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The Secular Jurist is a news and opinion blog addressing current and historical events from a nonreligious moral perspective.  Our goal is to educate the public by casting a light on unethical institutional behavior, speaking truth to power, and questioning those traditional cultural mores that lead to social injustice.  We assert that ideologies and theologies built upon putative and non-empirical foundations are often improper vehicles to convey the concept of right and wrong.  Our point of view is quintessentially agnostic.  We neither support, nor do we fundamentally oppose, any spiritual belief system including atheism.  However, we will stand against destructive and extreme sectarianism whenever their actions warrant attention.

Robert A. Vella on Twitter (@RobertVella3):  https://twitter.com/RobertVella3

Robert A. Vella on Amazon – Science Fiction Author:  http://amazon.com/author/robertvella

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    • Forget the dumb question. I went back and reread your Code of Conduct/Troll article and this time clicked on the link to the NV comment. It was Sally who got me too. In my opinion she is totally incompetent for the job she currently has. Absolute no consistency in enforcement from your experience in 2010 to mine in 2012.

      Enjoyed the article, and agree with you. Subjectivity for the purpose of advancing a predisposed position. CoC and CoH are generally a fraud as they are enforced. Have a great day bobbyvee!!!

  1. Incredibly informative website! Your content is complete and well, just fucking awesome! I read almost everything that I can get a hold of so the more detailed and fact filled, the better! Keep it up!

      • The only problem with journalism is that mainstream news (TV and print/online) often doesn’t address adequately the kinds of issues that are most important to society, like the kinds of things bloggers like us write about. I’ve come to realize that more and more over the past few years. So the challenge for me is to find a news org I feel good writing for.
        I was thinking maybe thinkprogress.com. Or propublica.org. Have you read either of those? What do you think about them?

        You’d be a great journalist, by the way : )

      • Thank you, Tanya. Regarding my journalism career, I’m afraid that’s a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” situation now.

        ProPublica is an excellent non-profit news organization. I like the ThinkProgress blog too (which is owned by the Center for American Progress), but it has ties to the Democratic Party and that has occasionally clouded its editorial position as evidenced by their stance on school vouchers and privatizing education.

        There are other good news orgs too, although each has its own problems. PBS recently self-censored itself by shelving two documentaries that enraged the plutocrat Koch brothers.

        I think the best venues for journalists like yourself would be those which are as independent as possible, and which focus on investigative reporting. Like “Deep Throat” said, “follow the money.” A lot can be learned about a news organization by examining its funding. Most are beholden to their revenue streams, while others (e.g. Fox News) reflect the ideological bias of their management. It’s a crazy world out there.

  2. Thanks for your courage in leaving a Like at Electrica in the Desert’s latest post. Your Like stands in conspicuous and admirable isolation: despite many declarations to the contrary, I was fairly certain that when push came to shove, well….anyway, anything you can do to help publicize this politically significant and personally nightmarish situation will be appreciated deeply, and forever.
    Thanks again.

  3. I wrote a private message on the league blog but I don’t think I posted it right because I don’t think anyone’s seen it. I wrote to the members of our group that i’ve simplified how we manage the league blog. Basically, we no longer have to add new posts to it unless you happen to get a chance. I’ve noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of blogging on it and it may be because it’s a bit tiring to maintain multiple blogs. So I decided to make the blog more of a place where people can get info about our group, a sample of our work, and links to our personal blogs. Not too much different, just hopefully less time consuming. Every one in awhile, I’ll reblog stuff from each member’s personal blogs so readers can get more stuff from us without each of you needing to post unless you get a chance. How does that sound?

    • Yeah, I didn’t see your private message. However you want to run the league blog is fine with me. We all kind of drifted away from it because you’ve been busy with school. Cooperative efforts like that need someone to lead.

      • I’m flattered that you see me as a leader! Well, I’ll definitely do my best to be more active with blogging. The semester is finally over, so I have the summer free. I’m hoping next semester won’t be as hectic. By the way, we have about 53 followers on the League blog, so people are reading it, which is good! Hopefully the number will continue to grow. Jerry, another member, says our goal should be to get at least 1,000 members to write for the blog! I guess we’ll see!

  4. Hi,
    I wanted to let you know that we have about 57 followers to our League of Bloggers site! The number has been going up slowly but surely. Let’s keep up the good work!

  5. I just sent a message to the Help section of WordPress about the author invitation issue, so I’ll let you know what they say when I get a response.

  6. I got a response from the Help people. This is what they said:

    “The only other reason I can think of is that he perhaps mistyped your email address. Have him cancel the pending invitation and try to add you again, perhaps using your username rather than your email address. If that still doesn’t work ask him to please post in this thread himself as the problem could be his side rather than yours. Then I can tag this thread for staff.”

    You can join this discussion with the help person at–

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/author-invitation-not-being-received?replies=2#post-1944905

    • I wrote this to the same help person after their response (see my previous comment):

      “By the way, I had “notify me” checked for this discussion, but never got an email. I checked my junk mail, but nothing from WordPress was there. What should I do? Could WordPress be blocked from my email somehow? I don’t remember ever blocking it.”

      I’m asking them this because I’m thinking that everything from WordPress may be getting blocked for some reason. That could be our problem.

  7. Hey! I finally figured out what was wrong- I had WordPress email blocked, so I just unblocked it and was able to start receiving updates on my discussion with the Help staff. I wasn’t getting those updates before. For some reason, WordPress stuff wasn’t even showing up in my junk mail, even though it was on my blocked list.

    Try sending me the author invite again. It should work now. Sorry for all the trouble!

  8. Hi Bob,
    Thanks for your encouraging words in your email. I’m still waiting to see what’s going to happen with my situation. Everything is still up in the air.

  9. Hi Robert. Thank you for visiting my blog, which led me to your interesting blog. I really like your philosophy and totally agree that one can be moral and ethical without being religious. Religion can sometimes be used to justify the most immoral acts. Great blog.
    Best wishes,
    Emy

  10. Check out the editor’s note I added to Jerry’s latest League post. I deleted 2 of his posts recently, but I think I may do an editor’s note for posts instead of deleting them, depending on what the content of the post is. Tell me what you think.

    • That’s an appropriate disclaimer. I don’t understand why guest authors would want to post such off-theme content. It’s like talking about BBQ rib recipes with a room full of vegetarians! Readers of the blog will get confused.

      • I totally agree. I was actually thinking of deleting it, but he made the editor’s note suggestion after I told him I needed to delete two other posts of his. He said that the blog should be open to any kind of writing, but I explained to him that the group blog has a particular focus and that I wasn’t willing to allow writing that went against our shared views and beliefs about society and politics. He even suggested that we allow right-wing bloggers! I told him that right-wingers have enough power and more of a voice than anyone else, and that their ideology is destructive to society. The post I put the note on could easily by deleted as well, but I figured that it wasn’t negative or harmful, so I let it stay. But I’m definitely going to continue to monitor people’s writings.

        I haven’t had a problem with anyone else’s writing except for Alan’s. I’ve deleted a few of his, including one where he wrote that he was aligned (I assume only in opinion) with an anti-Assad militant group in Syria. I told him that a post like that was not appropriate for our blog because we don’t all agree with that ideology.

  11. Hello! I’ve nominated your blog for the ‘Real Neat Blog Award.’ You can learn more about it here: http://wp.me/p3XGQ4-160

    Feel free to participate, or not. If you have the time, pass the award on by nominating other worthy blogs.

    Meanwhile: ‘Congratulations! You’ve got a Real Neat Blog!’

    JoAnn

  12. I found this online a few days ago:
    Vision of the Four Wheels (from Ezekiel 1:15)
    Now as I looked at the living beings, behold, there was one wheel on the earth beside the living beings, for each of the four of them. The appearance of the wheels and their workmanship was like sparkling beryl, and all four of them had the same form, their appearance and workmanship being as if one wheel were within another. Whenever they moved, they moved in any of their four directions without turning as they moved.…

    • Yes, that was it! Beryl could be beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate, a naturally-occurring crystalline mineral (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beryl). A “sparkling beryl” “wheel” “within another [wheel]” that moved through the sky in any “direction without turning” sure sounds like our modern conception of a flying saucer, doesn’t it? But, there were no aircraft back then… not even balloons. I don’t see how Ezekiel’s description would fit a bird which is not crystalline, nor a meteor which cannot turn. What do you think? Was he just high on drugs?

      • I actually looked up some theories posited by theologians about this passage. The funny thing is that some of them seem so sure of themselves when trying to dissect this mess! Some say that the “beings” were angels or some other supernatural beings made by God. All of them say that the “wheels” were made of real beryl, which as you said, is an actual mineral with a shiny appearance like a gem. Some theologians say that the wheels represent mankind’s movement through the world when we are free from sin. In general, all of the theories sound rather garbled to me. I don’t think anyone really knows what this vision means.

        One particular Christian website suggested that the passage was only included in the Bible because Ezekiel was a well-respected prophet in his time, and so people must have felt that everything he said had meaning. In reality, who knows what Ezekiel was thinking! Maybe he was high, or perhaps even schizophrenic. Schizophrenics do have very vivid hallucinations, and the ones I’ve met often have hallucinations that are religious in nature.

      • Fascinating, although it sounds rather incongruous that a “well-respected prophet” could also be a schizophrenic prone to hallucinations. IMO, Ezekiel’s description of the flying wheels-within-wheels is obviously very similar to the countless eyewitness reports of saucer-shaped UFOs – which I find even more fascinating.

    • From what I’ve read and documentaries I’ve seen, sightings of UFOs is a modern phenomenon going back only as far as the early to mid-1900’s.

      • That is a commonly held myth. The term “UFO” dates to the mid-20th century, but the sightings of unidentified flying objects goes back to the beginning of recorded history. Native American legends refer to the “sky people” and other such notions which include petroglyphic images of non-human figures and their vehicles. The ancient Sumerian story of the Annunaki is about as “alien” as it gets. Some Renaissance (and later) paintings depict objects that obviously look like UFOs – here’s a couple of them:

        The Annunciation of St Emidus by Carlos Crivelli-1486

        and

        The Baptism of Christ by Aert De Gelder 1710

      • Okay, those pictures are creepy as hell! I’m speechless. They definitely look like UFO. They’re even saucer shaped! Do you know if there’s a chance these paintings were fakes?

      • I recall attempting to verify their authenticity a few years ago when I stumbled upon the pictures (I have at least two more if you want to see them). Although I found no evidence of forgery, there still is a chance they were faked. If you’d like to research it, please let me know what you find. 🙂

    • “UFO” means “Unidentified Flying Object.” So, do I believe people have seen things in the sky they couldn’t identify? Absolutely, I do. But, that doesn’t mean all these sightings were the result of a single phenomenon – extraterrestrial or otherwise.

      I’ve studied and written about many of the individual cases intensely over the years and I can state the following with great confidence. Some of the reported UFO phenomena were quite real and not at all imagined. What they actually were is not known. However, here’s a few notable instances that are on the public record:

      During the Truman Administration, the U.S. Military attempted to intercept unidentified, radar-tracked aircraft flying over Washington D.C. – but, were unable to do so. The UFOs easily evaded the fighter planes of that era, repeatedly returning over the city after the planes had been recalled.

      The Rendlesham Forest incident occurred at a nuclear-armed U.S. Air Force base in the U.K. over two days in December 1980. Not only did numerous American military personnel (including a high-ranking officer) observe a UFO hovering over the base, some of them came into direct contact with it when it landed on the ground.

      U.S. nuclear missile bases have lost operational control of their ballistic missile weapons on several occasions when UFOs were observed overhead by base personnel.

      So many airline pilots have witnessed UFOs, and have lost their flying privileges for reporting it, that the subject has become taboo. The case of Captain Kenju Terauchi and his JAL cargo flight in 1986 provides an excellent example.

      Police officers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, and other states have responded to UFO sightings, observed the objects, and have tried to follow them in their cars. The cases happen quite frequently, but only local news organizations are willing to cover the stories.

      Ronald Reagan admitted to seeing a UFO in California. Jimmy Carter officially reported a UFO sighting, as did America’s third president Thomas Jefferson. High-ranking public officials all over the world have been involved in UFO sightings. The Belgian Wave of 1989-1990 was a massive event with hundreds of sightings, radar tracking, and a concerted military response.

      • I didn’t know that there were so many military and pilot sightings. Those sound like they came from reputable people, people who would have little reason to lie about what they saw. Well, I don’t know what to make of that!

      • Like all other topics, the UFO phenomena are a mixture of fact, fiction, misinformation, and misunderstandings. It is our job to sort through it in order to discover objective truths.

    • I read it. Now, Nicci is backtracking and saying that her post was neither clear nor very good. I agree.

      She also has been very unprofessional. Two of my previous comments remain unapproved (not publicly visible), and one was in response to an impolite remark towards me which she has since deleted!

      The first of my comments which remain unapproved corrected her mis-characterization of your opinion for addressing racism. I wrote:

      “Tanya didn’t say that legislation was enough. This is what she wrote:

      >>> ‘… I really believe that racism, at least in America, needs a multi-pronged approach. ‘”

      My second unapproved comment responded to her personal criticism of me in regards to my support for feminists in the 1960s. She asserted that because I am male, I had no cause to speak out on behalf of the women’s movement. I wrote:

      “Condemning all activism based on a single example [Bono of U2] which you happen to disagree with is called ‘cherry-picking’ and it is a very poor argument.

      Those feminists who I protested with were extremely happy to have me with them and to speak out on their behalf. Furthermore, it is also a poor tactic to turn a debate personally as you just did with that reference. It’s a clear indication of a fundamentally weak argument.”

      I think Nicci is being disingenuous about her beliefs, and I am considering not following her blog anymore because of her unfair debate tactics. Sometimes people do not present themselves as they really are.

      • I agree with everything you’ve said. She’s obviously so uncomfortable with your responses to her comments that she won’t even allow them to be visible. Maybe she thinks she has no good counter-arguments, but it’s a bit childish to not at least let other people view your comments. I’m not planning on following her blog. It would be a waste of time.

  13. Robert! How ya doin’ my Man!? 😉

    I just popped over to see what all the rave and fuss was about over here. Seems you and several others, here and there(?) — LOL — have some highly functioning skills and human virtues such as tolerance, patience, and empathy. I sort of like those qualities! I think I’ll stick around for a bit, see what trouble I can find and/or get myself into… if that’s alright with you? 😀

    Btw, I have enjoyed reading your comments over on that naked ape’s blog. You are my type of people! 😛

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