Friday, December 29, 2006

Holiday update

Christmas with the family! I always enjoy being with my family. I do love all my family and they are each great in their own way.

My dad likes to keep the dish network on the church propaganda channel. Every day is like sunday indeed. For God's sake can we turn off the church and eat? It really is just like family-friendly fascism. I am all propaganda'd out. I never want to hear another church Elder talk about how faith can move mountains as if Mount Saint Helens is 1/2 gone because some Priest was "practicing".

The promises church speakers make are like the fake presents that are still under the tree in the museum on December 27th. No one is racing to open them because they know there is actually nothing of value inside. It is just all show, glitz, and mood setting.

I sometimes postulate that if investing tangible time and value into something that is no more provable than a fantasy brings someone to occasional idealistic selflessness, there may still be some good in it. I know that the religious systems to which people subscribe are not necessary for human beings to improve their character or care for one-another. They may actually be inefficient obstacles that, on balance, create more suffering and misery than they inspire goodness.

I listened to some of the " Slayer, Christ Illusion" album a week or so ago. It won a grammy, so it must be worth something. The music is solid and of a high quality in the genre. Much of what they make is for their own pleasure, though they do suggest that religion is a mass delusion.

I think if people want to hope for something that could be and can't be disproved, that is their own business. Faith, being the human hopes and dreams that may yet be, is at the core of human existence. We are reality generating machines and we can bring about many of of our dreams which have yet to exist.

Though, when one loses contact with reason and begins to state as reality things for which one merely hopes, there is some confusing self-delusion going on. One must always be prepared for the possibility that one's assumptions could be superceded by better science, knowledge and understanding.

Christmas also brought some good times touring through Seattle. Fresh fish, Coffee, Espresso, Lattes, Capucino and ...did I mention the Coffee? I have visited the Museum of Flight, Pacific Science Center, Puget Sound and the family all went to the holiday ball-breaker, "The Nutcracker".

I like hearing Tchaikovsky. This ballet, which I had never seen before, has been around long enough that it has popularized its music as Christmas music. It is an enjoyable ballet with enough material to give different companies some room for interpretation. I can still feel some old notions of royal social order in the dance.

The dances with a man and a woman seem to show the man turning tipping, arranging and manipulating the woman whose overwhelming power is to keep his interest focused only and continually on her and to captivate him at her side through it all. It is the love détente, each feeling in control in the manner he or she prefers.

Ballet seems to have a medieval quality of nearly worshipping women as precious objects on a pedastal, though these dancers really are admirable athletes. The men are secondary on this stage, though they seem to be able to do the flutter jumps well, the lightness of which belies the strength they need to perform them. Yet, nothing holds a candle to the women on point. What a wonder to behold. It makes one admire Russian culture.

There is my Christmas update, enjoy.


Friday, December 22, 2006

All that Swearing in Congress

Democrat Keith Ellison will soon be sworn in as the first Muslim United States Congressman. In his private swearing-in ceremony he has chosen to put his hand on a Koran and not on a Bible.

There seems to actually be an uproar about this, though I think there should not be. This is America, we have religious freedom. The swearing-in symbolism is not fixed in stone and really means that you are putting your name upon all that is holy to you that you will perform your duties including upholding our Constitution.

I think atheists should likewise be free to swear in with a symbolic gesture of their choosing. Personally I would not take offense to swearing on a Bible because I am sure it would send the right message to my constituents, plus it is an old document that represents moral ideals, even if its actual messages are antiquated.

Of course one should have the right to forego religious exercizes if he or she sees fit.

I bet Stephen Colbert would swear in on a literal stack of Bibles just so he could claim later that he had sworn in on a stack of Bibles for comic exaggeration that was ironically true.

If the congressman elect, Mr. Ellison, wants to symbolize his swearing in using his own religious preference then God Bless American religious freedom.

We can be grateful to the wisdom and values of those, many christians among them, who founded our country. Yet, this is not a Christian nation by legal definition, only by the faith choices of many of its citizens.

Why not mention Flag burning here as well.

Americans ought to be able to burn their own flag in protest. This seemed to happen at least once in the 60's protest era. I am sure it was driven by psychadelic drugs right?

I find burning the flag to be offensive. It is a symbol of our nation, our beautiful banner imbued with meaning, sacrifice, history and honor. Although, if you aren't committing arson, breaking fire codes or burning someone else's property, I think flag burning should never be outlawed. That would be contrary to the spirit and nature of our country.

I probably wouldn't even burn a foreign flag, though I think America is a free country and should not repressively ban speech even if it offends me (and perhaps many others).

And finally, you know, I just might swear in on a Carl Sagan book. I mean when I am inevitably up for swearing in as a congressman.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Old T-Bone

A repressed upbringing can lead to some amazing innovations. In Utah, at BYU sometimes girls will direct vodka into their bodies in a manner that could never be called "Drinking". I have named it "Cooch Bonging". You can use your imagination, but it apparently gets these college girls intoxicated while allowing the easy and honest rationalization "I did not drink anything".

This reminds me of a Jewish neighbor who asks you to push the elevator button on the sabbath...because initiating the use a device on the sabbath is entirely wrong while benefitting from another's use of a device is just far enough into the grey area to rationalize.

Though religious people often look down upon rationalization they are often the keepers of the flame and the main innovators in this sphere.

When I was much younger, I felt so much guilt about sex. Like many religious people, I simply wanted both approval and acceptance of my society AND the fulfillment of all my desires. Thus we innovate. Some of the things religious people do to rationalize their way out of their own beliefs are really creative and fun.

Remember making out? It used to be so wonderful when it was all you had. It seems that once we have gone all the way, we gloss over the journey far too readily. Making out can be a fun destination or at least a very scenic route on the map-o-love.

Now to "boning the T". This is just one of the things I used to do to avoid the cognitive definition of having sex with my first real girlfriend, you know, so I could honestly tell my church leaders "I have never" this or that and not "technically" be lying.

I wish to address this topic in an entirely crude way. I mean as to the level of detail. Like a caveman would construct a "crude hammer"...not a "nasty hammer". Ah...the "nasty hammer", that's a blog topic for another day....ANYWAY...I will now begin speaking in crudely formed symbolism.

Imagine a view of girlfriend-heaven from just south of heaven, round about the kneecaps, looking north. This is a 22 year old I am speaking of, just so you know. I was a late bloomer ok? I was 24! Wait I think that's too much yes, again...the view looking up into heaven...symbolized by looking along a street in Brugge Belgium.

Ok, this is a rather wide gate, though it is symbolically about right...thighs on the left and right...the shingled roofing (symbolizes a girl-garden) and the statue of St. Taurus (not his real name) in the middle.

Now here is the T...

This T would be imprinted say on a bed...or in this case a street and symbolizes the space at the top of the lady-thighs where they open ever so gently left and right only to stop at the wall at the top. With me? So if you are a good old-fashioned gentleman wanting to let's say "drive your bus" into the gate, you might do so in this manner and direction:

It's a big gate here, so we needed to compensate by using a rather large bus. Let's call it "the express to coitusville".

Now pretend you were raised in an inhumanly uptight religion, and all your natural desires made you an enemy to God and destined for hellfire. Now suppose that you were still attending regularly and driving your bus through the gate was the worst possible choice you could make because it would ruin your life and get you kicked out of your social circles, church and maybe even your school. Now you would need to innovate.

Some "comers" to the game, like Pete opted for driving up...this is pretty good because it is fun, and it gives some tire track action to St. Taurus, (which is important) and unloads the passengers up on the roof instead of down in Cervical Cafe where they might do something evil like order a latte or inseminate something. Here is an example of Pete's method, 3d bus action thanks to Google Sketch-up...

Another perfectly viable option would be to drive your bus down from the top, sure you have to make a pretty firm bend-back to get it to go that way, though it is equally as rewarding and fun and leaves the passengers on the bed-rock. Allow me to depict this technique using my huge and heavy bus:

As you can see, the Front or "Tip" of the bus is hanging just above the street, showing us the underside of the "vehicle". The motion of the bus is pointing directly into the T as can be seen in the final frame below:

There you have it friends, Boning the T.

I recommend everyone spice up their bus trips from the regularly scheduled route and explore some of the incredible innovations brought about by a collision of healthy natural desires and whacky religiously repressed thinking. I think you'll find that recalling the days where you were using your limits directs you to some new found fun.

Some people do these funny things out of ignorance, like Louis XVI, until they figure it out or it is explained to them. Others know what they are doing so as not to do what they think they shouldn't.

To "fill you in" on the story, boning the T only lasted a few weeks until, with a sweet charming "wanna put it..." I did. I have been enjoying the excellent cervix at the coitus cafe ever since.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Scarves, Symbolism and History

I read an outline of islamic women's head coverings on the BBC:

I remember my grandma used to wear a large folded silk square on her head. She was a christian woman and probably wore it out of the fashion of her time. I have usually associated women's head coverings with older women or stories of ancient women.

I think the tradition of wearing head coverings is much older than islam. Note this Bible verse from the New Testament which predates the founding of islam by hundreds of years:

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head--it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head,since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. (1 Corinthians 11:3-10)"

I don't believe in any of that. I think any human can pray or not pray to whatever they will or nothing at all, with a head covered or not. I quote it to point out that the head covering as a muslim political symbol is a co-opted anachronism.

I think head coverings can be attractive on women. I like the way women use dress to enhance their beauty. In the case of a muslim head covering, it can be a very positive statement of faith, virtue and identity that can also be beautiful.

I am not happy with the idea that the head covering is imposed on any woman rather than chosen. At certain lengths, it becomes an insult to women's freedom, individuality and dignity. I also think that some levels of coverage create anti-social situations and security concerns.

A Turkish or French muslim who wears the hijab as a personal religious choice is a bright spot in a free society to me. Yet at the extremes of the Taliban enforcing repressive systems upon women, I believe any symbol thereof becomes incendiary.

The Naqib and the Burkah seem to me to reduce the status and human dignity of women and are not socially viable in the west, even though they are often tolerated. I think the human face is important to identifying who it is you are dealing with and what their intentions are. Also, perhaps unfortunately, these "over everything" coverings have been used by some muslim women to commit suicide bombings in some areas of the world. Sometimes these coverings are used to smuggle lawbreaking men away from justice, in disguise.

Headscarves are banned in French schools. This seems to be what they have chosen to do to reduce the likelihood of religious tension among classmates. Though, to someone who desires to follow the counsel of her faith, it may be a big sacrifice. Perhaps something akin to asking a catholic girl to go to school without a shirt on.

In much the same way that a child can be sent home for wearing the wrong t-shirt to school, I believe that in some situations it is appropriate to curtail symbolic dress in schools. This is especially important if what one person is proud to wear causes enormous tension in classmates.

In another way, the headscarf can be a symbol of anti-semitism. When many muslim societies wrongly deny the holocaust, muslim dress styles tend to symbolize anti-jewish feelings to some people.

On the other side of this debate, there is a lot of rhetoric in France speaking of muslim immigrants who won't integrate or change their faith. The immigrants are accused of being the cause of many problems in France like crime or economic issues. All of this is hauntingly familiar from the rhetoric used in Germany in the 1930's against jews.

I think of politicians in their suits, gang members and their representative attire, mini-skirts on Wall Street or hemp sweaters in San Francisco and I realize the cloth-speech is all around us.

In a truly free society we should all be able to wear what we chose. Though symbolism seems to permeate clothing like a language of its own.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gender and Communication

I heard a couple of friends of mine who are women in their twenties talking about their boyfriends not being "trained yet". This whole concept may be intended to be quaint but I find it basically offensive in principal. As if men were animals destined to servitude.

Maybe I just shouldn't hang out with any woman in her "I am finding myself, so I hate men" days.

I understand some women may at times feel the need to iterate claims to self worth into their lover's minds. Women don't want injustices imposed upon them assumptively as if that were the natural order of things.

I am a Man. I know we were all women until that awesome gene was activated with its significant cascading effects. I sometimes feel I need to remind women that men are human beings with blood coursing through their veins. Our bodies have an organ that is analogous to each and every organ in the female body even though physically men and women are gloriously different in some naturally intriguing ways.

I see so much ignorance and poorly formed communication between men and women. It is as if each exchange is 90% presumption, 9% what mom or dad taught and about 1% real understanding. Sometimes when I speak with a woman I get a sense that she thinks she "knows men" and that I am just the same in every way and that nothing I say matters and won't change her preconceived notions. I don't doubt this is like the experience some woman may have communicating with men.

Women often ask: "What are you thinking?" My male answer is "Well a lot." With some things, I can't put any of it into words either because it is so abstract, sublime or internalized. Maybe it's my narrow corpus callosum that keeps me from putting the verbs with the notions. At least it cannot be done quickly. Maybe I just don't feel the need to explain my thoughts on command to anyone or maybe I am just relaxing and trying not to form thoughts that can be shared. Maybe I am thinking things I think you will not find acceptable and because I want to keep you in my life I know not to talk about all my notions. Maybe I don't function like your girlfriend's do so I don't have a bonding token at hand at every or any moment.

The mean little misogynist in me sometimes has contempt for women's packaged emotions. They seem cliché to me sometimes because they are so readily verbalized like little products on a shelf. I am empathetic and sensible enough to abstract myself from my subjectivity long enough to see that women likewise find my approach to emotions lacking because of how not-readily-sharable it is.

What should not be disputed is that we are all human beings and all have thoughts and feelings, all have a heart and soul, and morally equal worth.

As for women "training" their men, For God's sake just treat me with the same respect you feel you deserve and you can expect me to treat you with that same respect.

Friday, November 10, 2006


I am Canadian born so I got a dose of the sarcasm and humor that anglo-saxon roots bring with it. I am ok with joking around. My self confidence stands up under all kinds of teasing. Some people know how to pull off a good dig and can take them back in stride. Though, I am the kind of person who feels there is a line.

There is a kind of immature sarcastic insult that can be endured, tolerated but is eventually nothing more than haranguing or harassment.

When you know you are respected and accepted by your peers, jokes and sarcasm have a context that is truly not painful or insulting. I think as a (one time) Canadian I have a wonderful personality feature called openness. There is a friendly park surrounding my soul, with few to no barriers. One could say there is a symbolic boundary over which people can easily step into my friend-space and interact with my world. Sometimes people misbehave and have to be escorted to the edge of my friend-space and banned or sent on a break. Mostly, though, I am patient, tolerant and accepting. I sincerely desire to know the features of another persons personality and life and to see the good in them. I usually try to have enough respect and decency for others not to attack them personally or place insulting hurtful labels on them.

My goat can be easy to get, it's right over a short wall on my property. I expect people to respect me and what is mine as I offer the same to them. I honestly don't know the proper way to deal with people who don't live by the same social contract. I just want to be treated properly and I agree to do the same for others.

I heard about the Canadian (NATO) forces taking over in Afghanistan. Though soldiers, they intuitively wanted to show restraint against their fellow men. As one of the Canadian soldiers said when interviewed about the first encounter, "We got our noses bloodied". So they recommitted themselves to go after the Taliban tribal fighters and terrorists with full force. They should have known, but at the same time, these are the kind of people they are. Like other Canadians before them in the World Wars, they will get the job done and be on the victorious side.

Occasionally my inherent benefit of the doubt is offered to the wrong kind of person. Perhaps their insecurities clash with my own or they regard my openness as weakness. Maybe they are attracted to the same women, you know, like we are Moose or Elephant Seals in competition.

It doesn't come naturally to me to use a credible threat or even an implied one to deter someone from annoying me. If I am to the point of saying I'll do something, I just might. So I don't go there. All I can do is show my displeasure, state my disagreement. Sometimes that makes it seem like I can no longer be joked with, teased or insulted. That's unfortunate. It's all about the spirit of the thing. It is easy to pick out other's vulnerabilities or fears and play on them. It's just not nice.

I think some of the fittest humans evolved being nice. I think it takes highly adapted intelligence to make love not war.

I don't want a society where violence is the path to respect. That doesn't seem to be in harmony with the rule of law or any other high minded human ideal.

Now, when I speak of haranguing I don't just mean..."Hey Jerk". I am talking about things that amount to possible life-ruining besmirchment of character that in the first place were never true. When these kinds of labels are used even for humor, it can anger and dismay the target of these, greatly reducing happiness. It becomes an honor issue. Just desserts must be eaten, but dishonoring someone makes it gauntlet dropping time.

I still am too nice and Canadian to really stand up in the right way. Another powerful thing to do would be not to dignify insults with a response. I have yet to be secure enough and of a magnitude of character where I can get that done properly either. So I settle with getting pissed off and using a few stern words. That alienates people...I can feel it happen.

There are people around me that I know have heard how annoyed I can get when I was unfairly prodded and insulted. I am sure that they never hear a balanced view. It is clear I cannot interact with some people in the same way I once could, because they heard my character portrayed by the very person who got on my nerves.

I am a grown man and I feel like I am still in junior high.

My achilles heel is that I see bullies as people who are just as insecure and lonely as I sometimes feel. I can't dehumanize them. So I muddle on not handling them exactly right. Oh well, all I can do is be me and hope that others will get to know me instead of just stopping at the insults, labels and the outburst.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I saw the new movie "The Departed". Ofcourse there were going to be killings in a movie called "The Departed". This is a well made engaging and entertaining film. Something happened during the movie where a murder gets a laugh. A big slapstick roar from the audience. I am not looking down on this, I laughed right out loud too. It was just....a reminder of what can get a laugh in our culture. I have experienced this before, a scene where a violent act draws laughter or cheering. I enjoy suspending my disbelief and buying into a story and when an archetype meets some "comeupin's", it is satisfying.

I think people can consume entertainment and not be changed fundamentally by it. Maybe some people who are vulnerable to anti-social behavior truly are influenced in part by the media they consume. Maybe we are all influenced generally by the culture we live in.

The paths crossed for me today. The violence of war...all the American soldiers, dying with honor, faithful to their pledge to country, all the other war dead, counted this week, in so many high numbers, the school shootings running rampant, the senseless acts of terror and kidnapping and the good old pop-a-cap to the head bloodsplatter joke. It just felt strange to laugh at it. Like the minute hand just finally crossed into a new hour and I saw it all for once.

Like Eddie Izzard says, what's next is vomitariums and orgies? I guess our civilization can't fall this weekend, I have to finish up some work. So no drinking for me. It will be an orgy (of programming) to remember. An orgy of diet soda? Would you accept an "origami"?

Please do not ask me to write vomitaria...there is nothing grammatically correct about purging, besides I speak English, not Latin.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


As I am involved in Web development a lot I have some knowledge and opinions about validation.

First, validation is logically irrational. What one does is to compare a coded page that has to run in a piece of imperfect software called a Web browser to a library of standards that may or may not be supported expressly or correctly by the software people will use to access the Web site.

The W3C is a great idea and I am all for standards but it is an organization that has no authority to impose its will upon software makers. Browser makers with ideals may well endeavor to comply, while still supporting other technologies, either too new or not within the radar screen of the almost arbitrary standards of the W3C.

Microsoft is a big player in this area and will not soon even claim to endeavor to support the W3C recommendations fully or as defined. So, using a validator is about as sensible as using an Oxford English dictionary to correct New York City mobsters on their use of English. The Oxford dictionary is a fine standard to which one can aspire in English writing and usage, though it has no authority at all to impose its will on the streets of New York City.

A site can pass a validator with flying colors and still look broken or poorly rendered when viewed by a person using a browser. Unless, of course, you refrain from using a large portion of the technology available to you and design a look-alike template with lovely little blocks, borders and padding. You will then be YAWN compliant and meet the BAH (boring as hell) standards.

The W3C misuses the word "deprecated". In a world where the company that sets the standards actually makes the product, like Sun Microsystems and Java, the word "deprecated" carries some real weight and authority. It actually means that in either the next version or a near future version of their system, some things will actually cease to work and be removed. This is never the case with W3C recommendations. They have no power to deprecate anything. While no developer worth his salt uses a "center" tag or a "font" tag anymore, these tags sure still work and will work in the next versions of the browsers, though they've been "deprecated" for over 5 years. The strict and transitional modes are so buggy and inconsistent still that I think they are the real "quirks" modes.

The point is not that CSS isn't a better way, it's just that W3C validation is a fantasy land that may come true someday. As for today? No IE does not speak XML, it just happens to be forgiving about code style enough that it allows say a "br slash" without too much complaint.

CSS is just one part of the vehicle that is a browser, and sometimes good old fashioned technology like tires and windshield wipers are still very useful.

I love to hear people who have an underinformed religious zeal for W3C standards complain that the use of tables is deprecated except for use with "tabular data". So I ask, "What defines tabular data? " The answer is usually "things that want to be displayed in neatly aligned rows". Well that's cool, so if my divs won't line up at 100% height then I can use a table instead because I want my page "to be displayed in neatly aligned rows" ? Nevermind, I'll just use CSS and then fix it with Javascript. Hey, by the way, use of your car's air bag has been deprecated except for use in wrecks.

To recap, W3C has no real authority. Browsers are imperfect and inconsistent implementations of "standards", but are themselves the only really useful validation tool that matters. Sure some rendering time improvements come with CSS, but they are far more noticeable on old 300mhz computers.

No, none of this means that you don't need to learn CSS, of course you do, however, I think "people being ignorantly vain about the W3C and the implications of validation results" is now also "deprecated". No, genius-web-hero, not "depreciated", you are reading that wrong. Now YOU are deprecated and are slated to be removed from life, eventually.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Same Old Snake Oil

A polygamist fugitive named Warren Jeffs was arrested recently. I notice this news more than others because I was raised as a "Mormon" and even used to be a missionary when I was 19 -21. I am now no longer subservient to any church.

I listen to X96 radio from "Hell" err...Salt Lake (streaming on the web). They mentioned the news, which I had heard on NPR anyway. The morning DJ's there, Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi, are dry, cynical and so much more enjoyable and real to listen to than "honking clown" DJs. They shouted something like "good, no more pliggin". Which is hilarious.

Anyone who asks me about it knows I think polygamy is evil. When the world's male and female population is near parity, polygamy simply means "many lonely men". Nature wants us each to have a mate. I think keeping more than one mate is fundamentally anti-social behavior that, perhaps indirectly, causes a lot of unhappiness and loneliness for others. I suppose not everyone is going to find someone, and life is not fair, but that's where laws and government have a role. It is good that we use our laws to enforce exploitative behaviors. Sure, not even the force of law would help me communicate better with women I like or be more attractive to them, but I like my chances in a country with no polygamy.

Warren Jeffs activities include but extend beyond polygamy.

It is almost uncanny how similar the life and behavior of a cult leader like Warren Jeffs is to that of LDS church founder Joseph Smith. Just a quick rundown. 1) Run your own city and take advantage of people's need for real estate 2) Marry teenagers to old men using social pressure 3) Hold your peers down by claiming exclusive prophetic status 4) Break laws so much of your church business must be held in secret...and so on.

Some Mormon's are stuck in cognitive dissonance about their own history, and would rather attack or review any other fact than those that touch upon threatening their beliefs. Some would rather believe things like "The Rosetta stone is a hoax" than accept that their 19th century founder had mistranslated an Egyptian scroll, for example. Facts, to many faithful, are really malleable or ignorable.

I see my friends or family placing faith in something where the investment of faith is uninformed and it is troubling and sad to me. I want them to have faith in themselves faith in their future but not faith in deceptive information held over them to maintain their loyalty...i.e. their lucrative tithing donations. It's only too bad that church systems are supported by so many people who reinforce eachother's cognitive dissonance and investment of faith in lies or under-reported history.

I agree with my blogging friend, Pete, of who says "I think a faith in Joseph Smith is misplaced by todays mormons...almost nothing about him represents modern mormonism he would not be welcome in today's church".

I don't think it means the LDS church should not exist. It should change, abandon the ridiculous and the irrational and become a community organization that can truly help people cope with their lives, truly care for eachother. Although, maybe they have to use the system they use to have enough power over people to exist, and keep people paying, and chasing that carrot of being "blessed".

Blessed is a fine word for "things are going well" like tires that are "inflated" are blessed with air (haha). But I am not sure a God arranges it or pushes it or causes it. Not that there isn't a God or couldn't be. I think if there is, God created the Universe and maybe IS the laws of physics. So sure you can thank God for every breath...but not just YOUR breaths exclusively.

Yet, as my friend Pete says, " Joseph Smith still didn't know shit about ancient Egyptian".

Religious searching is valid...but Mormons and many people of other faiths, do not search. They stop searching and buy all the stock answers they no longer learn or their learning is stilted and uninformed. When you leave that faith, many great understandings are opened to you. Life can make more sense because you can see it for what it is. But other answers are no longer there...they are still just as open-ended as they are for all mankind until we all learn together what is true of life and the cosmos.

Pete: "It is like getting near the end of a crossword puzzle when you realize half your answers are wrong and you know that based on the latest answers you know are right so then the old ones become obviously false."

It's not easy to have to review your own irrational beliefs, but I would think being free of dogma is much more satisfying. You realize you can determine your own destiny and even make your own metaphor for the unexplained. You can update your understanding regularly to the best of human knowledge.

Mormons would say: "yah but what if God could tell you what is what." I agree that would be fantastic. Trouble is...there is no method of determining whether one man's fantasy is from God or not. That holy spirit is fickle, and tells muslims one thing and catholics another...and is probably an innate human response from social bonding.

So, as the arrest of a Latter-day "Joseph Smith" takes place, if we can all agree that kind of behavior is not acceptable, maybe the church founded over 100 years ago by just such a character is not worth preserving and propogating. Bamboozled people can be humble enough to admit they were wrong and mourn the loss and become full, rational thinking human beings participating in the human experience rather then struggling to deny facts to preserve a fondly held faith that is having a hard time standing up to the cool winds of reason. The only alternative is one we all learned on the playground. Simply cover both ears, and repeat after me "la-la-la-la-la-la".

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Religion is not Science

I read about a Bible based museum today on Yahoo.

The founder, Ken Ham, says:
"If the Bible is the word of God, and its history really is true, that's our presupposition or axiom, and we are starting there,..."

I find this idea of teaching religious ideas as science appallingly flawed.

I cannot say there is no one out smarter being somewhere across the galaxies who may be a God to us but is perhaps no god at all. I cannot say that there is no divine being outside the physics we know in some ulterior Universe. Maybe our entire Universe exists in some kind of multi-dimensional "Fish Tank" at the back of God's garage. I cannot rule it out.

With the same exact limitations, I believe no one can exact sharable facts about the will or nature of God outside the pursuits of science. My religion is everything I know, nothing more nothing less.

I can develop a spiritual life. I am able personally and feel spirituality, pray to and believe in whatever seems to give me the feelings I desire to have. I think we have adapted these mechanisms as human beings to help us reduce stress, focus on what we can manage and control at any given moment and not use our big pattern-finding, problem-solving brains to worry constantly.

We often see what we want to see. We gather evidence that supports our desired presumptions. Thus, something like the breaking of the Bosporus (around 5500 BC) in present day Turkey. This event allowed water from the Aegean Sea to flow into the once lower lying Black Sea. The breach may have flooded so many lands to such a great degree that many thought the world was flooded and wrote that in their traditions. Since this is a water world, there is evidence of flooding and ancient water flow almost everywhere. If a person imposes a token of belief upon the evidence it would be easy to gather hints of support in the natural world for what is believed. Such as in the case of a belief in a global flood. This is, however, the opposite of the scientific method. We must let evidence speak for itself and accept that our postulations must be negatable or may be entirely disproved by reality.

I imagine a news report from today being carried on as a story for many generations. It would eventually gain in fanciful proportion, the original context lost. Something like "It was as if the world were crashing down on us and it was the end!" could become "And behold, worlds did crash upon them in those end times.", after years of translation. These words and the value people place in them may be exploited to coax behaviors out of people, making religion a dangerous tool for manipulation. It always seems that religious people even recognize this kind of exploitation in "other people's" belief systems, their own somehow naturally immune.

When people attempt to connect their spiritual feelings in those personal experiences to "Knowledge" of the Universe or learning... It runs a great risk of producing conclusions that are nonsense, laden with bias, agenda and personal interpretation. Believing this way can be dangerous to society. Beliefs are a fine aspect of the human experience and can even inspire the labors of scientists, but beliefs are not science. The attempt to stretch this extrapolation is fraught with pitfalls of ignorance. It is a sadly self-imposed ignorance.

Many believers who inappropriately elevate the importance of their thinking over observed facts, sometimed fail to even study or consider the Universe, physics..the orbit or rotation of the moon...the science of evolution, the chemistry of life. They do not look and do not see. Fearing, perhaps that reason and knowledge might break the spell of comfort delusion provides.

Religious faith and scientific knowledge can share the same mind, but one must understand the personal emotional nature of the spiritual and not try to impose those feelings upon the search for facts, knowledge and understanding or especially, other people. Religion may have its place in spritual community, but is not something ever to be imposed upon scientific learning. It is simply out of its element in that regard.

Science is the pursuit of knowledge of what is. To a faithful person, it may be fine to believe science is the study of God's creation. The scientific method then let's God teach us about the world, by discovering the laws of nature and phsyics. Limiting the influence of our own presumptions about God and "what can be" according to the finite range of our own understanding.

The Bible is widely interpreted in conflicting ways. It was translated many times and modified by non-believers with intent to persuade or deceive. The Roman Emperor Constantine, a life long Pagan until his deathbed conversion to Christianity, spent much of his life guiding the process that would select which books even made it into the book. His motive was one of governing strength and political consensus, not a search for pure truth.

The Bible's components were written by the hands of imperfect people with limited understaning and knowledge. They used inherently limited human language and writing. The words were often handed down as traditions and only written down again many years later. Even if there is a God. Even if this God spoke to people, the Bible in hand now, is a highly human-influenced document. Endowing it with infallible authority is just irrational. Attempting to endow it with a sense of scientific authority is just not reasonable. It may have worth as human poetry, as a spiritual resource, but not as book of scientific knowedge of a study of nature, physics or biology or the like. Indeed, any seemingly scientific value gleaned from it is tainted by its very existence as an attempt to authorize the beloved book as a source of knowledge whose value is not scientific, but in the humanities.

Personal beliefs are simply beside the point of science. They have their place only in religious community, not in public teaching, debate or education. There we must let the facts of reality teach our open minds. We must allow ourselves to change what we believe about the sum of human knowledge as we learn more about the actual Universe we can observe, quantify for eachother and study. If we want to enjoy the escape faith provides, that is all good and well, but it is a something of a fantasy realm not to be misused as or confused with true knowledge.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Christian Rapture Madness

With war erupting between Israel and terrorists in lebanon, many christian groups are talking about the rapture or "end times".

The valley of "Armageddon" possibly referring to the "Jezreel Valley" of northern Israel lies south and east of Haifa, an Israeli city which is in the news as a target of terrorist Katyusha soviet designed rockets. Christians believe a great battle will take place here at a time of "wars and rumors of wars". Some Christian attitudes seem to actually relish the prospect of war, killing and violence at the time of what they believe will be the second coming of a risen Jesus Christ.

This out-cry of a pending "rapture" is often accompanied with cognitive dissonance by the claim, from the christian bible book of Matthew chapter 24 verse 36, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven...". To yearn for the end times of war and violence seems in every reasonable way to be wholly inappropriate behavior for a human being especially one with a claim to christian beliefs. If there is a soul, if there is a God, surely Christians will meet their maker when they die, which may very well be much sooner than the arrival of a Messiah, if any exists. One would expect thoughtful selfless lovers of their fellow beings as christians claim to be, to pray for peace, to yearn for peace, to work for peaceful solutions.

Every thinking man should consider that faith-based understandings are no guarantee. Our higher level reasoning and critical thinking skills have evolved so that we can rely on our knowledge and understanding to make well judged decisions. Some parts of the brain are very good at "following the leader" and blindly obeying. Religious movements like radical islam are really just mind controlling cults where massive amounts of under-informed under-educated people are brainwashed into believing things that aren't true. Longing for the end of the world only combats ignorance with ignorance.

Maybe there is no savior. Maybe we are in charge of our own destiny and must work out our own salvation and peace. If this is so, then yearning for a catastrophic end to the world is a deeply pernicious belief system. I know some religious people don't recycle or reduce their energy consumption because "it will all end"..."jesus will fix it".

Even if there is a higher being that will emerge from the unseen spiritual realms to set foot on a battle field and settle the differences of Arabs, Jews, Christians and every other warring faction, especially in this case as in any other, we will be accountable for our actions. Whether or not there is a God, or a messiah, "longing for the end" is not an acceptable way to proceed for the world. It is entirely senseless even from a christian point of view.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lebanon and Israel in conflict

It is almost a given fact that Israel should address its complaints about terror groups in Lebanon to Syria and Iran. Yet, Israel is not entirely wrong to expect, in principal, that Lebanon have charge of its own regions and people. Lebanon has been defacto occupied for so many years (in part by Syria and in part by Israel) that it is understandable that it would take time for the national government to gain control over all the regions of the country. Israel used to be the authority governing southern Lebanon.

When Israel backed out of Lebanon, it seemed to be part of a strategy to seek a peaceful status quo in the region. Israel backed out of Gaza as well and might eventually have gradually stepped back from occupation of the larger West Bank region. Sadly, the illegitimate terror group called hezbollah believed their assaults actually led to the Israeli withdrawal. Lebanon, though only emerging from Syrian occupation in the past year, has the moral responsibility to govern its own lands and to disallow such terror groups to exist. Such groups should be eradicated at best or at least prevented from importing weapons and holding political power. Lebanon's government seems not only to have been inactive in disarming the terror group, but entirely complicit in allowing hezbollah to continue to exist in a militant form. Weapons and equipment were imported right through the national airport.

As a westerner, I feel a kinship of culture with many Lebanese people. I understand it must feel horrifying to endure being bombed. I know there are peaceful people in Lebanon who feel disengaged from the terror groups within the land which are foreign backed groups anyway. The death of innocent civillians is awfully tragic and sad. However, The shocking fact of civillian deaths is precisely by design of the terrorist groups who situate their infrastructure near innocent civillians. Lebanon's quiet tolerance and inaction against these extra-legal parts of their own country is at the root of the latest conflict. Israel has every right to dismantle a terror group for attacking and bombing its citizens. The international community has every right to expect that Lebanon would not tolerate such groups within their borders. The government of Lebanon has not made any plea for international assistance to reign in these groups.

The claim of so called "resistance" by hezbollah, and also of the Palestinian terror groups, is a mask for the wish to eliminate Israel, an internationally recognized, legitimate country. Syrian's and others who oppose Israel refer to "the occupation". In the west, it is sometimes assumed they are talking about occupation of Gaza or Lebanon or the West Bank. It is, however, most likely they are talking about the existence of Israel, the occupation of what they perceive to be their land, all the way to the Mediterranean sea.

While Arab countries and the terrorist groups they support keep believing they should eradicate Israel, the conflict will exist. One simple solution is for Arab countries to recognize Israel and accept the will of many nations and of the Israelis themselves that there should be a Jewish homeland in a place of ancient Jewish presence. The Arab's have enough land from Morocco to Indonesia to be calm about this once and for all. Perhaps the persistence of this conflict is related to the way in which many Arab families educate their children, repressing them with ignorance so that they may be recruited to give their lives for this hopeless cause. Rather they should teach them math, science, economics and most of all history so that they can understand the reason and need for a Jewish sliver of land among endless Arab horizons.

In any case, No nation can continue to allow terror groups to thrive within their borders and do so without eventual reprisals and consequences. If Lebanon finds Israel's attacks horrifying, let them recognize that Israel has no cause to attack Lebanon other than the illegitimate group Lebanon complicitly harbors. If senseless bombing is truly wrong, let the Lebanese people be angry with hezbollah, Syria and Iran for carrying out and supporting such senseless attacks on Israel's innocent civillians for so long. Arab countries continue to cling to the dream that Israel will one day be gone and they can own the entire land for themselves. It may just be that clinging to this dream will cause them to lose more and more of what they now have. The Arab neighbors of Israel may do well to see reason and support Palestinians in living a prosperous life with all that they do have instead of grinding them to grist against the state of Israel.

Thinking of Israel as occupied Arab land is an outmoded and irrational point of view. If the claim to territory because of past authority were a legitimate argument, then the whole region could just be British land again...British land occupied by Arabs. That idea IS ridiculous, of course, just as ridiculous as the idea that Palestinians must own all of Israel. The Arab's can prevent this question from being decided by an all out war, like the 1948 or 1967 wars. How many more wars will it take to make the point?

There was a time when Palestinians went to work each day in Israel, ate bread baked in Israeli bakeries and drank milk from Israeli dairies. They lived together as one people, perhaps with varying political or religious views, and a few check-points, but one people in one land. Jews and Arabs are brothers anyway. Besides, nothing is more sacred than human life, not a belief system, not a temple site, not a spit of land.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I am single. I would love to be married, have kids with some wonderful woman I love, and enjoy family life. I have not had the chance to do that yet. I won't marry frivalously and I will marry for life someday.

As I look at the national debates about what kinds of unions are allowable. I settled on these thoughts. Corporations can marry technologies and business plans. The word "Marriage" has many uses. The word ought to be applicable to social unions of any kind.

As a mental exercize, imagine two elderly sisters whose husbands have died. They share living expenses and want legal access to one another in hospital situations and even want the right to leave inheritance to one another. Maybe they are affectionate, hugs and consoling words, shared tears. Though this last part of the situation has no bearing on the legal needs they have. They ought to be allowed to marry finances, marry their legal access rights to one another, marry their wills if they so desire. I use this example to take the specific manner and issue of shared affection out of the equation for a minute and just look at human rights and choice.

I suppose, despite the efforts of my upbringing to repress my thinking on this, I do not believe it is socially destructive for women to marry women and men to marry men. The social concerns at hand seem to be the effect on overall happiness, in society, of the happiness of individuals. I think people are far happier when they can do what they like, so to speak.

In a wider view, there are other issues involving the needs of the society concerning the propogation of taxpayers. Certainly sexuality and the ability to reproduce are not mutually exclusive at all. Homosexuals often have children. Maybe there are children from an earlier relationship, maybe by nonsexual means such as cell donors and in-vitro fertilization etc. The reproduction aspects are not a threat to society. Overpopulation may be the real threat.

So why not say that anyone can marry? I suppose the age of marriage is tied to economics, education, higher living standards and maturity and readiness of human beings to marry. A reasonable age is selected by our culture. This really distinguishes us from, for example, bacteria who reproduce as fast as physically possible. We are human beings. Marriage and reproduction age is an expression of our power over our own destiny.

This debate sometimes leads to "group" marriage or polygamy. While adults can do what they choose and life is not perfect, polygamy does pose a "numbers" problem. Nature likes to generally balance male to female population in reproductive years. There are 106 male babies born per 100 female babies in the world. This ratio seems to correct for some of the loss of males due to higher risk activities, such as war, living with testosterone and not having the protective estrogen defenses against disease to the degree women of child bearing years have. Nature wants everyone to find a mate. Polygamy is socially damaging, skewing the numbers leaving some alone.

I am not sure there is a debate about choice vs. biology among sexual preferences. We all have the in-born ability to choose, that IS our nature. Though, no amount of mocking, laughter, ridicule, or suspicion of my being a single man in his 30's will ever change my heterosexual blood. No amount of therapy, indoctrination, guilt, religion or fear will ever make me not want what I want. Sure, I don't find every woman equally attractive, but I know what I desire. My experience of sexuality is that it is part of my nature. Not even the pain, humiliation, loneliness and rejection I have experienced pursuing women throughout my few years will have a hope of changing my desire to love and marry some special woman.

I would never try to tell someone else that they are choosing who they are or don't feel what they feel. I would reject that out of hand if it were imposed on me in that way. Even though I may personally not understand someone else's desires, I strongly believe that every human being has the right to pursue happiness and have the benefits of social union as they please. If the tables were turned and my heterosexuality were socially banned, I could never stand for being denied my right to woo, date, marry and love a woman. Not on pain of death. Though, I still can't get a damn date.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


During the immigration protests this year I heard some possibly illegal immigrants shout the message and hold the banner "No One is Illegal". I know this is supposed to appeal to my humanity, inviting me to remember that people coming over the border are human beings. I agree with the idea that human beings are all inherently valuable.

I came from another country. I was born into American citizenship on foreign soil because I had an American mother at birth. As I think about the claim "No One is Illegal" I see it both as an affirmation of human rights, but I also see it as a threat to national sovereignty.

We human beings have the remarkable ability to determine our destiny. America comes from the people's belief in and respect for the rule of law, starting with the Constitution. Our mutual acceptance of and belief in law is the way we bring justice and access to opportunity to our lives.

Some people are "Illegal". They lack a clearly documented identity, often do not carry insurance and cannot be tracked with criminal records or credit histories. We have a 12 million member class of under-identified people who should not be above the law and need to go about obtaining legal status. It may mean they must return to a home country and re-apply eventually, or pay a penalty for having violated the law.

The thing, this country, unto which people are coming, exists because of respect for and enforcement of laws, at its very core. Saying "No One is Illegal" is a "feel good" statement that is false and actually opposes the sovereignty of the United States. I am happy to see this country's demographics change and grow, this is our legacy. Whether Mexican, East Indian, West African, Asian, Eastern European, Irish, Italian or from anywhere, I believe every American resident should be documented and have respect for the laws of the land. If that means they cannot come here, then maybe it means reforming one's beloved homeland to have greater respect for law.

Many countries can meet the American standard of government or even improve upon it if they keep their citizens at home by improving their chances in their own borders. In any case, America without respect for the law, becomes something else. No matter how many immigrants try to shout it down for their own happiness and convenience, at the end of the day, they wanted to be here because of the character our nations citizens provide to our country through laws.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Against Torture

I have stood in Het Graven Steen in Gent, Belgium. This is an old castle that also contains a kind of museum of torture. Some ominous and horrible devices are shown that use starvation, drowning, stabbing or prolonged discomfort as means of torture. I recall thinking that we were beyond such things. How relieved I felt that as a modern, enlightened culture we would not use or face such things.

I believe the United States has held and should renew and preserve a place of leadership in the world as a society that respects people and is governed by laws that specify and gradually curtail the means of punishment allowable for crimes by the seriousness of the offense.

Maybe in our times, new levels of awfulness have arisen. There are now crimes that I hear of that I never even imagined when I was younger. Sometimes our laws are not equipped to handle these developments in a way that seems satisfying, appropriate or even necessary for our safety.

I must admit, the mentality of those who would attack the U.S. seems, to me, to be less evolved than it should be. It is like our enemies are acting on an instinctive, animal, territorial level driven by primal fear. How else could inhumane and murderous acts be justified? Yet, we should not allow these developments to justify the regression of our own culture. I want to stand up and say that civilized nations are better than that. I think we can use our intelligence to solve complex problems without resorting to torture.

There should be limits on the means of interrogation. No matter what the threat to our national security, debasing ourselves is a threat to our national integrity. What makes our security so worth protecting is our values, our staunch unwillingness to reduce ourselves to the level of those who hate us. How can we say that slowly modernizing cultures should look to us as an example of why they should westernize when we are abandoning our distinctive and precious good qualities?

We need to fight the ignorance of those who do not value human life. We need to keep our values intact to demonstrate the preferability of tolerant, mixed, secular societies, and the glory of the freedom to choose. If we have anything that could be construed as torture in our detention facilities, we should eliminate it now and turn from that path to one of a more enlightened society.

Let us look to the British example of preserving Habeas Corpus in all the world, with no exceptions beyond the seas. Then criminals can be tried and, as appropriate, receive sentence or release. There are other solutions to the worlds problems beyond torture and endless detention.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mac Virus Debate

Those new Mac ads are funny. Sure the Mac is "Better" in many ways. People who use them more get that more. At my office we have this debate all the time. Every time someone gets a virus, I simply have to remind them that the Mac I use still has no virusses. Inevitably the debate engages. "No one uses a Mac" they say, so that's why there are no virusses (viri?) for Mac. Well, this is simply wishful thinking.

I have used every platform as part of my work and personal experience, including the Mac platform. Not to show my age, but I am certain I have had my hands on the keys and my eyes on the screen of every computer platform available to the public. Because I am a "power user" I know every machine has flaws and weaknesses and EVERY platform has crashes. I use a Mac at home and at work (I do use other computers for testing as well) and I know I have experienced some lockups and crashes even on the latest Tiger OS on my dual G5. Bad hardware or software can cause a Tiger G5 to do the "We're hangin' here" thing. What I don't have on my Mac is any virusses.

Now, back in the OS 9 days, I had the occassional virus. Why? Because people try to write them and system weaknesses can be exploited. So why are there no virusses for my Mac running OS X? The reasons are combined. People don't write virusses for Mac because they are harder to exploit. The Mac market is large enough to have a percentage of the 100's of thousands of virusses created...but it has none. Is it because it has fewer users? This is true...but it is only part of the story. It is also less exploitable. That doesn't mean it's impossible, but the security patches are way ahead of attempts to exploit the platform.

See, people want a virus to propogate like wild fire to millions of machines. The Mac market is big enough for that, but the Mac is very much ineffective at allowing rogue code access to system resources. So, the real reason writing a virus for the Mac is unrewarding, is that the system is not as easy to exploit. Thus, the rewards drop right off to zero. Zero is the amount of virusses I have on my Mac.

Sure, the rewards for exploiting the Mac to spread a virus would be greater if the market share were reversed, but the ability to exploit the system would still be just as unrewarding to a virus writer, as compared to the currently popular target. Is it possible that someone will be able to find a way to exploit the Mac for virus propogation? Sure, but that is like the footpath to heaven, not the 96 lane freeway to hell.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Written in a Book

Listening to a radio station in my area which is ultimately owned by a church, I noticed they had a quick two minute anti- Davinci Code editorial.  The station presents itself as a news and traffic station and is said not to proselytize its owner's faith, although I hear an "on message" news or editorial item every 10 minutes on the nines, so to speak. The amazing irony is that the editorial contained the phrase "Just because it is written in a book doesn't mean it is true" as it tried to dissuade people from paying attention to the Davinci Code. I would refer the religious believers back to their own belief in things in books they believe are true. 

To truly understand life and the nature of the universe we live in, we must be ready to accept that things we hold true can be proved wrong by greater understanding. The religious method is to seek to confirm truth by personal spiritual experience. The trouble is, personal convictions cannot be peer reviewed or tested. Was Jesus divine? What is divinity? Is there a God? What is the nature of God?

There may well be a divine creator and many people seem to feel that there is. We will never understand the nature of God when we study our own inventions, like religion. When we seek to expand the edges of human knowledge and understanding with hope and wonder and the most rational, objective scrutiny, then this study of the known or study of knowledge will guide us all to real, verifiable and valueable truth.

What is the study of knowledge? SCIENCE.

Carl Sagan said, "It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas … If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones."

And that is why I don't place a lot of value on religiously funded editorials. Just because it's on the radio, doesn't make it true. Sometimes you have to follow the money and see who's talking.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Government in Afghanistan wants to Kill a Christian

How can I begin to describe my reaction to this news? Dismay seems inadequate. First, People who are held to a system of belief on pain of death are not adherents nor are they faithful.

Let me state that I believe there could be a God, like famous secular humanist and scientist Carl Sagan said "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence".

I like to imagine that Islam is a peaceful religion that brings a sense of order, meaning and morality to the lives of millions. I watch the Haj on PBS and am impressed and moved by the devotion and community experienced by the participants. Extremism is supposed to be a fringe element that is co-opting the religion and using it to fuel violence. Then I see the Government in Afghanistan who want to kill a human being for simply believing differenly. I thought the Taliban was driven out of power over there!? Is it not enough to have historically spread a religion by the sword? Must there also be talk of murdering anyone for leaving it?

Of all the education that is needed in many nations, that of the value and dignity of human life seems to be the most urgent. Why are suicide bombings seen as negotiation in these cultures? I will never be able to see that as anything but the most debasing madness ever conceived. Parents pride themselves upon their dead children who murder innocent bystanders. In many cases these families have received payoffs from governments. It seems the culture of violence may not only be at the fringes of Islamic society.

There really needs to be a system of secular law to keep ideals from being brought to bear on human lives. There are many readily cited examples of this culture of killing. I recall hearing, many months ago, of the desire of a Nigerian Muslim community to stone a pregnant woman and her unborn child for adultery, the lust for blood outpacing the need for evidence. It is my understanding that the couple had simply taken some time apart, with a few conjugal exceptions and that the woman's husband was the father.

The BBC reports stories of "honor" killings in many countries which are some of the most dishonorable things I can imagine. The ease with which insurgents in iraq combine divine invocations with beheadings, even killing fellow Muslims, shows that this is a wounded society and religion in need of some enlightenment.

The cartoons of Mohamed with a bomb in his turbine illustrate poignantly the awful irony of the culture of killing that seems to stretch from the extremists, to families to governments. When violent attacks are the response from Muslim communities to this critique, it is the height of irony. These make it very difficult to remember that the comic was insulting to Islamic religious sensibilities. Many Muslim communities have been misled and lied to about what was published. They were shown even more offensive cartoons that were never published. These lies and misrepresentations sparked even more unnecessary violence, ultimately underlining the point of the cartoonist.

The Janjeweed of Sudan are a testament all their own to the horror that religious and ethnic hatred can bring, but are also yet another mind numbing example of Islam's relationship to wanton violence and disregard for human life. These are Muslims driving out and killing Africans who are not Arabs, but in many cases are Muslims as well. Does this religion condone genecide? Where is the outrage about this!? (instead of a cartoon)

I wish that more of what must be a moderate majority of Islamic believers would stand up, speak out and denounce violence. This would help people in the west sort out whether there is a cancer in the system or whether the culture of violence is such a historic and integrated part of Islam itself that it cannot be separated from it.

Meanwhile, I condemn the new Afghan government's intolerance and insist they refrain from throwing their citizens to the lions and instead live together in peace and harmony with Sikh, Hindu, Buddist and Christian alike.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


In a largely christian country like the United States, the term "christian" itself can generally be used to describe "just" and "decent" behavior. When someone is "unchristian" that generally implies he/she was being cruel or unsympathetic to his/her fellow citizen. In an ideal world I would like to think of the term "islamic" as meaning something similar in other societies.

Islamic should mean "peaceful" perhaps also "just" maybe even "decent".  So if in an islamic society ones behavior is "islamic" you could say that it is analagous to "christian" behavior in a christian society. I think that violence should be considered "unislamic" and "unchristian" in our respective societies.

There are examples of imposing religious thought using violent means in either religion's past. Mention "the inquisition" or a phrase like "the alcoran or the sword". Each faithful imagines one's own beliefs as right and blameless and others as wrong and punishable. Who is the infidel? Is it the protestant to a catholic? Is it the sunni to the shiite?

I propose everyone is faithful and an infidel at times. We have these great religions. Why do we not use them for good or abandon them entirely for something much more healthy for mankind than killing and fighting. 

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Electoral Politics

While I understand that voting irregularities are decidedly unamerican, I have to say I am so tired of hearing about the "stolen election". It is 2006 and I still see the awful rhetorical device used. You know the one where people say regarding the 2000 Presidential election: "Gore won this election by xx votes and Bush went crying to the courts who overturned it." This is such a misleading argument and actually demonstrates a complete lack of understanding regarding the system of Presidential election in the United States. Those last two words are the key, United States.

The U.S.A. is not just one flat country with a majority vote for president. In fact none of that is true. The United States is 50 states with their own laws that even differ regarding how the presidential election works. The President is not elected by a popular vote in America. I know, sit down...put down the protest picketts just for a moment. Each state appoints Electors equal to the number of senators and representatives from that state. This gives a nod to both the state's soveriegnty as well as a nod to the actual number of American citizens living in the state. The Electors vote for the President and Vice-President of the United States. It could be argued that the popular vote within each state is merely a strong suggestion as to which way the Electors should vote. Some states split their Electors along the lines of the proportional outcome of the state vote, meaning some of the Electors from that state vote for one candidate and some for another based on what percentage of the state vote each candidate received from the voting public.

The national count for each presidential candidate may be added up by news organizations or interested citizens, but has no bearing on and no meaning in the Electoral college. This system is wise as it reduces the scale of power of large states against small states. While preserving the idea that population matters. It tempers majority rule. So when people say "Bush won more states" they mean he had the majority vote in more states considered individually, so that their Electors voted for Bush (because the Electors were being cooperative with the majority vote). In some large population states that went for Gore, those Electors voted for him.

The deciding state in the 2000 election was Florida. There were enough Electoral votes to be won, that winning this state could make up for either candidate's need for Electors to claim victory. My understanding is that the vote counts in some counties in Florida were close enough and under such dispute that flaws in the voting system were revealed. Things like...inconclusive votes from poorly maintained voting equipment, legitimate voters who were denied because of clerical errors...Illegitimate voters who were still listed as legitimate, like felons, deceased etc. So parties sued for a resolution of the dispute, as is their right, and under the laws of this nation the case proceeded quickly to the Supreme Court who ruled with the skill and wisdom with which we entrust them and there was a decision. Nothing was co-opted, hi-jacked.

The voting irregularities which existed in many states, but came into focus in one state, have been addressed by many states since the election. Also, the ballots were carefully counted anyway and it was found that under every stretch and interpretation that was reasonable, Bush still would have taken all the Florida Electoral votes.

So, we have a President elected legally and legitimately by a minority of our population which was distributed in such a way as to provide him with the majority of Electoral votes. Bill Clinton was also a minority-vote President. In fact when elligible voters fail to vote, the rest of us run the country on their behalf. So the thing to do, in America, is not to spew specious rhetoric about fictional fantasy voting scenarios, but get out and vote your mind while you are alive...and never give up your vote to laziness or becoming a criminal. And please understand how your country works before repeating that "Gore won the national popular vote"...that's just not an Electoral institution we have in this country, at least when it comes to Presidential politics.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Abortion, the big debate. I was thinking about the debate over abortion when I was reminded of the Lacie Peterson case. She was murdered by her husband Scott Peterson who was convicted of 2 counts. You see Lacie was pregnant at the time and so this premeditated and intentional killing included the killing of a second human being, the fetus she was carrying.

I understand the standard used to determine whether the fetus counted for a second murder was that of a heart beat and brain activity. This seems to point out a shocking double standard. When a woman sets out to have an abortion, she ultimately designs to kill a human being.

I have thought a lot about this issue. I like to use a mental exercize where I suppose a cyst was found inside me that some how was developing molecules that it was discovered could be very useful to the human race. Although scientists, religious people, government officials and others may feel urgently that I should be compelled to allow the cyst to continue to grow within me for many months because of its beneficial possibilities, I still would reserve the sole discretion as to whether to have it removed. Especially if there was a credible threat to my life from carrying it. I am male. So this helps me understand, somewhat, what it might be like to face pregnancy, atleast in a social sense.

As a human being myself, I believe men, women who aren't mothers, women who can't have children and all other human beings have the right to have an opinion about abortion and even influence the country's laws regarding the matter. I don't want the government telling me how to use my body any more than a woman does. In the case of child bearing, however, there is no escaping the fact that another human being is invovled, a being with its own rights and destiny.

The fate of an unborn human being is closely entwined with the fate of its mother and with all due honor, its destiny is in the hands of its mother. I don't believe a woman should be allowed to choose life or death for a fetus without the same kind of consequences that follow choosing to kill any other human being, whether or not the fetus could survive on its own. I think abortion is akin to leaving a newborn on the side of a highway in the freezing cold with no food. Except that, in an abortion, especially a late term abortion, more must be done to end the life of the fetus than this.

Yet, There are so many intertwining issues. Women should not be socially left helpless to care for children they can ill afford. Also, proper medical care and food for a pregnant and new mother and perhaps her other children need to be readily available if there is to be an alternative course of action to abortion. Even if a woman were to give up her child for "adoption" once it was born, this does not ensure that society will help to bear the social and literal costs of carrying the pregnancy or childbirth.

In an ideal world women would never become pregnant unless they desired to be pregant with purpose and intent. For that to be possible, sex education, contraceptives and other social support needs to make a 180 degree turn and improve in major ways. Why isn't the prospect of killing a fetus undesireable enough for us to overcome any discomfort with sex education and birth control?

I would say to religious conservatives that if you want to respect life so much, teach children all about its processes with detail and clarity that is as great as possible as early as they can understand it all, which may be sooner than we would like it to be. Let pro life energy be put into sex education and contraceptive promotion to adults as well.

Rape is an illness whose root causes need to be socially examined and treated. To impose upon anyone the decision about whether to propogate the genes of a violent criminal is part of the violence of a rape that results in a pregnancy. I believe that emergency contraception should be available to a rape victim and that she should have the option of deciding to abort a child, hopefully as early as possible, if at all. Already I can see trouble brewing with this stance. What if criminal proceedings eventually find that there was not a rape committed. Also, If no other abortion is available, is the possibility of making a false claim of rape now a tempting option? I am not implying that this is a common way of thinking...but when women, desperate to abort a pregnancy (that may or may not have resulted from a rape) have gone to the length of using coat hangars in alleys, threatening their own lives, then many other similar things are possible.

When a woman's life is in danger because of pregnancy, she should have some legal options under a doctor's care.
A healthy woman who was not raped should not be allowed to halt a pregnancy once she has chosen to initiate one. It should be so because a woman should not be able to decide life or death for another human being. She has brought this being into existence by her actions and now has a social repsonsibility to this person, as do we all.

Somewhere in a reasonable public debate, we can all come to terms with the issues surrounding the propogation of our species. The path to pregnancy is full of conscious choices and so there are responsibilities. What is "my body" is my body, but what is someone else's body, even a body dependent upon my blood, is still someone else's and not mine. I should not be able to kill that being through premeditated intentional action.

Suppose abortion were outlawed with the exceptions mentioned. A woman's options are still her own. She is still free to choose not getting pregnant. She is protected by law if she should be raped or be medically threatened with death. Sounds simple enough. Though, I have found that nothing ever is quite so simple.


I work in Web Marketing and have been thinking about SEO, or "Search Engine Optimization".  Everyone wants to be found especially on the big search engines like google or yahoo.  Sometimes in the computer industry companies get big and successful and start to feel they have the "political capital" to impose their will upon the rest of us. More and more we begin referring to them as "Evil".

Google, for example, is my favorite search engine.  My belief about the metaphor for their purpose in life is that they want to allow us to find what is out there.  They search the web.  Simple enough.  More and more it seems people are desperate to please the famous google so they can glean visitors to their pages from the many users who are using google daily. People begin complying with googles limits on technology so that their pages please the "spider", which is software that browses the web and looks for content.

The spider is at the core of this game. You see, the spider should be finding what web publishers make...not forcing web publishers to limit themselves so that they can be found. The ideal spider would be a human being using a web browser. Though for speed and convenience, the spider is actually a piece of server software that can't actually do everything a web browser can do. So you loose Google's attention if you employ dynamic technology like Flash or DHTML, that Google's spider cannot process in the same way a user's browser can. This is why Google urges us all to fall in line so we can be "found" and "counted".  This logic is all backwards. 

Google should be finding what is there not dictating what can be. We need to get a little more "quantum mechanics" sense into this reasoning and convince Google and other search engines not to destroy or influence what they are trying to observe. 

Search engine optimization is really an incidious buzz-word. Sure, it is the way to position one's site under the faucet of dollars on the web, but it is giving too much control to the tool whose mission should be to search the web, instead of forcing the web into compliance with its weaknesses.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hey, I've something to say!

Hello world. I have some thoughts about life and just to get my rants to the right ears, I will put them in this blog.


p.s. I will get round to saying something soon