Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Perverted Puritans

One of the definitions of a "pervert" is one who sees sexual meaning everywhere. The people behind much of the religious right and the Taliban look at even the most innocent things as sexual. So, the puritans are just as horny as the hedonists. But, at least the hedonists are more honest about what they truly desire..

Hedonism And Holiness

The line between hedonism and holiness, vice and virtue, are not as clear or as simple as many people would like to think. Many believers avoid "sinful" behavior because they think they will be rewarded with eternal happiness in the afterlife. But, isn’t that the ultimate self-indulgence?
Also, God is supposed to be morally perfect. But, what about the immorality of damning someone for eternity? Or the immorality of killing millions of innocents.
If a person avoid immoral behavior because they think God is watching them every second, how is that truly "morality"?
It’s not self-discipline or self control, its just reward and punishment. This how the behavior of a lab rat or a dog is controlled.
And the idea of a God who is watching us and judging us every second of everyday is the ultimate totalitarianism.
And, why should such an immensely powerful and vastly superior entity care about what we do anyway? From the perspective of such a great being, human beings might have no more relevance than an insect or a bacterium.
People turn to God or some other savorier for the same reason a child turns to a parent. Its infantile tenancies taken into adulthood. The desire for faith is rooted in weakness, poor self-discipline and neediness. The truly strong don’t need a savior.


Its amazing the hideous extremes people can go to in regard to sexuality. People are often either too perverted or too puritanical. And both tendencies are rooted in the lack of self understanding and self-control. Balance should aways be the goal.

What Keeps Us Free

Skepticism to those in power is the only thing which keeps us free. Rapping bad policies or ideas in patriotic or didactic cloth only distracts us from the truth.

Nanny State For Believers

There seems to be a growing trend of religious militantancy. Many followers of various religions seem to be asking for "special protection" from those who criticize them.
An episode of "South Park" was effectively "banned" because some fundamentalist Catholics were offended by it. Now, apparently, Tom Cruise and his fellow Scientoligist want do the same to another episode. (Which lampoons both)
And left in Europe and the Right in America is only giving more momentum to this thin-skinned nonsense.
In the end, it is non-believers who seem to be prosecuted the most. Its time to start fighting back. All those who believe in freedom of expression need to stand up and be counted. Freedom isn’t free.
Religion should never be free of public scrutiny or a skeptical eye.

Time For An Upgrade

Humanity can not call itself the "pinnacle of creation." In fact, there is little indication the human species was deliberately planned or created. The design flaws are just too pronounced.
This is not to rule out a creator who may have "seeded" life on this world, but the idea of a God who puts us individually on the planet is quite absurd and implausible.
Would a benevolent creator really put someone in this world if he knew he would be molested, abused are starve to death. Where is the sense in that?
Most human beings, in fact, seem like they were built by the lowest bidder. Take for instance, the human skull. The "higher"(the parts responsible for judgment and intellect) areas of the brain lie near skull. And these vital areas are protected by one of the thinnest skulls in nature.
Our bones our rather fragile and brittle and when the break they can takes months to heal. Why not make our bones out of a less breakable material with the ability to heal much faster?
Its clearly time for an upgrade.

Bush's Poetic Justice

There is a certain "poetic justice" to the failed Dubia port deal. Even before 9/11, Bush has had a strong tendency toward unilateralism, undermining virtually all international treaties. After 9/11, Bush has used the threat of terrorism to detract from, or justify, his many questionable policies.
Indeed, every other word out of Bush’s mouth over the last few years has been either "since 9/11" or "because of 9/11".
He has helped create the very atmosphere of xenophobia and hysterical fear which helped kill the deal.
This is not to say there weren’t some legitimate security concerns. The UAE, after all, has helped launder money for terrorists, recognized the Taliban and seems to have a history of lax security and corruption.
But, if Bush had been less secretive and given congress, the CIA and homeland security to more time closely examine the implications ot the deal, there may have been a more rational debate.
But the president says "trust me". Should we, after he dropped the ball on Katrina, took us to war because of non-excitant WMD’s, and a devised a failed post war policy in Iraq?
Bush has exploited the fear of terrorism, has been incompatant at many levels and then made a secrete deal to allow an Middle-Eastern company take control of many of this nation’s vital ports. And then, with apparent oblivion, he wonders what all the fuss is all about.
There is the risk that the issue of foreign control might overshadow how lax port security is to begin with. Over four years after 9/11, only five percent of international cargo shipped into the United States is inspected.
This is in part because the Bush administration has not given port security adequate funding. We are spending a billion dollars a month on a misguided war in Iraq, yet, we can not even inspect most of the cargo which comes into this country.
Bush is not only sanctimonious and out of touch, but very hypocritical as well.

Equality of nations?

Not all nations are equal. Some are more prosperous, some are more stable, some are roughish and some are failed states. Some are democracies, some are tolerant and pluralistic. Many other are not.
Therefore, too treat all the nations of the world as "equals" is unrealistic.
Some countries are just more trustworthy than others, and we should stop pretending otherwise.
This contrast between nations is most pronounced in the conflict between India and Pakistan. India is a vibrant, pluralistic democracy which has one of the fastest growing economies on earth. And they have not at all proliferated nuclear technology.
Pakistan, in contrast, is a military dictatorship which helped create and support the Taliban, has ingrained corruption, an unstable political situation, and has engaged in the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology.
By supporting Pakistan, the US is playing a dangerous game. Outsourcing to India is one thing. Outsourcing the war on terror to Pakistan is quite another.
Indeed, our "friendship" with Pakistan has only inhibited the ability of the US military to take out numerous terrorist strongholds in the country’s eastern provinces. If we were able to go into this area, we probably would have either captured or killed Bin Loudin by now.
And, despite our support for Pakistan, there is little accountability. How do we know some elements of the Pakistani military haven’t helped many terrorists get away?
This "friendship" is becoming more trouble than its worth.

The "two freedoms"

"Freedom" is something most people say they are fighting for. But the definition of "freedom" itself is very much relative and ambiguous concept.
Hamas says it wants freedom from the Israeli occupation, but also advocates enforcing harsh sharia laws on its own citizens.
When the shah of Iran was overthrown in the name of "freedom" the first thing the new ruly party did was to ban all other political parties.
The biggest example of this paradox is communism, which long fought for freedom from "Western Imperialists" only to engage in its own form of oppression and imperialism.
More recently, the self-appointed "liberator" of Zimbabwe has suspended democratic processes, has instituted a harsh law against homosexuals and his radical land reform policies have almost single handedly sparked a famine. (How much more "liberation" can the people of Zimbabwe take?)
Closer to home many Christian Conservatives say they are fighting for "freedom". Yet, their whole agenda seems hell bent on destroying it.
How many time throughout history have we seen "freedom fighters" turn out to be just as controlling and power hungry of the people they are fighting against.
This is more than just simple hypocracy, it has a lot to do with the way one defines "freedom".
Many supporters of the above movements don’t want "freedom to", but "freedom from." and it is this very definition which leads people to support totalitarian movements. They want freedom from uncertainty, freedom from the burdens and ambiguity created by increased choice, in short, it is freedom from freedom itself.
It is this very veiw of freedom which leads to the desire for a "perfect order". But, you can’t have utopia if you let every does as he or she pleases. Freedom from imperfection is found by undermining freedom of choice and freedom of personal autonomy.
As the old saying goes, "you can’t make the perfect omlete without smashing some eggs."
However, the "freedom to" perspective can be taken to hidous extremes as well. If everyone was allowed to do anything they wanted, society would almost certainly crumble.
The whole point of democracy is to find a middle rode between the "two freedoms".

Monday, March 20, 2006

At Least They're Honest..

One thing that can be said about Muslim extremists is that at least they get their true feelings out in the open. They make absolutily no bones about how they feel, They hate gays, they hate the Western traditions of tolerance, science and separation of church and state. And they believe infidels should die and be damned for eternity. Honesty, as they say, is indeed the best policy.
This a contrast to the Religious Right in America, which has tried downplay their true agenda. They have, in fact, tried to dequise much of their ideology and biases as "scientific fact".
This is the tact creationists are using in promoting "intelligent design".
But, this tactic is also being used for arguing against gay adoption and for abstinence only programs. What is based on prejudice and blind faith is being based off as "promoting the common good."
In all the above cases, the rights arguments for their issues have been supported by "evidence" provided by think tanks they themselves have funded. This is simply an attempt to "cook the books". That is to use data to support a preconceived idea. None of the reports and studies they offer have been peer reviewed, much less taken very seriously by real scientists and researchers.
Of course, this attempt at respectibility has often failed, and has made the religious right into a laughing stock in the process. (One only has to look to the Dover decision is evidence of that.)
But, ultimately, the religious right’s agenda is "hidden in plain sight."
The "morning after" pill does not technically cause abortion. It simply prevents a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman’s womb. In fact. many commonly used forms of birth control use the exact same method.
So, if pro-lifers want to be logically consistent, they would have to ban most forms of birth control too. I would love to see them try.
Lets see them try to outlaw most birth control methods and see how the women across the country vote virtually all socially conservative politicians out of office.
It ironic that the Religious Right denounces "political correctness" and "postmodernism" yet, has taken some elements of both to farther its own agenda.
One of the most PC concepts the right has come up with is "intelligent design". (A politically correct term if ever there was one)
This is ultimately what proponents of ID argue, that the "evolutionists" are stifling other points of view other than their own, and that students should be free to define "science" as what ever they what to believe. This, is of course, a profoundly unscientific argument.
One of the more surprising arguments for intelligent design seems to be based on postmodern logic. Postmodernism, in the most literal sense, assumes there is no objective truth and that we each must choose our own reality.
The whole point of the scientific process is to get to some objective, verifiable truth through theories based on tangible evidence.
They aren’t trying to expand the scientific debate, they are trying to redefine science itself.
Another example of the religious right’s PC undercurrents is the controversy over a physician’s right to refuse handing out birth control.
What if a vegetarian refused to serve meat at a restaurant? or, what if a nudist wanted to go to work naked? The Sikhs(followers of a monotheistic branch of Hinduism) believe in carrying small daggers as required by their religion. In the post 9/11 world, should they be allowed to carry daggers on to airplanes?
But, the supporters for fundamentalist pharmacists don’t seem very interested in giving such people favored status. They want "special rights" (the very thing they have long denounced in regard to gays) for hardline Christians only.