Thursday, March 30, 2006
Well, the news media took up the big failed prayer study today. You can read about it everywhere. or on onegoodmove.org (see my links column). One of the weird findings was that those in a test group who knew they were being prayed for had more complications. Researchers postulated that this may be due to the extra anxiety of knowing that people are worrying about them, and/or the psychological distress of knowing that your condition is serious enough to warrant people you don't even know to pray for you. Anyways,
I thought the following comment was hillarious. This may turn out to be a running national joke. Taken from onegoodmove website:
Study: Prayer doesn't affect heart patients
There is an important lesson in this for those that believe in the efficacy of prayer. If you have to pray don't tell the victim, then at least you'll do no harm.
In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications.
Oh, I almost forgot, my letter to the VP.
I heard you have a history of heart problems. I just want you to know that if, God forbid, you are hospitalized for treatment that I'll be praying for you.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
From SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND (July 2005):
The Lie of Happiness
Lying to ourselves may be one way of maintaining our mental health.Several classic studies indicate that moderately depressed people actually deceive themselves less than so-called normal folks. Lauren B. Alloy of Temple University and Lyn Y. Abramson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison unveiled this trend by clandestinely manipulating the outcome of a series of games. Healthy subjects who participated in the games were inclined to take credit when they won the rigged games and also typically underestimated their contribution to the outcome when they did poorly.
Depressed subjects, however, evaluated their contributions much more accurately. In another study, psychologist Peter M. Lewinsohn, professor emeritus at the University of Oregon, showed that depressives judge other people's attitudes toward them far more accurately than non-depressed subjects. Furthermore, this ability actually degenerates as the psychological symptoms of depression lift in response to treatment.
Perhaps mental health rests on self-deception, and becoming depressed is based on an impairment of the ability to deceive oneself. After all, we are all going to die, and a great deal of the world lives in abject misery. These are hardly reasons to be happy!- D.L.S
I can't help but think of the Dalai Lama when I read this. Is it possible that a spirituality based on feeling happy is basically just a neorological bolstering of self-deception mechanism through reinforcement (brainwashing)? Seems so to me. Demonstrably and obviously so.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Religious Americans find torture less reprehensible than Non-believers
It turns out that secular people are less in favor of the use of torture than religious people in the United States across the board. This is flat astonishing. The numbers reveal a sort of disdain for the new testament amongst modern Christians. The numbers reveal a more compassionate and humanistic secular population than religious. Incredible. Pass this on, lets start a debate. What in the living hell is going on in this country?????????
“As followers of Jesus, we must state clearly and unequivocally that torture violates the basic human dignity afforded all of God’s children, and is never morally acceptable. On this two-year anniversary of the revelations of the cruel, inhumane and humiliating treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison -- the first of numerous revelations regarding institutionalized torture practices in the U.S. war on terrorism -- we reiterate our church’s profound respect for the dignity of all persons and reject as antithetical to Christianity any and all justifications for the use of torture.”- John Paul II
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Prayer, does it actually work?
At one point in my life I believed so strongly that it did that I gave a public lecture at the local library on the evidence for it. Fortunately, hardly anyone showed up. As part of the lecture, I cited Randoph Byrd's original prayer study involving cardiac patients which showed dramatic results of double blind intercessory prayer. I also cited the South Korean fertility clinic prayer study which had dramatic results. Larry Dossey M.D., one of the leading champions of intercessory prayer studies claimed that these particular two studies were the most extraordinarily compelling ones done to date.
Due to the apparent success of some of these studies, many more were performed, only now coming to publication. Read about several of them here .
(ha cool, I figured out how to do it. No more big URL's)
The biggest study to date was performed by Harvard Medical's Herbert Benson and is set to be published soon. No significant benefit was found for prayer in any of these recent studies. But of course, believers are claiming that if you tweak the data just so, there might be something interesting worth further study. Someone said this is like emptying your gun at the wall of a barn and then painting the bull's eye around the pattern.
Oh, and those two studies that I mentioned in the beginning- they were both discredited. Byrd's study was too poorly controlled to be considered good evidence, and the Korean study included a known fraud, rendering it's results useless. It isn't any wonder that when good research casts it's gaze on the issue with an enormous data base, no results are found.
Sometimes I wake up shaking in the middle of the night and wrap my arms around my knees. I'm back at that lecture. I'm cold and shaking. I look for someplace to hide my head, my eyes so nobody can see. I'm thoroughly ashamed.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
“In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether "we, the people" is a spiritual idea embedded in a political reality -- one nation, indivisible -- or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.”
“Television can stir emotions, but it doesn't invite reflection as much as the printed page.”
“We're seeing unfold a contemporary example of the age-old ambition of power and ideology to squelch and punish journalists who tell the stories that make princes and priests uncomfortable.”
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Sunday, March 19, 2006
I'm no pacifist. I supported both wars. I bought into the Iraq sales pitch, and I assumed that the "intelligence" knew that such a campaign would be feasible, with a well thought-out plan for after Saddam was gone. I also assumed that planes would not be allowed to fly into the Pentagon without someone knowing well before hand- but this just shows you how much I know.
Take note that my opinions about Iraq are not swayed just because Jesus wouldn't have supported it. I wouldn't care whether Jesus were for it or not (and anyone with half a wit who has read the bible knows he would not support killing under any circumstance).
What boggles my mind to no end is how the Jesus party became the party of war, social darwinism, and agression. How did it become the type of party which actually has to have a debate about whether torture is acceptible. Even more silly- how did the Jesus party became the party to make fun of those who are against torture under any circumstance- umm, the actually Christians that is to say.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
2.) Michael Weiner, AKA Michael Savage- the self admitted egomaniacal puppet of insanity. This guy has actually read parts of the old testament on the air, screaming while describing god's wrath on his enemies during the Terry Schiavo case. This guy's persona and mentality have absolutely nothing to do with any sort of spiritual quality, yet he is fond of supporting the religious right, and denouncing people who don't believe in God as mentally ill communists. Savage can't seem to figure out who his enemy is. One minute, he is complaining about his political opposition being the heartless culture of death (ala the Terry Schiavo fiasco), comparing them to Nazi's and terrorists, and then the next minute he is complaining that the same exact people are too compassionate, forgiving, tolerant and pacifist to do whats needed to protect borders language and culture. Nevermind that he doesn't make any sense, it's all about emotion and anger. He has the most thorough call screeners in the business. Nobody with more than average intelligence is allowed to call in. Good points are refuted with screaming, commercial breaks, and the volume switch. There is no actual substance in his arguments, only ad hominem vitriole. His ratings are high for the same reason that the ratings of Jerry Springer are high. Why does he make #2? His fake religiosity is disgusting. If he was dying on the side of the road, I would not stop.
1) And the number one piece of utter human waste is none other than despicable shameless ass bag, Sean Hannity. Hannity is Limbaugh without the intelligence. This guy is a lying, scheming, dirty low-down waste of adenosine tri-phosphate. It is clear that the man has absolutely no interest in congruency. His world view (as we see time and again) is deeply carved out by the magical thinking brain virus of religious traditionalism. Hannity makes it clear straight faced that God put animals on the earth so humans had more to eat. Folks, this is the shit we are dealing with. If someone is this mentally fucked up and out of touch, imagine what happens when they start trying to interpret the rest of the world.
American politics is deeply infected with magical thinking. How could anyone possibly take these people seriously? Every iota of their worldview (exception of Limbaugh) is completely distorted by the belief in a genocidal terrorist-god they think is watching over them. Granted, they don't know anything about where their beliefs actually come from. These people are destroying the country and leading us to become the laughing stock of the world. This American religious mellenialism and hope for the rapture and the end of the world is fertile ground for the blossoming of these pathetic brain-washing mannequins.
Science and reason have become out of style. Unfashionable. Looked down upon. We are in serious trouble if this doesn't end soon.
(If this doesn't raise your blood pressure, you're dead)
The Trouble With Testosterone: And Other Essays On The Biology Of The Human Predicament (Paperback)
I've never actually read this book but I like the cover and it's probably pretty good. (See amazon for details.)
I remember the very day I first heard the following interview on NPR's This American Life. I had travelled 40 minutes to binge read at my shrine- Barnes and Nobles on a beautiful sunny day where most sane men are out competing for pussy. I think it was 2002, and that was right around the time I started reading Ken Wilber. I sat in the parking lot during the whole show, unwilling to leave the car.
My mind was in flux as I began to realize that all spiritual endeavors were virtually pointless, ending up almost invariably in disillusionment and that almost every supposed spiritual master was fraudulent or deeply flawed as a human being. I began getting interested in Zen because it appealed to rationality and rejected the trappings of spiritual flakiness and superstition. I thought if anything about spirituality was valid, it must reside here.
Then I heard this interview, and I was never the same again. The interview with the man who suddenly lost all his testosterone planted seeds for a later acceptance of materialism which I never really saw coming at all. Each time I update my worldview, it's not because I want to. It's always because I learn something that makes it impossible for me to take the prior worldview seriously anymore.
As I was learning about Zen, I found it striking that a normal man with a chemical imbalance could accomplish the same effect over night that it takes a zen practitioner years to accomplish. The spooky thing is how the guy describes his experience- the same exact types of words as those you might find in something like a Thich Nat Hahn book. I was blown away. I began seriously doubting that I had any sort of freedom over all my narcissistically prized states of compassion, caring, equanimity, thoughtfullness. Maybe I was really just a big pussy with a low level of testosterone.
I began wondering what choice I even have in the matter. My open mindedness and evolved tolerance was not something *I* chose any more than it was an arbitrary genetic predisposition. On top of this, I always noticed changes of libido and mood with my meditation practice. More meditation, less libido, less desire, more satisfaction with less, less ambition...etc.
But enough of my bullshit, just listen to the interview.
Friday, March 17, 2006
7) Rush Limbaugh- a devious, slippery, ridiculous liar extraordinaire. He is exhibit A for philosophers who argue against free will. Limbaugh has such little free will that you know how he will interpret events before the details of the events are even released!
Rush doesn't believe in global warming. This just may have something to do with big business. Just maybe.
Rush is low on this pile of human refuse simply because the guy is brilliant and witty. He's one of the smartest of these shameless liars and hypocrites.
6.) Ann Coulter- Why is this absolute fucking nutbag this low down? Because she is uproariously funny and delusional. Nobody takes her seriously (except maybe our number 1), and she is more of an advertisement for her opposition than anything else.
Some people thought this bitch was attractive. Sick. Look at those nutcase eyes. She would have made a great dictator at some point in history. She looks like a cross between Galadriel and Sauron.
Laura Ingraham- Sex, power, money and republican family values. Ingraham appeals to all those porn downloading fake Christian men who want to fuck her doggy style while planting a flag in her fart-pipe with their free hand. Ingraham is a lying religious zealot, hypocrite, and enemy of civilization. If faced with having to kill someone- Terry Schiavo, a child in a wheel chair, or a microscopic embryo, Ingraham would eventually resign herself to rock paper scissors out of frustrated indecision.
In a debate with Sam Harris, Ingraham declares that stem cell research has no scientific validity. Again, no free will. An enemy of reality encased in a traditionalist religious worldview which may destroy civilization.
4.) Michael Medved- Just the thought of this guy's whiny voice makes me want to puke. His worldview is entirely motivated by organized religion, and therefore is utterly nonsensical to anyone who is not religious (that is to say, anyone who doesn't reject ouright the foundations of modern Biology, Philosophy, Neuroscience, Psychology, Genetics, and Sociology).
It makes no difference that Medved really is a great scholar. His dedication to religious babble nullifies any intelligence he brings to the table. And nothing, NOTHING pisses me off more than religionists who rally behind totally cutthroat darwinian power policies with fake religious backing. Nothing! His primary propaganda strategy- take the most wacko left wing nutcase and claim that he represents the mainstream.
3.) Good 'ol Bill Oreilly- possibly the dumbest baboon on the air aside from our numero uno. Apart from inventing the "war on Christmas", Oreilly has also decided to initiate the "war on logic and reason" and the campaign against that horribly un-American tactic, "critical thinking". Like the other clowns on this list, he is motivated and solidly encased inside a traditional religious worldview which utterly nullifies any potential wisdom brought to the table. Only an idiot would not see through Oreilly's wimpy interview tactics. Just watch the blatant usage of logical fallacy here with Sam Harris. Instead of discussing Harris' sharp sensical points, he sidesteps it by changing subjects until he is saved by the bell and reattaches his ass.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Augustan Castellan Sabicas, a creative genius of Flamenco guitar in the traditional style. When Paco de Lucia was a young player he met Sabicas and played for him. Sabicas told Paco that he must "create his own sound", and not just copy the Flamenco of his teacher. Paco was very impressed by his visit and took seriously the advice. He played the same two pieces over and over again trying to come up with somethign his own. Eventually he created a new way to play Flamenco guitar, copied by every Flamenco guitarist today.
Sabicas was a creative genius. He invented many extraordinary falsetas and was well liked by all.
Here are some samples from Grisha. They don't contain Sabicas' gritty style.
Aires de Puerto Real (I am about 80% done learning this one.)
Sabicas got his nickname because he liked lima beans as a child, which are called "Habicas". Due to that wacky Spanish lisp, if you say "los habicas" you get something that sounds like Sabicas (thabicath).
Sabicas was a child prodigy who studied under the famous Nino de Ricardo. Like Paco, Sabicas branched out and formed his own style, later coming to America and becoming a concert guitarist.
You can tell by listening to this real track of Sabicas the difference between the modern sound and the more traditional. But you can also hear Sabicas' classical addition to flamenco (something that was deemed as "untraditional" back then as Paco was when he first bent the rules), and keep in mind that the composition/falsetas were in many cases entirely original to Flamenco.
Below is an Alegrias clip- "Solero Gaditano"
Sunday, March 12, 2006
This is Paco de Lucia- the greatest, most inventive flamenco guitarist of all time. He revolutionized Flamenco guitar and Flamenco music as a whole.
This is probably my favorite photo of the young Paco. The man was second fiddle to the great cante artist Cameron de la Isla. Paco always wanted to be a cantaor (singer) and Cameron always wanted to be a guitarist. Cameron was like a rock star in Spain, and the unpretentious Paco watched as his friend became addicted to the partying lifestyle and eventually overdosed.
Paco got where he is by simply working his ass off. His father forced him to practice long hours at an early age, suggesting that a good Flamenco artist will always have a warm meal available in this world. Little did he know the extent of Paco's future success. He currently lives in Mexico, as he has no possibility of privacy in Spain.
Because I can't provide samples of complete Paco recordings here, I will provide interpretations by the Russian Flamenco prodigy "Grisha". Grisha has flawless technique and is probably the best interpreter of Paco's music, though he lacks some of Paco's gypsy tone (the kind you pick up living in Spain and being exposed to nothing but Flamenco from birth).
Cepa Andalusia, Bulerias
Take off of "Aires Choqueros", Fandango (I'm trying to learn this one now, and probably will be for the rest of my life)
Friday, March 10, 2006
I've known Mickey since birth, as our parents grew up together on the beaches of southern California smoking weed and fornicating. Mickey is a daredevil. If he isn't risking his life, he proclaims to be "bored" off his ass. I remember once at a nightclub where Mickey intentionally hit on a guys girlfriend just to start a fight with him. The bouncers threw him into the street. I tried to get him to just leave it and let me drive him home, but somehow he snuck back into the club and proceeded to do it again with the same result. On another occasion (or probably occasions), Mickey has been knocked unconscious and beat up outside of a bar without the faintest recollection of what happened.
Mickey is a natural born athlete. His senior year of highschool he made the varsity baseball team without having played organized baseball since little league. He led the team batting near .450, and had an arm like a cannon. In his army training he could run faster than half the other guys while carrying the standard over his head.
Mickey worked in a control room in Afghanistan, coordinating patrols. After a couple of years, he was finally sent to Iraq (I knew his time would come). He wouldn't tell me exactly what he's doing there when he IMed me from Qatar the other day (where he was getting some R&R). All he said was that the enemy was making more sophisticated plastic explosive devises that sent crap right through their armor.
Mickey and I talked about the war a couple of times and both agreed that Bush was full of shit. I feel bad mentioning that, since he has to endure whatever he's going through for at least another 6 months. Now Mickey is in Iraq fighting primarily to protect his friends and fellow soldiers, and to come back safely.
Mickey sent these pictures, and has sent me several unforgettable images of horror and human carnage from his other military adventures which are unbearable to witness.
Good luck Mick, and come back in once piece so we can go mountain biking up at Tiger Mountain like we planned on doing last summer. But don't think for a minute that I will stop at a bar with you afterwards.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Very few people will hear me declare that I am a "Nihilist" in public. I am not stupid enough to do such a thing. I refrain from using the word at all except at a distance, and most importantly to emphasize my worldview.
I value altruism and human companionship, caring, and that meaningless word "love". The rub is that I see all these things as Darwinian games within a game selected for by nature to provide social leverage, sexual currency, and protection for offspring. It's not that I see these things as merely being related to these three competetive benefits, it's that I see these things existing exclusively for these reasons, and for no other purpose. Nature could have just as easily
selected for killers and rapists. But anyone can see that such an environment is not good for anyone's survival and reproductive success. Altruism is a win-win situation.
Consider that the two best ways to demonstrate your social superiority over someone else are:
1.) Provide, nurture, love, and edify them (thus opening a bank account for future reciprocation for yourself, and your offspring).
2.) Smash their head in with a large rock.
Choice one makes much more sense and that's what nature went with.
Using Danny (the soul-less Tourette's syndrome sufferer) as our example, we can witness the natural disadvantage of not being altruistic and caring. In this clip, Danny is lucky if he doesn't get his hamburger bun dipped in someone's special diaper sauce.
When Oprah Winfrey says that it makes her feel good to give to the poor or to give everyone in an audience a new car, she without question actually believes herself. But when you introspect deeply into the nature of humanity, you will find that the kernel of this process of altruism is tied up as a deep-seated desire to observe and display one's own superiority and mastery over other people. This is where the exciting rush and feeling of aliveness comes from. It doesn't matter that Oprah doesn't realize this, it only matters that her altruism provides her with the social power nature intended. Nature doesn't care "why" you take an action, as long as you take the action you were designed to take.
Picture two people arguing over who pays the bill at a restaurant. Neither are upset that they have to get rid of their money. In fact, both parties would rather part with a few extra bills just to avoid the humilitation of being nurtured by the other. Neither party wants to be nurtured and each of them wants to display superiority while masking this absurd process as "altruism". Just complicate this a bit more, make it a bit less transparently obvious and throw in families, jobs, politics, sex, "love" and property and you have the same exact event being played out in the guise of human altruism day in and day out all over the planet.
We can rest assured that Oprah will reach her dying die without having the slightest understanding that natural selection created human nature, and will rest naively in her open coffin, veins puffed with liquid chemicals and even more make-up than she normally wears, not having the remotest fucking clue about her total lack of personal autonomy. Gawd what I would do to be able to sew my cherry back on and be like her, completely at ease with self-deception.
I think most naturalists are closet Nihilists. But in our world, being happy and healthy is totally unrelated to being honest and truthful. Publicly declaring one's self as a nihilist in the sense I have described here is suicidal, despite being thoroughly supported by mainstream science. In fact, I think it is true by definition that this sort of nihilism (which I have adopted against my will kicking and screaming against the cold facts) is simply the only worldview supported by mainstream science. As far as I know, no other testable theory exists.
Monday, March 06, 2006
It is nothing short of astonishing how much utter Bullshit inundates our society. Often people attempt to make me feel guilty for not turning a blind eye to the sheer Bullshit that interlaces the most fundamental aspects of our daily societal interactions, but try as I might I can't let it go. I notice it. I see it constantly. It's overwhelming to me. It is almost incapacitating.
I don't know why I am so sensitive to Bullshit. I think it's likely some genetic disorder. See, I think people are hard-wired by evolution to be comfortable using Bullshit as currency to vie for sex, power and status.
I'm flat broke. I'm deficient. Non-human. I just don't GET Bullshit! And I think this offends people.
Bullshit is good business. Bullshit is good friendship. Bullshit is good advertising. Bullshit is the difference between employment and Top Ramen, acceptance and dismissal, an inert vile of nothing and a powerful placebo effect.
Bullshit is so well accepted now that we consider outright lies to simply be "clever marketing". If you're not lying or exaggerating on your resume, throw it away and start over. We don't even think twice when we see Ron Popeil on T.V. hawking his latest piece of garbage in front of his paid-off Bullshit audience of fake experts who aren't even aware of exactly what the fuck he's trying to sell. Or how about all the healing herbs, Bullshit remedies and medicines too cool not to work, too foreign to be inert, too expensive to be useless?
Why oh why doesn't anyone care about how much utter fucking Bullshit there is!
It makes me think about the Tourettes guy, Danny, from my previous journal entry. He's nuts, but he speaks his mind. Between impulse and spoken word there is no hint of a super-ego or a chooser or a soul in Danny. He is the epitome of no-nonsense. A world full of Dannys wouldn't last long. But there wouldn't be so much Bullshit in such a world either. In a world full of Dannys, advertisers would be physically throttled when their claims didn't live up to their products. The pictures above the McDonald's counters would be deflated, colorless, and asymmetrical with a special category called "grab-bag" for mixed up orders. The service centers you call would have actual people standing by and none of them would hit you with that Bullshit line "your call is very important to us" ever again, as they attempt to deflect you away from pestering them with your concerns. What would Danny do about this profound societal Bullshit? The elephant in the room.
Upset about Colgate's
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Phtch, forget Phineas Gage and the pole that impaled his brain, totally altering his personality. Sure, he's the typical case study example made by materialists arguing against the idea of an altruistic immortal soul.
But what about Tourette Syndrome?!?!
How does a soul exist when a brain disorder can cause madness like this?
Get a load of this pour guy. And don't you dare laugh at his disorder.
(warning, this video contains obscene language)
I just saw a preview for a movie about high schoolers. It seemed to be a parody of high school sterotypes. One segment I found particularly true and funny was where a good looking young girl stood in front of a couple of guys sitting at a bench and stated "Girls with butts like mine don't talk to boys with faces like yours".
There was a time when I genuinely thought that high school would end, and that this display of wicked pubescent humanity was a mere phase we all had to pass. You know exactly what I'm talking about- all the antics of the power heirarchy, the blatantly thick usage of sexual leverage at every locker in every hall of every square inch of the campus. The staring at each other's dicks in the showers, wondering if any of them were penetrating the object of our wet dreams, or wondering how much bigger or smaller so and so's was than yours. The fact that the homecoming king and queen were invariably the most sexually attractive jack off imagery in the school.
Honestly, I kept waiting for it to all end. It's been 14 years since my senior year in high school and there is no end in sight. Every time I imagine that at some point the gig is finally up, they seem to just raise the bar a little higher. What once seemed like blatant power mongering is now a much more subtle and brilliantly orchestrated tangle of deceitful webs and insincerities so socially impenetrable as to render themselves safe from all but the most risky and courageous confrontations. The man is everywhere. He's in my TV, my job site, magazines, radio, my traffic, and he's probably in the free space of my coronary arteries narrowing them bit by bit. The man is having children of his own now. He takes them to church on Sundays, he teaches them how to control people and situations with powerful nuanced glances and verbal posturing with a subtle sprinkle of seemingly benign fake altruism thrown in here and there just to keep the noise down a bit inside the Trojan horse.
You see the parents at the high school sports games, the community events, the raffles, pep rallies, clubs and field trips. You know some thirty something is banging the football player, trying to mend that fatal rejection of her past. You know the math teacher is trying to feign his fatherly smile as the tight breasted wet dream drapes her cleavage over a quadratic equation. Half the P.E. class is terrified of popping a boner in the shower. You've heard stories of teachers making students do push ups on the wet tile until their throbbing monster subsides amidst a half circle of kids who will later talk about "a faggot in the locker room".
He has a big dick, she has a tight pussy, her tits are firm, hers are flat, I fucked her three times, we fucked her four, how long has it been, are you getting any, how many airplanes did you shoot down, how long did you last, it was shaved, it was hairy, it was manicured, it stunk, it tasted clean, she swallowed, it got in her hair, it went on her face, I have a blister on my dick, I farted and she got mad, I used protection, I pulled out at the last second....
Every day, if you remember, every single day. Especially if you played sports after school. They forget. They all forget- the thirty somethings, the forty somethings even more. They don't remember how it was, only the game they play now. All they know is the game they play now, and it's the same game. Its the same exact game with different players and different pieces, more squares to go to, more options, more tragic consequences perhaps. The rules are complex now and there doesn't seem to be an actual penalty for violating most of them, and certain types of people keep reconstructing the rules, and somehow everyone thinks this is okay.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
As an American, I am surrounded by fundamentalist Christians on a daily basis. Most of them are closet Apocalyptics, counting the hours to the end of the world. In the lunch room of my work recently, talk concerned itself with natural disasters- Katrina, the Tsunami, the Philippine earthquake, the Pakistan earthquake etc... I pointed out a picture in a TIME magazine of a crushed and almost unrecognizable body of a Pakastani woman half covered in rubble. One of my notorious Christian co-workers in perfect seriousness exclaimed, "they must have pissed God off again".
These people are everywhere here. They lick their lips and get excited when hundreds of thousands of people die.
The same people will claim that American's have lost their morals and values. They will lash out against gays and stem cell research. As laughable as it is that Americans harbor such hysterically asinine and antiquated superstitions about an agrarian deity who ordered genocides and demanded animal sacrifices, believe it or not, these beliefs motivate our electorate and occupy our national political dialogue.
Religious fundamentalism is a mental disorder. It is a tragic memetic virus. It's insincerity of values is so blatant and gross as to be worthy of complete quarantine, yet it's incessant mutations over the years lead to new strains and more insidious virulence.
It is of profound astonishment to me that these fundamentalist Christians go out of their way to condemn terrorist acts as "inhuman" and "evil". "How could anyone do that to innocent women and children" you might hear from a sincere and loving church goer.
But it's almost like the very "word of God" they admire has been thrown out the door and reinvented. It doesn't occur to them that their own deity commanded the slaughter of women and children, infants, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters by the tens of thousands. And not with machine guns or bombs, but by hand, with the sword.
There are numerous websites outlining biblical atrocities. It is simply jawdropping when you place them all together and go through them one by one.
Deuteronomy 20:16 (King James Version)
16But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:
And this guy's not shitting either, as you will see if you are ever bored enough to read the bible. Now look, I know I'm an atheist and all with a relative sense of morals and values but the way I was raised, this is called "genocide", and it's wrong. It's evil. Even if God says to do it, it's still evil. It's, dare I say it, religious terrorism. But not just any religious terrorism, but terrorism on a scale and level of violence that would make any Islamic fundamentalist flinch.
Lets take a video camera back and watch while it happens. There are rivers of blood flowing down streets, women crying and running with their children in their arms, infants being thrown into the air and impaled on the points of dull swords, heads and appendages hacked off, animals brutally slain and left to bleed to death, entire families burned in their houses. I have often wondered exactly how insane any human being would have to be to spend countless hours practicing genocide over men, women and children by the tens of thousands... with a sword! How long does it take to kill that many people? Days? Weeks? Do you have to stop to sharpen it occasionally? Does the ground turn to bright red mud which you slip and slosh around in as you try to gain traction for your next thrust into the neck of the ten year old girl holding hands with her mother and trying to run away? Do the corpses stink after awhile?
But what is even more insane is that anyone, ANYONE, in the modern world would believe in and worship such a deity whilst claiming moral superiority. This is the crisis of our age. How do you stop the madness? How do you get believers (who tend to be morally decent people by and large) to acknowledge the insanity of their own scriptures?
And people wonder why folks like myself object to the display of the ten commandments. An honering of a mass murderer, a terrorist, a bane of humanity. If they display the commandments, they should display the punishments for breaking them as well.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Have you ever been aimlessly walking down the street or driving your car through the city and suddenly been dumb-struck with the sheer pointlessness and absurdity of it all? In that one perfect moment of enlightenment, all the sheer nuttiness of human existence comes coalescing into a focused moment of awareness in which no amount of voluntary muscle control can prevent your windpipe from thrashing vehemently and the sides of your lips from trembling. You may have laughed, you may have cried, or something in between, last it happened to you.
The last time it happened to me was in Davenport Iowa, an impoverished and desolate town left standing in the cold midwestern praries dick in hand after John Deere corporation divorced it for some sexier piece of financial ass elsewhere. I was sitting in the passenger's side of a friend's jeep at a stoplight where I could see a dozen fast food restaurants, a shopping mall, at least three gas stations, two banks, lines of cars in four directions, a schizophrenic arguing with traffic, and miles of flat space filled with a bunch of nothing going quickly nowhere for no observable reason other to ensure that the same thing happens without a hitch tomorrow. I begin chortling and laughing, even screaming to the extent with which the pressure in my ears could withstand it while banging my hands on my knees and the dashboard..."It's nothing but a bunch of roads and stores! Thats ALL there is! FUCK! It's nothing but a bunch of useless roads and stores!"
I turned to look at Sam and somehow I expected him to understand exactly what I was intuiting as he swiveled his head around hoping other drivers didn't see us.
Philosopher of existentialism Albert Camus died when his car smashed into a tree on the side of the road. Supposedly he accidently ran into it taking an oily corner too quick or something, but personally I know it was a suicide. Or perhaps an accidental one. I sometimes wonder if his hands just slipped the wheel as he was speeding around a corner shouting and banging on his knees, the whites of his eyes reflecting in the rear view mirror.