Tuesday, September 28, 2010


If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist.

Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term "blind faith."

A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn't identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church's central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.

Atheists and agnostics — those who believe there is no God or who aren't sure — were more likely to answer the survey's questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey's measurement of religious knowledge — so close as to be statistically tied.

So why would an atheist know more about religion than a Christian?

American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.

"These are people who thought a lot about religion," he said. "They're not indifferent. They care about it."

Atheists and agnostics also tend to be relatively well educated, and the survey found, not surprisingly, that the most knowledgeable people were also the best educated. However, it said that atheists and agnostics also outperformed believers who had a similar level of education.

The groups at the top of the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey were followed, in order, by white evangelical Protestants, white Catholics, white mainline Protestants, people who were unaffiliated with any faith (but not atheist or agnostic), black Protestants and Latino Catholics.

Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were included in the survey, but their numbers were too small to be broken out as statistically significant groups.

Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University and author of "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — And Doesn't," served as an advisor on the survey. "I think in general the survey confirms what I argued in the book, which is that we know almost nothing about our own religions and even less about the religions of other people," he said.

He said he found it significant that Mormons, who are not considered Christians by many fundamentalists, showed greater knowledge of the Bible than evangelical Christians.

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, a Methodist minister from Leawood, Kan., and the author of "When Christians Get it Wrong," said the survey's results may reflect a reluctance by many people to dig deeply into their own beliefs and especially into those of others.

"I think that what happens for many Christians is, they accept their particular faith, they accept it to be true and they stop examining it. Consequently, because it's already accepted to be true, they don't examine other people's faiths. … That, I think, is not healthy for a person of any faith," he said.

The Pew survey was not without its bright spots for the devout. Eight in 10 people surveyed knew that Mother Teresa was Catholic. Seven in 10 knew that, according to the Bible, Moses led the exodus from Egypt and that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

The question that elicited the most correct responses concerned whether public school teachers are allowed to lead their classes in prayer. Eighty-nine percent of the respondents correctly said no. However, 67% also said that such teachers are not permitted to read from the Bible as an example of literature, something the law clearly allows.

For comparison purposes, the survey also asked some questions about general knowledge, which yielded the scariest finding: 4% of Americans believe that Stephen King, not Herman Melville, wrote "Moby Dick."

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Poster Art by Dave Cook, 2010 /idrawmonsters.com

These are a few of my favorite things. Maybe not the smoke so much. But, I like Roller Derby and I like pork. I like them together or alone.

Last night we attended the final matches of the 2010 season for the Atlanta Roller Girls. First was a grudge match next was the championship bout. The event took place at the Yaaraba Temple on Ponce de Leon Ave. I haven't seen Roller Derby since the 70's when I watched it on tv with my Grandma Hartley. Back then I didn't know the rules or how to score so it took a while to follow it. But, Saturday night was great fun and a really well run event with a few artist selling paintings, tee shirts, posters and all kinds of ARG paraphernalia. There was a band playing out doors in the court yard and lot's of folks were tailgating with ice chest and barbecue grills all over the place.

Here is a link to all the excitement. http://www.atlantarollergirls.com/site_admin/

We had a mini keg of home brew, chviche, brisket sliders and popcicles for our tailgate party. We had fun and plan on doing it again next season.

We went from there just up the street to the Righteous Room. The name is correct, it is indeed a righteous room. Great beer list, good bar food and to much smoke. That's the only problem, which isn't a problem for everyone else there so what ya gonna do? Anyway we had a beer and caught up on some football scores and headed around the corner to Pura Vida Tapas Restaurant.

Hector Santiago is the chef at Pura Vida Tapas and he has been putting out great food at the corner Blue Ridge and Highland for a long time. He was also on Top Chef a couple seasons ago. He also recently opened a sandwich shop next door to Pura Vida Tapas and it's a huge hit. We ate well. Here's what we ate. Oh, the sandwich shop is Super Pan Latino Sandwich Shop. Click for link.

Beers, vodka and red wine.

Ga. Trout ceviche con leche
lemon-lime marinated trout loin
aji mixto jelly, celery juice, milk & canchita corn

Mussels in white wine and lot's of garlic. It was served in a small cast iron skillet and the dish had herring in it.

Tuna Poke, Porque No?!
charred mushrooms, soy cassarep marinated tuna loin, sizzling in chipotle garlic butter
coffee nibs, pickled garlic & ginger,
scallions, red habanero
sour orange "caviar" & tapioca flakes

Mofongo con "carne frita"
green banana mash with pork cracklings
berkshire pork carnitas and pork jus espuma

Steamed Coconut Buns
Smoked pilón pork belly, tamarind sauce, shaved cabbage,
chives, cilantro & pickled chilies.

BBQ Beef Rib
Adobo rub beef short rib,
slow cooked, served with carrot slaw & orange
chipotle BBQ sauce.

Mayan Tostones
Fried green mayan plantains, cilantro & peanuts. chipotle honey

Sierra & Longaniza Pinchos
Wahoo & house made longaniza sausage
skewers with baby banana mustard

Damn, damn, damn this was a good meal.
The whole night was good.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Al-Ikhlas (Arabic: سورة الإخلاص‎) Qur'an. It is a short declaration of God's absolute unity. Al-Ikhlas means "the purity" or "the refining", meaning to remain pure and faithful or a state of purging one's soul of non-Islamic beliefs.

It also means good fried chicken and apple pie to die for.

I do believe that if this dumb ass preacher man down yonder there in Florida was to eat up on some of these peoples food he may have second thought about burning their holy book.

Sometimes, like once a week, I call the gal working the counter at Ikhlas and tell her I want 15 fried whole chicken wings. They are slow so Stacey and I usually start some food at home to go with the fried chicken and then go pick up our order. Sometimes we get an apple pie.

Ikhlas is truly a hole in the wall. But they put out some really good food. The fried chicken is like grandmas. Only problem is they only do wings. I don't know why. Also every time we eat their fired chicken or pie, it is just the same as last time. Always good. The apple pie is so ugly it is beautiful, kinda like Tom Waits. The crust is haphazardly folded over the top. It has cinnamon in it. We have shared this pie with lot's of different people and they often claim it the best apple pie they have ever had.

Ikhlas is at the corner of Cleveland Ave. and Sylvan Rd. in East Point, Georgia. Wings are sold in multipules of 3, can't remember what the cost. The pie is full size and cost $8.50. They do sell out of the apple pies. The do have other pies. You don't need to call ahead for a pie, but I would for wings. PH# 404 766 2808


Friday was August the 13th. Supposed to be a unlucky day. Didn't scare us. Us as in me, Lil Lady and our friends Mikey and Keith. Keith and I had just celebrated our oldness and Lil Lady was due up Check Spellingsoon so we usually get together around this time and do something fun. This year we decided to fly an airplane. A Boeing 767 was our plane of choice.
You can see I had my hair cut like a Pilot for the occasion.

It was a lot of fun flying around for the day and we each got a chance take off, fly and land at different airports. I chose Atlanta, Keith chose San Diego, Lil Lady Boston and Mikey landed at LaGuardia.

We were actually in a flight simulator at the Delta headquarters. Stacey won a 2 hour session for four at a silent auction. This was a rare event as these simulators are booked solid for training and testing Delta pilots. Other airlines pay Delta to test and train their pilots. It took us almost a year to get a reservation.

I have never flown an air plane, but from what we were told this was as close as you can get and still be on the ground. Delta has about a dozen simulators and the guy who "took us up" told us they cost about 20 million each. Taking off was easy the plane kind of does all the work on take off. Flying is easy. Landing is a bitch. I was the only one of us who crashed. The ladies did best. Mikey nailed her landing and the tech ask if she wanted to do another landing? She said no way.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Atlantic bluefin tuna's fate in the Gulf of Mexico explored a timely book

Published: Wednesday, September 08, 2010, 10:50 AM Updated: Wednesday, September 08, 2010, 1:58 PM

The journalist Paul Greenberg has, with a little help from The New York Times, been remarkably successful injecting the plight of the endangered – and perhaps fatally delicious -- bluefin tuna into our national discourse.

Four fish.jpg

His timing could not have been better. Back in June, when coverage of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was at a fever pitch, his book, “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Fish,” was excerpted on the cover of The New York Times Magazine.

A few of its more salient points:

* The Atlantic bluefin tuna “is a fish that when prepared as sushi is one of the most valuable forms of seafood in the world. It’s also a fish that regularly journeys between America and Europe and whose two populations, or “stocks,” have both been catastrophically overexploited. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one of only two known Atlantic bluefin spawning grounds, has only intensified the crisis.”

* “The United States continues to allow bluefin fishing in its waters even though the Gulf of Mexico-spawned stock is considered by many scientists to have entered into full-scale collapse.”

* “BP’s Horizon Deepwater oil rig collapsed into the sea and spewed oil into the only bluefin spawning ground in the Americas just as the few remaining North American stock giant bluefin were preparing to mate in the Gulf of Mexico. Though the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has been deeply critical of the Mediterranean bluefin catch — in 2007, it went so far as to call for a moratorium — it has been noncommittal about the American fishery.”

In August, a laudatory review of “Four Fish” appeared on the cover of the Times Sunday Book Review. It was authored by the paper’s restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, who wrote:

“The point of the book comes down to the push and pull of our desire to eat wild fish, and the promise and fear of consuming the farmed variety. As Greenberg follows his four species, and our pursuit of them, farther and farther out into the ocean, he posits the sense of privilege we should feel in consuming wild fish, along with the necessity of aquaculture.

“Along the way, Greenberg raises real-life ethical questions of the sort to haunt a diner’s dreams, the kind of questions that will not be easily answered by looking at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood-watch card. In truth, he shows, there is rarely such a thing as a good wild fish for any of us to eat, at least not if all of us eat it.”

I have not yet read “Four Fish” – it’s next on my list -- only the excerpt and subsequent coverage of the book, which suggests that Greenberg’s work should be on the radar of those charged with rebuilding Louisiana’s fishing industry following the oil spill.

While they’re at it, they should grab a copy of Carl Safina’s “Song for the Blue Ocean,” which takes a scalpel and tweezer to the political struggle surrounding the bluefin’s fate. Safina, a celebrated ecologist and conservationist, has written extensively about the environmental ramifications of the oil spill.

Finally, a Greenberg editorial appeared in last Sunday’s Times. It was keyed to the announcement that aquaculture scientists “had succeeded in spawning the Atlantic bluefin in captivity without hormonal intervention” -- and what that could spell for the bluefin’s future.