Friday, September 30, 2011

Crossing the line

From Veterans for Peace:


The United States government crossed a line by killing an American citizen who had not been charged or convicted of any crime. The Fifth Amendment states that "No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law." The disregard that our government shows for the constitution makes a mockery of the concept that our “soldiers are fighting for our freedom.” If our government ignores the Fifth Amendment what amendments will they observe? How long will it be before the killings start in the United States? Once the president is allowed to kill an American on his word alone no one is safe anywhere in the world. Are we safer now that Anwar al-Awlaki is dead?
 
This killing marks a seminal moment and unless Congress takes steps to force the administration to observe the Constitution and the Bill of Rights the future of America looks very dark indeed.
 
 
Phillip P. Pflager
==========================================================
 
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/30/us-born-terror-boss-anwar-al-awlaki-killed/
Two U.S.-Born Terrorists Killed in CIA-Led Drone Strike
 
Fox News has learned that two Predator drones hovering above al-Awlaki's convoy fired the Hellfire missiles which killed the terror leader. According to a senior U.S. official, the operation was carried out by Joint Special Operations Command, under the direction of the CIA. A total of four people were killed in the attack.
 
CIA-led drone attack kills terror leader Anwar al-Awlaki and Al Qaeda magazine editor Samir Khan in Yemen, in a strike that used two Predator drones and Hellfire missiles.
 
President Obama called the strike a major "milestone" in the fight against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Voluntaryism

I posted this back in December of last year but feel like it should be posted every few months just as a refresher :-)

http://youtu.be/PGMQZEIXBMs

Also, the New York Times has a piece in today's paper called As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe that talks a lot about how people no longer believe in the political classes ability to solve problems.  I don't think it will be all that long before Voluntaryism edges out the inherently violent methods of "governments" around the world.  Spontaneous self organization is easier with today's communication technologies. 

The future looks good to me.

Morality


So true all too often.  HT to Bizzaro.

My morning rant

Bah.  I have to write because it is what I do.  If I do not write I only read and that would be to make me merely passive in this world, and so I write, even though as is obvious this morning, I have nothing of any significance to say. 
 
Perhaps I could look on the news and discover something to write about, but I already know what is there.  There will be stories of wars and famines and disasters of various sorts.  There will be corrupt politicians and thuggish police stories.  There will be stories of Islamic insanity and Christian obtuseness and it will all get me wound up and pissed off until I embark on some inane long winded rant that no one wants to hear including myself.  And so I won’t bother to read this news this morning at all. 

Later on today my resolve will weaken and I’ll go on and glance at Boing Boing and that will have clever stories about technology interspersed with things about freedom of expression and censorship and such and I’ll probably repost a couple of things from there to Facebook and so I’ll probably look at Facebook twenty or thirty times today, which has political stuff strewn all over it these days, even though there is really not much room for true commentary or conversation, though it’s better than Twitter at least.  And all of that political stuff will either be from strident right wing “Oh My God the Muslims are going to institute Sharia Law in Seattle!!!!!!” although they will do it in all caps probably.  Or it will be left wing anti-science nonsense about vaccines causing autism and leprosy and how big pharma is out for nothing but money and would just as soon do it by killing the customers with bad treatments as not.  And the economy is going to collapse because of Obamacare and the poor are suffering because of the Tea Party obstructionists.  There will be crap about “affirmative action” and the horrible racist right wing and the horrible racist left wing both using the same stories to prove their point.  There will be naked people in San Francisco on the street but no one will be looking so it’s probably OK.

I’ll sigh and shake my head at the spewing of irrational nonsense from all sides and mutter something about wishing libertarians weren’t so fucking clueless about actually winning an election and about the way the system is rigged to keep alternate viewpoints marginalized and unheard by the masses.  Then I’ll post about how Ron Paul is probably the only really honest politician but the media cherry picks quotes from him to make him sound like a nutcase, which he is if he thinks he has a chance in hell of being elected President of the United States.

Then I'll realize no one is listening anyway and if they do they will not understand what I'm trying to do at all and will be stuffing me into one of those square holes of left or right or Christian Fundy or Crazy Atheist or whatever instead of hearing me.
I'll end up going home and buying a bottle or two of wine and falling off of the wagon, which will give me a headache in the morning and that will not make me happy.  So I guess I won't bother with the news this morning, until I see a newspaper on the train and I'll see the headlines and it will all be triggered anyway because you don't even really need to read the whole story in a paper since you will know exactly what they are going to say about any subject, since 99% of so called news is bull shit opinion and totally lacking in actual facts.  

It's all pretty hopeless, the avoiding of the news so I'll stay calm and cool through the day, so instead I've decided to rant right now before work!  

"Brilliant!" I says. 

"Bullshit" you says.

I'll bet I can't resist posting about some actual news later on either.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

San Mateo cops kill dogs in park; family outraged

Ah, yet another case of our Big Brave Boys in Blue protecting... well their own quivering cowardly selves as as far as I can tell, along with a couple of hyper vigilant and overly paranoid soccer moms. How pathetic, of course our local Bay Area Police shot a fawn that looked a lot like Bambi last year because they were in fear for their lives so this is really no surprise. Police, who needs them?

San Mateo cops kill dogs in park; family outraged

(09-27) 14:29 PDT SAN MATEO -- A San Mateo family expressed outrage today that police shot and killed their two dogs after they escaped and started barking at children at a park.
Police countered that the animals were vicious and that one of them hadn't been slowed even after being jolted with a Taser stun gun.
Carla Torres, 38, said her two boxers, a female named Bella and a male named Jordan, may have been loose and loud at Laurie Meadows Park on Monday, but that there was no reason for officers to shoot the animals.
"I wish the police would have waited for animal control," Torres said. "I don't think they should have shot the dogs."
She added, "I'm sorry that kids got scared." But she pointed out that the pair of year-old dogs, who were from the same litter, hadn't bitten anyone at the park.
Police said they had no choice but to use their weapons.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Online Sales Taxes

I just read that Amazon and the State of California have come to a compromise about the sales tax issue.  Amazon will have a year to get Congress to pass a nation-wide law on the subject and if they don't Amazon will start collecting loot on behalf of the State of California to support the multitudes of prisons and vast numbers of paper pushing government "workers" who suck up most of the tax money stolen by the state.

I will never voluntarily pay any tax.  Any time there is the least chance of avoiding a tax I will most certainly take it.  All taxes are theft.  Hey, I’m an anarchist and don’t buy into your government in the first place.  All I ask of government is that they leave me alone.  Oddly enough, beyond stealing my money and restricting my options in life, that is exactly what they have done.  I’ve never derived any concrete benefit from their much vaunted police "protection" for example, though I’ve been assaulted, and had my property stolen a number of times.  Indeed without police "protection" I might have been able to better in protect myself.

Government, yet another reason I’m no longer a Lutheran!  The slavish kowtowing to every whim of that pack of criminals simply makes no sense to me.  Sure you need to obey them most of the time, otherwise they will kick down your door, shoot your dog and beat your wife up, this is known.  But to obey them even when you won’t be caught?  Nah.  Since I see them as simply the largest and most powerful of criminal gangs I don’t feel I’ve got any moral obligation to obey them.   

If it were all voluntary (see Voluntaryism), if I could opt in or out of funding various aspects of government, and be excluded from any supposed benefit of that aspect, I’d be fine with it.  Of course then it would no longer be a government (aka criminal gang) but would just be an association of free people pooling resources for various reasons they see as beneficial. 

Let us hope Amazon gets congress on our side.  (Fat chance.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Google +

Wow, I thought Facebook was weird.  Now that I have a Google + account I'm thinking Facebook is not actually all that bad after all :-/  I can see the potential in Google + but so far virtually no one I know seems to be on it so it's rather pointless for me to be posting on it.  I like the layout, less busy than Facebook for one thing.   But with no one to talk to what's the point?  So, anyone who reads this on Google +?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Hard Truth

I have been working on this post in my mind for a long time, while this may seem abrupt, it really is not.

I have been holding two contradictory belief sets in my mind for most of the last seven years and I have now decided that I can no longer continue to do this.  The two contradictory belief sets are on the one side Christianity and on the other side science and reason.  I am well aware that many people are able to reconcile these things, I cannot.

Seven years ago I was coming out of a twenty five year long period of being an avowed atheist, interspersed with brief flings with Baha'i and various eastern philosophies.   Being lonely and confused about life I went to several churches seeking “spiritual fulfillment and community.”  I tried Roman Catholic churches and Episcopal Churches, then a Seventh Day Adventist church and a strange Seventh Day Baptist church as well.  My main criteria at the time was that they have services on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, since I work on Sundays.  I had no theological preferences, most of them seemed to preach the same thing, be nice to people and love them and believe in God and Jesus.  Yes, I know that is not the gospel.

Then, 7 years, 1 month and 3 days ago, on Thursday night, August 19, 2004, I first attended Messiah Lutheran Church.  I wrote in my blog that night “Tonight I went to Messiah Lutheran Church over in Danville. I felt like I was at home :-)”  I really felt like I was back in the church of my childhood and this was a comforting thing.  I felt welcomed and warm when I was there.  The sermons were stimulating and the liturgy wonderful.  A rather cursory investigation into the LCMS website turned up no weirdness that I could see and the theology was solidly Protestant.  In fact, when I read about Lutheran theology, it seemed to be the most faithful to what was taught in the Bible of all of the churches I’d ever been to.  Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone etc.  Before long, and without needing to go through Adult Catechesis because I was a “confirmed Lutheran” already (a mistake I think), I became a member of the congregation.

It was several months afterwards that I first encountered a huge problem.  That was when, in a sermon, the pastor preached almost in passing, that evolution was false, that God created the earth recently and Adam and Eve were literal and historical human beings.  I had never actually encountered someone who believed that!  I have never bought into the literal Genesis story, especially not Young Earth Creationism where they deny pretty much all of science (both evolution and the big bang) and say God created the earth about 10,000 years ago and created Adam and Eve as the ancestors of humanity, who then "fell" and all of the stuff that comes after that.  I thought it was all metaphorical!  I was stunned and dismayed, I didn’t know what to think.  I know from a life long passion for archaeology and paleontology that the earth is much older than 10,000 years and that humans have evolved from a common ancestor with the apes.  But when I realized that truly believing Adam and Eve were real people who fell was actually essential to Christianity making any sort of internal sense, I tried to figure out how it could be true in some way.  Somehow, for almost seven years now, I've managed to keep on saying, "I don't believe that” or “I don't understand that,” or even, “that's just plain wrong,” but always with the addendum that “I trust God will explain it to me someday."  I felt as though I were looking at a square and declaring that I believed it to be a circle and I was fervently hoping God would someday explain to me how that could be.

For seven years, in order to justify my continuing to hold these contradictory ideas, I have conducted with an open mind an intensive study of several schools of creationist thought, from Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis (Young Earth Creation) to Reasons to Believe (Old Earth Creation) to Bio-Logos (Theistic Evolution) and read dozens of books on all sides of the subject by both believers and non believers.  Along the way I also read the Book of Concord and prayed morning and night and used the Treasury of Daily Prayer faithfully, studying the Bible and Lutheran theology almost daily.  I read Walther and Luther's works and CS Lewis and Bonhoefer and many others, desperately looking for a way to have it all make sense, to no avail.  What I wanted was the warm feelings of community and of love that I found at church, and I tried my best to believe what was taught so I could stay there.  All along the warm emotional feelings of love and community seemed to mostly make up for the fact that it did not make any real logical sense to me. 

Warm fuzzy feelings are not Truth, and Truth is very important to me.  Recently, in the process of trying to think very clearly and deliberately about living in complete honesty, most especially with myself (which I started focusing on as a result of learning about Asperger’s Syndrome actually), I have concluded that continuing to pretend that I have not yet made up my mind about these things is simply not honest or true and I have finally given it up.  I finally realized that I do not believe in the God of the Bible. The hard part is telling people I love, and who love me, that I do not share their belief in God, which is why I'm posting this to my blog today.
 
Not that I begrudge the last seven years at all, it’s been very nice, and the study of all the various creationist ideas was fascinating, even if it is atrocious science.  In fact, I think the last seven years have been quite good for me, I have learned much about how science works, and about logic and reasoning by studying the several different sides in this issue. 

Peace.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dude, I'm An Aspie

Found this on Wrong Planet and it was so good I thought I would post it here, especially since he gave permission to use it anywhere.  (FYI I have actually failed to recognize my mother in an airport, walked right past her :-/)

Dude I'm an Aspie!

My name is Matt and I have Asperger’s syndrome. What’s that mean, you ask? Well, you’re in luck, cause I’ve made this helpful guide!


Asperger’s is part of the autism spectrum. It has many characteristics, but generally we have difficulty knowing what someone is thinking, explaining our thoughts verbally, and interacting socially with our peers. It is sometimes described as having “a dash of autism.”


Asperger’s is not a disease, it is a genetic variation and a neurological condition. Though I’ve just recently discovered I have it, I always have and always will. Some say it is a gift, and even vital to human evolution.


Asperger’s is sometimes called Wrong Planet syndrome. This is because we feel like we come from a different culture and have a different way of perceiving the world – (Tony Attwood)
Once I learned what Asperger’s is, I knew it described me. It answered a lot of questions and explained why I am the way I am. So it was kind of good news! Like finding a box I fit in.


Now for some myths and facts: First, I will not look you in the eye for long periods or when I’m talking to you. This is not to be rude. It’s because it is the only way I can concentrate on what you’re saying.


In social situations, I don’t process information as fast as you. Facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice all convey subtle information to our brain. The more people who are present, the more info there is to process.


Likewise, I don’t like crowds and noisy places. This is too much information to take in and causes sensory overload.


Sometimes we have super-senses. This makes us easily distractable to background noise, a sudden loud noise, or unpleasant odors.


If I run into you somewhere I don’t expect to, I probably won’t recognize you right away. This is called faceblindness. Even though I know what you look like, my mental picture of you is strongly tied to context, your voice, and how other people interact with you.


Sometimes I interpret things literally, or I can’t tell when you’re being sarcastic. This is a neurological delay in reading your tone of voice.


For neurotypical people (that’s you), socializing with others relieves your stress or makes you feel energized. We Aspies are the opposite way. Conversation can wear us out, and we often need alone time to “recharge our batteries.”


We usually have special topics or hobbies that we like to pursue with intense concentration and on our own. Examples include trains, foreign cultures, and washing machines.


Are there advantages to being an Aspie? Yes! We are honest, detail-oriented, good listeners, and have a unique view of things. Often, we achieve high levels of success in our special interest area.


So that is a glimpse into my world. I hope it has helped you better understand me and others like me. We are all different, and with all differences, knowledge brings understanding. If we understand each other, then there won't be any need for a right planet or a wrong planet. Smile

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Score! Symphony tickets tomorrow!

My symphony benefactor has given me two tickets to the Opening Night of the San Francisco Symphony's 100th Season tomorrow night!

The Program:

Classical superstar Yo-Yo Ma performs “with searing poise” (The New York Times) as well as eloquence and insight.  He and the Orchestra join forces in Hindemith’s Cello Concerto, a powerful pairing of orchestral and solo virtuosity. Completing the program is the first symphony Brahms was willing to share with the world, his soaring Symphony No. 1, which provides listeners with a taste of music’s Romantic past and its direction to come.

Oh My God!  YO-YO MA!  I'm so psyched.   Looks like Serenity will get exposed to some mighty fine Cello playing!