Tuesday, August 24, 2010

religion + morality

intelligent people who are also religious are a bit of a conundrum to me. and i'm going to speak very vaguely here for a bit so feel free to dismiss this all as vaporous bullshit if you want to.

but there seem to be some people out there who are brilliant, aware of the physical world, and willing to admit that god plays pretty much no part in it. he's not out actively influencing events or anything like that, actually answering the prayers of some sports team over another, and all that other stuff that doesnt make any sense. but, they believe in him anyway.

sometimes if you ask this kind of person why they believe, you'll get an answer about how they were raised in a given tradition, and how it played an important part for them at a young age in figuring out right from wrong.

for example, andrew sullivan (or whoever these guys are who blog for him when he's apparently otherwise occupied) has little post up: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/08/can.html

with an interview with some catholic rocker who says:
"I started really thinking about the role the church played in my own life, and the fact that even though I didn't believe every little bit of what the Pope thinks, there's a lot of beauty in the Catholic church and a lot of beauty in the teachings. Things like forgiveness and redemption, the Ten Commandments, it's hard to argue these as negative things."

now, these are supposed to be the kinds of opinions everyone should respect, because they sound so nice. the guy believes because the church, to him, means stuff like forgiveness and redemption. who doesnt like forgiveness and redemption?

but thats half-baked. because god, and the church, have nothing to do with forgiveness and redemption. they may teach about it, but they dont have anything to do with its existence or value. algebra doesnt exist or not exist because of your grade school math teacher - just because something happens to have been the source of insight or knowledge for you doesnt actually tie it to the truth or validity or correctness of that insight or knowledge.

god is either necessary for morality, or he isnt. thats true for everyone; you either think everyone needs god to be moral, or else it follows that no one needs god to be moral.

if you think god is necessary to be moral, then you think i'm immoral, since i dont believe in god. fuck you, i'm a good person. ok, i'm a pretty mediocre person. but there has been some person out there somewhere that you'll probably admit was both "good" and not of your faith.

so then if, on the other hand, you think people can be perfectly moral without god, or the church, then... why do you continue to believe in him/it? anyone can be perfectly moral with or without god/the church, so... why do we need god/the church? obviously, at least as far as morality goes, we dont.

why is this important? why not just let people have their good values (forgiveness and redemption are pretty great values, after all), and leave it be?

because the same though processes are used to justify some pretty loathsome shit. i mean, stoning for example.

you may say that i cant equate stoning and forgiving. but i can, if the exact same thought process is used to validate both actions. someone who only forgives because god tells them to is not much different from someone who only stones because god tells them to. both of these people are abdicating their responsibility to make the moral judgment for themselves.

which is why intelligent religious people confuse me, and why i'll often get sucked into tryingconvince them that they are, in fact, actually atheists who just havent owned up to it yet. and thats why i think its important for them to own up for it; because either religion is a valid source for moral decision making (in which case, stoning and forgiving are both equally good), or its not (in which case forgiving is still good, but stoning is pretty fucking awful).

its also interesting to watch these people go through mental gymnastics around the idiotic stuff the church believes that they dont while simultaneously defending the good parts of church doctrine. as if these actually were a package deal in the real world (as opposed to the one defined by the church). i get very confused about why they even bother.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

fuck "near" ground zero...

..lets put a mosque in ground zero.

seriously, whatever memorial or whatever we finally eventually build there (almost 9 years now and its still just a fucking hole) should include a mosque (as well as other places of worship.. lets not exclude anybody!)

what kind of message would that send?

Osama: "America is the great devil who hates Islam and we must wage holy war agaisnt them"

Everyone else in the fucking world: "are you serious? they put a mosque in ground zero! you are totally full of shit"

i am honestly completely for this idea. as long as large percentages of our population are going to worship fictitious parental figures in the sky, we may as well use that to unify our populace and show just how awesome/free/strong a country we actually are.

edit: just dont pay for that part of it with public funds, obviously.

an important point..


and one thats easy to forget:

Insulting our Muslim allies and giving Osama bin Laden a huge propaganda victory by making the struggle against terrorism appear to be a war against Islam -- exactly as he claims -- would be a strategic disaster."

i still cant believe this shit. people who want to limit the practice of a particular religion can get the fuck out of my country. they can go start a new one with those people who dont want to pay any taxes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

dick armey on TDS

watched the interview just now. its frustrating, thought JS does a good job pointing out just incoherent what Dick Army is saying actually is.

there seem to be a subset of people who simply dont want to pay taxes to the federal government. i would suggest that that is completely unpatriotic, and that if they dont want to pay any taxes to the united states, they are free to leave and go live/work somewhere else.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010



definitely not a fan of this idea. if any of you ever want to know where i am, try asking me. i'm pretty easy to get in touch with. in fact i'll probably be a bit flatter you went so far as to call or txt me to find out where i am.
so i dont see much value in a geo-location feature for myself. advertisers on the other hand will, i'm sure, love it. "hey, you're a fan of starbucks! did you know there's a starbucks 105.8 ft that way?? awesome, you should go be some coffee there!"

facebook: taking the "social" out of "social networking." by cramming the rest of the internet in.

this is a sign..


...that things are wrong. that this continues to be sure a large portion of the national discourse is a indication of some pretty serious problems in the country's priorities.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Douthat continues!



1) wrong
2) utterly convinced he's right
3) pushing to legislate based on his correctness

he holds the standard religious-conservative views, and strings together words in the new york times (why have they given this guy a venue to voice his bullshit anyway?). and he makes claims like

"But I think there’s a pretty good case that they should do it[stigmatize pornography/ally with anti-obscenity advocates] anyway, because other people’s children, further down the ladder of education and income and prestige, might stand to gain from a less pornified society."

might they? how so? explain, and be sure to correlate why the problems these poor kids may face actually justify legislating your religious-moral standards.

" And an elite that was more morally serious about sexuality and its consequences would be willing to confront this problem directly, instead of ignoring the issue and/or sneering at the anti-abortion cause."

what a ridiculously pompous sentence.

"What all of these proposals have in common is an attempt to wrestle with the cultural costs of separating sex, marriage and procreation."

there it is again - infertile people obviously should not be allowed to marry according to Douthat.

"We’re being asked to formally ratify a cultural and legal shift that’s been rather obviously better for upper class Americans than for the country as a whole"

gay marriage benefits the elite more than the rest? again, this assumption is completely unjustified.

what a fucking asshole.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


...sounds like one of those kids who'd start an argument with you in grade school, but didnt actually know how to argue and just shouted the same thing over and over again, except when they'd occasionally grab on to some non-sequitur . its infuriating to listen to her

I kinda cant believe we still talk about her. i guess she wont go away as easily as i had hoped. but, considering she's getting by entirely on her looks (i mean, ok, what the fuck else does she bring to the table, you tell me), we wont have to deal with her that much longer, as those are on their way out.


he's mostly swayed me:


i have no idea how much i pay in sales tax.

Monday, August 9, 2010

fuck you, google


fuck them. i agree with Dan Gilmore:


his main point:

The right way forward is to have sufficient bandwidth that we can do pretty much anything we choose using public networks -- a true broadband infrastructure where packet-switched services (moving data around, at super-fast speeds, in little packages that are reassembled at the user's device) are the basis for all communications.

Instead, the game is on to create a parallel Internet. It'll still be packet-switched. But they won't call it the Internet anymore. That's an end game we should not encourage."

truth. i'm of the opinion that the internet, wired or wireless (be honest, whats the difference?), is a utility and should be treated as such.

The Marriage "Ideal"

Ross Douthat (whose name, particularly when he writes articles as asinine as this one, i have a hard time not noticing as a declension of "douche" and "ass-hat"):


firstly, GG lawyers his ass:


and there's no need to really say much more, as GG wins yet again.

here's DOUbachebagassTHAT's main "argument", i guess:

"This ideal holds up the commitment to lifelong fidelity and support by two sexually different human beings — a commitment that involves the mutual surrender, arguably, of their reproductive self-interest — as a uniquely admirable kind of relationship. It holds up the domestic life that can be created only by such unions, in which children grow up in intimate contact with both of their biological parents, as a uniquely admirable approach to child-rearing. And recognizing the difficulty of achieving these goals, it surrounds wedlock with a distinctive set of rituals, sanctions and taboos."

i have no idea how the first sentence is relevant to straight vs gay marriage, unless he think that merely by being the same sex, gay people are therefore "sexually identical". i suppose he does.

ah but that next sentence, thats the interesting one. obviously Douthat thinks that infertile people should not be allowed to married and should be relegated to whatever inferior institution it is he wants to stick gay couples into. infertile people, people who only want to adopt, people who dont want to have kids at all.....

thats fine. for Douthat, the point of marriage is to have and raise kids. thats typically what religions say about the whole thing, and thus we see that Douthat's argument is in no way "intellectual" and is merely religious.

marriage means different things for different people. Douthat can go fuck himself; he cant define what marriage means for me.

he's right about one thing though: "These arguments have lost because they’re wrong." indeed, ross. so will your argument lose, because it too is wrong.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

wtf google?

i thought you were supposed to be the good guys on stuff like this


this has been true for awhile...

but its good to see the quotes side by side like that:


nothing particularly new here but...

i still find articles about this subject pretty interesting:


the title to his paper would have been better if he'd just left it at "positioning the booty call relationship"

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


can anyone answer the question posed in the title?


because i would just love to hear one.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

stub: how can gay marriage possibly be a personal issue for straight people?

why do religious people in red states care so much about gay marriage if they themselves are not gay, and none of their friends/relatives are? you can make abstract claims about "societal damage", but i think thats kinda crap, since people only seem really to care about stuff that effects them personally, not abstractly.

clearly it is a personal issue, or else they would not have such strong feelings and devote time/money to it.

but how can something that has no effect on them be so personal

well, gay people are "living in sin".

"living in sin" means that these people EXIST in sin. not that their ACTIONS are sinful, but that merely by existing in a certain state (gay, cohabitating before marriage?), people are sinful. how pernicious of a mentality is that, by the way? merely the existence of a certain person is wrong, as opposed to their actual actions being wrong? thats actually really my main thought here; the immense horrid concept of "living in sin" and how people are thus sinners merely for existing.

but, anyway, by the same logic, we have "living in faith", or whatever you want to call the opposite. merely by following whatever your faith is, you are good and correct, and it doesnt matter what your actions are.

thus its a personal issue. if gay people arent evil sinners merely for being gay (and actually have to be judged on their actions), then faithful people arent good merely for being faithful. then they may have to be judged by their actions, and they may wind up coming up short. admitting that gay people have equal rights forces them into this admission.

...thats the best i have anyway. there's probably holes in my theory, so if you have some better explanation i'm all ears.

age of non-state actors?

my history sucks, but for awhile there, "nations" seemed to be in control of pretty much everything. this is opposed to previously, when "nation-states" were in control, or before that when "tribes" were running the show.

but now, wikileaks has the power to release huge amounts of data the united states would rather not be releaesed, google goes toe to toe with china over privacy concerns, and a bunch of guys in caves and rendered the largest military in the world pretty much useless. (dont read those sentences at face value, take my point).

so are we into some new age when non-state actors yield at least as much, if not more, power than actual nations?

there are plenty of people with way more knowledge on this kind of stuff than i have, it just occurred to me and i'm curious.

stub: why i wont have a facebook account in 10 years

as facebook and "the internet" merge, the reasons for having an account in the first place recede. facebook originally made it easy to connect to people, but as advertisers, politicians, and other interested parties find various ways to get themselves on your feed, you'll have to wade through more and more muck to actually connect to people in the way you originally wanted, which subverts the whole point of being on there.

so in my opinion facebook is at its apex right now. they'll plateau in the immediate future if they havent already. i dont think they're going to fade into irrelevance, simply by virtue of inertia, but its hard to see anything really exciting in their future. and if it winds up as just a way for the government to tie your ip address to your actual name (see GG here) , some negative PR could push people on to some other system.

in their battle with google for the internet, i'm backing google.