Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Here's a graffito I'd like to see all over: Disobey Wisely

(Yes, graffiti is the plural of graffito.)

What does it mean to disobey wisely? And why do it?

I'll work on this today, but knowing me, I'll lose interest in the project before I get very far. One thing I'll say right now is that by practising wise disobedience, you're doing two things: practising wisdom and practising courage. Both of which are in short supply.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I had another interesting dream last night.

Let's see what I can remember of it. I was reminded of it by another blogger who'll get credit for it if he wants it, but I don't yet feel free to reveal him here. If he looks here, he needs to check the place out for a bit and read the comments.

Anyway...

I was wandering around a park in a city somewhere. The place was secluded, but it seemed like there were houses beyond the trees. I can't remember how we came to set up our tent inside this enclosure (a wood frame around the bottom, plastic pipes rising from the corners which held clear plastic sheeting), but we were preparing to spend the night. The park was not crowded, but there were plenty of people around. I went to do something and when I came back the tent was not mine, or ours, or whatever. It was a big thing with flyes (not bugs; open flaps - there were no bugs and the weather was breezy and warm) and some guy that I knew I liked (meaning he was a friendly, cheerful guy, not that I had the hots for him) was lying on the floor. I didn't feel excluded from the place, but I didn't feel quite like I could make myself at home either.

Again I went to get something, probably something to sit on, and when I came back the place was as big as a small circus tent and people were putting a wooden floor under it. The guy - I think he was a light-toned black man, btw - was sitting up and getting ready to do some of the work. He did so. The place was becoming a center of activity.

Pretty soon it was a large barn with light gray-green walls and there was some sort of activity starting in it. Then there were no walls and all the people were putting in plumbing and installing appliances and wiring and such. Then my Dad, my Grandpa, my brother and some uncles started leveling the floor and I realized with some guilt that the thing had just been laid on the ground.

I got down in the excavation (I'm trying not to express any surprise, because I didn't feel any in the dream, but it hadn't been there before and I knew it - I kept going over all that as each phase of the dream proceeded) and I was helping with the jacks they were using; there was a scissor-jack and an electric hydraulic jack and another one that I never got a chance to look over. Dad, Grandpa and one or the other of my uncles or my brother were handling whichever jack I wasn't at the moment and discussing what needed to be done. I was doing my part wordlessly - I wasn't being ordered around. The knowledgable people just advised me.

Suddenly the floor started to shift and buckle. We all realized at the same moment that nobody had thought to put shoring timbers under the middle of the building. Everybody working inside bailed out and the whole thing turned into a pile of kindling. On the far end the ground looked kind of like a river had eroded away its bank under the building, but there was no river.

I was wondering how we were going to clean up the mess and start over - I was viewing the wreckage from above, floating over it - when I woke up.

BTW, I woke up alert and lively before the alarm went off. I'm told that that's a significant message from the unconscious in itself. So I went to start my day while trying to fix the details of the dream in my mind.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rerun time: December 15th, 2004

BILL OF RIGHTS DAY!

So, I don't know... Read the Bill of Rights aloud to someone you love.

Addendum: Things To Do Today

1. Worship, speak, publish, assemble as you wish. Petition the government.

2. Bear arms. (A sword or knife would be fine, if you hate guns. Or bare arms.)

3. Refuse to quarter a soldier in your home.

4. Rebuff an unwaranted search.

5. Don't let anyone execute you, especially not twice, and for God's sake, don't help them do it by testifying against yourself! Insist on a trial. Get payment for that car they seized.

6. Make sure your arrest and trial follows all the prescriptions of the 6th Amendment.

7. Insist on a jury trial of your civil case.

8. Watch out for that excessive bail and fine, and make sure you're not cruelly nor unusually punished.

9. Assert other rights you retain.

10. Take back your power from the government.

Probably my best original work.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

But here's the real deal

See what you can say about this:
The difference that atheism makes to the world is it requires an acceptance of this world as all there is. It requires a rejection of all beliefs that if we commit moral crimes we can be forgiven by accepting a Jewish zombie on our death bed or holding a belief in a circle of endless rebirth that will give us a second chance. It requires compassion for humanity in the here and now because there is no belief in an abstract entity that will provide compassion for us. (Notice that this does not occur in the current world because the compassion of gods have been passed on to the compassion of the state, and it did not happen in past worlds because child-raising was so brutal the compassion was crushed out of the culture before anyone reached adulthood.)

But most of all, it is important because it is a rejection of belief structures that require lying to and terrifying children for the sake of abstract entities. Only with this fundamental rejection of violence against children will we have a world with peace.


Tha'ts the last comment, by Paul C., on this page.

Anybody who watches this and doesn't bitch about it

is going straight to Hell!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Forts Folle Avoine Rendezvous in Danbury, WI this weekend

Call it fantasy camp, if you will.

It would have been nice to have today off, so we wouldn't have to hustle our butts up there tonight and pack our crap in. We need to remember to leave offerings out for the brownies who'll come clean up the house while we're out. I've heard they're really good.

Google doesn't seem to have any pictures of the place, which is north of Yellow Lake, a mile or two west of Wisconsin 35. This map'll get you there.

Ooh! If your map turns out like mine, those pointers are off. It's that area by the Historical Society marker east of the river and the entrance is about half a mile east of that; the next right after Trading Post Road coming west from WI 35.

But they do have a good website. Note that there are two forts there. Find out why. Or is this link better?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This is pretty much the God I've been worshipping

for the last ten years or so, as defined by George H. Smith in a speech originally titled "The Case Against God," but retitled "How to Defend Atheism" for the website so as not to confuse search engines, since Smith's book carries the former title:
Let's suppose that God exists and He is concerned with human affairs -- He's a personal god -- but that He is a just god. He's concerned with justice. If you have a just god, he could not possibly punish an honest error of belief where there is no moral turpitude or no wrongdoing involved. If this god is a creator god and He gave us reason as the basic means of understanding our world, then He would take pride in the conscientious and scrupulous use of reason the part of His creatures, even if they committed errors from time to time, in the same way a benevolent father would take pride in the accomplishments of his son, even if the son committed errors from time to time. Therefore, if there exists a just god, we have absolutely nothing to fear from such a god. Such a god could not conceivably punish us for an honest error of belief.

See, I was pretty much a Randian atheist when I joined the Lutheran Church back when my daughter was a baby. I did that because I wanted my daughter to receive moral instruction (and my wife insisted that she needed to be baptized). And there aren't a whole lot of Randian churches around here. And you know they're not teaching much in the way of morality in the government schools...

Crud, breaktime's over.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'll just cut and paste this for now

And figure out what to say later.

Update - here we go - new intro (thanks to Tef for sparking this): Libertarians are always being hit with dumb, unlikely situations like these to argue against the universal validity of property rights. I think Molyneux answers them marvelously here.

The two scenes begin 1. with a guy hanging from a flagpole outside my window. He kicks in my window to escape from his predicament; and 2. I see a guy in the water drowning and I grab your lifesaver.

From the FDR Blog:
...[W]e can see that the man who kicks in my window would be doing so with a reasonable expectation that I would prefer him to do so rather than fall to his death – just as a surgeon who cuts into my throat while I am choking reasonably assumes that I would prefer him to do so rather than allow me to die.

If permission cannot be reasonably gained about the use of property ahead of time, then it can always be sought after the fact. If I grab a lifesaver from your boat in order to throw it to a drowning man, it scarcely seems reasonable for me to imagine that you would prefer that I let the man drown rather than “steal” your property.

...

...[I]f you would have preferred that I fall to death my rather than kick in your window, then of course I am liable for the property damage that I have incurred. My “guess” as to how you would want your property to be used has turned out to be false, just as if I had taken your car thinking that you wanted me to, when it turns out that you considered my action to be rank theft.

Naturally, for any of this to occur, a man must be hanging from a flagpole, have no other option than kicking in a window, and the man whose window is kicked in must have preferred that the hanging man fall to his death – and the man who has saved his life by kicking in a window must refuse to pay any and all restitution for the window he has broken.

Such a circumstance will never arise in this or any other universe. The endless pursuit of these topics tells us much more about the limitations of ethicists than it does the limitations of ethics.

Monday, July 13, 2009

OK. The twelvth chapter of Romans

has an awful lot to believe in.

OTOH: OMG! Take Deuteronomy 23:1 and apply it to your life:
He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

In case you don't get the euphemisms, the other versions available there will make it clear for you.

I suppose you're wondering what's got me bouncing around the Holy Scriptures this evening. Well, tonight it's this guy.

My problem with God is

he wrote a crappy book. No matter which book you think he wrote, it sucks. The Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita...if you don't cherry pick what you think is good out of them you'll be paralyzed with indecision trying to follow all of their respective commandments. Those are the books I've read the most of; the first and last I read cover to cover. The Surangama Sutra didn't seem to be going anywhere as far as "What should I do?" The same with the Koran.

I think what this guy says is pretty telling, and applies to the lot:
Ask yourself this simple question: Why, when you read the Bible, are you not left in awe? Why doesn't a book written by an omniscient being leave you with a sense of wonder and amazement? If you are reading a book written by the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving creator of the universe, wouldn't you expect to be stunned by the brilliance, the clarity and the wisdom of the author? Would you not expect each new page to intoxicate you with its incredible prose and its spectacular insight? Wouldn't you expect the author to tell us things that scientists have not been able to discover yet?

Yet, when we open the Bible and actually read it, we find it is nothing like that at all. Instead of leaving us in awe, it leaves us dumbfounded by all of the nonsense and backwardness that it contains. If you read what the Bible actually says, you find that the Bible is ridiculous. The examples shown above barely scratch the surface of the Bible's numerous problems. If we are honest with ourselves, it is obvious that an "all-knowing" God had absolutely nothing to do with this book.

The reason why the Bible contains so much nonsense is because God is imaginary. The Bible is a book written thousands of years ago by primitive men. A book that advocates senseless murder, slavery and the oppression of women has no place in our society today.

Update: I should say that I've only glanced at the Book of Mormon. That's why I didn't answer your last comment here, T.F. I didn't mean to ignore you.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Yeah, I've heard that one too...

[This is a fun site]
You can find many believers who will say, "The reason why scientific experiments fail to detect God is because God must remain hidden. He does not answer prayers if he knows that he will be detected."

In order to see the truth, you need to accept that this explanation is silly. If God must remain hidden, then he cannot answer any prayers. Any "answered prayer" would expose God.

The whole notion that "God" must remain "hidden" is a total cross-threading of religious doctrine. On the one hand, believers will say that "God wrote the Bible, God incarnated himself and died on the cross for us, and God answers millions of prayers on earth every day." Then in the next breath they will say, "God must remain hidden." God obviously cannot "remain hidden" and "incarnate himself." These two items are mutually exclusive. Therefore, the explanation that "God must remain hidden" is impossible. As soon as you accept how impossible it is, you can begin to see see that God is imaginary.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

From the same author

as the blog from which I clipped a comment in the previous post: "Ecclesiastes is by far the best book in the Bible. Of course most of the good stuff contradicts what the Bible says elsewhere."

His lists of "good stuff" are very well chosen.

Btw, this isn't on one of those lists, but if I'd noticed this verse months ago I wonder where I'd be now:
Galatians 23:13 And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.

Here's something interesting

In a comment on this article
Paul said...
What I find strange, is that it seems fashionable now for athiests [sic] to pronounce moral judgements on Bible events. Strange because these debates predominate in cultures which have been built on the Judeo Christian ethic in the first place. In other words, the origin of the morals used to judge the Bible came from the Bible in the first place.

As a christian - am I concerned about the 42 "children" ripped apart by bears and seemingly justified by God? Well, put it this way - as my tiny nation (NZ) rapidly departs from its biblical belief system 18 thousand tiny, defenceless children were ripped apart in their mothers' wombs last year (up from 11,000 in 1990). Which do you think I'd be more concerned about? 42 dead "children" justified by God or 18,000 justified by athiests?

You tell me - as my country rids itself of the shackles of what you think is such a barbaric book, shouldn't it become less barbaric? Believe me - all the statistics (including violence against and murder of children) are running the other way. How do you explain that? Look at countries that ban(ned) the Bible... notice an increase in justice and equity as they did? No. Actually the opposite is true. Two or three from last century come to mind.

If you gut the Bible of its major theme, yes, many incidents appear barbaric and make for great blog reading for those who don't want to digest the actual book. But doesn't any book deserve to be read in its context?

The Bible reveals a titanic struggle between good and evil for the stupendously precious souls of men and women. From the Bible's viewpoint the eternal destiny of every soul, loved by God, hangs in the balance.

The Bible contains many warnings (Matt 10:28). How loving would God be if He wrote a book which demonstrated no consequences for disobedience or wilful choice to defy Him, when such disobedience and defiance, if not turned from, would result in the eternal destruction of the soul?

Sat Nov 10, 06:10:00 AM 2007

And yet the omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent being could change it all with less effort that it takes me to blink.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I get sick and tired of the way

Robert Ringer beats around the bush:
...[U]ndoing the damage that’s been done would entail repealing each and every unconstitutional law that has been passed — not just during the reign of the Duplicitous Despot, but since at least the early part of the 20th century. Just because an immoral law has been on the books for a long time doesn’t make it any less immoral. How long was slavery legal in the U.S.? How long was communism accepted as the norm in the Soviet Union?

Liberty is man’s natural state, tyranny his natural enemy. Natural Law is superior to manmade laws, and the essence of Natural Law is self-evident: Individuals have a right to sovereignty over their own lives. Period.

McCainizing about “cutting waste” and “slowing the growth of benefits” is nothing more than a cowardly surrender. Cutting and slowing only succeed in holding things in place until the progressives regain power and move their agenda still further to the left.

The problem with all forms of welfare is that once a program is on the books, no one has the guts to suggest completely removing it. When progressives manage to push something through, they know very well that the pampered populace will see it as a “right.” They are counting on this free-loader mentality for long-term victory.

If the government behaved like it ought to, nobody'd notice the poor little thing.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

I wonder if my daughter would like to go to Camp Quest

They've got this page, titled "Affirmations of Humanism" on their website. Let me go through and see what I think of it:
A Statement of Principles

We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.

We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.

So far so good.
We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.

Yup.
We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.

"Open and pluralistic society" great; I'm cool with that. The last part, though...isn't that why we're fighting in Iraq? Society needs more than just the mechanism of voting.
We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.

Good - disarming the churches has done wonders for world peace.
We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.

I'm hot for negotiation; kinda cool for compromise. "Live and let live" is about as compromise-y as I think anybody needs to be.
We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.

Justice is awesome, fairness is impossible...well, really both are impossible on a collective scale. Groups of people do a crappy job of being just and fair to each other. I'm down with eliminating discrimination and intolerance, but it depends on how you plan to do it.
We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.

Of course, but how?
We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.

Excellent.
We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.

Okey-dokey. Once again, the question is, "how?"
We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.

Perfect. Absolutely!
We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.

Fantastic!
We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.

We're talkin' about a summer camp for kids, right?
We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility.

No probs with 80% of those. Got a problem with altruism - it's kind of a rickety flyer.
Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.

All right.
We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.

Yup! Me too.
We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.

Well, ...good.
We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.

Awesome!
We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.

Yep.
We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.

Anybody got a "theology of despair" or an "ideology of violence?"
We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.

We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.

That all sounds good, though I think they said it already.

Here's a thought for the holiday


Why does this make me think of that guy who ran for office in Iowa a while back? Trapp-something...

El Neil:

These were the Eisenhower years, I confess, and even as a fairly naive youngster, I had an intuitive sense that “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe when the legislature’s in session,” and that a “do-nothing congress” is a good thing. Also, it occurred to me that, after almost two centuries, the Powers That Be ought to have passed more than enough laws by now. At that point, you understand, I’d spent my entire life — exactly like any other little kid — being told what to do and what not to do. It seemed to me there was enough of that crap already going around to last us for at least a hundred years.

If you need more inflammatory rhetoric ('more' as in both more of it and more inflammatory), that's over here in the rest of the article "Had Enough Yet?".