Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain v. Obama; Regulated Economy; Email Lies; Religious Beliefs

McCain Is the Last Chance for the
Greatest Generation to Effect "Change"
If John McCain is not elected President come November, his generation will go out like old, toothless lions with their heads down and their tails dragging the ground. It may or may not be his fault. The Maverick is not known for a cool head, is not the long-awaited elequent public speaker that his rival is, and had admitted some of his own drawbacks. But he does have the experience in foreign polic that Barak Obama does not; he has shown the ability to work both sides of the isle, which Obama has attempted but has no real track record on, and he won't effect the kinds of wide-sweeping social and military changes that Obama has promised.

It may or not be McCain's fault if he loses, for the reasons listed, but it may be that Obama has enlisted and engaged too many liberal and socialistic followers, as well as people too unaware that Obama is socialistic, for McCain to win.

There will never be another candidate from McCain's generation who will get to try to correct their world before they are gone forever. McCain was born in 1936, too early to be a "Baby Boomer," but too young to enter World War II. But no one from his generation will likely get to run for President again; the youngest would be 68 years old in 2012, and by then I think it certain that the younger generations, who will themselves be 67 years or younger, will have wondered what the world would have been like had they elected Barak Obama. Or they will know it and possibly approve.

I don't like the far liberalism and the socialism of Obama. But there are things about McCain I dislike equally as much. Both have their strengths; both have their weaknesses. Obama might actually be the better President if what America is worried about is its "world image." [See "The Libertarian Case for ObamaSeven potential upsides to a hope-monger presidency" http://freeassemblage.blogspot.com/2008/09/unusual-headlines-saturday-musings.html MORE

The Risk-Free Society Comes intoView

"Peter Bernstein draws a conclusion from the current problems in the financial markets: The subprime mortgage mess, [ ] etc, could not have happened in a planned economy.

"Oh really? Another story from today’s New York Times reports:
[ ]"JPMorgan Chase, for instance, has 70 regulators from the Federal Reserve and the comptroller’s agency in its offices every day [with] open access to its books, trading floors and back-office operations."

"Goldman-Sachs, which was largely unregulated, mostly avoided losses related to the mortgage market through prudent hedging. Citigroup, which was highly regulated, suffered such losses. Expect state control without the promised payoff in a planned economy." http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2008/09/28/the-risk-free-society-comes-into-view/

New study: People lie 50 percent more
in e-mail than hand written notes
"The study -- done by researchers from Lehigh, Rutgers and DePaul -- had an odd set-up: 48 full-time MBA students were given $89 and told to divide it with a fictional second party in a remote location. The students believed that the other party didn't know the total pot, however, so they were free to make up a figure and send along half of what they made up.

"Those who wrote on paper to the fictional second party said, on average, that the total pot was $67. Those who e-mailed the other party claimed the total pot was $56.

"Like many studies of human behavior, this one creates a pretty odd scenario.

"Personally, I have no idea whether the researchers have discovered a universal truth about human behavior or just an odd quirk. The researchers, however, think they have robust results." more http://techblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2008/09/new-study-people-lie-50-percen.html

Justified True-Belief in Religion?

"[H]ow are people so convinced that their chosen religion is right over all the others. It seems impossible that a person can believe in a religion simply because he or she wants to - there must be some logic behind their reasoning - but I cannot understand it."
Response from Peter S. Fosl on September 25, 2008
"This is a remarkable phenomenon, one that was noticed even in ancient times--the consensus gentium. Strictly speaking,I think, there is no good reason or defensible logic for belief in the standard religions. [more at link below]
Response from Andrew N. Carpenter on September 29, 2008
"In his magnificent recent book, A Secular Age, the Canadian social philosopher Charles Taylor addresses exactly why it is that many North American and Western Europeans find themselves able to view religious belief as a choice that one can make on rational or other grounds." more

Monday, September 29, 2008

American Socialism; Theism as Skepticism; sntjohnny and Me

American Socialism Is Upon Us
"Capitalism and markets [ ] are all inherently about self-interest and the pursuit of profit," said Dr. Yaron Brook. "Capitalism encourages and enables selfishness, and as long as our culture looks at profit and self-interest as vices, [ ] big government will always be preferred to free markets." [italics added] "Why Big Government Is Back, and How to Shrink It to Its Proper Size"

This might be a surprising perspective to many people. But it really is surprising only to capitalists who simply want to earn a living--perhaps a big living, but a living that is ruled by nothing but proper market ethics and proper ethical treatment of his or her consumers. And I am one of those to whom it is a surprising perspective.

I should not be surprised. I know full well that the market situation we are currently in was caused by zealous, not ethical, pursuit of the dollar. There is a difference. We expect the neighborhood butcher, farm co-op, or shoe store to treat the community with a high standard of ethics. To do otherwise would be to risk negative letters-to-the-editor in the newspaper, and maybe an investigation by the local TV affiliate, if the situation warrants it. Consumers who feel bent out of shape by the way they were treated locally often sue.

But on the larger scale, in the bigger market places, we all know that ethics tend to become fuzzy, or even misplaced once a rule of ethics is broken the first time and not caught. The big markets can usually fend off attacks by angry customers, unless the business is WalMart or something similar. WalMart is expected to be all things to all people; that is how it grew to be so large. Big selection plus big inventory equals low low prices; that is what constitutes "all things to all people" most of the time.

But Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, explained why the reasons for the resurgence of big government are due, "not to any alleged failures of the market, but to a longtime cultural hostility to its moral basis: the selfish pursuit of profit."
We as Americans have lived with the idea of socialism long enough that most of us do not see how its operating principles-if they can be called "principled"--have crept into our nation's politics, policies, and regulations. In the Treasury Department's U.S crazy scheme to save Wall Street but they included this in big, huge piece of socialist nationalism in section 8: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." [emphasis added] [see The Last Nail in the American Fascist Takeover ] more

Excerpt from Anthony Horvath’s
Christian Apologetics Ministry
And the Reclassification of Theism
as the Skeptical Position of Naturalism

"It is not very often that you get an admission as clear as the one that was posted on my forum today. I asserted in this post on my blog that at the bottom, most atheistic arguments against the existence of God are based on the ‘presumption of naturalism’ with [missing info in original post.] The atheist on my forum said:

'At the conclusion, you argue that the evidence will show God’s existence if only we give up our assumption that all explanations must be natural. What you fail to give us is any compelling reason why we must abandon that assumption.'"

Unfortunately, Rev. Horvath's critic undercuts his own position by saying he would, in effect, be willing to accept giving up reason. Horvath responds--quite logically--by saying, "The atheist in question says that this assumption can only be abandoned in the face of extremely good reasons, but it should be evident that anyone who believes ‘all explanations must be natural’ is really just throwing up a smokescreen if he now demands ‘reasons’ for thinking otherwise."

Oh, if only we would listen to what we say before we say it. In light of what Horvath said regarding the abandonment of reason for "compelling" reasons, I think the critic would have thought out his words more carefully.

But my favorite atheist philosopher said we must take men at their word. If they say it, then they said it, and we cannot presume to judge that they meant something else. This does not mean we cannot ammend our statement when our contradiction becomes evident.

But unless Horvath's critic writes back, we must assume he does not understand the difference between:

1. A principled deduction of logic that tells him that naturalism is natural, while supernaturalism is---not, by definition, natural; and
2. The decision that it makes no difference whether a thing is "natural" or "not-natural" if one is willing to suspend his rational judgment to decide that the "not-natural" can somehow become the "natural," or at least the "acceptable."

Horvath tells him--and others like him--"If you’re just starting to examine the merits of Christianity and are evaluating skeptical objections, the key here is to understand that all the later objections to things like the resurrection and miracles stem from this prior assumption."

What Horvath himself fails to explain is that naturalism was the prevailing world-view for nearly 1000 years, until Augustine.

There are four goals for the informed naturalist, says physicist and cosmologist Dr. Quentin Smith. "i) retrieve naturalism from its de facto reclassification by medieval philosophers. This is a reclassification (which may have been a result of some other deliberately chosen goal) from its original, accurate, classification in Greco-Roman naturalism, and this reclassification was effected by the medieval philosophers. This reclassification still prevails today." Philo Online http://www.philoonline.org/library/smith_4_2.htm more

Reverend "sntjohnny" Horvath Wrote Me an Email:

I Responded
Actually, I only responded to the first two paragraphs, as you will read. He sent the email because of his contention, which I challenged, that followers of Ayn Rand's Objectivism would "inevitably" come around to embracing Christianity.
[Dear Curtis:] "It is only 'inevitable' in certain senses. If you apply the principles you hold dear in Objectivism consistently I believe that you will find that Objectivism does not in fact have the answers while Christianity does.
"Consider. One of the most cherished doctrines of the Objectivist is the rights and freedoms and dignity of each individual human. However, to what degree can this be supported from an atheistic philosophy, especially an atheistic perspective on evolution, which is the prevailing scientific explanation for the rise of humans? Under this framework, a human is nothing more than an animal." [signed Anthony Horvath]
"stjohnny" and I are too familiar with each other to actually bother writing "Dear X," or actually signing it, except that my "automatic" signature is automatic, I do sometimes write "Sincerely," or simply "Curtis," and this time he finished his letter with "Yours."
My (Partial) Response
The atheism and evolution have no bearing on the freedom and dignity of the human individual.

You say according to evolution I ought to conclude man is "nothing more" than an animal. But the denotation of "Man" is that heis the "rational animal." From this perspective we conclude several things:

1. That "Man qua Man" requires the highest degree of rationality a man can discover;
2. That rationality belongs to individuals because there is no "collective" mind;
3. That since rationality belongs to the individual, just as his fingers are his, and his stomach is his, his mind cannot be coerced into doing, being or thinking what it does not want to be. more

The Free Assemblage of Metaphysical Naturalists is the sm of the

Academy of Metaphysical Naturalism tm, the educational arm of the Assemblage.

© 2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Atheist in A.A. Part II;

How Does An Atheist Navigate Alcoholics Anonymous?
Part II
Working Within the A.A. Idea

(All phrases you will read that are between " " are phrases written in approved A.A. literature. Any phrase you see in italics are phrases used in A.A. but are not necessarily part of any A.A. approved literature--like One Day At A Time, Easy Does It, or Keep Coming Back 'Till You Want to Come Back. I will supplement the official phrases with references, or with live web links from the Big Book, so you will be able to read it for yourself. The Big Book is online free, by the way, and you can--and should--look at it, either online or in a book. http://www.aa.org/bigbookonline/
However, as authors will do, some of what you see in italics are my own writing of things I wish to set apart from the rest of the text.)

In AA we have "12 Traditions" as well as "12 Steps". Tradition One is "Our Common Welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on AA unity." http://www.aa.org/bigbookonline/en_appendicei.cfm

Entering an AA group, knowing people in that group are going to talk about God, higher powers, and spirituality, is for most atheists an unsettling experience. It was not unsettling for me--not in the beginning. I was familiar with A.A. through AlAnon, which is for people who have friends or family who are alcoholics.

Just being with that group helped keep me sober day by day, so that I did not drink in front of the person I was trying to understand and to help.

How do you become a member of a group? Tradition Three states: "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking." http://www.aa.org/bigbookonline/en_appendicei.cfm

I have heard many people say they came to their first A.A. meetings with a closed coffee mug full of booze; or that they went to a meeting every day without fail, then left the meeting to go get drunk with their friends.

But they had a desire to stop drinking. They simply didn't know the way, which is to listen, to learn, and to act on what you learn. If you get sober at an in-house clinic somewhere, they will probably use parts of the A.A. program, initiate you in it, and then on your way out the door tell you that the only way to remain sober is to keep going to A.A. meetings! more

The Academy's "Strong Position" on Naturalism

Given the divided nature of the many categories of "Naturalism," which include "strong" to "weak" definitions, it is necessary to state the position of this Academy as "strong;" and just as necessary to add the caveats at the end in order to distinguish this Academy of Metaphysical Naturalism from other metaphysical schools and schools of naturalism:

"Naturalism, challenging the cogency of the cosmological,i mechanical,ii and moral argumentsiii, holds that the universe requires no supernatural cause and government, but is self-existent, self-explanatory, self-operating, and self-directing, that the world-process is neither mechanistic nor anthropocentric, but purposeless, deterministic (except for possible tychistic* events), and only accidentally productive of man; that human life as physical, mental, moral and spiritual phenomena, are ordinary natural events attributable in all respects to the ordinary operations of the laws of nature; and that man's ethical values, compulsions, activities, and restraints can be justified by non-reductive monism, http://freeassemblage.blogspot.com/2008/09/non-reductive-monism.html without recourse to supernatural sanctions, and his highest good pursued and attained under natural conditions, without expectation of a supernatural destiny." (amended from B.A.G.Fuller http://www.ditext.com/runes/n.html see Naturalism)

(*Tychism: any theory which regards chance as an objective reality, operative in the cosmos; [ibid])

[definitional caveats] [click here for continuation] Academy's Strong Definition of Naturalism

Atheism is Protected by the Constitution--As Religion

For the purposes of protection under the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (May 13, 1997), decided the Orange County N.Y. Department of Probation could not force Robert Warner, an atheist, to attend religion-based alcoholic treatment programs against the dictates of his own beliefs.

The district court agreed with Mr. Warner's argument that these meetings involved a substantial religious element. Participants were told to "believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us," and that they must "turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him."

In addition, the "Step" program ordered those participating to "Admit to God ... the exact nature of our wrongs," be "entirely ready to have God remove all these defects ... (and) ask Him to remove our shortcomings," and to seek "through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we (understand) Him. The meetings were also punctuated with frequent prayers of a Christian nature.

"Four months into the program Mr. Warner complained that, as an Atheist, he found the meetings objectionable due to their religious nature. It was then that his probation officer determined that Warner lacked sufficient commitment to the idea of learning the techniques of remaining sober, even though he apparently had not been found in violation of his probation orders to remain sober!

"Attorneys for Mr. Warner relied on a number of legal precedents, including:" [refer to link] http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/alanon1.htm [click here for the continuation] Atheism is Protected by Law

Friday, September 26, 2008

Existence Exists; W. E. Messamore; ACT For America

What “Exists” And Has "Existence"?
Note: Do NOT Click on the Footnote Reference Numbers--They will take you away from this page. Just use them to reference the footnotes.
“Existence” is often referred to as the "Universal Truth.” Sadly, not everyone who asks questions about universal truths knows that they are asking about existence, nor are they always aware of what a “universal” is, nor what “truth” (or “fact” or “reality”) means. It is not uncommon for people to ask, “What is truth?” or “What is reality?” It is not uncommon for them to ask, "Do I exist?"

Often when asking about the “universal truth” it is with the expectation that a secret and mystic explanation will be given, and that perhaps it will be years before they can “divine” what the wise man told them is “the answer to life.”
But more than likely they harbor the wish that they, too, will comprehend this secret, divine, or mystic explanation in one single lecture, in a moment of revelation. Cartoons depict people climbing to the top of a mountain to consult a “wise man.” The comic strip B.C.1 integrated the “wise man” right into the prehistoric era of man, where the “wise men of mysticism,” Socrates and Plato, belong, for those two men are the modern stereotype of the "wise man on the mountain" in Western culture, though both were better thinkers, than to offer the silliness for which they are portrayed.

People who ask about “reality” or “facts” don't always understand that they, too, are asking about existence. Existence is the universal preoccupation of our intellectual lives, because we want to know, “Where did it come from?”

When it is not phrased as "What is reality?" or "How do I know I exist?" or "Isn't the whole world subjective?", or “What exists and what does not?”--then it is provoked of us in the angry, defiant tone of the statement "Prove that I exist!" More often than not it is stated, “Prove God does not exist.”

Knowledge of what exists and what does not has become smudged and greyed, when “existence” has come to be seen merely as the reality of one's “perceptions”; the lines have been blurred, sometimes erased altogether. A person can be convinced that the ego is necessarily egotistical; that nothing one does in life can have any meaning because “in the end we all die”; and that being “dust in the wind” is more significant to the life one leads, than is a statement such as "I rise in the morning to the work of a Man," where "Man" has greater, not less, meaning.

What is the purpose of following a principled life if in the end you just wind up dead? We will get to the answer. more

And What Irony To Find This Blog
After Writing About "Existence"
"Before the scientific community came to a consensus on the Big Bang theory following the discovery of the cosmic radiation echo predicted by Big Bang theorists, many scientists believed in the Steady State theory. In short, they believed that the universe had no definite beginning and that hydrogen atoms were randomly popping into existence somewhere in the universe, supplying the material for all the physical phenomena like stars and planets. Atheists were generally rooting for this theory, understanding that a definite beginning for the physical universe implies its contingency- that it has a cause which is outside itself. As it turned out, the Big Bang has been confirmed in great measure by scientific findings...

"How the atheists managed to adopt the Big Bang theory as evidence for their position confounds me. If there is any interesting history behind this, I’d be curious to know it.

"To elaborate further on why this is a philosophical defeat for atheism: The contemporary atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen is frequently quoted by Christian apologists as saying about causation: “Suppose you suddenly hear a loud bang and you ask me, ‘What made that bang?’ and I reply ‘Nothing, it just happened.’ You would not accept that - in fact you would find my reply quite unintelligible.” Nielsen is quite right on this account. Bangs must have causes because they are finite, contingent events that have a definite beginning."

W. E. Messamore[blog @] http://www.slaying-dragons.com/

A Reply

"If one thing exists in existence, it becomes the proof of the existence of existence," I wrote, above.
This refutes Messamore on his contention that "hydrogen atoms were randomly popping into existence." The theory of "ex nihilo" has long since been abandoned by Christian theologians; things in existence do not just spontaneously appear. If hydrogen atoms actually were randomly popping into existence, they were caused by something else already in existence. What that is may remain unknown for a long time, if in fact "popping hydrogen atoms" turns out to be a justified theory sometime in the future.
Saying that it was God who caused the popping of hydrogen atoms begs two questions: 1) for what purpose God would cause such a thing, or admitting that no human could ever know that answer; and 2) how can this discussion continue between us if God is the automatic answer to everything? more

CAIR Files FEC Complaint

from "Act for America"
The commentary below, from Jihad Watch, discusses the Federal Election Commission complaint that has been filed by CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations). CAIR has filed the complaint alleging that the national distribution this month of the film “Obsession” is an Israeli plot to help get John McCain elected president. In other words, CAIR is using a government agency to try to punish the free speech rights of those who would distribute this must-see film. As far as we can gather, there is no “vote for McCain” messages, either explicitly or implicitly, attached or connected to the distribution. Given the timing of the distribution, it would appear that it was intended to coincide with the 7th anniversary of 9/11. This is not the first action CAIR has taken in its ongoing efforts to suppress our cherished right to free speech. What is most telling is CAIR’s “obsession” with shutting down any speech that would let the American people see the truth about radical Islam. from Act for America" more

Publishing Note Re: Reader Comments

Comments can now be made at the end of the full article, after clicking "more" at the end of each abbreviated article.


The Free Assemblage of Metaphysical Naturalists is the sm of the
Academy of Metaphysical Naturalism tm, the educational arm of the Assemblage.
© 2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Single Sex Education; T.Boon Pickens--Is He for Big Government?

Single-Sex Classrooms are Anti-Discriminatory,
Anti-Stereotypical, Science-Based
If scientific naturalism means accepting the conclusions of science, ala heliocentricity, then it means accepting those conclusions when they are of the science of human anatomy and psychology.

"Galileo, Darwin and Pasteur, the standard examples of the persecution to which innovators are subjected..." http://www.varchive.org/ce/accept.htm
When it was discovered irrefutably that men and women of the same weight handled alcohol differently, that women got drunk as fast as those weight-equal men on half the amount of alcohol, women's-issues advocates cried foul.

Those women's-issues advocates are the "new conservatives" if by conservativism we mean conserving that which is accepted as conventional wisdom because it is socially accepted as true by a majority of people, or at least by people with power. Women's-rights advocates were often morally correct in their time, as it was was usually obvious by direct observation how women were treated differently; consigning all girls to take home economics; preventing them from playing certain sports on the organized school level; comparing the "feminine" to the "masculine" woman and using the "feminine" as the standard to which all women should seek to attain; etc. Many differences in the treatment of females, treatement that held them back or stereotyped them, were obvious.

But it was social-based logic and was devoid of science. It had it merits because discrimination against girls and women was obvious to reason. The science of the brain, when it comes to dividing the genders, is not obvious. But we don't put bras on boys; why do we force them to learn like girls, who do better in groups in classrooms, according to evidence? We dont put the same physical demands on girls, so why should they be forced to act in an academic setting like boys? Boys think better on their feet at certain ages, moving, using their muscles, getting the adreneline flowing. It keeps their attention on the subject.

"The Supreme Court had upheld a series of laws that treated women differently from men--for example, by preventing women from working as bartenders or lawyers under the rationale that women, as members of 'the gentler sex,' were in need of special protection from life's hardships. [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg believed that such sex stereotyping, although ostensibly benign, demeaned women and unfairly limited their opportunities. In her view, the equal protection principle stated in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on race, should bar gender-based discrimination as well. But in the 1960s and early 1970s, Ginsburg found that promoting this viewpoint was an uphill battle. As she recalled at her confirmation hearings: 'Race discrimination was immediately perceived as evil, odious, and intolerable. But the response I got when I talked about sex-based discrimination was "What are you talking about? Women are treated ever so much better than men." I was talking to an audience that thought . . . I was somehow critical about the way they treated their wives ... [and] their daughters.'"

But this is not what gender schooling is about. "What is right for the brain of a 6-year old girl is not necessarily right for the brain of a 6-year old boy," said the author of "Why Gender Matters," Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, and this applies to genders older than 6. Sax was using just one age group as an example. What is now called "gender discrimination" by the critics of gender-based education is not the same as what Justice Ginsburg was fighting.

If this testemonial from the webpage of the author of the book does not make clear what some women do not understand about males, then I don't know what testimonial would:

"I simply will never be able to express how eye-opening this book has been for me. Yes me -- even though I thought I was a boy-raising specialist. After all, I have produced four healthy and smart athletes. I must know what I'm doing. But many of my boy-raising days I thought I was going mad. I'd come home from some sports event trembling because of the way the coach yelled at my kid. I'd ask my husband and whichever son it happened to be that day how they could stand being yelled at like that. Almost every time husband and son would look at me and not have any recollection of being yelled at during the game. Now I understand!!!!!!!!!" -Janet Phillips, mother of four boys, Seneca, Maryland

Or this critique from a man:

"I think [Dr.] Sax is on to something. Mature men and women do draw on qualities that stereotypically belong to the opposite sex. But the easiest way to get them to that point is to first make them confident about being a man or a woman. . . Sax adds that children are less happy and confident nowadays because no one is teaching them how to be men and women." Stanley Kurtz, National Review Online.

Or this:

"When I was a college freshman, a male teaching assistant I sought help from told me matter-of-factly that women were not good at inorganic chemistry. Had I been armed with Why Gender Matters, about how biological differences between the sexes can influence learning and behavior, I could have managed an informed rejoinder to go along with my shocked expression. . . ."

It isn't equal opportunity for boys if they are forced to learn in a manner not built for the psychology of a boy's mind. It isn't equal opportunity for a girl who is forced to learn by competing with boys in ways that female brains don't work well in. Each sex is as equally capable of learning the same things as the other; it is in the methods that the differences create equality.

But in April of this year, "the ACLU of Georgia requested that the school district make public any and all plans to segregate Greene County schools by sex [adding that] 'the programs Greene County presented [are] unlawful because they deny boys and girls equal opportunity,' said Chara Jackson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia..."

"Americans have long since learned that separate is not equal when it comes to educating our young people," said Jeffrey Gamso, legal director of the Ohio ACLU. "This is a throw-it-up-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-will-stick situation." http://blog.cleveland.com/pdextra/2007/12/aclu_against_samesex_schools.html

But it is equal when the needs are different. Activia advertising is aimed a women; there are no men in those commercials. STOP IT! Viagra ads are aimed at men; STOP IT! If we acknowledge our bodies are different, then we must acknowledge that the brains in those bodies are different. If the brains are different, the psychological makeup of the mind will be different.

What is difficult to understand in the role of the ACLU as the opposition to gender-based education, is that it not only comprehends but defends such gender-based issues on other subjects.

So on the one hand the ACLU expects American law to allow bias in favor of those who claim they are psychologically built differently; on the other hand they want to prevent that same bias when science says the two basic genders themselves are psychologically different.

"Students are celebrating today after last night’s decision by the Nashville school board to protect students and school employees from gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination."

In the ACLU Letter to the Department of Education on Single-Sex Proposed Regulations Comments the organization says "proposed regulations threaten to reverse years of progress, undermine existing protections against sex discrimination, violate legal guarantees of equality, and encourage school districts to provide educational programs that are inherently unequal."

They can't have their cake and eat it too, but to be fair, the ACLU is not the only critic of single-sex education. But where is the "violation of equality" when a girl's psychology is recognized as being as different from that of a boy as her shoe size is? Where is the "sex discrimination" when boys and girls are given better opportunities to use their minds because they are separated?

Girls in TV shows produced on this subject have claimed--happily--that they were happier learning without the boys around and that it was easier to learn. Boys made similar comments.

If test scores prove that single-sex education is better, then it is blatant discrimination against the genders to force them to learn in an environment that is not made for their genders.

Don't force the boys into feminine psychological settings when it comes to learning; and don't force girls into aggressive male-oriented psychological education.

Separate-but-equal is not discrimination against; it is discrimination for, and that discrimination is based on a growing volume of science. It is not the type of discrimination that Ginsburg and others--including some men--fought against. It is not a form of stereotyping. It is undoing the stereotyping of believing that boys and girls learn the same way, in the same settings, at the same speed. CEC

Is T. Boone Pickens for Bigger Government?

It seems I was wrong about T. Boone Pickins being all for capitalism and keeping government out of the market. "WE Demand", Bad Science, and Socialism Disguised as "Political Will"

The T. Boone Pickens' Energy Independence Plan has nothing behind it yet but empty words. In is called "An economic revival for rural America," and in total it reads:

"The Pickens Plan is a bridge to the future — a blueprint to reduce foreign oil dependence by harnessing domestic energy alternatives, and buy us time to develop even greater new technologies.
"Building new wind generation facilities and better utilizing our natural gas resources can replace more than one-third of our foreign oil imports in 10 years. But it will take leadership.
On January 20th, 2009, a new President will take office.
We're organizing behind the Pickens Plan now to ensure our voices will be heard by the next administration.
"Together we can raise a call for change and set a new course for America's energy future in the first hundred days of the new presidency — breaking the hammerlock of foreign oil and building a new domestic energy future for America with a focus on sustainability.
You can start changing America's future today by supporting the Pickens Plan."

In effect, this makes it sound as if Pickens, perhaps America's best known "oil man," is calling for government interference in the working of the energy market. And the "Pickens' Pledge" saying, "Today we can announce 17 Members of Congress have signed on!" "http://www.pickensplan.com/news/2008/09/23/pickens-pledge-avalanche/?tr=y&auid=4047163 only makes those 17 look like big-government interference-spenders in the private sector. The "Pledge" is not even in a cut-and-paste format, so you have to go see for yourself how devoid of any real "planning" it is. http://www.pickensplan.com/thepledge/

While I do not disagree that America must lower its deep dependence on imported oil, and probably must use wind and natural gas as Pickens says it does (he's the expert, not me,) this call for independence does not require "leadership" if that "leadership" means giving billions of taxpayer dollars--as Obama is calling for--to "investors."

Pickens himself has proved it is not necessary, that capitalistic enterprise alone can do it. Pickens' own website says it best:

"Developing wind power is an investment in rural America.
To witness the economic promise of wind energy, look no further than Sweetwater, Texas.
Sweetwater was typical of many small towns in middle-America. With a shortage of good jobs, the youth of Sweetwater were leaving in search of greater opportunities. And the town's population dropped from 12,000 to under 10,000.
When a large wind power facility was built outside of town, Sweetwater experienced a revival. New economic opportunity brought the town back to life and the population has grown back up to 12,000.
In the Texas panhandle, just north of Sweetwater, is the town of Pampa, where T. Boone Pickens' Mesa Power
is currently building the largest wind farm in the world.
In addition to creating new construction and maintenance jobs, thousands of Americans will be employed to manufacture the turbines and blades. These are high skill jobs that pay on a scale comparable to aerospace jobs."

If Pickens can do this on his own, if Warren Buffet can invest $5 billion into one bank, if other rich capitalists can put their money here and there, then why are they not doing what Pickens is doing in energy?

The "leadership" needed in Washington is the leadership to get out of the way by reducing government interference where it exists, where it prevents greater investment by either capitalists or by people like you and I.

Do you know you can put up a wind turbine--expensive yes, but you can do it--and the energy companies are required by law to buy back whatever energy you don't use within your own household? That is a strikingly good law, since the power companies are government-allowed monopolies in the first place.

How about leadership that makes it easy for neighborhood cooperatives to put up a few turbines and run the neighborhood at lower costs than buying from the big company, while selling back the surplus?

Why does every plan for "leadership" require making government bigger and spending the taxpayer dollar for the plans they "guarantee" will make energy cheaper for us in the long run? Who cares about the long run if we have to pay upfront for plans put into operation by the government-allowed monopolies that are set up for the purpose of using our tax dollars?

If the Pickens' Plan does not require using government money, but only requires getting goverment out of the way where it may be in the way, why doesn't Pickens tell us this? "Leadership" without definition always means tax-and-spend. "Leadership" properly defined in a free market nation means letting the free market work.

Pickens is making it work. He's putting thousands of people to work. He reducing his own community's dependence on energy generated by natural gas.

Why can't other rich people be convinced to do that same? That, Mr. Pickens, is real leadership, and it is what you yourself ought to be doing since you are proving to be the expert.

Mr. Pickens, your plan and your pledge have meat on them, and it seems to be the meat off the backs of the already bankrupted American taxpayer.

But if the new law President Bush and the Fed and the Treasury department want is passed, none of this will matter, because the Fed and the Treasury dept. will absolute power to rule your pocketbook and no court in the land and not even Congress will be able to stop it. [See The Last Nail in the American Fascist Takeover.]

And if the Fed and Treasury come to have this absolute power, then Atlas might as well shrug right now, wave goodbye, and leave us all to the moral darkness that no amount of natural gas or wind power can alleviate. CEC

Publishing Note Re: Reader Comments

I have made the attempt several times to allow the posting of reader comments to this blog. I have followed all the directions set by Google (yes, I've read the directions, several times,) but as of yet it isn't working. If you wish to comment, please email them to the address below. If you know how I can fix this, please email.
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© 2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Atheist Survival and Recovery in God-driven Alcoholics Anonymous

How Does An Atheist Navigate Alcoholics Anonymous?
Part I
You Vs. Theists
I have decided to publish online the efforts I have gone to, and the thoughts I have to deal with as an atheist in the A.A. program, because it is most definitely a "god" and "spirituality" based program.

It's rather easy to be an atheist in A.A., actually, without compromising your principles. The most difficult part would be to find yourself in a group that does not accept your atheism and one way or another tries to convert you. The A.A. so-called Big Book, which is actually called "Alcoholics Anonymous," does at at times seem to make that attempt at winning us over.

But in the end, it does have enough leeway in the way it operates, so that even a die-hard, no-nonsense, there-is-nothing-supernatural-in-the-universe kind of guy like me can come to enjoy the sobriety and the peace of mind and the serenity, not to mention what the Big Book describes as "a new freedom and a new happiness."

Theists don't frighten me. Why should they? They have their beliefs, and I have mine, or none at all, which ever way you wish to see it. Some atheists say they "believe no god exists"; some atheists say they "don't believe a god exists"; some of us say other things. But it all comes down to the idea that the other members of A.A. are going to talk about the "God of their understanding." Even for some theists, the "power greater than themselves," in which they must find the strength to stay sober, starts out as nothing more than a belief in the power of the group itself to help to them.

That is what the A.A. program offers--the place to find the power to stay sober--and so there are Catholics sitting next to Mormons sitting next to Southern Babtists sitting next to New-Agers, Buddhists, Unitarians, and me. As of yet I have found no resistance to my atheism, and my "home group" is more than happy to listen when it is my turn to speak. If you find yourself in an intolerant group, find another group. If there is no other group in your area, there are A.A. chat rooms online. An intolerant group is not the group that A.A.'s founders would have approved of.

You see, when it comes to speaking and listening to other members in an A.A. group, the unwritten rule is, "Take what you need and leave the rest." We say it all the time. In practice this means that you listen to people speak, and you pick up on what they say that comes close to your own experience. From this "taking" you are able to think about your own situation and whether you would handle it like that person said he/she did. Other speaker's stories may be so unlike your own and unlike the drunken life that you lived, that you have no choice but to "leave" what they say at that table; what that speaker offered had nothing to offer you.

Listening for similarities is what the listening is for, not for finding differences. No one in A.A. ought to criticize another member for anything he/she did or said. It isn't your business. Your business is none of their business--except to listen and learn. If your business is anybody's business, it is the business of your sponsor, and you should find a sponsor right away, even if you "fire" him/her after one meeting. I learn so much from theists that I'm grateful they are at the tables; I just don't "take" their god perspective; I leave it at the tables.

If, as an atheist who is telling his/her story at the A.A. meetings you find resistance, ask yourself if perhaps it is because you didn't have the sense not to criticize the "god" part of their program. You don't want them to criticize your atheism; don't denounce their theism and your resistance to it. I actually think many of the people I attend meetings with learn from the things I have to say. I know they thank me for speaking, and many are my friends.

My own sponsor is not an atheist. He doesn't have to be. He is a "free thinker" who accepts that whatever a person chooses for himself is best for that person. But on the book bag he has, which is filled with his A.A. approved literature, he has a sign that says, "In case of emergency, please contact God." But one of my previous sponsers was very religious; yet he accepted my atheism and worked with me anyway.

The only way you might not make it in A.A. as an atheist is if you are "reductive." Reductivism is a way of thinking that is accepted by many naturalists, most of whom are atheists. Reductivism says that we have no soul or spirit as something that can speak to us, that we can use as a sounding board within our consciousness, and that "seems" to have a life of its own.

Well, actually the reductivist admits that that is exactly the problem: the soul "seems" to exist, we can feel it and experience it, but it isn't real, they say. It's just a "twitch" in our emotional center that is caused by chemicals and electricity in the brain, and in the body. It "seems" to have a life of its own, but reductivists won't admit it is anything more than a "twitch," because to admit that it is more than a twitch is, in their estimation, the same as admitting that it is transcendental, in other words, that it supernaturally manifests itself.

There are all sorts of naturalists. I'm a metaphysical naturalist, which means I don't believe anything is supernatural. That is what makes me an atheist. But some naturalists believe in some supernatural things. Some even believe gods exists; they just don't believe in the gods. And some naturalists believe in god. It's confusing even for we who call ourselves naturalists. The bottom line is, you can be an atheist and still believe the soul is a wonderful expression of your consciousness, and that it is something you can use in that "spiritual" quest that all A.A.er must seek, myself included. I love the spiritual quest, but when I die, my spirit dies with me.

Admitting the soul exists as a thing that tells us about ourselves, that tells us when we hurt or when we are ecstatically happy, is not the same as admitting it is transcendental, eternal, everlasting. It doesn't mean that at all.

I believe there is a power greater than myself, because obviously it made me and I did not make it. Thomas Jefferson, who believed in God, still believed that what held the universe together and made it work was not the direct hand of God, but "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God." Those Renaissance men used to capitalize all the words that had importance in a sentence, and so Jefferson capitalized Nature to make it equal with God.

Jefferson didn't know what God was anymore than anyone else does, although he and his Deist friends who founded America thought God was supernatural. Still, not knowing exactly what God was but believing He existed, they were naturalists--because they believed that God, whatever He was, created Nature and then let Nature take over. God sits back and watches, and keeps his hands off, never interfering in the affairs of Man, because He gave man Reason for the very purpose of controlling his own affairs.

So for an atheist "god" can be those laws of nature which are obviously there, like gravity. Isn't gravity a power greater than you are? If you want to escape gravity, you have to learn how. You can't just jump in the air and go floating into space.

An atheist author wrote that it is impossible to hear a man's voice over the distance of 240,000 miles; and yet, she wrote, we heard the astronauts speaking to us from the moon. We learned to command nature, but we cannot change nature; we created radio waves and receivers, but it's still just as impossible to hear a man's voice over 240,000 miles. That is a power greater than any man can overcome.

And so it our Reason we must use to navigate the tricky twists and curves of being atheist in a god-based group. But there are very good reasons for navigating those waters.

1) You receive the "Promises," which are officially described, in part, as:

"a new freedom and a new happiness;" a loss of regret over things we may have done or said in the past; that "we will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace"; that "that feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear"; that "our whole attitude and outlook on life will change" for the better; and "we will intuitively know how to handle things which used to baffle us. [These promises] are being fulfilled among us--sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."

I added the emphasis at the end of that because it must be understood that these things don't come just by showing up at A.A. meetings and listening and talking. You have to work for them, you have to go "into action," which is name of a chapter in the Book. That is why it is important to find someone you can work with on a one-to-one basis. That person is who you can call your sponsor, even if you find another sponsor next week.

Don't let the "god" part of A.A. deter you from using the program selfishly. "The principles we have set down are guides to progress." [italics added]

"We are not saints. Do not be discouraged.
Half measures availed us nothing. Without help it is too much for us.

"But there exists among us a a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. We are people who would not normally mix. We are average Americans.

"The tremendous fact for every one of us [in A.A.] is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism."

Those paragraphs were mixed and matched from different pages and chapters of the Big Book. But that is how each of us must learn to do it. People at meetings who quote the books flip back and forth between pages and books all the time, taking what they need and leaving the rest.

"If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps"; and one of these steps is putting up with a program based on god while you look for your answers that are devoid of god.

In the meantime you will have that fellowship, and those promises will come true if you work for them.

And oh yes, about 1) listed above. Where are the rest of the reasons for navigating the god-waters of A.A.? Well first, ask if all those reasons listed under 1) are not a good start. But then ask yourself if you "want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it." Any length, that is, that does not deny your own beliefs. No person who believes the "Rapture" is coming next year will try to convert a Unitarian; and no Babtist will try to convert a Coptic. No one of any religious faith asks another person of another faith to deny his or her own religious beliefs.

If you are willing, that is the best reason for navigating the waters. Don't be afraid of the theists and their talk of god, because when you open your mouth and speak of how you are finding this-way and that-way of attaining those "principles" which are really only "guides," and you show that you are finding them through something someone said and through something, anything, that you found in the books, then you, and they, will know that the program they put so much faith into even works for we atheists.

For Part II Click Here more

For some outside perspectives, read the Comments on the link below.


Publishing Note Re: Reader Comments
I have made the attempt several times to allow the posting of reader comments to this blog. I have followed all the directions set by Google (yes, I've read the directions, several times,) but as of yet it isn't working. If you wish to comment, please email them to the address below. If you know how I can fix this, please email. Thank you.



The Free Assemblage of Metaphysical Naturalists is the sm of the

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© 2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Last Nail in the American Fascist Takeover

You Are Losing the Right to Challenge Fed Policy In the Courts of America
Naturalism is a way of thinking, an epistemic "modus operandi." Alone, it is not a strict philosophical system, as is evident by the many variation of naturalism. But the one thing all variations have is the justification for seeing natural laws in all things, and humans are no exception. We too operate by natural law, but natural law for humans is more than following our biological and environmental influences to their ends.

Natural law for humans is following reason and free will to its natural ends, overcoming where necessary the influences of biology and environment, and whatever else may not be of the will and/or of reason.

Economics is necessary to human nature. The first person in history to exchange in barter one thing for another created the field of economics, and it had to happen. It was only a matter of time before money had to be created, because bartering means you must have possession of the item that someone else wants in order to get what he wants. Money, when its standard is accepted, is much easier to carry in your pocket or purse than a chicken.

Capitalism is the economic form proper to naturalism because it requires no coercion, works automatically when left alone, and creates wealth which is distributed within a civilization by the simple means of: "He who has capital exchanges it for material or services owned or provided by someone else, of which material or services he needs or desires, but does not purchase for altruistic ends."

Rational egoism, not altruism, is naturalistic human nature in the field of psychology. Capitalism is the naturalistic psychological desire on the part of egoism to want to be fair in economics. Any form of economics that is not laissez faire is less than the fairness demanded by rational egoism. That automatically defines capitalism as the rational psychology of dealing fairly with other humans in the field of economics.

The following is not fair:
Not only has the U.S Treasury Department "included foreign banks into this crazy scheme [to save Wall Street] but they've also included this gem in section 8:
'Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are
non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.'"

By what Article of the Constitution is the Congress permitted to extend to any function of the Federal Government the unsupervised authority, unreviewable by any Court in the land, to act in the manner of a fascist regime and dictate all the the elements of economics by which an economy must operate?

Bush and Paulson are acting in the manner of fascist economic tyrants. Do you think "fascist" is over-reaching or reactionary? Here is the definition:
"In economics, fascism [is] seen as a third way between laissez-faire capitalism and communism. Fascist thought acknowledge[s] the roles of private property and the profit motive as legitimate incentives for productivity—provided that they did not conflict with the interests of the state." [italics added] http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html

To that I should add a huge exclamation point, but by adding it I am admitting my dismay that anyone could think such economic "middle ground" "acknowledges the role of private property." It certainly does not. If private property was properly acknowledged, such legislation would not put a gun in the hands of Paulson and his department.

Why do I say the Treasury Department and the Fed would have guns in their hands? Because "the word fascism comes from the Latin fasces, meaning a bundle of rods with an axe in it."

This "bundle of rods with an axe in it" was used to initiate force against other persons, specifically for the purpose of preventing dissention and for bringing the form of "order" that was desired and acceptable to those wielding the fasces.

Mirriam-Webster Online defines fascism as "a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control" and indicates "instances of army fascism and brutality."
Still another source says of fascism that it "rejects the liberal doctrines of individual autonomy and rights, political pluralism, and representative government..." [italics added.] http://www.publiceye.org/eyes/whatfasc.html

This rejection of individual sovereignty with its inherent rights to act in its own best regard by the just qualities of non-coercive capitalism, this rejection of political pluralism and representative government, is the complete description of the epistemic roots of fascism.
While that description does not cover all the methods used to implement such rejection, the wielding of a fasces in the ancient world is replaced by the gun in our world. Who ever thinks he will operate outside the sphere of total government control is he who will not be prosecuted but summarily fined or jailed without any recourse to the courts.

The only honest appraisal I found of what is going on epistemically was from a left-wing blogger who wrote:
"Even if nothing good comes out of the Bush administration's proposed $700 billion intervention in the mortgage crisis, maybe we can get U.S. economic leaders to stop pretending they're capitalists. Capitalists who expect the government to bail them out when the economic roller-coaster they've been pillaging runs off the track, as it inevitably must, are not capitalists -- they're beggars looking for a handout from the same hand they've been biting for years. That the supposedly laissez-faire Bush administration has to ask Congress to rescue the financial system is a humiliation and a repudiation of decades of Republican Party economics. Where were the market 'corrections' to prevent the meltdown?" [italics added] http://viewsfromtheleftcoast.blogspot.com/

The dog-eat-dog lobbyists have finally gotten what they deserved. But the American public deserved better. The American public deserved the protection of the government against such dog-eat-dog lobbying and policies and legislation and court reviews.

Now it seems, if this legislation before Congress is passed with Section 8 intact, [see above] then no court in the land will have the jurisdiction to arbitrate and judge this new economic fascism. The American people will have lost, capitalism will have lost, justice will have lost, and we might as well all go out and get our own fasces and use them against the government officials who use them against us.

As I recall, self-protection is still a right in this country.

For another perspective on this subject, titled:
Welcome to the final stages of the coup...
Please click on the linked title above.

Yesterday's Academy Post Turns Into Today's American Headline: "The Jihad Prevention Act"

Sharia Law in Britannia

"Dear Curtis, Last week we learned that Islamic sharia law is now being followed in numerous cities in Great Britain, enforced by sharia courts. News reports indicate as many as 100 cases have been heard in such courts. Thus continues the tragic saga of Great Britain’s capitulation to militant Islam. The good news is that here in America the threat of sharia law is gradually getting the attention of more and more elected representatives. The latest illustration of this is the report below, carried on the “Muslims Against Sharia” website, that Congressman Tom Tancredo has proposed legislation called the “Jihad Prevention Act.” However, because Congress is trying to wrap up its business for this year, coupled with the fact that it is trying to grapple with the financial sector meltdown, it is a virtual certainty that Congress will not take up Tancredo’s legislation this year. But every time someone like Congressman Tancredo introduces legislation, or Congresswoman Sue Myrick puts forth a plan to “wake up America” to the threat of radical Islam, progress is being made. Progress is being made!" http://www.actforamerica.org/index.php/learn/recent-news

Tancredo Proposes Anti-Sharia Measure in Wake of U.K. Certification of Islamic Courts “Jihad Prevention Act” would deny U.S. visas to advocates of ‘Sharia’ law, expel Islamists already here WASHINGTON, DC – Amid disturbing revelations that the verdicts of Islamic Sharia courts are now legally binding in civil cases in the United Kingdom, U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Littleton) moved quickly today to introduce legislation designed to protect the United States from a similar fate. According to recent news reports, a new network of Sharia courts in a half-dozen major cities in the U.K. have been empowered under British law to adjudicate a wide variety of legal cases ranging from divorces and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

“This is a case where truth is truly stranger than fiction,” said Tancredo. “Today the British people are learning a hard lesson about the consequences of massive, unrestricted immigration.” Sharia law, favored by Muslim extremists around the world, often calls for brutal punishment – such as the stoning of women who are accused of adultery or have children out of wedlock, cutting off the hands of petty thieves and lashings for the casual consumption of alcohol. Under Sharia law, a woman is often required to provide numerous witnesses to prove rape allegations against an assailant – a near impossible task.

“When you have an immigration policy that allows for the importation of millions of radical Muslims, you are also importing their radical ideology – an ideology that is fundamentally hostile to the foundations of western democracy – such as gender equality, pluralism, and individual liberty,” said Tancredo. “The best way to safeguard America against the importation of the destructive effects of this poisonous ideology is to prevent its purveyors from coming here in the first place.”

Tancredo’s bill, dubbed the “Jihad Prevention Act,” would bar the entry of foreign nationals who advocate Sharia law. In addition, the legislation would make the advocacy of Sharia law by radical Muslims already in the United States a deportable offense. Tancredo pointed to the results of a recent poll conducted by the Centre for Social Cohesion as evidence that the U.S. should act to prevent the situation in Great Britain from replicating itself here in the United States. The poll found that some 40 percent of Muslim students in the United Kingdom support the introduction of Sharia law there, and 33 percent support the imposition of an Islamic Sharia-based government worldwide.

“We need to send a clear message that the only law we recognize here in America is the U.S. Constitution and the laws passed by our democratically elected representatives,” concluded Tancredo. “If you aren’t comfortable with that concept, you aren’t welcome in the United States.”

Publishing Note Re: Reader Comments
I have made the attempt several times to allow the posting of reader comments to this blog. I have followed all the directions set by Google (yes, I've read the directions, several times,) but as of yet it isn't working. If you wish to comment, please email them to the address below. If you know how I can fix this, please email. Thank you.
The Free Assemblage of Metaphysical Naturalists is the sm of the
Academy of Metaphysical Naturalism tm, the educational arm of the Assemblage.
© 2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®