Friday, June 22, 2007

I sometimes find it useful

To remind myself that we humans are in fact a just bunch of apes with a modicum of extra neural circutry that allows us to communicate more effectively. The core forces that drive our behavior remain the same ones that drive chimps to gather in bands and sort themselves by rank.

I need to remind myself of that because otherwise the part of me that thinks rationally and believes that "all men (and women) are created equal" just gets overwhelmed with the galling cruelty and stupidity that permeates our existence

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Words Matter

I've always thought that the word "terrorist" should be defined as anyone who has committed an act of terrorism or anyone who plans on committing an act of terrorism in the future. It seems perfectly reasonable and it encompasses thousands of dangerous people. Unfortunatetly now "terrorist" has been redefined to include anybody who doesn't like the USA plus anybody who happens to occupy any real estate we're targeting at the moment. So we've instantly gone from facing thousands of terrorists to facing millions! No wonder the chickhawks are so scared!

What you've described in your post, is the redefinition of the word "insurgent" in precisely the same manner. It does make things more difficult when insurgents are routinely elected in the Democracies we're so busy imposing. But nevertheless in this Orwellian world we now occupy, "insurgencies" are bound to be springing up all over the place. All we have to do is target a building and "POOF", its instantly filled with insurgents!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A discussion on religion arose at swampland

Here are my contributions:

Whether one beleives in a diety or not, its hard to ignore the fact that religion is pretty ubiquitous among us humans. If you count choosing who gets elected President among your goals, then you ignore this fact at your peril.

Many people confuse freedom of religion with freedom from religion and the Republicans of course use this confusion to their advantage.

I've always felt that anyone who thinks the Creator of the Known Universe plays favorites among separate religious practices (let alone political affiliations) is suffering from a supreme failure of imagination.

Stressing that the message of the Democratic Party is one of inclusion should ring true among believer, agnostics and athiests alike. If not, we're just not getting the message across adequately.

Religion is simply politics seasoned with the extra confidence that comes from thinking that the Creator of the Universe has your back.

As such it's very powerful (I happen to think there's a strong genetic component) but at the end of the day, those of us who were taught that God is loving, compassionate and forgiving will believe it to the grave as will all those who think he is vengeful and jealous will do the same.

We'll leave the question of which group votes for which party as an exercise for the reader.

"and the insistence that there is a "natural" explanation for all unexplainable phenomena is no less "faith based" than the belief in God."

I'm not sure if you meant that the way I'm taking it but it's certainly incorrect.

History and experience have shown time and again that the assumption of a natural explanation for all observed phenomena is vindicated regularly and repeatedly. Without such an assumption, we'd still be having difficulties figuring out how to use twigs to harvest termites. Note that you needn't be an athiest in order to insist on natural explanations. The universe is quite sufficiently miraculous on its own without having to postulate uncaused effects.

"a kind of evolving spirituality that is a mix of Buddhism and string theory/quantum physics"

My belief is reasonably easy to state. The Universe should be given at least as much credit for consciousness as it's contents. It is therefore at least as self aware as we are. Like us, I beleive it strives to become more self aware. After that, it's physics all the way down.

"but with what exactly do you disagree when it comes to Jesus' exhortation to lead moral lives and love each other?"

That would be the people who twist the "lead moral lives" part into a reason to hate each other.

"When a woman was brought before Him for her transgressions, Jesus preached mercy, but then told her to go and sin no more."

This is a continuation of the whole "log in your eye vs. a speck in your brother's" message. We humans are imperfect and are not in a position to judge each other let alone invoke God's name when doing so. Those who miss this simple message, as mudcat pointed out in the original post can be reasonably accused of blasphemey Of course the accusation itself would be subject to the exact same logical failure.

In the end the message is clear, that we should be tending to our own transgressions first and formost and leave those of our neighbors in more capable hands.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

re: Rural voter

I think the issue of whose Urban vs Rural is less important that the issue of who has experienced actual exposure to people who are unlike them. While city dwellers encounter people of differing religion and/or race or ethniciity routinely, people who live in small towns have less such exposure but unfortunately so do people who live in the vast suburban enclaves that surround our major cities.

The cultural inexperience we're associating with the "rural" mindset is far more widespread than the actual membership in the rural demographic.

Friday, June 08, 2007

El Cid comments at GG...

American security policy under Republicans is like an pest exteriminator company run by bitter ex-pro wrestlers who are blindfolded and given only methamphetamine, Red Bull, and axes and told to go into every home with full force in order to teach those damn insects a lesson, so that their insect sisters and brothers will hear about what horrible things happened in the house torn apart by the confused blind muscleheads.

-- El Cid


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I comment at WaPo re: Libby

I've always thought that the reason we have courts and rules of evidence and Grand Jury proceedings was to insure that when someone was indicted, that it was based on a preponderance of evidence and when convicted, it was based on evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Now I realize that things said in forums such as this or "the court of public opinion" don't necessarily have to meet these stringent tests, but don't we think that by this time "Libby was framed!" would have outlived its usefulness?

Just asking?