Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Debate: Does The Universe Have A Purpose?

We are a species oriented toward a teleological view of the world. We feel as though there is a purpose to not just our individual lives (as in, "God has a plan for you") but for the whole of humanity and the universe. We could be wrong, of course, but the quick dismissal of such intuitions of meaning may be just as wrong.

The book of Genesis and its great illustrations, like the frescoes of Michelangelo, remain a far more intelligent account of the nature and origin of the universe than the representation of the world as a chance collocation of atoms. for the biblical cosmology continues to express - however inadequately - the significance of the fact that the world exists and that man has emerged from it, while the scientific picture denies any meaning to the world, and indeed ignores all our most vital experience of this world. The assumption that the world has some meaning which is linked to our own calling as the only morally responsible beings in the world, is an important example of the supernatural aspect of experience which Christian interpretations of the universe explore and develop.--Michael Polanyi

The debate features Matt Ridley, Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins vs Rabbi David Wolpe, William Lane Craig and Douglas Geivett. The introduction is in Spanish, and the debate begins at about the 8:30 mark.

Wikileaks Is Inevitable

So Wikileaks has released tons of documents which are so embarrassing to the United States government that Rep. Peter King has asked that it be labeled a terrorist organization.  While we’re at it, we could throw in PETA, Greenpeace, and ACORN because they’ve been national embarrassments as well.  In any case, this whole incident has demonstrated that there are tyrants in government, on both sides, and they are pretty much running things.  This means that we are all living under what essentially amounts to a totalitarian state.  Sure there aren’t any major genocide camps yet, but give it some time.  The Nazis were in power for almost a decade before they started exterminating the Jews, after all.

More to the point, I am just amused that that the Federal government seems shocked at what Wikileaks managed to release.  In all honesty, if it wasn’t Wikileaks, it would have been some other organization leaking these documents, or documents like it, because the very structure and organization of our Federal government necessitates it.

In a republic or a democracy, you need to limit the amount of secrets you have in order to successfully serve the people.  The reason is because the people you rule over (or “serve” as our masters like to say) have to informed of your activities.  A republic or democracy with secrets is one that will devolve into a totalitarian state, if it hasn’t already.  So really, Wikileaks was doing the US citizens a favor.

I’ve heard that in World War II, there was a saying: “Loose lips sink ships.”  It’s catchy, but at the same time this phrase doesn’t apply to what Wikileaks released.  A government that classifies every innocuous e-mail or memo that one mid-level bureaucrat sends to another.  I haven’t looked over every single document from Wikileaks, but I suspect that a good portion are casual e-mails that have nothing to do with anything.  I know this because I’ve been in document processing in the past and many of the e-mail archives were usually just that.  Every once and a while, though, we’d have to crack a password protected Excel file and find a pornographic picture of some kind in it.

Anyway, consider this: the Federal government has 2 million employees.  Add to that the numerous contracting companies that work for the Federal government.  Now consider that 1.2 million people have Secret level clearance and roughly 800,000 have Top Secret level clearance.  We are talking about hundreds of thousands of people with the clearance level to dump billions of “sensitive” documents on to the Internet.  It’s shocking that there haven’t more document dumps so far.  Perhaps Wikileaks could start offering cash rewards for more.

The only way for the Federal government to stop organizations like Wikileaks is to have less secrets, not police retaliation.  Even if the organization is disbanded or sent to Gitmo, there will be another that rises up.  This is because as long as the Federal government continues to insist that it needs to be secretive about every little thing it does, there will always be some disgruntled office worker (or army private) who will release it.  Heck, the IT guys in the Federal government probably have the real juicy stuff or access to it.

A more open government is one that doesn’t require the janitors to have top secret clearance.  It is one that has a few, well guarded secrets that have an expiration date.  It keeps them honest, ensures that the workers are doing their jobs and not watching porno for eight hours a day, and it gives the people a better sense of confidence.

On a side note, I’ve heard that Sweden has issued an arrest warrant against Julian Assange for rape.  Maybe he can become Roman Polanski’s roommate.

Don't touch my junk! I'm white!

Conservatives have never had anything but disdain for civil liberties, especially when it comes to minority groups. From the Arizona law to the war on blacks...er, drugs, they have fought civil libertarians every step of the way and defended total tyranny.

Now that the TSA has started its porno-scanning grope-a-thon, white conservatives are finally getting a tiny, microscopic, pitiful taste of what they've inflicted on minorities for generations. And unsurprisingly, they don't like it. Their objection is not that civil liberties are being violated, but that the damage is being done to white conservatives instead of minorities. Their solution to the whole thing is "profiling." In other words, they are fine with the TSA's techniques, but prefer the sexual humiliation to be aimed at minorities instead of WASPs.

And they wonder why people consider them racist shitbags.

Conservatives to the Rescue...

Representative Peter King (R-NY), the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has done what we (well, we liberals) knew that fascist conservative Republicans were bound to do: classify inconvenient speech as terrorism.

Rep[rehensible] King has sent letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder claiming that WikiLeaks should be classified as a foreign terrorist organization, and that its founder, Julian Assange, should be considered a terrorist and prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

In King’s own words, the release of diplomatic cables was “worse than a military attack.” He wants to classify WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization so that the US can “seize their funds and go after anyone who provides them with any help or contributions or assistance whatsoever.”

In other words, King wants to outlaw investigative journalism as terrorism. It’s nice to be reminded that Democrats can’t hold a candle to the kings of tyranny on the right. Expect more wonderful examples of Republican douchebaggery now that they have a House majority and won’t only be wasting everyone’s time just bitching and filibustering 24/7.

Comedy Legend Leslie Nielsen, Dead

Surely you can’t be serious…

Leslie Nielsen died yesterday due to complications from pneumonia. Nielsen’s family informed the press that he had been taken to a Fort Lauderdale hospital. When asked what it was for, they said it’s a big building for treating patients in, but that’s not important right now.

Leslie Nielsen was 84 years old. His hairpiece was 41.

Our Cup Runneth Over

The truth just keeps pouring out of WikiLeaks, as there are new claims that a major bank’s internal communications will be exposed soon. WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange said in an interview in 2009 that they had gigabytes worth of data from Bank of America, so BofA might be the next wizard to have the curtain pulled away by Toto.

I think it’s great, and I imagine that most of you think it’s a good thing, too. Had this been done by the government, I have a feeling there would be some complaints… but since the government hates WikiLeaks, they’re the good guys, right?

Privacy is so mysterious…

Gerald Celente on WikiLeaks 'Cablegate': They want transparent govt - Let's have It!

Rethinking the Old Anarchists

Media Matters is a disgrace

While I'm not (and have never been) a 9/11 Truther, I'm disgusted with how the media treats them like lunatics. Most recent case: Andrew Napolitano. OMG! He has some reservations about the official 9/11 story! Burn him at the stake!

Mainstream liberals really are pathetic sheeple when their own thugs are in office.

Panel on Secular Morality

If you can stand listening to all the interruptions and questions that illuminate the ignorance of the religious and delusional the entire seven clips are worth watching.

I picked out a single clip of the seven that ties into many ideas presented here on SE.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lady Owns the Sun; A Brief Economic Lesson

This is truly an amazing article. In the end we are left with but two choices. Either A.) This lady truly owns the sun, and through taxation and benevolence (like I haven't heard this before) will solve all of the worlds problems or B.) She will get fifteen minutes of fame, nothing will come of it, she does not understand economics.

Although I am not a betting man, I'd wager $100 it's the latter.

The real gem of this article, besides it hilarious absurdity, is the lesson to be learned in economics and how this women demonstrates most peoples profound ignorance in the subject (this may include most econ majors as well :P ).

Near the end of the article, the women says,
Duran, who lives in the town of Salvaterra do Mino, said she now wants to slap a fee on everyone who uses the sun and give half of the proceeds to the Spanish government and 20 percent to the nation's pension fund.

She would dedicate another 10 percent to research, another 10 percent to ending world hunger -- and would keep the remaining 10 percent herself.

"It is time to start doing things the right way, if there is an idea for how to generate income and improve the economy and people's wellbeing, why not do it?" she asked.

And why not? Clearly she has good intentions. However, like many welfare statist policies, that have everyone's best intentions in mind, it is simply wrong on premise.

By slapping a fee on sun usage, she has made everyone in the world poorer, not richer. She depletes the abstract concept of wealth, that money is supposed to represent (damn you fiat), by taxing people on what was free. I was reminded of an allegory by a Frenchmen named Frédéric Bastia, called "The Candlemaker's Petition," a satire on protectionism, but one can easily see how its lessons apply to this real life example.

I highly recommend reading the brief "Candlemaker's Petition"

Hear is the link to the original article.

More posts like this at ALTReason.

How Foreign Muslims View America

I recently read A Flame on the Front Line by John Weaver a Christian missionary in Afghanistan.  The book primarily focuses on his spiritual journey from a rebellious youth to a man devoted to God and to an obscure third-world country that nobody cared about until about 9:00 AM on September 11, 2001.  John Weaver worked with the aid relief for the refugees fleeing the Taliban back before the US invasion.  When the towers fell (ironically it was also shortly after the Taliban had assassinated their biggest rival warlord), John decided to stay among the Afghans and continue to aid and comfort them.  The details of this story are found in his other book, Inside Afghanistan.

Anyway, toward the end of the book he brought up an interesting observation.  He outlined five points on how the Muslims he met there view Americans:

  1. All Americans or Westerners are Christians but not too serious about holiness, morality, or matters of faith.  This observation on the part of Muslims is not really that far off.  According to a study done by the Barna Group, 66% of those who claim to be Christian are merely casual Christians, or people who don’t take their faith all that seriously.  That’s nearly 2/3 of Americans.  Meanwhile, there are almost as many dedicated irreligious people (Barna dubs them skeptics) as there are dedicated Christians (about 11% are skeptics and 16% are Captive Christians).  So while it may be a misconception to say that all Americans are Christians who don’t care for their faith, it certainly is a legitimate generalization.
  2. Most Christians are immoral, because premarital sex, adultery, divorce, pornography, murder, and abortion occur everyday in the West and in America.  Given the first point, it isn’t a far stretch to make the second point.  It is largely true that Christians are hypocrites, especially if the majority of them are casual about their faith.  When James wrote, “I will show you my faith by my works”, he didn’t mean that works build faith, but that those whose heart is right with God will do good works for His sake.  In effect, a good way to judge a person’s heart is through their actions and not through their words.  Given the works of many Americans, our faith is non-existent.
  3. Since Christians claim to be forgiven in Christ or “saved by God’s grace,” we think we think we are free to live as we wish.  This point seems to build upon the last two, but it also can go much deeper.  Here I find myself tempted to write pages on predestination versus free will because this point ties into that.  If Christians believe that they are predestined to be saved, then the logical conclusion is very much the attitude expressed here.  By our behavior, you would think that many believe that.  Catholics go to confessional all the time to absolve themselves of their sins but do they make any effort to truly repent?  And how many altar calls does a Baptist have to make before he or she actually realizes that we are not free to live as we wish but that we are free to live as God wishes.
  4. Personal disciplines like daily worship, bowing in prayer, or fasting from food are not important.  Yes, this one is also a legitimate criticism of Christians everywhere in the West.  Again, it goes back to that whole faith and works observation where we do not make the effort to seek out God through worship, prayer, and fasting.  When we worship, many Christians are simply looking for an emotional high.  When we pray, we demand that God bless us and bend over for our every selfish whim.  And fasting is so outdated among many Christian circles.  Pride is more damaging than most Christians realize.
  5. Christians are idolatrous because they worship three gods: God the Father, Mary the Mother, and Jesus the Son, although some believe that the green god of money is part of the trinity.  This last observation is really just a misconception of the Holy Trinity, although I will freely admit that many Christians are just as idolatrous as any other religion.  If you are unwilling to give up something in your life for God, that is idolatry, pure and simple.  This does not mean you have to give it up, this merely means that whatever that thing is, be it your family, your friends, your possessions, your prestige, etc., you have to be willing to lose it all for His sake.  Don’t worry, though, it is very rare for God to demand things of that magnitude from us unless you’re a prophet.

I actually appreciate the criticism coming from the Muslims who live in foreign lands.  To be honest, I agree with them for the most part and I firmly believe that Christians are their own worst enemies in the West.  Perhaps it’s high time Christians, myself included, decided to not focus so much on everyone else but rather themselves.  There’s a lot of crap going on in the Christian world right now and I see little effort to change it all.

Sadly, if a bunch of third-world Muslims can see it, how blind are we that we can’t?

OMG wikileaks is awesome

How badass is it when a handful of geeks can piss off the government so badly? Mucho badass, in my book. I want the US to fail in Afghanistan. I want our leaders to be exposed as the laughingstocks that they are. It's amusing to me.

WikiLeaks is taking a wikileak on the state. And they can't do jackshit about it. This is a sensation so wonderful that one usually has to be on drugs to experience it.


Stimulating environmental destruction

The stimulus finally stimulated something.

Proud to return

As long-time SE visitors know, I've had an on-and-off relationship with blog over the last year. This is partly because my personal job situation has been very complicated--been jumping around a lot in the job market--and partly because my political views have evolved from Misoid market libertarianism to the more leftish Kirkpatrick Sale brand of libertarianism.

I'm still a radical who hates the federal government, but the corporate and financial behemoths running everything are not the doe-eyed innocents that the Wall Street Journal schmucks would have you believe. Even without government support, these structures are not necessarily benign. There are times when I'm going to sound closer to Ginx on this blog than other commentators. My posts will often be different (sometimes to a very large degree) than before. Be warned.

Other than that, I'm glad to be back! And not just for a few posts, but back as a regular. Hopefully.

The Coming War in Korea?


The last time I posted about privacy, it was broadly criticized. I have a feeling people obsessed about their personal privacy, rather than reading what I actually wrote and considering what I actually presented. At any rate, I was unconvinced by the tautologies thrown at me in defense of privacy, and I still find it ridiculous to even believe privacy exists.

I imagine that the hysteria over the sacredness of privacy doesn’t extend to the growing fervor over WikiLeaks. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that anarchists aren’t siding with the government, and I find them to be hypocrites for demanding more for themselves than they would allow for the government. That’s okay, at least they’re half right.

I suppose I’m preaching to the choir, but I will risk being redundant: WikiLeaks is defending freedom, not endangering people. Those working at WikiLeaks are not treasonous or criminal, they are brave defenders of freedom (as opposed to the cowards they have exposed for killing innocent people).

But what of the claims that WikiLeaks is endangering people? Perhaps they are, because sometimes the truth is hidden for a reason. There are undoubtedly people who risk their lives in aiding the US, and it is possible that WikiLeaks did not do a thorough job of editing out any sensitive information. However, there are two problems with this.

First, the US could have been open and honest at any time. Our government could choose to be transparent. The government could then be the ones who peruse the information, ensuring that no truly confidential information leaked out. However, the government classifies so much information as “Top Secret” that Americans are left largely in the dark as to what their elected officials are actually doing. No democracy can maintain its integrity when the population is kept in ignorance.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it’s not as though the government is much better with sensitive information. Remember Dick Cheney outing the US spy, Valerie Plame? Where was the outrage then? Can the government point to a single person actually endangered or harmed by the WikiLeaks documents? The Plame case was an explicit example of someone being endangered and their career destroyed… but what came of it? I am highly suspicious of hypocrites.

After all, you should not expect to be treated differently than you treat others. If this seems like an under-handed swipe at the lovers of personal privacy out there, it is, but it applies to the government as well. If the government has access to civilian communications (which they have, right or wrong, like it or not), then civilians must have access to government communications. If the government wants people to mind their own business, they should take their own advice.

Personally, I would rather everyone be in everyone else’s business, because this tends to cut down on abuse. People do strange, even horrible things when they believe no one is watching.

Speaking of parity… I should be able to grope Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain until the TSA begins respecting personal space again. Hmm, maybe that’s an issue for another post.

Music Monday: Microdisney

The real genuine and original Music Monday, not that phony pretend MM at another blog...

From 1980 to 1988, Microdisney, out of Cork, Ireland, produced melodic rock and bitter lyrics. "Helicopter Of The Holy Ghost" was a single released in 1982:

Always on the verge of more mainstream success throughout the 80s, the band finally got a major label deal with Virgin records and their first major label release was the album Crooked Mile, off which there was a fairly popular single, Town to Town:

Microdisney: Big Sleeping House

There was one last album left in them, but when they seemed stuck at the level they'd achieved, the band broke up.

Next week, The Toadies and Franz Ferdinand!

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the actual post link here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

Phone Call: Is Jesus God?

Standard of Living to Drop Dramatically

The social net has become a bit more frayed. Soon extended unemployment benefits will cease and 2 million Americans will have to dip into their savings, if they have any. This is an outgrowth of the effects of free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing. We have lost 8.5 million jobs over the last ten years to this destructive process. We have seen more than 42,000 manufacturing plants leave the country as well. There are now more than 17 million Americans unemployed and the U6 official government unemployment figures 17%. If you remove the bogus birth/death ration, the real figure is 22-5/8%. Over that ten-year period we have lost about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs or about 1/3rd of that labor force. As recent as 1985, 25% of output was in manufacturing, now it is close to 11%. America’s physical infrastructure is in a shambles, so that transnational conglomerates can bring us cheap goods to suppress inflation and bring these companies mega-profits, which they keep stored offshore to bypass taxation. They presently have $1.7 trillion in such profits.

This in part has been caused by deficit spending and the creation of money and credit since August 15,1971, when the US left the gold standard. It is not surprising as a result that 81% of the US economy is considered in poor shape and that the IMF fears a social explosion.

America's Standard of Living is About to Fall Off a Cliff

Ron Paul to Congress: Refuse to Raise the Debt Ceiling!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fair Game - Wikileaks as Primary Source Confirmation

The current movie Fair Game illustrates the delusional nature of a propagandized society that has lost grounding in the truth. I point to my analysis of the factual case of Wilson from 2003-2005. At the time the truth could not find its way into the US cultural context. A rational discussion of fact on topical relevance was lost on mis-information dis-information, ignorance, and conspiracy theory, as well as media-propaganda. The news media has a focus on "people-persons-and personal dirt" and they do not direct to factual issues and concerns or trends. The poison of conspiracy, propaganda, and culture has a dumbed down American public lobotomized. When it comes to my videos I am routinely called a Jew bastard or hate monger or worse from a variety of lobotomized-ignorant-mesmerized tools of the current trend and culture. The internet and our culture looks at isolated details and cannot chain them into organized trends and relationships. These videos are all about organizing a large picture view and based on the most recent Wikileaks release of correspondence, I can say with confidence that picture that has been presented over the year has been massively confirmed by the fact of primary source information.

So what was theory about the "Great land Mass (Halford Mackinder and the Dymaxion map), Russia, China, Korea, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Al Qaeda, and the main funder of Pakistan and the 9/11 attacks have now become supported by fact in the form of diplomatic correspondence. The volume of correspondence from Turkey also speaks to my correct weighting of issues as well as identifying the major players I have mentioned previously. Russian and Chinese trends discussed previously are also confirmed. The media has glossed over these leaked documents in favor of picking out personal slanted analysis of individual leaders.

When I look back these videos have been totally predictive with the media being a year late. Will people listen? Where will the built in ignorance of the American people lead us? Well, its very conducive to fascism with the United States becoming the next NAZI Germany. Eisenhower did stand up to the military industrial complex, (now the financial-corporate-elite-oligarchy) yet he could not address the issue of domestic fascism in the form of Joseph McCarthy. The same John Birch Society is in place and ironically and not surprisingly they are complaining most about the fascist trajectory. The rule of irony identifies this likely future-trend laced with the paradox of opposite effect. The ancestors of the McCarthy era are in the wings waiting to disregard both the national interest and also our nations freedom. The American public stands ready to both be the victim and the future villein of the next conflict as it destroys lives and freedom both domestically and abroad.

Replacing Satan

Satan is going on vacation and needs a replacement. Candidates for the job include Scott Silverman from Positive ID, Verichip, Raytheon, Monsanto and Goldman Sachs

Humans Are Special and Unique

Are you humans unique among all the species on planet earth? Well, are you? Can any other animal read this and understand the question? No? Pretty "novel", aren't you, humans? Yes, no other species can think conceptually the way humans can, or reason as we do, create as we do, build and invent as we do, or philosophize as we do. We are different, and even scientists recognize the gap between human beings and all other life forms on earth. In fact, they reckon that the rise of humans was a spectacular coincidence, as we are the only example of intelligent life so far. Which means that if there is no God guiding things behind the scenes, who put a plan in place for intelligent life to arise in the Universe, that even if there is life on some far away planet, that the odds against anything resembling the human race in intelligence evolving is virtually nil.

Yes, we are so unique (deny it all you want) that it isn't hard to imagine how life might start and evolve in another galaxy to bring forth something like an elephant or a cockroach, but more difficult to see how an intelligent species like us could come forth without some purposeful direction to evolution. Even if you are an atheist, you have to admit that we are novel indeed.

Here are ten ways we are different:

Top 10 Things that Make Humans Special

Plus, we masturbate like there's no tomorrow!:

So why don’t monkeys and apes masturbate even nearly as much as humans? It’s a rarity even among low status male nonhuman primates that frustratingly lack sexual access to females–in fact, the few observed incidents seem to be with dominant males. And why haven’t more researchers noticed such an obvious difference with potentially enormous significance for understanding the evolution of human sexuality? After all, it’s been nearly 60 years since Alfred Kinsey first reported that 92 percent of Americans were involved in masturbation leading to orgasm.

The answer for this cross-species difference, I’m convinced, lies in our uniquely evolved mental representational abilities—we alone have the power to conjure up at will erotic, orgasm-inducing scenes in our theater-like heads … internal, salacious fantasies completely disconnected from our immediate external realities. One early sex researcher, Wilhelm Stekel, described masturbation fantasies as a kind of trance or altered state of consciousness, “a sort of intoxication or ecstasy, during which the current moment disappears and the forbidden fantasy alone reigns supreme.”

Not unique? Then try to masturbate without the human ability to fantasize!

The Death of the Euro, and the TSA Body Scandal

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rationality and Scientific Naturalism

Is this a good argument for God? I'm not convinced, but would be interested in your thoughts:

The recalcitrant nature of human persons for scientific naturalism has been widely noticed. Thus, Berkeley philosopher John Searle recently observed, “There is exactly one overriding question in contemporary philosophy….How do we fit in?….How can we square this self-conception of ourselves as mindful, meaning-creating, free, rational, etc., agents with a universe that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles?” For the scientific naturalist, the answer is “not very well.”

The difficulty for scientific naturalism in accounting for these commonsense features of human beings has not been noticed simply by notable atheists. In fact, the nature of human persons has lead some to embrace theism.


But rationality is an odd entity in a scientific naturalist world. Christian philosopher Victor Reppert agrees: “…the necessary conditions for rationality cannot exist in a naturalistic universe.” And Reppert goes on to argue that the ontology of human rationality provides evidence for theism as its best explanation.

Naturalism, Human Persons and Rationality: Admitting the Problem

h/t Victor Reppert

A Special Message from the TSA

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Source of Human Morality?

"The Source of Human Morality" - a debate held at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on November 16, 2010. Hosted by UMBC's Orthodox Christian Fellowship and Secular Student Alliance. With Matt Dillahunty and Father Hans Jacobse.

Note the arguments to authority (against on the atheist side and for on the religious side), and the “Christian benevolence” points in part 1 and 2.

Nine parts over two hours total.

From the comments about the religious position:

I'd have a hard time not calling him out on his blatant strawmanning, massive historical & cultural ignorance and the all around vacuousness of his opening statement.

I could not agree more.

The Source of Human Morality [3/9] (debate)

Note the fascist and communist argument about atheism from the religious position and the “submission to” points.

The Source of Human Morality [4/9] (debate)

Note the answer from the religious POV that slavery was a “pagan” tradition that monotheism was forced into and that Christian culture was the solution to slavery.

The Source of Human Morality [5/9] (debate)

The Source of Human Morality [6/9] (debate)

The Source of Human Morality [7/9] (debate)

The Source of Human Morality [8/9] (debate)

The Source of Human Morality [9/9] (debate)

Well Down the Road to Tyranny

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”-Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution

How little we understand that once freedom is gone it doesn't come back, not without a real revolution (and there might be hope for one). Once the state and its officials experience an increase in power, they do not relinquish it without a fight. Why has the "liberal" and "progressive" Obama left the Bush violations of liberty in place and even gone beyond them? Well, for one thing, he and his family won't be subjected to what the mere peasants must endure. Can you imagine Obama letting his girls be groped by a TSA goon? But the peasants, well, their children will face such a violation, including groping, and if over 12, genital groping:

INSKEEP: We have another question from Carla Atkinson, who says, What happens if I refuse to have my nine-year-old daughter scanned when we fly in December? Will they really pat down a child?

Mr. KAIR (Assistant administrator, Transportation Security Administration): Everyone who goes through the checkpoint has the option of opting out of our advanced imaging technology. They would be subjected to a pat down. For children, we have a little bit of a different procedure where we use some technology instead of the same way we use the pat down. So it would be a little bit different than it would be on an adult, but they would be subjected to a pat down..

INSKEEP: So the answer is sorry, yes, we’ve got to do something with this nine-year-old.

Mr. KAIR: Yes.-TSA: Unpredictability Is Part Of Security Process

Former Arkansas Gov. and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made the point about Obama and his family this way:

"If he thinks this is an appropriate way for us to deal with security as he has defended, then I've said, 'OK, Mr. Obama, take your wife, your two daughters and your mother-in-law to Washington Reagan National Airport and have them publicly go through both the body scanner and the full enhanced pat-down in front of others,'" Huckabee said in an interview on Fox and Friends. "'If it's OK for your wife, your daughters, and your mother-in-law, then maybe the rest of us won't feel so bad when our wives, our daughters and our mothers are being put through this humiliating and degrading, totally unconstitutional, intrusion of their privacy.'"-Mike Huckabee Challenges First Family to Undergo TSA Screening

On another subject, Huckabee made an often overlooked point regarding the makers of those airport scanners: The one-time Arkansas governor also said he believed that financial motives were at the heart of the new procedures: "This is more about people making millions and millions of dollars off the machines that they manufactured and then lobbied to sell to the government," he said.

Obama is one of the ruling elite, and looking at his background it's not hard to understand who he really is, so he also wants to increase the power over the people that the ruling elite continue to seek to expand. Any new powers mean Obama and his cohorts are more powerful, and it doesn't really matter the nature of those powers, to roll them back is a concession to liberty, to "radicals", to "government haters", and they will never be able to bring themselves to agreement with those "fringe elements".

Push too far, though, as we're seeing with the reaction to the TSA (Tyrannical Search Authority - got that from LRC), even if it is not an overwhelming majority who offer any protest or resistance, and you may just have, in combination with an economic collapse, a recipe for a peaceful revolution, perhaps through successful secession movements, that release the people and the states (enshrined in the Bill of Rights in the 9th and 10th amendments) from the the present tyranny and oppressive evil of the main instrument of ruling class control, the Federal Government of the United States.

If we are not successful in ending the abuses of the Federal Government soon, however, we will continue to move with lightning speed down that road to tyranny, until we reach the end, the dead end of dictatorship.

I am a retired law enforcement officer who has “patted down” scores of individuals. “Pat downs” are conducted on individuals an investigating officer has reason to believe pose an immediate potential threat. The procedures currently utilized by TSA thugs are in fact pre-custodial searches of suspects under arrest. This is how euphemisms become embedded in the lexicon of a society well down the road to tyranny.--Allen Nightingale Pat Down or Pre-Custodial Search?

Free Your Mind!

How to ruin Thanksgiving? Hang out with the religious

Donate time, sounds like a good idea, at least one of the kids convinced me to help the local food bank for the day (what can I say, I can cook).

I will continue to help and allow the kid to help this worthy cause, but I found the day almost intolerable with all of the christian postulation.


I just want to help...

Having to listen to an endless parade of dead guy on a stick love and mastery of the universe just gets old. In a case like this I get irritated and mostly keep my mouth shut unless directly asked a question.

As one would expect this was trouble waiting to happen, and it did, at least I was able to smooth the situation down to a reasonable rumbling (I have lots of experience with this) and all seems well at the moment.

In this case I found myself defending another religion as several bronze age primitives felt the need to harass someone who is likely one of the few Buddhists in the entire community. I ended up letting out the “A” word (atheist) in the exchange and the “cat is out of the bag” now.

At least I have the small support of the even smaller community of Buddhists in town, and lots of folks who may not have the ability were able to eat a traditional meal today.

The Story of the Sandwich

Yeah, so we all like sandwiches. A couple pieces of random cold cuts by themselves just doesn't cut the mustard and can't be cut like a sandwich. There is just something about putting things between two slices of bread that transforms them into a better thing, more than the sum of the parts, a new creation beyond compare, a wonder to hold, and isn't that the whole point of a sandwich, that you can hold it in your hands and not have to use a knife, fork, spoon or chopsticks to eat it.

I mean, you can have fancy fine ingredients for the filling, and somehow people will accept the resulting sandwich even if the bread used is the cheapest white crap the sandwich shop could buy. There's this great BBQ place and the meat is fantastic, but the cheapest store bought buns are used to make the ham and beef sandwiches. What's up with that deal anyways?

But wondering how the sandwich got its start, I remembered my Uncle Seymour telling about the young and haughty spoiled Earl of Sandwich. Owned his own freaking island he did! A constant gambler who never slept, he had a toilet built right into his chair! He would play cards all night long, and one thing he hated was having to try and eat and hold his cards too, so one day he asked this new cook apprentice who had mysteriously showed up at his door one day, to make him a meal he could eat with his hands. What the guy came up with was a slab of meat between two slices of bread. The Earl, being a big egotist, decided he'd call it a "sandwich" and the miracle convenience food of the millennium was born.

Well, it's being Thanksgiving today, hope you have many turkey sandwiches in your immediate future.

Stripped & Scanned: Rage Against TSA Screening In US

Did you hear that moron (at 1:42) use Bret Alan logic to compare not liking the TSA's Nazi tactics to going to the doctor? No wonder this country is going down the tubes. Oh, and how about "liberal" Whoopi Goldberg saying it's all no big deal if it keeps her from being blown out of the sky? Hey, the Black Messiah is in the White House, so any outrage he approves is acceptable!

Hitler is wished a Happy Thanksgiving

I really wish this was better, but at least it's got Thanksgiving in the title, so be thankful for that.

Carefully and Deliberately Conditioned

I've thought this for a long time, that the state wants to condition us for a total police state, and the slow erosion of our liberties and so-called constitutional protections embodied in the Bill of Rights has been going on for a long time as well, though it has certainly accelerated in the last decade. People seem willing to accept what no free people should accept, all in the name of "security".

The increasing militarization of police forces across the country, the daily outrages of the drug war, the very evil TSA, the betrayal of the Bill of Rights and especially the 4th amendment by our Federal courts, and even those ridiculous Border Patrol internal checkpoints are getting people to see such intrusions of basic rights and liberties as normal and routine.

Also, on those Border Patrol checkpoints within the United States, I notice that lately those agents are becoming even more obnoxious than usual, asking questions they have no business asking at all (and this is after their stupid drug sniffing dogs have already given your car a pass).

When they asked questions before, it was just "What's your citizenship?" but some clown-costumed woman asked me on a recent stop not only that, but where I was coming from, where I was going, what my business was where I was going, and how long I was going to be where I was going. NONE OF YOUR GODDAMNED BUSINESS, YOU FASCIST BITCH! I HAVE THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL FOR ANY REASON OR NO REASON AT ALL, AND I AM NOT ENTERING THE COUNTRY, I'M ALREADY IN THE COUNTRY, SO FUCK OFF! But, we are all being trained like seals at the zoo to accept this as reasonable and okay.

“They” could not have planned it any better, initiating enhanced screening procedures right before the busiest travel time of the year. Our visceral reaction, outrage and chants of “don’t touch my junk” are understandable and warranted, but tend to overshadow our visibility of what’s really taking place, which is vastly more than meets the eye.

The media seems to be stuck on reporting the more salacious aspect of TSA agents having a collective case of the “touchy-feelies” while the underlying motives of our government are barely addressed. Yet that’s exactly where we need to be looking. We need to identify and understand what is taking place behind the snappy sound bites and outrageous video snippets. We also need to understand why these things are happening so we will not be surprised at what is likely to happen next.


The American people are being carefully and deliberately conditioned to accept the stripping away of our Constitutional rights, a process in the making for nearly a century. To see how far this conditioning has progressed, just look at how many people are willing to be groped, fondled, nuked, and subjected to other forms of degrading tactics by agents of the federal government for the mere illusion of security. They reason that if it will make air travel safer to have their genitalia fondled, that it is a “necessary evil.” Well, they are only half correct; it is indeed evil, but not necessary.

At what point will these “grope-a-dopes” draw the line and consider the actions of the government a provocation? When will people begin to connect the dots of the globalist agenda and become non-compliant?

I believe that is the larger question being raised by the puppeteers behind the proverbial curtain.

The erosion of our rights has been in progress for decades and under multiple administrations, but with this administration in particular, there is more to it. Rather than ending this madness, the Obama administration has instead ,ramped up the very tactics that had progressives calling George Bush a criminal. Why? It seems that people cannot understand that under the umbrella of globalism, political party is irrelevant. Both sides drink from the same trough.

“Gate Rape” of America

Sarah Silverman's Thanksgiving Special

In this animated holiday special Sarah Silverman recalls a pivotal thanksgiving in her childhood. Her father disagrees.

Blog of the Moment: Tail o' the Rat

When I eat cereal, nothing happens. When kids from the Commercial Universe eat cereal, pictures on the box start moving. Then they fly up to the kid and start talking to him. Some kids even get sucked into a vortex of swirling fruit, chocolate or whatever flavor the cereal represents.

Tail o' the Rat

This is a really nice and fun blog with cartoons by the author. I liked this post: What Blogging Taught Me... because it expresses things I think all of us ordinary, regular bloggers have felt.

A Statist Tea Party

The Thankful List

It's Thanksgiving, so it's time to give thanks... and why not, it's free, right?

I'll start it off with what I'm thankful for:

- I'm thankful that the native tribes had a horrible immigration policy.
- I'm thankful that I live in America, instead of one of the countries that could be fed for a week on the food we're going to consume in a day.
- I'm thankful that no one pats me down, takes nude images of me, or confiscates the liquids I'm carrying when I drive through several states.

Now it's your turn. And hurry up, I want to eat already.

Chalmers Johnson

The military is out of control. As part of the executive branch, it's expanded under cover of the national security state. Back when I was a kid, the Pentagon was called the Department of War. Now, it's the Department of Defense, though it palpably has nothing to do with defense. Hasn't for a long time. We even have another department of the government today that's concerned with "homeland security." You wonder what on Earth do we have that for -- and a Dept of Defense, too!

The government isn't working right. There's no proper supervision. The founders, the authors of the Constitution, regarded the supreme organ to be Congress. The mystery to me -- more than the huge expansion of executive branch powers we've seen since the neoconservatives and George Bush came to power -- is: Why has Congress failed us so completely? Why are they no longer interested in the way the money is spent? Why does a Pentagon budget like this one produce so little interest? Is it that people have a vested interest in it, that it's going to produce more jobs for them?--Chalmers Johnson (Chalmers Johnson on Our Fading Republic )

Tom Engelhardt writes on the death of the great Chalmers Johnson (link below), who wrote a series of books on the consequences of U.S. foreign policy, which he called "blowback" (the books are, in order, Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. His last book was Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope:

In his prophetic book Blowback, published before 9/11, Chalmers Johnson warned that our secret operations in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe would exact a price at home. Now, in a brilliant series of essays written over the last three years, Johnson measures that price and the resulting dangers America faces. Our reliance on Pentagon economics, a global empire of bases, and war without end is, he declares, nothing short of "a suicide option."

Dismantling the Empire explores the subjects for which Johnson is now famous, from the origins of blowback to Barack Obama's Afghanistan conundrum, including our inept spies, our bad behavior in other countries, our ill-fought wars, and our capitulation to a military that has taken ever more control of the federal budget.

A scholar of Japan, one-time Cold Warrior, and CIA consultant, in the twenty-first century, he became the most trenchant critic of American militarism around. I first read a book of his – on Communist peasants in North China facing the Japanese "kill-all, burn-all, loot-all" campaigns of the late 1930s – when I was 20. I last read him this week at age 66. I benefited from every word he wrote. His Blowback Trilogy (Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis.) will be with us for decades to come. His final work, Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope, is a testament to his enduring power, even as his body was failing him. To my mind, his final question was this: What would the "sole superpower" look like as a bankrupt country? He asked that question. Nobody, I suspect, has the answer.-Chalmers Johnson, RIP

Jesus Loves You!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Statism Is Slavery

Live Well and Honorably

I come across little things from random sources. I just happened to find an old magazine that was packed away in a box of books and found the following quote by Cicero:

We ought all to be content with the time and portion assigned us. No man expects of any one actor in the theatre that he should perform all the parts of the piece himself: One role only is committed to him, and whatever that be, if he act well, he is applauded. In the same way, it is not the part of a wise man to desire to be busy in these scenes to the last plaudit. A short term may be long enough to live it well and honorably.

The Day the Dollar Died

National Inflation Association

Complaints from Travelers in the United States to the ACLU About the TSA's New Pat-downs

The ACLU has received over 600 complaints from travelers in the United States about the TSA's new pat-downs, providing a unique vantage point on what is taking place at airports around the nation. These complaints came from men, women and children who reported feeling humiliated and traumatized by these searches, and, in some cases, comparing their psychological impact to sexual assaults.

Passengers' Stories of Recent Travel

This was a very different and, I maintain, a deliberately abusive experience.... the agent not only felt the inside of my upper thighs but also probed my vagina three separate times. I made it to the end of the search, but then broke down...I cannot and will not allow this to happen to me again.... I continue to have nightmares about this experience.
- Charlotte in California, female, 68

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ron Paul Blasts TSA on Sean Hannity Show

I'm In A Bad Mood and It Has Nothing To Do With Bret "Ginx" Alan

And I'd tell you why I'm feeling this way, except even though I do write personal posts here, I've never used this blog as a diary or journal. So, can anyone guess what has me upset? No, you can't. Don't even try, cause I'm in no mood to respond to your lame comments.

I'm really pissed off right now...

I'm really angry...

I'm really getting depressed too...

There, that feels a little better. Not much, but a little.

I'll be back soon, but first I should go get drunk or something. And for some reason, I suddenly wish I had a cat. A dog would probably be as down as I am, but a cat, it would be the same as always, and as happy as ever while I sit suffering. Yeah, a cat, that would be good. All I've got now are a few roaches and a rooster that wakes me up every morning. I need to get a cat.

The Problem with Exceptionalism

I have to say, I was shocked that so few politicians objected to the new airport security theater (now a hands-on, cancer-inducing experience), and I’m flabbergasted by the relatively lingering silence. The blogosphere and social media are all abuzz… because we’re middle and upper class white people, and it sucks to be treated like minorities.

Politicians travel all the time, so they should be all over this. Considering how secretive and sexually conservative both parties on Capitol Hill are, there seems to be very little out of Washington.

I thought one of the primary ideas America is based on is that no one is above the law. The problem is, no one bothered to explicitly state that anywhere, which might be why certain people are above the law…

Back to why there isn’t so much uproar among politicians about the Gropey McNakedness airport security measures… it turns out politicians don’t have to go through them.

Except Rand Paul, who has metal in his knee and is pulled aside to be groped every time he travels (which is saving us from the knee-brace bomber).

Libertarians and conservatives who are looking for a way of framing this ought to consider a brief conversation I had with someone the other day about airline security. They were all for it, but they never fly. Then it dawned on me:

This is about class warfare. The hyper-rich bypass security on private flights, and the poor don’t fly… the middle to upper middle class are being oppressed!

Funny how we don’t mind what we don’t have to endure…

Why Are There So Many Babies On Television?

I'm talking about commercials mostly, and not diaper and baby food commercials, either. Does it seem that babies are now being used to sell everything? Maybe I'm imagining it, but every time I turn the channel, another baby! Enough with all the babies already!

Gerald Celente: America Is Going Fascist

Why Conservatives and Libertarians Cannot Be Bothered With Spelling and Grammar

In general, they aren’t concerned with checking their own thoughts and ideas. Also, they can’t be bothered with the specifics.

That is all.

Child Nutrition Bill

Hi guys, my name is Eric and I write a similar pro-atheism and pro-capitalism blog over at alternativereason.com. I plan on contributing and reposting some of my materials here at Skeptical Eye and hope that I can contribute to your content.

With our further ado, here is my critique of an article over at my favorite blog, The Huffington Post, that demands we pass the Child Nutrition Bill.

1. Better School Lunches!
The Post claims that this bill will improve the quality of school lunches, and I'm fine with that. I don't see why nutritionally deficient food should be fed to children and everyone deserves to have the freedom to eat how they please. I do feel like this kind of skips over the whole "should we have public schools" "should the government feed children at said schools" and "who is going to pay for this we, as a nation, have been laying off teachers for over a year now." But assuming magically healthier food can be conjured up for the plates of our school children, there is nothing wrong with this idea.

2. Junk Food Out of Schools
Wait a minute, we didn't even make it past the second reason before we began violating rights/confiscating choices? Ah right, a liberal blog. Seriously, when the coke machine in my high school was replaced with a coke zero and a water machine I was pissed. As a cafiend I needed my daily fix and at 16-17 years old I was more than old enough to determine when I could buy a pop. Not to mention the revenues the machines generated for the schools. Seriously though, I love soda and I don't see how removing soda machines will "help obesity" (once again assuming that obesity is something that needs to be solved by the government). When they took the machines out of my high school, I walked across the street and bought there instead. Loss of revenue? Check. Reduction of my calorie intake? Nope. I think many government officials fail to realize that the population understands that junk food is unhealthy but continues to consume it anyways and that is their choice. The pop machines don't force me to drink soda, in fact I am generally asked to pay for a soda, indicating that a choice to consume has been made (unless you accidentally inserted a dollar into a vending machine and accidentally drank the resulting product, then you may have a case, but then you need a lot more help than the government can provide). Okay better move on, you'll see this rant again when I find another "soda tax" article.

3. Families Rely on School Meals
This is not a good reason. Increasing peoples' dependency on the government for even the most basic of tasks (i.e. feeding yourself, keeping yourself alive for the next day) is not a pro. It is not the governments job to feed your child, nor yourself. Seriously, people say "we're becoming socialist" need to check their definition. America's been socialist for a good while now and feeding everybody's children only makes this worse.

4. A Historic Investment for Kids
Bullshit. It says right in the article that the bill is fully paid for (4.5 bn) but then in the next sentence it says it's not paid for. To clarify, part of the bill is "paid" for by cutting out temporary extra spending elsewhere. So it is being paid for by reducing spending that was temporarily increased...which is the same thing as costing too much. And then the "temporary extra spending" will be reinstated, so the bill is in no way paid for (from the information the HP gave).

5. Good for Farms and Farmers
I don't know much on this issue, but I have seen quite a bit of dissent over at the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Facebook Page. If anything though, local produce is no better/worse than "corporation" food, which is likely safer since it is subject to stricter scrutiny.

6. Democrats and Republicans Agree On It!
First, logically, this is not a reason just a statement. If the Democrats and the Republicans both agreed to hold a baby burning session and burn all but the first child of each house, this doesn't mean that the idea/law etc... is moral.
Second, Republicans and Democrats are just using this for a PR boost. They are basically the same party (less freedom, more government) that tag teams for effectiveness.

7. Health Advocates and Industry Support It!
Well, I believe that is called lobbying. Of course it is "support" when it's on your side and the "lobbying" when you are opposed the idea. I haven't read the bill (guilty as charged, however like the Senators, I am very busy and unlike the Senators it's not my job to) but I bet there is a fair amount of corporatism involved, as is the norm for "business in Washington.'


Read more at: AtlReason

Ron Paul and Peter Schiff on Freedom Watch

If America Became a Christian Nation

Can we review religions and in particular Christianity to project an outcome?

What could we expect from a Biblical USA?

Note the small section featuring Rachel Maddow’s show where she points out how Abortion doctors are targeted with “Wanted” posters that feature addresses, photos, and work locations. I agree this is clearly reckless, immoral, and designed to encourage violence - the same tactic is used often on the “left” where political targets are given this same reckless promotion of possible violence.

Burning witches again, the love that dare not speak its name, and American Cristian money in Africa for biblical punishments. Listen to the “good christian” explain why the christians in Africa are better than the delusional in the US!

Conflicts of biblical importance.

Are we just weeks away from witch burnings? (A play on the old saying, “we are just nine meals away from anarchy”)

On the Brink of Civil Unrest in Ireland

The general secretary of one of Ireland’s largest unions, the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU), Eamon Devoy, has warned that “we are on the brink of significant civil unrest in this country, the like of which has not been witnessed in this jurisdiction for decades”.

Speaking of a further €6 billion tranche of budget cuts, expected to be detailed on Tuesday, he commented, “When the draconian measures being proposed are heaped on top of the €14.5 billion cuts already implemented in the last three brutal budgets, life in Ireland will be unbearable.”

The TEEU congress is debating an emergency motion, which “condemns the Government for its criminal negligence in the management of the economy and for colluding with the banks in misleading the Irish people as to the seriousness of the crisis we face”.

The TEEU motion describes the actions of the government as a “policy of economic sabotage”, which “has led to the betrayal of our country and to the loss of the last shreds of our economic sovereignty.” It calls on the government to resign and call a general election, urging the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) to head “a campaign of civil disobedience to force an election”.

Ireland “on the brink of significant civil unrest”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christianity the "Modern" Way

Greg Egan is an Australian science fiction writer.

I was raised as a Christian, and I still retain a lot of the values of Christianity. The trouble with basing values on religions, though, is that the premises of most of them are pure wishful thinking; you either have to refuse to scrutinise those premises - take them on faith, declare that they "transcend logic" - or reject them. As Paul Davies has said, most Christian theologians have retreated from all the things that their religion supposedly asserts; they take a much more "modern" view than the average believer. But by the time you've "modernised" something like Christianity - starting off with "Genesis was all just poetry" and ending up with "Well, of course there's no such thing as a personal God" - there's not much point pretending that there's anything religious left. You might as well come clean and admit that you're an atheist with certain values, which are historical, cultural, biological, and personal in origin, and have nothing to do with anything called God.-An Interview With Greg Egan

The Pistachio Nut

I must have had pistachios before being introduced to them by a friend who was obsessed with them and could go through a whole bag in no time, but I don't remember having them in anything but ice cream form before that. Then I started buying them and began acting a little nutty myself, hiding my precious pistachios from potential pistachio thieves (who were suddenly lurking everywhere) and eating them in secret, least someone know of my passion and plan to rob me of my hoard when I was off my guard. I mean, pistachios ain't peanuts! Price them sometime and then see if you're willing to shell out those kind of bucks for mere nuts. Easier to just steal them from someone like me, isn't it, you filthy, dirty, rotten pistachio thief! I'll be watching you! Yes, YOU!

Ridiculous Questions

I think people should always ask questions, because even stupid questions have answers. When you’ve been blogging about atheism as long as I have, you get a lot of the same questions. Since I know some Christians read SE, I figured I’d ask these questions, only turned around. So, I present to you, questions for Christians based on stupid questions Christians ask about atheism:

1. If God made man from dirt, why is there still dirt?
[From, “If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”]

2. What caused God?
[From, “What caused the big bang/universe/singularity/etc.?]

3. Since the Bible contains conflicting concepts of morality, how do you know right from wrong?
[From, “How do you tell right from wrong without the Bible?”]

4. Can you prove there is a God?
[From, “Can you prove there is not a god?”]

5. What makes you think you’re right?
[From, “What if you’re wrong?”]

6. Why do Christians divorce?
[From, “Why would atheists get married?”]

7. What’s keeping you from eating babies, since you can just ask for forgiveness?
[From, “What’s keeping you from eating babies, since you don’t believe in morality?”]

Propaganda from the Inhumanities

I feel I am in a unique position to discuss something I’ve personally ignored until now: people have the most ridiculous view of the liberal arts.

I majored in Humanities and Sciences. I took Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Anatomy and Immunology. I also took a lot of liberal arts courses with fruity names like “Views of the Cosmos” and “Greek and Roman Philosophy.”

By far the most worthless classes I took were the concrete sciences (Immunology was arguably the most useful). The most important classes I took were “Philosophy of Ethics” and “20th Century European History.”

And yet, there is an alarming trend at colleges and universities. Humanities departments are underfunded and in some cases being closed in order to meet budget demands. No one would dare cut sports funding or the precious six to seven figure salaries of department administrators, but the humanities are seen as unimportant.

I have commented before that I have noticed many people seem to think critical thinking is dead or dying, and I wonder if this is because the humanities are dead or dying.

I never thought critically in a science course, ever. I would sit in lecture halls for 3-5 hours a week, go to a lab where I followed a recipe and copied verbatim what I was told to write in my lab journal. I took multiple choice tests that had me spit out information as it was taught to me. In short, science courses as they are today require no critical thinking; scientific research may require such, though even then it is largely a series of blind trials with most ending in failure.

One of the most ridiculous complaints I see about the liberal arts is when the above claim is leveled at courses pertaining to, say, literature. I have heard people say that unless you spit out what the professor told you about what a poem means, you will not pass.

Let me be quite explicit: I have hated most of my humanities professors over the years. Some of them I have gotten into yelling matches where the term “Nazi” escaped my lips. I got A’s in those classes. In fact, the professor I called a Nazi gave me the only A on the final term paper in the whole class, and I took another course with her next semester.

You don’t get an A in the humanities for agreeing with the professor. In my last few years as a college student, I got to know a couple of the professors very well and spent a lot of time with a few. I also tutored at the university for 2 years after I graduated, and I read a lot of papers by a lot of students with a lot of comments from the professors.

And I heard a lot of complaints that sounded something like, “The professor doesn’t like me…”

Bullshit. These people couldn’t write a decent grocery list to save their life. Rampant misspellings, enormous leaps in logic, quotes without citations… these students basically didn’t want to do the work of supporting their ideas. While I know there must be some out there that break this mold, all the humanities professors I ever knew, had, or met had no problem not only passing a student who fundamentally disagreed with them, but they would give them an A if they met the required criterion in matters of style and rhetoric.

What’s more, the classes people remember most are not the ones where they were lectured at for hours. My favorite classes had a lot of open discussion, where the professor simply acted as moderator. This is, in my humble opinion, how critical thinking is taught.

Both my Ethics and Euro History class were largely open discussion. Both classes assigned a reading that would prep us on the topics of discussion for the next class, and in Euro History there would be about fifteen minutes of introductory lecture, but at that point (and from the beginning of most Ethics classes), the floor would be open to sharing our thoughts and opinions.

When I hear people who have never been to college criticize someone for having gone to college, I’m never sure what to think. I try to avoid the stereotypical, “Well, they’re just jealous,” stance. While it may be a case of sour grapes, I suspect they truly are convinced that college is a waste of time and/or money, or that it just churns out carbon-copy liberals (even though, in my experience, there’s more over-privileged Republicans at universities than in the general public).

I don’t flaunt my degree, in fact I think this is the first time I’ve bothered to mention it, and the only reason I brought it up was because it was directly a propos to what I was discussing. Because I have had both intensive science and humanities training at the college level, I can say without a shred of doubt that science education, while based on the critical thinking of others, stifles creativity and critical thinking, while the humanities not only fosters critical thinking, it instills a lust for learning.

The sciences teach us how, but the humanities ask “why?” and “should?” Isn’t that what every ideology today claims we are lacking? Why, then, is there an unmitigated assault on the liberal arts?

Interview with Anarchist, Historian and Writer Larry Gambone

From the show Unbought and Unbossed: In-studio interview with Anarchist, historian and writer Larry Gambone. Starts at 10 minutes, lasts for 58.

You can listen here.

The 'Unbought and Unbossed' Radio Show

TSA Agent Arrested, Accused Of Raping 14 Year Old Girl

The TSA says that they screen potential employees before they're offered a job, and that "unfortunately theses checks do not predict future behavior." Hmm, I could predict that when you offer jobs that allow you to grope children as young as 13 (or younger) and/or force them into naked body scanners, it might just attract a certain type of person.

In any event, these are the people that a majority of the public (if we are to believe statist media like CBS "News") think should be allowed to grope and scan us and see our naked bodies.

Was Lee Harvey Oswald A Patsy?

Former FBI agent Don Adams helped investigate the Kennedy assassination at the time, and smelled a rat right away. But it was not until 1993 that he knew Oswald was set up by LBJ, Hoover, and the other DC gang members. He has since dedicated his life to telling the truth about this coup d’état.

Lew Rockwell interviews Don Adams

The Level Of Ignorance Concerning Copyright Is Amazing To Watch

I am very happy that Stephan Kinsella is finally teaching a class on intellectual property, which is surely one of the most important issues of our time. We need desperately to spread education about this topic, which is a difficult one. It is not one of the “armchair” issues that you can solve without much thought or serious study.

Let me try to give a flavor of what we are dealing with here.

Last week, I had to haggle with an authors’ consortium in Britain concerning a 1946 text. The author had no children and he died before the copyright on the book expired. Someone swept in a renewed the thing, thereby taking it off the market. It hasn’t been in print for some 40 years. A paralegal helped me discover the owner, which turns out to be some scam operation that preys on people who want to reprint books. I asked to distribute the thing online. The consortium never seem to have heard of the internet. They wanted a fee for $1 per book with a contract that lasted 2 years and a limit on our sales. None of this works for us. So we said no. As a result, the book, which is not that mission critical, goes back to its eternal resting place, all because of “intellectual property” which is just so obviously a hoax and a violation of human rights.

This is only one of dozens of cases I’ve dealt with. And there are actually millions of books in this condition, effectively burned and destroyed by IP law. The most exciting innovation in human history is the internet and digital distribution, which offers the ultimate thing, the possibility of universal distribution of knowledge, the dream of every intellectual from the ancient world to the present. And yet this is being stopped by laws administered by fools, in complete violation of the rights of the creators themselves. This strikes me as completely indefensible and yet it is the reality of our times.

Texts published after 1963 and before 1995 when things started going online are as good as gone. By the time these books enter the public domain, their value will be dramatically reduced. Meanwhile, they are being forced into death by the state and its laws, even though we have the technology to liberate them all right now. This is a travesty. Imagine a marauding band of terrorists in the 16th century that smashed every printing press it could find on grounds that it threatened the livelihood of scribes. This is exactly what is going on right now.

The level of ignorance out there concerning copyright is amazing to watch. People hear things on the street and pass them on, while knowing nothing about the actual realities of the law, which is the craziest, mixed up mess of nonsense you will find in the statute books of all human history. There is no one rule that helps you find out what is and what is not available for digitizing. Congress changed its mind every decade or so, to the point that now texts can be tied up in the physical world for as long as 170 years. Authors are constantly tricked into going along with this cockamamie system in the hope of royalties that never arrive. The state has set up a moral hazard and authors keep falling for it.

Authors are often unaware of what they are doing and signing. Just a bit ago, I had an author tell me that all is well because he retained copyright to a book. In fact, this means nothing because when he published, he signed his rights away by making the publisher the administrator of his rights, a status which lasts as long as the book is in print. Guess what? Books never go out of print these days. His book is as good as dead as regards digital media. He had no idea. Even though he is a creator, his rights are being violated in the name of “intellectual property” and he remains totally flummoxed about how this happened.

Most people have no idea just how bad the situation truly is.

Nor have most people considered just how flimsy and ridiculous the foundation of “intellectual property” really is. If the law were actually applied consistently, so that we had to negotiate rights over every idea we use, the whole of society as we know it would come to a screeching halt. Learning and influencing would be against the law. Every generation would start over, having benefited not at all from the experiences of the previous one.

People are constantly fooled over this subject. After my review of Social Network, my in-box filled with questions about my claim that Mark Zuckerberg did not owe the Winklevoss twins anything. The claim is that Zuckerberg took their idea of a Harvard-wide social network, so why should he be forced to pay? Well, consider: what if Zuckerberg’s ideas never really went anywhere and Facebook ended up being a huge financial failure. What Zuckerberg have been able to foist his liabilities off on the Winklevoss twins? If ideas are property and Zuckerberg owed his success to them, it makes sense that they would also bear the liability for failure. But no one seriously suggests this, which tells me that the same people don’t take their claims literally.

I also have to laugh about people who wrote me to say that they saw the movie on my recommendation and liked it but do not agree with Kinsella on IP. Well, wait just a minute: they took my idea and saw the movie, so shouldn’t they be forced to pay me money? Haven’t they robbed me of my idea of seeing a movie? Think about this and see how preposterous this truly is. The reality is that 1) I put my idea out there, 2) ideas can be copied without stealing them, 3) the whole of life itself is made possible via the extraction and application of the ideas of others.

I love the movie Social Network because it shows how real life works in the world of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are specialists in extracting information to inform their judgements about the world. They are great learners, great copier, great implementers of the ideas of others, improving them and testing them against the reality of economic life. Ideas alone pay nothing. Only the doing pays returns (or losses). As Rothbard says, a real entrepreneur is not just a thinker but a capitalist who takes risks.

But you say that Zuckerberg had a contract with the twins to do work for them? In fact, there was no contract, and anyone who says that Zuckerberg did anything wrong wouldn’t last a day in the real world. It is common in every aspect of life, particularly in the world of geeks and code monkeys, for people to agree in principle and then not come through. It happens with four out of five people I approach about working on Mises.org, for example. That’s not contract breaking; it is just the way life is. Zuckerberg had a better idea than to waste time on the twins’ project, and good for him. We are all better off.

Try an experiment sometime. Imagine that ideas really are property, and that every time you learn something or discover something or hear something that influences your later actions, you have to pay some money or else you are a thief. Try it tomorrow when you wake up and just see what happens. You will discover that you will either be bankrupt by noon or rendered senseless and motionless. We cannot get by this way.

The beauty, the glory, the magic, the mystery and magnificence of ideas as versus real property is precisely that they are infinitely copyable, malleable, transferable, and spread in unpredictable ways. They are the very energy and life of civilization itself, the means by which we build, grow, and navigate this world of scarcity in ever more successful ways.

There is no greater illustration of the arrogance and pretensions of the state that it imagines that it can bottle these up and buy and sell them, becoming a global mind reader of everything we see and hear, all in the name of property-rights enforcement. The bitter irony is that the state is doing the opposite of enforcing property rights; it is violating them through its attempt to restrict the unrestrictable.

IP consistently applied can destroy the whole world as we know it. As it is, IP is enforced only intermittently and thank goodness for that. What is troubling is that most people are clueless about where they stand on this issue. They figure that it doesn’t really matter for them, just as slavery didn’t matter to most people in the year 1800, so why should we care? We must care. Everything is at stake in this battle.

But let’s say that you don’t agree with Kinsella that IP is a myth that must be shattered. Will you benefit from this class? Absolutely. It will help you think, and think hard about this subject. He is a world expert, a patent attorney and a great thinker, surely one of the most important living intellectuals today. He has made himself available to you through the Mises Academy. I don’t believe that this class will settle all things but it will help you think and learn and gradually come to a coherent position on this issue.

If we all had our priorities straight, the Mises Institute would need to close the class at 1000 students. I don’t think we will have that many but we should. In 500 to 1000 years, students will be studying our generation and wonder who the dunderheads were who slammed on the breaks of social progress by crushing innovation, burning books, fining innovators, jailing teenage file sharers, prosecuting good learners, smashing art and music, and using government force to prop up losers, scam artists, and reactionary forces in society. They will laugh at us.

At least they will see that some people refused to go along. Kinsella is the leader of the resistance, and he is here for you, willing to be a teacher and helping everyone to understand and see the light.

Jeffrey Tucker: Study with the Leader of the Resistance
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