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Showing posts from May, 2013

Day of Memories

I am a pacifist, in the strictest sense.  I think that killing is immoral.  I think that war is a sign of poor communication skills and immaturity.  I do not feel good about praising people who are murderers.  I think that life is valuable and should be respected.  I think that people should be peaceful.

We are not a great country.  We are not peacekeepers.  We are not kind, compassionate people.  We are a bloodthirsty and warmongering people.  We invade countries on false claims and lay waste to them.  We slaughter millions of innocent people, and thousands of our own troops.  We destroy whole cities with our weapons.

We are hypocrites.  The reason given for invading Iraq was their possession of weapons of mass destruction and yet we own countless of our own weapons of mass destruction.  We have missiles and nuclear bombs.  We have fighter jets and bombers.  We have tanks and aircraft carriers.  We spend more on our military than the rest of the industrialized world put together. …

Self confidence

As should be no surprise, I've spent a lot of time over the last couple years going to atheist websites.  I've also spent a lot of time on theist sites as well.  I have noticed one stark contrast.  In general, atheist pages allow for feedback.  That is, on YouTube or Facebook or sites which allow users to comment and rate, atheists usually allow the rating and comments.  While, in general, theists do not.  The example that sparked this post is a video that a Christian group put out called "The Thaw".  You will notice that comments and ratings have been disabled.  There have been many responses to this video, but my favorite is this one.

Now, since I'm sure some of my readers will object, I need to clarify that I'm not making any sweeping generalizations.  There are exceptions.  But they are exceptions.  The general rule is that typically atheists do not block feedback and theists do.  There are some atheists who block comments.  There are some theists who do …

Libertarian socialist

I wrote the other day about being a socialist.  Today I'd like to talk about being a libertarian and how I think that the two go hand in hand, rather than contradict each other.

I believe in individual liberties.  I think that each member of society has certain rights, and that there are objective and rational reasons these rights should be observed and respected.  I believe that each person has the right to life, the right to own property, and the right to offer goods and services in exchange for goods and services from other people.  I believe that each person has the right to an education to better eir own life.  I believe that each person has the right to perform labor to contribute to society.  We each have the right to pursue happiness and engage in activities which do not infringe on the rights of others.

I believe that libertarianism is the closest approximation of a government system which guarantees individual rights.  The government should not pass laws which infringe u…

Where's the beef?

I have heard many arguments for vegetarianism and veganism, especially since Conrad feels very strongly about treating animals with compassion.  Many of the arguments, I simply dismiss because they are illogical.  Many of the PETA crowd are guilty of various logical fallacies, probably most prevalently the appeal to emotion.

However, while watching this video, I can say without much hesitancy that this is a logical argument.  These are reasonable people and they are rationally discussing the issue.  There are objective ways that we can measure how well an organism understands its own existence and is capable of suffering.

It is a sad fact of our existence that we must kill other life forms in order to survive.  This has been my main hesitation when hearing arguments against eating meat.  Whether we eat plant or animal life, we must kill something in order to survive.  We cannot live by ingesting only matter which has never been alive.

I believe that what Dawkins says about a slidin…

Life Lessons from Konan

Like most puppies, my dog likes to play.  A lot.  He has tons of energy.  He's always running around, begging for us to play with him.  He loves going to the park and running everywhere and sniffing everything.  He loves chewing up anything he can get his paws on.  But one of his all-time favorite activities is tug-of-war.  We bought a rope from the store to play with him, but we can't always find it, so we've also donated two old blankets to the game.  He's actually very smart and he recognizes that these two blankets are allowed but other blankets are off-limits for the game.  He'll indicate that he wants to play by running over to the blanket and biting it, while looking up hopefully at us.

Konan has a need to play.  In particular, to play tug.  He doesn't want to fight (not for-real fighting, anyway).  He doesn't want to harm us.  He doesn't even want to harm the blanket or rope we use for the game.  But he wants to tug.  He wants to play-fight.  H…

Hating reality

Whenever I watch an action movie, I find myself becoming quite pensive during the film.  Probably because I don't enjoy watching all of the violence and fast-paced chasing, so I turn my thoughts elsewhere.  What intrigues me most is what people find so compelling about these movies.  They are definitely the biggest movies with the most attendance.  But so many people that I know don't enjoy the violence itself, but perhaps some other aspect of the movie.  Yes, I know many people also enjoy the violence.  I'm just not sure why.

So, Conrad and I went to see the new Star Trek movie today.  And I became pensive.  Spoiler alert.  I will be talking about events that happen in the movie.  If you haven't seen it yet and don't want it spoiled, don't read the rest of the post until after you watch the show.

At one point, Captain Kirk has to climb into the warp core drive and realign the something or other.  At any rate, while the ship is tumbling through the atmosphere…

Fake it til you make it

I saw this statement a few days ago and I've been wondering how I feel about it.  I don't think it's clear--not to me, anyway.  Perhaps it's that the concept of a "fake friend" is far too ambiguous.  Even still, the thought of having no friends at all is very intimidating to me.  Even when I was in grade school and got bullied on a regular basis, I still had friends.  There were some fellow classmates who were kind to me.  And that really helped me.  It was fun being able to walk down the street to their house and play with them.  All throughout my life, and even now, friends are very important.

So, what is it about this statement that I don't like?  Well, for one, I think it's kind of controlling and maybe even manipulative.  In a sense, it's putting conditions on how someone else must act in order to be considered a friend.  And sure, I do have conditions on what kind of behavior I expect from people in order to consider them friends.  But I&#…

Circumstantially Pompous

Twelve years ago I graduated from high school.  When Jostens came to my school on the day we were to order our cap & gown and other graduation paraphernalia, I was incensed.  It's a monopoly.  My choice was Jostens or nothing.  So I went with nothing.  I took a moral stand against Jostens' monopoly.  That wasn't good.  I was on the administrators' radar because I was in the top 10 in my graduating class.  I was asked no fewer than 5 times by the various administrators of my school whether I wouldn't change my mind and actually participate in the ceremony.  In fact, one of them even talked to me as I was sitting with the band ready to start playing for graduation.

Six years ago, I graduated twice.  In the Spring with my BS and in the Summer with my MS.  I was ambivalent.  I didn't really care one way or the other.  It was no longer a moral stand against monopolies.  It was just a lack of interest in the ceremony.  In fact, I didn't understand what the …

Loving the patriarchy

So, I just read this article about a Methodist reverend who performed a wedding for his gay son, against church doctrine, and is now facing disciplinary action from his church because of it.  Reading through some of the comments at the bottom of the page got me thinking.  I am a believer in civil disobedience. That is, if there is a law which is unjust, we citizens have the right to disobey that law solely for the purpose of making the statement that it is unjust.  For example, in some places it is illegal to collect rainwater (it was illegal in Utah until 2010).  This is a ridiculous law.  I think it would be perfectly justifiable for an entire community to get together and all collect rainwater at the same time.

What I find to be odd, though, is that people try so hard to fight against a patriarchal order that they are only a member of voluntarily.  In this particular case, I speak of the Methodist church.  But in general, nearly all churches.  Churches have a tendency to be author…

Loss of privilege

One of my friends posted this the other day.  I was aghast.  The complete lack of understanding that this shows is absolutely astounding.  I've also seen floating around the interwebs several variations of comparing Tim Tebow with Jason Collins.  It's usually along the lines that the media gets mad at Tim Tebow for being openly Christian but praises Jason Collins for being openly gay.

I believe that the phenomenon that is going on here is the loss of privilege.  Up until just recently, straight people have been privileged in society.  Straight people have the privilege of walking around in public and displaying affection for the person they love.  They can hold hands, hug, and kiss in public without fear of being ridiculed or attacked.  Gay people have not had this privilege until the last couple decades.  Yes, some bold gay people did display affection publicly before that, but in most cases it ended in them being physically assaulted, ridiculed, or even imprisoned.

Straig…

Prez Billy Jeff

Bill Clinton took office 20 years ago.  I was 9 at the time.  He was president until I was in high school.  I never actually paid attention to what he did as president.  All I knew was what my dad told me, what I heard on the news, and what I heard from friends at school.  My dad said that before he took office, he didn't like the guy, but after he'd been in for a few years, he absolutely hated him.

I remember that he had sex with a woman he wasn't married to, that he lied about it, and that he was impeached.  I believe he was impeached for lying, but I could be wrong.  At any rate, when this was all happening, I thought he was a very bad man.  I agreed with all of the people around me who said that he should be impeached (and also subsequently removed from office, which obviously never happened).

But now that I'm older and understand politics and how the world works a bit better, I've looked into the man a bit more.  I was surprised to find out this long list of…