich and powerful men controlling the Fed have ultimate power over the country, if not the world, because with the simple unanticipated move by them, such as a serious loan rate change, a devaluation of the dollar, etc., the Fed can create recessions at will, can end them equally, conceivably start wars and more — and yet they’re not a part of the government despite being potentially more powerful.) that venture has and does beg the question or perhaps confirms the suspicions some people have of a “conspiracy” of rabid capitalists controlling various countries with the future goal of that dreaded phrase we hate so much and which I won’t bother writing here, but just think of the Euro as the first major step in that direction. And since I’m off topic with popular theories about the advent of a capitalist plot to create sheeple who lack critical thinking abilities and will do what they’re told by the authorities — something Orwell wrote about with horror, something that our educational systems have embrace, and something that has succeeded brilliantly and that’s not me — I’ve read interviews with top CEOs in journals like Forbes where they complain they can’t hire college graduates worth a damn anymore because everyone is a specialist, no longer generalists, and virtually all lack critical thinking skills, thus limiting them in the workplace. And to get through this aside, the other main popular conspiracy theory with any credibility is the ole Skull and Bones one, which many people laugh off without bothering to research the details of the Russel Trust or the Bavarian intellectuals who influenced those early Yale men, their colleagues who returned from Germany to found the University of Chicago, Princeton Theological Seminary (I think) and Johns Hopkins University and take on the role of the first presidents, who then installed said German immigrant academic intellectuals at their institutions and elsewhere, all allegedly influenced heavily by a bizarre Bavarian psychologist and it gets really crazy sounding, but when you do the research and find that Prescott Bush was a major player (who financed the Nazis throughout WW2, following Henry Ford), as well as a Dulles or two, both Bundy brothers, possibly two of the most powerful, devious and evil Americans of the twentieth century as McGeorge Bundy worked his magic on Kennedy and Johnson to get and keep the US in a southeast Asian unwinnable war while William rode shotgun at the CIA, and it gets crazier sounding when you dig deeper, but allegedly a S&B elite has run for president every cycle since Carter with possibly one exception, and certain Yale devotees were delighted to note that when W ran against Kerry, both candidates were Skull and Bones men, so they couldn’t lose no matter who won…

So after admittedly getting way off track on those potential initial starts at creating a capitalist system to ultimately do what it’s done, when I have the audacity to make a critical remark about US corporations being equal to people to enable the rich and powerful to buy elections, at best I get verbally attacked. Yet typically the atmosphere changes when I ask a simple question, which might be followed up with a couple more — “So, how’s capitalism working out for ya? You personally and your family? Are there any businesses or jobs left in your community and do the jobs even pay enough for you to have enough money in the bank if you have an unanticipated car emergency, like a wreck, requiring, say, $500 to get it fixed?

To answer that question, just in case you think it’s theoretical, the answer to people having jobs paying well enough to have $500 for an unanticipated emergency the next month is NO. Look it up if you don’t believe me. The average American (and this isn’t even “average” as it’s actually the vast majority) doesn’t have enough money to pay rent, buy a new set of tires, etc., for just one simple future month and the middle class that is now a distant memory has (had) to learn some hard lessons…and I would keep writing for hours, but I’ve already been doing this for several hours on a mobile device (takes me longer now that I’m old and feeble) and I’m tired and my arthritis is killing me (LOL!), so I’m just going to have to end prematurely. Capitalism, like Marxism, sounds good in theory, but like communism, in practice the Utopia of the American Dream is a lie and a pipe dream for over 90% of the people. Because of human nature, again. The sharks want power and money and see millions of suckers out there (who sadly and pathetically buy into their little game) and lie and manipulate to STILL ensure people are forever getting fucked by US capitalism will be willing to fight to the death against a critic despite their being victims of the very oppressive system they defend! So does capitalism work? Sure, if you have obscene wealth and power and are cutthroat and heartless enough to be hypocritical to your (typically American) religion and to betray and screw your fellow man just to keep edging toward the top, while the rest of us are now in such bad situations that the literal majority of US bankruptcies are for excessive medical bills but yet the powerful know we’re so stupid we’ll vote against our own interests in refusing to do what every other first world nation on earth does — act ethically enough to provide at least basic health coverage to their citizens for free. Even the tiny Republic of North Macedonia, which didn’t even exist as recently as 1990, provides free healthcare to its citizens. Jesus allegedly talked about aiding and caring for the sick and the poor more than any other topic in the Gospels. Yet today’s power brokers, often white well off evangelical “Christians,” are adamantly opposed to anything their messiah ever said, especially when it comes to helping or aiding the sick and poor. They want the sick and poor to basically die as they annually try to kill off the few pathetic “entitlements” Americans have while instead they focus on two topics — abortion and homosexuality — to the point of violence and murder (WWJD), despite the fact that Jesus cared so very much about these two most important issues that he NEVER felt compelled to even ever mention them at all, while aiding the sick and poor are mentioned over 160 times. Obviously his priorities were out of place for current American so-called “Christians.” Or maybe since they’re representatives and witnesses of their god and their religion, this whole Jesus peace and love bullshit is just that — hypocritical bullshit. Because the vermin have come out of hiding, already despised for their judgmental persecution of everyone else in the world while always claiming to be the only victims in America (I grew up in a hardcore fundie home and heard that brainwashing crap every day). They no longer feel the need to hide the fact that not only have they not read their “holy” book, but they don’t give a shit about it anyway, or like the Jews and Muslims, they might actually consider following it, rather than attacking and in some cases killing anyone who won’t convert — just like the Taliban. Funny how life works sometimes.

problems-of-capitalism

A point in that last huge chunk on capitalism was merely to give an example of people buying into Utopian bullshit and just displaying the rampant hypocrisy of it all. One could go on to mention many of the naïve Utopian ideals of the 1960s and ‘70s — flower power, free love, the thousands of communes, protesting the war, etc. — but just to end this with one last thought, American students protested the Vietnam war by the hundreds of thousands, claiming it was an immoral war and shouting about standing together with their South Vietnamese brothers in solidarity, which had an idealistic, somewhat Utopian narrative. Until it didn’t. Once “our boys” came home (to be ignored, abandoned, abused, criticized, thrown to the wolves), our great “solidarity” kinda disappeared since the Americans were gone and it was just poor little yellow/brown men against other poor little yellow/brown men and I guess the protestors shifted showing their solidarity by disappearing, shutting up, moving on to other things like the fight for the rights of oppressed American minorities (valid) while South Vietnam got crushed and essentially disappeared two years later. Did the solidarity protesters even care? One of the implicit points of this last example is that those hypocritical protesters were Boomers who took For Granted the American Dream OWED them (there’s a great book on that and I think I reviewed it here) as they went on to switch from Ginsberg and free drugs and sex to ‘80s Reagan Republicans, with many joining the Moral Majority and many more buying into the decade of greed — these, the hippies who rejected a traditional oppressive capitalist society guilty of colonial imperialism and genocide, living off the land in communes, many replacing currency with barter. A decade later, they were rich Wall Street tycoons before breaking into politics to work on destroying the country from the inside out, year by year regardless of party.

This book’s author wants to talk about good, generous wages, 15-hour work weeks, a new dynamic, a type of Utopia. I applaud that. While trying to decide whether to laugh my ass off or roll my eyes as another potentially great idea will be left to crash and burn once again, if it even approaches getting off the ground to begin with. What was that term? Oh yeah, “pipe dream.”

beautiful-woman-smokes-pipe-260nw-130563416

3.5 for decent, enthusiastic book/comments. A 1 for naïveté due to apparent lack of study and analysis of (recent) history, among other crucial topics. Ultimately a 1 because despite being an intriguing fantasy, it’s unfortunately little more than that and there are far too many fantasies better than this one. Yes, I’m sadly that jaded. Not recommended.

View all my reviews

[All photos in this piece have been obtained via Google Images and credit is given when required and/or possible.]

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Review of “The Emperor’s Assassin”

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 19, 2021

The Emperor's AssassinThe Emperor’s Assassin by Autumn Bardot
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an admittedly subjective and biased comment, but while I know people who like this book and historical fiction in general, I can’t do it. It’s not just I don’t like historical fiction. That is true, but not the problem. The problem is simply that I’ve always been a serious student of history, am a member of two professional history orgs (like AHA), feel it’s essential to study the past for a zillion reasons, most of which should be obvious except to Americans who are generally too lazy, stupid and apathetic to read any history. If I had a dollar for every time I actually heard someone say something like they didn’t know anything about WW I and didn’t care, didn’t know anything about WW II because “it didn’t matter or have any impact on their life or work,” which I once found stunning but now sadly expect and this side from what should be obvious to most (read Philip Dick or P Roth to get an idea of other potential realities we could be living in if tens of millions of people hadn’t sacrificed everything). In fact a few times I’ve gotten so ticked that the old professor in me kicked in so I gave a few bored 4.0 GPA accounting, economics, etc., students an hour lecture off the top of my head going decade by decade outlining basics that have transpired so that, yes, it did and DOES impact you and your job, you apathetic dumbass! The worst though are the few who told me they didn’t even know who was in the damn Vietnam War. I didn’t bother, there’s no hope. All I could say was “Well, they spot you one of the countries just in the name of the war!”

So is there a point? Yes. Historical fiction is not history, it’s not accurate nor is it intended to be. It is nothing but fantasy out of the author’s head who is using elements of some historical events as a backdrop for their story. In a sense then it’s genre fiction like sci fi, horror, fantasy, thriller, etc., all of which have their legitimate place, but the backdrop-purported historical environment may be nice, realistic or cool, but since the author is making a story up and simply surrounding it with the façade of a semblance of historical reality, they could just as easily put unicorns, spaceships, monsters and the like in and with a “legit” historical backdrop, there would likely be little difference between such absurdities and dragons, rumored by many to have once existed. The author is writing a fantasy but if I want to read fiction, I’ll read fiction. If I want history, I don’t want some fairytale – I want serious nonfiction! So yes I know I’m probably in the minority and probably sound grumpy as well, but I think I have a case and I’m sticking to it. Otherwise I recommend it for those who like the genre.

View all my reviews

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvQaseK-4FlPyF5oBDa335A

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Review of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook”

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 21, 2020

Antifa: The Anti-Fascist HandbookAntifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These days? An absolutely essential book. Necessary, especially in 2020 America. Because most Americans haven’t been exposed to historical fascism the way Europeans have, most don’t have an accurate, complete or in some cases any understanding at all about this very dangerous movement, let alone its textbook (or playbook) tactics and techniques that are nearly always virtually identical, starting with a Goebbels-styled propaganda blitz, complete with massive amounts of lies, disinformation, fear-mongering (always of some evil, fearsome “other” — immigrants are usually good targets, as are Jews, minorities, the disabled and mentally ill), the point being to creative divisiveness, mistrust — especially in the “mainstream” (or any) media — but even in one’s neighbors, co-workers, others who are different in culture, religion, politics, convincing the people they are victims who have been wronged by others, initially outside the state, later inside the state, thus creating a need for a strong, centralized leadership led by a strong(man) autocrat, typically excellent at “hiding” their fascist tactics, plans, goals etc., until it’s too damn late. ALL of which we’ve experienced under Trump. Fascists always also promote violence — again, check — and pick out their perceived most dangerous “foe,” nearly always antifascists who have been around as long as fascism officially has (since 1919), NOT because they are “fascists” or terrorists themselves as fascists ALWAYS claim in labeling their enemies exactly what they are to turn the public, especially liberals against them. In this case Antifa, which is NOT an organization like the KKK, many Neo-Nazis or Spencer’s official Alt Right organization, but an IDEOLOGY, a commitment on the part of those who care about the dangers posed to freedom and peoples being targeted by racists, white supremacists, white nationalists, etc., and I’ll wager the majority of Americans have never heard that word or term five years ago, but now because the fascists led by Trump, and spurred on by the mainstream media AND liberals who should be grateful there are people willing to lay their lives on the line to protect THEM from future concentration camps and gas chambers. I’ve seen nothing but bullshit claims by hypocritical liars like the “Proud Boys” (what idiot came up with that name?), other similar group AND various Dems, progressives, liberals screaming about the evil “fringe left” and Antifa itself — as though there’s an official organization with an office, mailing address, hierarchy, officers, etc. — like the liberals and the Alt Right have — and especially how violent Antifa “terrorists” are because they go around stabbing poor defenseless patriotic white separatists. It’s infuriating! The thing is, not only do the Trump sheeple believe them, but the naïve witless liberals — who are being targeted for “extermination” as several Proud Boys proclaimed at their recent Washington DC gathering — yet I challenge anyone to do their due diligence and find how people organizing temporarily under the antifascist “Antifa” termed umbrella work vs how white christian nationalists work. Just go back four years and research. The Nazis always claimed “Antifa” terrorists try to and/or succeed in “stabbing” them, which I guess legitimizes in their view going all over the communities more heavily armed than the US military.

Let me explain a few things, and these examples don’t necessarily come from this book, but would be historically supported. Antifascists typically gather together historically to DEFEND themselves, their communities, and legitimate protestors from harm, sometimes lethal, on the part of fascists, historically very well documented, so much so that I feel I needn’t say anymore more than Mussolini’s Black Shirts, Hitler’s Brown Shirts, Mosely’s Black Shirts, the atrocities in the Balkans during the 1990s — which will always be the end result of unchecked fascism unless their movements are crushed — and when our president literally says on national tv that his rabid Proud Boy followers should not Stand DOWN, but instead Stand Back and Stand BY, he is telling his own type of Black Shirts to be ready to kill his and their opponents, just like they’ve been dying to, just like their predecessors have, and while people on television worry about a potential “civil war” and will violence happen while crucifying this mysterious evil “Antifa,” the facts are that antifascists deemed “militant,” because they are only a small portion of such movements since the majority try to provide educational materials, look up info on known white nationalists and “Doxx” them to embarrass them into quitting their movements, and peacefully protesting on the whole. While there are armed leftists, they can’t remotely compete with the firepower and the willingness of the right (no longer fringe right), and most do not carry arms to protests, OR even knives — UNLIKE the fascists. Traditionally, they have carried non-lethal defensive weapons such as shields, some body army, and historically batons for protection. So let me ask you, how many confirmed stabbings or murders have been committed by proven antifascists under the Antifa label in the US over the past four years (if ever)? I haven’t recently looked this up, but last I recall it was possibly one, if that. Meanwhile, to use a famous example that our president refused to condemn, at Charlottesville, the infamous act was when a white supremacist drove into a crowd of protestors (this tactic has been tried and/or used elsewhere by them), killing a young woman? Any remorse? No. Any publicity about the SEVEN antifascists who were stabbed at this same rally by Alt Right white christian nationalists — as opposed to zero of them by “Antifa” terrorists? Hell no! Wonder why? I don’t. What about the claims over the past year or so by these violent racists that Antifa terrorists are gathering by the hundreds of thousands to attack their marches, scared to death because there are only thousands of well armed, assault gun carrying white supremacists, so naturally they need police protection. And how many more antifascists have been stabbed at these events? What about confirmed stabbings of these Alt Right fascists?

Here’s a handy fact checking article about this very topic. One section states,

“Overall, however, data show that Antifa activists have been involved in relatively few violent incidents compared to white supremacists, who have conducted at least 40 lethal attacks since 2018 according to the Department of Homeland Security.”

Yeah, do your homework. In an area not far from me, a small community had a small number of peaceful, mostly older, anti-Trump citizens who scheduled a protest at their county courthouse which would have entailed maybe 40 people, most of them retired, none armed or dangerous, and it was national news when over 1,000 white supremacists came from all over the region, including other states, armed to the hilt, to make sure these people remained peaceful and legal and to keep others safe — from white haired people with canes facing thousands of guns. Police protection. Fuck no! Standard, no matter where fascists are. In this same little county, this little group tried to schedule some three more tiny little protests, and had to cancel each — and their constitutional rights fascists and racists are always screaming leftist “fascists” are denying them re free speech, gathering publicly, etc — because they actually received numerous public threats made as promises that hundreds more would come, armed, to “keep the peace” (there would have been noting but peace if those asshats hadn’t shown up!), and for the final one, they received public messages made available to everyone that if these few dozen people gathered with their signs, there WOULD be shooting and they would be the targets.

I have a lot more to say on the subject, but I’ll just say this — I’ll be damned if my family, uncles, cousins fought, bled, sacrificed all on foreign beaches to free millions of people being tortured and killed by insane genocidal fascists AS WELL AS trying to keep the rest of the world safe from these evil monsters, only to find some decades later, flags bearing Swastikas being planted in American soil, if not eventually American political buildings and agencies! I’d rather die first, and anyone wishing to follow a Hitler lover, giving up their freedoms and slaughtering their countrymen over political differences in AMERICA, are simply traitors guilty of the worst of treasons, deserving of the punishment traitors once got in this country. This is not necessarily the best book I’ve read on this topic — there’s another couple I think are a bit better, one of which is Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works — but this book IS a great starting point and I urge anyone who still cares about democracy, freedom, the future of America and Americans — not just of one certain color — to read this, ingest the info, ponder it and act according to one’s own beliefs because this is likely the most dangerous time in our country’s history, and it’s antifascists who are currently the only line of defense between what Trump allegedly plans to unleash — even if he could hold the “Trumpites” back — and I’m not sure that would be possible — and/or until others unite to defend themselves, their neighbors, this country from insane lunatics living in a different, warped toxic and lethal universe. Could not be more recommended!

View all my reviews

Posted in Book Reviews, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Look Back At My 2016 Article, “Republicans Can’t Be Christians — Sorry!”

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 18, 2020

President Donald Trump with one of his most ardent evangelical supporters, the sellout Franklin Graham

[I published this earlier today on Medium. It’s literally the same thing, but better proofed and edited, so it’s perhaps 1% better if grammatical mistakes just kill you like they do some. If that’s the case, you may wish to check out the more polished Medium version at https://qbitsof.medium.com/a-look-back-at-my-2016-article-republicans-cant-be-christians-sorry-df0df646a57b?sk=3d225bd2749e3a1b8583594284019316. Cheers!]

In late 2016, I wrote an article and posted it to my blog with the title above. I remembered that recently, went back to read it and thought there were some interesting thoughts, points, assertions, etc. So I’m actually going to repost it here for anyone who may be interested in my viewpoints then and where we’ve gone over the past five years.

I do want to state a few things first though. In no particular order, I would like to find the time to revisit this and write a second version to follow the original, showing how some things have changed and morphed over the past four years, how many of us were surprised to find that nearly half of America is comprised of either explicit or implicit white racists, most of whom deny that term while using others that simply fall under the actual umbrella term just mentioned. Some major ones would be “white nationalists” (very common), “white Christian nationalists” (also very common, though some Christians try to deny this despite the fact that actions speak louder than words), traditional groups such as the KKK and Neo-Nazis, both of whom have rebounded quite a bit from near extinction over the past 15 years, “theist” or “evangelical” nationalists, or really anything with those terms since many people who are exactly that are trying desperately to rid themselves of that term since it now carries so much baggage that much of America hates the terms and the people they represent, “white separatists,” and while there are many more, ultimately the Alt Right, which has mainstreamed so well and so fully that it now represents virtually the entire Republican party, despite that fact that the creator of that term and a person who is highly influential in such circles has declared on television, on tape, that basically the only way to recreate a “real” America for “real” Americans (i.e.., white Europeans) will have to be through genocide (my word), as he states that the country will have to be torn down, the non-acceptables eliminated one way or another (extermination) — beginning with dark immigrants, the sick and disabled, most all minorities in the country, and ultimately virtually all progressives, liberals, Democrats and most important of all, as Trump has made clear, the enemy of all fascists everywhere (and make no mistake — Trump and his ilk ARE fascists, and if you doubt me, simply take 30 minutes to research the term, its history and its standard tactics, propaganda, lies, fear spreading, divineness, mythological victimhood, targeting their enemies by calling them exactly what they themselves are — fascists — and ultimately violence to the point of genocidal murder if they are not stopped. Historical fact and try to deny or debate me, but I can provide ample evidence and anyone stupid enough to challenge that will be shown for what they are.

To be technically accurate, “Nazi” is a term that should be reserved for actual Nazis and their party, “National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” However Nazis and fascists seem largely the the same. Alt Right is a “new” US ideology, the term of which was coined by Richard Spencer, and which has been fairly successfully mainstreamed into Republican/white Christian nationalist politics. It’s generally viewed as a “nice” or “safe” term while still holding the basic tenants of fascists and Nazis. (Photo Credit: FreakTerrorizes)

Additionally, since a standard fascist tactic is to label anyone they deem as enemies as …”fascists”… (it would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous), many people found it fascinating that Trump has always consistently refused to criticize or order down various white nationalist and white supremacist groups while stating he wanted to declare Antifa a terrorist group! Okay, there are several screwed up things with this. Most people in America have never heard of Antifa, or not until recently. And most don’t even know what Antifa is. So A) it’s unconstitutional/illegal for the president to declare any domestic “groups” as terrorists — he can’t legally do that. B) More importantly, as opposed to the KKK, Spencer’s Alt Righters, various Neo Nazi groups and more, there IS NO Antifa group or organization to declare shit! Shit for brains Trump wants people to believe that, but there are plenty of resources out there on this historical movement and people can read for themselves and avoid the fascist propaganda to discover its history, existence, meaning, purpose, various locations, and ideology — because that’s really what it is. It’s an attitude, a shared belief, people lacking a formal organization gathering and working together largely for one goal. Because do you know what “Antifa” literally stands for? ANTIFASCISTS! That’s it! No terrorism, no violence that is not generally defensive only, no organized group with a headquarters, mailing address (or physical address), officers, etc. No significant connections with the much larger, more established and active longer antifascists in Europe, who have been willing to sacrifice their lives to fight Mussolini, Hitler, the genocidal maniacs in the Balkans, in France, Germany, Britain, and now migrating over to the US — something I never thought I’d see. Swastika flags all around? WTF did we fight WW II and why did my family fight, bleed and die on foreign beaches to free millions of people being enslaved and killed by fascists, as well as to protect the rest of the world from the spread of fascism? It sure as shit wasn’t to see Swastikas on federal buildings and the White House grounds! I’ll be damned before I allow that to happen without my doing something to help that movement fail!

Antifascists have existed as long as fascism, starting in Italy around 1919 to defend citizens from Mussolini’s Black Shirts. Over time, while always largely an ideology and never a formal, organized movement, they’ve been given a bad reputation thanks to the fringe right because they are the only people the fringe right are historically scared of, and the Alt Right responds only to fear and power. This is an antifascist holding an Antifa flag at a white nationalist demonstration as a gesture of defiance. “Not Here!” “Never Again!”

One thing I think it’s also important to note is that when I wrote this, I was not an avowed Christian, but more of an agnostic. This came after decades and decades of study, reading, research, reflection, discussion with people of all stripes, etc. However, since then I have continued my journey and concluded shortly after writing this that I do not believe in any supernatural being or anything at all, that the Abrahamic religions are especially stupid, hypocritical and inherently evil, present the greatest danger in world history, that virtually no Christian lay people have or do ever actually READ their Bibles, instead hearing a few verses at church with a nice, affirming sermon, and reading a verse or two in their daily devotionals, etc. I really just finished reading the Bible through from front to back for the 18th time. (I’ve also read the Koran, Hadith, etc.) I see several different things when I reflect on this. One is there are so many contradictions, discrepancies, falsehoods, unsubstantiated crap, inconsistencies, fraud (as in most of the books attributed to Paul have been largely proven to be not his at all, but written by others in his name to give their work creditability — a nearly universally accepted viewpoint by religious scholars), and even virtually an entire lack of independent evidence anywhere in the first century world of the very existence of Jesus of Nazareth, which incidentally did not yet exist as a town or city and wouldn’t for some time. I was brought up to believe the Bible was the inerrant work of God, that everything in it was inspired by God and 100% true, so I find myself amused when such people have to start scrambling to come up with some whoppers when asked just some very simple, basic questions, such as which creation story do you believe and why? Frankly most Christians don’t know there are two (one each in the first two chapters of Genesis), so when confronted with this dilemma, the answers tend to be very creative. (I won’t address the actual creation story when God created everything and “it was good” because that would take too long here, I don’t have the time and there are plenty of resources out there that show what is written cannot possibly be true or accurate for many reasons.) And of course there’s the whole issue of Moses being the author of the first five books of the Christian Old Testament, yet he has this remarkable ability to describe not only his death, but his burial, general burial location and so on in the fifth book. I wish I had those mad skills! (And yes, I’ve heard most of the “explanations,” most of which are almost as insipid as what’s written in those chapters.) And just a couple more easy ones. How do you know which sign above Jesus’s head on the cross to believe or is the “true” one since all four gospels quote the wording differently and no unison at all. Also, which story about his “rising” from the tomb, because there are a bunch of different ones, none of which agree with each other. Of course the ascension story presents a problem too. Then there is the fact that no one knows who the actual authors of the gospels are. Just that the church leaders gave them those names many years after they were written. Moreover, we all grew up reading the precious words of Jesus printed in red in our Bibles. Yet no one writing the gospels (or the creator of Christianity himself — Paul) had ever met Jesus, or even likely even knew anyone who had ever met Jesus, so while people faced with the following dilemma always refer to “the oral tradition” back then, numerous documented studies have been conducted on various tribes in that region to exam the oral tradition, its effectiveness and authenticity, and the results have universally shown this concept to be utter bullshit — it doesn’t work, nearly certainly never did. And to complicate matters, while Mark is considered to be the first book written around 45 CE, or 12-15 years after the alleged death of Jesus, while Matthew and Luke wrote their gospels later, using Mark’s so heavily that many passages are lifted verbatim (although that doesn’t account for the mysterious and anonymous “Q,” who despite total lack of evidence has been accepted by most theologians and religious scholars as a person of great knowledge following Mark and providing critical information for the rest of the authors since there are so many holes and gaps they couldn’t possibly fill, that a source HAD to be made up, er, “found” to explain their knowledge of things they literally could not have known. Look Q up if you doubt me. My point was and is, all of Jesus’s words in red? Utter crap. Why? Should be obvious by now. There were no eyewitnesses who heard Jesus teach in the very few years he did who lives long enough and was fortunate enough to meet Mark or someone who knew Mark to be able to quote the words and wisdom of Jesus. Another point is that Jesus left no personal writings, until Mohamed or some of the eastern messiahs or prophets etc. Why? He, his disciples and virtually certainly all of his followers (the number of which is in doubt and considered by many to be infinitely smaller than most Christians are led to believe) were COMPLETELY ILLITERATE!!! In that part of the Middle East, during that century, most independent documents indicate that at most, 1% of the population were even barely literate. Uneducated fishermen from an area contested to even have existed could not possibly have written any of his words down, so it’s almost certain that everything attributed to Jesus as his sayings, teachings, etc., were completely made up by the unknown authors of the gospels. And while there’s actually a lot more on this topic, and much more on thousands of others, it’s commonly accepted that all of the authors of the gospels were educated Greeks. There are many reasons to support this believe; you can research them on your own. Since Jesus and his followers spoke Aramaic — which these Greek authors were unlikely to understand, although they could possibly have hired translators , although to translate what is a real question since nothing was left by or of Jesus to be translated — things were more complicated by the fact that he also spoke Hebrew, most likely as a result of his lifelong Torah study. Again, this is another language that these Greeks might not have known or known well, and again, even though it’s possible they got translators, going back and forth from Aramaic to Hebrew and back can be both taxing and allow for many possibilities of mistranslation.

There’s so much more, but I really don’t want to focus on that right now. Instead, as I indicated, I want to post what I wrote here in December 2016 because I think it makes for interesting reading, not only for then, but obviously for all of the things that have transpired since. And I do want to write a follow-up sometime, but my time is very limited these days, so I’m not sure when I’ll get to that.

In any event, while admitting to not having gone back to read the original, my post was apparently originally inspired by a Huffington Post article, the URL of which I supplied in my piece. After I post that, I’ll simply post the text of my original piece for anyone interested to read. I know we’re all actually pretty sick of Trump, fascists, politics, etc., right now, but it’s not yet over, so I feel it’s important to continue to monitor things and educate ourselves. Thanks for reading this excessively long, unplanned intro and here’s the original. Cheers!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Republicans Can’t Be Christians — Sorry!

(Link to post I reacted to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-like-jesus-disciples_us_583e48d7e4b04fcaa4d5bd72?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-like-jesus-disciples_us_583e48d7e4b04fcaa4d5bd72?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063)

Oh, holy shit! If this doesn’t discredit ALL CHRISTIANS in everyone’s eyes, than what will? Trump a disciple of Jesus? Trump EVERY disciple of Jesus rolled into one? Are the Christians going totally insane now? At this point, with 81% of all white evangelicals having voted for Trump, it’s obvious to me that today’s Christians have sold out, have sold their souls to the Republican Party and to Fox News, do not care about Jesus or his teachings, especially about “love,” “the poor” and caring for them, loving your neighbor as yourself, treating everyone — including immigrants!!! — as equals (Remember the story of the Good Samaritan they always teach in church? Do the Christians ever learn anything from that, considering the Samaritan was from a group of unacceptable immigrant types Trump and his Christian/Republican friends would have thrown out of the country by now, showing their great Christian love and compassion?), about healing the sick — for free, dammit! — and healing the sick occurs a lot in the New Testament, but apparently Christians/Republicans must skip over those parts of the Bible … if they ever actually read their Bibles. What about believers of other religions? The Old Testament God would have had his Israelites go kill all of them. He was permanently pissed off, in a bad mood, and ready to kill everyone who was on his shit list. That’s why so many fundies like OT God. But see, I don’t believe in OT God. Not anymore. I was brought up to believe in him. I was brought up to “love” (hate) and fear (yep!) him. That’s how the “Church” controls you, controls the Christians in its clutches. But I threw that out the window decades ago. There’s no room in my life for brain washing, mind numbing, soul destroying bullshit like that. I feel that God, if there is a god — and I often wonder — created all people and if he does love people, he loves them all equally, no matter what their color, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else like that is. And I really think Jesus would support that. He said the most important commandment was to love your brother like yourself. He didn’t say white brother. He didn’t say straight brother. He didn’t say that person must definitely be a male. Yet, our wonderful Republican Christians pretty much hate all other religions, and if you go by Trump and his followers, and 81% of white Christians do, then they all hate Muslims especially, even though there are two billion of them in the world today. Hating two billion of God’s children is sure to make God proud of you, his personal representative on earth, showing the rest of us just how great it is to be a Christian and what a loving, tolerant religion it is. Not. Christians, I’m not convinced God would approve of you actively hating two billion of his children and acting to work against them in one way or another, at a minimum, to keep any of them from entering our country, a nation of immigrants, a nation where each and every one of our families have come from other countries through immigration, something we’re now trying to deny people of a different religion, and most of them a different ethnicity, just because they’re not white Christians and therefore not acceptable. I’m becoming more and more convinced that it is literally impossible to be a current Republican, especially a Trump Republican, and a true Christian at the same time. No true follower of Jesus and his teachings would ever endorse what Trump and the current Republican party stand for. They simply clash too much. Today’s Republicans stand for hatred, not love, helping the rich and hurting the poor, screwing the sick, starting or sustaining violence and wars, something Jesus symbolically taught Peter he wouldn’t have supported on the night of his arrest, Republican oppression of women, while it’s clear in the New Testament that some of the most important disciples to help Paul were women and the first people to be given knowledge and proof of a risen Jesus were women, Republican hatred, repression of and oppression of virtually all minorities, especially black people, while New Testament Christians had members of all races, including Jews, obviously, other Middle Easterners, Africans, Romans, Greeks and other Europeans, even Asians and apparently far Eastern people. Jesus welcomed people from all demographics. God made everyone, let’s not forget that. It seems that most of today’s Christians/Republicans have, unless he did it to create slaves for them? Cause I honestly don’t know what their thinking is regarding God’s motivation for creating minorities since they obviously hate, resent, repress, oppress, and abuse them so brutally and have for centuries. How do today’s Christians justify this? Cause I just read an article yesterday that basically said that it was white, rural, Christian, mostly poor voters who just put Trump in office, as well as many of these other Republican freaks who want to destroy the country and the world, and that pretty much every single one of them are white Christian racists, whether overt or not, as well as anti-education (did God tell us he wanted us to be stupid?), anti-“liberal,” (cause obviously *I’m* the bad guy here, right? Cause I’m an educated liberal “elite.” Shit. Pretty much every Republican political leader has an impressive college education. Trump has an Ivy League education!). But I’m getting off topic. Today’s Republicans can’t be Christians because they all want revenge and vengeance for everything. Long jail terms! Stiffer prison sentences! Three strikes! Death penalty! Hell yeah! Oh, what did the Bible say? Vengeance is mine says the Lord? Judge not lest ye be judged? I often wonder if today’s Christians have ever read the Bible. My bet is, maybe a few Psalms, some books of the Old Testament, cause God is pretty pissed there and a pissed God is pretty rad. Maybe a couple of key New Testament verses. Not much else. Of course they’ve all had Sodom and Gomorrah drilled into their heads all their lives, so they hate gays more than anything on earth, homosexuality, the controversial and debatable alleged sin in Sodom thought of as the abominable sin. But do they ever stop to think about how many times Jesus mentioned homosexuality in his teachings? Zero. Never. Paul did. A couple of times.Paul was somewhat sex obsessed. Paul had issues, IMO. Jesus never brought it up. Also, how many times did Jesus condemn abortion, the other major Christian topic of hatred? Zero. None. Never mentioned it. It is mentioned in the Bible, I believe, although I’m willing to be wrong on that, but the Jews had/have an interesting take on things like that and things like the question of when does life begin. Republican Christians have been fighting for decades to get the courts to make it the law of the land that life begins at conception. But that’s not what Jews God’s chosen people, believe. And remember, they base ALL of their religious/moral/ethical beliefs on what is written in the Torah/Old Testament, etc. Jews believe life does not begin until a baby is actually born, has come out of its mother’s body and has taken its first breath on its own. With that first breath on its own, life has then begun for that baby. And not a moment before. Think about that. Jesus wasn’t a Christian. They didn’t exist at the time, obviously, and he didn’t come to earth to start a new religion anyway. Paul founded the Christian religion, based in large part on the teachings of Jesus. But Jesus had nothing to do with it himself. He was a practicing Jew. He worshiped in the synagogue on Shabbat. Thus, he would have shared this belief. For Jesus, life would have begun at birth, not conception. Therefore, abortion is acceptable to Jews. It always has been. I’m no religious historian, but I’m under the impression that this stance dates back centuries, possibly and probably pre-dating Jesus. If so, he would have known of this Jewish stance on abortion and since he never once mentioned it or certainly spoke out on it, it’s safe to assume he agreed with it and endorsed it. My point is that at a minimum, topics like helping the poor (the most frequent topic Jesus ever spoke about), taking care of the sick and the helpless, healing others, PAYING TAXES!, praying, faith, giving one’s wealth, riches, and possessions away to follow God, having the right priorities, forgiveness, peace, doing away with religious hypocrites (like current Republican Christians), and compassion were all infinitely more important to him and his teachings and followers than trendy conservative Christian hot topics like homosexuality and abortion, as well as many other current Christian topics that I don’t think represent Jesus or his teachings.

An aside. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear some quote or two coming from that absolute insane “Christian” leader, Pat Robertson. I think if there was ever a famous public figure claiming to represent God in current times who consistently just gets it WRONG every single damn time, it’s him. For decades, he has advocated conspiracy theories of all types, no matter how crazy. He has called for our country to assassinate another countries’ leaders. (Seriously??? WWJD? Does he really think Jesus would approve of that? If so, why? Where in the Bible did he get that idea?)  He has called for violence against abortion doctors, for overt sustained discrimination against gays, crying out for Christian backlash to the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing gay marriage. He constantly makes pronouncements like God is going to destroy America because we allow homosexuals to marry or God’s going to allow one country or another to attack or invade America as a way of punishing us for our love of gays or every time there’s a natural disaster, such as Katrina, Robertson’s on TV announcing it’s God’s judgement on America for one sin or another and oh yeah, this is great, every time there’s a mass shooting, he’s right there on TV doing God’s will, blaming it on America’s failing morals, how we don’t pray in schools anymore – – I can see Republican God getting so pissed off at no prayer in schools that he sends gunmen to schools across America for mass shootings to pay back the damn liberals running this country, even though it’s a Republican Congress, a conservative Supreme Court, a mostly Republican country in terms of Red states and governors, etc. Yeah, it’s the damn liberals in charge. You know, the same ones who can never pass common sense gun laws that might stop these sorts of things and save dozens of lives because powerful groups like the Christian Republican NRA and its politicians all over the country constantly block any law of any sort from ever passing that would ever help save lives and stop mass shootings. Cause Republican Christians know that Jesus would undoubtedly carry an AR15 with him if he were around today. One of his dozens of guns he would own. The fact that he was unarmed while alive and told his followers to put their weapons away when he was threatened apparently is meaningless to these people. Jesus was not a passivist. He would kick ass and take names!  — Anyway, Robertson. An example to America, at least the rest of us, of what today’s Republican Christians are and have become over the years — crazy, violent, hateful, intolerant, bigoted, spiteful, vindictive, mean spirited, and someone who shows no desire to follow Jesus’s teachings to care for the poor, to feed them, to heal them, to care for them, cause Obamacare is obviously of the devil himself since a black Democratic president came up with it, even though it was originally inspired by rich, white, religious Republican governor with great success. That doesn’t matter, because the president who made it a national program and law is a Democrat and, even worse, black. Therefore, it’s evil and must be repealed. Even though it pretty much does what Jesus called for us to do. That’s secondary. There are more important things at stake here. To Robertson and his ilk.

Super Christian Donald Trump with Super Hypocrite Pat Robertson

Anyway, Jesus did mention feeding and caring for the poor dozens and dozens of times though. And he did mention how hard it would be for rich people to get into heaven. Like practically impossible. Which makes me feel pretty good about Trump’s ultimate destination. And Robertson. And all other well off Christian Republicans. Cause although they’re convinced they know where they’re going when they die, I’ve got a pretty good idea they’ll end up surprised. Cause I don’t view them as Christians. And I don’t think God does either. In the end, it will be Jesus who will say, “Get away from me. I don’t know you.” New Testament, by the way. In case you’re a Christian. I assume you haven’t read that part of the Bible, since it’s not about getting rich or hating people or attacking our enemies or hurting as many people as we can. Yay Christians! Yay Republicans! Enjoy each other’s company. In hell.

President Donald Trump, fearless leader of the evangelical Christians, looking ticked as he reportedly holds a Bible upside down for a photo op in front of a DC church while his goons, led by Barr, attacked, beat and gassed a crowd of Constitutionally legal peaceful protestors. The fact that he is unable to name a favorite Bible verse, let alone anything specific about the Bible, while he’s reportedly kept a copy of Mein Kampf on his nightstand for years is irrelevant to the now blatantly hypocritical Christians who care nothing of Jesus, but a hell of a lot about money and power. The Antichrist and his sheeple. Awesome.

Scott Holstad

December 17, 2020

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 20, 2020

Well, unfortunately I’m rather livid at the moment because even though I had written I do not have the time or energy for a proper review due to severely bad health and a late time of night, I had just spent 1.5 hours working on the BEGINNING of a review, presumably saving as I went along as I always do. However, I don’t know what happened, but the page refreshed and everything was lost — all of my time and work and I don’t have the time or energy to try to recreate that, so I’m very unhappy. As a result, I’m just going to leave a few minor paragraphs or so with apologies… I did want to do it justice.

Normally I’m a fan of Bart Ehrman’s, although I don’t always agree with him. Unfortunately, I think this is his worst book and I’m shocked he put his name to it. Frankly for the scholar people view him as and he frankly promotes himself to be, he embarrasses himself in his sad efforts to first, trash the credentials of those he opposes in the initial stages of the book, especially as compared to his own “fantastic” academic credentials, which should be beneath him for multiple reasons: 1) it’s unnecessary and unprofessional, 2) other people DO have legitimate credentials despite what he thinks, and worse, he misrepresents at least one or more in terms of their specialties proving a lack of validity in facing a scholar of his character and 3) while I don’t have time to go into all of his academic background, I doubt he’d love it if people knew the initial fundamentalist “academic” institution where he obtained a three year (?) degree acknowledges on its own website currently that this degree was NOT accredited. Moreover, as someone who over the course of my entire life, have known countless friends, colleagues and family members who attended and graduated from Moody Bible Institute, I can attest to the fact that not one of them were able to find professional employment post-graduation, largely due to their spurious academic “qualifications.” This, the vaunted academic “scholar” Bart Ehrman!

As to the book, his arguments are weak and generally beneath his usual standards — by far — and do little to convince anyone that he has outdone his “opponents.” Indeed, he actually relies on hearsay and speculation, which are hardly convincing in the academic world. (The fact that no New Testament author ever MET Jesus, let alone possibly even met someone who knew him, is a non-issue for Ehrman as his relates that PAUL, of all of them, CLAIMED to have met Peter and James, yet there is not one shred of either independent evidence nor Jewish evidence to confirm that, so all we have to go on is Paul swearing he did, so must have. Good enough, eh? And I jumped off my roof today and flew around town because despite no one seeing and documenting it, I swear I did and thus it’s true. Not too different from American fantasies in 2020, where whatever one wishes to believe is apparently true. (Until science proves them wrong. Like every time.) Another little hint is the long acknowledged fact that while no one in the Bible, including the authors of the Gospels, can possibly provide evidence (nor is there independent evidence anywhere) of any sayings of this Jesus, let alone the accuracy of claimed sayings, Paul may have “known” of a couple — through his debatable vision. Again, we have to take him at his word, and then one must wonder why Paul virtually NEVER refers to Jesus’ actual LIFE. If he “knew” him as he claimed, wouldn’t he have recorded … something? No, instead we get post-crucifixion spirit Jesus and the religion Jesus never set out to create while Paul himself did.Finally, the actual topic of this book — Did Jesus exist? Well, there are tons of books on the subject, from all angles. And so many areas to cover. And so many Jesus’s back then, as apparently not only was it a somewhat common name, but also somewhat common for others claiming that name while additionally claiming to be the Messiah. More importantly, there are so many clues, examples and outright facts to make one legitimately doubt he existed that it’s entirely possible to assert with authority that he did not exist — as a number of people do. A few things before referring to others. It’s virtually undisputed that the Gospels were written long after his death, that the authors are unknown (with the names attributed to them generally considered to have been so potentially hundreds of years after they were written), that the authors did not know Jesus nor knew anyone else who knew Jesus and the fact that Jesus and his followers are assumed to have been illiterate and thus Jesus never left one shred of any alleged teachings of his, as well as the fact that each gospel was written in educated Greek while this Jesus would have spoken Aramaic (with some Hebrew translation thrown into the gospels for good measure when it came to the alleged prophecies, most of which have been proven to have been taken out of context, simply wrong or even nonexistent), it’s plausible to assert that possibly everything attributed to Jesus, if not virtually all of the gospels themselves, were complete fabrications. Indeed, scholars have had to resort to a hypothetical source they refer to as “Q” (as well as a couple of other such sources) to fill in a ton of blanks, because there is no evidence to support many of the claims made in the gospels, so naturally someone HAD to know the details and we’ll just conveniently call him “Q.” There is absolutely no evidence for this Q, let alone independent evidence at that. A million other things aside, in addition to the well-known town of “Nazareth” Jesus came from not yet actually even existing, thus forcing theologians to stretch hard to make other Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, Semitic, Arab and eventually Latin translations of words that appeared to be close to “Nazareth” while yet none of them actually meant or were “Nazareth” somehow fit, which REALLY ticks them off due to its inconvenience, ultimately there is literally no independent evidence or mention from the first century (nor virtually any Jewish mention as well, literally) to confirm or even allude to the validity of ANY claims of this Jesus the Jewish Messiah ever existing — and this in a century famous for its record keeping, particularly by the Romans, if not other peoples and races. Thus there are records on nearly everything and everyone of note throughout the empire, and certainly Judea as well, and among untold numbers of records, there are none of any crucifixion of a Jesus of Nazareth (it wasn’t until after 300 CE that Jewish Christian writers and historians began referring in print to a place even called something similar to “Nazareth,” while a Greek variant was found sometime after 220 CE. Indeed, no secular reference to such a town was ever found until a 1962 archaeological dig, which traced the inscription found back to around 300 AD — in Hebrew), none of any mammoth earthquake (let alone any earthquake) on the day of the crucifixion, nor of the temple’s curtain being ripped in half (which Jewish historians would surely have documented), NOR any resurrected zombies wandering the streets of Jerusalem, nor any huge crowds gathering around any teachers in that general area and by that name, nor of any travels, arrivals and departures of any Oriental “wise men” come to worship the babe — who was either there within Herod’s grasp or in Egypt depending on which gospel one chooses to believe — nor of any famous miracles, healings and exorcisms by a Jesus in Galilee (a backwater at the time), and certainly no dead people coming back to life. Etc., etc. There is NO independent evidence to back up a shred of this fancy nor any evidence outside of the Bible itself, and the gospels disagree with each other in so many ways that those who believe the book to be the inerrant word of God (how does one combine four different resurrection stories?) must be driven crazy by this and those who find alternate ways of interpretation then are forced to cherry pick!

It’s late and I can’t continue, so I’ll close with some reference material I’m recommending for dear deluded Mr Ehrman, as well as any other readers who may be interested. These are by no means the only resources — simply ones that come to mind at the moment (although the first is pretty good).

1) Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All by David Fitzgerald.

2) Jesus: Mything in Action, Vol. I (The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion Book 2) by David Fitzgerald. If I recall — and it’s been awhile — I think this is the first of a three-book series and this book covers the gospels…

3) Deciphering the Gospels: Proves Jesus Never Existed by R.G. Price.

and an interesting additional book not specifically about Jesus, but really more about the Bible and specifically the Old Testament. It’s an archaeological account by two Jewish academics and scientists who seemingly prove the bulk of what we know as the Old Testament — if true at all — was never ever written until Israel and Judah had been split as separate kingdoms and Israel had been conquered and taken away and while I don’t want to give away all of the spoilers, the gist is these stories appear to be scientifically proven to have not been written until possibly around 700 BCE, thus potentially calling into question basically all we’ve been taught and all we’ve been taught to believe and pretty much everything else associated with it and that follows it. Even if you disagree, it’s intellectually interesting and a good exercise in (internal) debate.

4) The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman.

Ultimately, I would only recommend this book to show people additional confirmation of any scientific or literal evidence of the lack of the Biblical Jesus. If you’re a theocratic religionist who lacks an open mind, this book won’t be for you — it might serve only to irritate you. If you are interested in this debate, or series of debates, you may find this book intriguing, although I would have it pretty low on my reading list. Ultimately Ehrman’s worst book and definitely not recommended.

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Visit my Goodreads Author webpage:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/230969.Scott_C_Holstad

View all of my Goodreads reviews:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/9098678-scott-holstad

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

On Aristotle’s “Politics”

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 30, 2020

PoliticsPolitics by Aristotle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Doesn’t live up to his reputation. But then, some feel he himself didn’t live up to his reputation. Or more realistically, that there were others possibly more deserving of his reputation and legacy. I believe many scholars have determined Democritus (with his mentor Leucippus) were actually more influential, accurate, knowledgeable and diverse, among other things. Noted virtually universally as the “father of modern science,” through Leucippus’s influence, he is often thought to be the first physicist, as he is typically credited for his formulation of an (detailed) atomic theory for the universe. In fact, his atomic hypothesis was developed to such a degree, and unlike anything else at the time, bore a resemblance to modern science and one could essentially argue that what we know, or learned, about atomics in the twentieth century was directly influenced by Democritus’ atomic theory, which in many ways remains the basis for current atomic physics. Moreover, he dabbled and proved influential in a number of other areas, ranging from geometry specifically and math in general to geography and anthropology to the importance and essence of epistemology to scientific aesthetics to politics and natural philosophy (of course), where he seemed especially concerned with the subject of ethics, to military tactics as well as cosmology, poetry, biology and many, many more subjects — really the first true Renaissance man. Really kind of puts some better known philosophers to shame (not that some weren’t also geniuses — it’s just that many people can’t find many in history, and virtually none before Democritus to explore and master such a wide variety of subjects. Indeed, his “void” thesis lived on to influence Newton and continued to hold that influence basically until Einstein).

However, regarding this book by Aristotle, while this was a subject he was well versed in and despite this book being a bit dated, it was still fairly well done for the times, had some good ideas, thoughts, points, etc. Unfortunately, there’s always been some controversy surrounding it due to some textual irregularities and discrepancies in some of the eight “books” making up this book, or rather what remains of them. (Some of the major topics among these different books include ideas about community, citizenship, regimes, education, constitutions and political theory, among others.) However, this to the point that some have argued the book represents seemingly two different versions, or perhaps stages, in Aristotle’s thoughts, beliefs, positions, etc., and the two opposing sides seem so varied, almost oppositional, that IF Aristotle even wrote the entire thing himself, it’s likely he would have done so over a long period of time, so that a significant period of time elapsed between the first and later sections, thus explaining its inconsistencies and, one might say, possibly two different belief systems. Thus, I’m only giving it two stars because even though it might otherwise merit three at least, the problems noted make it difficult to have confidence regarding sufficient authenticity, consistency and more, and frankly results in a poor book in its known form and hence one of his lesser works. As a result, not recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

On Senator Cotton’s Opposition to D.C. Statehood: An Examination Using Hard Data re the Variables To Which He Alludes

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 29, 2020

A couple of days ago, CNN reported Arkansas Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton made some idiotic comments and assertions in response to the House passing legislation to introduce Washington D.C. as an official state. He replied Wyoming is substantially more deserving because it is a “well-rounded working-class state.” Aside from the transparent reasons for his opposition and the transparent problems inherent in his little publicity stunt, I felt the potential damage done by such irresponsible and frankly moronic statements deserved some examination, so I did. And while variables surrounding such an issues are more complex than Cotton alludes to, the bankrupt intellect (and morality) he displays in asserting Wyoming (already a state, Cotton!) is more deserving of statehood than the District because since it’s heavily blue collar anchored by a manufacturing industry, it is a more”well-rounded working-class state.” And there are so very many problems in that line of unreason that I couldn’t resist actually applying his definition of state value to the test by comparing Wyoming to Washington D.C. and adding in Arkansas just for kicks. Among MY variables were state population, state GDP, GDP per capita, unemployment rates and numbers, states paying the most gross taxes and the most taxes per capita, states that suffered the worst “federal tax burden as a percent of income” and just to offset those who would say “Yeah, But…” an additional section on the so-called “dregs” of society as often identified by many in the GOP — those on food stamps, so the SNAP program. What I found in my research was far more confirming than my theories and placed into question that if one were to look at such variables as requirements for statehood and then discriminate against locations because of them, not only would D.C. be far more deserving of most states — specifically Wyoming and Arkansas — but using these data, many states should not “have the right” to exist as states and should revert to a territory status or something along the lines of a Puerto Rico or District of Columbia, etc.! Of course I know this is a very simplistic line of reasoning, but I’m not the one originating it. Hypocritical privileged politicians pretending to be one of the people they claim to represent yet have nothing in common with do, as in Senator Cotton, are responsible. Thus, I felt compelled to meet him on his own terms and essentially “kick his ass” publicly on such a stupid argument to support his opposition to D.C. statehood.

Thus yesterday, I published a (very long) article on Medium titled “Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton Opposed D.C. Statehood Stating Wyoming Would Be More Deserving For Various Economic Reasons. Let’s Examine That, Shall We?” Even though this blog usually draws readers more interested in book reviews, this isn’t unlike topics I’ve posted on before, so for those of you interested or who already care, feel free to check it out. And let’s continue to demand social, cultural and political change and justice, particularly where and when woefully overdue. Cheers!

 

 

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

An Update with Context on Little-Known Historical US Oppression of International Minorities

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 7, 2020

I just published An Update with Context on Little-Known Historical US Oppression of International Minorities on Medium. Feel free to check it out. Cheers!

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: Henry Ford’s “The International Jew”

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 22, 2020

The International JewThe International Jew by Henry Ford
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is an unusual book to give a rating to or write a review about. I’d read quite a bit about this book before ever reading this book. (And I’m currently reading two interesting books on the man. They are Max Wallace’s The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich and the second one is Neil Baldwin’s Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production Of Hate.) And yes, as this book is written, it’s reprehensible. And there’s no doubt Henry Ford was anti-Semitic to whatever degree. But there are several alleged variables that make it hard to take this seriously as his own writing and hence, specifically his own stance. I have read a number of books on Ford and especially as he relates to his right hand man, his personal secretary of a sort, and ultimately an editor of the newspaper he owned (where this man oversaw the majority of the essays allegedly written by him and attributed to him). This man, Ernest Liebold, was a German, part of the Detroit-area German “American” community, and considered by many reliable sources to be a literal future Nazi (as Ford would become one of Hitler’s biggest financial supporters during his rise to power), allegedly sent from Germany to influence one of the most powerful men in the world. In various biographies and histories, one will read that Liebold got so much power that no one could get to see or talk to Ford without getting through Liebold first. Many sources say – including even Wikipedia – that Ford didn’t even write the articles attributed to him. Rather, he verbally expressed his opinions to Liebold and to the main editor, one William Cameron. It was thus left up to these two men to take what Ford apparently said aloud, and shape those opinions into publishable articles – which they did virtually the entire time. And subsequently, some sources allege that Liebold himself was the “author” of many of these articles, taking cues from Ford, if not literally making some opinions up while attributing them to Ford who apparently signed off on all of them without reading them.

To add to the confusion, there were many Jews in that Detroit area where Ford lived and worked and indeed, his neighbor and apparent good friend was an active Jewish rabbi whom Ford had over for dinner every week. So it may seem to some that Ford’s anti-Semitism was certainly valid, unjustifiable, and frankly odd as hell, because he liked and hung out with various Jews, as friends. When the newspaper started publishing seriously anti-Semitic stuff, some of them were put off, naturally offended, and by some accounts, Ford found this perplexing, confusing, and couldn’t understand why they’d be upset about his little paper. I believe this is even brought up in one or both of the books I’m currently reading.

The fact is the more you learn about Ford, the more you find while he had a few good ideas from time to time, such as his infamous massive one involving better pay and working conditions, he seemed a bit of an out of touch dunce, oblivious to the world, easily maniputable – kind of like Donald Trump today. Basically clueless. So just as Trump is killing people around the world at the moment by urging them to inject themselves with bleach (if not drink it) to “cure” the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is literally batshit insane, so too did Ford go around in a daze, believing discredited crap to be authentic – just like The Donald – and some allege that’s how The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – already discredited by the London Times, among others – came to be published in his paper, thus confirming for and influencing Hitler, his creepy pals, and countless of Jew hating Americans. Totally irresponsible and absolutely stupid. And again, some attribute this to Liebold, the German Nazi-to-be, and less to Ford whom they claim was too clueless to know better. One has to recall that even though this infamous book had nearly universally and publicly been declared a hoax with the true author having been identified by differing sources as one of two primary culprits (although most feel it was ultimately the work of the Russian government), there were still those who were so “out of it” or naive that they continued to fall for that hoax years later, as one biography on Allen Dulles stated that a German “informer” he had while stationed in Switzerland had gotten the book to him and he was so shocked and horrified at this international “Jewish plot” that he immediately fired off a top secret memo, going above his boss, sent directly to the White House, where it presumably died the death it deserved. Thus, an example of how even allegedly knowledgeable and powerful people could be suckered by that despite it’s having been discredited if they weren’t already familiar with it…

And on and on. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all trying to absolve Ford from his sins or claim he did not have a serious bias against the Jewish people as a whole. But the fact that he liked individual Jews as friends to have over regularly for years while his crap got published and distributed to the world by one or two men with definite agendas who allegedly wrote up things Ford said and constructed articles out of them, but since there don’t appear to be any surviving types of evidence of these sayings, one might wonder if Liebold just didn’t make half this shit up and since Ford didn’t even proof, edit or read the stuff published under his name, but simply signed off on it, it’s not so clear cut that he even knew what the hell he was seemingly doing, which would go on to impact millions around the world. Of course, everything attributed to him in the worst of ways could indeed turn out to have been true and accurate, and I wouldn’t be surprised, but when you start finding out details of who basically controlled and influenced him, who had total access to him and wrote things on his behalf in his name AS Ford and with Ford allegedly a Trump-like dittohead, it is also possible to speculate as to how much he actually knew the stuff coming out under his name and attributed to him was as reprehensible as it was, as damning as it was, influenced far too many people against the Jews in the worst possible ways, etc. I’m not sure if we’ll ever really know… It does make for some fascinating questions and speculations though.

In any case, this is an important historical book to read, if for no other reason than to see some of the truly awful things written about the world’s Jews which ultimately lead others to commit the most unspeakable horrors, and regardless of Ford’s actual awareness or not, ultimately he is responsible for this, this was his “fault,” and his legacy needs to always maintain that ugly truth. Recommended as a historical piece, but certainly not something to agree with or act on – unless you’re a KKK member, Neo-Nazi or the like, but since I think most of them are likely illiterate, I don’t know that they’ll be reading this to begin with!

View all my reviews

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

U.S. Privacy Concerns and the COVID-19 Crisis

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 21, 2020

I just published U.S. Privacy Concerns and the COVID-19 Crisis link.medium.com/LntpucK4E6 on Medium. Feel free to check it out — comments are welcome. Cheers!

 

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »