March 27, 2015

Review: The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality


The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality
The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality by Chris C. Mooney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This is a very interesting book that casts the eternal difference between liberal and conservative, progressive and regressive, and in the US, Democrats and Republicans, in the light of science and psychology, with some fascinating results.

It helped shed light, at least for me, on an everyday Internet phenomenon: why you can get into a "discussion" (read: argument) with some idjit who refuses to accept evolution, or denies climate change, or subscribes to the vaccines-cause-autism nonsense, or insists that Sandy Hook was a "false flag" operation that didn't really happen because Obummer is coming to take our GUNNNNZZZZ!!! (yes, I argued with some asshole for quite a while over this), and no matter how much logic and reason you bombard them with, or how many links you throw their way (and every single link you come up with is the product of a "biased liberal website"), they will...not...change their minds.

I couldn't understand it. I'm used to changing my viewpoint if a sufficient amount of evidence pointing in another direction comes in. When you work in a medical field, you pretty much have to. I mean, people thought Vioxx was a great drug too...until studies appeared indicating that it killed people, and it was yanked off the market. (The FDA didn't come off too well in that flustercluck either, but that's another subject.) I get my news from various sources, including (gasp!) the old-fashioned, pre-Cambrian newsprint page. (As in, my state's largest paper, definitely not a "liberal site," whatever the hell that means. Most of the time, I think it means anything that doesn't agree with a conservative's already-fixed opinions.) I couldn't comprehend why anyone would blindly charge ahead, in the face of accepted scientific evidence, and deny reality--and in fact, be proud of it.

This book helped with that a great deal.

It has to do with the basic psychology of liberals and conservatives--Openness to Experience versus Resistance to Change, hierarchs versus egalitarians, individualists versus communitarians. There are a lot of fairly involved terms thrown around in this book: cognitive dissonance, motivated reasoning, smart idiots, confirmation bias, and on and on. The author explains these well, and goes into great detail regarding the studies he offers up as proof of his thesis, including a study he helped design. His overall tone, it seems to me, is very even-handed and matter-of-fact, even as he's showing that conservatives are simply wrong about any number of things, and they will not accept it.

This would be fine (as my mother always said about a particularly jackassy relative: "Leave him alone in his glory") if they weren't threatening to drag this country and the entire damn world down with them, in the case of climate change. It would also be fine if they weren't attempting to roll back every good thing this country has ever done, namely the New Deal, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act (and getting the Supreme Court's help, in the case of the latter). As the old saying goes, elections have consequences, and at this point in time, letting Republicans run things invites some very bad consequences indeed.

At any rate, this book does a good job of exposing and illustrating this. I also own the author's previous book, The Republican War on Science, but have not yet read it. I must rectify that soon; I think it would be a very good companion to this one.



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March 16, 2015

Review: Symbiont


Symbiont
Symbiont by Mira Grant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



First of all, I'll say I was rather hesitant to read this book, as I only gave the first book in the trilogy, Parasite, two stars. I finally decided to check it out of the library, and I'm glad I did. I'm happy to report that as far as I am concerned, this is a much better book than Parasite.

Part of the first book's problem was the unfortunate telegraphing of the Big Plot Reveal: the protagonist's Intestinal Bodyguard, the genetically engineered tapeworm that inhabits the gut of nearly the entire human population in this near-future medical thriller, has left her intestine and migrated to her brain, saving her dying body and awakening to full sentience. So our plucky heroine, Sal, is not only six years old, she's not "human" at all. (This rather interesting theme is woven throughout the book: What, exactly, is a person?) I figured this out loooooong before Sal did. That was the main reason, along with Sal's flat, passive, nigh helpless personality, I gave the book only two stars.

Fortunately, this book addresses all these problems. Sal exhibits considerable growth throughout this book's pages; she'll never be a kickass physical fighter, but she starts taking charge of her life. This includes accepting who and what she is, and learning to control and use the unique abilities her hybrid existence gives her (including sensing the presence of "sleepwalkers," zombie-like humans whose tapeworms are awakening but who have not or cannot make the full integration into sapience as Sal has done; and using tapeworm communication, via pheromones, to control said zombies). Instead of hiding behind her boyfriend, as Parasite-era Sal mostly did, this Sal steps out, plans, and takes risks, and ends up sacrificing herself for the group. (Not literally, although this plot twist is rather interesting--Sal and a small group are trying to rescue another "chimera," Mira Grant's term for a fully integrated tapeworm/human, and to get her comrades out alive, Sal pretends that Sally Mitchell, her body's previous personality, has awakened. She's pretending to be a person who is dead, a person she knows nothing about. The book ends on this cliffhanger.)

Everything about this book is vastly improved--the characterizations are deeper, the pacing is better, the plot flows nicely and makes more sense, and I didn't figure out what was going to happen only a few chapters in. I'm now looking forward to the third book, Chimera, coming later this year.



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March 8, 2015

The Case Against Stupidity

What the hell is Shelby Steele nattering on about? Racism "ain't gonna move," so black people should "get on with their lives" and accept second-class citizenship? That's the stupidest, most defeatist thing I've ever heard. Watch and slam your head against the wall.


 

February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, RIP :`(

There are so many things to be said about Leonard Nimoy. I've sure you've seen some of them--the Internet fairly exploded today with the sad news of his death. This commercial, featuring Leonard and Zachary Quinto (old Spock and new Spock) combined a passing of the torch, the "Bilbo Baggins" song, and a man who had lived so long and so well, and still had so much to give.





Many people, especially on Twitter, are appending news of Leonard's death with the hashtag #LLAP, for "Live Long and Prosper." I prefer IDIC--Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Leonard's life was a lovely example of this philosophy, and I'm very glad he shared it with his fans.

February 20, 2015

Review: Bad Feminist: Essays


Bad Feminist: Essays
Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I actually subscribed to Roxane Gay's blog before I realized she had a book out. I enjoyed what I read on her blog so much I searched for her book, and I'm glad I did.

This is one of the strongest essay collections I have read in some time. Gay is a sharp, incisive writer, full of insightful nuggets and entertaining tidbits. The best essays here (and there are many) will make you look at the world in different ways, which is all any writer can hope for.

My favorite pieces include the hilarious "To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically," which is a detailed look at competitive Scrabble tournaments (!). Make sure you read the footnotes, as they made me laugh out loud. Just one example: "Qoph is a Hebrew letter. My opponent not only shared the word's meaning, he also explained the origins (something about a sewing needle; frankly, I had tuned him out at that point) and pronunciation. After the exciting word lesson, he started telling me all the possible Q words one can spell without a U. I wondered, Is there a Q in 'motherfucker'?"

There are many different and surprising topics here, ranging from the Sweet Valley High books, which the author professes an unapologetic love for, to writing about rape to movie reviews (including a thorough deconstructing of the problematic The Help) to reproductive freedom. All of them are worth your time. This is not a book to be rushed through; it needs to be read slowly, thought about, and savored.





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February 16, 2015

Wanker of the Day

Pulled this gem from Right Wing Watch.

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel stopped by VCY America’s “Crosstalk” yesterday to discuss his group’s attempt to stop judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Alabama. Staver praised Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for flouting the ruling of a federal court on the matter and lashed out at the Supreme Court for rejecting Alabama’s appeal of the marriage case, saying that Alabama “does not have to obey” any future Supreme Court ruling “that there’s some invented right to same-sex marriage and therefore you can’t have marriage as a union of a man and a woman.”

“That is so far off the beaten path, so far removed from the Constitution that it is no rule of law,” Staver said. “There is a limit to what the court can do, there is a limit to what the people can stomach. If that court were to say, the laws of gravity were fine for the founders but we have progressed, we’re a progressive society and we think they have changed, you would say, ‘That’s nuts, have they lost their mind?’ The question is: Have they lost their mind by saying there’s a constitutional right for same-sex marriage?”

Because everybody knows the laws of physics and a civil contract between two people are the exact same thing!

*headdesk*

February 15, 2015

Review: Outpost


Outpost
Outpost by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



When I finished this book, I breathed a sigh of relief. It's a much better book than Enclave, and for the most part it deals with the problems I had with the first book in the trilogy. (Review here.)

This is a slower, more thoughtful, contemplative book, which is exactly what it needs to be. Deuce's world has been left behind, she's been thrown into an utterly alien environment, and she must figure out how to cope. The town of Salvation has rigid gender roles and views, and considers anyone under sixteen to be a child rather than an adult. Needles to say, Deuce, the fifteen-year-old Huntress who has been trained to think for/take care of herself, fits in about as well as you might expect. One of the themes of this story is being true to yourself and not apologizing for who you are, and I greatly admire Deuce's sense of loyalty and responsibility. She has been brought up to protect others, and that is what she is going to do, no matter who disapproves.

That's not to say there isn't a lot of action in this book. There is. It just occurs in short, measured bursts, instead of the slam-bang rocket ride that was Enclave's entire narrative. Deuce does a lot of hand-to-hand fighting, and is not afraid to go up against any man; she knows that even if she is not quite as strong, her mind and skills are greater. But in this book she learns the value of her emotions, as she comes to care for the family she never had. She also settles things with her estranged love interest, Fade, by the simple expedient of having an adult conversation (and reminding him that he must talk to her, as well). (Although that character revelation falls a bit by the wayside in the latter third of the book, after Deuce rescues Fade from the huge Freak encampment. Freaks are the villains of this post-apocalyptic world, where nearly all of humanity has been killed by a virus, and the majority of the survivors turned into mutants. Deuce brings Fade out of the camp, but he is obviously traumatized. She tries to give him space to heal, but unfortunately he falls prey to the I'm-no-good-for-you-now cliche and pushes her away. Hopefully the third book will resolve this.) Deuce also builds relationships with many people in Salvation, and learns how to live in a slightly more civilized society than the one she was born in. Although Salvation has its flaws, as we come to find out.

Now. The character of Stalker was my big Red Flag in the first book, as I felt the author was turning him into the Rehabilitated Rapist. In this book, to my surprise, Ann Aguirre addresses those concerns, for the most part. Stalker is still too pushy for my taste, and seems not to understand the meaning of the word "no" (although he does say that he wants Deuce to choose him for himself, not because Fade isn't there anymore). However, he does come to realize that the way he acted, as much as he may have thought it a necessity at the time, was not the right thing to do, and he goes to Tegan (Deuce's friend and the former sex slave of Stalker's gang, the Wolves) and apologizes to her.

Whether or not the reader can believe in, and accept, this apology is an entirely personal thing. I think, given the storyline, it worked. (As Deuce says, she has also done things she's not proud of, including killing a man at the age of twelve as he begged for his life.) Of course, this is in the context of a brutal post-apocalyptic world, where civilization has entirely broken down. The characters are trying to navigate this world and find their place in it (and not incidentally trying to survive) and they're going to screw up.

The action picks up in the last third of the book, ending with Salvation surrounded by mutants. The tension generated by Deuce's refusal to conform to Salvation's expected gender roles boils over, resulting in some of the people in the town coming after her, in an eerie future reenactment of the Salem witch hunts. The town's leader breaks the stalemate by sending Deuce (and Stalker, Fade and Tegan, who join her) on a desperate mission to nearby towns for reinforcements. ("Nearby" meaning, in this future, several days' journey on foot--at least the author didn't resort to the horrid cliche of motorized vehicles still working in a post-apocalyptic society.) The book ends on a far more effective cliffhanger than Enclave, as Deuce and her companions leave Salvation by way of a secret tunnel, evade the horde of Freaks, and set out to find help.

This book definitely benefited from its slower pace and concentrating on the characters. Now, from what it sounds like, the action is going to pick up again. The third book in the series, Horde, awaits me.




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February 5, 2015

Review: Enclave


Enclave
Enclave by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I've actually read this book before. But the reason I keep the vast majority of my books, and the reason bookcases are gradually taking over my house, is that I very much enjoy rereading books. Once I know what happens and the visceral excitement of page-turning ebbs, I can better appreciate exactly what the author is doing with her story. (This is also why I don't mind spoilers.) Plot, characterization, worldbuilding, pacing, dialogue--all things I notice on the initial read-through, to be sure, but things I can also follow more closely the second or third time around.

There are many elements of this book I grew fonder of during this reading, but there was also one horrid, problematic plot element I cannot believe the author let slip by. I'll get to that. First, the good: the worldbuilding and characterization. This is another of those post-apocalyptic science fiction dystopias I enjoy so much: society is destroyed by a virus that killed most people and turned others into cannibalistic mutants (not zombies, despite what some Goodreads reviewers assert--the Freaks/Eaters/Muties are alive, not dead), and a hundred years or more from now, small isolated pockets of non-infected humanity are all that's left. Including "enclaves" of people in the tunnels underneath New York City--tiny ragged bands on the edge, living short brutish lives (twenty-five is old in the protagonist Deuce's world), eating rats and mushrooms (one does wonder how they avoid scurvy and countless other diseases brought on by poor nutrition) and fighting roaming bands of Freaks in the abandoned subway tunnels.

Our hero Deuce is well done; at fifteen, she's lived long enough to earn a name (instead of "Girl" and a number) and a promotion to Huntress, which is what she has always wanted to be. (There are only three castes in the enclave--Builder, Breeder and Hunter.) The author impressively shows her growth from obedient, unquestioning rule-follower to exiled rebel, after she protects her friend accused of "hoarding" (keeping information from the group) and is turned out as a result. She and her partner/love interest, Fade, a Hunter who actually lived aboveground--"Topside"--with his father, leave the tunnels behind and ascend into the ruins of New York, both to find other living, non-Freakified people and to solve the mystery of why their world is the way it is.

Some reviews have suggested that the worldbuilding is vague. I don't think that's true at all; the reader must remember that throughout this book we are firmly in Deuce's head, and in the beginning she neither knows nor cares why things are as they are. All she wants is to be a Huntress, fight the Freaks, and survive. It's only later, as she learns to think on her own and realizes her enclave's Elders are misleading people at best and murdering people at worst, that she wants to find out what happened. We're following along with Deuce as she learns, and Aguirre is doing a masterful job of this, revealing the secrets of her world without infodumps.

BUT.

There's one terrible plot element I cannot imagine the author leaving in. I'm sure for many people, it would be enough to stop reading the book altogether. It wasn't a deal-breaker for me, because I love Ann Aguirre; I have her entire Sirantha Jax/Corine Solomon series, and at this point in time, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. But to warn those who are sensitive to such things: after Fade and Deuce come out of the tunnels, they emerge in a world which is even more savage than their enclave existence. The New York ruins are inhabited by lawless, anarchic gangs, and one, the Wolves, captures our heroes. Deuce meets a girl about her age, Tegan, who has been kept as the Wolves' sex slave; she has been repeatedly gang-raped and bore two children who died. Deuce and Fade manage to get away, taking Tegan with them, and the gang's leader, Stalker, follows. There is a fight at the New York Public Library, where our Gang of Three has gone to find any information they can, between Our Gang and Stalker's, which is interrupted by a band of Freaks. After this free-for-all, since most of the Wolves have been killed, Stalker insists on accompanying Our Gang. Deuce and Fade permit this, over Tegan's objections. It's not stated outright, but it's a strong possibility Stalker was one of her rapists. And worse than this, Aguirre seems to set out to rehabilitate Stalker, turning him into another love interest for Deuce (although he clearly has his old rapist mentality, since he insists on pursuing and kissing her even after she clearly tells him no).

This is Not Cool. As I said, the rest of the story is strong enough that I'm willing to overlook it, for the moment. Other people may not be. I don't know why this particular plot thread even exists, as it's gratuitous and unnecessary. It just mars what would be a very good book, and for no reason as far as I can see. Nevertheless, our Gang of Three, now Gang of Four, continues on their journey north, and Deuce learns about sunshine and snow, and they eventually discover an entire city of survivors (old survivors at that! Forty-two! It's a shocking indication how far humanity has fallen, that forty-two is ancient), a city named Salvation.

The ending is rather abrupt, with a cliffhanger that could charitably be called "weak," and we understand Deuce's entire world has changed. The next book, Outpost, which I've already started, will presumably explore those changes.

Argh. I wish the Rehabilitated Rapist thing had been completely removed. This book would be so much better without it.



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January 29, 2015

Review: Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights


Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights
Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I'll start out by saying that I am unabashedly in favor of reproductive rights and against forced-birtherism, so naturally this book is right up my alley. Women's bodily autonomy and human rights should not even be up for discussion. Unfortunately, due to the 2010/2014 elections, and the spate of laws passed in the states chipping away at the basic constitutional rights established in Roe v. Wade, (usually offered under the disingenuous guise of "protecting women") they are, forty years after this should have been settled.

Most of what Katha Pollitt says here is familiar to me; I use it all the time to argue with people (on the Internet and in real life) who think I should be demoted to a second-class citizen because of a stray sperm. What I think is interesting is how she follows the line of anti-abortion thought to its end, and exposes the mental pretzel-twisting that plagues most people who oppose abortion. To name just a few (the chapters go into far greater detail than this, nailing down every twist of forced-birther illogic): Why should you have rape and incest exceptions at all? No matter how the baby got there, it's still a life, isn't it? Why do you support only prosecuting the people who perform abortions, and not the women who asked for them? For those who believe an abortion is murder, if an elective abortion isn't pre-meditated murder, then what is? How many years in prison should a woman get for an abortion? Also, if you really want to reduce the abortion rate, why don't you support contraception and comprehensive sex education, instead of bleating the usual refrain (and I have seen this so many times I've lost count) of "The slut should have kept her legs closed"? You do realize that makes you sound like an embittered puritan who wants to punish women for participating in a natural everyday human activity instead of protecting "life," don't you?

Throughout the chapters, the author pursues this "logic" to its inevitable end, which would mean reducing women to the status of reproductive chattel. If forced birthers would just show some intellectual honesty and admit it, they would say that they want a law just like Ireland's or El Salvador's. No abortion allowed from conception on, not even in the case of a fatally deformed fetus, and most reluctantly (see: Savita Halappanavar...except that, ooops, she died) to save the woman's life. Along with investigations into every miscarriage, and prison terms for women who have abortions, and lifestyle restrictions on every woman of reproductive age, since after all they might become pregnant at any moment. And also, very likely, restrictions on birth control (no "abortifacients," no matter that there isn't any such thing) and in-vitro fertilization (as every one of those embryos has to find a home somewhere), which would have the desired effect of driving women out of the workforce and back into the kitchen, since you can hardly be a doctor or a lawyer or a Senator or maybe even President if you're having a baby every one or two years.

Hmm. What happened to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? That's for men only, I guess.

Sorry, I'm being facetious. A little. I know many of these people are sincere in their belief that abortion is murder, even if they're quite sincerely wrong. But since it is my Constitutional right, it really doesn't matter what opponents think. (This is why we'll have to keep relying on the courts to strike down these ridiculous laws, TRAP and ultrasound laws and heartbeat bills and so forth.) I appreciate the author's suggestion to reframe abortion as part of women's health care, no more and no less, and not "safe, legal and rare" but right and good if the woman wants it. There isn't, and shouldn't be, anything shameful about having an abortion. It's my right and my life, and we need more books like these to remind people of that fact.



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January 26, 2015

Rights for Me, But Not for Thee

(Sorry for the length, folks. But when you see something as stupid as this, you just gotta fisk it.)

Today’s rant tackles a theme I’m sure many of you are talking about: the Supreme Court finally taking up gay marriage. According to what I’ve read, the court will decide two questions. 1) Do bans on same-sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment? and 2) Must states recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states?

Of course, the prospect of gay marriage being decided in this country once and for all brought out the unhinged, including the person I’m ranting about, Steve Deace. His little “con” article in my USA Today insert was a masterpiece of frothing incoherence.

Just to comment on a few things:

The American view of law and government is summarized in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, by these three things: 

  • There is a God. 
  • Our rights come from God, not government. 
  • Government’s only role is to preserve and protect those God-given rights. 

This first sentence aptly illustrates the inanity of his argument. For one thing, the Declaration of Independence is not our founding document. That would be the Constitution. You know, the thing that specifies how this country is to be run? The document that can be amended, and has been, twenty-seven times?

In this case, the Supreme Court will decide the applicability of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution re: same-sex marriage. No more, no less. The Declaration of Independence isn’t even in this picture.

Furthermore, Mr. Deace’s little “American view of law and government” house of cards falls apart with its first assertion, that being: There is a God. Since he cannot empirically prove such a being exists, much less that said being is sitting in the White House or the Chief Justice’s chair, all his subsequent assertions are falsified as well. I would also add: Whatever rights we have come from the society and time in which we live, not any Supreme Being. As such, those rights have changed throughout human history (otherwise, the Magna Carta would never have been signed, African-Americans might still be in slavery, and women would not have the right to vote), and will continue to change as societies evolve. As this case will hopefully illustrate.

Next, he bleats about the Supremes “redefining the institution of marriage” as if that doesn’t happen all the time, without courts having anything to do with it. I believe child brides were once a thing, and still are in many parts of the world. In this country, however, the idea of forcibly marrying a girl off at twelve or thirteen is beyond the pale. Polygamy was also very common in generations past (remember Solomon’s seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines?), and still happens in many countries. Yet in this country (so far) we’ve restricted marriage to two people. (As the Latter-Day Saints found out, to their sorrow.) Yeah, that redefinition thing just keeps trotting right along, doesn’t it?

(As for the “slippery slope” of gay marriage leading to polygamy—I’m not aware of any polygamists, LDS or otherwise, petitioning the courts at the moment. When and if they do, the conversation, as long as it involves consenting adults, would certainly be worth having. The main obstacles to a group marriage, it seems to me, would have more to do with mundane things like taxes, property rights, and inheritance.)

Then he tosses off this hooey:

This argument has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not two people of the same gender who care about each other can live together like heterosexuals can. There is no one in prison today, or faced with it, because they violated their state’s amendment defining marriage as a man and a woman. 

Since we’re talking about things that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, which part of this paragraph qualifies? Why, the first and second sentences! Are “living together” and “marriage” the same thing in the eyes of the law? I believe that was the whole point of the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, that the legal benefits of marriage are slightly different that simply sharing a house and a bed!

Also, you damn betcha there’s no one in prison because they violated their state’s amendment defining marriage. No, gay people aren’t in prison; they just can’t get a marriage license like everyone else! Which is, I believe, why they’re citing the Fourteenth Amendment in their petitions to the Supreme Court. You know, that whole “equal protection under the law” thing?

Mr. Deace then cites instances of people losing their jobs for simply being Christians. In the case of the Atlanta fire chief, I find it interesting that the article cited didn’t reveal what Kelvin Cochran said in his book (that he admitted distributing to employees) that got him fired. Another article on the firing, however, does:

Among other things, he called homosexuality a “perversion,” compared it to bestiality and pedophilia, and said homosexual acts are “vile, vulgar and inappropriate.” 

In other words, Mr. Deace repeats the typical anti-gay-marriage whine: he wants proponents to have their free speech without consequences. If I substituted “miscegenation” for “homosexuality,” wrote that interracial sex is “vile, vulgar and inappropriate,” compared it to bestiality and pedophilia, and distributed a book stating such things to my employees, would Mr. Deace expect me to escape with my job intact?

By the way, promoting shit like this used to get gay people killed. I notice Mr. Deace says nothing about that.

He ends his column with this over-the-top paragraph:

Make no mistake, that is the end game here. To make religious people and institutions choose between following God, which the constitution protects, or following political correctness. 

"Oh noes! If the Supreme Court strikes down laws disallowing same-sex marriage, I’ll have to divorce my wife and marry a man!"

Sorry, Steve. That won’t happen, and would be as much of an outrage as those anti-gay-marriage laws have always been. Nor would any church be required to marry a gay couple, and rightfully so. (He forgets to mention that many Christian congregations and pastors welcome the gay people in their midst, and would be delighted to marry them.)

He also does a little factual twisting, to put it mildly, in regards to the oaths Supreme Court justices swear:

Does freedom come from God, as every Supreme Court justice acknowledges when they swear their oaths of office to Him? 

This is hogwash. Here are the oaths Supreme Court justices take

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God." 

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God." 

Is the word “freedom” in either one of those oaths (other than “taking this obligation freely,” which is not at all the same thing), much less linked to the closing “so help me God” words? In fact, both oaths speak of supporting, defending, discharging and performing the duties of the Constitution and the laws of the United States, not a Supreme Being or any religious text.

You know, that whole Fourteenth Amendment thing? And administering justice “without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and the rich”? That’s the heart of this case. As it should be. 

Sometimes I almost feel sorry for those ignorant boors who are so desperately fighting the same-sex-marriage tsunami. They know they're on the wrong side of history and they're going to lose, and they're just like dinosaurs being sucked down in the tar pit.