Saturday, June 26, 2010

My paper, I wrote it a letter

Declaration of Keanu captioned (You can probably guess what song that is meant to be sung to!)

In today's paper, I saw this letter to the editor:

How many Americans will give serious thought to what the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence are all about? If you really study this document, one cannot help but notice that there is a lot of talk about God in it.

He is named four times in the document. As a lawgiver, the author of “the laws of nature” and nature’s God. As a maker, the “Creator” who endowed us with our unalienable rights. As a judge, “the Supreme Judge of the world.” And as a protector, “Divine Providence” to whom we look for protection.

This document looks up at God and acknowledges his supremacy. The authors appeal to his authority for the basis of their actions. They seek his protection. They acknowledge that their rights are a gift from him.

In the Declaration, we accused King George of violating “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” It meant King George was violating the will of God and the laws of the Bible that was our foundation.

The Founding Fathers’ actions hinged on the fact that law came from God, and not from man. It is upon this concept, a purely biblical one, that our government was founded.

Ken B*****, Shipshewana

I suppose that most days, I'd just let that go by and move along about my daily business. Not today, for some reason. I've written about this topic in the past, and felt the need to respond to this. Maybe it was his smug assertion that no one really thinks about these things. My paper asks for letters of no more than 200 words, and this is about five times beyond that, but I asked them to consider it for an opinion piece. I won't get my hopes up, considering the conservative nature of my area, but my local newspaper is generally a little on the liberal side. So we'll see what happens! Even if they don't publish it, I enjoyed writing it, and I hope some of you will enjoy reading it. Here you go!


In response to Ken B*****’s letter of June 26 stating that the American government was founded upon Biblical laws, I would like to address this continued fallacy that America is a Christian nation and that is the way the framers of our government intended it.

Language from the Declaration of Independence is quoted, including the terms “Creator,” “nature’s God,” and “Divine Providence.” The Declaration of Independence is not a legal document for our country; it does not set out to establish our laws, and has no legal authority over our legislators, or our citizens. Its primary purpose was to delineate the reasons for ending the ties between our country and Great Britain. As such, it is a powerful document, but it in no way prescribes the actual governance of the United States.

The language used in the Declaration is also in keeping with its primary author’s Deism. Thomas Jefferson and other framers of our government were not theists. Their belief system consisted mainly of a deity who set things in motion and then established a hands-off attitude. While they believed in a “Divine Providence” and a god of nature, those terms are not the equivalent of the Christian God. Most of our founding fathers subscribed to this deist philosophy, and had no use for the usual trappings of religious dogma. George Washington refused to participate in communion at his church, and when chastised by the minister for his lack of reverence, he simply stopped attending church. To continue to maintain that these men were highly religious in terms of a Christian god is simply not historically accurate.

In fact, Jefferson and other authors of our Constitution (which is the true legal document when it comes to our country’s governance) went out of their way to ensure that we were not and would never become a Christian—or any other religion—nation. The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This is usually interpreted to mean that the Congress is prohibited from the establishment of a national religion or the preference of one religion over another or the support of a "religious idea with no identifiable secular purpose." If you recall, the Puritans left England because they no longer wanted to be told by the Church of England how to believe. The last thing they would ever want was to have a national religion established in their new land.

In Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, he wrote:

“That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

In his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, he wrote:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of the government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

Beyond his coining of the phrase “wall of separation between church and state,” note his usage of “the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience.” As with the wording in the Constitution of “we the people,” he means clearly to establish that our laws are based on humankind’s laws, “of the nation,” not on God’s laws. They are written by the people and the legislators who represent them, not by any deity or any book ascribed to a deity.

Jefferson is recognized by many as one of the most visionary men in history; regardless of his own feelings about religion or how he practiced it, he realized that true freedom could come only when a government does not have the power to coerce any citizen into a certain type of belief system, or into any type of belief system.

He wasn’t the only founding father to feel this way. The Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams in 1797, states in Article 11:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion [italics mine]; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

That treaty was unanimously ratified by the Senate; no one objected to anything in the wording, indicating that the prevailing attitude at the time was consistent with that set out by the framers of our Constitution.

We are not a Christian nation, and our laws are not based on the Ten Commandments or on any religion; as hard as it may be for people to accept that, it is the historical truth. We are a nation of many faiths, including those who have no faith at all. It doesn't mean that anyone of a different faith or lack thereof is less of an American or a "bad" American. They're still American, and have the Constitutional right to believe or not believe in the manner which they choose. That is the way our founding fathers intended it to be, and anyone who reveres and respects the Constitution would do well to remember that. We were never intended to be a theocracy, and as we watch the abuses perpetrated in the name of state-run religions around the globe, we should applaud these men who established our government for having the foresight to attempt to ensure that such behavior never happens here.

At least it won’t happen as long as “we the people” do not allow it to happen.

Your reality has been disconnected

Switchboard I'm really noticing a major break from reality in a lot of people lately. I'm not talking about getting things a little bit wrong; I'm talking "fuck the facts I'm just going to make shit up" wrong.

We've got the Missouri farmer who placed a huge sign on his farm calling the Democrats the "party of parasites." This same farmer has accepted a million dollars in crop subsidies from the federal government. Sir, I know parasites; I worked with parasites for much of my career. The Democratic party may have its share, but certainly does not have the market cornered on parasites.

Then there is Michelle Bachmann, teabagger royalty, who takes every opportunity to rail against big government and Obama's "socialistic" agenda. Bachmann's farm received over a quarter of a million in federal subsidies. Kind of digging that whole socialist scene, aren't you, Bachmann? At least when it is you who is the beneficiary.

Let's see...then there is Lutheran pastor Tom Brock, who is virulently anti-gay and takes every opportunity to tell gays that they are immoral and disgusting and going to hell if they don't change their ways. In his down time from gaybashing, he attends conventions with other pastors, and in a recent one in Slovakia, apparently fell into temptation and was weak...and had some sort of a homosexual encounter with a Gypsy (who he says are toothless, filthy, and smelly, although I guess for such an encounter, toothless might be a plus!). Oh, he's admitted that he's gender-confused, and belongs to a group that promotes abstinence among men who are fighting homosexual urges. All the while, he continues to preach his I-hate-gays-and-so-does-my-god rhetoric. What an amazing amount of self-loathing he must be carting around! Give it up and be fabulous, dude!

We're not done. There is the lovely desert flower, Jan Brewer, who, in order to drum up more support for her racist immigration bill in Arizona, is claiming that illegal immigrants are mainly concerned with smuggling drugs across the border rather than trying to get jobs here to feed their families. The assertion that illegal immigration in Arizona has led to higher crime rates is simply not true. It is a falsehood, and Brewer continues to spew such lies...and people continue to fall for it.

Delusional In a delusional break that hits closer to home, I've had a person who ridiculed my nephew as a coward and a "mama's boy" for not deploying to Afghanistan while in the Marines--despite the fact that he was hospitalized for over a week with a severe abscess and designated as non-deployable by the U.S. Marines themselves--in a tizzy about their own family member's possible immediate deployment, and ensuring that such deployment was delayed by whatever means necessary. Gee, really? How is that cowardice, mama's boy thingie working for you?

What do all these things have in common? From what I can tell, it's such a hatred and disdain for the other side that there is an inability to recognize one's own inconsistencies and irrational behavior, or that of whatever group affiliation is claimed. We saw it during the health care debate, when teabaggers were calling for smaller government, but at the same time shouting, "Keep your hands off my Medicare!" Or when Palin continued to harp about "death panels," when it was a patently absurd suggestion and a complete fabrication and misrepresentation of something that every family should discuss. I honestly don't know if it's a matter of being unable to grasp the larger complexities of an issue, or simply willful ignorance. Not all of these people are unintelligent; I believe it's often a calculated attempt to prevaricate and persuade through dishonest means. It is most certainly a disconnect from the reality of a situation. I may try to persuade with my arguments, but I always stay firmly rooted in reality. Once you give that up, I suppose you can justify anything, at least in your own mind.

That doesn't change reality, though. No matter how deeply you've managed to deceive yourself, those of us who haven't followed you to your own personal Bizarro World know the reality of things.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Letting nature take its course

Cat-eating-preyThis looks so much like Sheeba, but it isn’t! Just some random Intarwebz cat chowing down on a bird.

I love living out in the country, but it does have its drawbacks, and there are some things that are hard to deal with. I've been snowed in during winter storms; the recent bad storms have taken their toll on several trees, although there were plenty of people in the area who had it much worse; and worst of all at times, for me, is seeing the inevitable cycle of nature. As Stewart Copeland wrote in his song "Serengeti Long Walk" from "The Rhythmatist:"

All around there are creatures as big as donkeys, eating and being eaten; it's a barnyard sound. The cycle of life and death is repeated--endlessly--undisturbed by the contaminated curiosity of humans. But there is a pattern there to see, and the point will soon be clear to me.

There have been many nights when I've heard the screams of something being grabbed and eaten. It's chilling, and my heart aches for whatever creature has just met its demise. The occasional dead squirrel shows up, and I've seen dead or dying raccoons out in the yard. Birds fly into the windows, and sometimes don't survive. I've watched as a raccoon has hung from its front paws from the deck and dropped several feet to the ground. There are a couple of does with bum legs that are return visitors to the yard, and it breaks my heart every time I see them. (Although the one with the bum foreleg is still going strong. She's been around for several years now, and I love it that she is such a survivor!) There have been bones and mauled carcasses found out in the marsh of fawns who fell prey to predators.

There have been so many times when I was tempted to intervene when I could. It's been a hard lesson for me to learn to stay out of nature's way. Nature has business to do, and part of that is living and part of it is dying. There are coyotes and foxes here...I've seen them loping across the yard. I've had people suggest that I shoot them. Not a chance. I understand the reasoning behind the suggestion; for anyone who has grown up on a farm, coyotes and foxes (and back in the day, cougars and bobcats...I'm not sure if wolves and bears were ever in this area, but it wouldn't surprise me) had to be shot to protect the farm animals, so it's an immediate reaction to such predators. I don't live on a farm. I understand that there is natural predation that needs to happen, and I'm glad that there is a fairly intact ecosystem here with predators like coyotes and foxes that keep check on other animals. As much as I love deer, I understand that they will devastate an ecosystem if they are allowed to breed unchecked. I don't hunt, and there is no hunting at Nutwood, but I understand that hunters help keep the deer population under control. Things seem to be pretty good here, with a little band of fairly healthy deer, and a fair amount of predators to keep things balanced. (There are also quite a few hawks and owls, and if I'm not mistaken, skunks will also eat small critters. Just checked...yes, they are omivorous.)

Nature As hard as it is for me to not intervene, I understand that the best thing I can do is just stay the fuck out of the way. There are people who rehabilitate animals and are good at it--they usually have some sort of background in veterinary science, or have people close by to advise and help. (I'm thinking of my friend Lori and her family, who have taken in all kinds of critters and nursed them to a healthy adulthood. Her daughter seems to have a real knack for it.) If you don't have that knack, chances are good that you're just going to prolong the animal's agony. As hard as it is to accept, sometimes you have to understand the bigger picture and let things eat or be eaten.

If that sounds hard-hearted, you don't know me very well. I still think back to some fifteen years ago when I lived in Indianapolis and hit a cat on my way home from work one night; or when I hit a squirrel a few years ago when I was driving home in the rain; and I still remember when a tufted titmouse ran into the window and sat on the deck railing stunned, his poor little eye puffing up. I so wanted to reach out to that young raccoon I mentioned earlier hanging from the deck and help him up...but I reminded myself that these are still wild animals, and our intervention does not necessarily help. In fact, sometimes it hurts, or prolongs the inevitable.

I'm not trained in rehabilitation of wild animals, and I'm smart enough to recognize my limitations. I also don't want to create a Pet Sematary out back, because we all know how that ends up! Nature is sometimes a cruel and dirty business, and it's generally better if we just accept that and step out of the way. It's been a hard lesson to learn, but I've learned it. That doesn't mean I don't feel bad when I see something hurting or in distress. Quite the opposite. I just have a healthy respect for the natural order of things, and am inclined to let happen what happens in any sort of natural environment. You might say that I don't like to play God. [wink]

Enjoy a little Stewart Copeland (you'll find short samples of several songs there) and here is a video for you. With "The Rhythmatist," he traveled to Africa and explored various tribal rhythms as well as the amazing wildlife and environment there. It's one of my favorites.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The danger of prayer revisited

Atheist cat A follow-up to yesterday's entry, addressing a couple of comments.

First of all, thanks to all of you who left thoughtful comments and understand where I'm coming from about this topic. For anyone who found my remarks disagreeable, I am not against prayer, by any means. Hey, knock yourself out. My point is that it doesn't work. Show me proof that it works. Show me an amputee that grows a new leg because of prayer. Then we'll talk.

My goal is not to get anyone to stop praying if that brings you comfort; I know many people that feel that way, and I would never take that away from them. But I would love it if my words made someone stop and think—critically think—about their actions and the results. Think about the inconsistencies in your god answering some prayers but ignoring others. Ask yourself how much sense it makes to believe that a "merciful" god would let one child be saved while another dies.

I had an exchange with someone who said that I was an idiot and that I didn't know what I was writing about. Gee, really? I write something that is my opinion, based on my experiences, and is something that I've pondered for decades, eventually coming to the philosophy that I hold today (a constantly evolving philosophy, by the way), and I don't know what I'm talking about? I would think that I would know, since I was there as I had all these experiences, I was there as family members prayed futilely for a miracle, I was there doing the work as I saw patients succumb to overwhelming infections, I was there as I watched as thousands of soldiers were killed and wounded and brain damaged in wars. I'm willing to bet that those people all had loved ones praying for them. What sort of psychotic god allows one person to live and another to have half of his head blown off? What god deems some worthy and others unworthy? If I sound angry, I am. Don't tell me about the power of prayer.

The only thing that prayer works for is your own comfort. I won't take that away from anyone who needs it. But for actually making a difference, actually resulting in a I said: show me that regenerated limb, and then we'll talk.

Another comment (and I am not picking on this person or intending any sort of ridicule...they have the right to their opinion, but I also have the right to refute it) stated that my attitudes expressed here are more scary and saddening than any legislator trying to solve problems through prayer. What exactly is so scary about it? My encouraging everyone to think for themselves, rather than succumb to blind faith and dogma? I suppose that would be kind of scary, especially for women like I wrote about yesterday, who was so happy to have her god making decisions for her so she wouldn't have to make them on her own. That is what I find pathetic, that anyone would willingly give up control of their own destiny and the ability to make their own path through life based upon their decisions, their abilities, their strength, and their fortitude. Freedom in religion? The only real freedom I ever felt in religion is when I got away from it. There is no freedom in dogma, there is no freedom in indoctrination, there is no freedom in being subjected to archaic laws that discriminate and subjugate women and so many others.

You know what scares me? Politicians and others who would force their religion on everyone else. I've written about this several times before, but it bears repeating. Our government cannot constitutionally mandate or promote any religion. Just because you believe that your religion is the "correct" one doesn't make it so, and doesn't mean that the government is under any obligation to force your religion upon others; quite the opposite. If you feel the need to condemn me because I don't subscribe to your particular brand, I have to wonder at your willingness to judge. I have the right to tell you exactly why I disagree with you. I also have the right to demand that my legislators actually DO something to solve a problem rather than declaring some ridiculous day of prayer. I don't want to hear about pleas to their god, I want to see active work on solving the problem, I want to see ideas, I want to see results. Get off your knees and do something!

If anyone feels the need to pray for me, don't waste your time. Instead of my salvation, I'd much rather you thought about all the misery and woe that is happening in our world, and then realize that praying isn't doing one goddamn bit of good. Maybe then you'll take a few moments and consider contributing to organizations like Nothing But Nets, Malaria No More, Doctors Without Borders, or the Gates Foundation. Malaria killed 863,000 people worldwide in 2008, 91% of them in Africa; 1 in 5 of those deaths was in children. It costs ten dollars to buy an insecticide-treated malaria net for a family, and that ten dollars will save lives. The Gates Foundation is run by Bill and Melinda Gates. You might have heard of Bill...among other things, he's an atheist who has given millions in efforts to help alleviate suffering worldwide. One of the Gates Foundation's biggest donors is Warren Buffett, another atheist.

I would say that in about 15 years of existence, the Gates Foundation, funded primarily by two godless heathens, has saved more people—and has signed on to keep developing and funding ways in which to help people in the future—than prayer has in centuries. They don’t pray. They DO. Actions speak louder than words.

This seems like an appropriate time for a classic Devo song: "Praying Hands."

You got your left hand
You got your right hand
The left hand's diddling
While the right hand goes to work
You got both hands
You got praying hands
They pray for no man
(roll over, play dead, get spiritual-minded)
Okay, relax
And assume the position
Go into doggie submission
Wash your hands three times a day
Always do what your mom and dad say
Brush your teeth in the following way
Wash your hands three times a day

Monday, June 21, 2010

The danger of prayer

Prayer Yes, you heard me.

A big story among my Facebook friends recently was that the state legislature has designated Sunday as a day of prayer in Louisiana, hoping for divine intervention concerning the disastrous oil spill.

"Thus far efforts made by mortals to try to solve the crisis have been to no avail," state Sen. Robert Adley said in a statement released after last week's unanimous vote for the day of prayer. "It is clearly time for a miracle for us."

The resolution names Sunday as a statewide day of prayer in Louisiana and calls on people of all religions throughout the Gulf Coast "to pray for an end to this environmental emergency, sparing us all from the destruction of both culture and livelihood."

Of course, Sarah Palin had to weigh in with a tweet: "Gulf disaster needs divine intervention as man's efforts have been futile. Gulf lawmakers designate today Day of Prayer for solution/miracle."

I honestly do not understand this sort of thinking. I spent far too many years seeing dear relatives die of cancer after hearing people pray for a miracle (after treatment failure); pleas for divine intervention rather than putting our own knowledge to use, or doing further research in order to find ways to help others; and prayerful requests for finding a missing child, hoping that just this once, God will spare this one...apparently either ignoring the hundreds of others who go missing every year, or even worse, deeming them unworthy of being rescued.

Why do I say this is dangerous? Oh, I know it really doesn't hurt, and I know that many find it a comfort. I don't deny anyone that. However, I find that relying on a mystical solution to a very real and present danger does no good in finding a real time solution, and can even retard (and I use that word correctly) progress.

Years ago, I remember talking with a woman at a potluck dinner; this was the ex's church group. (Feel free to have a chuckle at imagining me at this group.) She said, "I'm glad I have God to make decisions for me, so I don't have to make them for myself!" I think I died a little inside at hearing her say that. I have never forgotten it, and I can tell you that I never want to be that way. To quote Nine Inch Nails, "I'd rather die than give you control."

religious-logic You can approach this in two different ways. If you don't believe in God, you understand that your destiny is in your own hands. It is entirely up to you to make the decisions that concern your life; the responsibility lies upon you. You learn to make decisions based on the outcome of your previous decisions. If the consequences turn out badly, you learn to make different choices. If you never learn, you are the one that will ultimately deal with the results of your own bad decisions. In my life, I have made both good and bad decisions (as have we all). I accept full responsibility for them, I own them, and I will deal with the consequences. I don't accept blame for the behavior of others, but I do accept my own response to such behavior. I'm like the Outer Limits, baby. I control the horizontal. I control the vertical.

If one does believe in God, as did the woman who was so delighted to have God making decisions for her, I have to wonder at her selfishness in wanting God's ear in order to have him be the decider. This was a comfortable suburbanite, a woman not lacking in food, shelter, health care, or any other amenities; my mind was and is blown at her arrogance in assuming that her petty little problems trump those of the mother in Africa whose child is dying of malaria, or is starving to death, or is slowly but inexorably dying due to an overwhelming parasitic infection. Or for that matter, the woman right here in New York or Chicago or L.A. who is seeing her child starve, or watching them die because they don't have reliable health care. Yes, it happens right here.

I've always felt that if there is a god, he'd get pretty impatient with people praying for guidance as to whether or not they should buy that new car or stick with the old one a while longer, or praying for their team to win the Super Bowl, or praying for an answer to that age-old dilemma...Dear Lord, should I get a boob job? Guide me, Jeebus!

We have brains, people. We have reasoning, thinking minds. Personally, I believe that came about through evolution, but even if you believe in the alternative, you still have a mind and life experiences with which to make your own decisions. Use these things!

A little story for you. Got a call Sunday morning when someone couldn't find their keys. They'd looked everywhere, and they were nowhere to be found. Got another call later on, and the keys were still missing. I started walking through the steps of when I saw them last, retracing our movements and activities, and I eventually hit upon something that triggered a memory. The keys were found. The response? "Praise the Lord!"

Before you get your undies in a bundle, no, I'm not saying that I wanted or needed praise at this moment, and I am most certainly not comparing myself to any deity; I was just very happy that the keys were found. My point is that I led them to find the keys by using logic and reconstruction; there was no divine guidance involved.

Relying solely on prayer for the solution to problems is foolish and dangerous. When it comes to a disaster like the oil spill, it is even more so; there will be no "divine intervention" in this oil spill. It was caused by human failures and greed, and it will eventually be solved by human ingenuity and technical knowledge (although too late to save so much of the region's wildlife, ecosystem, and the residents' livelihoods). The Louisiana legislature's declaration of a statewide day of prayer is not only unconstitutional (they "urged" people to pray, which they cannot do according to our Constitution), it is a futile effort and distraction from the task at hand. Palin's endorsement of the prayer and belief that it is the only possible solution to this clusterfuck is utterly absurd.

Take control. Be responsible for your weaknesses and your strengths. OWN your life and know that you have the ability to control how you respond to personal disasters. Realize that disasters are either caused by natural phenomena or by our own negligence; tornadoes, hurricanes, et al, are not divine retribution for sin, they are caused by weather patterns, and in the case of this oil spill, by ignoring regulations and warning signs. Illnesses are sometimes random, sometimes caused by our own behavior. Stop blaming random shit on whatever god you worship and stop expecting that he will intervene on your behalf.

Believe in yourself.

And watch this video, a response from a Gulf resident, to the "drill, baby, drill" mentality. My reaction was a mixture of grief and rage.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beth’s Music Moment – New Devo!

Devo cover This past week, Devo issued their first studio album in 20 years, "Something For Everybody." Extensive market research and fan input from their website, ClubDevo, provided everything from which songs would be included on the CD to the colors used on the artwork and new uniforms (blue energy dome, yay!).

I had heard a couple of songs prior to the release this past week, and the band made appearances on multiple talk shows, including Letterman, Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel. (And Regis and Kathy Lee Kelly, but I missed that one.) I got my CD in the mail on Thursday, and I've listened to it several times already. I have to say that I am very, very pleased! Here are brief comments on the tracks.

1. Fresh - This is the first single, and according to my niece Jen, it's getting a lot of airplay in San Diego, so I assume it's getting play in other large cities. Very up-tempo, and this is the song that I've heard them play on the talk shows.

2. What We Do - Some heavy bass here that reminds me of "Going Under" from "New Traditionalists." That's one of my favorite Devo songs, so this is a good thing.

3. Please Baby Please - Another up-tempo song, with great harmonies and a straight-up rock guitar solo.

4. Don't Shoot (I'm A Man) - This is my favorite song on the CD (so far). It's got a very danceable techno beat, and it's hard to go wrong with a song that uses "Don't taze me, bro!" in its lyrics. In fact, it's impossible.

5. Mind Games - I love these lines: "She tries on dresses half her size...She wiggles till you give her love." The way Mark sings "mind games" with that hard Midwestern accent makes me think of him gnawing off a piece of beef jerky.

6. Human Rocket - More heavy backbeat.

7. Sumthin' - "I'm the leader of the Western world, the big decider in the neighborhood." Gee, wonder who this is about? A nice political dig, saying that any politician will try to pretend that he or she has something for everybody.

8. Step Up - "Listen up, y'all. It's D-E-V-O. Take a hard line, let some fur fly, learn to stay high above the stormy's never to late to shake that thing!"

9. Cameo - One of the more goofy songs here, still with that heavy backbeat and still danceable.

10. Later Is Now - LIghter fare, with more ethereal synths.

11. No Place Like Home - A beautiful piano intro, and the only somewhat slow song on here, although still upbeat. "In the biggest scheme of things, we haven't been around here more than a moment. We are creating a brand new world without us." An environmental song that basically says that we're polluting ourselves right out of existence.

12. March On - He was a "good soldier." Subliminal messages here, with someone intoning "Sex" and "Love" at certain points. Beth's music moment5 I love this CD! Although the synths are still there big time, this one has a heavier rock beat than many of their early albums. I wonder if their new drummer, Josh Freese, has anything to do with that? He played with Nine Inch Nails and Guns 'N Roses. Maybe he brought a heavier touch to the band, and I am not complaining! There are none of the slower masterpieces like "Mongoloid" or "Shrivel Up," but every song on this disc is fun and rocking. Mark Mothersbaugh said that although they still use their analog synthesizers, they are also now using computers to make music. Viva technology!

I think a lot of people never understood just how subversive and political Devo was (and is). Birthed from the tragedy at Kent State, the Spudboys were always about questioning authority, and believed that we are on a downward spiral: de-evolution. (Or as Stephen Colbert put it, "intelligent decline.") Although our physical makeup might be evolving, our ethical attributes are becoming increasingly clouded and obscured. Aren’t we seeing that now? Devo always understood this; the rest of the world has had to catch up to them. Mothersbaugh says that Devo's philosophy is "intact. That's what set us apart in the first place—we were always pro-information, anti-stupidity. We were reporting the news of de-evolution, which is now less of a hard sell than it used to be."

You got that right, Mark.

I've always loved Devo, and this new CD is a lot of fun. Does it have the oomph of their early CDs? Of course not. As Roland would say, the world has moved on. But this is still a lot of fun, and I am very pleased that the mutants from Akron, Ohio are still making music. Duty now for the future, spuds.