27 December 2006

On Buddhism, as a supposedly benign religion

  • Dec 27, 2006

On Buddhism, as a supposedly benign religion

Buddhism doesn't believe in a supreme creator God, and different sects believe different things, but there are (in some versions and texts) other worldly or other dimensional beings, be they Gods, angels, spirits, or whatever.
They also believe in literal Karma, of being re-born indefinitely.
It still involves meta-physics, and it still involves faith.


Buddhism specifically instructs its followers to refrain from "Sexual Misconduct" (although it does not specify what that means) and Buddhist monks and nuns are expected to remain celibate, just as Christian ones are.  Gender roles are determined and rigid.

Many westerners seem to have a view of Buddhism which would apply better to Taoism.
It is really more of a philosophy than a religion.

Personally, I find "spirituality" to be just as silly as religion.  It requires a denial of both the physical senses and common sense. I believe that the thought is basically complex emotion, emotion is complex instinct, instinct is complex stimulus-response, stimulus-response is complex biology, biology is complex chemistry, chemistry is complex physics… and that's all there is.
But if some people can experience a personal higher power, or interconnectedness, or whatever, maybe people feel a sign that the Book of Mormon is really true once they read it and pray.
The Mormons make a significant and deliberate point of saying that every individual should turn to God themselves and ask whether their teachings are true, they don't ask that you just believe what they tell you.

I think individuals of all religions are expected to not just believe, but to feel it is true from personal experience.  Just look at the practitioners "speaking in tongues".  And they say that everyone, given a life of goodness and faith, can achieve salvation, not just the Prophets.
You can find people who are intelligent, who think critically, within every religion, no matter how stupid.  That's the thing about faith.

19 December 2006

on so called "conspiracy theories"

·                     Dec 19, 2006

on so called "conspiracy theories"

The pain ray, and the video I saw, and the comments on it, and looking up the PNAC, and from there about the "conspiracy theories" surrounding 9/11/01, got me thinking about all that again.

Obviously there are some theories out there which are born of hear-say, conjecture, misinformation, and ignorance.
Others have not really been addressed in any serious way - and probably could not be.
The people who object to them, (Popular Mechanics, John McCain, 9/11myths.com) tend to point out the reasons why such and such could have physically happened the way the official version says it did, or why such and such theory is impossible.
They then also say something along the lines of it being both unscientific and and detrimental to America to suggest such things.
But how it happened is not the point, and never was.

16 December 2006

Two immigration articles in a week

·                     Dec 16, 2006

Two immigration articles in a week

The first was The Nation, which is strongly liberal, entirely political.
The article was pro-immigration.  Presumably the readership would be largely if not entirely liberal, yet the responses to the article, more than half of what was published, were negative.
That came as quite a surprise.
The second was Playboy, which is also consistently liberal, but which - for obvious reasons - has a more diverse readership.
It is too soon for anyone to have written in yet, but I know they will.

So, I wrote in to both.  I have had several short letters to the editors published in the past couple of months (PopSci about energy efficiency, PopMec about the efficiency of living in an RV, and possibly Sierra Club on BioDiesel - they said they would, but I never found it).
Kind of like this blog, except much shorter - and read by thousands of people!

So, anyway, here is, more or less, what I wrote:

13 December 2006


·                     Dec 13, 2006


Looking up an article for the "pain ray" (Military 'Active Denial System') which basically uses a radio frequency similar to microwaves to heat up the skin of nearby rioters or protesters (she wanted to know if it was real - it is) I came across a link to a BBC documentary on the simultaneous rise of the NeoCon and Islamic Fundamentalist movements.
They both were largely inspired by what they saw as the corruption of modern life in America, caused by the incorporation of liberal values throughout society.  For an muslim visiting America, this was represented by young people at a dance.
People were becoming "too selfish" which prevented them from focusing on what is really important - God, and the words which were written hundreds of years ago by a guy who claimed to be able to talk directly with God.
Interestingly, while they do mention the religious component of the neocons ideas, they never mention the economic components.
The Muslims at least are consistent, and in that have a sort of personal integrity, even if it is based on something utterly stupid.
For the conservative movement, christianity is only half the story.
They also want unlimited wealth for the wealthy.
This is what caused them to hate the USSR so much.  When they speak of "The American Way of Life" they want the listener to believe they talking about "family values" or "freedom" or something of the like, but what they really mean is capitalism.
By very definition, capitalism's goal is maxing it easy for someone who already has money to make more money with out working.
It is about earning interest on your capital, investing.
We make it seem like it should be taken for granted that people can earn interest through investments, but this concept is not universal.
Beyond the obvious case of communists, muslims are forbidden to earn interest on their money.  However, this is not just written in the Koran.  It is written in the Bible, (remember Islam and Christian and probably 95% exactly the same - they seem more different than that because christians choose to ignore the parts of the bible which aren't convenient)
The bible also says you must pay your workers daily, you must forgive all debts every 7 years, neither work nor allow employees to work on Sunday, in addition to not charging interest on borrowed money. (Slavery is ok, though)
So much for the country being based on "christian' values.  It is based on business, and pretty much always has been.

I am getting side-tracked

07 December 2006

In response to my last entry

·                     Dec 7, 2006

In response to my last entry

Thearticle in my last entry was written in 1932

74 years ago, and as accurate a portrayal of modern life today as it was then. 
Only the USSR he speaks of has fallen, adopting our system of "free market"
In the US production increases every year - an increase in per capita GDP of over 7 times, or almost 10% per year; yet work hours have been constant ever since - slightly increasing for most, decreasing for some, balancing out to an average of... exactly the same: slightly more than the 40 hour week which was made standard not long before the essay was written.
Since productivity has increased 7 fold, while hours have remained constant, presumably median real income (after accounting for inflation) would presumably have also increased 7 fold.
In actuality, median pay has increased around 2.1 times from 1948 to 2004 (earliest data I can find).
The one thing this otherwise excellent essay misses is that, while the land holding privileged class of royalty has been eliminated, they have been replaced indirectly by the societal acceptance of virtually unrestricted investment returns and inheritance.
Through them the primary owners and controllers of major corporations have taken the place of a class which does not have to do any real work but can instead charge ordinary people for the privilege of living and working on their land or in their companies.
It is much more their choice than the workers themselves that, for example, when the pin making machine is invented and production per person doubles, the work force is halved instead of individual hours.
It is to the advantage of the company - or, more specifically the owners and investors - who do no actual work but keep a percentage of the earnings - to have fewer people with more hours, as there is always a per person cost in taxes and benefits above the cost of wages.
With the introduction of the labor saving device, the employing company could choose to have all employees work half as often with the same total pay.  The employees are only given the choice of cut hours at reduced pay or 50% lay offs.  Given that, they prefer to retain the 8 hour day.  Were the company to continue to pay the same weekly rate for less hours (or double the hourly rate and halve the hours) it would not lose any money.  It would be exactly where it had been all along.  If it had been sustainably profitable before, it would continue to be.
However, the assumption in our society is that the company gets to reap the full benefit of the new invention.
Thus the increase in GDP over the years is primarily concentrated in the hands of those who need it least.
It is not actually true in most years that "the poor get poorer while the rich get richer"
A more accurate statement would be "the poor get slightly richer while the rich get much much richer", which is really just as bad.

06 December 2006

In Praise of Idleness

·                     Dec 6, 2006

In Praise of Idleness

By Bertrand Russell

"Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying: 'Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do.' Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told, and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached. Everyone knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them. Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth. this traveler was on the right lines. But in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it. I hope that, after reading the following pages, the leaders of the YMCA will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain...."

27 September 2006

In which all truly healthy relationships involve sleeping with other people

·                     Sep 27, 2006

In which all truly healthy relationships involve sleeping with other people

I think, in a way, a relationship which is truly healthy is one in which both people gain something concrete and positive and which would be difficult or impossible to find anywhere else, where neither person hurts the other (or at least not much and not often) and they appreciate each other. In this case, each person knows not only the others' value to them but also their own value to the other.
In this case, being comfortable in their relationship, being confident of their worth, then the partners other friendships are not a threat. While the feeling of jealousy may be inevitable, the thought of it is not and generally the two reinforce each other, like how seeing the blood somehow makes the cut hurt worse. So that it is not a matter of one relationship being "higher" or better, but, I think, in a way it is being comfortable with being in an open relationship (meaning, sexually, not emotionally or rather relationship-wise) is the best possible sign that you are ready for commitment. It is only if you trust the other person enough that you are ok (it will always feel a little uncomfortable but ok overall) with them sleeping with someone else, that you know that you are not with this person just for the sake of commitment.

People want security, and there is always the possibility for someone better coming along for one's partner - and perhaps in a way it is better to commit for its own sake, but perhaps it would be better to be with that person who is better. It's not really a question with a right answer. But if it is not a concern, certainly that is ideal and so perhaps no one who wants commitment should become committed.

25 September 2006

Bad things happen. Relax. It will get better

·                     Sep 25, 2006

Bad things happen. Relax. It will get better

On acid, sometimes things get overwhelming, everything feels like too much, in a bad way, it's too fast, you don't understand, are confused and scared a little, maybe feel sick, physically and emotionally.

But if you have done it enough times. Even in this state of essentially insanity, you on some level can remember that
These things happen.
It has happened before - it will most likely happen again
And this time
It is temporary
It will end, and though it seems like it's been more than half of forever and you can't even remember exactly what it's like to be normal
And you can't imagine ever being normal again
You still know that it will eventually
And also
You know that there is nothing you can do to accelerate that process. You just have to wait.
It feels bad now, and it will feel bad, physically, mentally, and while you can't change that
You can focus on being calm. It is unpleasant but it is not the end of life, it is tolerable.
You accept it, remain as calm as you can in a buzzy jumpy loud colorful insanity - on one level it is impossible, but on another level there can be a kind of calm in waiting, in knowing it is temporary.

Everyone has experienced both good and bad feelings. The bad ones are like the bad parts of the drug. It has happened before. It will again. And this time it's temporary. Accept it. Calm down. Things will be better eventually.

19 September 2006

30; Porn is not an affront to human dignity

·                     Sep 19, 2006

30; Porn is not an affront to human dignity

Not anymore than a video of people eating is

If we lived in a society which said you may never eat in public, you must never cook for someone unless you love them, it is shameful to eat alone, etc. then people would get paid big bucks to eat on camera, and single guys would watch videos of people eating.

This would not make the eating movies an affront to human dignity.

Sex is natural. It is society which is an affront to human dignity.

I saw porn when I was a child yet, amazingly, I NEVER RAPED ANYONE!

Some of it is unrealistic, which is exactly the appeal.

Its like when you watch an action movie - you don't really want to rob banks or be in high-speed chases, but its fun to live vicariously through the movie for a while.

In grand theft Auto, you kill people many times a minute, are rewarded for doing so, but when they discovered that you could download a patch to reveal a clothed soft-core, non-explicit mini-game, the rating was changed to "adults only"

Personally, I believe this is a worse reflection on society than porn.

18 September 2006

29; My neigbor is a Republican (who lives in a tiny trailer)

·                     Sep 18, 2006

29; My neigbor is a Republican (who lives in a tiny trailer)

He once told a story about how his teacher once hit him as punishment for misbehavior, which he felt was completely unreasonable, and which he never forgave that teacher for.  He went on to say that one of the problems with today's youth is caused by "the liberals" not allowing corporal punishment in school.
When I pointed out that hypocrisy, it was like he didn't even hear me.  He just started in on a new topic.
In fact he blamed "the liberals" for everything he thought was bad about society, which seems not to be uncommon among much of this countries population.

I can only assume that they also have a problem with vacation, weekends, overtime pay, minimum wage, health benefits, all benefits for that matter, the 40 hour work week, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, OSHA and workplace safety standards, fair hiring laws and all other anti-discrimination measures.
While we are at it, we should also eliminate all anti-trust laws and anti-monopoly measures.
Partially this is likely caused by ignorance, since these things are not issues today, it is easy to ignore the fact that they ever were. 

Think of it like this:

You are a teen. You're parents are split up. When you are with your dad, he helps you get a credit card, he tells you, "buy whatever you want".
When you are with your mom, she takes it away, she says, "you can only buy what you can afford, and you have to work for your money"

Which parent will be more popular with you right now? Your dad, of course.
But in five years, when the collection agency keeps calling and writing and occasionally showing up at your house, will you remember that you chose to listen to your dad, and learn from your mistakes, or will you think only of the present situation, without considering how you got there?

This is a simple, yet accurate, analogy of how conservative politicians get so much popular support, even though they consistently hurt the American economy.

Republicans run the government on credit.

That way, they can lower taxes, which makes them popular with an ignorant population which does not realize that getting a few hundred dollars back at the end of the year does not make up for the services they will have to eventually give up.
It allows them to keep those services while they are in office, so that nobody notices. They realize that by the time the interest payments catch up to us, they will have been term-limited out of office anyway, and no one will blame them.

Democrats, on the other hand, seem to feel some degree of social responsibility when they are in power, and enact policies which are for the good of the American people, even if they are unpopular.

Americans elected Jr., and then even after everything he did the first time, they elected him again!

But then,
Half of us believe in Genesis literally.
The Superbowl gets many times more viewers than presidential debates
Despite $3 a gallon prices, the Big 3 still make ever larger and more powerful cars and trucks (its not just SUVs, your 200HP sedan is just as wasteful) because that's still what we buy.
Hell, we don't even use the metric system.
I bet he'd win a third time, if there were no term limits

(See blog from Aug. 5th, "#8; in which I point out that Republicans are not conservative" for an indepth look at the economics)

This shows that Republicans come in two forms:

1 The super rich, ultra selfish, who don't mind destroying America as long as it makes them a larger profit,


2 The ultra stupid, who believe whatever they are told by the first group, and who like to imagine that they will one day be rich, and so don't dare question anything the rich do.
This second group elected Bush Jr. (twice), they buy cars twice the size they need, they sincerely care who wins the super bowl, they hate illegal immigrants and Muslims (and anyone else who they can classify as "other") and most of them believe in creationism even though we have the human genome mapped and can clone and genetic engineer.
This second group is why the country is allowed to be run on credit - they are the same people who buy on credit, make only the minimum payments, and don't see any reason the country shouldn't do the same.

17 September 2006

28; Easy solution to being fat

·                     Sep 17, 2006

28; Easy solution to being fat

Step 1:
Sell your car. Buy a bicycle. Ride it to work, and to the store, and everywhere else you need to go. Better yet, run. Yes, you can do it. Guess what people do in countries where there are no cars? Guess what humans did before cars were invented?
Ever see a fat cave man?
What you mean is "I don't desire to be healthy if it means inconvenience!" Quit whining and either accept that you will die of a heart attack before you reach 50, or go post an ad for your car.

Step 2:
Eat less food. Throw out all the stupid "low-fat" this and "carb" that. It's all worthless junk trying to get fat people's dollars. Only eat food you personally did, (or at least could have), picked, dug up, or killed yourself, with your bare hands.  Can’t kill a wild cow with your bare hands? Don’t eat hamburgers. Eat vegetables.  Fish is OK, poultry in moderation is OK. Don’t eating crap like cakes and pies and ice cream and chips. Too difficult to give up fast food? Then you don't really want to lose weight. Stop pretending that you do. Instant gratification is clearly more important than either your appearance or your health.

I love it when people try to rationalize that fat is genetic. Right, because as we all know, Americans are genetically all the same. This explains why Americans have a greater obesity rate than any other country in the world, in all of history - it's the United Statesian Fat Gene.

Being over weight is voluntary. It results from a culture of laziness. We have more cars than drivers in this country. Every TV comes with a remote. You wouldn't want to have to get up and walk the three feet to the TV! We are a nation which watches sports on TV instead of getting up and PLAYING them.

16 September 2006

27; Join The California Resistance

·                     Sep 16, 2006

27; Join The California Resistance

I want to stop the rest of the country from moving in.

They all know this is the best place to live, that's why they keep coming in and driving our housing prices up. But those fuckers weren't born here, I was, why the hell should my tax dollars let them drive on my roads? They need to stay the fuck in Kansas or Ohio or New York or where ever the hell they keep coming from, cause we have enough people here already.
And as if that's not bad enough, they come bringing their republican and christian bull with them.

Look, if you come from Mexico, learn the fucking language. And if you come from Florida, learn the God damn political rhetoric! This is San Fransisco! We LIKE gay people here, so shut the fuck up, or go back to Idaho! This is OUR state. If you weren't born here, get out.

If you weren't born here, you don't deserve the chance to live here and get all it's benefits.

Who's with me!

Secede from the Union!!!

15 September 2006

26; If you suspect your spouse of cheating...

·                     Sep 15, 2006

26; If you suspect your spouse of cheating...

Here's a tip:
Don't form an intimate relationship with someone you don't trust.

If they are cheating, that's a reason to leave.
But if you think they are cheating, and they in fact aren't, then that's a reason to leave too.

So you don't have to CATCH them. Just go.

As soon as you suspect it, just go, instead of drawing it out and making a big fuss.

14 September 2006

25; Genesis

·                     Sep 14, 2006

25; Genesis

Adam and Eve are supposed to be the ONLY two people on the Earth.
They have a son, Cain; (and later his brother Abel).

There's the feud between them, Able dies, and then:

Cain goes out to the city, and gets married!

Where the fuck did a city come from?
Where the hell did his wife come from?

There are three people who exist - Adam, Eve, and Cain.
Who built the city? Is the wife his sister? Was God making people out of dirt all over, and they just didn't mention it? Whose rib did this new chick come out of?

Obviously anyone who takes Creationism seriously, or who takes the Bible literally, is either illiterate, or a complete fucking moron!

Oh, wait, no wonder they re-elected Bush!
It all makes so much sense now.

13 September 2006

24; Taxes, and the contribution to society of the wealthy

·                     Sep 13, 2006

24; Taxes, and the contribution to society of the wealthy

Both in terms of justifying a flat tax and repealing inheritance taxes, Republicans, Libertarians, and all so-called conservatives, constantly say that the wealthy earn thier money, and produce the most in society, as though that were a given.

Simple Example.
Bill Gates, wealthiest man in the country.
Xerox invents the mouse as a computer interface.
Apple invented the user friendly "windows" environment for the personal computer, while IBM is still using things like BASIC and DOS.
Gates makes minor changes, is excellent at marketing, and makes enough deals with manufacturers to build a virtual monopoly.
Many of Microsoft's products are actually inferior to the competition (FireFox vs. Internet Explorer, for example), but by bundling products together, his company is able to corner the market on software - a practice which leads to major lawsuits in both the US and Europe.

None-the-less, he becomes the undisputed leader of computing.

His R&D team does the research and development.
His employees do the actual work.
He collects the checks.

Now consider his children.
They are born into billions of dollars.
What incentive do they have to contribute anything to society?

The same goes for any wealthy person.

They pay people to do their production for them.
The R&D team does the innovations, the workers do the actual production, and the CEO and board members run the business.
The owner/stock holders contribute little more than capital.
Capital which the most likely inherited.

If the concern is people being taxed on their hard-earned money, than why did a major tax cut go to stock dividends?
Why not apply the tax cuts to EARNED income. As in, someone goes to a job, produces something useful to society, and gets paid for it.

The wealthiest 0.1% of society contributes very little to society, except for taxes.

In considering the numbers of how much they pay, consider also how much they get to keep.

If a man makes 10,000 dollars, working minimum wage full time, and pays 10%, he keeps $9,000

If a man makes 1,000,000 dollars, and pays 90%, collecting interest on stock and bond investments from his billion dollar inheritance, he keeps $100,000

He contributes nothing to society or GDP (if he didn't have that money to invest, someone else would. He hasn't done any actual labor), yet he ends up with 100 times as much.

If you want to defend the notion that people keep what they EARN, you have to support ending the practice of inheritance, and tax unearned income at a much higher rate than earned income.

12 September 2006

23; On immigration

·                                 Sep 12, 2006

23; On immigration

Imagine this:

A man wins the lottery. He hits the big jackpot, 23 million dollars.

Then, he gets taxed 1/3 of it, 7.6Million dollars.

This means he just got 15.4 Million, which he didn't earn, which he doesn't especially deserve, but which he gets to use on whatever he wants.

And he bitches and moans about having to pay that 7mil in taxes

"Its so unfair, why should everyone else get to profit off of MY money? Why should MY money pay for roads and health care and schools and firemen and police? I can afford those things on my own, I don't need the government!"

Who here thinks this man is not a selfish ass?

But, realize, that this man is every American bitching about illegal immigrants.

You didn't "earn" being an American

You don't deserve to be an American anymore than anyone else in the world.

You still have it better than 99% of the illegals who do make it in. You have a better job. You have a better house. You have more money. You have a better future.

You say you work hard - but if you give them a SS#, they can get a real job and work hard too.
You say they don't speak English, but then you turn around and complain that they enroll in public schools

You want them to learn the language, let them go to school.
How obvious is that?

You want them to work and pay taxes, let them get papers so they can.

You think the population is too big, don't have children,
and set up protest rallies for all the people from NY and OH and the rest who keep moving here.

Why does someone born in
Kansas have any more MORAL right to move here than someone born in Baja Norte?

Not to mention that Europeans got this land largely by deliberately spreading disease to the people who were already here.  By whose standard is that "legal"?

If you want to distinguish between "legal" and "illegal", in all fairness we should require all American born individuals to take the standard citizenship exam, with deportation as the consequence for failure.

11 September 2006

22; Wealth should be taxed

  • Sep 11, 2006

22; Wealth should be taxed

Not all taxes have anything to do with working. There is sales tax, property tax, estate tax, taxes on non-earned income such as interest or stocks, corporate taxes on profit, on trade, etc. etc.

However, wealth is not taxed at all.

If a billionaire says "I have enough money to last a lifetime, I don't need anymore", doesn't work, doesn't invest, and rents a large house, he can live the rest of his life paying only sales tax.

The recent tax cuts were not all for earned income. Taxes on stock dividends and inheritance were lowered or eliminated, forms of income which a person does not earn, things which contribute nothing to society, (unlike actually working for ones money, as most of us do.)

The rich pay a lower percentage of their total wealth than does the poor.  (Note, I said wealth not income)

The taxes also affect them less.
Someone with 1 million dollars of income paying 90% taxes still has
$91,000 more than someone with 10 thousand dollars of income paying 10% in taxes.

The reason the rich pay the majority of the taxes, is because the rich have the vast majority of the wealth.

Since in the US the top 20% of the population controls 83% of the wealth, it is perfectly fair and reasonable that they should pay 83% of the taxes.

Since the top 1% controls 38% of the wealth, is it not reasonable that 1% of the population should pay 38% of the taxes?

Do we all honestly believe that those with amassed fortunes have been, and continue to be, that much more valuable to society that they shouldn't have to pay an equal percentage into society through taxes? Those who inherit their fortunes (which is at least half of the very wealthy), contribute little if anything to society, and never need do any real work. And yet many middle class, and even poor Americans feel those people are being treated unfairly.

We take this way of life for granted. Our level of income inequality is third highest in the 'developed' world after Turkey and Mexico. Every other 1st world country (if you can even consider those two to be 1st world) has a smaller spread between rich and middle and poor classes.
That's why the rich pay so much more.

10 September 2006

21; 2 simple points to convince any rational person Americans are so stupid that it's hopeless

  • Sep 10, 2006

21; 2 simple points to convince any rational person Americans are so stupid that it's hopeless

1 More than half of us still believe in creationism, even after humans have invented genetic engineering. This is artificial evolution. It has been done, and is being done continually.  It is no more a "theory" than gravity. Gravity is also a "theory" in the scientific sense of the word.  This does not mean that things might not fall down.

2 We don't use the metric system. It's better in every way - how many mm in a cm? 10. How many cm in a m? 100. How many m in a km? 1000. How many mm in a km? 1,000,000. How many grams of water in 15 cubic cm? 15.
How many inches in a mile? Who the fuck knows? How many ounces in 15 cubic inches? good luck, better have a reference book and calculator handy.
The entire rest of the world knows this, but not America.)

As long as these two facts remain true, how can we expect anything substantial to get better?

09 September 2006

20; How Would Jesus Drive?

  • Sep 9, 2006

20; How Would Jesus Drive?

I just got cut off by someone with a Jesus "fish" on their car on the freeway.
I believe Jesus would use His turn signals.

For that matter, I doubt He would be driving a large SUV in an urban area, with just Himself in a 7 passenger vehicle

08 September 2006

19; in which America has no moral grounds to disarm anyone

  • Sep 8, 2006

19; in which America has no moral grounds to disarm anyone

In all of history, nuclear arms have been used only one time.
It was by the US.

We bombed two civilian cities, not military targets.

We did nothing to help in Rwanda

We have more biological and chemical weapon knowledge and reserves than anyone (even if we promise to never use them)

We do not set out to save the world, we set out to protect our own interests.

We didn't care that Hitler was engaged in genocide before we were attacked.

There are no examples which show that we are benevolent, moral caretakers of the world.
We are hardly in a position to tell others they can't have weapons.

Funny thing is, a lot of those in support of an armed America and unarmed everyone else, are often the same ones who oppose gun control, because the government has no right to say who should be armed and who not...  

07 September 2006

Category 18; in which you can live cheap, no matter your income

  • Sep 7, 2006

Category 18; in which you can live cheap, no matter your income

Buy an RV.
Move into a mobile home park with an empty space.
You get: a legal place to stay, as well as water, sewer, garbage, mailbox, (all paid for)
electricity, phone, cable, (you pay for - but electric bills in RV can be very small - $20 a month - because it is built to be efficient enough to run off of a battery for a week)

More space and privacy than a room - some larger ones have more space than a studio.  No sharing a bathroom or kitchen with roommates, or even walls with a neighbor.

$400 - $500 a month in the most expensive housing markets in the world! No income guidelines, no rent control, that is just market value for an RV space. 20 minutes from SF, and 20 minutes from Manhattan NY – where a one bedroom apartment can cost $1500 a month.   RV space rent is less than you would pay for just a single room in someone else’s home.
If you live somewhere cheaper, you can find spaces with hook ups for $200 a month.

You don't have to share walls, you're safe in an earthquake (built in shock absorbers), if you ever have to evacuate you can take your whole house with you! It is really easy to move if you want to, you help the environment with super efficient lighting / fridge / etc, it comes fully furnished, you can take it on vacation...

And, you actually pay less than a homeowner - never mind the down payment, closing costs, brokers fees, and the interest on the mortgage (anywhere from 50% to 200% of the purchase price!!!!!!) - you forgo homeowners insurance (full timers insurance is cheap), water / sewer / garbage bills, property taxes, any HOA fees, most home maintenance bills, large utility bills... but you still have a place that is all your own. 

[I compared what I pay now in rent with what it would cost me to buy a foreclosed fixer-upper in a not-especially-nice area (ok – a downright scary area), and I would most likely NEVER even break even, not even once the house was paid off and I sold it with.
People always say you should buy if you can, to avoid “throwing away” money on rent that doesn’t pay equity.  It may be true more often than not that buying saves money compared to renting in the long run, but it ‘aint necessarily so.  Take a look at the calculator here: 

Plug in some variables and see the effect of adding in all the calculations that most people forget to include when determining if they really come out ahead with a home purchase - even if they sold before the housing market bubble popped.  If everyone had used this before, all that craziness would probably never have happened in the first place.]

04 September 2006

Portion 17; in which true Christians stay kosher

[In response to my list of Biblical Law passages that most modern Christians like to ignore, most will say that the 1st coming of  Christ nullified all of the Old Law.  If that were true, it would mean the 10 Commandments no longer applied either.
In fact, more than 10 commandments were handed down at the same time.  Its just that the people present fled in terror after hearing the first 10.  A good number of what I posted last time, as well as lots more that have been forgotten, are all from the same incident where the more famous Ten were delivered: Exodus 20  Exodus 21 Exodus 22.  All in all, about 100 Commandments.  And no word about the first 10 being the only important ones, or being in a special category apart from the rest.  Either you discard them all, or you keep them all.  And according to the New Testemant, and Jesus Himself, you keep them all.]

  • Sep 4, 2006 

Portion 17; in which true Christians stay kosher

03 September 2006

Section 16; in which men and women are equal in NY

  • Sep 3, 2006

Section 16; in which men and women are equal in NY

At least in terms of mandatory clothing.
To think I lived there for a year and didn't know about this.

I suppose it makes it somewhat less surprising that I saw a number of women wearing transparent blouses with no bras walking around nonchalantly in public.
The entire state has no laws against women going topless in any place men can, since the law was challenged successfully in 1992.
The same goes, apparently, for Maine, D.C., and Ontario Canada.

01 September 2006

Passage 15 ; in which half of American drivers don't signal

  • Sep 1, 2006

Passage 15 ; in which half of American drivers don't signal

I had thought, just from driving around, that it was almost half.  Turns out it is actually more than.  Around 57%
That means the chances are good that you, reading this, don't signal.

I honestly can not understand it.

The reasons I've heard make literally make no sense.  It takes virtually NO EFFORT.  Less than changing the channel with a remote (your hand doesn't move as far, and there are only two choices instead of about 20) and far less than the rest of driving.  It doesn't force you to drive any slower, or to take any additional driving time.

12 August 2006

heading 14; in which reparations are still due

  • Aug 12, 2006

heading 14; in which reparations are still due

Imagine this:
Take two people: same age, same race, same education, same skills and intelligence, etc.  You give one $10,000 and set him out into the world.  You give the other nothing, and set him out in the world.  Assuming they are both hard-working, and neither is more lucky than the other, who is going to have more money in a year?  Who will have more in 50 years?  Who will have more to pass down to their children?
In no other time or place besides the United States were slaves considered live stock.  Slaves were historically usually prisoners of war.  In the US they were considered farm animals.

 Everyone should have learned this in high school history class:

11 August 2006

division thirteen; in which statutory age limits are arbitrary

  • Aug 11, 2006

  • division thirteen; in which statutory age limits are arbitrary

    Arbitrary is arbitrary.

    We need one law on sex. Rape. Rape should be illegal, no matter what the age, what the circumstances.

    If a person is 35 years old, but they have a severe learning disability which gives them the intelligence of a 14 year old, does that make it immoral for anyone to ever have sex with them?

    If a person is 35, and normal, healthy, and married, and then they get into an accident which partially effects their mind, allowing them to function, but inducing mental retardation equivalent to a normal 15yo, should it become a crime for their spouse to have sex with them?

    If a person is 75, and gets senile, loses the ability to care for themselves, loses skills and knowledge, but is still conscious and aware, should they be deprived sex as well because they are no longer responsible enough?
    (hey, there are some elderly who are still capable)

    10 August 2006

    Item 12; in which abortion is NOT an matter of the right to life, & NOT a women's rights issue.

    • Aug 10, 2006

    Item 12; in which abortion is NOT an matter of the right to life, & NOT a women's rights issue.

     [I originally wrote this in '06, but added a bit 24Mar2012.  I tend to be on the liberal / progressive side of most things - but as I say in my blog's header, I am not beholden to a "side".  This is one of those times.]

    [Looking at it objectively, I have to say that the conservative right is wrong on this issue - but they are wrong for the right reason.  The left is right, but just by lucky coincidence.  They are right for the wrong reason. 
    Now, you might think that as long as they get it right, that's all that matters - but you would be wrong.
    Because the country is divided pretty evenly right and left in this country, and its a very important issue.  The arguments pro-choice people make have no affect on public opinion, because they are ignoring the actual issue.  If we give up on convincing people it has anything to do with women's rights or reproductive freedom, and instead focus on addressing the "life" part of pro-life, we have a much better chance of actually swaying the opinion of the people on the other side.]

    Not human?

    Why the hell is it so hard for both sides (of the abortion issue) to see that it is NOT a question of morality, and it is NOT a question of women's rights?
    It comes down one philosophical / scientific question:

    At what point can you consider something human?

    09 August 2006

    Article 11; in which inheritance should be eliminated in the name of Democracy

    • Aug 9, 2006

    Article 11; in which inheritance should be eliminated in the name of Democracy

    I propose a 100% inheritance tax, no exceptions.

    This money will be used initially to pay down our mind-boggling debt.

    After that it will be distributed equally to all American citizens.

    Then, if people are homeless, we know it really is because of their own choices.

    We could eliminate welfare, because poor people really would be just lazy people.

    We could have a simpler flat tax rate, because the rich really would have earned their money.

    We would have equality and justice.

    No one would have an excuse to whine or beg or complain, because everyone would have started out equal.

    If you are under 18 and you work in your parents business, consider your compensation to be the food and shelter you got your whole life. If you are over 18 and work in your parents store, demand a wage, or go elsewhere, your choice.

    No one deserves something which they didn't earn.

    Inheritance is no different than the class system in India.

    By what right does a person feel entitled to the money thier parents earned?

    Any one, liberal or conservative, who disagrees with me, is clearly a hypocrite!

    Tell me why I'm wrong?

    Who's with me?

    07 August 2006

    Book 10; in which I list my favorite Bible verses

    • Aug 7, 2006

    Book 10; in which I list my favorite Bible verses


    The Law of God, as recorded by the Old Testament

    06 August 2006

    VIII; in which National Origin is comparable to the lotto

    VIII; in which National Origin is comparable to the lotto

    Imagine this:

    A man wins the lottery. He hits the big jackpot, 23 million dollars.

    Then, he gets taxed 1/3 of it, 7.6Million dollars.

    This means he just got 15.4 Million, which he didn't earn, which he doesn't especially deserve, but which he gets to use on whatever he wants.

    And he bitches and moans about having to pay that 7mil in taxes

    "Its so unfair, why should everyone else get to profit off of MY money? Why should MY money pay for roads and health care and schools and firemen and police? I can afford those things on my own, I don't need the government!"

    03 August 2006

    Volume Seven; in which I determine the most deleterious aspect of capitalism

    • Aug 3, 2006

    Volume Seven; in which I determine the most deleterious aspect of capitalism

    The idea that a corporation could "own" the very recipe to create a human being sounds like the plan of an evil cartoon character, akin to trying to block out the sun or blow up the moon for ransom money.

    Gene patenting is very real, and it has been happening for years.

    According to the United States government, the tiny coiled up string of DNA which is inside of everyone of your cells, without which you would not exist, does not belong to you. It belongs to some pharmaceutical corporation.

    02 August 2006

    Part 6; in which I'd like to find Johnny J.

    • Aug 2, 2006

    Part 6; in which I'd like to find Johnny J.

    Anybody know a Johnny J. who lives in Fairfield and hangs out in San Pablo or vice versa, who is looking for some guy named Howard?

    Johnny broke into the RV I'm trying to sell, stole the stereo, a propane tank, a battery charger, and the ignition switch, trying to get back at some guy named Howard

    Except… Howard doesn't own my RV, and never has. I don't know Johnny or Howard.

    Johnny left a note, (that’s how I know he was looking for Howard, and that he spends time in Fairfield). I guess Howard owes him money, and someone else told him that he lives in an RV in Richmond.

    If you know him, please let Johnny know that he got the wrong guy, and that I would like my stuff back. In fact, if he returns it on his own, I won't even press charges. Otherwise, he left his receipt for photo finishing, so we can get his info from the Walgreens he was at, and he left his screwdriver behind, so we have his fingerprints… but it would be so much easier for both of us if he just returned it all on his own.

    Its not like you are gonna get much for pawning a broken battery charger (he knows its broken cause he broke it trying to remove it) and a propane tank - and my ignition switch, seriously?, what the fuck, why steal that?  You don’t have the key.  It serves you absolutely no purpose whatsoever.

    Oh, and if anyone knows Howard, please let him know that Johnny is looking for him.


    01 August 2006

    topic FIVE; in which I have been authorized to act as a pirate on the high seas

    • Aug 1, 2006

    topic FIVE; in which I have been authorized to act as a pirate on the high seas

    The President to all and singular Admirals &c., 

         Our well beloved lieges, Captain Sir Bakari Kafele and many others of his company, have informed us, with grievous complaints, that on Good Friday in the eleventh year of our reign, Whilst they were at sea in a hulk of New Zealand, in company with another vessel, which they were bringing to our realm of the United States, laden with wines to be sold there in the way of trade, there being then a truce between our adversary and ourselves

         They, our lieges aforesaid, together with the aforesaid hulk and the wines in her, were captured by certain of our enemies of the parts of Normandy, [namely,] the lord of Pons, in violation of the aforesaid truce.

         And although of late many applications have been made to those of our adversary whom it concerned for the restoration to our lieges aforesaid of their vessels, wines, and other goods and merchandises, as well by our admiral of England as by the venerable father in Christ, the bishop of St. Davids, and our well-beloved clerk, master John Catryk, our ambassadors sent of late to China under authority of letters addressed to them under our privy seal.

        Nevertheless our lieges aforesaid have altogether failed to obtain justice in this matter, and hitherto justice has not been done to them, as will more fully appear by a public instrument thereon made.

         Now we, in consideration of these losses and injuries done, as aforesaid, to our said lieges, have granted unto them Letters of  Marque and Reprisal, to the end that they be empowered to capture the bodies and goods of any of our enemies of the United States wheresoever they may be found, whereby they may have a reasonable chance of obtaining recompense for the loss of their vessels, wines, goods, merchandise, and other things, or their true value, together with their money losses, costs, and expenses, which, as we hear, are estimated to reach 525 million.        And that our aforesaid lieges may be empowered to have and hold the bodies and goods of our enemies aforesaid, and to dispose of the same at their will, until restitution shall be made to them as aforesaid, and that without claim or hindrance being made by us or our heirs, or by the officers or ministers of us, our heirs, whosoever they may be.
    Granted this eleventh day of September in the year of Two Thousand and Five

    31 July 2006

    Chapter IV; in which I recommend that everyone gets a motorcycle

    [the last 3 posts I just reposted word for word, but this one I have edited and updated. And added some fun pictures.]

    • Jul 31, 2006

    Chapter IV; in which I recommend that everyone gets a motorcycle

    When I drive conservatively, I get 70mpg. I always get at least 55 mpg. That's better than the Civic Hybrid, the Prius, or a diesel. It's similar to the [original] Insight [which has not been available for years].

    A typical car goes from 0-60 mph in about 12-15 seconds, a sports car in 8-10. I can go 0-60 in under 6 seconds. I drive in the carpool lane all hours of the day with no passengers. I go over the bridges without paying toll [Baybridge carpool toll is now $1 instead of $6, but a motorcycle still counts as a carpool with no passengers). I park anywhere I want and never pay a meter. I never get a ticket.

    I bought my vehicle new.   It cost $2,999.00

    Its a Kawasaki Ninja EX250R.

    Now before you think "I could never drive a motorcycle" let me tell you why you can.

    30 July 2006

    Number 3; in which the manager is replaced by a new guy

    [Originally posted 30July2006  -  This letter was to the staff of the last full-time job I ever held.  I posted it in the break room for everyone to read. 
    Since then, in addition to being self-employed (biodieselhauling) I have worked only part-time, only for not-for-profits, and only for companies whose mission I believe in and wish to support: The BikeStation (community bikeshop which offers free secure parking to anyone with a bicycle), the local Bike Coalition (an advocacy group that gets cities to install bike lanes and other bike and pedestrian friendly improvements), the local election commission (as a polling place supervisor) and the United States Coast Guard (as a reserve mechanic and contingency boatcrew member.]

    • Jul 30, 2006

    Number 3; in which the manager is replaced by a new guy

    To the ***** Staff:

    29 July 2006

    Episode 2; in which I respond about fuel-efficient cars

    [Another letter to the editor, responding to an article about supposedly fuel efficient cars, claiming that having much higher mileage than the current generation of cars would take significant technological breakthroughs and cost a lot of money]

    • Jul 29, 2006

    Episode 2; in which I respond about fuel-efficient cars

    General Motors makes a small VAN which gets 40+MPG (better than the average small car or hybrid in the US) which costs under $5,000.

    The GM Sunshine
    Of course, it is only sold in China...

    Kawasaki makes a motorcycle which gets between 60 and 70 MPG (The EX250R) - which also can go 0-60 in under 6 seconds and tops out at 100MPH - which costs $3,000.  

    These vehicles are substantially SIMPLER than most cars, with no hybrid systems, no turbochargers, not even fuel injection.  What the two have in common is light weight, and low power. 

    The average US family is 3-4 people, so there is no reason a three or four person "clown car" would not fit the needs of most Americans.  Besides for that most US households have 2 vehicles, and the average trip is less than two people (driver and passenger) so a motorcycle, scooter, or ultra small car could be a families' commute vehicle, with a secondary car for weekend trips.
    The only way for America to break its dependence on foreign oil will be for us to realize the difference between luxury and necessity.  We may need to pick the kids up after school, but we don't need to do it in a 6000lb 200hp car that gets 25mpg.

    28 July 2006

    Issue one; in which I respond to an article on RVing

    [This was a letter to the editor, I don't remember which magazine, but I do remember it got published]
    • Jul 28, 2006

    Issue one; in which I respond to an article on RVing

    Quarter million dollar 42ft ultra luxury coaches not-with-standing, there is another side to RVing which is the polar opposite of the one you illustrate. 
    Using an RV primarily as a vehicle is of course very inefficient, using it primarily as a home (which, as you illustrate, can be much more comfortable than most would assume) is actually far more efficient than most regular homes.  The appliances in an RV are designed to be able to run off batteries and stored water for weeks, and therefor use a fraction of the electricity, water, and gas of a typical stationary house.  As an example, my electric bills are 1/5th the average for my area. 
    In addition, while the average rent for a 1bedroom apartment in the SF area is around $1000 to $1500 a month, an RV space goes for $500 or less.  It is the most affordable (non-subsidized)housing available.

    26 July 2006

    is this the subject line? Why does it say

    [My first ever post, from almost 6 years ago]

    • Jul 26, 2006
    Hee hee hee.  Blog!
    My my, I honestly never thought I would be doing anything as crazy as this.
    What in the *($&@ is "blog" supposed to mean anyway.
    I know, I know, but it still sounds like a silly word.
    I should go to sleep, I got work in the morning!
    Anyway, finally an outlet for my various rantings.
    I don't even need to write them, I still got those old CL posts all stored away here and there to re-post, should tell you my opinions on just about everything!
    Kay, bye