Archive | June, 2009

Republican hypocrisy on sex

29 Jun

Remember kids, it’s only a crime if a democrat does it. Has anyone noticed that the republicans are not having a feeding frenzy over governor Stanford’s infidelity? Senator Graham recently came out on Meet the Press and said that Stanford’s personal life should not affect his political career. It’s “dependent on if he and his wife gets back together.”

The man was having an affair with a woman who was not his wife, just like President Clinton. Why are there not similar reactions? Hell, at least Clinton didn’t walk off the job for several days without telling his chain of command! Worse, this is a man that is extremely religious. He wares his faith on his sleeve and has rebuked other congressmen for their transgressions. Oh! And don’t forget about Senator Ensign, another conservative moralizer that recently was discovered as having extramarital affairs. Sanctity of marriage? Please….

Now I’m not saying that democrats don’t have extramarital affairs, they do and are just as guilty. The problem is that republicans, unlike democrats parade around claiming to be the party of “god” the party with a monopoly on morality. That’s the very definition of hypocrisy.

Ghosts and spiritual warfare

29 Jun

When I was a kid, I believed in ghosts. I also believed that I had a soul that needed protecting from the forces of darkness that wanted to hurt me. I felt that by arming myself with certain objects (like garlic and crosses) I could protect myself. I believed that by invoking magical phrases from the bible I could form a force field around myself, protecting me from evil.

force field

One Halloween I even stole all my mom’s garlic and sprinkeled it around every door and window of the house. I thought this would keep out the ghosts and evil spirits.

Admittedly, the idea of being a soldier in a spiritual war is exciting. The supernatural is the basis for the majority of horror movies. When I was a kid I was vaguely aware of the existence of skeptics, of people who didn’t believe in ghosts. Yet at that age I thought the bible was all the proof I needed for god’s existence and as for ghosts, “there are so many reports of ghosts! all those people couldn’t be wrong!” The last statement was further cemented in my mind by the existence of volumes of ghost stories and TV shows dealing with the paranormal.

At that age I had no concept of the “ad populum” fallacy. You see, if there is no god, then there are no souls, no souls = no ghosts. Do I deny the experiences of thousands of people claiming to have seen ghosts? No. Yet I deny that what they experienced was in fact a ghost. There are plenty of things out there that science has yet to explain. Given science’s exemplary track record however, there is no reason to believe that the unexplained will forever be unexplained.

It’s actually quite liberating. Horror movies are no longer as scary as they were when I believed supernatural entities existed. Walking around at night I no longer fear some demon or werewolf is going to get me. I once took a friend to an old cemetery at midnight. She was getting nervous but I wasn’t affected at all. I knew that if we ran into anything that it would be human, and if it was human it was just as vulnerable as me.

Why do you hate America?

28 Jun

First off, I don’t hate America, but I hate what conservatives think it is, or what it should be. This country was founded by liberal deists, not conservative christians. At the time of its founding, the United States was one of the most liberal countries on the planet. A bill of rights? Freedom of religion? Of press? Of speech? No way! Wow. They were rebelling against a conservative state. A state with a monarchy, an established church, a state where the basic human right of freedom of expression was not guaranteed. No, there was a reason why the conservatives in the revolution were loyalists to the crown. After the revolution they sought to make the country more like Great Britain. Luckily after the war of 1812 they became politically irrelevant….for a time.

The conservatives really think they own this country. That god gave it to them and that these liberal scumbags are trying to usurp it out from under them. They’d love an America where gun owning was mandatory, along with membership to a protestant church. An America where anybody who was not white or male could not vote. Hell, what they really want America to resemble is the South during the Civil War. It’s not surprising since the biggest base of the conservative party is poorly educated, angry white southern men. (The modern republican party that is, not Lincoln’s republicans. The modern GOP was formed when LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, all the southern democrats, appalled that everyone should be allowed to vote, left to form a new republican base in the south)

I hate this image of America. Presently the republicans don’t give a shit about the environment, or the fact that we’re rapidly killing the planet, and ourselves. Their knee jerk reaction to any foreign problem is to bomb the hell out of it. Republicans are great for fighting wars. It’s a useful way to channel all that rage they have, but they absolutely suck when it comes to making peace.

For example, Obama’s policy on the Middle East. Obama wants to try engaging leaders there by talking, and admitting that America has made mistakes. He’s showing humility. The conservatives are furious over this. They are so prideful they can’t stand the idea that they’re great America, the greatest nation on earth, could make a mistake. The people in the Middle East however are stunned that for the first time in a long long time, the US is showing them respect instead of arrogance. What happens a few weeks later? A pro-American party wins election in Lebanon. The conservatives don’t know how to live with people, only how to kill them.

My image of the modern day conservative is of some white cowbow in a hummer, tearing up a wildlife refuge, shooting birds from his truck, while downing a beer that sits under a crucifix hanging from the rear view mirror. If this is America then I hate it.

The America I love is humble, respects human rights and human dignity. In my ideal America looks more like a cross between modern day France and Sweden. Secular with a government that takes care of those less fortunate. A place where corrupt politicians are not tolerated. Where the environment is respected and ignorance discouraged. I love how the French government is scared of its people. If the French people don’t like something, they riot till it’s fixed. I wished the American people scared the US government like that, not the other way around.

American Anti-intellectualism

28 Jun

Anti-intellectualism is a big movement among conservatives in the United States. This is movement that completely baffles me. Apparently they disagree that being smart and informed is good. Whaaa? Why would you think that being knowledgeable and informed is a bad thing?

People seek to be smart and informed because doing so improves their ability to make good decisions. The more you know about reality, the better you can plan to make thinks happen the way you want them to. Knowledge improves your quality of life! Knowledge is power!

The sick thing is that the people who started this movement are extremely smart and intellectual. They knew that by convincing the less intelligent people in America that being smart was a bad thing, they could better control and manipulate them. All they had to do was play on the idea of “smart people think they’re better than you”. Angry insecure idiots would keep the ball moving after the initial push.

This whole anti-intellecualism stems from an anti-elitism movement. Sam Harris wrote a wonderful article defending elitism here.

“Ask yourself: how has “elitism” become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities [government], we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn’t seem too intelligent or well educated.”

I hate 3.5 combat

27 Jun

Last night I joined my girlfriend and her friends in playing as a guest star in their Arcana Evolved campaign. (Ok, so not star, but guest player) Anyways, the game lasted from 3pm to 10pm, with about an hour dinner break. For the most part it was fun, except the last 2-3 hours.

The last 2-3 hours was nothing but combat. There were 6 players versus 12 evil skeleton monsters with 40HP and AC’s of 25. Now, one of the biggest things I like about Swords and Wizardry, or Labyrinth Lord (both retro clones) is how everything is very simple. You just play.

With this Arcana Evolved game there are just so many rules and numbers. It took us 3 hours to fight 12 skeletons. I sat and watched the clock, it took 45 minutes for me to get my turn to go again, and only 30 seconds to find out that I missed every attack because I rolled too low. I then had to wait another half an hour till it got back around to being my turn.

I’m sorry but no. Fuck no. When you have time to get up and watch a TV show or take the dog for a walk without missing your turn in a game, something is wrong. When you are bored to tears watching the other players for 45 minutes, something is wrong. All my character could do was swing at things with his sword, so it took me 2 seconds to say what I was going to do, then roll. Everybody else took forever casting spells, looking at the map, calculating damage, and so on.

Now I know for some people they love the strategy involved with combat. How do I position my character, what attacks am I going to use, etc… But I think it is absurd that in a fantasy game, that by definition asks you to suspend your disbelief, so much emphasis is put on trying to make combat realistic. The player must know every little detail, they must ask a million little questions. No! That is not realistic combat! You know what it realistic combat?!?! “Oh shit! He’s got an axe! What do you do? 1…2…BAM! You hesitated! You’re Dead!” End of story.

Gay exorcism?

25 Jun

That’s right, a church in Bridgeport Conn., Manifested Glory Ministries, has preformed a 20 minute long “gay exorcism” on a 16 year old boy. I could tell you about it, but I think the video of the exorcism speaks for it’self.

“Rip it from his throat!” a woman yells. “Come on, you homosexual demon! You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now! Loose your grip, Lucifer!”

This is not only disgusting, but child abuse. Being gay is not the cause of a demon. It is perfectly normal and a cause of genetics, not choice. You can’t “choose” not to be gay just as much as you can’t “choose” to be straight. For people who might not understand how this could be taken as offensive, watch this: Gay Scientists isolate the christian gene.

Seeing the world through the lens of reality

23 Jun

I think there is a very different way religious and secular people see the world. Do you remember the periodic table of elements from high school chemistry?

elementsHow often do you ever think of these elements? I’m not a scientist, but I think about them a lot. If you remember, everything in on this planet is made up of these elements. Everything. The screen you are reading this on, the chair you’re sitting in, the tires on your car, the food you had for lunch, the pillow on your bed, all are made up of some combination of these elements.

I look at a tree and don’t just see a tree, I see Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Sulfur, Sodium, Silicon, Iron, Boron, Strontium, and Aluminum. These are the elements that make up wood. (May vary slightly depending on the tree)

redwood-trunk

Basically, when I see something, I don’t just see the object, but I am consciously aware of the fact that that object is composed of various different elements. There is nothing magical, nothing supernatural about anything.

When you pray to a wooden cross, you are praying to a group of the above mentioned elements that merely have their atoms arranged in the shape of a cross. It has no special power. The same is true for every “holy object” in the word. They are simply objects with elements and atoms. Nothing special.

The wafer you eat at communion is just a wafer, the wine is just wine, with all the elements and atoms that make up the two. There is no special magical power.

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