Looking Back in Horror at 9/11

The horrible date has come again, the 16th  anniversary of the cowardly attacks on the World Trade Center by a handful of hate-filled religious maniacs.

I am once again reprinting my blog of remembrances of the sickening and inspiring –events of that day, as someone who was trapped in midtown Manhattan at the time. We must never forget…

I was awakened by an airplane early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. No, it wasn’t one of those jets; it was just a passing low-flying plane, the kind that zoom toward Westchester County Airport all the time. It was before my alarm was supposed to sound, so I tried to get another 15 minutes of sleep. When I did finally get up and venture outside to drive to the train station, I distinctly remember marveling at what a beautiful day it was: The sky was clear and such an amazing deep blue that I actually noticed it. The temperature was comfortable, with a light breeze, and I was sorry that I would have to spend such a gorgeous late-summer day in an office in Manhattan. I actually thought it was one of the most beautiful days of the year. How wrong I was…

The train I used to take arrived at Grand Central Terminal every morning at 8:35. With time before my shift started at Soap Opera Weekly magazine, I strolled through GCT, browsing the magazine racks or somesuch. Around 8:55, I realized I had lollygagged a little too long, and I had to get to the office. When I stepped out onto 42nd Street, I saw a gaggle of police officers – both street patrolmen and bicycle cops wearing shorts. They were talking animatedly. Suddenly a van pulled up and several of the bicycle cops clambered in the van. I remember the van pulling away while one guy was still trying to jump in. The uniformed patrolmen jumped into cars, and all the vehicles took off, lights flashing and sirens wailing. I had paused to watch all this action and wondered what was up. Over the ensuing decade, I have often wondered how many of those brave officers I saw rushing to help survived that day.
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AMC Officially Orders PREACHER To Series

dominic-cooper2So last week, when Seth Rogan tweeted that PREACHER promo, it turns out he did it because AMC officially picked up the series — but he forgot to explicitly mention that. Way to promote your show, Mr. Executive Producer!

Rogen is exec-producing the 10-episode series with Evan Goldberg (This Is the End), and it is expected to bow in mid-2016.

The show’s official synopsis describes it thusly:

PREACHER centers on Rev. Jesse Custer (AGENT CARTER’s Dominic Cooper), a conflicted Texas minister who merges with a spiritual force called Genesis — making him more mighty than the Almighty. Joined by his gun-toting girlfriend Tulip (AGENTS OF SHIELD‘s Ruth Negga) and the hard-drinking Irish vampire Cassidy (MISFITS‘ Joseph Gilgun), Custer begins a violent journey across the country in search of answers from a disenfranchised God. Lucy Griffiths (TRUE BOOD) also stars.
Preacher, which received a 10-episode order, is expected to debut in mid-2016.

Coloring Outside the Lines — With Satan!

satancoloringMeet the newest hero of the First Amendment: a coloring book.

More accurately, The Satanic Children’s BIG BOOK of Activities.

The children’s amusement book was balanced against the Bible in a pitched battle in Florida’s Orange County school district — and made the book some consider holy back down.

In honor of Religious Freedom Day in January, the school district had regularly allowed the Christian group World Changers to distribute Bibles to students. (The board allowed the Central Florida Freethought Community to hand out atheist materials last year after the group won a lawsuit.) But when The Satanic Temple wanted to hand out coloring books, the school district delayed Religious Freedom Day in order to rethink its policy.
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Kate Mulgrew Denounces Geocentrist Documentary

mulgrewFormer STAR TREK: VOYAGER star Kate Mulgrew took a lot of flak recently for narrating a purported documentary that supports the long-discredited and demonstrably false idea of geocentrism: the belief that the Earth is the center of the universe. Even worse, the creationist-geocentrist garbage doc was produced by notorious Holocaust denier Robert Sungenis, who runs a fringe-Christian ministry out on the edge of sanity.

But Mulgrew has finally come out against the crackpot documentary — which I refuse to name because the lunatic fringe does not deserve any more free publicity — denouncing it for being… well, garbage:

“I understand there has been some controversy about my participation in a documentary called The Principle. Let me assure everyone that I completely agree with the eminent physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was himself misrepresented in the film, and who has written a succinct rebuttal in SLATE. I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism. More importantly, I do not subscribe to anything Robert Sungenis has written regarding science and history and, had I known of his involvement, would most certainly have avoided this documentary. I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that. I apologize for any confusion that my voice on this trailer may have caused. Kate Mulgrew”

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Is DOCTOR WHO a religion?

Of course it is! Well, to some people.

But we’re not talking about mere slavish devotion to, and willingness to move mountains for, a TV show. To be serious for a moment, I know any number of completely devoted fans of the Doctor (me among them), but not one actually believes the Time Lord is a real lord in heaven.

Meet Mike Rugnetta of PBS’ Idea Channel, who makes a shockingly convincing case that “Whovians” might be the unrecognized congregation of a new religion dubbed “Whovianism.” Prepare to have your eyes opened:

See what I mean? He almost had me going. And while I agree with what a lot of what Mike says, Whovianism is lacking in that vital area that makes a religion different from a philosophy: belief.

With a true religion, whether the central deity of your religion is fictional or not, what matters is that the god’s followers believe it’s real. Belief is what matters to a religion, and belief doesn’t have to be rational. If you believe you’re reading this blog on a shiny plate held and animated by angels (or demons), no amount of proof will persuade you otherwise, because you’re not operating on facts and evidence; you’re taking a flier on chaps with wings.

It’s the same with the tens of thousands of folks who registered their religion as “Jedi” on census forms in the United Kingdom and elsewhere: They’d have to believe the Force is real in order for Jediism to be classified as a real religion. If you just think a TV show or movie has good ideas and a rational framework for organizing one’s life, that’s a philosophy. Which is terrific. It’s good to have a philosophy, and the Doctor’s passion for  intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism is a fine one.

I know the Doctor isn’t real. I just wish he were…

Bill Nye Resists Holy War on Science

We’ve all heard the numbers — so often that it sometimes feels numbing: The United States ranked 25th in math and 17th in science in a ranking of 31 countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The U.S. led the world in high school and college graduation rates 25 years ago; today, the U.S. ranks 20th and 16th, respectively. At this point, it’s no longer about leading the global rankings; it’s about not slipping further behind.

So along comes Bill Nye, known to legions of children as “Bill Nye, the Science Guy,” and he makes a calm, reasonable, common-sense case for teaching children about science and reason, pointing out the challenges our country faces — and the advantages of having a scientifically literate populace to respond to those challenges.

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Cee Lo Still Doesn’t Get It

Why did Cee Lo Green think it was necessary to spit in John Lennon’s face and then rub salt in the wounds of his fans?

For a guy who’s supposed to be some kind of modern musical guru, Cee Lo just doesn’t get it, does he? It was bad enough that he decided to change the lyrics of Lennon’s classic song “Imagine,” but then he had to try to make people believe it was an innocent attempt to amplify Lennon’s song? This guy thinks he’s qualified to rewrite Lennon?

In case you missed the firestorm, Cee Lo was performing on NBC’s New Year’s Eve program from Times Square where, he debuted his rewritten version of the song “Imagine.” Instead of crooning “Nothing to kill or die for/ and no religion too,” he altered the line to “Nothing to kill or die for/ and all religion’s true.”
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