Sunday, March 30, 2008


In the process of spring cleaning yesterday, I found a small book that I once used for various pieces of advice in my life. This particular book was replaced with another one while I was growing up, but my family still gave me a copy of the original. The book was title - "Your Youth - Getting the Best out of it". Curious about what I was reading as a child (my memories of childhood are still mostly gone, even though I have recovered some), I picked it up and turned to a couple chapters.

One theme of the book spoke of 'consequences'. Actions have consequences - a constant theme in my childhood. But reading the book, it dawned on me that so many consequences we face for our actions are not directly associated with the action itself. And what's more, many negative consequences are only defined as negative from a narrow point of view.

Single mothers are forced to bear an "unhappy struggle to rear an illegitimate child". Why do we as a society say that such a struggle MUST be "unhappy". I have no doubt of the difficulty involved - but is the struggle itself "unhappy"? Maybe there are some out there that find rewards, indeed happiness, in being a single parent. Even more surprising to me are remarks venturing outside well-defined results:

"So called sexual freedom changes what should be pleasurable and clean into something cheap and detestable. So, which do you want - an occasional brief moment of illicit sexual excitement with all the risks and problems in involves, or the satisfaction of having a clean conscience before God"

The same book goes on to tell how dating/dancing/music/appearance lead to sex, and so all those things should be done to prevent that from happening. The basic line of reasoning is: certain music leads to sex, which is inherently bad outside of marriage, therefore that music is bad. But, the final consequence of a dirty and unclean feeling didn't come from sex, it came from teachings about sex. To me, this amounts to playground reasoning:

"I don't see anything wrong with having sex"
"But, you'll get all sorts of nasty diseases."
"But I practice safer sex by limiting partners and using protection"
"You can still get diseases"
"I can still get diseases if I have sex after I'm married, and using safer sex practices, the risk of infection is small enough to not remove the other benefits - both health and emotionally"
"You will feel dirty after"
"Actually, I feel rather good"
"But, you should feel dirty, cause my Father in heaven, who is the biggest most knowning person ever wrote in his book that sex is bad if you aren't married, Neener neener"

Consequences from sex are one obvious theme. But this goes into so many other places.

Refusing to be Christian has consequences. Is it the refusal that causes the problems or reaction from that refusal? A person that decided to smoke pot faces consequences - less from the drug itself and more from the reaction of society to using a non-approved chemical for pleasure. The same goes for any number of other illicit chemical substances. A Governor recently went down for paying a prostitute. Pundits spouted moral outrage at his actions. My outrage is more for the hypocrisy of this man than his hiring of a sex worker.

The monster of consequence is constantly flashed at children, and yet we as a society are ignoring real consequences. 4,000 people dead in Iraq - that is REAL. Those people are not coming back - they have faced the ultimate consequence. We can sprout off some playground reasoning for why having sex or doing drugs has 'consequences' from some random piece of paper a group of men with funny hats denoted as Holy, OR we can look at the real, concrete consequences of our actions.

And in the end - that's the point. The religious right is so concerned with creating consequences for people they don't agree with that they have forgotten the soldiers of our countries being used as a ploy for oil and religion. And that, friends, pisses me off.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I promised to blog more often, but haven't felt like much lately. Still, this looks fun. One word answers.

You're Feeling: weary
To Your Left: lamp
On Your Mind: family
Last Meal Included: taco
You Sometimes Find it Hard To: wake
The Weather: bleh
Something You Have a Collection of: movies
A Smell that Cheers You Up: citrus
A Smell that Can Ruin Your Mood: vomit
How Long Since You Last Shaved: Morning
The Current State of Your Hair: 'Fro
The Largest Item On Your Desk/Workspace Right Now (besides computer): Feet
Your Skill with Chopsticks: God - unless you mean the food utensil then: Decent
Which Section You Head to First In the Bookstore: Specials
...and After That?: Philosophy
Something You're Craving: (censored)
Your General Thoughts On the Presidential Race: Fuck
How Many Times You've Been Hospitalized this Year: Nyet
A Favorite Place to Go for Quiet Time: Outside
You've Always Secretly Thought You'd Be a Good: pornstar
Something that Freaks You Out a Little: Taxes
Something You've Eaten Too Much of Lately: Hamburger
You Have Never: inhaled
You Never Want To: quit

From Janet + Others....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The God Delusion

So, after my readings of some apologetic writing, I decided to crack the other side and started The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Immediately, I was rather impressed by his writing style. The apologetics writings all came across as mafia style reasoning.

"It'd be a shame if you had to burn in hell for not following our line of thinking."

Dawkins' work had a refreshing air to it, namely the lack of some covert agenda breaking in on the point the book was arguing.

Theistic writing seems to work like this:

1. Prove why the "Science" explanation is unlikely/wrong.
2. Prove why the God explanation is "right".
3. Prove why X is the true way.
4. Prove why a given denomination or sect is the correct form of X.

Thankfully, some apologetics is open about its agenda. But in the day of "Intelligent Design", it seems for whatever reason religionists have become intent on hiding their real point.

I should note that I do not agree with Richard Dawkins views on religion. I have yet to find my faith if any, and I may still turn out to be a materialist in the end. That places me squarely in the "target" category for this book. As I see it, his book makes several points:

1. "God" should be treated as a testable hypothesis, which is answerable.
2. A believable model of the universe can be constructed without need for a God to exist.
3. Religion is not a prerequisite for morality, and common morals exist outside of religion.
4. Religion causes harm.
5. The "god shaped gap" in our brains can be filled by other things.

Contrary to the religionists claims, I was rather amazed by the large portions of the book that presented an alternative view of the Universe. Discussing this book with a few people, I've heard the sentiment that spending a whole book trying to disprove something just gives it credence. On a rhetorical level, that may be true. However, it was refreshing to look at the possibility of evolution and basic science and theory without having to dismiss it for my belief in God.

All that said, in my eyes, this book only hit the monotheistic religions. And of those, it really only dealt with the major Abrahamic faiths. To be fair to Dawkins' - the book is called "The God Delusion" and not "The Supernatural Delusion". And as such, I didn't really expect much response tho things such as Buddhism or Neo-paganism or any of the other off-by-one faiths out there. Which raises my major disagreement with this book - the stance on belief. Dawkins' speaks out clearly against "belief in belief". Now, I could be reading a bit more into his words than he intended, but he seems to imply more to belief than is reasonable.

It is a pseudo-worshiped principle, "the Scientific method". Granted from "reason". We have evidence, we use that evidence to create a theory, we test that theory, it fits the test or is disproven. Some theories have worked long and well enough that they are accepted as true, at least until evidence comes around to remove them.

The problem exists when we have a question with no or little evidence (yet!). How do we move, for example, from a thought experiment to the atomic bomb? And that, my friends, is when belief is necessary. Under this model, the hypothesis can be seen as a statement of belief. And the believer is willing to put this belief to the test.

That willingness is what removes a healthy belief form an unhealthy one. Belief in its most raw, basic form leads to great debates in science. Dawkins' thus appears to not be addressing "belief in belief" but belief in dogma. Belief in itself is healthy, but the whole "thou shalt not put your God to the test" business creates some dicey situations.

Overall, as someone still figuring out the world and leaving an abusive faith (a very well thought out point in Dawkins' work), I found the overall points Dawkins' presented well done.

As someone sitting on the sidelines for now though, I think it is important that we draw the distinction between belief, dogma, and fundamentalism. Drawing attention to provably false statements is a good thing. Calling people out for moral hubris based on belief systems should NOT be a taboo. But at the same time, non-dogmatic belief can lead to great discoveries.

Dawkins' limiting of belief to only dogmatic fundamentalism leaves a great many questions in my mind as how we as a society should handle belief systems that develop and already exist. In other words, how can society have "healthy faith" and "beliefs" instead of none-at-all?

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Haiku

Been a rough week at work, so thought I'd sure this:

Random failure lurks
In userspace or kernel?
Debugger useless

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Errrrr.... Scary.....

So, for a couple days, I've smelt a strange odor outside my apartment. I didn't think much of it, and kinda shrugged it off - yesterday, it seemed a bit strong, and the thought occurred to me that it might be natural gas. I made a mental note that if it was there, I might should call the gas company. Mostly, because I was in a hurry to make an appointment.

I'm gone for the day, head over with a group of coworkers to do a movie night thing. I get back to the house round-abouts 1:00 AM. There's a couple trucks out in the back of my apartment, but I shrug it off, and park. Head into my apartment, and crash.

This morning, I get a knock on the door - waking me from my sleep. I have two thoughts at the time, "shit, it's cold in here", and "why the fuck is someone waking me up". I zombie-walk to the door and am greeted by a rather nice MGE technician.

"There was a gas leak last night, and we had to turn gas off to this complex. Now that the leak is fixed, we are relighting pilot lights and checking gas lines."

Holy shit.

I've lived with natural gas 24/25 of my life, and I never been in a situation with a leak. I had gotten so used to it, that the danger my neighbors and myself in was not apparent to me. In short, I/we were damn lucky that nothing ignited the gas, and further, that someone called the gas company.

So, overall I'm glad that I've been reminded to not mess around with natural gas odor and to call the gas company, and REALLY glad that this reminder came from a night without heat and a polite MGE employee waking me up instead of being toasted in a fireball.

Lesson learned, and worth repeating: If you smell a rotten egg or odd odor, CALL THE GAS COMPANY.

I'm glad to be lucky this one time, next time, I'll remember to be proactive and not lucky.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A taste of conservative idiocy

I don't know why I get these emails, I don't know who the are from. But, I'm really having trouble reading this email from a couple days ago. I don't know if its funny, sad, or stupid. Still, I thought I'd share.

Obama is the real threat. You know how the Bible has given us clues to who the antichrist will be? Scholars have figured out that the antichrist will come from Africa. Obama wasn't born their. He was born in Hawaii and was sent to Africa to live. He grew up in the Militant Islamic schools that are spawning terrorists all over the world. The Bible also mentions that he will rise to power through the government and will become the most powerful man in the world.

Obama is a smooth talker. He has fooled many people who want peace, redistributed wealth and BETTER HEALTH CARE. The Bible talks about not being able to buy or sell, but it is mum about what you will be able to buy or sell. What if health care is the root to these means? They believe that he will be able to miraculously heal the sick through aborted fetus research. He will heal the sick with miraculous science and brilliant health care policies. Everyone will have to sign up. Health care companies will not be able to sell unless they agree to the government's terms. We won't be able to buy unless we accept the terms. I wonder if they will be able to stop you from purchasing any kind of health care product until you sign up? Or worse, prevent you from withdrawing your retirement until you sign up. Do you go down off the roof and into the house to get your your things, or accept the mark of the beast to buy or sell in the stock market or withdraw your life's savings? Will this be the means to the end?
Obama is a devout Muslim. He has never said the pledge of allegiance. He has never sung the national anthem. There are pictures on the web of him silently standing with his hands crossed next to Hillary and another senator singing the national anthem with their hands on their hearts. He is the first Muslim senator ever, and the first government leader to be sworn into public office on the Koran. I believe he will be the first president to be sworn into office on the Koran. Who is it that says you must believe our religion or die? Most people would answer,"Christianity". Islam is the correct answer. We know that Christianity isn't forced on anyone. If Obama makes Islam our national religion, watch out. If we turn against Israel, watch out. When Obama takes office, I believe all these things will begin to happen very quickly and it will be too late to go back into your house to get your things. It will be too late to get your retirement out. I'll bet he will block everyone from getting their retirement until they sign up for national health care.
It will be too late then. You will have to take the mark to buy or sell. Then what?

No one knows what Obama believes, All they know is that he looks good, sounds good and wants what they want - a future. He is a snake in sheep's clothing ready to take his place as ruler of the world. He is looked to as the only one who can bring peace to the Muslim world because he is the only Muslim leader in the world poised to offer it. 7 years of peace before all hell's fury is released. I believe he will use the words,"Peace through unity". This came to me on 3/5/08. We shall see.

I highlighted the interesting bits for those that didn't want to read it all. So, besides the facts that Obama has proved that he does say the Pledge of Allegiance, has been a member of a Christian church for an extensive period of time, and was indeed sworn into church on a bible... the 'scary' claims here that Obama is the anti-christ because he came from Africa and has a national health care plan....

Holy shit. I'm left wondering here how people buy into this fantasy. I might not agree with Obama on a _LOT_ of things, but this takes it to a whole new level. This isn't politics, it's insanity.

Don't really know what to say...

bedroom toys
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So, apparently, being sasquatch has its advantages - I can't really figure out why else I'd get the high number. For the right person, I might consider a $1,223.99 discount - hey, it's never free, ok?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Overland Park Drivers Suck

So, my morning starts out with a long nasty drive on 435 and I35. A perfect conglomeration of accidents and lane closures that ended up with ramps closed, and cars placed in park. Annoying, but something I could deal with. I hop off the highway and hit the back roads.

I make it to work, a bit later than I like, but still ok. The day goes on, I work on some cool stuff, and forget about the nasty morning caused by the numerous accidents sprinked along the interstate. At roughly 4:00 PM, I head out to deposit a check, so I can go out on the weekend perhaps. I head to the bank on a short break while waiting for a compile. Normally, this errand takes 15 minutes tops. Not today.

I slow and come to a stop waiting to make a left hand turn into the bank's rear entrance. There is only one car in oncoming traffic. A car behind me that appears to be stopped/slowing. The oncoming traffic passes, and I left my foot off the brake to make the turn. *WHAM* The car connects with my rear bumper.

The damage to my car appears relatively minor. The car that hit me managed to puncture the bumper with the license plate, but other than that, it looks ok. I got the other driver's insurance info. The annoying thing is that if the impact had been even a fraction less, there wouldn't have been any damage and I could have just moved on. A large part of me wants to just forget about the whole thing and move on. Another part of me knows that I'd be annoyed by the two small holes in the back of my rear bumper. Part of me knows that the person that hit me made a small mistake, and will get some level of hassle from this whole thing.

So, after 8 years without touching the paint of another vehicle (or my own), I have finally broken the whole accident thing. I've talked to a collision company and will be taking the car in on Monday. We are both insured by the same company, and they happen to have an office there, and my previous experience with both the collision and insurance companies was actually very good (despite their being a chain).

The thought crossed my head of not involving the insurance company at all, as the cost is likely to only be a couple hundred dollars (unless something more nasty happened than the obvious aesthetics). And yet, it just seems likely that every time I try to be nice to people, it just turns out to be trouble.

I'm really just sick of it all right now - I want things to go right. Looking at my life, I could easily say I've been a success, but I've had to pay somehow and fight for every one of the successes I've had. And then, when I hit a resting point and I'm not fighting for something at the moment, when I finally have a 'sabbath' if you will, this sorta shit happens. I really thought the 'event' of the week was over, after my mom e-mails me for the first time in a month, just to give me a reminder about the "Memorial". Universe /Divine Power /Goddess /God / Jesus / Allah / FSM / IPU: Are you done fucking with me yet? I dare not ask you to help rebuild my social circle or find romance. I fear what tragedy would befall if I even got close there.

Fuck the world.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Laying odds Texas goes blue in the next 12 years...

I've stated this again and again, but I think it just sounds so outlandish that people don't buy it. As strange as it sounds, the state that produced our current white house village idiot, very well could go blue. Why? The makeup of the state. Yes, you have the super-conservative core there. But you also have cities with large numbers moving in (or being born and coming of age). Not to mention the large contingent from New Orleans that have remained. Of course, you wouldn't get this idea from the press. (Unless you live in conservative Texas and get to hear about them damn (any number of censored nouns) taken' over.)

But, I think for the first time, we have some real solid evidence of the soon to happen turn over - the Primary. What's the story?

Here's the numbers:

Clinton votes: 1,455,959
Obama votes: 1,356,330

Total of ALL Republican votes: 1,319,960

Put another way: the number of democratic voters for EACH Democrat candidate outnumbers the TOTAL Republican voters. Given that Democrats at the primary outnumbered the Republicans by a near 2:1 margin, things may very well get interesting in the lone star state.

Compare this to 8 years ago, when the Republicans primary voter count hit double the Democrats, and further, compare that to 4 years ago where the count of Democrat primary voters was only 1/3 this count. I don't think it'll happen this election, but if/when Texas goes blue, the Republicans can very well count themselves out of the white house.