Robert G. Ingersoll Oratory Contest 2010 – This time I won…

Last year I was not alone in thinking I gave one of the better speeches at the contest, but I did not win or even place. I had a great time, and as I said in my talk – it was a pleasure to blaspheme the lord of Christians in our nation’s capitol on such a beautiful day.

This year, the topic I chose was the same, but pulled from a different speech: “How The Gods Grow”. This talk by Ingersoll included a few lines that tied in well with the theme of the Tichenor book I just published through Underworld Amusements – that Satan is a better friend to man than God.

And if (the Bible) is true, ought we not after all to thank the devil? He was the first school master; he was the first to whisper liberty in our ears. He was the author of ambition and progress.

I will update this post once this years videos are made available on YouTube.

I am going to be doing a full podcast on Ingersoll that will include the audio below, so if you listen to the UAVH, you’ve been warned of redundancy.

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I didn’t even realize a helicopter had flown over until later listening to the audio recording.

One of my favorite comments after the event was as follows:

“You looked like a Hasidic Jew, you sounded like a Baptist Preacher, but then we realized that you were a tattooed atheist! It was so confusing!”

Though I recieved many really wonderful and sincere compliments on my performance. The woman who came in fourth place, when we all lined up to get photos taken, asked me “So are you an actor?”, to which I responded “No, I’m just a ham.” I have done quite a bit of public speaking and performance over the years, and there’s even a photo printed in a school newspaper from when I was in 1st Grade singing a solo in front of the whole school assembled. From there I’ve MC’ed burlesque shows, performed “avant-garde industrial noise perfomance art” that included being entirely covered in blood or silver paint and burnt pages from a bible (sampling two performances), to giving slightly serious talks and even performing a handful of wedding ceremonies (one Satanic and two secular). I’m terribly nervous EVERY time. This time, however, I ended up having to work the HL Mencken Club conference and had little time over the 48 hours prior to the Contest to fret (or memorize). It seemed to work out okay, obviously – I wasn’t nearly stressed as I normally am, and I knew the talk well enough to recite a majority by head (“heart” is just not correct, is it).

The text below is what I prepared for the contest, though I had to skip a few lines near the end because of time limitations:

Today I present a truncated but not Bowdlerized version of Ingersoll’s lecture titled “How the Gods Grow”.

Priests have invented a crime called blasphemy.

That crime is the trenches in which ignorance, superstition and hypocrisy have crouched for thousands of years to shoot their poisoned arrows at the pioneers of human thought. Priests tell us that there is a God somewhere in heaven who objects to a human being thinking and expressing his thought. We have been taught that it is dangerous to reason upon these subjects—extremely dangerous—and that of all crimes in the world, the greatest is to deny the existence of that God.

Redden your hands in innocent blood; steal the bread of the orphan, deceive, ruin and desert the beautiful girl who has loved and trusted you, and for all this you may be forgiven; for all this you can have the clear writ of that bankrupt court of the gospel. But deny the existence of one of these gods, and the tearful face of mercy becomes lurid with eternal hate; the gates of heaven are shut against you, and you, with an infinite curse ringing in your ears, commence your wanderings as an immortal vagrant, as a deathless convict, as an eternal outcast. And we have been taught that the infinite has become enraged at the finite simply when the finite said: “I don’t know!”

The other day I read a sermon (you will hardly believe it, but I did); I had nothing else to to. I had read everything in that paper, including the advertisements; so I read the sermon. It was a sermon by Rev. Mr. Moody on prayer, in which he claimed our prayer should be “Thy will be done;” and he seemed to believe that if we prayed that prayer often enough we could induce God to have his own way. He gives an instance of a woman in Illinois who had a sick child, and she prayed that God would not take from her arms that baby. She did not pray “Thy will be done,” but she prayed, according to Mr. Moody, almost a prayer of rebellion, and said: “I cannot give up my baby.” God heard her prayer, and the child got well; and Mr. Moody says when it got well it was an idiot . For fifteen years that woman watched over and took care of that idiotic child; and Mr. Moody says how much better would it have been if she had allowed God to have had his own way. Think of a God who would punish a mother for speaking to Him from an agonizing heart and saying, “I cannot give up my baby,” and making the child an idiot. What would the devil have done under the same circumstances? That is the God we are expected to worship.

They say to me, God has written a book. I am glad he did, and it is by that book that I propose to judge them. I find in that book that it was a crime to eat of the tree of knowledge. I find that the church has always been the enemy of education, and I find that the church still carries the flaming sword of ignorance and bigotry.

And if that story is true, ought we not after all to thank the devil? He was the first school master; he was the first to whisper liberty in our ears. He was the author of ambition and progress. And as for me, give me the storm and tempest of thought and action rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Punish me when and how you will, but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. And there is one more thing I need to mention. While the world has made gods, it has also made devils; and as a rule the devils have been better friends to man than the gods. It was not a devil that drowned the world; it was not a devil that covered an infinite sea with the corpses of men, women and children. That was the good god. The devil never sent pestilence and famine; the devil never starved women and children; that was the good God.

You hate a God like that. I do; I despise him. And yet little children in Sunday-school are taught that infamous lie.  And if you will just read the old testament with the bandage off your eyes and the cloud of fear from your heart, you will come to the conclusion that it was written not only by men, but by barbarians, by savages, and that it is totally unworthy of a civilized age.

In the vast cemetery, we call the past, are most of the religions of men… and there, too, are nearly all their gods.

Slaughter Family Graveyard, Granville County, Oxford, NC

On the drive home from vacation back to the Tarheel State I was able to swing by take a few hours and explore Granville County and do an initial real world genealogical quest. I’ve written here before about my paternal grandmother’s family, but not much about the Slaughters.

The wife and I stopped at the Granville County Historical Society Museum, as it seemed the logical thing to do. I’d found out on the web that the genealogical society had a meeting the night before, but we didn’t want to leave my parents so soon.

The Granville Historical Society Museum is housed in a former jail, and is a fairly modest two-story museum. We signed the guest book and I dropped $2 into the donation jar. It was filled with the things you’d expect, but I walked right by the first hint of the Slaughter name. The wife called me back to a covered display case focusing on Granville residents in World War I. One of the showcase items was a book featuring men who served in the war and it just so happened to be laying open to a page of “S” surnames.

CLIFTON SLAUGHTER
Oxford, N.C.

Chief Mechanic, Battery F, 316th Field Artillery, 81st Division. Born July 25, 1888. Son of J.M. Slaughter. Entered service April 1, 1918, at Camp Jackson, S.C. Went overseas August 5, 1918. Promoted to Chief Mechanic November 19, 1918. Honorably discharged June 17, 1919.

I do not have Clifton in my Family Tree yet, and looking over my charts I’m not sure if I have his father J.M. Slaughter. The father might be John Meldrone Slaughter (May 18th, 1858- Oct. 20, 1892, married to Loujinia Ann (Yancey) Slaughter). I’m just guessing at this right now, because the initials and dates match up.

Either way, this was the only thing of value on display. The entire time we walked around, the man behind the desk at the entrance was regaling some older lady with tales. When we circumnavigated back to that spot, I decided to strike up a conversation for some leads. Unfortunately it turned out the man was a real fine talker, but he was half deaf. When I told him I saw a picture of Slaughter kin in a display, he thought I told him that I had kin in Florida. By the time it took me to untangle his misunderstanding, I knew that I’d get very little of from him. I DID find out that the “gift shop” was located in a separate building, so we made our way over there.

In the Harris Exhibit Hall, there was a craft show going on, and we sped past hand crotched doilies, beaded jewelry and someone who made things from driftwood. We eventually made it to the gift shop, where I hit gold.

The Granville County Genealogical Historical Society 1746, Inc. had four volumes of the “Granville County Cemetery Book” on a rack, and I quickly opened each one to the index. In one of the volumes I found reference to the “Goshen Chapel Community Cemetery (Slaughter Cemetery)” and quickly turned to that page. I was exstatic to find not only a family graveyard, but reference to the first Slaughter to come to the US, Jacob Slaughter.

The book was $25, I was on the drive home from a week-long vacation, I only needed the information on two pages of the book. I quickly rationalized that the $2 donation I’d previously made covered me obtaining the information in the book, and quickly snapped away with the camera on my Nexus One.

I ended up missing some of the information, but all that I captured I’ve transcribed at the bottom of this post.

We followed the directions and about half-way there noticed that at the very end of the directions it mentions that you have to walk a mile into the woods on private property, and olso noted that you had to cross a creek. My wife didn’t have the right shoes and I wasn’t sure I was ready to walk a minimum of two miles, but we forged ahead anyway. We got to the spot where it said and I thought I might as well see if I can’t at least drive to find a trail or other opening, or possibly a farmhouse with a property owner to ask permission from.

We drove down Sunset Rd. running a parallel path to what we would be walking. When the odometer had hit the mile point, there was still nothing but dens woods towards the theoretical direction of the gravesite. I figured i’d drive to the end and lake a right, maybe the property owners house was nearby. As we neared Old Roxboro Rd., there was, right on the corner, a small graveyard.

“Huh, look at that.” I wondered, “Could this be the graveyard, and they’ve added new roads? I pulled in front and saw “SLAUGHTER” chiseled into a headstone! We quickly parked in the driveway of a run down house across the street and I ran to the graveyard. Lots of Slaughters in that ground, and the first stone that I saw was JACOB SLAUGHTER.

What I didn’t know, or figure out until we’d left, is that this was a totally separate Slaughter graveyard. We didn’t make it to the Goshen Chapel Community Cemetery, but this one filled my needs and was right on a street corner to boot.

I’d read that the Daughters of the American Revoltion had paid tribute to Jacob by placing a plaque on some road, but I wasn’t sure what road it was, nor where.

I don’t know if this is a second plaque by the DAR, or that same one mentioned in previous research.

Micheal T. Slaughter is a family member who has done extensive genealogical research and writes the following:

Jacob Schlotterer was born on July 25, 1732 in Bodelshausen, Wurttemberg to Jacob Schlotterer and Anna Barbara Albrecht. Bodelshausen is a very small village just a few miles south of Stuttgart, Germany. He had six brothers and sisters, Hanns Bernhardt (born September 1717), Anna Barbara (born December 1718), Waldburga (born November 10, 1720), Anna Maria (born October 24, 1722), Agnes (born June 1725) and Martin (born April 15, 1727). The older Jacob Schlotterer was born October 12, 1693 and was a tailor. Anna Barbara Albrecht was born October 2, 1690. They were married January 28, 1716.

In 1723, Charles Alexander became Duke of Wurttemberg. He had become Catholic and tried to force people to go to the Catholic churches. A Jewish financier loaned him the money to hire soldiers to carry out his wishes. Charles Alexander died in 1737, and in 1738 the financier was tried and hanged. The duke’s son, Charles Eugene became old enough to rule in 1744. He was no better than his father. Many Germans, especially Lutherans, decided to go to America for religious freedom.

In 1749, Jacob Schlotterer and his brother, Martin, left their village to come to America. Some other Schlotterers also left at the same time. They were Jacob (born April 28, 1726, son of Jacob and Ursula), Mattheis (born December 25, 1722, son of Michael and Agnes), and Johann Conradt (born August 23, 1726, son of Matthies and Anna Barbara). They went down the Rhine River to Rotterdam (in what is now the Netherlands) and boarded the ship Chesterfield. The captain was Thomas Coatam. The ship sailed to Cowes, England for supplies and then left for America. The Schlotterers arrived in Philadelphia. On Saturday, September 2, 1749, they went to the courthouse and took an oath of allegiance to George II, King of England. They also signed a passenger list. The Pennsylvania Gazette (a newspaper published by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia) on September 7, 1749, recorded the arrival of the Chesterfield. Jacob settled in Germantown, which is now within the city limits of Philadelphia. He then got married and started raising a family. The area was getting crowded, so he and his family moved south, as many other German immigrants were doing.

On November 9, 1757, Jacob Schlotterer bought 640 acres of land on both sides of Shelton Creek in St. John’s Parish, Granville County from John Carteret, Earl of Granville. Jacob lived on the southern half of this one square mile tract until he died in 1824. The Daughters of the American Revolution have erected a marker on Rural Paved Road 1309 near Berea not far from his farm in memory of his service during the Revolutionary War.

Jacob Schlotterer probably married in Pennsylvania, although no record has been found so far. Many marriages from that period of time were not recorded. There is a marriage record in Christ Church in Philadelphia for Jacob Slaughter and Mary Hoffman on March 17, 1761, that may be his second marriage, since there is no proof so far that he actually moved to North Carolina before taking the State Oath on May 22, 1778.

And thanks to Google I was able to find the following in “The State Records of North Carolina, Volume 22”:

There are a number of other Slaughter graves, photos below:

The Woodmen of the World tombstones are odd, as I’d never heard of the group. Looked them up at http://www.woodmen.org/, seems to be a community group for charity and getting a discount on insurance.

So, between now and my next trip I’ll have gathered more information. I plan on taking a whirlwind tour of gravesites and maybe a few living relatives.

I have very few photos of Slaughter prior to my grandfather, so I’ll be keen to track anything down that I can.

—–

The following transcribed text from  “Granville County Cemetery Book”, but much of this information is also at http://cemeterycensus.com/nc/gran/cem178.htm

Goshen Chapel Community Cemetery
Tombstones
1. Evans, Abraham b. 16 Feb 1829 d. 9 Dec. 1906
2. Evans, Jane b. 1820 d. 1836
3. Thorp, Sarah  Age 99 yrs d. 15 Nov. 1920
w/o Isaac Thorp
4. Donkin, Howvell b. 14 Jun 1832 d. 31 May 1875
s/o Charles & Henrietta Donkin
5. CAS  b 186? d. 18 Dec. 1921
(Woods Funeral Home marker)
6. Slaughter, S.P. b. 24 May 1871 d. 1 Jan 1911
7. Slaughter, Catherine Age 70 yrs d. 1904
Carved Fieldstones
8. ST  b. 1832 d. 24 Nov. 1922
9. ECD  d. 1873
10. Duncan, C.H. b. 1799 d. 8 Nov. 1871
Cut by SM Slaughter
11. Duncan, S.H. d. 27 Aug. 1876
12. Reagan, N.E. d. 22 Sep(?) 1876
13. Beaver, J.W. b. 25 Nov. 1905
14 Ragan, E. d. Jun. 1891
15. MS d. 1882
16. BF & KIM d. 20 Aug 1846
17. DUN d. 1854
18. Slaughter, Jacob
His memorial stone is located in the Slaughter Cemetary at the intersection of Allensville and Sunset roads.
19. Slaughter Abraham (missing information, I didn’t get this part in the photo)
20. (missing information, I didn’t get this part in the photo)
21. Slaughter, Infant
s/o William Albert & Roxie Huff Slaughter
22. Humphries, Jasper

According to Mrs. Patricia Slaughter, Mrs.Lillian Adcock and Mrs. Gertrude Huff Humphries, the cemetary was called Goshen Chapel Community Cemetary and was located on what was called Mill Hill Rd. Blacks are said to be buried there also. – Kitty B. Humphries, May 1980.

Mencken Day – September 11, 2010

Der Tag (Mencken Day), September 11, 2010

Mencken Day 2010 will commence at 10:00 AM on September 11, 2010 at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral St, Baltimore,MD. The Mencken Society’s Annual Meeting begins at 10:30 in the Wheeler Auditorium.

The Society’s speakers (in the morning) are Marion Rodgers, who will speak on her recent (hot off the presses) two-volume set of Mencken’s Prejudices, published by the Library of America, and David Donovan of the Enoch Pratt Free Library who has done heroic work in exhuming the entombed collection of Saturday Night Club material held by the Library. He will play selections from a recording of the Concert Artists of Baltimore’s concert, “A Saturday Night Club on Sunday Afternoon”, held April 11, 2010. If you missed the concert, here is your chance to at least get a taste of what was.

The Mencken Memorial speaker (in the afternoon) is Jonathan Yardley, book reviewer for the Washington Post and editor of Mencken’s My Life as Author and Editor(Knopf, 1993).

(Notice, the Mencken Society is different from the HL Mencken Club .)

Robert G. Ingersoll Oratory Contest, Washington, DC

I’m nervous… in a few hours I’ll be in our nations capitol reading a lecture by the great American orator Robert G. Ingersoll. I won’t be posting this until after the event is over, so I can append a recording of it to the post (assuming it turns out well). No matter what mundane or crazy shit I’ve done in front of an audience, I’ve always been plagued with nervousness before beginning. From making an announcement in a room or doing an interview over the phone, to being cut open in a blood ritual performance or crawling across a ceiling half-naked covered in silver paint – I’m a bit of a wreck until I start doing whatever it is I need to be doing. I’m not an extrovert by nature, but I’ve been performing in front of audiences since I was in Elementary School.

MCing for Three Ring Vixen fashion show. This is a card trick called The Tattooed Sailor.

MC'ing for "Three Ring Vixen" fashion show in April of 2006. This is a card trick called "The Tattooed Sailor".

I think I took this chance to help subdue that fear response a bit, but then here I am waking up at 6:30 am when my alarm is set for 8. Typing a blog post because I need a distraction.

There was a study recently that showed men looking at breasts had a calming effect. I think it was carried out by the University of Something to Tell My Wife, in the Dept. of NoDuh.

I have my problems with his worldview outside of his agnosticism, but that he was well known and well received in the late 1800’s for making remarks on stage that would infuriate most general audiences in 2009 makes me respect him greatly. That I have such a shitty memory makes me frustrated that I’ll probably be doing more reading of a page than proper oratory.

The event is sponsored by a few groups, none of which I am a member. All the details can be found here.

I’ve chosen (predictably) his lecture on blasphemy and I’ve had to heavily truncate it in order to fit within the 3-6 minutes allowed. My greatest concern is that I’ll be the 5th or 6th person to recite some of the same words, and boring the audience instead of entertaining. The orig. text can be found here.

My total time tends to be about 6 and a half to 7 minutes, but the introduction runs around a minute +,  so the actual lecture is within the regulation time limit. There was a joke about half-way through, but I took it out because I didn’t think I could pull it off.

The event will be video recorded (I started writing “taped”, but that’s probably not technically true) and I’ll record the audio as well. As you can see in the introduction I’ve included a “Blasphemy Challenge” – thematically appropriate, and a fun addition.

—back from event—

Before the event, in costume.

Before the event, in "costume".

I just got in from my drive back from DC. I dropped a dear friend who went to support me  at home and I’m trying to finish and post this thing…

Out of the 20 possible contestants only 14 ended up speaking. From the star my chances for winning were statistically better. I drew “12” as my order number, but since there were 20 numbers and 14 people, I didn’t have to wait through 12 speakers. My time was intermittently crouching and listening and pacing and smoking near the back of the audience. When it was my time to go up I was terribly nervous, all the moisture from my mouth vanished when I hit the podium.

At one point my papers flew away in the wind. I think I handled it well, moving on to the next section of the speech without too much of a lapse. I couldn’t get my pages to turn on the last page. I figured that shouldn’t be too much of a problem with only three pages, but I was wrong. Next time I’ll put some sticky tabs on each sheet or something.

My pal Erin was in charge of the camera and forgot to take photos while I was speaking, so we’ve got scant few photos. Her support meant more than her failure to photographically capture the moment, so all is well.

I wore my black suit, fedora and a plantation tie, and everyone assumed it was a costume for the event. I don’t mind that so much, when I was in Vegas with friends in ’06 people stopped us on the street and asked us if we were performing somewhere and if they could get a photo… “no” and “no” were the answers. I thought it was funny though and I took that and changed my introduction in my head a few minutes before I spoke – it allowed me to more personalize the introduction and inject a little more humor. I had two great lines that I thought up and I subsequently forgot to utter, and I don’t think they’d come across well just typing ’em out here. I’ll just let them lie in some corner of my brain until they dissolve away.

Though many of the speakers were very good, and one even committing his entirely to memory, quite a number of folks left me with the impression that I was certainly in the top tier of presenters. Though I did have to reference my notes, and at one point my papers flew away in the wind, I’m proud of the job that I did – ultimately it wasn’t enough to impress the judges. Even though they gave a tie to fourth place – giving a total of 5 winners out of 14, somehow my speech was scored in the bottom 9.

The really nice presenter whose name I forget and the judges that judged me unworthy.

The really nice presenter whose name I forget and the faceless judges that judged me unworthy.

I got quite a few hearty “congrats” immediately after speaking, and one lady even turned to me and said “that was so wonderful, you gave me goosebumps!”, but when they were calling out the winners, my name was no where to be heard.

The kicker, walking to the car a guy who introduced himself to me earlier that day before I talked was walking back toward DuPont Circle. I guess he’d stepped away at some point and was returning, missing the awards. I must have made an impression because he called out my name from a distance, “Kevin!”

“How did it go?” he asked.

“Pretty well, I enjoyed myself.”

“Did you win?”

“No, I didn’t even come in fourth.”

“WHA?!?” he seemed to express sincere disbelief.

Again, other speakers did a great job. I don’t know what the scores were, and I’m generally very humble about my work and performances. This, I think I should have at least placed. But I didn’t, and I’m not complaining. It was a beautiful day in the park, and I publicly blasphemed, on film (and audio)…

One of the organizers videotaped the event and will theoretically be putting some portions online. If I make it, I’ll post it here, of course.

I have pasted the text that I took with me to read below. Where I’ve added or changed a word, it is set off in brackets. Where I’ve truncated in the middle of a sentence I’ve used the ellipses. Of course, what I have below and what I ws able to actually get out of my mouth diverge somewhat slightly…

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UPDATE: I found a few photos on facebook from someone who was there, so I was able to add a few of me actually speaking! The photographer has given me permission to use the images here and here is a link to all his photos from the event (on Facebook)!

photo by Brian Engler

photographer: Brian D. Engler

photo by Brian Engler

photographer: Brian D. Engler


UPDATE 2: A few more photos of the Devil’s Angry Man… photos below by Bruce Press

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_BFP6316

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UPDATE 10-28-09: The videos…
CFI edited every speaker down to their own video, here is just my part:

The AHA took the winners of the event and a few other speakers and edited to about an hour (I’m at the 35 minute mark):

Ingersoll’s Lecture on “Blasphemy”

Edited and introduced by Kevin I. Slaughter
for the
Robert Ingersoll Oratory Contest
Washington, DC, October 4th, 2009

According to the rules I may give a brief introduction to why I selected this bit of text. How do you truncate the words of a man who would sometimes spend three hours pontificating on a topic into 3-5 minutes. All the speakers here have done an admirable job and I hope that I have distilled the essence of this speech on the topic of Blasphemy to fit into that time.

My name is Kevin Slaughter and what follows this preface are Ingersoll’s words alone, but I take them as my own. I am not just honoring a great orator and thinker, I am telling you how I feel. Before I begin to speak his words, I will make it utterly clear: “I deny the Holy Spirit.”

This rejection of god means not just that I am a free thinker, but standing in our nation’s capitol today, it it a pronouncement that I am a free man!

Ladies and Gentlemen   …what is the origin of the crime known as blasphemy?

It is the belief in a God who is cruel, revengeful, quick tempered and capricious;
a God who punishes the innocent for the guilty;
a God who listens with delight to the shrieks of the tortured and gazes enraptured on their spurting blood.
You must hold this belief before you can believe in the doctrine of blasphemy.

[You see,] God was a kind of juggler. He did not wish man to be impudent or curious about how He did things. You must sit in audience and watch the tricks and ask no questions. In front of every fact He has hung the impenetrable curtain of blasphemy. Now … all the … reason that … man ha[s] is useless.

To say anything against the priest was blasphemy
and to say anything against God was blasphemy—
to ask a question was blasphemy.
Finally we sank to the level of fetishism [and] we began to worship inanimate things.

If you will read your bible you will find that the Jews had a sacred box. … To touch this box was a crime. [And] You [may] remember that one time when a… [man] thought the box was going to tip he held it.

God killed him.

It always has been blasphemy to say “I do not know whether God exists or not.”
In all Catholic countries it is blasphemy to doubt the bible, to doubt the sacredness of the relics.
It always has been blasphemy to laugh at a priest, to ask questions, to investigate the Trinity.
In a world of superstition, reason is blasphemy.
In a world of ignorance, facts are blasphemy.
In a world of cruelty, sympathy is a crime,
and in a world of lies, truth is blasphemy.

Last night there was a fire in Philadelphia, and at a window fifty feet above the ground Mr. King stood amid flame and smoke and pressed his children to his [chest] one after the other, kissed them, and threw them to the rescuers with a prayer. That was man.
[This book says that on] the last day God takes His children with a curse and hurls them into eternal fire. That’s … God as [this book] describe Him. [And] If this creed be true, God is the insane keeper of a mad house.

Blasphemy is a padlock which hypocrisy tries to put on the lips of all honest men. At one time Christianity succeeded in silencing the infidel, and then came the dark ages, when all rule was ecclesiastical, when the air was filled with devils and spooks, when birth was a misfortune, life a prolonged misery of fear and torment, and death a horrible nightmare. They crushed the infidels, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, wherever a ray of light appeared in the ecclesiastical darkness. I want to tell [you all gathered] that that day is passed. All the churches in the United States can not even crush me. The day for that has gone, never to return. If they think they can crush free thought in this country, let them try it.

I’ll tell you what is blasphemy. It is blasphemy to live on the fruits of other men’s labor, to prevent the growth of the human mind, to persecute for opinion’s sake, to abuse your wife and children, to increase in any manner the sum of human misery.

I’ll tell you what is sacred. Our bodies are sacred, our rights are sacred, justice and liberty are sacred. I’ll tell you what is the true bible. It is the sum of all actual knowledge of man, and every man who discovers a new fact adds a new verse to this bible. It is different from the other bible, because that is the sum of all that its writers and readers do not know.

A Causal Chain

I used to believe that we only used 10% of our brains.  I was told this and I did’t mentally cross reference it with other information I had. This kind of thing happens all the time, to all of us. It’s impossible to keep all the facts straight, much less correlating them all with all the others we’ve accumulated.  When we hold two conflicting opinions about a topic, this is called cognitive dissonance. I do my best to rout it out, but sometimes when one of these errors is corrected it can be embarrasingly obvious that the mistaken belief was founded on nothing but lack of consideration. How many television shows (or better yet, documentaries) have you seen where a CAT scan or other test is being performed and areas all over the brain are lighting up based on various stimuli? This alone should cast a stark skeptical shadow over the “10%” theory.
I’m sitting in an airport in Baltimore, waiting to fly to Newark, to then wait around to fly to Geneva. Because yesterday was 9-9-09, I was thinking about Los Angeles on 6-6-06.
There wew two events my wife and I attended on that vacation, and one was held at a place called Zen Sushi.  Sitting in the smoking area outside, some young guy struck up a conversation with Ida…
(on the tarmac now, just informed we’ll have a 55 minute wait because of high winds.. luckily we had a 3 hour layover in Newark)
The young man and his girlfriend started asking Ida questions about Satanism, a topic she doesn’t care to discuss, and she passed them off to me, “My husband can answer that”
I can only recall that what questions they had were very basic, and would have been very eaqsy to answer using google… in other words, it was a bother. At some point he says “Well, I’ve got a theory I’d like to run by you, and it has to do with Satanism…”
That’s rarely going to be good.
“Well, you know how people only use 10% of their brain power?” he begins what seems like become a really convoluted idea.
“No” I respond, “we use most or all of our brains. It’s a myth that we only use 10%”.
“Oh,” he says, a bit deflated but gearing up to recover. “Well, let’s say that’s true though.”
“No. If you are building this theory of yours on a lie, the rest is going to be a lie, and I don’t care to hear it.”
I try to be polite, when possible, but I’m not going to let a stranger, who I’ve already answered a number of questions from, elaborate on a theory that will probably be stupid, but was definitly predicated on a lie. I was on vacation with my wife, and some of my favorite people in the world – I had better shit to do.
Though I told myself I’d onlybring one book, I couldn’t resist packing Mickey Spillaine’s “I the Jury” along with Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World”. In Sagan’s book you’ll find his baloney detection kit in chapter 12. A fine introduction to critical thinking he conveys the bulk of the concepts in bulleted lists. One of these was “If there’s a chain argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise)– not just one of them.”

(posted using WiFi at the Geneva airport!)

LA photos…

Descriptions come later.. having a great time.. hanging out with John Gilmore, Bryan and Heather from Arkham Studios, Carlos Batts, the Dwarves video shoot with 30 or so Suicide Girls… sitting in my hotel room blogging, the entire time missing my sweet lady… (yeah, I’m a sad sack in love, whattya goin’ a do)

Me and Selene

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Be on a plane in 24 hours..

San Fransisco, Sacramento – Art, Bowling

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Chris X, Steven Leyba, Goober

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Stephen Kasner
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The Black Lot – Satanic Tourist Photo-op
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Dave from Circle 9 and Dave D’Angelo (who was in the show with Stephen K.)
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Blag Dahlia, Naked Rob
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Chris X and poster artist Dirty Donny
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Stephen Kasner and Rebecca
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At the Squat & Gobble on Haight St. – good grub, smelly hippies and butch dikes

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Two goobers..
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Taking the Satanists bowling… I’ve got great style, but ultimately no game.

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Stephen Kasner KILLED us all on the lanes.
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Grandma blood on my hands….

This morning, my gal and I stopped at a grocery store. She had to run in and pick something up. We were running a little late, it was 12:15 and she’s supposed to open her store by noon and I SHOULD be at my desk by the same time (I know, it’s a hard life).
While waiting in my car, sipping an iced coffee from the D&D (a habit I picked up from her – I’m really a Krispy Kreme man myself, being raised in the same town that birthed the doughnut franchise) and two delightful old ladies came stepping out of the store. The younger of the two white haired lasses stepped down from the curb and started off to the car parked nearby in a handicap space, the other, very old (and very “sweet old grandmother” type) was trying to step down herself… but even with a cane she looked uncertain.
Because I’m Southern man, and she was a kind looking woman in a fairly nice but working collar suburb of Baltimore, I started to rise from my seat to help her down from the curb. As I got the door all the way open, I see her start to lose balance and down she went, head hitting the curb before I could traverse the 15 feet I was from her.
I step up, look in her eyes and ask if she is okay, she responds and seems a but suprised, but not dazed. Her head was bleeding and a second person who saw what happened volunteered to call an ambulance. My gal just walked out the door and I tell her to get a towel or something and she spins around to take care of it.
Ambulance called, towel in my hand and pressed to the back of her neck, she was sitting up and I was supporting her with my knees while I was crouched behind her. My dear girl held her hand and spoke to her, as well as I until the ambulance came.
The paramedics came over and took the towel holding from me and escorted her in the ambulance, I look down and see blood all over my left hand and wrist and the cuff of my coat.
I don’t need a pat on the back, I didn’t ask that woman for any money and nobody thanked me. If she were a crackhead, or someone undesirable, I would have just called the ambulance from the warmth of the running car. She seemed like someone who just had an accident.
Basically, there’s more going on than books and porn and eugenics, though I don’t write about it as much. When I talk about statistics and groups of people, I’m talking just about that – generalities. I don’t think people are just two-dimensional, but I take individuals as just that. When they’re strangers, I judge them based on appearance and behavoir, when they aren’t anymore, I judge them based on my interactions with them.

“Satanic” Joke and Halloween debauch..

This morning, I thought up this funny “in” joke:

Two Satanists are hanging out, one says to the other “Who was that hot dame I saw you with earlier?”

To which the second says “Oh that was my wife, or as she’s known about the house – ‘The every day altar.’”

And the one laughs and says, “Well that’s funny, but since she’s the every day altar, does that mean you have a special occasion altar?”

To which the second replies, “Not that she knows about!”

Okay, maybe I should have put the quotes around funny instead of in.

As well, there’s this gret photo from the Bruiser’s Ball at the Ottobar. I was, of course, dressed up like a slighly more eccentric me:

I’ve always liked the concept of photographs of people in photo booths taken from the outside.