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Old Blog Posts March 6, 2007

Subject Why I am Not a Democrat
Posted Date: March 6, 2007 – Tuesday – 1:04 PM

I’ve been complaining about the Bush Administration and the 109th Congress since the beginning, and that has lead many people to believe that I’m a died in the wool Democrat. Nothing could be farther from the truth; I’ve complained about Bush and his cronies, not because of their party affiliation, but because they REALLY SCREWED THE POOCH. And they’re weird.

I think history will reflect my point of view.

Anyway, here’s why I’m not a Democrat:

Power Centralization:

The Democratic Party advocates a strong federal government that protects citizens from many harms. This centralization of power has a naturally limiting effect on state and local power level. Needs are viewed from the top down instead of the bottom up. This centralization is used to more tightly control the states and the cities, and to keep them in line.

Centralized power systems are inherently unstable and prone to error. Power should be as distributed as possible, with the citizen being the most powerful, then local and state, and finally federal at a distant last. The farther the power is away from us the less it is touch with what we want done.

Welfare State:

The biggest reason for requiring power centralization is to manage the welfare state. Wealth needs to be redistributed based on the many needs of society. This at least implies a central source of funds; where money is gathered in and then doled back out. The more of this that occurs (both taxes and doles), the stronger central management becomes. Democrats want a large amount of money to flow through federal hands to maintain a strong welfare state.

Of course the Federal Government should be involved in redistributing and regulating wealth, but not to the detriment of the state and local groups and citzens. To much power goes with the dole, and to much room for abuse.

High Deficits:

Democrats have traditionally supported high levels of government spending to maintain the workforce at as high a rate as possible. But this laudable goal has been achieved with little regard to long term viability. Short term effect on the economy has become the most important aspect, and long term consequences of debt are ignored.

When the comforts of the American people are more important than the long term fate of their country and children, then something is extremely wrong. Living in a debt economy is no good; the rake is going to get you.


Political Correctness:

Democrats work to make PC the law. Trying to speak without offending anybody has stifled free speech in ways easily comparable to Puritanism. You see careers destroyed because of a comment made in a fit of rage. You see people avoid using the word “black” to describe an “African American”. Saying “That’s gay.” can get you fired. Calling a presidential hopeful a “fag” can get you in big trouble (Sorry, but I saw the video and he was acting kind of gay).

On the Internet we’ve got plenty of trolls and flame-baiters; and they suck. But making people feel perverted because of their rather tame biases can have a very negative effect, if only because it removes any hope for dialog, understanding, and education. Best to encourage free speech of all sorts, but try to encourage kind and well-mannered speech more. The gag-ball that is PC has got to go.

Liberal Judges:

This country is founded on the Constitution; it’s the highest law of the land. All other law is subservient to constitutional law. Conservative judges take a very literal, minimalistic view of this document; tending to interpret it in the sense it was written. Anything not addressed in the Constitution was left for the people to decide. The people, not judges.

Liberal judges tend to interpret the constitution in a revisionist way. Roe vs. Wade is a perfect example of this. The Supreme Court ruled that the right to abortion was constitutional, completely ignoring the fact that 1) abortions existed in 1787, and 2) The Constitution doesn’t say shit about them.

Not that I’m saying Roe vs. Wade wasn’t a landmark decision for the equality for women. But it was questionably handled, and can easily be overturned for that very reason. If we want to make sure abortion remain legal then it would require a Congressional Bill if not a Constitutional Amendment.

Democratic Party:

I’ll leave it at that. The Democratic Party is a joke in its existing form. I would never want to align myself with the incompetence and untrustworthiness that they display on a daily basis.

In the case of fairness I was thinking of doing “Why I am not a Republican”, but I think that should be rather clear from previous posts. Religious Right, Neo-Conservatives, and that wire-tapping, fear mongering, fascist freak in the White House.

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Subject What’s the last thing through a fly’s head when it hits the windshield?
Posted Date: March 1, 2007 – Thursday – 12:42 PM
His ass. Check these out; they’re beautiful, in a sad sort of way.

And speaking of ass…here’s another not so beautiful, but very sad link, to Conservapedia; for when reality is just to left-wing. From the site, “Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. ”

Um…yeah. If Wikipedia is biased, it is due to a natural cumulative bias of it’s writers. Similar to how we’re all biased by the culture we were raised in. Some revel in this, others try to become aware of it.

Conservapedia revels; it has a centrally controlled bias. There is no interest in NPOV, while is the official policy at Wikipedia.

Also, if you find a biased article on Wikipedia, EDIT IT and put your reasons on the talk page! Don’t go play in your own sandbox like some three year old who got your feelings hurt.

Obviously many American Protestant Conservatives will find this site ludicrous; you have my simpathy.
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Subject Neo-Mickey!
Posted Date: February 28, 2007 – Wednesday – 7:54 AM
Here’s a beautiful example of remix culture at its best.
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Subject Sun Joins the Free Software Foundation
Posted Date: February 28, 2007 – Wednesday – 5:46 AM
W00t! This is great news for the open source world. Time to brush up on my Java skillz.

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Subject Sexual Purity Laws of the Old Testament
Posted Date: February 27, 2007 – Tuesday – 9:26 AM
I got a few emails regarding a verse I posted in a bulletin. The scripture appears to say that if a man rapes a virgin, then he should be pay the father a “bride price” and be forced to marry the girl.

The consensus seems to be that I am taking this verse out of context, and misunderstood it. OK, fair enough; I’m not a theologian, even though I find myself writing about religious fundamentalism and extremism. I did read up on the scripture before posting about it, but that didn’t come through in my bulletin.

A friend made a very valid point, that the NIV translation is problematic, and that there are more scriptures right before the one I quoted that are important for understanding what is going on here. That’s an excellent point, so I’ll use the New King James Version instead:

25 “But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. 27 For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her.

28 “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.

In the first set of verses, the word “force” is used, and the women is betrothed (practically married). In this instance, the rapist is put to death and the women is held blameless. In the second set of verses, the English word “seize” is used, and the women is NOT betrothed. In this instance, he pays the father a hefty dowry, and marries the girl for life. So the general argument is that the first set of verses refers to rape, and the second set of verses refer to consensual sex. This is pretty much the orthodox position to take.

Seize seems to be a very accurate translation of the Hebrew word used here (“tapas”) . For example, in those bad novels with Fabio and big busted women on the front, Fabio will sometimes “seize” the women and “ravish” here. This implies passionate sex; maybe a little rough, but consensual. This translation would support the orthodox view.

However, seize can also capture someone, to arrest them. Or to take something away; like when the cops “seize” you for mooning the president, or your mom “seized” your porn collection. Using seize in this context certainly isn’t a consensual act. This interpretation holds for the Hebrew word as well.

But my point stands, THERE”S WIGGLE ROOM, even in the original translation! This does not clearly define the situation as consensual, and it does not clearly define the situation as forced sex. In fact, many possible scenarios are not dealt with well.

1. What is the law if someone rapes a women who is NOT a virgin? What if the man is married?
2. What happens if you rape a women who is NOT betrothed?
3. What happens if you have consensual sex with a betrothed women?
4. What happens if a man is raped?

Of course, there are other scriptures, and not taking them into account is a mistake. For example, question 3) above is answered in verse 22

22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel. ”

Consensual sex is clearly being described. Very explicit answer, although extremely harsh by today’s western standards. But there are still big gaping holes, if this is supposed to be laws covering rape. In fact, the commandments in these verses are not geared towards protecting women; rape is only covered here as it relates to WOMEN’S SEXUAL PURITY. The other related scriptures in this chapter make this abundantly clear:

13 “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, 14 and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ 15 then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 And the young woman’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her. 17 Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; 19 and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.
20 “But if the thing is true, and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

So when taken in context, the “rape clause” makes much more sense. If a women was found to not be a virgin on her wedding night, she could be killed. Women being virgins was a BIG DEAL. In the case of a betrothed women being raped, the women should be accepted by her husband as blameless. If the women was single she must marry the person who “deflowered” her. After all, she wasn’t good enough for anybody else at that point, right? These are almost merciful verse; as at least this women had a husband and could raise a family with her illicit lover.

Indeed, the entire scripture can be taken as completely fair and actually quite merciful, in that it attempted to protect women. I mean, if a husband is “displeased” with his wife, and wants a new one, he must prove that his wife was a slut. If he can’t prove it then he’s in big trouble. I shudder to think of the situations that this law was addressing, and the horrible injustices that would have happened before it. Of course, I shudder to think of the injustices after, as well.

I can wear the fundamentalist hat, but it hurts. He believes that scriptures like this come directly from God, and to one degree or another women should be subservient to men. He believes this dogmatically, and his belief does not change.

In ancient times a women could be killed for not being a virgin, and the issue of a man’s virginity would not be addressed directly. This was normal, at the time. But times do change, and scriptures attempted to repair the damage done by pre-existing laws on sex, but did nothing to address fundamental equality. This basic principle of sexual equality is one that is still struggling in many areas of the world, much of the time due to verses like these ones.

The very fact that we’re discussing ancient Hebrew scripture should strike you as bizarre, but it’s central to what is happening today! We have a fundamentalist Christian in the White House, we’re killing Fundamentalist Muslim’s in Iraq, and soon to be killing “moderate” Muslim’s in Iran (we are REALLY trying to pick a fight!). All actors in this poopy party (muslims included) believe in verses that support “Complementarianism” of various levels of inequality. The “New Covenant” may be kinder than the old for both the Christians and the Muslims, but they still have a lot of baggage.
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Subject Han Shot First
Posted Date: February 23, 2007 – Friday – 11:01 AM
This is pretty cool. It uses “rotoscoping”; the same effect Linklatter used for “A Scanner Darkly” and “Waking Life”.

Kinda reminds me of “Troops”:

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Subject Now that’s a big bridge!
Posted Date: February 22, 2007 – Thursday – 6:06 AM
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Subject Free Tyrone Brown!
Posted Date: February 19, 2007 – Monday – 8:34 AM
It’s stuff like this that makes it clear our justice system is quite screwed up.

“Brown, an African American, is serving life in prison, while John Wood, a White male is free, on yearly report, although he committed a more serious crime. The grave disparity was reported in an April 2006 edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Brown was involved in a $2 robbery when he was 17, and was given a 10-year probationary sentence. However, Brown violated probation by testing positive for marijuana and received life in prison. He has served over 16 years of his life sentence and remains in the Allred Unit, four miles west of Wichita Falls.

Wood murdered an unarmed male prostitute and received 10 years probation. He violated the terms of his probation by testing positive for cocaine, but his term probation was not revoked. Additionally he repeatedly violated other terms of his probation, yet an early release was sought and he is now on yearly report by mail.

“This man killed someone but my son is down there because he was smoking a joint?” Ms. Brown said in amazement.

Both men appeared before Dallas County District Judge Keith Dean, who was recently defeated in the Nov. 7 elections.

“I don’t hate Judge Dean, but it’s not up to me to judge. He’s going to have to answer to God,” Ms. Brown said.”

Only the ignorant can claim that our justice system is not inherently race and class conscious. Here’s an excellent article on the different sentencing guidelines for crack and powdered coke, even though they are different forms of the same drug, cocaine. (“From Chocolate to Morphine” is an excellent scholarly guide to drugs, both legal and illegal). 100 grams of coke gets you the same sentences as 1 gram of crack. This seems nuts, until you realize cocaine is the drug of choice for well off white people, while crack is most popular with poor inner city minorities.

“From 1995 to 2003, inmates incarcerated in federal prisons for drug offenses have accounted for 49 percent of total prison population growth.

The statistics are from the annual report by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. The report breaks down inmate populations for state and federal prisons and for local jails.

The study found that racial disparities among prisoners persist. In the 25-29 age group, 8.1 percent of black men — about one in 13 — are incarcerated, compared with 2.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.1 percent of white men. The figures are not much different among women. By the end of 2005, black women were more than twice as likely as Hispanics and more than three times as likely as white women to be in prison.” link.”

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Subject All I Want for Christmas is a Jet Pack
Posted Date: February 15, 2007 – Thursday – 3:27 AM
That looks like a helluva good time
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Subject Michael Crichton on Genetic Patents
Posted Date: February 13, 2007 – Tuesday – 9:17 AM
Here is an excellent article by Michael Crichton on the dangers of patenting genes. Crichton is known for being very prescient when it comes to technology and science, so he is certainly someone to pay attention to.

He most recently hit the news due to his controversial book “State of Fear”, where he claims that environmental groups have highjacked Global Warming Science for their own agenda. As much as I agree with those self-same environmentalists and their goals, I have to admit he is probably right here. Media and politics have never cared about scientific accuracy, and I doubt that has suddenly changed. I mean, most media and politicians denied that global warming was even occurring DECADES after scientists had reached a consensus on the matter. And now they’re over-reacting…brite-lite style.

So I have a question regarding patenting genes related to diseases. If you patent a invention, and that invention then causes people to die or be maimed, couldn’t you be held liable (think “The Jerk”)? In the same vein, if the patent holders genes caused me to catch a disease, couldn’t they be held liable for that as well? Just a thought.

Crichton is certainly right…naturallly occuring genes should NEVER be patented. Shame on the USPO…this is ludicrous. I could see a day when someone would have their genes re-possesed, because they couldn’t afford to make their “gene payments”. This is a nightmare scenario when considering artificial genes only, but even more so for naturally occuring ones (“We’re sorry sir, you have a rare set of genes to fight cancer, but due to patent restrictions we’re going to have to remove them”).

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Subject Prison Love in America
Posted Date: February 12, 2007 – Monday – 12:43 PM
My God, this is some horrid, horrid stuff.

If stories like this were the exception, it would be terrible, but understandable. But from what this report has to say, prison rapes occur extremely frequently, especially to those who fit the victim demographics…namely shy, pretty, non-violent (re: drug) offenders, and white.

Prison authorities know this occurs, and yet they do little to stop it. That is barbaric. If people are running around raping other people in prison, they should be charged, found guilty, and sentenced in a way that takes them out of the regular prison population.

From the website:

I’ve been sentenced for a D.U.I. offense. My 3rd one. When I first came to prison, I had no idea what to expect. Certainly none of this. I’m a tall white male, who unfortunately has a small amount of feminine characteristics. And very shy. These characteristics have got me raped so many times I have no more feelings physically. I have been raped by up to 5 black men and two white men at a time. I’ve had knifes at my head and throat. I had fought and been beat so hard that I didn’t ever think I’d see straight again. One time when I refused to enter a cell, I was brutally attacked by staff and taken to segragation though I had only wanted to prevent the same and worse by not locking up with my cell mate. There is no supervision after lockdown. I was given a conduct report. I explained to the hearing officer what the issue was. He told me that off the record, He suggests I find a man I would/could willingly have sex with to prevent these things from happening. I’ve requested protective custody only to be denied. It is not available here. He also said there was no where to run to, and it would be best for me to accept things . . . . I probably have AIDS now. I have great difficulty raising food to my mouth from shaking after nightmares or thinking to hard on all this . . . . I’ve laid down without physical fight to be sodomized. To prevent so much damage in struggles, ripping and tearing. Though in not fighting, it caused my heart and spirit to be raped as well. Something I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself for.
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Subject I Want My Two Dollars!
Posted Date: February 9, 2007 – Friday – 5:41 AM
This guy brought debt collectors to a bank and started seizing their assets. All perfectly legal, and court ordered.

This guy got a ruling against Verizon in small claims court, and Verizon had a bench warrant put out on it for failure to appear in court.

Good stuff; it’s nice when you see common people able to use the law for their benefit. A corporation is a person (albeit “fictional”), and the law applys to them as well as to us.

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Subject I’m a Mac. I’m a PC. I’m Linux
Posted Date: February 8, 2007 – Thursday – 12:46 PM
Hilarious, and too true. I love the old Tron suit. This is a digg at those dreadful Apple adds that have been getting play recently.
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Subject Overblown: Loosing The War On Terror
Posted Date: February 8, 2007 – Thursday – 8:00 AM
There’s a great book review over at the American Spectator for a new book called “Overblown”. It looks very interesting, I’ll have to check it out.

To put things in perspective then, Mueller says the scope of the threat has been substantially exaggerated, that terrorism is not an existential threat to the U.S., and America’s survival is not at stake.

FEAR AND INTIMIDATION, of course, is what terrorists are all about. They cannot hope to defeat their opponent militarily, so they hope to bankrupt him, to scare him into policy revision, or to turn a population against its government.

According to Mueller, the U.S. has played right into Osama bin Laden’s hands. He quotes bin Laden saying, “What we’re trying to do is spend the U.S. into bankruptcy.” And “America is full of fear…thank God for that.””

I’ve been wanting to blog on this for a while, but can’t quite find the words.

If we really are in a “War on Terror”, then why are people more terrified? Seems like we’re loosing this particular war. The terrorists are manipulating us, and we’re falling for it! Why can’t people see this? Specifically, why can’t people in power see this? I think they can, but instead they manipulate us as well, for their own agendas.

Of course, declaring war on an emotion makes no sense, anyway. It would be much better to be open about what this war is about. Let’s call it a “War on Violent Religious Extremism” instead. Or maybe shorten it to “War on Islam”. Not that I agree with this war, but we might as well call it what it is.

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Subject Deep Fried Grossness
Posted Date: February 7, 2007 – Wednesday – 7:05 AM
So I was eating some Pork Rinds last night, and I came across something that looked suspiciously like a deep fried HAIR. Ewww…Gag!

I’ve had this weird taste in my mouth every since…a piggy sort of taste. I know it’s psychosomatic, but it’s still disgusting.

Per Wikipedia:
“When used as a snack food chunks or pellets of the cured pork skin (sometimes including portions of meat and/or hair as well) are deep-fried and puffed into light, irregular curls, and often seasoned with chili pepper or barbecue flavoring.

Wish I had known that earlier…

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