Kingdom of Crime
Crisis of Realization
Strike at the Root
1. Do not judge others, instead try to understand why they do the things they do, and understand that had you been in their shoes you might have done the same things they've done. Read the 'Allegory of the Cave' and recognize that we're all staring at that wall to one extent or another. What we see and experience molds our minds and our actions.
youtube comment: The world is full of people in immediate distress. We need to care for our brothers and sisters even if that means redistributing our own personal wealth. Jesus said to give to those who ask without expecting repayment. If that doesn't imply wealth redistribution I don't know what does. The point is that Christians are supposed to focus on spiritual things, not mammon. So economic models shouldn't be as important to us as the immediate concerns of fairness and justice and feeding the mouths with little or no means to feed themselves.
The easiest way to rob a corporation is to run one. Just take a look at what the IBM's executives are doing to IBM. Or take a look at how executives across Silicon Valley have conspired together to lower employee wages.
Many of these CEOs sit on each others boards and vote themselves higher pay at the expense of their workers and shareholders. Every year their pay packages balloon a little more, with each new high watermark in compensation raising the yachts of all executives (because in CEO land pay is based on what the other CEOs get) while the boat-less employees get left behind decade after decade. The corporate controlled media then jumps in and trumpets how valuable the executives are based on their completely engineered salaries (because gosh darn it, if the CEOs weren't worth that much they wouldn't be getting paid that much) and people like Jim Cramer jump to their defense like a loaded spring when those stories are challenged for being the propaganda they are.
In 1950 CEOs made 20-1 the average worker.
In 1980 it was 42-1.
In 2000 it was 120-1.
In 2014 it is 204-1.
This did not happen by happy accident. -Jason Watton
I am the type of person who can watch a movie like Stanley Kubricks 'Dr. Strangelove" and immediately recognize how the characters ruled by emotion and paranoia are scratching and clawing for an emotional response to an imaginary threat while the character's rule by thoughtfulness and reason easily know the better route and fight to follow it but are in a constant - always losing ground - battle against those who would "drop the bombs" yesterday!!! It is because they are so outnumbered that eventually reason will lose and the world will eventually be rendered asunder. But the problem is, that for those who outnumber those reasoned souls, it is not their fault. They are ruled by emotion because either they never had the influences that the intellectuals have or they had them but they never resonated with them (maybe they needed to use the bathroom when those crucial moments occurred and their need for relief drowned out the positive messages or they never occurred at all due to their genetic makeup), and i cannot judge them. Reason can only come to those who are both wired to receive it, are lucky enough to be in place in their lives that it resonates with them, and there was one other crucial ingredient but i'm not of my right mind and forgot. Maybe you can fill in the details? Those thoughtful enough or curious enough to look at the source code of this page. Having failed so bad at life myself, and being unable to look past any of my decisions, I can no longer judge anyone for anything. I am blind, and always have been.
Flaws in reasoning 101.
1) I am a county clerk and i refuse to marry gay and lesbian couples.
Response from those who believe marrying gay and lesbian couples is bad and unholy: Bravo! You have to stand for what you believe in. When a law is unjust the just thing to do is not enforce it.
Response from those who believe marrying gay and lesbian couples is good and just: As a public servant you don't get to choose which laws you enforce. We are a nation of laws and we must abide by them.
2) I am a doctor and I perform abortions.
Response from those who believe abortions are bad: You are murdering children and you must be stopped! If it's legal the law is wrong and should be torn down.
Response from those who believe abortions are a right: Keep up the good, lawful, work.
3) I am a whistle-blower and I just released a trove of government misdeeds.
Response from those who believe the released documents shouldn't have been released: You are a traitor. There are laws against disclosure and they exist for a reason.
Response from those who believe the released documents were necessary to reveal government malfeasance: You are a hero. When a law serves to and hides improprieties the just thing to do is to break it.
It is possible for a person to hold any combination of these beliefs even though they contradict one another. Those that scorned the county clerk for not doing his/her duty and trumpeted the "nation of laws" mantra, are just as likely to have praised the whistle-blower for breaking those very same laws. Those who are against abortion because they believe it to be murder might also be against gay marriage, even though it is discrimination (you do not choose who you love or why you love them).
People's views on the sanctity of the law ebb and flow with the causes they salute. One minute the law can be sacrosanct, while the next it can be an unjust prison that must be torn down for the greater good. The key is to try to make yourself aware of these biases so that you may combat them as they arise. The first step in dealing with any problem is recognition.
The "law" is created by flawed biased individuals for myriads of reasons - including but not limited to the repression of others or the concealment of misdeeds - and as such can't be counted on as a guide for moral behavior. Religion works the same way (see numbers 31 in the old testament of you disagree) and as such - when taken as a whole - cannot be counted upon for guidance either. So we must create and hone our own moral compasses.
Introductory Note 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
If we do not learn how to conserve our resources and live in harmony with nature and one another, we are going to fully decimate the delicate ecology of our home and will kill every living thing on it. This means you. This means your children. This means that angel that makes you weak at the knees when they look you in the eye. This means your family. This means your friends. This means you and every single person you hold dear dying together of starvation and disease while choking to death on poisoned air and contaminated water.
It's already begun. Clean water is getting scarcer, the air is getting dirtier, soil is eroding, fish and animal populations are being decimated, life support systems are in decline. This isn't a game. Set aside your politics, prejudices, and predispositions and listen: You are the product of 3.8 billion years of slow and studious evolution. The complexity of your design is matched by nothing else in the known universe. You are a genuine miracle of science and/or God and you owe your very existence to them and this astonishing world you inhabit. I implore you, start acting like it.
But if you take nothing else away from what you find here, at least take this: The earth and our survival are interlinked. Our planet can take care of us, only if we take care of our planet. By polluting it, we pollute ourselves. By hurting it we hurt ourselves. By killing it, we will kill ourselves.
"Only after the last tree has been cut down, the last river poisoned, the last clear sky blackened, the last animal hunted, and the last fish caught. Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
"There is enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed."
Secondly, it is imperative that you are aware that there is a very distinct separation between your country and your government. Your awareness of this distinction is so important because it is very easy to confuse one for the other, and your government will take every opportunity to exploit this confusion in order to grant itself immunity from civilian oversight and increase its power.
So how does this work and why would the government want to do this? Well government always strives for more power and doesn't want to be held to account for anything - that's just the nature of government - and if they can present themselves as being the embodiment of the country they will be able to contort any criticism directed at them into a criticism of the country itself. Such contortions then reflect the culpability for the criticism from the government back onto the individual levying it - because suddenly there's an unpatriotic traitor in our midst criticizing our country - and this effectively shields that government from civilian oversight and control while destroying the freedom of the individual.
A government without oversight then just becomes more and more powerful, and the more powerful they become the less liberty the individual has. Now mix in some demagoguery and appeals to patriotism Third Reich style, and watch democracy, the rule of law, and self-determination die before your eyes.
The important thing is to just be aware that your government is trying to achieve this outcome because only when you're aware of something are you able to guard against it. Any time someone criticizes a government action (going to war, chipping away at personal liberty, etc) the government will brand that person as unpatrotic and will label them a security threat. This happened over and over again during both the Iraq and Vietnam Wars - when critique and criticism were needed the most - and this branding effort is subversive, pernicious, and when left unchecked, fatal to both freedom and democracy. Never confuse criticism for government action with criticism for the country itself no matter how you personally feel about that criticism.
About that government power - a common misconception regarding the US government is that it is not the case that they start with total power and authority and the Constitution then subtracts from those powers. Under the Constitutional principle of Enumerated Powers and despite common wisdom, the government actually starts with zero power. Powers are then granted (Enumerated) by the constitution. This means that our natural rights such as the right to privacy or the right to free speech do not need to be explicitly granted to the populace - we have them by default. (The bill of rights is - quite literally - redundant and completely unnecessary.) What it does mean is that the government cannot violate those rights unless the ability to do so is explicitly granted by the Constitution - which in those cases it is not.
With regard to the fourth (search and seizure) and fifth (due process) amendments - when it comes to an individual, there needs to be a genuine compelling reason to force him or her to disclose any information to the government. Conversely when it comes to the government, there needs to be a genuine compelling reason to allow any secrecy of their actions from the public.
Here's the basic premise in the founding of the enlightenment model of the US: Rights were given to you by your creator, not by your government. Your government didn't give them to you so, they can't take them away. Furthermore the 9th amendment to the constitution makes these guarantees explicit. If any person in the government tries to take them away anyway, despite lacking any authority to do so, they are traitors to the citizens and must be treated as such.
Our government can only legitimately have and hold power with our consent. As citizens it is our job to hold our government to account for their actions and ensure that they are working for our interests and not their own. We cannot sit back, relax, and expect the government to police itself, any more than we could give a fox the keys to the hen house and expect the chickens to be in good hands, and most importantly, we cannot allow them to brand our critique, enforcement efforts, and whistle blowing as unpatriotic and a betrayal of our country in an effort to stop them - the opposite is true.
Despite what the government wants badly for you to believe, you do not serve them. They serve you.
So that being said, if in coming here you've never heard of the following:
FISA Courts, Congressional Insider Trading,
Parallel Construction, Stingray Devices,
Judicial Standing, Deferred Prosecution,
EO 12333, XKeyscore, COINTELPRO
Pentagon Papers, Gary Webb
Or worse, you've heard of them but can't be bothered to care, then like it or not, you are the reason we are on a one-way flight straight to Hell. To the corporations and their puppet politicians, your ignorance and apathy are worth more than all the slaves in China. Because it is your indifference that enables these bottom feeding cockroaches to thrive in the dark and rob you of your wealth and liberty.
This is not political, it's universal. Both of the puppet parties you think you get to choose from every two years are completely infected by blanket webs of corruption and have long ago mortgaged their allegiance to their corporate masters. And what these leeches need more than anything to survive and thrive is a stupid, apathetic populace with red tags on their ears who will lap at their feet and believe every lie they feed them,
(1984)or worse, are too busy staring at their smart phones to even care that they're being lied to.
(Brave New World)
The natural state of humanity is to slide into slavery and conflict. Our American bulwark against that decay was built by the blood, sweat, tears, hard work, and personal sacrifice of countless millions. These people gave everything to build the pillars of justice that protect and sustain you, and it is your responsibility to give something back and sacrifice a little in order to maintain those pillars and pass them on to the next generation. Anything less is a betrayal to those who broke their back to build the structure you are now standing on. So put down your Facebook and start paying attention to the things going on around you before that structure crumbles to nothing beneath your feet and you become a slave once again.
Remember, a nation of sheep breeds a government of wolves and you get more of what you tolerate. So turn off your Goddamn TV, turn on your mind, and get out there and stop tolerating it before you wake up one morning robbed of your remaining liberty and you no longer have a choice.
'Power without oversight is the fastest route out of a democracy.' Your responsibility then, as a citizen, is to render that oversight.
'Every citizenry has the government they deserve'...
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. -Elie Wiesel The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. -Plato
(When i say 'the darkness' here i actually mean 'the unknown' or 'ignorance', but neither are as poetic so i use darkness instead.)Superstition sprang from a sensible place: fear of the dark.
Those who are afraid and superstitious of the dark do not venture out into it to get eaten by wolves.
Those that do not get eaten by wolves pass their genes and superstition on to the next generation.
Over time superstition begins to take on a life of its own: religion.
Religion sprang from darkness... After all, what's darker than death?
"Maybe one day we’ll conquer our lizard brains and consign religion to the history books once and for all and then we can stick a giant flag pole in the ground and consider ourselves truly intelligent. Until then it’s just another destructive hobby to keep us dancing while we figure out this whole evolved-apes thing." "Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. We will one day understand what causes it, and then cease to call it divine. And so it is with everything in the universe." -Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.E.)We have now mastered the creation of light, and it is time to leave religion behind in the darkness where it belongs.
To surrender to ignorance and call it god is always premature, and it remains premature today.
Theist religion is the apostasy from nature. It is a betrayal. The earth is real and here for you. If your God is real he has abandoned you. Put your faith in nature, care for it, tend it, replenish it, and it will replenish you. Destroy it, pollute it, and corrupt it at your own peril.
The spirit of the quote from Edmund Burke:
All that is necessary for the triumph
of evil is that good men do nothing.
applies to God as well, and no amount of cognitive dissonance is going to change that.
To the religious visitors: if your lore is true and an all knowing, all powerful, alpha and omega God does indeed exist, He alone is - by his very nature - not only the source of all evil, suffering, starvation, pestilence, violence, hate, fear, and dread, but He is also culpable for doing nothing to stop these horrors when He could end them all with the wave of his hand. Because He is both the source of the sin and also allows the sin to propagate and destroy the lives of the innocent, every sin committed becomes his sin. Every starving child, every abused wife, every shattered life is a crime he has committed.
Response: You just don't get it at all. God gave us autonomy to live our lives and make our own choices. If he interfered it would defeat the whole purpose.
Ah, but God is all knowing is He not? Which means He knew exactly how this Divine Comedy would play out. He knew about the starving children who weep alone in the night. Knew the horrors of abuse, rape, and neglect in store for us. Knew that we would suffer and bleed and die beneath the blue-prints He laid before us.
God knew all along that Adam and Eve were never going to be able to stay in Eden. Knew that they would be tempted and would ultimately succumb to the desires He instilled in them. He gave them heaven knowing all along they would fall prey to the trap he set for them, that paradise would be lost, that they would be thrust alone, afraid, naked and vulnerable into the wilderness. He set us loose upon the world knowing in advanced every misery each tick of the clock would bring.
Eve was an innocent child who acted upon an emotion she didn't choose to have, didn't understand, and had no experience managing. When she inevitably fell prey to the urge of eating that apple (an outcome God knew about in advance) her choice unjustly affected both her, her husband, and all of her descendants. If I were to knowingly put a razorblade in front of an toddler, who would be to blame for the inevitable consequences? Me, who put the blade there knowing exactly what would happen, or the toddler who saw something shiny and picked it up? What if after I set it down I allowed a nearby evil person to encourage the little one to pick it up? What if when the baby did so, I then not only blamed the baby for the consequences, but also damned all of humanity for the baby’s poor choice?There is a name for those who would do such a thing. A name for one who would give a taste of paradise only to rip it away when a test that couldn't be passed wasn't. A name for those who set others up to fail in the most pain ridden and gruesome ways: sadists.
I am agnostic. I don't know nor claim to know whether God exists. But if one does He is not worthy of our worship and love, but rather our derision and condemnation because He alone is responsible the train wreck of pain and suffering this world was destined to become. If God came down tomorrow and gave me irrefutable proof of His existence, far from getting on my knees and begging forgiveness for my sins, I instead would stand on my own two feet and demand the same from Him.
Get off your knees and do the same.
And finally, before we part and you continue on your journey there is one last point to mention and it is this: despite near universal misconception, science has no opinion on whether God exists or not. Science strives to understand the world, and in doing so can only incorporate data, evidence, and theory which it can study, observe, or explain directly.
As for God we have yet to see any direct evidence of the existence of one that can't be explained by other observations and experiments but if were to find irrefutable evidence of one, science would simply incorporate the existence of a creator into its models and move on with no hurt feelings.
"The goal of science is to build better mousetraps. The goal of nature is to build better mice." - unknown
If you consider yourself a Christian then the most important thing is sacrifice. Sacrifice your time and treasure for others and you will gain something far greater than the cost of both combined.
What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world
but loses his soul?
God has given you an exceedingly minute moment on this earth to prove yourself through your good deeds, and in doing so gain everlasting life in heaven. Your time here is a mere speck on the endless horizon of eternity, and by using that precious time to focus on earthly possessions instead of helping others you are making an incredibly bad bargain with what you would stand to gain otherwise.
if only you would sacrifice your terrestrial wealth and comfort in the pursuit following in Christ's footsteps and doing all you can to serve and help those less fortunate.
Every Sunday millions and millions of upper middle
class American citizens put on expensive dress clothes and load themselves into their SUVs and
drive past homeless shelters, orphanages, prisons, missions, and halfway houses on their way to a very
expensive and luxurious church, where somebody tells them how to be more like Jesus.
Like Jesus your only reason for being here is to serve and set good examples for others in order to prove your worth to God. Incidentally the byproduct of such a pursuit is heaven on earth as your good deeds propagate through society. By serving others you serve God because you bring Him to earth and make life brighter for all of His children. Jesus showed you the path when he devoted His life and death to the benefit of others. As a Christian all you have to do is follow that path here and it will guide you to everlasting life up there. Do not make the mistake of trading heaven for earth.
The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
I know, I know: most of you are eagerly awaiting the moment you can whip out your bibles and point out countless scriptures which you will argue justify your actions, but we both know you're fooling yourselves (and playing a very reckless game with eternity while you're at it).
Going to church makes you a Christian no more
than going to a garage makes you a car.
You claim to be Christian and this makes you a disciple of Christ which means you are bound to follow in His footsteps and spread His examples and teachings to others (John 13:1-17). If you are not doing so then you either fundamentally misunderstand what it means to be Christian (unlikely because it couldn't be more obvious - but if so the good news is after reading this the path will be clear to you), or you are merely pretending to follow Him because it benefits you in some way, and how heartbreaking that must be for Him.
God will reward each of us for what we have done.
The question I must put to you dear reader, is what could be more fulfilling in life than filling the stomachs of those suffering in starvation? Or passing out blankets to those who are freezing? Or building houses for those without shelter? Surely you must realize that the rewards for following in His footsteps will fill you with the light of heaven, and in time you will come to learn that what you now foolishly consider to be sacrifice (surrendering your time and treasure for the betterment of others) is no sacrifice at all, but rather an elixir of salvation that reaches to the heart of your soul both here on earth and in heaven.
What is a life well spent?Hands that help are better than lips that pray.
You work hard for your money and Friday has come so you go to the movies and pluck some of that money down on a ticket for the latest serial killer thriller. You grab your popcorn and soda and snuggle yourself in your seat in anxious anticipation of the gruesome hatred that awaits you. On Sunday you will go to church and learn about Christ, but right now it's Friday and you are going to be entertained. A Man sits next to you. He seems to radiate warmth and compassion and somehow you instantly feel at peace. You look over and see the sad kindness on His face and tears of shame start streaming down your cheek.
Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has
already committed adultery with her in his heart.
How much time do you think Jesus would spend watching sex, violence, and hatred on the television? Would the notion excite Him or break His heart? If he dropped in for a visit while you were watching that serial killer thriller what do you think The Prince of Peace would say about allowing yourself to be entertained by violence, and where that path might lead? Might He suggest better ways to spend your spare time and money?
It should not be possible for a church to exist in a community while at the same time someone seeking nourishment is going hungry in that community. So turn off all the violence, murder, and hatred emanating out of your TV that would make Jesus weep if he were sitting with you while you were enjoying it, and get out there and do good works.
What are you here for?
When I was five I saw Nightmare on Elm Street and from that moment on my entire world got darker. It was poison to my consciousness, and it had no business being in a five year old's head.
As a society we are losing our grip on what is appropriate for developing minds. There's a link to the left of this introductory note titled, "Mind Contamination Rated G". It will take you to the torture scene from Cars 2, a movie that inexplicably got a "G" rating from the MPAA. Have a look and come back to me.
Imagine a newborn child's mind as a white dry erase board. It starts out empty and as time passes slowly gets filled by inputs from their senses. Everything the child sees, hears, smells, or touches makes a new mark on the board. Because the child is a blank slate each of these early marks hold a far larger significance than the ones that will come much later in life. Imagine those first marks as little seeds that will grow and shape the child's mind: their thoughts, ideas, belief systems, personality, and mental health.
Now ask yourself, what kinds of marks would we want to fill that white board up with? Things like:
Love, empathy, gratefulness, nobility, honor, science?
Or Nightmare on Elm Street and nightmarish torture scenes?
What kind of individuals do you think each one of those categories would produce? As a society, what kind of individuals do we want to produce?
Guys, I implore you, this madness has to end. Let's have no more childhoods warped, twisted, and brimming with fear. Let's have no more children afraid of the dark (my son is 4 and has no fear of it at all). A blind person cannot see anything in their dreams. Even though their brains are wired for sight, without actual inputs from the world putting vision marks on their white boards, their minds cannot create what it means to see without experiencing it for themselves and so vision remains alien to them. Our children's minds work the same way - without the proper ingredients they will not be able to envision horrors like Freddy Kruger on their own - so for God's sake keep the violence and horror away and fill them with the light of reason instead!
Racism and bigotry are a toxic mixture of hatred and ignorance.
They never build, they only destroy.
Treat them accordingly.
I don't care if you're black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor.
If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you.
And even if you aren't nice to me, I'll try to do my best to get to know you so we can clear up that misunderstanding.
To Brooke, please do what you can to fix Asset Forfeiture, I know you can.
'Due Process' exists for a very good reason: it is a bulwark against tyranny and slavery. It is the culmination of countless hard lessons learned throughout history.
Asset Forfeiture guts it. Incentivized Asset Forfeiture pulverizes it.
To Brooke, please do what you can to fix Asset Forfeiture, I know you can.
The government tacitly claiming that Asset Forfeiture is constitutional while the fifth amendment explicitly forbids it is the equivalent of the government claiming that:
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
Guns are not toys, they are designed to kill. Treat them with disdain and rue the day you will ever need to use one. This should be the philosophy for all weapons: "Arm the torpedoes Mr. Worf. But let's hope we don't have to use them."______________
"Justice" is merely a middle class illusion. The rich know better, the poor know better: each from opposite directions.
Raison d'etre: The human mind - and by extension human society - houses a constant struggle between reason and negative emotion. Between the impulse to build and the urge to destroy. Between objective judgement and mindless conviction. Between light and darkness.
Reason is difficult and requires training and discipline, but it can conquer hunger and poverty, neglect and fear, bias and bigotry, hatred and ignorance, materialism and greed. Reason is enlightenment.
Negative emotion is often the natural feral state of our minds and we must learn to conquer it or it will conquer us.
If reason is Einstein's Theory of Relativity, negative emotion is Reality TV. If reason is the Constitution of the United States, negative emotion is the manipulative gossip tabloids at the supermarket checkout counter. If reason is empathy and acceptance, negative emotion is racism and bigotry. If reason is peace and prosperity, negative emotion is war and chaos.
Which end of the spectrum will you strive to achieve?
As far as i'm concerned patriotism has only one useful connotation: Loyalty to your fellow human beings. This means that you treat others with respect and that you do not exploit them.
To all you vulture capitalists who ship your jobs to factories abroad in order to access slave labor from impoverished souls while leveraging their lax environmental laws so you can offload the cost and consequences of your pernicious externalities onto them: YOU are traitors.
Forget borders, race, creed, gender, or color: we are all one people, and those who would knowingly and maliciously exploit our ignorance or desperation for personal profit are traitors to humanity.
That is the true nature of patriotism: it transcends the petty trappings of tribalism. It is not blind allegiance to your imaginary state, but loyalty to your fellow human being - regardless of where they live - and to the biosphere which sustains them and makes their lives abundant and possible.
Would you work or allow your children to work for hours on end in sweatshops for peanuts, breathing in - up close, day after day - the same toxic chemicals poisoning your home and farmland while the profits of your labor are funneled to the executives of the very corporations exploiting and poisoning you, your loved ones, your neighbors, your friends? If your answer is "no" then you have no right to ask or expect anyone else to do the same.
"I hate patriotism... I can't stand it. It's a round world last time I checked."
Give me four years to teach the children and
the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.
With regard to the human mind, culture and
peer pressure are the two most powerful
forces in the universe.
I do not believe in choice. Where others see choice i see mathematical equations filled with variables the chooser has no control over which determine the choice for them.
Given that, I believe that it is critical to our future that we recognize this and act on the knowledge. For only when we can all come to an understanding that we tend to be only as moral and as fortunate as the circumstances our unchosen birth and development allow - the cycles of poverty and violence in poor neighborhoods bare this unfortunate reality - can we retire our damning pointing fingers and work to ensure that all environments are improved and that each of our unique needs are catered to.
If life and the choices derived from it are indeed nothing more than deterministic calculations, we must take that knowledge by the horns and work to improve those calculations for everyone.
Proclamation: I do believe in choice and on what grounds you make your decisions. I don't think it's even close to involuntary.
Ah but the grounds are always shifting beneath our feet aren't they?
You're assuming that you choose the grounds leading up to your choices, but you do not. Take the people you respect as an example: Had you been born during the slavery era your grounds for respect might have been how much whip skill your fellow plantation owner exhibits when doling out lashings to his slaves. Had you been on the boat with Columbus you may have respected the way your shipmates managed to rape the native Lucayan girls without getting a scratch. Had you been a settler, you may have admired the careful way your local soldier passed out the smallpox blankets to the Indians without catching the disease.
I know those examples sound provocative but they're not meant to be, nor are they an attack against you as they apply to everyone. Now you may be reflexively disagreeing or you may be soul searching and trying to figure out if - had you been born during those eras - you would have been capable of those things but if you are you're doing so from the vantage point of a different person than who you would have been if you had and as a result such speculation is useless. Furthermore, in the event that your unique physiological makeup did indeed prevent you from acting in that way regardless of the environment your psyche was fermented in (which is extremely unlikely) it still doesn't matter, nor does it make you any more righteous than anyone else. Why? Because you didn't choose your physiological makeup any more than the environment which sculpted it - you were merely lucky enough to hit the pick six in compassion roll of the genetic dice.
The alternative is to believe that if you had been there and raised in those same cultures and circumstances that you alone would have stood tall against the forces of immorality among millions who have not throughout history. That you are the ray of light in the darkness. The human embodiment of that shining city on the hill. That you, through your own innate virtue and purity, are simply impervious to corruption, cultural conditioning, peer pressure and propaganda, and never experience any of the ingredients of depravity which might steer your actions away from the moral: distrust, paranoia, fear, envy, greed, inferiority, superiority, hate. In summary: that you are just better than the countless unpitiable masses who - through clear fault of their own - failed to live up to the moral standards you specifically chose to adopt and would always adopt in all possible scenarios no matter your experiences, influences, or education level (wait, did you choose to adopt them or are they just your unchosen nature? There's a conflict here, can you see it?). Take a moment and try to get a handle on the level of narcissism and conceit such a view of your psyche requires in order to prevent it from collapsing in on itself from its own weight.
So now that we've established that the grounds from which you stand to make your choices are not of your choosing, let's drill down into the choice itself.
Imagine that you go to the ice cream shop and when asked what flavor you'd like you think about it for a moment and choose chocolate. Let's examine this scenario:
1) You didn't choose that you like chocolate. What pleases your taste-buds are not of your choosing.
2) You can only choose chocolate because coco exists.
3) You can only choose chocolate because someone decided to make it into ice cream.
4) You can only choose chocolate because someone distributes it and transportation exists to get it to you.
5) You can only choose chocolate because the earth hasn't been destroyed by a meteor.
6) Universe exists.
7) Universe supports life (and chocolate ice cream).
8) And on it goes.
So the grounds from which you stand to make your chocolate choice are not of your making, you are merely the privileged benefactor-ette of a society in a universe that managed to keep itself together long enough to fulfill all the prerequisites required for you to go home a happy chocolate ice cream customer.
But again, forget the grounds from which you make your choice and let's think about the choice itself. Imagine if after you made your decision for chocolate I reset the universe back to the point before you made your choice (i restored every variable in the universe to the state it was in prior to your determination), and you made your choice again. Do you think you would make a different choice?
What if i reset it ten more times?
Now stop and REALLY think about this. Would you ever make a different choice? If I kept resetting the universe till the end of time, would you ever decide differently?
Barring chaos theory (which we'll discuss in a minute), the answer is no, you would never make a different choice. In the same way that 2+2 always equals 4, the sum of all the variables leading up to that choice always equaled chocolate and the only way they could ever equal anything else - regardless of how many times I reran the calculation - is if one of those variables were changed. Thus the choice is deterministic: Merely the result of a mathematical calculation filled with trillions of variables not one of which you exercised even the slightest bit of independent control over. And just like the chocolate choice, every choice you have ever made and every choice you will ever make is on rails.
Those rails are a physiological makeup you did not choose interacting with an environment you did not choose which produces an individual in which every choice he makes is a calculation created from the fusion of both. When thinking of choice imagine a random number generator. The choice itself is the random number and can always be traced back to the seed (environment/physiological makeup interaction).
1) If the universe is reset and the choice itself or the result of the choice both stay the same then the choice and the result are both on rails. Thus it is not independent choice but a deterministic calculation filled with variables (like your tastebud's preferences) beyond your control.
Now you may be saying, "no sir, i'm sure eventually i would make a different choice because of the uncertainty principle (or chaos theory). Eventually enough wave functions would collapse a certain way and i would choose strawberry."
And sure that's certainly possible, but it doesn't make you any more capable of making an independent choice than you could before because all the uncertainty principle is doing is adding a sprinkling of chaos to the choice and you don't control the chaos any more than you control any of the other variables.
Or you may be saying you'd eventually choose another flavor because the human brain is special and can act independently of the universe around it, and the underlying mathematics which run it. In which case i say that sounds hard to believe, but if true you still don't control the randomness function of your brain any more than the chaos function of the universe, and as such your choices would still either always come out the same, or be randomized by a chaos engine you don't have the keys for or have a license to drive. By definition randomness can not be controlled.
But wait, why would it have to be random? What if during one of those universe reset thingys i simply changed my mind about chocolate and decided vanilla was the flavor for me?
Just think about what you're saying. You decided on chocolate. Out of all the available flavors, that was the one you desired the most. Even if it was like a really close match, with chocolate edging out vanilla only by the tiniest of hairs, chocolate still won. Heck, even if you couldn't decide and just picked one in what you thought was a random manner, chocolate still won. Free will cannot be a wishy washy type of deal and still be called free will. If you change your mind when nothing else has changed then you are not exercising free will. At that point something else is at work beyond your control, and you are just along for the ride (and getting gypped out of chocolate ice cream to boot).
2) If the universe is reset and the choice itself or the result of the choice changes then it is random. Thus it is not independent choice but a calculation that contains random "chaos" variables beyond your control.
All of this can be neatly tied together by remembering the movie Groundhog Day, and how Bill is able to bend the entire town to his will through trial and error. Figuring out how to manipulate someone was merely a matter of trying different combinations of inputs until he got the desired result - like opening a safe. Choice isn't choice when it's directed entirely by the whims of the environment you're in at the time. At that point it's merely a mathematical exercise, no different than a computer simulation or a boat with no rudder sailing on an ocean of pure fate. To recognize this all one has to do is take a glance at how trivial it is to manipulate and shape thought:
Grew up with dogs
<---- Click Here
Choice. Free will. Self-determination. These are the battle cries of us unimaginably privileged few who look down from our ivory perches and pass judgement on the actions of those less fortunate. We no more chose the circumstances leading to our charmed ascent to the top of that perch than those on the ground chose to live under our scorn. Worse still, most of us are completely oblivious to the very privilege which builds and maintains that perch. Morality then becomes an exercise in self-examination, awareness, and acknowledgement of that privilege (problem awareness), and then from that new perspective trying to understand why they live down there and we live up here (problem cause), and finally working to overcome it (problem resolution).
Sit back for a moment and try to quantify some of the benefits you've had throughout your life that others may have not had. Try to picture some of your key life lessons or experiences, and imagine how your life may have played out differently had you missed them. Zero in on some key moments that changed you and your perceptions for the better: A kind word perhaps, or a helping hand at a crucial moment when all seemed lost.
Think of a harsh admonishment from someone you admired that triggered a painful but profoundly useful period of introspection which helped forge your character. Remember the feeling of palpable affection you've received from those who cared about you and sacrificed for you. Think of that book you read or that movie you watched that changed everything. Who would you be if not for these things? Cage your ego and conceit and recognize that those experiences made you who you are, and that without them you would not be the same person in the same position. That without them you could just as easily be the one living at the bottom of that ivory tower. Embrace the fact that the sum total of your life has been completely out of your control, and realize that if i could independently go back in time and erase those positive life molding experiences: you would no longer be you .
And now - with that self examination still at the forefront of your thoughts - try to imagine someone so misfortunate they were never graced by any of them or - through no fault of their own - simply weren't wired to receive them (you don't choose what resonates with you). Imagine someone who far from experiencing any of these positive events at crucial moments in their development, instead endured the opposite. Using the insight you've just gained from your own self reflection, now try to fit into their alien shoes and understand them.
Understanding disarms judgement. With judgement disarmed your goals shift from retribution to rehabilitation, from reaction to prevention, from blame to empathy. We can make a global paradise - heaven on earth if you will. We can elevate each and every one of us to new heights and soar above those perches of unfounded egotism that bind and blind us. But first we must fully embrace understanding and then rigorously follow where it leads.
-Jason Watton / tritorch
It's not where you take things from that counts, but where you take them to. A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.
Never doubt for a moment that a small group of people can change the world. Indeed, it has never happened any other way.
Don't tell me the sky is the limit,
when there are footprints on the moon.
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go
-Suicide in the Trenches
I've seen my buddies ambushed on the left and on the right
And their youthful bodies riddled by the bullets of the night
Where all the rules are broken and the only law is might
With our sweat we took the bunkers, with our tears we took the pain. With our blood we took the mountains & then gave them back again. Still, all of us are soldiers - we're too busy to complain.
When I reach my final campground in that land beyond the sun
And the great commander asks me, "Did u fight or did u run?"
I'll stand both straight and tall stripped of medals, rank and gun
"Sir, I followed all my orders and I did the best I could
It's hard to judge the enemy and hard to tell the good
Yet there's not a man among us who would not have understood
We took the jungle village exactly like they said
We responded to their rifle fire with everything we had
And when the smoke had cleared away a 100 souls lay dead
Sir, the soldier that's alive is the only one who can fight
There's no other way to wage a war when the only 1 in sight
That you're sure is not an enemy, is your buddy on your right
When all the wars are over and i'm nothing but a ghost
Count me only as a soldier who never left his post
With the right to serve my country as my one and only boast
When all the wars are over and the battle's finally won
Count me only as a soldier who never left his gun
With the right to serve my country as the only prize I've won"
As we go marching on
-C Company Feat Terry Nelson, Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley
If you're not ready to die for it, take the word 'freedom' out of your vocabulary.
Of course the people don't want war, but after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy. And it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.
Voice or no voice the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifist for a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger.
-Herman Goering - Nuremberg Trial 1945
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and you run
When the fast bullets fly.
How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.
Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Can't buy back your soul.
-Bob, Masters of War
Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.
Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap their citizen's brains and then later as ceremonial shrouds to bury their dead bodies in.
The only hope you have is to accecpt the fact that you're already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to funciton as a soldier is supposed to function: without mercy, without compassion, without remorse. All war depends on it. -Ronald Spiers
It isn't true that there's a community of light, a bonfire of the world. Everyone carries his own, his lonely own. My light is out. There is nothing blacker than a wick.
Inward, I said, I want to go home. No, not home, to the other side of home where the lights are given.
It is so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shown.
The world is full of dark derelicts.
The better way:
There comes a time for descent. Honorable retirement. Not dramatic, not punishment of self, friends or family, just good-bye. A warm bath and an open vein; a warm sea and a razor blade.
-Steinbeck, Winter of Our Discontent
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, i do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow;
I am sunlight ripened on grain;
I am the gentle autumn rain;
When you awake and greet the dawn
I am the day as it is born;
I am birds in circling flight;
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there. I did not die.
Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
-Inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty
Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner], I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.
-George Washington, Commenting On Torture
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay
-The Deserted Village
We the unknowing
Led by the uncaring
Are denying the obvious
For the avaricious
We have ignored so much
For so long
We can be held responsible
For nothing at all
Warren Buffett: 'Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.'
Either way - in a Warren Buffet rent-seeking world, you will always be either fearful or greedy.
Civilization, goes an old maxim, is only four meals away from barbarism. Once the food deliveries stop, so does law and order.
We came from mud. And after 3.8 billion years of evolution, at our core is still mud. Nobody could be a divorce lawyer and doubt that.
There was a time once when 'knowledge' was seen as a rung in the ladder which leads to the floor where they keep the wisdom. Although evidently, there are some people nowadays who try to chop up the ladder - so they can feed the little fire they warm their hands over...
The wise man knows that he does not know, and the prudent man respects what he does not control.
The ancient Oracle said that i was the wisest of all the Greeks. It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that i know nothing.
You are young, my son, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters.
-Plato, Laws X
Respect is not given.
It is taken.
After all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done.
The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.
There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say in reply.
Is your butt jealous of all the crap that just came out of your mouth?
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.
-Eleanor Roosevelt. Reality TV, competition, and CSI like programs are SUPER food for your Id everyone...
When discussing a subject, name calling only ensures that emotional people will dig their heels in and stop listening. It guarantees that name calling will continue and no enlightenment is achieved. It opposes progress made by reason and evidence.
Future generations will look back on TV as the lead in the water pipes that slowly drove the Romans mad.
Future generations will look back on TV as the lead in the water pipes that slowly drove the Romans mad.
Remember that the media have two basic functions. One is to indoctrinate the elites, to make sure they have the right ideas and know how to serve power. In fact, typically the elites are the most indoctrinated segment of a society, because they are the ones who are exposed to the most propaganda and actually take part in the decision-making process. For them you have the New York Times, and the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, and so on. But there’s also a mass media, whose main function is just to get rid of the rest of the population—to marginalize and eliminate them, so they don’t interfere with decision-making. And the press that’s designed for that purpose isn’t the New York Times and the Washington Post, it's sitcoms on television, and the National Enquirer, and sex and violence, and babies with three heads, and football, all that kind of stuff.
Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?
The people who cast the votes decide nothing.
The people who count the votes decide everything.
When i feed the poor they call me a saint.
When i ask why the poor have no food they compare me to Stalin and call me a socialist.
There is no moral justification for accepting a salary that's three thousand times that of a care-worker, say, unless your reality is solipsistic in the absolute. Or if Ayn Rand is, to you, anything other than morally reprehensible claptrap.
Words like 'socialism' and 'terrorism' are keywords used by politicians and pundits to manipulate the populace, in the same way and for the same reasons i use the word 'milkbone' to manipulate my dog.
When any politician, government authority, or military official speaks replace every instance of the words terrorism and socialism with fearmongering, and you will get an accurate portrait of what is going on.
I used to think that your reality shaped your politics.
It's clear to me now that your politics shape your reality.
The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his.
It doesn't think, it doesn't feel.
It doesn't laugh or cry.
All it does from dusk til dawn
Is make the soldiers die.
The human race's prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenseless aginst tigers than they are today when we have become defenseless against ourselves.
-Arnold J. Toynbee
The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.
I know not with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones.
Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.
-Henry David Thoreau
When Jonny comes marching home again he's unemployed, homeless, and suffering PTSD.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. -Smedley Butler
Our human rights record is something of note, we freed all our slaves and gave women the vote. Everyone's equal, forever, always.
Unless you're one of them gays.
-Stephen Lynch, America
It might seem i don't think our country's so great
But intolerance, bigotry, greed's what i hate
Most folks are honest and decent and true
Peaceful, compassionate, good thru and through
That's what i means to be red, white and blue
And if you don't think so screw you
-Stephen Lynch, America
If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and the tolerance with them.
I don't care if you're black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich, or poor. if you're nice to me, i'll be nice to you.
Extend your tolerance to the beliefs of others, but do not be tolerant of their corruption, exploitation, or manipulation. Disregard your blind allegiance and patriotism and look through the transparent demagoguery of those who stand to gain from your fealty and blindness.
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
-Voltaire and the tolerance paradox
America was founded by a group of slave owners who said that all men are created equal.
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it.
The truth is the truth even if no one believes it.
Have we become so... fearful, have become so cowardly, that we would extinguish a man, simply because he holds the blood of a current enemy?
We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches, it's all ancient history. Then - before you can blink an eye - suddenly it threatens to start all over again.
Power is not the means to an end. It is the end.
Poor man wanna be rich
Rich man wanna be king
And king ain't satisfied
Till he rules everything.
-Bruce Springsteen, Badlands
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.
-Charles Austin Beard
They came with a bible and their religion, stole our land, murdered our tribes, crushed our spirit, and now they tell us we should be thankful to the lord for being saved.
I asked God for a bicycle, but i knew that God didn't work that way. So I stole a bike instead, and asked God for forgiveness.
Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh but the country was young
With God on its side.
-Bob Dylan, With God On Our Side
We sit outside and argue all night long
About a God we've never seen
But never fails to side with me
-Primitive Radio Gods
When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why i dismiss yours.
-Stephen F Roberts
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence comet evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
If he is infinitely good and just, what reason should we have to fear him or fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with so much weakness? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him?
And if he has spoken, why is the world not convinced?
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
-Gordon Lightfoot, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
It would be almost unbelievable if history did not record the tragic fact that men have gone to war and cut each other's throats because they could not agree as to what was to become of them after their throats were cut.
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum proves that faith does not prove anything.
We need religion to give grace and comfort to people living in a world torn apart by religion.
The reason crucifixes work against vampires is that vampires are allergic to bullspit.
I myself have performed a miracle. One time while stranded in Mexico , I came across a blind and crippled beggar in front of the Cathedral.
As I reached stealthily into his cup to filch a $20 bill, his sight miraculously returned and he was not only able to walk again, but miraculously, he was able to run down the street fast enough to almost catch me.
The Lord works in mysterious ways.
An eskimo asks a missionary priest:
If i did not know about god and sin, would i go to hell?
No, said the priest, not if you did not know.
Then why, asked the eskimo, did you tell me?
The actual brand of religion is irrelevant, the results are the same. Nothing brings out inhumanity like someone actually believing that they are the ally of god. An ally of god can do no wrong. Anything is justified as the will of God.
Good people do good things. Bad people do bad things. But for good people to do truly bad things, you need religion.
Evil is never done so completely and cheerfully as when it is done from a religious conviction :
Wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. ... in the temple and the porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies.
-Raymond of Aguilers, observations on the Crusades
I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the almighty Creator; by defending myself against the jews, i am fighting for the Lord. I would like to thank the providence of the almighty for choosing me above all people.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
How can you have order in a state without religion? For, when one man is dying of hunger near another who is sick from overeating, he cannot resign himself to this difference unless there is an authority which declares, 'This is God's will'
Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
Your religion is a bad joke, replete with boundless hypocrisy, double standards, cover-ups, rewrites, and blinded eyes. Rose colored eyes which cannot look to the past see the oceans of blood that watered it, the savage anti-intellectualism which nurtured it, the mountains of tortured heathen bones and shredded tongues which raised it, nor the man-made hell-on-earth in which it was forged. It is a joke told to plunder and control, and the only ones not laughing in abject terror and disgust, are those same blind and brainwashed victims of that intolerant sanctimonious warmongering demagoguery: too fearful and superstitious to see the punch line.
Religion is intolerant by design, and intolerance is required for it to function. When you believe an unprovable fantastical thing, the only way to propagate that belief to thinking individuals is to violently deter and squash the consent of anyone pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.
The Koran told me that no matter how much I read, how much I knew, no matter what love and compassion for people I held in my breast, no matter my intelligence, my talents ... I would never be as good as even the lowliest of men ... I was a field for a man to sow his seed. My word was not to be trusted against that of a man. I was the gateway to hell because men would desire me...
How could any system of belief compete with the dignity and the respect that non-belief had to offer me?
Man will never be free until the last king is strangled by the entrails of the last priest.
America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behaviour... In 2004, as a share of our economy, we ranked second to last, after Italy, among developed countries in government foreign aid. Nearly 18 percent of Aemrican children lived in poverty (compared with, say, 8 percent in Sweden). In fact, by pretty much any measure of caring, childhood nutrition, infant mortality, access to pre-school - we come in nearly last among the rich nations, and often by a wide margin.
Despite the Sixth Commandment, we are of course, the most violent rich nation on earth, with a murder rate four or five times that of our European peers. Having been told to turn the other cheek, we're the only Western democracy left that executes its citizens, mostly in those states where Christianity is theoretically strongest.
Teenage pregnancy? We're at the top of the charts. Personal self-diciplin - like, say, keeping your weight under control? Buying on credit? Running government deficits? Do you even need to ask?
Portrait of the Typical Modern Christian
You know what my favorite thing in the world is?
I'll tell you.
Each week millions and millions of upper middle class American citizens put on expensive dress clothes and load themselves into their SUVs and drive past homeless shelters, orphanages, prisons, missions, and halfway houses on their way to a very expensive and luxurious church, where somebody tells them how to be more like Jesus.
That is awesome, let me tell you.
Extolls the sanctity of marriage and family
...Is sure this third family is the charm
...And again and again and again
...Sins with abandon
Jesus served and gave all he owned to the poor
...Hates Socialists !
Lives by the word and example of Jesus
...Thinks torture is ok
...our Christian forefathers, being much better read and having a much better grasp of history than the modern Christian who spends all his time in front of the Internet and the television, had no enthusiasm for war at all.
Back before the Civil War, when the Christians published theological journals worth reading, two Baptist ministers writing in The Christian Review demonstrated that Christian war fever was contrary to the New Testament.
Veritatis Amans, in his 1847 article "Can War, Under Any Circumstances, Be Justified on the Principles of the Christian Religion? "approached the subject from the standpoint of war being justified only in cases of self-defense. Another Baptist preacher, in an unsigned article from 1838 entitled "Wickedness of War," approached the subject from the standpoint of the nature of war in general. Both articles look to the New Testament as their authority.
Amans begins: "War has ever been the scourge of the human race. The history of the past is little else than a chronicle of deadly feuds, irreconcilable hate, and exterminating warfare. The extension of empire, the love of glory, and thirst for fame, have been more fatal to men than famine or pestilence, or the fiercest elements of nature."
"And what is more sad and painful, many of the wars whose desolating surges have deluged the earth, have been carried on in the name and under the sanction of those who profess the name of Christ."
"It has not been till recently, that the disciples of Christ have been conscious of the enormous wickedness of war as it usually exists. And even now there are many who do not frown upon it with that disapprobation and abhorrence, which an evil of such magnitude as an unjust war deserves."
"Wars of every kind may be included under two classes – offensive and defensive. Concerning the former we shall say nothing. We need not delay a moment to discuss a question so directly at variance with the dictates of conscience, and the principles of revealed religion."
"But under what circumstances is war truly defensive? We reply, when its object is to repel an invasion; when there is no alternative but to submit to bondage and death, or to resist."
The anonymous Baptist preacher writing in a 1838 issue of The Christian Review continues: "The war spirit is so wrought into the texture of governments, and the habits of national thinking, and even into our very festivals and pomps, that its occasional recurrence is deemed a matter of unavoidable necessity."
War "contradicts the genius and intention of Christianity," "sets at nought the example of Jesus," and "is inconsistent not only with the general structure and nature of Christianity and the example of Jesus, but it violates all the express precepts of the New Testament."
"Christianity requires us to seek to amend the condition of man. But war cannot do this. The world is no better for all the wars of five thousand years. Christianity, if it prevailed, would make the earth a paradise. War, where it prevails, makes it a slaughter-house, a den of thieves, a brothel, a hell. Christianity cancels the laws of retaliation. War is based upon that very principle. Christianity is the remedy for all human woes. War produces every woe known to man."
"The causes of war, as well as war itself, are contrary to the gospel. It originates in the worst passions and the worst aims. We may always trace it to the thirst of revenge, the acquisition of territory, the monopoly of commerce, the quarrels of kings, the intrigues of ministers, the coercion of religious opinion, the acquisition of disputed crowns, or some other source, equally culpable; but never has any war, devised by man, been founded on holy tempers and Christian principles."
"It should be remembered, that in no case, even under the Old Testament, was war appointed to decide doubtful questions, or to settle quarrels, but to inflict national punishment. They were intended, as are pestilence and famine, to chastise nations guilty of provoking God. Such is never the pretext of modern war; and if it were, it would require divine authority, which, as has just been said, would induce even members of the Peace Society to fight."
The "criminality of war," as Howard Malcom, president of Georgetown College, wrote in 1845, is not "that tyrants should lead men into wars of pride and conquest," but that "the people, in governments comparatively free, should so readily lend themselves to a business in which they bear all the sufferings, can gain nothing, and may lose all." That people would act this way, Malcom says, is an "astonishment indeed." "But," he continues, "the chief wonder is that Christians, followers of the Prince of Peace, should have concurred in this mad idolatry of strife, and thus been inconsistent not only with themselves, but with the very genius of their system."
The founding fathers of this country, many of whom were deists, had more sense than many twenty-first-century Christians when it came to espousing a policy of peace through non-intervention; in other words, not being "a busybody in other men's matters" (1 Pet. 4:15). George Washington: "The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible." Thomas Jefferson: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none." John Quincy Adams: "America . . . goes not abroad seeking monsters to destroy."
-Excepts from http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/vance1.html
...Votes for the death penalty
Loves the Beauty and Majesty of God's Earth
...Votes to strip mine it
Worships the Lord at Church
...Watches grisly horror films at home
Occasionally Wakes Up for Church on Sunday Morning
...Never misses CSI on Sunday night.
Going to church makes you a Christian no more than going to a garage makes you a car.
-Dr. Laurence J. Peter
Modern christians are an outright affront to Jesus and to everything he stood and worked tirelessly for.
I can think of nothing more insulting to Him and His legacy than a nation of hypocrites who say they follow Him on the one hand, and completely ignore His teachings on the other.
Jesus railed against worldly possessions, wealth, and war. He gave all he had to the poor and served them tirelessly. Woe to the rich, He said. Wash your neighbors feet, He said. Teaching us to serve each other was His mission in life.
For anyone to claim that they are a Christian while doing nothing to stop the pain and suffering taking place all around them; doing nothing to feed the people starving outside their dinner table window while their own cups runneth over; while praying to the Lord for guidance and answers to mundane questions such as whether to invest in this stock or that stock, or whether they should move their families to this state or that state; and doing all these things while ignoring the homeless shelters they drive by on their way to the movies; these things are a slap directly in the face of Jesus.
How His heart must break.
To all you Christians out there: the New Testament holds all the blueprints for heaven on earth. If you would humbly and selflessly follow the teachings therein, our world would be a far different and better place.
Look around you. The world is being torn apart by religion and the justification it brings. If you call yourself a Christian, i encourage you to stop and ask yourself: Why are you here? Were you put on this earth to live for yourself? Or were you put here to live for others as Jesus was. Jesus understood that by living for others, you can change the course of their lives and in doing so - through the propagation of your good deeds - you change the course of the world. This is most fundamental lesson in the New Testament. In a world in which people live only to improve the lives of those around them, heaven takes care of itself. By serving others you serve god.
You are the stewards of this earth, not the masters. You can either destroy it with "holy" war, pollution, and unchecked consumerism or you can follow the path Jesus set out for you and endeavor replenish it and revert it back into the Garden of Eden. The choice is yours.
Then the devil's clock struck midnight
And the skies lit up again
And the battlefield where heaven stood
Was blown to hell again
But for just one fleeting moment
The answers seemed so clear
Heaven's not beyond the clouds
It's just beyond the fear
No heaven's not beyond the clouds
It's for us to find here
-Garth Brooks, Belleau Wood
The faster you run from your sins, the more exhausted you are when they catch up to you.
You can run, but you'll just die tired.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
-A warning to wayward travelers, etched on the gates of hell
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I am the meanest son of a bitch in the valley.
If you're going through hell, keep going.
Poker is a game of information and probability. Especially Texas Hold'em.
There is information everyone has - the face up cards. There is information you are forced to give - your bets. And there is information others give - their bet amounts.
You can give false information, but that has a cost which is proportional to your probability to win, others' probabilities to win, and the discrepancy between the information you falsify and the truth.
You have odds based on the cards on the table. Odds based on the bet you have to make versus the pot. Odds based on how many people are still in the game. And the information comes out in pieces. While these odds change. So you can change what people think their odds are by lying about what you have through your bets by either over betting or under betting. But if other players call you on your lies you end up paying, literally.
If you bluff and lose you play out your bluff because you pretended you had cards you didn't. And if you under bet to keep others staying in and collect a bigger pot, you risk them making an outlandish hand on turning over more face cards (flop turn or river).
So you can play straight and avoid lying or passing false information. But then people understand you are playing straight and can predict your cards based on your pattern of consistent information.
You bet big on your big hands and people leave the pot. Bet small on your worthless hands and people take your blinds. And people figure you out.
So you have to pepper in lies, but only occasionally.
And that's all without trying to predict other peoples cards based on their hands.
Poker isn't a game of chance. It's a game of predicting probabilities and lying about them. It's a game of trying to understand pattens and people. It's a game of math and emotions. It's cryptography of emotions.
Never do card tricks for the group you play poker with.
Alright, here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker within your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.
-Mike McDermont, Rounders
Everyone has a hole inside of them that they spend their lives desperately trying to fill with material objects.
Some people are like slinkies. Really good for nothing, but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.
I want to die sleeping like my grandfather... Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
I used to work at the unemployment office. I hated that job because when they fired me, I still had to show up at work the next day.
Economically speaking, it doesn't matter if it's moral or amoral.
Morally speaking, it doesn't matter if it's legal or not.
Legally speaking, it doesn't matter if it's right or wrong.
Realistically speaking, it doesn't matter if it's moral, legal, or right.
The laughed at Einstein. They laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo The Clown.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
You don't know where you're going until you know where you're at So grab your coat and put on your hat and journey to seek the logic in that
Give a man a match and you'll warm him for a day.
Light a man on fire and you'll warm him for the rest of his life.
A bus station is where a bus stops.
A train station is where a train stops.
...On my desk I have a work station.
The longest five minutes in the world are the last five minutes before the school bell rings, while the shortest five minutes are the five minutes of snooze after the alarm bell rings.
Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity.
I'll take the dream i had last night
And put it in my freezer
So someday long and far away
When i'm an old grey geezer
I'll take it out and thaw it out
This lovely dream i've frozen
And boil it up and sit me down
And dip my old cold toes in.
life (noun): A sexually transmitted disease which always ends in death; there is currently no known cure.
When two people kiss what they're actually doing is creating a really really long tube with a butthole on each end.
The propeller is really just a big fan made to cool down the pilot in the cockpit.-
You can tell this because when it stops you can see the pilot start sweating excessively.
Budget: A formula for determining that you need a raise.
Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch dnoe at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
If you have a barrel of sewage and add a teaspoon of fine wine, you get sewage.
But if you have a barrel of fine wine and add a teaspoon of sewage, you still get sewage.
A black belt is born as the white belt of a beginner, then stained black by the dried blood and sweat of its owner.
No man ever walks into the same river twice. For it is not the same river and he is not the same man.
You are young, my son, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters.
Everything is valuable under the right conditions. To a man dying of thirst, water be more precious than gold. To a drowning man, water be of little worth and great trouble.
Nothing is faster than the speed of light, they say, forgetful of the shadow's speed.
Little's the good to sit and grieve
Because the serpent tempted Eve.
Better to wipe your eyes and take
A club and go out and kill the snake.
But if you prefer, as I suspect,
To philosophize, why, then, reflect:
If the cunning rascal upon the limb
Hadn't tempted her she'd have tempted him.
The tangled webs we weave,
when at first we begin to deceive.
But after we've practiced quite awhile,
how vastly we improve our style.
-Sir Walter Scott, and someone else
Hey there Mary, what's the story. Save my as from purgatory.
Hail Mary full of grace, let us blow this goddamn place.
How many times do you hear it?
It goes on all day long
Everyone knows everything
And no one's ever wrong
Don't deceive yourself; laughing at someone's weakness is not the way to reveal your strength. Your strength is in the help you offer, not the mockeries you deliver.
The desire to criticize becomes less and less as the character is developed. It is the mark of a fine character never to be critical and to mention but rarely the faults of others. A strong character does not resist evil, but uses their strength in building the good. They know that when the light is made strong, the darkness will disappear of itself.
We ignore the ones who adore us
Adore the ones who ignore us
Love the ones who hurt us
And hurt the ones that love us
Girls are like apples...the best ones are at the top of the trees. The boys don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples that are on the ground that aren't as good, but easy. So the apples at the top think there is something wrong with them, when, in reality, they are amazing. They just have to wait for the right boy to come along, the one who's brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.
I met her when the world began.
Or was it last July?
The theory of the multiverse suggests there are infinite parallel universes in which every possible situation is contained.
This is comforting because i know that somewhere out there, you love me too.
Ill sit and laugh with my friends at what we've all been thru,
but i still catch my breath when someone mentions you.
There's a piece of Maria in every song that I sing. And the price of her memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings.
-Counting Crows, Mrs. Potters Lullaby
Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss, and dream? Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt only by the heart.
You asked me whose life was more important - yours or mine, and I answered 'mine'.
You walked away angry, not knowing that you are my life.
If I could be any part of you, i'd be your tears.
To be conceived in your heart, born in your eyes,
live on your cheeks, and die on your lips.
Once there was a boy who gave a girl twelve roses. Eleven of them were real, one was plastic. Then he told her he will love her until the last one dies.
When you lose someone you love, you die too, and you wait around for your body to catch up.
I won't disturb the slumber, of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
-Simon & Garfunkel - I Am A Rock
If tears could build a stairway,
and memories a lane,
I'd march right up to heaven
and bring you home again.
An old man kneeling all alone
Plants his flowers in a garden of stone
For seven years now she's been gone
But his devotion is still going strong
-Shenandoah, Loved Like That
'Go to father', she said, when I asked her to wed.
She knew that I knew that her father was dead.
She knew that I knew what a life he had led.
She knew that I knew what she meant when she said,
'Go to father.'
Hello darkness my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
-Simon & Garfunkel, Sound of Silence
Out of the blue and into the black
They give you this, but you pay for that
And once you're gone, you can never come back
When you're out of the blue and into the black.
-Neil Young, My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
Six of one, half a dozen of the other
Black guitars and plastic blues
Hide behind a wall of nothing
Nothing said and nothing new
-Four Cords that Made a Million
Say what you want about the tenants of National Socialism Dude, at least it's an ethos.
-Walter obliquely assigning virtue to Nazism in the face of Nihilism
Some men aren't looking for anything logical like money.
They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with.
Some men, just want to watch the world burn.
-Alfred, The Dark Knight
I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you aren't actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not.
You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we... we are the cure.
-Agent Smith, The Matrix
In my opinion life is a highly overrated phenomenon. Mars gets on perfectly fine without so much as a microorganism.
See: there's the south pole beneath us now... No life. No life at all, but giant steps, nighty feet high, scoured by dust and wind into a constantly changing topographical map, flowing and shifting around the pole in ripples ten thousand years wide.
Now tell me, would that be greatly improved by an oil pipeline? A shopping mall?
-Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen
Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose.
This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not god who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs.
It's us. Only us.
The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them.
Was reborn then. Free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach.
None of you understand.
I'm not locked in here with you.
You're locked in here with me.
Oh, i'm sorry. I mistook me for somebody else. -Bruce Wayne
Death, Destruction, War, Disease
Not even the wild could save your child
Not even the righteous could put you at ease
Not this August nor this September -- this year you get to do what you like, but the time comes around again. It always does. Sooner or later you stick something back into your big damn old mouth again. A drink, a smoke, maybe the barrel of a shotgun... Not this August nor this September... Unfortunately this was October.
-Stephen King, Secret Window, Secret Garden
This is the book I never read
These are the words I never said
This is the path I'll never tread
These are the dreams I'll dream instead
Each thing I do I rush through so I can do something else.
In such a way do the days pass--a blend of stock car racing and the never ending building of a gothic cathedral.
Through the windows of my speeding car, I see all that I love falling away: books unread, jokes untold, landscapes unvisited.
You may my glories
And my estate dispose
But never my sorrows
Still, am I king of those
Pack up the moon
Dismantle the sun
Pour away the ocean
Sweep up the wood
For nothing now can ever come
To any good
You have to run as fast as you can just to stay where you are. If you want to get anywhere, you'll have to run much faster.
Every morning in africa a gazelle wakes up in fear and knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in africa a lion wakes up hungry and knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle,
when the sun comes up, you better start running.
A slit cuts through the golden eye.
Black as night. Sharp as sky.
A coat of fire burns the day.
And all the hope held by the prey.
Quickly and quietly fades away.
A fading hope is in the air.
A needing hunger, fixed by despair.
The crown of power; oh, how it glows.
And the beast, he fully knows.
His time is now to live with souls.
The strength of god. The speed of lightening.
Intense fear. Frightening!
The rage of a thousand broken hearts.
All in tune. Tear apart.
Ripping the fabric of the art.
The blood glints off the teeth of fate.
Time extended. Now abate.
Those who witnessed, disappear.
Escaping filled with mortal fear.
Fed by death, the king is near.
The crown, the mane, the golden shroud.
Covers the body, of the proud.
Canines and claws gleam in the sun.
The fight is over, the proud has won.
The king of creatures, the war is done.
The slit, the cut, the golden eye.
The blackening night, the sharpening sky.
The coat, the fire, the burning day.
The pray, the hope, the fading away.
I know... no one lives in the slums because they want to. It's like this train. It can't run anywhere except where its rails take it.
-Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy 7
Choice is an illusion. It does not exist. We are all rudderless ships on the ocean of fate.
She says to me,
'C'mon, We've got a long way to run.'
And from the look on her face I know
We won't get anywhere.
She says to me,
"Get in the car and drive."
And I know there's no point
in arguing with her.
Through the night we drive
Down dark roads forlorn
Zooming by houses
from "Kids of the Corn"
And I ask her why she's running again
And what she can't face this time
And whether she'll ever return
To the scene of so many crimes.
The stars the clouds
blur into the sky
The grass the trees
blend as we pass by
But I need to know where she plans to go,
where she thinks she can hide.
And where she plans to run
when we run out of road.
I'll sing it one last time for you
Then we really have to go
You've been the only thing that's right
In a lifetime
And I can barely look at you
But every single time I do
I know we'll make it anywhere
Away from here
Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear
And we'll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can't raise your voice to say
We don't have time for that
All I want's to find an easy way
To get out of our little heads
Have heart, my dear
We're bound to be afraid
Even if it's just for a few days
Making up for all this mess
-Snow Patrol, Run
Is there a cure among us
From this processed sanity?
I weaken with each voice that sings
Now, in this world of purchase
I'm going to buy back memories
To awaken some old qualities
Have I got a long way to run?
Yeah, I run
-Collective Soul, Run
(Don't stop to speak or look around
Your gloves & fan are on the ground
We're getting out of town
We're going on the run
And you're the one I want to come)
Not to touch the earth
Not to see the sun
Nothing left to do but
Run, run, run
-Jim Morrison, The Celebration of the Lizard
We no longer know the meaning of freedom. We have traded away everything to a false prophet. We refuse to see that belonging to a government is a fate far worse than any terrorist can reap; than any madman can sow.-------------Lessons Learned--------------
The word of a terrorist has no power over us. The government's word is law.
In the name of security we will lose our security. In addition to the terrorist we will have the relentless uncompromising gaze of the government.
The power of the people is born from its freedom, and it is the people who must be the guardians of that power. It is from our freedom that we draw the authority to force our government to abide its boundaries. Through the guise of security we are slowly allowing our government to relinquish that authority, and ultimately, the government will know no boundaries.
Once we allow our freedoms to categorically run dry, we, as a people, will no longer have the authority to stand up to our government.
Terrorism is a low budget, low resource action intended to provoke a high resource, high budget, bankrupting reaction in the target. It uses the frenzied irrational fear of the moment as a tool to destroy both its adversaries' economy and principles in one fell swoop.
It happens to work. Just look around.
9/11 was a horrible thing, and every single freaking thing done in its name has been much more horrible. The fact people keep accepting it as an excuse for unacceptable things is very sad.
As soon as someone tries to use 9/11 to justify yet another thing to encroach upon and destroy public rights and liberties (which is all but guaranteed anytime someone invokes 9/11), call them what they really are: terrorist sympathizer and abettor.
Remember, the entire purpose behind terrorism is to instill a sense of panic and fear in a population, in order to get them to act in a certain manner, so that said...
Anytime someone tries to invoke a sense of fear in the public, in order to pass some new law or legislation, they are doing the work of a terrorist.
Anytime someone tries to use 9/11 to keep people afraid, to justify what is being done 'to protect people', they are doing the work of a terrorist.
Anytime someone tries to claim that 'combating the terrorists' or 'protecting people from terrorists' justifies trampling all over basic constitutional rights, and the rights of the people, they are doing the work of a terrorist.
-Techdirt Forum Post
When someone declares "people will die" as a justification for curtailing liberty, the correct response is "what are you suggesting - that liberty isn't worth dying for? That those who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms made the wrong choice?"
-Techdirt Forum Post
The government should represent the will of the people and the public has a say in the risks they are willing to take in terms of what information we may receive. I, as a member of the public, am willing to risk whatever risks more transparency brings because to sacrifice transparency would be to give up an important democratic principle that national security is supposed to defend.
-Techdirt Forum Post
Hmmm... so the terrorists can only be defeated by a consolidation of state and corporate power, the stripping of personal liberties, the militarization of the police, the proliferation of secret courts and watch lists, and the creation of an unconstrained surveillance state suspiciously prying into the bank accounts, communications, associations, and actions of all Americans?
The hell with it, I'll put up with the terrorists, thanks.
-Techdirt Forum Post
It occurs to me that this whole game of characterizing people who are against U.S. government foreign policy and the erosion of personal liberty as "anti-American" is really something that should be met head on.
I completely reject the notion that my being against all of these wars of aggression, the torture, the emerging unaccountable militarized secretive thug police state, the secret courts and watch lists, the blanket warrant-less surveillance, the parallel construction and asset forfeiture -- I reject the notion that being against these atrocities makes me "anti-American". No, I am pro-American. I am in favor of the values expressed in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Moreover, I am in favor of all the positive things to have come out of American culture: Hollywood's Golden Age of Movies, jazz music, Bob Dylan.... Writers, poets... the culture of open source software. Those things are all quintessentially American and I am in favor of them.
So I am pro-American. People like you are anti-American, because you are against the core principles that the country is supposed to stand for, a democratic republic, an open society with due process and the rule of law, a humble inward looking government constrained by checks and balances, a bulwark justice system more than strong enough to keep the tireless wolves of government tyranny at bay...
But people like you... You corrupt all of that by defending the indefensible all the while hiding behind a cloak of faux patriotism. You guys nauseate me. Really.
-Slashdot Forum Post
Peace and freedom require maintenance, yes. The natural state of humanity is to slide to slavery and conflict. The notion that the implements that preserve peace and freedom are morally equivalent to the implements that extend slavery and conflict is an absurdity believed only by imbeciles.
Show me a street where the police patrol. Show me a street where they don't. You tell me which street is peaceful and free. Yet that still won't stop some idiots from bemoaning the existence of the police.
Face it: civilization requires maintenance against natural, organic, self-emergent forces of decay. What do you think would happen to civilization if that maintenance effort were stopped? You only feel disdain for this maintenance effort because, safely cocooned in the ivory tower, you fail to be able and look down and see what is holding your tower up. You live a life of benefits you don't understand, and sneer at that which makes those benefits possible. You are a parasite.
-Some guy from some forum somewhere
This argument operates under the assumption that the 'implements that preserve peace and freedom' are always unassailable and incorruptible pockets of isolated power which can't be influenced or manipulated by lobbying (bribery) or other outside forces, or indeed, even by their own natural, organic, self-emergent forces of decay.
This just isn't the case. The police can be just as abusive and tyrannical as any dictator, and even lowly street sweepers can be corrupted.
Know that the maintenance effort exists, and appreciate it for all it does to make your life better. But never take your watchful eyes off of it, and never take it for granted. For those same implements that have the power to preserve your peace and freedom, also have the power to take them away.
The NSA granted me the authority to monitor communications world-wide using its mass surveillance systems, including within the United States. I have personally targeted individuals using these systems under both the President of the United States' Executive Order 12333 and the US Congress' FAA 702. I know the good and the bad of these systems, and what they can and cannot do, and I am telling you that without getting out of my chair, I could have read the private communications of any member of this [LIBE] committee, as well as any ordinary citizen. I swear under penalty of perjury that this is true.
One of the foremost activities of the NSA's FAD, or Foreign Affairs Division, is to pressure or incentivize EU member states to change their laws to enable mass surveillance. Lawyers from the NSA, as well as the UK's GCHQ, work very hard to search for loopholes in laws and constitutional protections that they can use to justify indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance operations that were at best unwittingly authorized by lawmakers. These efforts to interpret new powers out of vague laws is an intentional strategy to avoid public opposition and lawmakers' insistence that legal limits be respected, effects the GCHQ internally described in its own documents as "damaging public debate."
Global surveillance capabilities are being used [by the United States] on a daily basis for the purpose of economic espionage. That a major goal of the US Intelligence Community is to produce economic intelligence is the worst kept secret in Washington.
The illusion of freedom in America will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.
I'm just saying to any American citizen, if you want to help al-Qaida, you do so at your own peril. You can get killed in the process. You can get detained indefinitely. And when you're being questioned and you say to the interrogator, I want my lawyer, the interrogator will say, you don't have a right to a lawyer because you're a military threat.
-Sen Lindsey Graham, eviscerating the US Constitution, due process, and the Justice system in one fell swoop (which all exist primarily to protect the individual against the tyranny of the state). We have become the enemy we are fighting.
Please note that freedom is subject to terms and conditions. Freedom can be revoked at any time. Freedom is subject to availability. Freedom is a priveledge, not a right. Freedom does not extend to uncondoned events, beliefs, or actions. Whether you are allowed to participate will be determined at the sole discretion of the federal governing body, federal law enforcement, the state and local authorities, the whims of the police, and the discretion of judicial system. Freedom is not free. Freedom requires that there are people who are not free. If it is determined that you participate, have participated, or may participate in any act, conversation, or form of speech that is deemed unpatriotic, your freedom will be immediately revoked. What is unpatriotic will be determined on the whims of whichever authority you are interacting with at the time. Your freedom may be infringed at any time for your own protection. You are always free to do as you are told.
The United States created al-Qaeda in 1979 during the cold war. We armed them with our weapons and pointed them toward the Afghani capitol with the hope that their attack would lure the USSR into the bankrupting quagmire of a land war against them. The USSR and Afghanistan were allies at the time.
It worked. The USSR swept into Afghanistan to shield the Afghani people against al-Qaeda and in the catastrophic war that followed, Afghanistan was reduced to rubble and the USSR went bankrupt. And today our soldiers are still getting mauled by the leftover landmines while we go bankrupt.
By the end we had completely destroyed Afghanistan--which was thriving by comparison at the time--via a proxy war with the USSR and are responsible for ushering in the brutal Taliban theocracy and transforming the countryside into the thriving terrorist breading ground it is today. Meanwhile al-Qaeda, who we armed, have been firing at us with our own weapons for the past 9 years.
What we did here in Afghanistan we did for Saddam in Iraq in 1963. It's the same thing we did in Iran in 1953. And yet, when these chickens come home to roost, we still wave our little American flags in an outpouring of patriotic glee, while pretending that we are the victims of unprovoked aggression.
Recent Supreme Court Decisions
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 2010: (5-4) Corporations are people and money equals speech. Result, corporations are now considered legal persons, and can spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. (It should be noted that while corporations can now spend unlimited amounts there are still limits on how much individuals can spend on candidates.)
AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion 2011: (5-4) A corporation can force you to sign away your right to sue them in a class action suit. In addition, a corporation can force you to resolve your disputes through Mandatory Binding Arbitration (which they fund), instead of a regular court.
Kentucky v. King 2011: (8-1) Police can now search your house without a warrant.
Kelo v. City of New London 2005: (5-4) The government can now take your private property and give it to a private business to build a shopping mall or any other type of development.
Terms Worth Knowing
PATRIOT Act 2001/2010 - Too many constitutional violations to name, click this entry to find out more.
NDAA: National Defense Authorization Act 2011 - The government can now indefinitely detain its citizens without trial.
FISA: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 2007 - Congress grants retroactive immunity to telecoms for illegally spying on American citizens.
FISC: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court - Secret kangaroo court where mass spying of American citizens is rubber-stamped without any visibility to the American public and no adversarial component: only the government's side of the story is ever told ... to the government. (It's a bit like the farmer asking the fox his opinion on whether they should have chicken for dinner.)
ALEC: American Legislative Exchange Council - A group of corporations and special interests which write most state legislation.
Net Neutrality - Current system, allows all internet traffic to be treated equally. If Net Neutrality is struck down telecoms will be able to determine which parts of the internet you can and cannot view. In addition, they will be able sell internet sites piece-meal in much the same way cable channels are sold. The internet was initially created by the armed forces, and as such was paid for by your tax dollars. The telecoms do not own it, you do._______________
A Few Negative Human Impacts on the Environment
Smog in Shanghai, 2014
BP Gulf Oil Spill, 2008
Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, 2011
Dangerous air pollution in Shanghai, 2011
Cuyahoga River catches fire, twice. 1969
Top ten most toxic places on earth, 2011
Ten more ecological disasters.
There is nothing political about wanting clean air and water for yourself and your children. The liberal/conservative, left vs right arguments do not apply. If you believe otherwise then I’m afraid you've been had by those wealthy few who stand to make enormous gains from their ability to make this a political issue in your eyes.
Go ahead and try to explain to future generations that it was good for the economy, when they can't farm the land, breath the air, or drink the water.
There is nothing political about wanting clean air and water for yourself and your children. The liberal/conservative, left vs right arguments do not apply. If you believe otherwise then I’m afraid you've been had by those wealthy few who stand to make enormous gains from their ability to make this a political issue in your eyes.
Go ahead and try to explain to future generations that it was good for the economy, when they can't farm the land, breath the air, or drink the water.
Back in the '70s a Soviet general told Farley Mowat, "The difference between Soviet propaganda and American propaganda is that we don't believe ours." A big difference between then and now is that when we tortured people or detained them without trial we pretended it was our ally (South Vietnam, Iran, Israel, etc.) that was doing it and we made polite objections. When we gratuitously invaded other countries we at least had the grace to have one of our puppet government's ask us to do so. We pretended not to be developing biological and chemical weapons and ABM systems contrary to treaties that we had signed.
Today we're not even pretending. We just openly torture prisoners, arrest and murder people without trial, invade on the flimsiest of blatantly false pretenses, and coldly send in taxpayer-paid mercenaries to massacre people resisting corporate theft of their lands. Perhaps the most appalling thing to me is the easy acceptance of all of this by my fellow citizens, most of whom are well aware that the government is doing these things in their name and don't care.
-Slashdot Forum Post
Yossarian comes to realize that Catch-22 does not actually exist, but because the powers that be claim it does, and the world believes it does, it nevertheless has potent effects. Indeed, because it does not exist there is no way it can be repealed, undone, overthrown, or denounced. The combination of force with specious & spurious legalistic justification is one of the book's primary motifs.
-Catch 22 Synopsis
...There is that wonderful story in the gospel of John where the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a women taken in adultery, and attempting to trap him, asked if the women should be stoned according to the law of Moses.
Christ did not answer straight away, but rather stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he didn't hear them. The Pharisees persisted, and after a time Christ lifted himself up and answered, "he that is without sin among you, let him first cast the stone at her." And again, stooped down.
For me, this seemingly distracted gesture -- the stooping down and writing on the ground -- is Christ accessing the God inside himself. Christ then delivers the line that dis-empowers his opponents - and what an extraordinary remark it is - and then stoops again to re-commune with God.
What Christ shows us here, is that the creative imagination has the power to combat all enemies; that we are protected by the flow of our own inspiration.
-Nick Cave, The Flesh Made Word
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A battle is raging inside me ...it is a fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorry, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
The old man fixed the children with a firm stare. "This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person as well.
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee replied: "The one you feed."
There was a group of missionaries who tried to teach Aboriginal children about soccer. Those kids took to it like ducks to water - kicking the ball around all day...
But after about a week, those missionaries discovered to their amazement that the kids had changed the rules of the game - in such a way that at the end of the game, both teams had the same number of goals.
The Aborigines just couldn't for the love of them understand why it was that the whites had to turn literally everything into as race with ten people running - and at the end, there was one winner... And nine losers.
By the way - they see themselves as custodians of nature. And they have been around for a very long time...
Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Pi is an infinite, nonrepeating decimal - meaning that every possible number combination exists somewhere in pi. Converted into ASCII text, somewhere in that infinite string of digits is the name of every person you will ever love, the date, time, and manner of your death, and the answers to all the great questions of the universe. Converted into a bitmap, somewhere in that infinite string of digits is a pixel-perfect representation of the first thing you saw on this earth, the last thing you will see before your life leaves you, and all the moments, momentous and mundane, that will occur between those two points.
All information that has ever existed or will ever exist, the DNA of every being in the universe, EVERYTHING: all contained in the ratio of a circumference and a diameter.
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where--' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
'--so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.'
-Alice in Wonderland
About Learning Lessons----------------Metronome-----------------
Most lessons in life are hard learned. Wisdom does not come free. You must fall before you can walk, and the blood you spill along the way is sort of a non-negotiable payment to the proprietor of that secret knowledge. But sometimes you can bleed too much. Sometimes the lessons cost more than you bargained for, and the knowledge gained turns out to be poison.
Truth and wisdom can be dangerous, and when the poison of reality infects us, we begin to build barriers and lie to ourselves to protect our fragile egos. This is an automatic self-defense mechanism, almost totally involuntary like breathing or blinking. We avoid the truth the way a skilled knife thrower avoids the pretty spinning lady strapped to the table. But every once in a while your true self is revealed to you, and depending on the strength and length of the lies you have been telling yourself, this unwanted revelation can crash your entire world down all around you. The moment when the knife stops thrilling and starts killing is the moment we all dread. So we live in fear. Always doing whatever it takes to feed the illusion and avoid situations where we must confront who we are... Instead of who we like to think we are.
You never really know someone. Betrayal is always on the table. The ones you thought you knew so well can always stab you in the back. There are no barriers, no shields, no walls, no nets. There is only your trust and the chance that someone you love will cut it into pieces.
Maybe you don't know the true meaning of trust, and maybe that is the problem. When you trust someone, you surrender to them a frail and delicate piece of yourself. You lower your defenses and reveal some of your heart and in doing so leave yourself naked and defenseless against the possibility that everything you think you know about them is catastrophically mistaken and at any moment a flick of their Judas blades can pierce your heart and your good intentions and shatter the world of illusion you had, up until that point, built around yourself like a protective cocoon. And all of this is just a simple matter of action and will. A digital response in a digital frontier: Yes or no or one or zero. And it is their action. Not yours. The very definition of no control. The definition of trust.
I was walking on the shores of the Red Sea in Hodeidah, Yemen with a good friend. We were strolling very slowly, heads down, eyes scanning for interesting seashells. Because we were side by side, there were moments when we would both see the very same shell at the very same second. It then became a race to see which of us could grab it first.
After collecting for a while, my friend and I both saw the most luminous blue shell either of us had ever seen. I was so stunned by its beauty that I hesitated just long enough for my friend to grab it out from under my grasping hand. She held it to her face and I saw as her look went from rapture to disgust. Then she threw the shell back to the sand and walked on. I immediately picked it up and I imagine the very same progression crossed my face. Awe to perplexity to disgust. It was not a shell at all, but a shell-shaped piece of plastic.
The object itself had not changed one bit throughout the entire interaction. It was just what it was.
Things are rarely as bad as they seem. Despite our convictions, the plane - minus an engine, broken and bleeding oil - has still not quite crashed into the ocean. But we never believe that. We always accept the worst as a fact of life, and realign our expectations to fit a bleaker future.
The moment we find out that things aren't as bad as we thought is the moment we're given a second life - A chance to fix everything. So we grab a hammer and go to work... Except most of the time what we think we're fixing was never really broken in the first place, and that's when the real damage is done.
It is our lingering faith in the chaos surrounding us which ignites real chaos.
About Entropy and the Limits of Control
It takes a well-trained architect and an entire construction crew to design and erect a building. It takes an idiot with an oil can and a match to bring one down.
You can spend your whole life building something from nothing. One storm can come and blow it all away.
-Martina McBride, Anyway
About Misunderstanding And Shattered Relationships
We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.
Man desires a world where good and evil can be clearly distinguished, for he has an innate and irresponsible desire to judge before he understands.-
About Copyright Extension
The seventh edition of Grimms' fairy tales, source of Snow White, was published in 1857. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865. Collodi's Pinocchio was published in 1883. Kipling's The Jungle Book was published in 1894. If these works had been subject to Disney's hypocritical 100 year copyright prison, Disney would have had to pay for the privilege of making its feature films based on them, to say nothing of the corresponding merchandising. One wonders whether Snow White or Pinocchio would have been made at all. These are the works on which Disney built its empire, and it was able to use them because they were not subject to preposterous copyright claims. Under the terms that were in effect when Disney's version of Snow White was made, the film, its score, and all the characters and visuals associated with it, ought to have entered public domain DECADES ago. This is the point. Disney drinks deep from the well of public domain but contrives to prevent that well ever from being replenished.
-Techdirt Forum Post
The power of language is a dangerous thing. Words can create and destroy; build bridges with their radiance or burn them down with their defiance, while devils gleefully dance in the firelight.
At 3am when sleep is hard to find there is no distance between the darkness and all of the things you want to forget.
The main thing you're going to have to ask yourself is whether or not pain now (diciplin) is better than pain leter (regret). The answer - it always is. You lose yourself as a person if you have too many regrets. But if you're willing to suffer the pain of dicipline the exact opposite happens. You find yoruself as a person for unlike regret, discipline is pain that builds you up, not down. So go out and suffer a little now so you don't have to suffer forver.
About Bad Decisions
If you are going to fly to the sun, flying at night is not going to save you.
About Bad Choices
I am the author of my life. Unfortunately, i'm writing in pen and can't erase my mistakes.
About Hidden Meanings
'Can you help me with this', are, more often than not, code words for 'can you do this for me.' ^_^
If you do something right, no one remembers.
If you do something wrong, no one forgets.
Son, in life, love, or business, always remember, you dance with the person you brought. This is a basic point of honor - you keep the commitments you made.
More difficult than you thought it would be?
Tough, honor it.
More expensive than you estimated?
Tough, honor it.
See something else that's better?
Tough, honor it.
-Found in a forum somewhere
One person's "balance" is another's wildly corrupt, morally bankrupt, exploitative society. The use of the word often connotes that both sides of an argument are equally fair, and equally at fault, which is impossible.
Forget balance. Aim for the truth and correct your steering whenever needed.
-From a forum somewhere
About Hollow Ideals
It is impossible to defeat any enemy by lowering yourself to their standards. The minute you become what you are fighting is the minute the fight is lost. Regardless of who is left standing at the end.
It's when the chips are down that you find out who you really are.
Principles are like Schrodinger's cat. You can claim you have them til your blue in the face. You can even believe it. But until they are put to the test their existence is no more certain than an unobserved quantum state.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
About Idealism vs Realism
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what they should have for dinner.
Communism is a group of fat wolves harvesting the sheep in between Swedish massages.
The word "choice" tends to be hard to understand beyond a narrow scope. In capitalism (or at least in countries with a version of capitalism lacking an adequate safety net) the choice is: 1.) work, or 2.) starve. Now, that's a "choice," but in a pretty narrow sense. That's why moral and political philosophers distinguish between negative freedom and positive freedom. Both are important.
So, right now, many workers are faced with the choice of either 1.) working at a job that does little more than help ensure you won't starve (with the help of food stamps - a giant subsidy from taxpayers to WalMart), but provides no opportunity for advancement of even enjoyment of life, and 2.) starving. While the privileged few at or near the top, all those fortunate sons and daughters, may never have to work a day in their lives and will always live a life of luxury regardless.
True freedom and choice come in degrees, with those at the top - never a slave to their needs of food and shelter - having the highest amount, and those at the bottom having the least. Freedom is a scale. If you can't choose to opt out of the system (while you, say, look for a better job, or go to school, or start your own business), you don't fully have your freedom do you? The children of wealthy families, for example, always have this freedom. They can go to school without working, take time to look for a good job without starving (or even experiencing discomfort), etc. Hell, they can even screw around "finding themselves" on year-long European excursions.
-Slashdot Forum Post
About Failing Empires and Shattered Civility
Our empire will fail. Corporate money and propaganda will engulf and corrupt everything around us, and what was once left of our proud justice system will shatter under the weight of plutocratic tyranny. In the name of security your right to a trial will be rescinded, your natural rights revoked, leaving nothing to stand between you and the feudal slavery of your forefathers and the intoxication of power will be complete.
Programmed by corporate controlled media, executed by a bought and paid for government, concealed from civilian oversight by the state secrets privilege, and written by ALEC, we will tear down our regulatory structures and government institutions and denounce taxes and environmental laws, while being made completely unaware or complacent about atrocities like the Citizens United ruling and the indefinite detention of American Citizens.
We will give the fox the keys to the hen house and the rich will plunder it all and our once proud civilized world will fall to ruin all around us and everything we hold dear will be lost. But we--those programmed barbaric inhabitants of that once proud civilized world--will all be too busy staring at our smartphones to notice or care.
About Grievers of Creation (And Deepest Desires)
I drove out to the desert.
I looked to the east and there was the night and the city of torment. I looked west and there was the sterile desert and blinding sun.
I turned away from the darkness and as I walked deeper into that dazzling ocean of sunlight and sand, I could feel my memories crumbling into the dust of the sand-sea. And one after the other there was no more torment, no more wicked city, no more night.
Step by step i walked deeper, trading away the chains of an uncompromising and brutal world for the stressless promise of the emptiness surrounding me. And as the chains fell away I watched with detached satisfaction as the shadow beneath my feet slowly began to fade on the sand.
This was what I had come for, what I traded everything for: The liberating nonexistence; the catatonic dream. The prosaic oblivion where old memories cannot survive and new memories cannot be made. The soft whisper as the clawing shackles of a wicked world crumble to nothing in the invincible face of an endless desert.
Looking ahead, I spotted God on the horizon and I knew He too was searching for peace. And I wept at the thought of a kindred spirit.
With triumph in my heart I ran to Him, but as I approached I began to realize that I could no longer remember who he was...
...And in the last moment before we both faded into blissful nothing, it struck me that God--the griever of creation--could no longer remember...
who I was either.
About Heartache and the Loss of God
Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of God--wandering, wondering in hopeless night. Out here on the perimeter there are no stars. Out here we is stoned...immaculate.
We wear the mask that grins and lies
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile.
-Paul Laurence Dunbar
By the time you swear you're his - shivering & sighing
And he vows his passion is - infinite, undying
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying
I am troubled immeasurably by your eyes
I am struck by the feather of your soft reply
The sound of glass speaks quick disdain
And conceals what your eyes fight to explain
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
We will fight to the death
To the edge of the earth
It's a brave new world
From the last to the first
The righteous rise
With burning eyes
Of hatred and ill-will
Madmen fed on fear and lies
To beat and burn and steal
It doesn't think, it doesn't feel
It doesn't laugh or cry
All it does from dusk till dawn
Is make the soldiers die
Double double toil and trouble
Fires burn and cauldron bubble
For a charm of powerful trouble
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble
About about in reel and rout
The death fires danced at night
The water, like the witches oil
Burnt green and blue and white
And every witches tongue
Was withered at the root
They could not speak no more than if
They had been choked with soot
For the angel of death
Spread his wings on the blast
And breathed in the face
Of his foe as he passed
And the eyes of the sleepers
Waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved
And for ever grew still
My captain does not answer
His lips are pale and still
My captain does not feel my arm
He has no pulse nor will
The ship is anchored safe and sound
Its voyage close to done
From fearful trip, the victor ship
Comes in with object won
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red
For on the deck my captain lies
Fallen cold and dead
-Walt Whitman, Oh Captain My Captain
But I being poor, I have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feat
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams
-William Butler Yeats, Cloths of Heaven
Though the cities start to crumble
And the towers fall around us
The sun is slowly fading,
And it's colder than the sea
It is written, from the desert,
To the mountains they shall leads us
By the hand and by the heart
They will comfort you and me
In their innocence and trusting
They will teach us to be free
-John Denver, Rhymes & Reasons
This is the end
This is the end
my only friend
Of our elaborate plans,
Of everything that stands
No safety or surprise
I'll never look into your eyes
Can you picture, what we'll be
so limitless and free,
desperately in need
of some strangers hand
in a desperate land
This is the end
The Joker pointed out that people are only as good as the world allows them to be. And he is right, because there is no such thing as choice. Our goal then, should be to create a better world.
The Pessimism of Intellect
Final words of 1984: He loved big brother.
The Optimism of Will
Lavos symbolizes oblivion, that great negation of which death is only a facet. Humanity succeeds in thwarting death in Chrono Trigger by salvaging the pieces of its scattered history and creating a new meaning, a new story, in the face of certain doom. In the process, Crono and his allies learn of humanity's birth from Lavos, its evolution to suit his needs, its death throes in the year 2300 and its total extinction at the End of Time. In the end, though, the most important time is Now . As long as the human capacity to dream and to will that dream remains, choice defies fate; and thus does life defy death.
Love Always, Dad
RAMBLINGS Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows. -- Robert G. Ingersoll Superstition sprang from a sensible place: fear of the dark. (Unknown/Ignorance) Those who are afraid and superstitious of the dark do not venture out into it to get eaten by wolves. Those that do not get eaten by wolves pass their genes and superstition on to the next generation. Over time superstition begins to take on a life of its own: religion. Religion sprang from darkness…After all, what’s darker than death? We have now mastered the creation of light, and it is time to leave religion behind in the darkness where it belongs. The main thrust had more to do with human psychology and our susceptibility of believing anything no mater the rotten foundations of the convictions. To wit: The bible is an incredibly gory book, and Numbers 31 is an atrocity both in content and inclusion. And yet, despite Numbers 31 and many chapters like it, people still believe in Christianity... and the fact that people still believe in Christianity despite the inclusion of Numbers 31 is the 'argument for why nobody should be religious'. Now think about this for a minute from the perspective of an outsider looking in. This particular outsider has never heard of religion, has no preconceptions about it, has no feelings about it one way or the other. One day he meets a Christian and before they part company the Christan puts a bible in the outsiders hands and encourages him to read it. Which the outsider does. And horror follows. What kind of impression of religion do you think the outsider would walk away with after reading the bible? More importantly, what kind of impression do you think the outsider would have of the followers of that religion? The bible is a horror filled with atrocities divine in both directive and justification, and yet despite that fact millions of humans use it as the bedrock for their belief system. This thought experiment is both an extremely penetrating insight into just how much power superstition wields over the human mind - irrespective of the contents of the underlying lore - but also an emphatic warning that we, as a collective society, must be extremely careful to guard ourselves against our own innate susceptibility to believing wholesale in the unprovable and fantastical. (This imperative need to guard ourselves is made immeasurably more crucial by the fact that we'll gladly go to war and slaughter each other in order to defend the honor of the horrible stories and directives found in the bible.) Religion is a barbaric remnant from an era of extreme fear. It harkens back from a time when venturing out into the unknown meant you were going to be some predator's next meal. Superstition was a natural, advantageous response of constantly living under these conditions. It relieved stress, kept you alive, helped demystify your existence and place in the universe, and was in general just a handy survival tool for its time. But its time has long past and now it's hindering our progress. (Especially when, as i allude below, the good lessons religion has to offer - the ones which could actually greatly accelerate our progress - get chronically ignored. Want to have a fun conversation with a well versed "Christian" (assuming you can find one)? Take one aside and point out some verses in the New Testament which challenge their lifestyle/actions/choices/justifications and then watch in slack-jawed amazement as they pull out the Old and explain to you, verse by Old Testament verse, why those New Testament verses don't apply.) Science is based on evidence while religion is based on faith. One is logical, the other is emotional. Act accordingly. Moving on. So God created us and wants us to worship him. If we do not we spend the rest of eternity being tortured in the bowels of hell. (Or whatever flavor of this you subscribe to. I know the book of Mormon rewrote a bunch of stuff so who knows. Point is, you get punished while others win prizes.) This raises all sorts of issues. Things like, "well, what if you were never fortunate enough to have heard of this God that you're supposed to be worshiping"? I don't think any of you would argue against the fact that you can't worship a God if you don't know he's there or don't know that he demands worship from you. So for all the billions of people who came before us and all those billions who are alive today, if they weren't/aren't fortunate enough to have some Johnny Come Lately missionary or Crusader pay them a visit and be convincing enough to convert them to Christianity armed with lore that must surely sound like a bunch of fairy tales (not to mention weapons to be used for the benefit of those stubborn few who refuse to believe them), they're going to be keeping Satan (or purgatory, or a perfect earth, or suspended animation, or whatever superstitious and superfluous ingredients the author of your religion arbitrarily chose to plug in to his spiritual soup) company for the rest of eternity. Now i know you Mormons have a solution for this, but your solution requires that the deceased are lucky enough to be baptized by proxy. So again, their eternal-damnation-or-not is completely out of their hands, and they'd better hope their name bubbles up to the top of some dedicated Mormon's genealogy research somewhere lest they be forgotten in limbo for the rest of eternity. (I can just picture billions and billions of disembodied souls sitting around purgatory with their fingers crossed hoping some Mormon somewhere stumbles upon their name in a dusty book and takes an interest. With odds of winning entry into heaven that make winning the Powerball look as simple as being 1 of only 5 contestants on the Price is Right, they certainly have plenty of time to sit around and ponder all the things they could have done to get their name in the history books. Thankfully they have a few more lucky years left before end-times to wait for a Mormon to conjure up their names from antiquity - and never-mind that in most cases there are no remaining, or never were, any records of them - as a little extra time for the Mormons to get on the ball will most def increase their odds amiright?) Now really, what logical person with two brain cells to rub together is supposed to take this simple-minded, self-serving nonsense seriously? On the one hand you speak in hushed reverence of Gods all seeing wisdom, compassion, and justice, while on the other you answer the show-stopping question of what happens to those who never get baptized with the direct antithesis of all of those virtues. God cannot be all-seeing, wise, and just on the one hand, while on the other doling out judgement in a completely arbitrary and capricious manner. And while we're on the subject do really believe that God - to whom the inner workings of quantum mechanics are no more of a scientific mystery than 2+2=4 - doles out his brand of "justice" from such a base, petulant, and human level? Or could he *just maybe* be far above all that? Far above our trite and banal earthly he-said/she-said concerns and emotional cycles? None of this computes. If you wrote a computer algorithm around this equation it would crash. So why do you and millions like you so readily believe it? (*Ahem*) [Authors note: Why am i being so disparaging here? Because this nonsense is self-evidently nonsense, and yet in spite of that millions of people believe it, which is, as I've already discussed above, an evolutionary based flaw of human nature and something we, collectively, must overcome. One of the best ways i know of to properly deal with illogical fantasy is shine a big, giant, bright spotlight of disinfecting reason on it.] But this isn't even the core issue with this preposterous notion that God demands his creations worship him. No, the core issue is why would God demand such a thing! As a father i can tell you that the last thing in the world i want from Nicholas is his worship. I want him to stand on his own two feet not his undying praise backstopped by the threat of eternal torture. But far beyond even the absurdity of all of that, there's this: no God who would demand or even want worship from his creations is worthy of his creations' worship. Let that sink in for a moment before continuing because it is probably the most important point i can make here. No God is worthy of worship who wants or demands worship. If there were any justice on this earth, the last point alone would leave you questioning your devotion to Elohim, because it transcends and invalidates your entire belief system. You worship a God who - according to your own literature - will rain vengeance upon you if you do not. You worship a God who abandons defenseless children to abuse, starvation, and fear. You worship a god who amidst the pain and suffering all around him, does not lift a finger to bring light to a world lost and alone and wandering in the dark, all the while demanding - backstopped by torturous threats to your very soul - your unbounded adoration and worship. Such a god is not worthy of your worship. Such a god is no god at all. So because God is not there to shine light upon our collective darkness, we must be self-sufficient an create our own light. So let us talk about the our own solution to our problems. Let us talk about sacrifice. Here is what i want for my son: I want him to learn to help others on his own because he recognizes it is the right thing to do, not because some gory tome threatens eternal atrocities upon him if he doesn't. I want him to recognize that by helping others we help ourselves and through the propagation of our good deeds, like a ripples in a pond, we create a better world. I want him to sacrifice for others and set examples for others to follow. I want him to spend his entertainment money and free time not on going out to watch a violent movie, but on feeding, taking care of, and guiding those less fortunate: meet Nicholas, Michael, Ray, and Devin Those with dying bodies and outreached hands praying for someone to come and rescue them. Heaven on earth begins and ends with personal sacrifice. We must work tirelessly to bring light to the darkness, so that no more children are left starving in the night. It is imperative that we start taking care of one another and ensuring that no one is ever left behind. If god does exist, he has abandoned us. It is time for us to fill his shoes. (working subtitle: it takes a village to raise a child) ze = he/she There's a reason for this, there is a reason the new testament is structured around this one core idea of serving others, and it has to do with the simple fact that there is actually no such thing as free agency. The authors understood this implicitly. Now assuming you've read this far, this is the point where you roll your eyes and stop reading because as we're all aware the question of choice was the genesis of the core conflicts of the Old Testament. Funny then that it actually doesn't exist. Your virtues are an illusion. Test them stringently enough and they will begin to break down. Test further and they will disappear altogether. (Why have you forsaken me?) Whether they break down sooner than later is dependent on the environment you grew up in, the intensity, timing, and order of the inputs you received, all the trillions of other inputs you've already received by that point, and how well those inputs interacted with the unique makeup and configuration of the neurons in your brain and each other. (All this complexity creates the illusion of free will) We each have the potential to be depraved autocrats, altruistic enlightened humanitarians, or any point in between. Something as simple as a well timed intervention in an abused child's circumstances can dramatically effect the course of their life. Take adoption. No one wants to take a damaged individual into their home and expose them to their children, because it is effectively the same as exposing them to a disease. Our brains like our bodies need nourishment and shielding from bad influences in order for them to develop properly - that very same damaged individual that you don't want to adopt is proof of this (as ze is damaged because ze got neither). What all this boils down to is that everything we are is programmed into our brains from the inputs of our environment and their interaction with our genetic makeup (neither of which we have any control over). Thus there is no such thing as choice there are only equations and calculations filled with variables, that again, none of us have any control over. Take the forbidden tree out of the Garden of Eden - remove one single variable - and what happens? This is why Jesus advocated empathy (he who is without sin among you, throw the first stone at her) - because we are all victims of our circumstances. This is also why the core directive of the New Testament is to serve others. The authors understood that each individual is only as good as his or her environment so the core directive to those who follow the New Testament is to strive to create a better environment. These notions remove the blame off the individual for their shortcomings and put it squarely where it belongs: on all of us. Each of us is responsible for making the world a better place for ourselves and others. Each of us is to blame for every day that goes by where things aren't any better. Each of us is to blame when another falters. Culture is key here. There are cultures of corruption (police), cultures of violence (Spartans), cultures of peace (Kibbutz). The individuals born into and attending these societies (much like you were born into your religion) are molded by them to conform to them. We must work to create a culture of putting others first. //-----rewrite and incorporate above That you, as an individual, stop judging others is absolutely crucial. It is not for you to judge, leave that to god. Your only mission in life is to to help those less fortunate, which you cannot do if you are busy judging them (diminishing them/categorizing them/dismissing them/dehumanizing them). Those actions are incompatible with each other. Let me ask you this, which is more productive? Sitting on your ass and passing judgement on others, or getting up out of your chair and working to rehabilitate them and then working to prevent others from falling into those same traps. The only thing judging others accomplishes is actively making the world a worse place because you're busy judging instead of helping. Judging others instead of helping is one of the core causes of the never ending cycles of violence in the world. It is not your purview to judge, your only purview is to help. (When you make the claim that a person is solely responsible for their actions, what you're doing - whether you realize it or not - is attempting to do is offload the responsibility from yourself and put it on them. Blaming them is the do-nothing selfish action that allows you to wash your hands of the situation and only makes the situation worse. It actively reinforces the cycles of violence, poverty, and abuse because instead of working to break them, you're busy pointing a damning finger at the victims. (That damning finger also marginalizes the victim which, ironically, reinforces their bad behavior by making them feel hopeless/worthless/trodden on/unequal/less than) Assigning blame is warm-knife-through-hot-butter easy, and it is most often is used to shrug off responsibility. It feels good too because when you assign blame you're offloading a burden. Taking responsibility for not doing more to improve their life is the selfless correct action - it takes the burden of improving their standing (and thus society) and puts it squarely on our shoulders. It is also the action that improves the world by galvanizing us to do more, breaking those cycles. *** Hands that help are better than lips that pray. And hands that work to improve the lot of others are better than fingers that point and blame them for their shortcomings. The secret sauce of Jesus' teachings, and the ingredients for heaven on earth are as follows: Don't blame the individual for their crimes, take responsibility for them then rehabilitate the individual. Take responsibility for not doing everything you could to prevent that individual from falling victim to his environment, and then do everything you can to improve that environment so there are no more victims. Each of us is guilty for all the good we did not do.) ***(Now you're thinking "but isn't taking responsibility making a choice? And didn't you just say that choice does not exist?" The answer is no, taking responsibility for society's or someone else's well being is no more a choice than any other per-determined calculation that you constantly experience on a daily basis that you also label a "choice". Again, if the variables in your brain are identical from one instance of a "choice" or a million instances of the same choice, the outcome of the choice will always be the same. Your choices are not choices they are the deterministic solution of a mathematical equation that takes place in your brain every single time a "choice" is presented to you. The variables control the outcome of the choice, but you do not control the variables, so you are not exercising any control/agency/will over the outcome. If i were to independently reprogram some of the variables in your brain I could change the outcome of your "choice" and you would have _no_ way of controlling how you would choose either before or after i made the change. Just like you don't choose which gender you like (that's controlled by chemicals in your brain) or what your favorite color/food/animal is -- you can't help what you like -- you don't actually choose anything else either.) //---------------------------------------------------------------------------- If an individual in a society goes astray it is because society did not provide the proper guidance (inputs) to that individual. So lets this down into its core elements. Here is why choice does not exist: Did prisoner X have the potential to be an upstanding member of the community? If your answer is yes, then prisoner x has no choice for what ze is today because ze simply didn't get the proper stimuli to become that and instead got all the wrong stimuli. If your answer is no, then ze has no choice for what ze is today because ze didn't have the potential to be anything else. Go back and change a few things in Prisoner X's life. Replace prisoner x's abusive father say, or give him a teacher who took a keen interest in him, and what happens? A different potential plays out in his life. But leave everything the same and nothing changes. Play it a million times and you'll always get the same results. The universe acts just like a computer simulation filled with variables we do not control. We are ships on the sea of fate without a rudder. And that is why the new Testament is written the way it is. By serving others, you make the world a better place - you intervene in others lives and force a new, better potential upon them, and like ripples in a pond, you create a better world. We can have heaven on earth. the formula is right in front of us and has been all along: once we figure out that there's no such thing as choice - that we as a collective society are responsible for the well being of each member - there is nothing we cannot achieve, and heaven takes care of itself. Finally, i am not an atheist. It's actually kind of funny how ... binary ... people consider this whole religion debate to be. Someone poses the 'are you religious' question, I answer 'nope' and 'oh, so you're an atheist' is always the next thing to pop out of their mouth. Their response to your response is never posed as a question. No one ever assumes anything other than 'oh, so you deny the existence of God'. No I never said that. I said i wasn't religious - you filled in the rest of the blanks. I am not an atheist. I am an agnostic. There are 4 major Abrahamic branches of religion in the world: Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Mormonism (yes, Mormons, you are a fourth branch). Not to mention countless other trees (Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology, Greek Mythology, etc) and millions of sticks, twigs, and other cults throughout history (Wicca, Hailey's Comet, blah blah blah). Within these religions you have a smorgasbord sects: Sunnis, Shi’ites, Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian etc, LDS, RLDS, CoCFB, CoCTL, CoCWtEM, UOE, RChJCLDS etc. Then you have sects within sects with all the different flavors Catholics (Maronites etc), Baptists, Lutherans, etc. Not to mention an assortment of differing styles of worship (Find your church too straight-laced, too boring? Is your pastor a dull monotone curmudgeon? Does your quire not know how to Rock-it-like-a-boogie-woogie-choo-choo-train? Don't feel like wasting time getting all dolled up just for church? Well-hel, come on down to the Church of Rockabilly where we chuck and jive to the gospel in our pajamas!), so you can tailor your Sunday morning services to your specific tastes with just the right blend of the boogie-woogie and the austere. Because God forbid you should have to make any sacrifices when it comes to giving the creator the respect he deserves in those few short hours you dedicate to him each week. Before i say anything else, take a long look at those lists. Without me saying another word on the subject, can you grasp the profound, blinding, pulsating neon implications on full display in the three paragraphs above? None of these religions can tell you anything about the existence of god, but they do tell you a hell of a lot about the nature of man. And it ain't pretty. There are a couple of ties which bind them all. By studying those lists above can you hazard a guess as to what some of those ties are? If you guess that they all believe with all of their heart that they're religion/sect is the right one, and that throughout history they've all been willing to defend that belief with violence (Danites, i'm looking at you), then you would be right. If you were to guess that within the religions themselves they can't even agree on anything - despite the fact that they're all reading the exact same lore - and as a result they splinter off constantly like immature children on the playground, you would also be correct. Now, let's take a step back and look at this situation the way an outsider might (an alien species say, or a scientist just trying to understand religion). Put on your critical thinking caps and study this situation objectively - keeping your emotions, prejudices, predispositions, and biases at bay. What is the only conclusion you can draw? If you answer is anything other than "humans are predisposed to be superstitious to an alarming degree, can be conditioned to believe anything, and will eagerly fight to the death to defend the honor of something someone else taught them without proof, evidence, or context, and many times without even knowing much, if anything, about the core teachings themselves (because who can be bothered to spend any time studying something they pledge their allegiance too, especially when CSI is coming on at 7, then NCIS at 8), and that as a result of this predisposition (frailty) being stitched into the framework of the human psyche we, as a collective society, must fully dedicate our resources to conquering the grip superstition holds over our minds by shining an extra bright light of reason and logic on the young minds of our society in order to prevent them from falling into the trap their predisposed superstitions and fears have set for them and in doing so we can banish religion and the irrational violence it brings into the darkness once and for all" then i'm afraid you need to look up the definition of 'critical thinking' and try again. I encourage you to read up on the God known as Moloch, to whom parents would offer their infant children as sacrifice by placing them in the outstretched hands of a bronze statue and proceeding to build a fire beneath it. The priests would then - in order to prevent an intervention of the ritual - start up a drum-line so that the beats of the drums would mask the screaming of the child. This could have been you had you been indoctrinated in that dogma and isolated from other points of view. If you doubt this then you are incapable of being objective on the subject of religion. Also by doubting this you are blaming those susceptible to the brainwashing of that church as if they were responsible for it, while insinuating that you alone would have been above that sort of thing due to your own innate virtue and righteousness. In this case you are lying to yourself and you would do well to recognize it. (And that is just one small example of how profoundly easy it is to manipulate the human mind into doing something at odds with nature. I could go on and on about this particular subject citing example after example but i'll spare you the lecture on this one and just point you to religion itself. Let's just say that we are all imminently susceptible to being molded by others.) God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance. Logic, reason, research, education, and the scientific method are the panacea of religion, they are also easily destroyed by it. This is why religion is so dangerous, barbaric, and nihilistic. Take another look at those lists above - all of those religions with millions of followers each believing their fairy tales are the correct fairy tales. Each willing to beat and burn and kill in the name of their Gods. Each trying to replace science with their flavor of creationism in the classroom. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why i dismiss yours. -Stephen F Roberts As Mormons, you don't believe in Islam any more than you do Satanism. You wouldn't want either being taught in your child's classroom, but i assume you'd be fine with plugging the Book of Mormon in there. This cognitive dissonance is known as the 'bias blind spot' and it creates an endless circular mobius strip of incognizant hypocrisy which slows and even stops knowledge based science in its tracks. To borrow a phrase, 'mankind must put an end to religion or religion will put an end to mankind'. Like science, I am an agnostic. I do not claim to know that a God exists. Likewise, i do not claim to know that God doesn't exist. Nor would i claim to know the nature/purpose/wants/likes/dislikes of God if he did exist. I can only operate on the information and evidence i have and so far i have seen no evidence one way or the other. If tomorrow God revealed himself in a way that i could not deny his existence, then i would believe. Until then i make no claim either way. The danger comes from those who believe they do know. Those willing to do horrific acts based on false beliefs. Those who would tear down evidence based science and stand in the way of progress because the light of emergent fact-based knowledge challenges their unprovable faith-based beliefs. To wit: Those who would destroy towers, or lock up Galileo. That being said, I have seen some compelling reasons for the existence of God: That all parents don't give war-fighter recruiters a heartfelt "go %$#! yourself" when they come knocking to take their children and send them to fight, die, and kill innocents in some politically motivated war (greed) in some country they can't even locate on a map that either aren't our enemies in the first place or are only our enemies through our own imperial actions. That anyone, short of total annihilation sitting merrily on our doorstep, would fight a war for the US government after the Pentagon Papers were released. Ultimately tho, for me the question of God is a moot one. Whether God exists or not makes absolutely no difference because a God that would allow child abuse is no better than no god at all. As was stated in the link i sent at the end of the email entitled 'religion' even if god exists, i still wouldn't worship the bastard. If you stand by and do nothing to stop say, a violent crime, you are culpable in it. I So i'm agnostic, but in my view, and as you can probably glean from those lopsided lists above, if i were a betting man i'd say there is probably no benevolent God out there. The world is too evil, and man - without the benefit of proper sustained guidance - is no more difficult to corrupt than a candle is blown out, and if you need proof of that look no farther your local polluted riverbed, or your local homeless shelter, or your local television station spewing out depravity all day, American history, or even all the way to Africa or China or a million other places if your myopic American vision can reach that far. Man is to the earth and each other what toxic waste is to a flower garden. But it doesn't have to be that way. We can overcome. We can start to look out for each other and our home (earth), and in doing so we can spread the gifts of light and reason throughout the world through the propagation of our good deeds, because if they are strong enough and genuine enough, the recipients of those good deeds will feel compelled to do the same, and on it will go until enlightenment stretches all across the world. It all starts with you, the sacrifices you are willing to make, and the dedication you are willing to give them. (They're not actually sacrifices, but you will view them that way at first.) Proper. sustained. guidance. Treat each member of society like a plant. Feed it, water it, nurture it, give it light, and keep the bad influences at bay. Do this long enough and utopia will create itself. //---------------------------------------------------------draft So what's this all about then anyway? Why am i sitting here writing this surely abrasive (although i do not mean it to be) sermon on my world view, risking your derision and contempt in the process, and probably damaging our relationship as a result? The answer is because, like you with your beliefs, i desperately want to spread these ideas to the world in the hope that they can improve it. I am a missionary of my viewpoint desperately trying to enlighten a world i cannot stomach anymore. I recently read the headline and first paragraph of a story which left me sick and crying. I cannot even summarize it here and merely mentioning has made me sick again. Headlines like these are everyday occurrences now, and i'm honestly at a loss for which is worse: the fact that the sickening events in the stories actually happen constantly (between humans who are one in the same because we are all in this experience together), or the fact that the only reason the events are being mentioned at all is because humans are more likely to read and be enticed by the depravity therein than a different type of story. So you have humans on one side gawking at the killing of a small child, and a corporation on the other profiting from the event because those humans want to read it. And nobody notices how sick this is and the people just keep on clicking on the stories reinforcing the news cycle of endless depravity. So let me say it again, this time with feeling: i cannot stomach this world anymore. You can consider this email as a prayer. A plea for a better tomorrow. I cannot ignore the depravity all around me, I am incapable of tuning it out, and the horror never stops. I am convinced that only way we can put an end to the horror is to focus on each individual, collectively recognize their roles, and treat them for what they are. Buildings are built from individual steel beams and every beam is just as important as the next. Each one is carefully crafted and tested because all the other beams rely on it for support. Societies work the same way. We all rely on each other and are only as strong as our weakest link so we must ensure each link is cared for. This is the only way to stop the cycles of poverty, corruption, violence, hunger. It all starts with the individual. With each of us. Heaven is buried within us, we just have to let it shine through. ---original fourth paragraph. round peg square hole Religion is the ultimate triumph of style over substance. It is the tactical interjection of a warm hand and the soft smile of a missionary which enraptures us. It is the promise of being part of something with a like minded social group which pulls us in. It is the front line of warmth and inclusion which effortlessly glosses over the underlying atrocities - like a fallen log that looks pristine but is rotten underneath. It is the mastery of physiological triggers which play us like a fiddle by fulfilling our innate needs for companionship and acceptance while deadening our ability to reason and obfuscating the truth. It is peer pressure at it's most potent and effective and combined with our ingrained superstitious tendencies it owns us totally and completely. The atrocities of Numbers 31 are nothing in the face of these skillful exploits of human nature. And it is for this reason - the irrational total control religion has over us irregardless of the heinous nature of the underlying lore - it is for this reason that religion is self-evidentially dangerous and should be abolished. Now think about this for a minute from the perspective of an outsider looking in. This particular outsider has never heard of religion, has no preconceptions about it, has not had the psychological tricks described above applied to him, and has no feelings about religion one way or the other. One day he a Christian puts a bible in the outsiders hands and encourages him to read it. Which the outsider does. And horror follows. //-------------------------------------------------------------- at the risk of derailing the flow of this letter let me just say that we mabye should take a step back and study the state of the world and the actions of it's inhabitants the way a scientist might study a new species of plant or an alien might study a new civilization - discarding your years of culture programming completely and looking at the human race with no assumptions -- if you are able to accomplish this it is an eye opening experience, and i don't mean that in a good way. This is why the New Testament doesn't judge (he who is without sin among you, throw the first stone at her) One of the central core hooks of TV (especially talent shows and reality tv) and media these days is to entice you to judge others (also known as hate/tearing them down to build yourself up - what do you think American Idol is really all about anyway?). If modernTV was around when Lewis penned the Screwtape letters i am convinced he would have began and ended every letter with "As seen on TV". Entertainment has a way of going right past your defenses and - whether consciously or not - takes advantage of its position by subjecting us to operant conditioning. Suddenly, when watching a movie, reading a book, or playing a video game violence, murder, rape, genocide, revenge, and torture merge with the drama and they become entertaining instead of repulsive. After awhile you become numb to the violence - any effect it did have in the beginning is now gone, and hollywood, relying on shock and awe tactics for revenue generation, has to keep ratcheting up the violence to keep you coming back. And as a result it gets worse and worse every year. Before long you awaken one morning and turn on the tv only to find that every program is about nothing but violence and murder with even the names of the shows getting more and more depraved. So then you look up and notice that no one else seems to notice this. That you're suddenly an outcast in a world that feasts on violence. Theist religion is the apostasy from nature. It is the greatest betrayal. The earth is real and here for you. If your God is real he has abandoned you. Put your faith in nature, care for it, tend it, replenish it, and it will replenish you. Destroy it, pollute it, and corrupt it at your own peril. The most potent defense against bias is being made aware (educated) of what each of them are, and that we all have them. Pointing this out is crucial because you cannot guard against something you are not aware of. The most potent promoter of critical thinking is being made aware of what critical thinking is, and why it's absolutely vital to rational thought. The most potent promoter of logic and best defense against false justification and specious thinking is being made aware of the spectrum of logical fallacies, what each one is, and how to avoid them. Epiphanies are contained in each one of these concepts. Just being made aware of them has a profound effect on an individuals cognition. Teach them to your children and others early. END Ramblings Here. Everything below this line was found elsewhere _______________________________________________________________________________ One of the great human instincts is the ability to see complex patterns and to make useful connections. This instinct is so great, we often imagine patterns where none actually exist--seeing faces on the moon, for instance. When we can't make sense of what we see--when no clear pattern emerges from the chaos, when we can't make comprehensible connections from the patterns--our instinct to make sense of things forces us to grasp at anything to turn nonsense into clarity. "I can't explain it, can't make sense of it, so there must be something else at work here." Religion is the result. _______________________________________________________________________________ But Freud contradicts his critic over the point that men are completely unable to do without the consolation of the religious illusion—that it is necessary for humanity to deal with the troubles of life and the cruelty of reality. He admits that this may be true for individuals brought up with in a religious system, but asks what about those that have been brought up "sensibly?" Such individuals, he thinks, will find themselves in a difficult situation. They will have to admit to themselves the full extent of their helplessness and their insignificance in the machinery of the universe; they can "no longer be the centre of creation, no longer the object of tender care on the part of the beneficent providence." What Freud is calling for, in his own terms, is a 'education to reality.' Freud is positive that humanity will be able to stand up to this task. When one is thrown to his or her own resources, he notes, "one learns to make a proper use of them. And men are not entirely without assistance," there is science. _______________________________________________________________________________ one of the saddest things i have seen was an area of china where they grow pears.Allthe bees had been wiped out by heavy use of pesticides and the poor peasant farmers were using chewed twigs to try to pollinate the next crop They asked one old bloke what he wanted out of life and all he could say was,'i want to see the bees come back.' http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/24/humans-diminutive-monster-destruction?CMP=fb_gu On my daily commute, here in Arabia, it is hard to find anything that isn't essentially the product of human society. The fauna of the city are cats, rats, chickens and seagulls; that of the country feature camels, goats, dogs and donkeys - there is no other wildlife to be seen. All appear to spend their existence listlessly searching for food in a flat wasteland of plastic-speckled desert whose monotony is periodically broken by a rubbish-heap or a pile of broken bricks and concrete blocks. The sky is filled with smog and air is usually reeking with exhaust fumes, and we can't sit outside for long because of the mosquitoes. -- It is Arabia's present, but I think of it as all our futures. Russell said that 'inevitably the house of man's achievement will crash in on itself' though I don't suppose he thought we would take the whole world with us. Fact is we live a very fragile existence made more perilous by our poor stewardship of the environment and our poor self management. We have developed by using our extraordinary brain power but our resource greed is the biggest threat to our existence. I can't think of a time in our history other than reaction to ozone hole depletion where we have acted before catastrophe. Unless we start to act sensibly about climate change and resource and habitat depletion very soon I think we will be too late this time. I am an optimist as I have grankids so I have a stake in the future but I am increasingly angry at the methods we are using to govern our existence and the hold the few have on every aspect of our lives, media, means of production, spread of benefits, resource use and environmental damage. Progress is not linear, and indeed progress is a much overused and heavily spun word. We have a financial system based on a fairy tale, a loose collaboration of rich citizens, oligarchs and corporations who I honestly think believe their wealth and privilege is going to protect them from the gathering storm. They need it pointing out this is not the case. Whatever happens to any of use will effect all of us. Am I a green? If you mean I am someone with a great desire to protect the natural environment which is our life support system then I would suggest it would be an act of intolerable lunacy to not be so and anyone consciously not doing so is an enemy of humanity. Surely this is just basic ecology. Any species will increase its population almost exponentially as long as the resources are available to do so. When it exhausts the resources, its population collapses, sometimes to the point of extinction. Why anyone thinks humans are somehow exempt from this is beyond me. We may - just, barely, possibly - use our ingenuity to come up with novel ways of recycling and re-using the resources we've unearthed and decimated (or even implement on a reasonable scale the ones we've already developed) but we will long since have trashed any semblance of a natural environment that previously existed. Humans are simply not able to engage in the level of sustained, self-sacrificing socialism needed to organize resource conservation on the required scale. Pockets of it, maybe, but as soon as one person starts to grab everything he can for himself, everyone else is forced to follow suit, and disaster will ensue. As it is. -tragedy of the commons The reality is pretty clear and sadly pretty one sided regarding human interaction with the environment. We enter an environment and slaughter and extinction follow. Is it our nature? No. It doesn't have to that way. Does knowing that well sourced well documented reality make one a misanthrope? No. It simply means one is aware the reality of the human condition. The farming of tigers and bears in China, the slaughter of millions of sharks simply for their fins, the hunting of large animals for pleasure, killing pregnant elephants for ivory, massive environmental destruction including changing the atmosphere. Individually many people- perhaps most- care deeply about the environment, but at a species and systemic level, we've systematically raped it. They evolve as individual parts of highly complex ecosystems which all combine to form Earth's biosphere. And so did we. Lions and sabre tooths and other large carnivores lived in equilibrium with their prey. They weren't "too stupid" to wipe out innumerable other species, they evolved to fit particular ecological niches NO! Lions would eat the very last wildebeest and starve, if they could. What keeps the "balance" is starvation and disease. The only reason lions don't wipe out the megafauna is that they are not good enough! That's it. the only time a single type of organism has had such a detrimental effect on the existing biosphere before was about 2 billion years ago Oh I don't know ... the first fishes, reptiles, and various versions of plants (for example, the very recent grasses) probably wiped out loads of species. This is NOT a tragedy ... it is natural. Humans are as much entitled to populate the earth as those algae you mentioned. And like them, we don't need to apologize to those we have displaced. Previous species have, undoubtedly, wiped out other species, though not in the geological blink of an eye like humanity, but I stand by my comment regarding blue-green algae - we are causing a mass extinction, not wiping out a few competitor species. Yes, perhaps the earliest predators of the Cambrian explosion wiped out the Ediacaran fauna pretty quickly - but not in a few thousand years - more like a couple of million. Yes, of course we evolved as part of an ecosystem. But about 70,000 years ago our intelligence reached a level that enabled us to transcend those origins like no previous organism, and to go forth and multiply into very different ecosystems. That puts us in a position no species has been in before. It's not about "apologising" to other species. It's about recognising - as you apparently don't - that humanity is in danger of grievously damaging the only biosphere we've got to its own disadvantage. We unfortunately don't appear to have evolved the ability to live in equilibrium with the biosphere when there are billions of us - because there was no evolutionary advantage in it 70,000 years ago when there were perhaps a few tens of thousands. Either you don't get this, or you think it would be more "natural" for us not to use the naturally evolved intelligence we do have to avoid the very natural catastrophe we are risking. George, this article makes me sad. But not because it's "injected me with a soul-scraping venom" but because it has filled me with a deep sense of compassion for the sad lonely little boy that dwells inside you, and is so full of self-hatred that he needs to sublimate this pain by traducing an entire species as evil, in order to at least feel a brief spark of righteousness from the knowledge that although his species his evil, he himself has risen above this evil, by pointing out that it is in fact evil. What surprises me is that you find the success of the human species as to be a reason for misanthropy. All successful species alter the environment around them, driving other species to the margins, or even to extinction, whether by predation, competition for resources, or environmental impacts. I'm not going to work through the hundreds of comments, but I'm sure others will have asked: how many Mastodons wrote an opera? How many sabre-toothed lions left paintings behind comparable to Rembrant, Vermeer, Titian, Picasso? How many great musicians currently play symphonies from that period? How many great novels did they write, how many ballets? How many satellites did they launch, how many MRI scanners did they build. How many lives of their young were saved by their medical procedures? How much care of their elderly did they engage with? How much jazz did they play? This is little more than dismal misanthropy - unbalanced, inconsequential, wholly unconstructive. Above all, the greatest facility that we humans embody is our awareness - the ability to wonder at the glory of the universe, to feel compassion, to communicate in ever more sophisticated ways, to explore not just the world around us, but within us - to write articles in the Guardian. This diatribe makes no mention whatever of anything that's good about us, and I will not for one moment accept there's nothing of value, nothing about us that isn't noble, brave, intelligent and worthy, for history is replete with example after example of both good and bad - and the paradox of us is that we encompass the light and the darkness. What's the take-home message here, other than that Monbiot should get some Prozac? It is that an unbalanced article like this is a reflection not of the human condition, but of the author's indulgence. As soon as I read the word "misanthropy" in a comments section under an article about the environment I can't help but roll my eyes. There's nothing misanthropic about wanting humans to do better and not destroy so many other species. Misanthropy is just a word that you parrot from the James Delingpoles/Brendan O'Neills/your choice of scientifically illiterate blogger of this world. When the rest of us look around and see the real world evidence that we are really destroying our own futures, and try to pass that knowledge on to as many as possible before it is too late, what happens? People like you crawl out from the planet rapist's lairs and shill in the name of their sociopathic doctrine. You project onto the rest of us the guilt that they are inherently incapable of. It is people like you who defend vile, murderous and ultimately suicidal behaviour patterns. It is the whole of our species, and the biomes we cannot survive without, who are paying the price for your duplicity. We understand we are corroding our life support. We could at least try transcending our destructiveness. At least as individuals. ''We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.'' - W.R.Inge I once argued in college with an Animal Rights activist that Mankind isn't at its core 'evil' or 'a cancer on this world' as she believed. I believed, and still do, that we are capable of great and wonderful things but it's almost like we don't understand our power and capacity for harm - I mean, we split the fundamental building blocks of reality and the first thing we did with it was use it to economise mass killing. I remember a documentary on the Australian Aborigines I saw - years ago. It mentioned a little story: There was a group of missionaries who tried to teach Aboriginal children about soccer. Those kids took to it like ducks to water - kicking the ball around all day... But after about a week, those missionaries discovered to their amazement that the kids had changed the rules of the game - in such a way that at the end of the game, both teams had the same number of goals. They just couldn't for the love of them understand why it was that the whites had to turn literally everything into as race with ten people running - and at the end, there was one winner... And nine losers. By the way - they see themselves as custodians of nature. And they have been around for a very long time... Never mind the so-called 'scientific evidence'. There was a time once when 'knowledge' was seen as a rung in the ladder which leads to the floor where they keep the wisdom. Although evidently, there are some people nowadays who try to chop up the ladder - so they can feed the little fire they warm their hands over... and even if there's a loophole in your lore in which the unbaptised have yet another chance to get into heaven (a loophole added after the fact, no doubt, by some scribe when faced with an irreconcilable balance sheet of fiction) that only makes it worse. why waste any time praying for, researching, and thinking about the dead when there are far more pressing problems for those living and suffering, and starving? Religion, the whole thing, is a complete goddamn mess and i'm tired of this stupid nonsensical crap being passed down generation after generation to susceptible children as if it somehow held even a passing resemblance to truth and reason. focus on something real for christ's sake and get out there and make the world a better place for everyone. Religion is barbaric, illogical, and just plain stupid. Look at these asshats, who during a drought, call out the water whisperers: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/drought-rainmaking-pseudoscience-dowsing We're all mature adults here so let's have an adult conversation shall we? Hands up on who believes they would be a Christian if they were never exposed to Christianity. Hands up on who believes they would be anything other than a Christian if they were never exposed to anything else. You were born into a Mormon family and stuck with it, is it any wonder that you're Mormon? I left the church early, is it any wonder i'm not? Again, let's be adults here and admit that we, as individuals, are far more likely to be join the ranks of what we're exposed and have social ties to than not. And let's admit, as adults, that it is impossible to join the ranks of something that we were never exposed to and thus don't know exists. (This includes exposure to God. Religion was born from exposure to the unknown So here it is: The fact that you are Mormon is a purely environmental outcome. If your environment never contained any Mormons or mention of Mormons, you would not claim to be Mormon. This is crucial, so think long and hard about it, and keep it in the back of your mind throughout the course of this letter. You can start by throwing out your old testaments. They do not help you, they corrupt you by giving you outlets and justifications for your hate and your damning judgements of others. I would have thought the following would be obvious, but unfortunately not: As Christians focus on Christ for Christ's sake! Well, not for Christ's sake, but for the sake of all those who are praying you will follow his explicit* example and come rescue them. *yes, it is explicit. The new testament could not be more obvious in its message if God himself dropped in to a fireside chat and took each of you aside and told you personally that your entire reason for being on this earth is to serve others. (By serving others you serve god, and through the propagation of your good deeds heaven on earth takes care of itself.) _______________________________________________________________________________ Shall i give you despair? https://soundcloud.com/this-american-life/534-a-not-so-simple-majority The Catholic Church has never had a problem with evolution per se, only with metaphysical naturalism, an atheistic philosophy sometimes grafted onto it. St. Thomas Aquinas intriguingly wrote, “[S]pecies, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction [i.e. distillation, development] by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning” (Summa Theologica, I.73.1 reply 3). Species coming into being through natural causes? That sounds suspiciously like something near to evolution, from the pen of the man who is most famous for his proofs of the existence of God. And in the 13th century, no less. But evolution fits far better with Aquinas’ intensely rational explication of God’s causality than a God who creates over arbitrary twenty-four hour time periods. Aquinas’ cosmological argument establishes that, since “from nothing nothing comes” (apologies to Lawrence Krauss, but gravity and quantum fields do not constitute “nothing"), there must exist a transcendent cause which never came into being but always is, and which relies on nothing outside of itself to explain its existence. This being, whose existence is identical to its nature, grounds all else that exists, at every moment, even time itself. That’s not a being that would create, pause, and create again. For Aquinas, creation is not a process over time at all. It’s not even a MOMENT in time. It’s the continuous ongoing dependence of all else that exists — even time itself — upon this transcendent cause. The “days” of creation, then, refer to what Augustine called the “unfolding of generations” — natural causality at work over time. This also means that natural causality is real. It’s not, as the Muslims tend to believe, an illusion (i.e. when a camel poops in a tent, it only looks like a natural cause-effect event happened. Really, it’s God doing that). It’s real, and it’s really natural. When a bird soars through the air, its wings are shaped for flight, its muscles move those wings in just the right way to catch the air, the air is molecularly structured in such a way as to be able to hold the bird in motion between earth and sky. But it is God who keeps the bird itself and the natural laws that govern its flight and the movements of its muscles and the flowing of its blood and the structure of the air and the entire system of cause-and-effect in existence at every moment. He underlies it, upholds it, creates it, holds it in being. It is caused naturally. It is caused by God. They are different kinds of causation. Neither rules out the other. This is also why Catholics tend to be leery about “intelligent design.” The way it is usually formulated, intelligent design theory holds that God reaches into the natural order and tweaks evolution to go where he wants. But he doesn’t need to do that. He underlies the natural order. He upholds it. It is what it is because of him. The idea that he needs to tweak it accepts the atheist view of the natural order as something that is not dependent on God but independent, such that it runs by itself and he needs to adjust it. That makes God just another being alongside of nature, even if a very powerful one. And it means that the natural order doesn't have the foundational, transcendent cause that it must have to exist at all. The only reason there’s a debate like this over evolution is because the protestants see it as a threat to their bible-only-and-with-exacting-literalism faith. And, of course, many atheists believe that evolution somehow dispenses the need for a God (which just means that they have a Sunday school idea of God: a stern old man with a beard in the sky who is very powerful and smites you when you do wrong). Both sides see the other as a threat, and so they’ve been fighting for a hundred and fifty years. But the protestants would do well to read their bible a little more closely. It says very clearly in Genesis 1:24: And God said: Let the EARTH BRING FORTH the living creature in its kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, according to their kinds." It’s even clearer in Genesis 1:20 and 1:21: "God also said: Let the WATERS BRING FORTH the creeping creature having life, and the fowl that may fly over the earth under the firmament of heaven. “And GOD CREATED the great whales, and every living and moving creature, WHICH THE WATERS BROUGHT FORTH, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." This explicitly acknowledges both natural causality and God’s causality. “God created . . . which the waters brought forth.” So I really don’t know why there’s a debate. Oh, and: the Big Bang was originally posited by Georges Lemaitre . . . a Catholic priest.