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      Quantitative Easing, to put it simply, no matter what form you do it in, is only marginally effective. Most of the money goes to the rich, you may or may not get a technical win in GDP, and in many cases the money may flow out of the country. If you want to improve the [...]
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Ghost Stories

I listen to a variety of podcasts.  Yes, my best beloveds, you would be surprised at the wide range of podcasts I listen to.  One of my favorite podcast hosts is Seth Andrews over at The Thinking Atheist.  He’s got one of the best non-consensus reality podcasts out there.  You don’t have to be an atheist to enjoy it.  Plus, he’s got the best voice in the podcast universe.

Every year at about Halloween, he does a special Ghost Story episode.  This year doesn’t disappoint.  The “Two sentence ghost stories” that are included in this year’s episode truly freaked me out.  Seth shows that even atheists are people who like a good story – and traditional holidays – just like everyone else.

So, get your hot chocolate, turn down the lights and gather round your computer for The Thinking Atheist Podcast Ghost Stories 2014.  Bwahahahahahahhhhhhh!

And if you liked that, check out:

TTA Ghost Stories 2013

TTA Ghost Stories 2012

No, no, don’t thank me.  Thank Seth.

More on religion

The Publican and the Pharisee

My post on religious narcissism is getting a lot of hits.  The hits come and go.  It’s clearly hit a nerve probably because it feels truthy.  But I’m not the only one who has made the connection between some religious people and narcissism.  And I’m not condemning all religious people, not by a long shot.  I have no problem with those people who know their boundaries and can coexist peacefully without insisting on sticking their beliefs into our heads.  I’ve long been a proponent of God 2.0, that is, a new kind of experience that is independent of bronze age mythology.  In other words, god needs a rewrite and a makeover but I can live with the metaphorically minded in the meantime.

We can not rule out the possibility that the right, seeing a potential push back against their ramming religion down our throats, is going to fight dirty.  I’m not Frank Luntz or Karl Rove and I am not employed by Fox News (or I would be a lot wealthier right now) so I can’t tell what form their coming attack is going to take but I’m pretty sure that there are agents out there combing the blogs looking for trigger words and memes. I’m not being paranoid or inflating my influence.  It’s just something they do and they wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t scour political and cultural blogs for potent memes.  It happened in 2008 and it’s going to happen more and more leading up to the 2014 and 2016 elections.  There’s a lot at stake.

This meme has legs so I expect them to start conjuring a response.  No one likes to be called a narcissist, even if they only think that it has something to do with vanity while they miss the bigger personality disorder.  It might put the religious off their kibble if they start looking undesirable or if they start to sense that the rest of us are on to them.  It could trigger narcissistic rage, which is Bill O’Reilly’s forte, or it could mean that the rest of us can gain a toehold to resist them.  They’re not going to like it in any case so I’d keep my eyes and ears open for a response.

I’m trying to put together a post that explains how to deal with people with narcissistic personality disorder but it’s not an easy one to write because there is no magic bullet that will make these people stop behaving the way they do.  It’s harder in America because the critical mass of “nones” hasn’t been reached here that would be a more powerful counterweight to the religious narcissists.  The “nones” category is growing rapidly (I suspect there are many god 2.0 people among them) but our culture still reveres the religious and because these people have a powerful microphone right now, they will get a greater amount of attention than they are entitled to.

So, I’m going to punt for awhile while I continue gathering my resources and instead recommend a podcast from Mormon Stories.  Mormon Stories is hosted my John Dehlin, a Mormon on the liberal end of the spectrum, who is studying for his PhD in psychology.  I highly recommend this podcast in general because Dehlin’s interview style ranks right up there with Terry Gross, IMHO.  Where has this guy been??  He should be way more famous.  Another great podcast host is Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist, whose warm, resonant radio voice reassures thousands of disaffected new atheists that they’re not alone.

Anyway, what I really love about Dehlin’s podcast is he is documenting the struggle that modern Mormons are having with their church in terms of gender equality, homosexuality and the history of their church.  These Mormons want to stay connected to the culture they grew up with for many good reasons but they need the church to recognize their concerns.  Dehlin takes a rigorous approach to religion in general and some of his podcasts have explored the types of religious believers that exist in this country as well as why religion is so compelling from  a social psychology perspective.  Here are a couple episodes from that latter category.

Episode 417: Dr. Ryan Cragun on his new book, “What You Don’t Know About Religion (But Should)”

Episodes 339-342: The Psychology of Religion with Dr. James Nagel

One of the things I took away from these podcasts, as well as Seth’s podcast, is the importance of knowing you are not alone.  Just because your entire family, neighborhood, culture appears to be spouting anti-birth control nonsense or is obsessed with the pedophile that is lurking behind every tree, doesn’t mean everyone is going nuts.  If you speak up, you may find you have a lot more people on your side than you thought.  They tend to keep quiet when they think they are outliers.

The other thing I learned, that Ryan Cragun confirmed, is that it is a LOT harder to organize people on the left side of the spectrum because they don’t consider themselves to be joiners.  This will always be an advantage to the right.  Now, we might want to try to figure out why the left and the skeptical community don’t join forces in the same way the right’s disparate communities do but I suspect that it might go back to our childhoods.  If you are forced to join a religion or social structure that you may not feel affinity for, you may resist any attempts to join a sympathetic one in the future.  That’s just one working hypothesis.

One final thing, Cragun says that religious fundamentalists are a lot more unpopular than they or we are lead to believe.  He says the problem with popularly reported surveys is that the participants are rarely asked to rank fundamentalists in the same way they are asked to rank atheists.  Consider those surveys in the same light as the ones commissioned by WaPo where people are asked to rank taxes, the budget deficit and every other thing except unemployment as the most important things that government should tackle.  So, yeah, fundies are living in denial when they think they are universally loved and admired.

Gotta go now.  Get your headsets on and enjoy.

 

Seth’s Ideal Candidate

Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist, put this video together of what he considers his ideal candidate.  I think he’s onto something here.  Too many candidates tend to be plain, vanilla people who have never had a real job, done things they regret, or have failed at anything.  Psychologist Nassir Ghaemi, author of A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness would tend to agree.  The last person we needed to run the country in the last four years is a monogamous dude who has never known defeat or dark nights of the soul.  (Note that personality disorders, like sociopathy and narcissism, are not the same as depression or mania or other mood disorders.)

Where I differ from Seth is that I do believe there is value in experience for a public servant.  For example, FDR was Secretary of the Navy and Governor of NY. Just like anything else, achieving mastery in the art of governance is aided by experience.  To say that a person with little or no experience is desirable for the highest position of power in the world is probably not too wise.  That’s how we ended up with Obama and he clearly has no idea what options he has available to him to get things done.  Either that or governance is just not his thing.

The distaste for experienced public servants is a mistake of both the left and the right.  The left just hates the idea of politics altogether.  It requires shaking hands and knowing people well enough to anticipate how they will behave so that a selection of carrots and sticks may be applied and all of that is just oogie to them because they fancy themselves to be cool intellectual types who are above all that squishy emotional stuff. When they nominate the cool intellectual type, they tend to be ineffective. Take John Kennedy for example.  His whole cabinet was full of people who didn’t really like politics.  They didn’t like LBJ either because he was too earthy and touchy feely but it was Johnson who got much of Kennedy’s agenda passed because he wasn’t afraid to get in people’s faces and wheel and deal.

The right just doesn’t like government.  It doesn’t really matter who is in charge.  Their business is business.  Whether the various departments work well or not is really not their concern.  Get in, lower taxes on the rich, eliminate as many regulations as possible so that no one is minding the hen house, and get out before anyone attaches the disaster you caused to your party.  Reagan, and the two Bush’s are examples of that type.  Governing well was the last thing on their minds.

If anything, we need a president who actually enjoys being a politician and governor.  We haven’t had one for 12 years now.  What country in their right mind keeps saying, “We have a position open for the most powerful person in the world but we prefer a person with no practical experience in governing.  Poli Sci and International Relations majors also need not apply.  This is a entry level position.”  That’s just a crazy way to elect a president and we deserve what we get.

What makes a good president is a coherent worldview, a vision, a political philosophy, and the abilities and experience to use the power of the position to lead people in the direction of that vision.  You don’t have to be an intellectual genius, you don’t need to be pure in body or spirit and wealth is definitely not a pre-requisite definition of success.  What makes a good president is someone who genuinely cares about people and their welfare.  Think about all of our best presidents and they all have that in common.

I would add one more thing to this list.  A president has to be committed to the constitutional equality of all Americans regardless of gender, sexuality or religious affiliation or non-affiliation.  And that candidate should have a record that clearly and unambiguously demonstrates that commitment.  Because the last thing this country needs is for so many women, LGBT persons and non-believers to be forced to sit on the sidelines because they are convenient paraiahs to target in election years.  We can’t afford to waste any talent.  In particular, any candidate who fails to vigorously defend the rights and equality of women should be immediately disqualified.  A candidate who allows his or her party to kick around half of the population as a political football doesn’t deserve to be president.  Both candidates are guilty this year.

Melange:A World of Woo, tribal belief, willful self-delusion and Jane Mayer

There are a lot of interesting nuggets in the intertoobz these days.  Some of these things go together and show the lengths we will go to delude ourselves or cling to tribal beliefs.

Let’s start with a podcast.  So, you’ve given up the Judeo-Christian belief system for God 2.0 or no god at all.  Some of us would call this progress.  Giving up bronze age superstition and tradition for something more modern and relevant is quite a bold step.  So, why are so many of you turning to woo?  Woo is defined as “ideas considered irrational or based on extremely flimsy evidence or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers”. Woo includes the belief in astrology, auras, energy fields, homeopathy, accupuncture, chiropracty and vaccination phobia.  Seth Andrews of the Thinking Atheist interviews various professionals who debunk these woos and tries to explain why otherwise rational people are attracted to them. Let’s put it this way, if you’re into woo, it’s hard to take anything you say seriously. You’d might as well be a nutcase fundy eschatologist.   Check out Seth’s recent podcast here.

Jay Ackroyd tries to lead Digby to the light when it comes to Obama’s commitment to a Grand Bargain on Social Security and Medicare.  First, go read the piece from Digby where she actually sounds like she’s blown right on past where Conflucians are sitting straight into the arms of the former Democrats who are so angry they’ve started to identify with the Tea Party.  Wow.  That’s quite a leap.  I know the party will reel her back in and, to be honest, we don’t really need more Tea Partiers in Congress, thank you very much.  But, yeah, Digby.  Jay’s right.  The Obama contingent are not liberals.  However, Jay is not right that they’re centrists.  The Obama contingent is definitely on the right side of center.  Nooooo doubt about it.  The only way that they are centrists is if you consider moderate republicanism centrist.  That would make Bill Clinton a flaming commie.  No, no, don’t go there, Jay.  We have seen the studies.  There’s no way in hell that Bill Clinton is a centrist in the same way that Obama is a “centrist”.  The center moved in the past 12 years.  You guys have got to accept this because your irrational belief that Clinton is an evil Republican dude compared to Obama, is what got Obama elected in the first place.  You’ve been done in by your tribe’s woo.  I mean, think about it: your group is asking us to believe that Bill Clinton is, was and always will be more conservative than Barack Obama.  Step back and think about that and ask yourselves if that’s rational given everything you now know.  If YOU can’t swallow it, why are you asking US to believe it?

As for Digby, I really like her and I’ve found her recent evolution to be promising, if only temporary in the lead up to the election.  I expect her to chicken out even though her “Hey! We’re eating grass!” moments are fun to read.  There is a place for left of center Democrats who don’t have our minds so wide open that our brains have fallen out.  We just need to create it.  It probably won’t happen this election cycle unless the Obama half of the party is defeated by the Clinton half of the party.  That’s where we are now.  You may not think the Clinton half is sufficiently liberal but the American people do.  In any case, they’ll drag the party back leftwards like an earthquake in Japan.  It could be a true realignment on the way back to sanity.  And remember, Wall Street rejected the Clinton half last time.  So, you know, how much more proof do you need??  Besides, there is no hope for Howard Dean.  Most people don’t know who he is and wouldn’t like him if they did.  We need to be realistic and work with what we’ve got.  And as far as I can tell, Americans would be ecstatic to return to the Clinton years, even if they were supervised by his wife. A woman in charge would be very good for women in general, wouldn’t you agree?  Especially when that woman is a passionate defender of women’s reproductive rights?  I mean, can women really trust Obama after they way he dragged his feet on the conscience rule, betrayed us in the healthcare law and kept Plan B behind a counter?

As far as everyone having “skin in the game”, Obama’s term for sacrificing in the upcoming Grand Bargain, um, I’ve seen my industry devastated by Wall Street grasshoppers and I’ve lost a very good living, permanently.  So, you know, I’ve already been flayed.  Not only that but I’m in the age cohort who has to wait until I’m 67 before I get the Social Security I prepaid for decades.  I’m not sacrificing anymore skin.  No, do not even ask.  Don’t make us come down there to Washington to make your lives miserable.  You do not want crowds from the size of my graduating class on the mall.  No, you do not.  I suggest that Congress go hunt people with an excess of skin, ie wealthy people.  Give them a good reason to whine.

The last bit is an interview of Jane Mayer on Fresh Air with Terry Gross entitled “Obama in Impossible Bind Over Donors”.  The Impossible Bind is that he wants and needs money from the wealthy and Wall Street but he doesn’t want average voters to know how indebted he is to his big donors so he has to blow the donors off in public.  It’s a sad, sad situation.  Terry, to her credit, seems to have come around after being such an insufferable Obama fangirl in 2008.  Jane Mayer valiantly tries to make Obama look good when it comes to fundraising.  You can almost hear Jane pleading with the audience to understand what Obama is up against but I found her extreme earnestness irritating.  It’s a cruel world out there.  Poor Obama, forced to accept SuperPAC money and trying to make it look like he doesn’t like it.  It’s all the fault of the mean Republicans that he’s sucking up all the money he said he didn’t want.  And while Romney is appearing at the SuperPAC soirees, Mitt has a deputy actually ask for the money, while Obama goes to the soirees and the money just mysteriously appears for him but he doesn’t suck up to anyone to get it.  I find the distinction indistinct.

Oh, but Obama isn’t giving away the Lincoln Bedroom!  So, you know, there’s that.  And that’s presumably why the donors are complaining.  They get nothing from Obama.  Not even a tote bag.  He won’t even take pictures with his donors so they can use that to name drop. It sounds like Obama got too much of a reputation as a schmoozer in 2008 and he’s desperate to squash that meme this year but that doesn’t mean he’ll be turning the filthy lucre down.  He just doesn’t want to have to thank anyone publicly for it.

But the funniest part of the interview is when Mayer is forced to debunk the idea that Obama made the bulk of his campaign money from millions of teensy contributions.  I know, you’re probably thinking that small contributions mean less than $100 because that’s what the Obama campaign lead us to believe in 2008.  We were all under the impression that millions and millions of working class Joes were mailing $20 to him in gratitude with a little note saying, “Bless you, Barack!  Save the Republic.  We’ve been waiting all our lives for you!”  Right?  Intellectually, you know it’s not true because the sheer size of the amount of money he collected, plus all of the contributions from wealthy Wall Street contributors, is public information. But the meme kinda slipped into the chinks of the gray matter and created it’s own woo.  It just *had* to be true because so many people repeated it.  It’s sort of like that woo we debunked about Obama running a fabulous campaign.  Um, no he didn’t, unless you consider gaming the caucuses and paying off the superdelegates and DNC fabulous, and we can prove it but myths die hard.

Anyway, it turns out that the definition of small depends on who is using it.  Small donations to you and me would be less than $100.  Small donations to the Obama campaign means maxing out at $5000.  See the difference?  One is $4900 more than the other. What working class stiff has $5000 to stuff into an envelope for a guy who had less than two years of national political experience before he decided to run for president?  And inadvertently, Mayer exposes what the Obama campaign thinks of the people who gave less than $5K.  They’re not even on the campaign’s radar.

But the final bit of silliness from Mayer is when she contrasts Bill Clinton’s extroversion against Obama’s intellectualism.  That’s got to be a first.  Whatever you might think of Bill Clinton,  making the guy who went to Georgetown, Yale Law School and was a Rhodes Scholar sound like a high school dropout car salesman next to Obama doesn’t really work too well.  What she’s really trying to say is that Clinton is a gregarious politician who likes politics and can carry on an intelligent conversation with anyone, even his enemies, but that the Obama contingent doesn’t like politics and getting hands dirty and actually doing the stuff that gets things done.  I know that she didn’t mean to say that but that’s essentially what she said.  If you were a big money donor, whose campaign would you rather give $5 million to?  (George Soros, call me!)

Once the bloom is off of Obama’s rose, you can’t listen to this stuff without laughing at all of the holes in the arguments.  The woo is gone.

Cleaning the instapaper queue and, At any moment now…

Charles Pierce will roll out his weekly dissection of David Brooks’ latest hand wringing over the declining morals in America.  Because, you know, if we unemployed scientists hadn’t screwed and  gotten high all the time and had children out of wedlock, we’d be better educated and fully employed.  This week’s Brooksian post was a doozy so I am nearly peeing myself in anticipation of the next episode of the adventures of Moral Hazard, the PR dog of the Young Fogey’s club.

In the meantime, here’s some stuff that has accumulated in my instapaper queue:

I can’t wait until I have enough money to buy a Dutch bike. American cities aren’t ready for them but I predict a booming business in the next couple of decades. I love the Bear Bicycle ads.  Look at what we have to look forward to:

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In Gene Sequencing for Leukemia, Glimpses of the Future recounts the course of a leukemia researcher’s battle with the disease from a personal standpoint.  This article made me nostalgic because FLT3 was one of the proteins I modeled before we had any good publicly available structures.  It was a tangent that my project went off on while we were working on a closely related protein.  It’s good to know that this group of proteins can be inhibited successfully.  I’d love to still be involved in these projects.  Very satisfying.

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In case you haven’t seen this post already, David Kotok writes in BusinessWeek Insider what the financial fallout of the LIBOR manipulations could be and says claims could “spiral into the trillions”.  It could be very profitable for lawyers who have a future full of lawsuits from municipalities, investors and individuals who were negatively affected by the rate manipulations.

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BuzzFeed Politics reports on the silly right wing outrage over the Obama campaign’s use of the Revolution Gothic font.  I like the font.  Might even use it myself someday.  It’s just a fricking font, people.  Stop frothing at the mouth.  Anyway, it’s the slogan the Obama campaign is using that should get everyone’s attention:

In the wake of so many Wall Street scandals, and the fact that it funded Obama generously in 2008, “betting on America” seems ill-advised.  Betting and gambling on America definitely conjures up negative connotations.  I’d fire the PR department, but then, I’d fire the whole campaign and the candidate, so, maybe I’m not being objective enough.  Still…

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Crammed into Cheap Bunks, Dreaming of Digital Glory is about “Hacker Hostels” in California where entrepreneurs, techies and geeks can get together and collaborate.  The places are flophouses for the young aspiring future Mark Zuckerbergs.  I think it’s an ingenious solution to a perplexing problem: what are you supposed to live on when you’re creating all this good stuff that venture capitalists and corporations are going to want to license from you or invest in?  Ideating isn’t easy and people have to eat. I think it’s great that geeks are finally starting to socialize and share ideas but you’d think we’d make it easier for Americans to innovate, maybe not indenture them to their student loans so they could actually have their own bedrooms.  But no, this is America!

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Here’s a great timewaster.  (Warning: if you have things to do today, do not click on this link) The Landmark Trust in Britain buys old properties, some of them very old, and renovates them, restoring them as closely as possible to their original forms and functions.  Then, it rents them out as vacation properties.  Yes, you too could stay in your own Mill-on-the-Floss or castle.  It’s bloody brilliant!

Brinkburn Mill

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If you’ve ever wanted to code javascript (and who hasn’t, right?), here’s a cool way to learn how to do it.  The CodeAcademy will take you through a series of exercises, step-by-step.  You type exactly what they tell you to type (not as easy as it sounds) and then hit the run button to watch it work.  This is not a time waster.  I’ve learned a lot in the first 7 or so lessons.  The problem is it doesn’t stick in my brain for very long.  So, practice, practice, practice.

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And now for something completely different, The Thinking Atheist, Seth Andrews, put together this lovely youtube video for people who are scared to death of death:

Chill.

They’ll never know what hit them

In light of reports that Obama is starting to cave on the contraceptive issue to the red beanie boys, it would be a good idea to show him and the Democrats (forget the Republicans, they’re a lost cause) that secularism is alive and thriving in America.  I am amazed at the growing number of podcasts and personalities who have taken to online media in just the last couple of years.  They’re scientists like Richard Dawkins, former pastors like Dan Barker, advertising executives like Jane Caro, and lively and beautiful people like Margaret Downey and Seth, The Thinking Atheist.  They are changing the face of the non-believer, the skeptic, the freethinker.  They have a sense of humor and a genuine concern for people and the planet. Something is happening here.  Secularists are coming out of the closet in a wave.  Just like women who have finally had enough after the Komen debacle, the secular are starting to push back.

Even if you are a believer, of whatever, but are adamant about the separation of church and state, consider going.  If you think it is wrong that some old, celibate dudes from Vatican Inc can make decisions about your reproductive organs to preserve their job security, if you think it’s wrong that the religious get too many breaks, too much deference and have too much influence, if you think it is alarming that our government officials have to continually swear allegiance to a bunch of people who let a Bronze Age piece of literature run their lives, this rally might be for you.

March 24, 2012, the Mall, Washington, DC.  Be there.

Speaking of The Thinking Atheist, he’s got a new episode up today on Religion and Sexuality, which seems quite timely.  “We interview Dr. Marty Klein http://www.martyklein.com, author of such books as “America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law,Lust & Liberty.”  And we speak with Darrel Ray, Ed.D, author of the book “Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality.”

(Too funny, that podcast veers wildly from professional to profane and Seth turns out to be somewhat of a prude.  Towards the end, it even made me squirm uncomfortably, which just goes to show that we’re not all the same and there are places even the ungodly won’t go.)

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Santorum picked up wins in some states in yesterday’s Republican primaries.  Veddy interesting.  I think this is how it’s going to work out: Romney has the party apparatus and the financing guys all lined up but he’s going to have to take on Rick Santorum as VP to appease the mighty religious contingent.  Come to think of it, the red beanie boys must have seen the numbers over the weekend and that’s why they’re pushing Obama to make compromises on the contraceptive front.

Everyone knows that the VP spot is largely ceremonial (which is why I want Hillary to stay clear of it, but I’m pretty sure she already knows this).  But the “Christians” will like the idea of Ricky standing by in the wings and *counseling* the Mormon on what is morally right, like Mitt is going to spend the next four years tearing his garments over abortion and birth control.  Am I right, rapture-ready people?

So, where is Rick Santorum getting all of his support?  Beats me, I still think the country is evolving away from religion, which is why Vatican Inc is getting so panicky and pre-emptive.  But Santorum did get the Duggar endorsement.  I have relatives who are in awe of the Duggars.  Recently, I forced myself to sit through some of their youtube episodes to see what the attraction is.  I mean, one particular relative made it sound like Michelle Duggar was Mother Teresa and General Patton all rolled up in one.  Her family is held up as some kind of example of perfection.

Ehhhh, I’m not feelin’ it.  But I think I see what the problem is.  Here it is: the people who admire the Duggars have somehow convinced themselves that modern women have been deceived into a unfulfilling life of hard work when they would be much happier if they stopped fighting the natural and godly order of things, got back into their houses and produced a lovely family full of clean, obedient and musical children.

I don’t know *what* makes them think this is a good thing for all women and children.  It is held up as an ideal of Godly perfection but it ignores everything about human nature.  And it’s not like this relative hasn’t seen this kind of lifestyle played out disastrously before in a different high control group religious cult.  The Duggars are no different.  The boys’ profile pages are full of their favorite subjects, like math and science (they’re all homeschooled).  The girls’ pages are mostly devoid of subject matter.  Girls have a father figure holding authority over them for all of their lives from father to husband to older sons.  They don’t have careers outside the home and they are expected to leave their family size up to God.  The whole family travels as a pack together.  Or they split up into other reasonably large sized chunks.  The children sleep in dorms.  They rarely have a minute to themselves.  There is always a buddy or a sibling to be a minder.

I see heartbreak in the Duggar family future.  One boy says he wants to study science and cure cancer.  Can’t do that without fully accepting the concepts of natural selection and evolution.  He’s going to have to make a choice.  For all we know, he might be the kid who can crack this nut but we’ll never find out if he doesn’t go to a rigorous college or university and if he stays within the family’s faith and circle, he won’t ever get that opportunity.

There’s a good probability that some of the younger boys will be gay.  I’ve read about this before about large families and gay sons. (need citation)  It’s either related to the size of the family or the number of older brothers.  Evolutionally, it kind of makes sense.  If you have a large number of siblings and your parents die, it’s good to have a couple of kids around who won’t have kids of their own who can provide resources and take on parenting tasks.  I think that having a gay kid in a large family is a blessing, but I’m betting the Duggars don’t.  And I’m preeeetty sure I know which one of these kids it’s going to be (betcha the Duggars do too).

Then there are the girls.  One of them, Jinger Duggar, has a very expressive face and is frequently caught on camera rolling her eyes or otherwise having a “And that affects me *how*?” look.  There’s even a couple of websites dedicated to freeing Jinger Duggar.  But she’s not the one I would expect to be the rebel.

Nope, I’m placing my money on Jessa Duggar whose natural extroversion, wit and ambition are not going to be satisfied with a batch of babies.  No, not Jessa.  Jessa likes the Prayer of Jabez.  Jessa wants prosperity.  Her focus on the success of the family business makes her an excellent family spokesdaughter.  I’d like to see her father try to hand her authority over to some fresh faced Christian boy who thinks he can guide and protect her.  That’s a series I’d be willing to watch on TLC.

Then there’s oldest daughter, Jana.  At 22, she’s unmarried and probably close to her expiration date.  What’s up with that?  Can’t they find some decent courtship material for her or is she holding out for a conservatory education so she can continue to play the harp in peace for a few hours a day?

That’s not to say their childhood is bad.  They’re clean, well fed, well cared for and none of them appear to be stupid. Anyway, it’s all they know, since the most contact they have with the outside world in their childhood is with the production crew that follows them around and their own circle of like minded Christian families. But they are a herd and in this herd there are mavericks.  Their world is highly intolerant of mavericks.  It’s going to be very hard on some of them to lose the love that Michelle and Jim-Bob have spent so much time and energy creating.  They either have to deny their faith and upbringing or they have to deny themselves.

And this is a choice that the Duggars would like to impose on the rest of the country.  In the world of the conservative religious, the only grace you get is from Jesus.  The rest of the country should not expect unconditional love under a Christan regime.

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