Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My Mama vs Bush's Mama

A Constitutional Crisis: "The former vice president warns us what can happen without congressional oversight over a defiant White House."

The White House spin on Mr. Gore’s charges against Bush’s felony spying on Americans is that Clinton’s FBI raided Aldrich Ames’ house without a warrant.  When my mama stopped me from doing a bad thing, I would sometimes say, “well Billy did it”!  Mama would say, “if Billy jumped off the bridge would you?”  My mama is smarter than the nitwits in the White house.  If Clinton did a bad thing, how does that excuse Bush for the same bad thing x 1010 ?  Since John Dillinger robbed banks, I can too? What kind of basic sense does that make? I guess maybe Bush’s mama was too busy doing some society thing to tell George about Billy and the bridge.

I have 2 questions: Do you suppose that one of these days we could have a grownup in the White House?  Why is it illegal to slap that cute chimp smirk off Bush’s face like his mama should have done 50 years back.

Commentary on Happiness and Wonder

The following is commentary on quote sent by a friend.

The test of all happiness is gratitude," Chesterton wrote, and many of us have flunked that test. "Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs?"

It is not coincidence that makes the root of happy is hap. The test of happiness is what happens. It is true that we can fake ourselves into an emotion for a time, but happiness is one emotion that does not stick for long, like say hate. I would find it difficult to believe that the sex slave is unhappy because she is ungrateful. Would anyone in his right mind expect her to be grateful for what is happening? And so it is with billions of people that are not as blessed as Chesterton. That happiness is elusive is not strange. Happiness represents the condition of being in equilibrium. Since equilibrium is a fragile condition for a biological being, so too is happinesss. Without continued equilibrium, continued happiness is a danger to life. Unhappiness is compulsion to action. Unhappiness is continual when action does not bring one closer to equalibrium

We feel no wonder at ordinary things; it is no wonder that ordinary things disappoint us. Chesterton could be made happy by the sudden yellowness of a dandelion, but we do not find dandelions delightful if we are constantly comparing them to orchids. "It is not familiarity but comparison that breeds contempt.

We feel no wonder at ordinary things because they are ordinary. As far as the relationship to things out there, the brain is largely a difference detector. Its attention focuses on that which is different in the background of experience. It is not that I don't feel wonder about my legs it is that I don't notice them at all unless they don't walk, hurt, itch, etc. I don't say to myself, "oh poo, just legs, how ordinary!" I just get up and walk without thinking of legs at all. I don't notice them unless they do something (extra)ordinary. Attention is limited and gets assigned to what is new -- wonder. There is no wonder for things already known. Children have more wonder than adults because more things are new for them. I don't find things to be contemptible merely because I am familiar with them. On the other hand, it would be impossible to hold in contempt something I don't have any familiarity with. I would first have to wonder about something before I dispise it. I'm not sure if the author is condemning comparison; if he is, then he is talking nonsense. I delight in the yellow of dandilions in the spring, but by the third time I've mowed them, they are not so delightful. Orchids, on the other hand, do not mess up my lawn. Is the author implying that unhappiness lies in having a favorite flower?

And all such captious comparisons are ultimately based on the strange and staggering heresy that a human being has a right to dandelions; that in some extraordinary fashion we can demand the very pick of all the dandelions in the garden of Paradise; that we owe no thanks for them at all and need feel no wonder at them at all."

There is something in this, though I find it misses the mark. (I just love using those old concepts in new ways.) Certainly we have a right to Dandelions. The heresy is not recognizing that other beings have the same right to the dandelion, including dandelions. The heresy is, "these are my dandelions," or "dandelions may be used only in this fashion and no other," or "this land is mine and dandelions have no right to it." We do owe thanks to the dandelions, but not wonder.

The twin brother of this presumptive attitude is despair, and the two make us sick and tired. "Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy. It is when for some reason or other the good things in a society no longer work that the society begins to decline; when its food does not feed, when its cures do not cure, when its blessings refuse to bless."

Pure balony. Don't tell me the sex slave is weary of joy. How could she be?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Shall We be Like all the Nations?

I’m sorry it’s Sunday and I feel a sermon coming on.  Our text for today:

1 Samuel 8: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.  6But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.  7And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.  8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.  9Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.  10And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.  11And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.  12And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.  13And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.  14And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.  15And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.  16And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.  17He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.  18And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. 19Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

My nation is this the place you have come to because you are afraid of a few terrorists?  Is fear why you are happy and even egar to have a King rule over you? Are you really willing to give yourself to a King?  Before you decide to tread further along the path of tyranny, remember that your fathers said unto you:“

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

Back in the olden days when women were just getting liberated, Virginia Slim told them that they had come far enough to kill themselves with their own cigs.  No longer did they have to rely on the Marlboro man.  “You’ve come a long way baby,” is supposed to be a sign of progress.  I’ve come far enough in life to have noticed that not all going and coming is actual progress.  There are plenty of times that you just have gone the wrong way and going back is the way of progress.

The United States has come a long way since Tom Jefferson and friends argued over just how to word the declaration of independence. But much of the way we’ve come isn’t necessarily progress.  The Right Impeachable George W. Bush and his pirate crew have come to a place where they laugh at the idea that they derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed”.  They derive their just powers from military force, in the same way that the original King George, who inspired these words of our fathers, did.  The new King George makes law by fiat, like the original.  And by simply making a statement at the signing of a bill of law, indicates that he the King does not have to abide by that law.

This leads me to believe that the time has come to dust off the declaration of Independence.  I know that is going back down the trail a piece, but when the trail you are on is leading to tyranny there is no point in going on. We have long been under the illusion that the government is the country, and now we are adding to that that the King is the Country.  Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury I submit to you that you are by right citizens and not subjects as the pirates on the poop deck would have you believe.  Do not say to yourselves, “but we are at war”.  The war is the instrument of these tyrants.  The instrument by which they hide the way back to liberty.  You were either born with these words in your bosom, or you took them unto your heart.  Subjecting yourselves to the fiat of a King is not for you.    

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Chef says "Feh" to Religion

In a Readers Write report at Alternet a reader responded to Jews say, “Feh” to Darwin with this:

"Your question, 'Who knows were we might be today but for the stultifying effect off religion???' implies that it is religion that has been the root of all evil. Indeed, much evil has come from that quarter. But removal of the influence of organized religion did not make for particularly free or progressive societies in the USSR under Stalin, in the PRC under Mao or in DPRK under Kim Il Sung & Kim Jong Il. Notwithstanding removal of religion's 'stultifying effects' under these regimes, 'ignorance,' along with other evils, managed nevertheless to 'proliferate.'"

People should know that the communists in these countries were not TrueAtheists™. It is unfortunate that TrueAtheists™, such as myself, tend to be painted with the evil communist brush even by non-members of the fundamental Fire Baptized Church of the Gory Death Guided by the Unerring King James Bible with Schofield Notes Baptist Central Southern Convention. Even Islamists think that TrueAtheists™ have to be extra evil people. After all, people that don’t have some heavenly thug to scare the shit out of them will probably torture people, unlike TrueChristians™ like ummm… oh like George Bush.

Well it is true that evil communists like the Kims will torture people unlike the TrueChristian™ George Bush. It is not true that they are TrueAtheists™. While it is true they profess not to have a god, communists are not without religion. You don’t really need to have a God to have a religion. All that is needed is a TrueDoctrine™. Communism is/was distilled religion, everything boiled away leaving only TrueDoctrine™. And just like religion anywhere Communism protected TrueDoctrine™ by being mean to people. Communists just noticed that you don’t really need a god to be mean to people. What The Reader didn’t notice was that Communism didn’t get rid of organized religion, it only got rid of a God to go with the religion.* That means that at least within recorded history, no society has yet tried to live without organized religion.

I agree the Reader’s implication that religion is not the root of all evil. Religion is only the medium in which the roots of evil grow best. The notion that humans are on the top of the heap of life, accompanied by the notion that some particular humans are on the top of the heap of humans is the root of evil. Religion is fertile soil in which the root of evil grows. A TrueAtheist™ is not just godless, but also religionless in hopes that evil will die from lack of nourishment.

*Let’s note here that while Communism did get rid of gods it didn’t get rid of Saints.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ah Nuts!

Some people think that I’m a gun control nut because A. I don’t keep any guns, except for a couple of antique shot guns which I haven’t had out of the case in decades except to see if they are rusting. B. I don’t agree with much that is said about reasons to keep guns. C. I’m a bleeding heart liberal.

For reasons I won’t go into, I feel that it is best that I don’t keep any effective guns in my house.  However, I think that most people should have an assault rifle and a hand gun with ammo per educated gun user in the closet, but not for the reasons frequently given by the average gun nut.  The reason to have these on hand is not your neighbor, it is your government.  You read right.  The entity that threatens your freedom is your government, and it has always been so.  As recent events in America have shown, constitutional checks and balances are not sufficient to keep the government from running amuck. The check of an armed populace is needed to keep the government group-thinking “oops”.  Any gun control that there may be should be directed at the government, not the citizen.

My good gun nut internet friend sent me a blog from Anna Benson entitled Dear Gun Haters.  I shall of course comment.

Anna says, “I think that one of the most important aspects of gun ownership is gun education.”

     That’s right.  In fact it is so important that it ought to be taught in high school along side or inside a course called “Government for the People and By the People”. (Text book to be written by Howard Zinn.)  It should be a hands on course including gun handling, fire and maneuver, militia management, memorization of one’s state and the federal constitution, voting, lobbying, congress person letter writing with the fine art of indignant rant, and understanding propaganda.  In other words getting educated about what the government does not really want you to know.  Now for the “Gun Nut” stuff.

Anna says, “I have many guns (strategically placed) in my home to be used in the event of a home invasion—a crime which frequently occurs in my city.”

     I don’t know what city Anna lives in.  I myself live in a small metro area of 243,000 and have never read of this crime on the police blotter.  None of my friends have reported having trouble with this.  None of my relatives have been invaded including a brother in Minneapolis and one in Boston.  Home invasions do occur in NY City, at the rate of about 100 per year.  On the surface that gives the average New Yorker a 1 in 81,000 chance of being invaded vs. a 1 in 17,712 chance of dieing from a fall. Which means that you’d get more bang for your defense buck by making sure the kids don’t keep their skates and balls on the stairs.  But that is not the whole story.  Apparently home invasions take place between drug dealers.

I’m going to take a guess that Anna Benson Enterprises doesn’t include crack sales.  I would make sense that the NY invadees do have guns around the house.  I’m mean they are drug dealers! Come on!  Yet they are invaded successfully anyway.  Anyway, I have the feeling that any invader, outside of complete morons, will start the process by getting the drop on you.  Unless you are the Ringo Kid with your big iron on your hip, you maybe shouldn’t try to beat the drop if on the off chance you are mistaken for a drug dealer?  Just go ahead and give them your crack stash!  The point is, keeping a gun to prevent house invasion is a moronic excuse.

Anna says, “Fight fire with more firepower! In Atlanta, I can have as many guns as I want and I can even carry the weapon, in plain view, on the front seat of my car”

     If carrying fire arms is to prevent random muggings and car-jackings, why the hell aren’t they carried where everyone can see them?  What good are they in your purse, or in your arm pit?  Why doesn’t your average uniformed cop carry his gun in a purse?  I don’t want a concealed gun permit.  I want a revealed gun permit!  Besides just think what a fashion statement gun belts designed by gay guys could make.

Anna says, “Don’t get me wrong, I AM worried about criminals with guns, and I AM worried about guns on the streets. But, this is why I believe that each and every law abiding citizen should have the right to own a gun and the legal means to obtain a gun in order to protect their family. I’d bet that even an anti-gun activist would really wish they had a gun if someone broke into their home.”

     But why Anna why?  Out of the approximately 12,000 deaths by firearm per year in the US only about 200 are justified homicides by citizens.  That means that the opportunity to stop crime with a gun is rather rare even in the crime ridden US of A.  A bald man could carry a comb on the off chance his hair will come back -- I suppose it happens?  This is just another boogey man under the bed reason for a gun.  If you are really interested in stopping crime, vote those lying bastard thieves in the government out of office, and have a gun in your closet in case they refuse to leave.

43% of murdered people are murdered by someone they know or are related to. 14% of murdered people are victims of strangers.  Another 43% are murdered by someone with an unknown relationship with the victim. Women need a gun more to protect themselves from their lovers, than from the greasy guy waiting behind a tree for them to walk by.

Look at it like this: you don’t need a reason to have a gun.  It is your right to have a gun.  I think that it is even your duty to have a gun, unless you are unfit for the duty.  Just stop with the lame excuses!  It drives me nuts, and that is a short trip.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Let's Get Organized.

In a 747 - none of the individual parts fly - (but TOGETHER they do) - how does this relate to "Evolution" / Creation debates ?

  True.  However, individually the parts do other things.  Computers don't need to be in an airplane to compute.  Wheels don't need to be on an airplane to roll.  Windows don't need to be on an air plane to be seen through.  Hydraulic rams don't need to be on an airplane to move, and so on and on.

    What a creationist forgets or overlooks is that the parts of a living organism used to or still do something simpler then they do now.  All living things are made up of the simplest parts (cells) that used get along by themselves.  All cells can at least sense what is food and what is not food.  The ability to sense things are based on this simple thing.  Cones and rod cells in the eye are just light sensitive cells working in concert.  Some of the simplest animals have light sensitive cells.  Just like an airplane is made of simpler components that do or did something else first, so it is with cells in a body.

   Once you have a cell you have life that can and will organize and change to meet conditions.  You can still argue that something has to create a cell first, because no one has yet found the mechanism for abiogenesis.  Even so there is plenty of evidence that matter self organizes in myriad ways.  Chemistry has 1000s of examples. 

   Creationists like to give the example of a tornado making a 747 by sending a tornado through a junk yard.  True enough that a tornado won't blow junk into a 747.  That is not the process of getting a 747.  What the creationist overlooks or doesn't mention is that tornado itself is a self organized entity.  Air molecules just minding their own business a few minutes ago are organized into a spinning wind by heat and gravity.  George Carlin has a line that Mother Nature wanted some plastic so she evolved man.  That is, plastic is a self organizing property of the universe, and so is a 747. Once the process is understood, that is quite clear.

   I think that the universe is a self organizing entity. As Alan Watts used to say, "the universe peoples in the same way a tree leaves." Even a human is a self organizing entity.  It starts as a single cell zygote and organizes resources into a fetus/baby/kid/teenager/parent/old fart. Where would you put God into that process?  Did he make the 2 bits that made the zygote? No, the parents did that. Even if you want to say, "Adam* and Eve", people have been self organizing entities since then.  If you want to say that God knits (organizes) everyone together in the womb, then you have the problem of birth defects showing God to be an imperfect knitter.  However, the process of gestation is quite well known, and there is no knitter detected.

  The electromagnetic properties of matter assisted by gravity is the force/means/engine that causes it to self organize.  The desire of oxygen to share electrons with 2 atoms (adams?) of hydrogen or of carbon is an example of what gets things going. Two or more things get together to make another thing.  Two or more "another things" get together to make another thing and so on.  It is what happens.

*By the way, it is the case the female is the default sex, not the male. That is why men have nipples. So if you want to stick to creation story, it needs to be revised to "Eve and Adam".    

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Get Your News Here

I’m not one that likes advertising.  So this is not advertising.  Just advice.

Last night on the Duke Skorich radio show folks were complaining about not having time to read real news online.  I used to work as a Chef and I know about the time issue in keeping informed.  Radio news is gone, except for NPR and the Right Wing Whack Jobs, the RWWJ, are doing their best to make that go away.  TV news pretty much ignores real news and gives you Michael Jackson clone news.  So you are left with News Papers if you still have one, and the net.  But if you don’t have the time to read for a couple of hours you are out of luck.

TextAloud is a solution.  You can use this program to turn online text news into mp3s and listen to it on your ipod device as you do your daily business.  Make sure you get the version with the AT&T voices though, or it will drive you nuts.  

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Believe It!

I “believe” Steve Salerno has a point.
EVER SINCE the United States began weaning itself off the sociological junk food of victimization and its culture of blame, the pop-psychology menu increasingly has been flavored by an antithetical concept — empowerment — that can be summarized as: Believe it, achieve it. (Opinion from the LA Times)
I got caught up in this “fake it till you make it” culture way back in the late 70’s. Thrashing around trying to make a decent living with unresolved war issues buried in the back of my head, I just wasn’t getting anywhere. Then along came Amway! My parents tried to debase me of my delusions of mansions and caddies if I only believed, but to no avail. I may as well have joined up with Jim Jones or Harry Christna. I carried around my well thumbed copy of Believe! Figuring that it would save me from poverty in the same way a person thinks the Bible will save them from hell.

Believing yourself into riches is like believing yourself into a NFL contract as a star quarterback. There are only just twenty six slots. A good Jehovah’s Witness can’t believe herself into heaven because there are only 144,000 slots. I don’t know how many slots there are for Rich Guys, but there aren’t enough that you can believe your way in. Just like it takes a lot of fans to make a quarter back, and it takes a lot of sinners to make a saint, it takes a lot of poor people to make a Rich Guy. If you want to make it to the top in this taker world, theft and scamming skills will work better than believing skills.

In truth, the overselling of personal empowerment — the hyping of hope — may be the great unsung irony of modern American life, destined to disappoint as surely as the pity party that it was meant to replace.
In any society in which there is such a disparity of access to wealth and power, there has to be some magical way to make things better for the oppressed. The magic has to be believed by the masses to protect the fortunate from the wrath of the masses. “I’m not rich, beautiful, strong, smart, well employed, etc. because I don’t/didn’t believe enough.” Works just as well as any other bit of magic “it must be somehow my fault”.

Salerno goes on to complain that schools have degenerated into teaching this believe pap. For all his insight, Salerno’s assumption that public schools used to have some other function is off the mark. Public schools have always been designed to turn the masses into non-thinking drones willing to believe that their plight is their fault.
H.H. Goddard, said in his book Human Efficiency (1920) that government schooling was about "the perfect organization of the hive." He said standardized testing was a way to make lower classes recognize their own inferiority. Like wearing a dunce cap, it would discourage them from breeding and having ambition. Goddard was head of the Psychology Department at Princeton, so imagine the effect he had on the minds of the doctoral candidates he coached, and there were hundreds.
What Salerno decries as the self help movement is just a different version of making the masses stupid. Returning to the good old days of feeling inferior won’t help. It is only nostalgia for a different form of mind control.