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Definition of Rogue

rogue //  (rg) n. 1. An unprincipled, deceitful, and unreliable person; a scoundrel or rascal. 2. One who is playfully mischievous; a scamp. 3. A wandering beggar; a vagrant. 4. A vicious and solitary animal, especially an elephant that has separated itself from its herd. 5. An organism, especially a plant, that shows an undesirable variation from a standard. adj. 1. Vicious and solitary. Used of an animal, especially an elephant. 2. Large, destructive, and anomalous or unpredictable: a rogue wave; a rogue tornado. 3. Operating outside normal or desirable controls: “How could a single rogue trader bring down an otherwise profitable and well-regarded institution?” (Saul Hansell).

As I’m sure you’ve all heard from your favorite dead trees, idiot boxes and rabid bloggers; Sarah Palin’s new memoirs are causing quite the controversy.  AP got an advanced copy and immediately started ripping it to shreds.  Some call it fact checking, others call it opposition research; I think it’s more like shooting fish in a barrel; or maybe slaughtering turkeys.

Never mind that Sarah Palin is the anti-Christ, (literally*), but the AP is pond scum and I feel a little sorry for her.  Since when did the press decide a memoir should be fact checked?  Memoir’s aren’t about what ACTUALLY happened, memoirs are about showing the author in the best possible light!  That’s their function; that’s all they’re good for!   Yes, even the one OJ wrote; which made that book all the more ironic and tragic.

Seriously, does anybody pick up a memoir thinking, “Finally!  Now I’m going to get an objective picture of this person.”?    No, we pick it up because peeping in bedroom windows is wrong, and this way we can be voyeurs without spending time in lockdown trading our sweet tush for smokes.

All that doesn’t bother me.  And the claims about liberal bias in the media don’t bother me either.  I’ve read Manufacturing Consent; I understand the reason the mainstream media needs to appear liberal while instead supporting the oligarchy.  Because if they didn’t, we’d all wake up to what’s actually running this country.  (Hint: It’s NOT the Jews, sheeple!)

What really bothers me is that Palin used her facebook status to suggest more objective fact checking on her book could be found over at http://www.conservatives4palin.com/, right next to Russia.  As an interwebs OG, I find it pretty meta to be commenting on what a politician said on a social networking site while on a social networking site (that auto-posts my blog over to the first social networking site…and by doing births ouroboros.)   But as hard as it is; never mind that, either!

The problem is, conservatives4palin.com is blatant partisan propaganda.  Seriously, that is an OBJECTIVE statement about the site; Obama’s got one too!  Even the 75% of politicians who don’t know the net from a series of pneumatic tubes have one!

Unlike in the AP article, there is no modicum of bipartisanship.  They don’t even have to pretend!  This site wears its loyalty on its sleave; making any bipartisan claim impossible.  Say I said Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990 (I’m not saying he did, but has he denied it?) and that Obama was actually the second coming of Jesus.  Then let’s say I assured you my motivations were completely nonpartisan, and that you could rely on me to be objective.  Would you believe me?

You might believe I believe it, and you might even believe what I’m saying is right; but you wouldn’t think me unbiased on the matter.  I’ve already made my decision on whether or not Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990.  (Actually, I haven’t, I just think BOTH SIDES need to be evaluated in an open and fair manner.  That’s all I’m saying.)

Look, the AP article is straight up blazing its guns at Sarah Palin.  And frankly, it’s not because she’s conservative, although that doesn’t help.  And it’s not even that she’s a strong women; although that doesn’t help either. 

The reason she is so easy a target is the same reason she might get elected in 2012. 

She is proudly anti-intellectual, and is openly governed by her emotions and her faith.  She’s like the kid in the back of the room who gets really mad when you pick on her.  The media does it because it’s easy, and they make money off the hits.  I’m not saying it’s fair, but it is how the world works.

The Mayans might be onto something after all.**  I am deeply troubled that the grand ol’ party has been taken over by hooligans, rogues, and possibly even rapists. (possibly…I said “possibly”!  Both sides deserve equal say, right?***)

*don’t believe me?  Here’s a Gematria of Sarah’s name in Hebrew:

Shin= 300
Reysh= 200
Hey= 5
Nun= 50
Lamedh= 30
Aleph= 1
Pey= 80
TOTAL= 666

** Never mind that it’s superstitious pattern matching, like gematria and the Kabbalah.

***wrong.

Why Christians Can Cut Their Hair

There was an interesting discussion on reddit today, sparked by the following protest sign:

Leviticus_Hair_cuts

 

Some atheists on the board thought this was a real zinger, while the more religiously oriented members tried to explain why Christians are against gay union but don’t have a problem with barbers.  The believers try hard to explain why it’s not hypocritical, but unfortunately did a rather poor job.  Which isn’t surprising; it’s a difficult subject and most believers don’t really know that much about it.

As the heart of the apparent contradiction is the theology of supersessionism.

Supersessionism and replacement theology are uniquely Christian interpretations of New Testament claims, viewing God’s relationship with Christians as being either the “replacement” or “completion” of the promise made to the Jews (or Israelites) and Jewish Proselytes. Biblical expressions of God’s relationships with people are known as covenants,[1] so the contentious element of supersessionism is the idea that the New Covenant with the Christians and the Christian Church somehow “replaces” or “completes” the Mosaic Covenant (or Torah) with the Israelites and B’nei Noah. (wikipedia)

In a nutshell, Christians do not believe they need to follow Jewish scripture in order to be in a covenant with the god of the Jews.  It’s difficult to make generalities, because this doctrine is highly contentious among the different Christian sects.  And regardless of the version proscribed, the doctrine is usually attributed to Jesus.  At least the more theologically naive believe this; as it is demonstrably not true.

Both Jesus and the early Christians were devout Jews; and followed the Torah.  Minus some pastorals, any time a New Testament book mentions scripture, it is referring to the Torah and the Torah only.  In accounts both secular and religious, James the Just, brother of Jesus and first leader of the Church in Jerusalem, is hailed for his incredible purity and devotion to scripture.  Jewish Scripture.  The Bible also makes this clear in Acts chapter 21, in which Paul is required by the church to purify himself at the temple.  You cannot get much more observant to the law than purifying yourself for temple worship.

While this chapter so strongly affirms the Jewishness of Christianity, oddly enough it also gives us the first glimpse of supersessionism.  This is where certain believers are exempted from the full requirements of the law.  What most people miss here, but what is clearly stated, is that these exceptions apply to GENTILE believers only.  Gentiles could be god-fearers within the Christian Jewish community; they would no longer be required to convert to Judaism to be Christians.

Note that Jewish Christians were NOT exempted from the law, in this verse or in any other.

Ask any believer you know if God would punish a Jewish Christian for cutting their beard, and you’ll be met with a blank stare.  But as far as the biblical account is concerned; that IS the case.  Interestingly, this is not a departure from the Judaism of the time.  There were many god-fearing gentiles in mainstream judaism, and they were not required to be circumcised.   Only if they wished to become adopted Jews were they required to go through this painful process.   James simply applies these same standards to gentile Christians; they could become Christian god-fearers without being adopted into Judaism.

Many are surprised to discover that Christian scripture does not directly advocate supersessionism.  It’s true that there are many verses that are explicitly anti-Jewish; where Jesus or his followers stand up against the temple or other religious and secular authorities.  But none of them speak against the Torah, against the law of God for the Jews!  And all Jewish Christians are portrayed as following the Torah.  Jesus might interpret things differently than the priests do (healing on sabbath, eating with impure Jews), but he never denies the authority of the law; and is even said to have kept ALL of the Jewish law to perfection.   His own interpretation, of course, but even that is fundamentally Jewish!

This is a deep topic, but I have at least gotten far enough to tell you why Christians can cut their hair.  Because THEY AREN’T JEWISH, that’s why. They are Gentiles, so they don’t violate Leviticus by cutting their hair and beards.  I would also point out that by this same logic, eating blood sausage is still an abomination!

Of course, these days, gentile Christians can eat all the blood they want, and Jewish Christians can cut their hair and wear linens with their wool. And at least if you’re protestant, you can get divorced for reasons other than infidelity.  In a nutshell, the reason for that is supersessionism.

Actually; not the last one.  Divorce and remarriage is sexual immorality; this is affirmed by Jesus in all acocunts.  It also falls under James’ “sexual immorality” requirement for Gentile believers (as does homosexuality, by the way…sorry).  I’m actually not sure how Protestants justify that issue; I know Catholics don’t allow it.

Science Minister Equates Evolution and Religion

With a title like “Minister of State for Science and Technology”, it’s no wonder that Gary Goodyear thinks acceptance of evolution should be a matter of religious conviction. When asked about evolution, Gary had this to say:

“I’m not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,”

Mr Goodyear eventually clarified his position, when he realized how many people this upset:

“We are evolving every year, every decade. That’s a fact, whether it is to the intensity of the sun, whether it is to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it is running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment. But that’s not relevant and that is why I refused to answer the question. The interview was about our science and tech strategy, which is strong.”

Notice he never acknowledges macroevolution, only microevolution. Clever…a lot of people will miss that. If I were able to ask Mr. Goodyear one question, it would be this: “Is clinical acupuncture based on science or religion?”.

As a chiropractor who specialized in acupuncture, my guess is that he would say “Science”, even though the field is still heavily dependent on traditional Chinese metaphysics. While I’d be the first to accept that traditional methods of finding truth and value are important, I’d be the first challenge a statement that these sorts of things are scientific. By definition, they are not.

acupuncture

It’s not that controversial to label accupuncture a pseudoscience, though it has well demonstrated effects on pain. In its current formulation it’s pretty much based on Qi, (pronounced chee) “flows of energy” that are around and in all living things. While I’m not going to debate whether or not something like this exists (I think it does), these flows are not quantifiable, we haven’t observed them, and we can’t make any predictions based on them.

While acupuncture seems to work, we can’t claim to know HOW it works. Qi is undoubtedly philosophy, and as far as accupuncture relies on Qi it is simply eastern philosophy and pseudoscience.

But is EVOLUTION pseudoscience? There is consensus on this in the scientific community; and that is “No, evolution is NOT pseudoscience. And stop calling it ‘Darwinism’!’” They would know, and they can back it up. It’s science!

gn02_18

Like Gary, I was taught that belief in Darwinism was a matter of religious or philosophical conviction. And I accepted that at first, until I really started researching the matter. What I found stunned me; evolution was undoubtably scientific. It’s observable right now as well as forensically, it’s quantifiable (expressed algorithmically), and it makes predictions about the world that can be verified. And those predictions HAVE been verified, over and over again, to the point where it’s a contender for one of the “superb” scientific theories, right below general relativity and the standard model of quantum mechanics.

“Into the SUPERB category must go all those I have been discussing in the paragraphs preceding this one [that is, relativity - both varieties - and quantum mechanics]. To qualify as SUPERB, I do not deem it necessary that the theory should apply without refutation to the phenomena of the world, but I do require that the range and accuracy with which it applies should, in some appropriate sense, be _phenomenal_. The way that I am using the term `superb’, it is an extraordinary remarkable fact that there are any theories in this category at all! I am not aware of any basic theory in any other science which could properly enter this category. Perhaps the theory of natural selection, as proposed by Darwin and Wallace, comes closest, but it is still some way off.” Penrose in “Emperor’s New Mind” (Highly recommended!)

Even as general relatively and quantum mechanics do, evolution has problems. There are BIG, glaring holes in it, as there is in EVERY SINGLE scientific theory. But that’s not why Mr. Goodyear doubts macroevolution. Mr Goodyear has inadvertently made it plain he doubts evolution because of his religious beliefs. IE; he believes that Genesis is literally true, to one degree or another. He’s probably a creationist. And not the Roman Catholic kind; the Protestant kind.

gn03_01

I can find no reasonable response for this, as creationism is not subject to reason. But as Canada’s minister of science, Mr. Goodyear does not have the right to misrepresent science because of his personal religious views. Biology and genetics are INCREDIBLY important fields of study right now, and he does his country a great disservice to ignore the advances evolutionary theory has brought to these fields. If he must take this on faith, so be it; but his actions are important.

Furthermore, by making scientific claims based on religious values, he weakens his ability to make MORAL claims about science, which is where personal morality, ethics, and spirituality/religion are unquestionably important! To be more clear, one shouldn’t say they don’t believe in atomic fission because of their nonscientific convictions. That’s useless, it’s just burying your head in the sand. Instead, say that you don’t believe in atomic BOMBS because of moral, ethical and/or religious conviction!

Or DO believe in bombs, but you get my point, the decision what to do with technology and the meaning of life are more propoer fields for metaphysics and theology than the existence or nonexistence of specific scientific phenomenon.

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

To apply this to the theory of evolution. One should accept that natural selection is a fact, if the word “fact” is to mean anything. Besides, unless they are an evolutionary biologist, their opinion doesn’t mean squat anyway! We can certainly say religious conviction has NOTHING to do with the factual truth of scientific theories.

Instead, Goodyear could affirm science, while affirming God as the Primary Mover and the ultimate source of meaning. Instead he culd say, “Regardless of scientific facts, I believe God created us and loves us.” Or he could leave the religion part out completely, as he wanted to do in his first intervie!

Your call, Mr. Goodyear, but don’t misrepresent science. There’s enough of that as it is.

gn07_18

Economy: A Smoking Heap of Rubble

reverse_pillow_fighter

I wish I understood the economy better, but this quote terrifies me:

“Respectfully, you guys are totally misunderstanding something crucial in the AIG bailout: Derivatives claims are not stayed in bankruptcy. (Yet another brilliant innovation from the 2005 bankruptcy reform legislation.)

If AIG were to go down, derivatives counterparties would be able to seize cash/collateral while other creditors and claimants would have to stand by and wait. Depending on how aggressive the insurance regulators in the hundreds of jurisdictions AIG operates have been, the subsidiaries might or might not have enough cash to stay afloat. If policyholders at AIG and other insurance companies started to cancel/cash in policies, there would definitely not be enough cash to pay them. Insurers would be forced to liquidate portfolios of equities and bonds into a collapsing market.

In other words, I don’t think the fear was so much about the counterparties as about the smoking heap of rubble they would leave in their wake.” (via)

Smoking heap of rubble.  Yipes.  

I personally blame market deregulation, which lead to a blatantly FRAUDULENT valuation of derivatives.   Hopefully we now understand that an untamed market is like an untamed government; a dangerous lack of checks and balances.

Hopefully we can support a SUSTAINABLE relationship with our economy, one that doesn’t rely on cancerous exponential growth.  Maybe then we can develop some of these emerging markets  instead of exploiting them, managing our natural resources instead of exhausting them.

Because that would just be good business, in the long term.  Let’s make it good short term business as well; the market will adapt.

Polygamy in the Bible

I’ve been watching this amazing HBO television show called “Big Love”.   The main theme is Mormonism, particularly those who still practice polygamy (technically polygyny).   Bill Paxton (Nehhh) plays a polygamist raised on a fundamentalist Mormon, who leaves to compound to live in Salt Lake City with his three wives.  They are well assimilated into the 1950s culture of SLC, yet they are still deeply committed to “the principle”.

 The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, claimed to simply be following the literal word of scripture.

These days I tend to go to the Jewish sources for insights into the Old Testament.  Their page on polygamy is very informative.  The Bible regulates polygamy, but never forbids it.  A man was free to marry multiple wives, as long as he could support them, did not divorce  them, favor children from the 2nd wife over those of the 1st, etc. etc.   This is actually similar to how the Bible treats slavery, as something to be regulated instead of outright banned.

Polygamy and slavery regulated, shellfish and intercourse during menstruation banned.  Check.

Fast forward to the New Testament, which is strangely silent on the matter.   Like the Old Testament, the NT naturally expects a marriage to be between a man and a women.  But even in Jesus’ time many devout Jews had multiple wives, and Jesus never speaks against it.  Divorce, yes…Jesus forbids divorce.  But not polygamy.  Which is odd, considering how often Jesus is recorded speaking against the rich and powerful, the men most likely to be polygamists (Herod the Great had ten wives, for example…)

Paul is also silent on the matter.  One gets the idea he thought marriage was a necessary evil, only useful if the urges of the flesh become too stronge.  Paul is a Roman, though; and the Romans and the Greeks weren’t big on polygamy.  So perhaps he simply expected Christian men to marry zero to one wives.  

So these Mormons do have a valid point; nowhere does polygamy violate the letter of the law.  It certainly doesn’t laud it the way modern day polygamists do, but it is never explicitely forbidden.  The good Christians in black face who murdered Joseph Smith certainly felt it violated the SPIRIT of the law, though one could question just how pure their own spirits were.

Mormons didn’t give up polygamy until it was made a requirement for Utah to join union as the 45th state.  But they had a very timely and convenient change of heart, and polygamy was banned.  A pragmatic and necessary decision, though humilating.  Today, Mormons stand firmly against states being able to decide whether a marriage is between one man and one women or not.   I can’t help but feel this is ironic, and wonder if it is lost on them.

When asked why they supported Proposition 8 in California, invariably they would cite the Holy Bible.  The very same Bible that allows polygamy.  Check.

I do love “Big Love”, it is a well done show about a fascinating religious subculture.  The script is typical high quality HBO ( Six Feet Under, Sopranos, Deadwood).  The cast is great, and Bill Paxton doesn’t screw it up too bad.  I’m sympathetic to the characters, but in the end their ideals are unworkable.  Mainly because women aren’t allowed multiple husbands, and that’s just sexist.  Without that to balance things out the numbers just don’t add up, there wouldn’t be enough women to go around.

Too Beautiful To Live – The New Face of Radio

tail-recursion

 

Over the past year or so I’ve been fascinated with AM radio.   I’m addicted to the potent blend of right wing demagogy, pious preachers and conspiracy theorists.   (Or my favorite, all of the above.)  I think it’s the earnest insanity that gets me. 

And then I found tbtl, the show that’s probably too beautiful to live.   In a sea of insanity lies one small pocket of…more insanity.  But it’s our insanity, and I love them.  It’s difficult to describe the show, you simply have to listen.  It’s kind of like the Benny Hillifier.  Or like “Gardening with Marty Chang“.   They would be down with Cuil Theory.  

They love anything meta; recursion and self reference are almost daily themes.  They like fractals.  I would not be surprised if some of them have read G.E.B.  If they haven’t, they should.  If you haven’t you should.

In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion

 They have a podcast, and in Seattle you can listen to them at 97.3 KIRO FM between 7 and 10 PM Monday through Saturday.  AM’s being deprecated…sigh.

Listen to tbtl, so that they do live.   And now, here’s a funny animal video, brought to you by the Benny Hillifier.

An inordinate fondness for beetles.

herbie2

 

Distinguished British biologist J.B.S. Haldane, on being asked what one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation, Haldane is said to have answered, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.”


Beetles are the group of insects with the largest number of known species. They are placed in the order Coleoptera (from Greek κολεός,koleos, “sheath”; and πτερόνpteron, “wing”, thus “sheathed wing”), which contains more described species than in any other order in the animal kingdom, constituting about 25% of all known life-forms.” link.

“My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” (J.B.S. Haldane).

I would have liked to hung out with this guy.

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