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Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?

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Larry Norman, a popular Christian rock musician, died this last Sunday. You might not know who he is, but you probably know Frank Black, whose early aesthetics were influenced by Larry, causing Frank to play onstage with him at his last concert.

Larry and gang founded “Contemporary Christian Music”, or CCM, a product of the 60s and 70s. He provided a soundtrack to my childhood years, as did Keith Greene, Daniel Amos, The Rez Band, and 2nd Chapter of Acts. A little later in life I resurrected a record player and listened to my Dad’s old LPs again , and still really enjoyed them.

Larry Norman and the other founding members of CCM were influenced by the Jesus Movement, when a large influx of ex-hippies invaded American Protestantism en-mass. Their counter culture ideals and modern tastes were reflected in their music, dress, theology and lifestyle. It was all about the “One Way”, following Jesus as a personal disciple instead of following a bunch of white suburban middle class morality. This was the beginning of what is now called the “Social Gospel”, or Protestant liberalism.

In the 60s and 70s most Protestants considered rock music “of the devil”. The Beatles and Elvis were Knights In Satan’s Service; leading the young people to grow long hair, smoke pot, have sex and abortions, believe in evolution, and hang out with black people. And to have a CHRISTIAN make ROCK?!? That was absolutely unacceptable, like a youth pastor making a porn video. Larry talks about hard conversations he had with his very religious dad, about whether he was serving the church or not. This later led Larry to write the apologetic but defiant”I am a Servant”, along with many other great songs like “The Outlaw” and “Why Should The Devil Have all the Good Music?”

Even today Bob Jones University doesn’t allow CCM to be played in their dorms; not even “Steven Curtis Chapman (or) Michael W. Smith”. My parents weren’t quite that bad, but they tightly regulated what kind of music was in the house, and G-d forbid if they’d ever found the “secular” music I snuck home and listened to in my headphones. My mom wouldn’t even let me listen to some modern Christian rock (POD, Poor Old Lu, Mx Px, Pedro the Lion, Prayer Chain, Starflyer 59, etc.) because it was “too noisy” or “too depressing”. I didn’t forgive her for that one until years after I’d moving out.

People like Bob Jones represent the worse of Christian culture, domineering smug in their assurance that their 50s Moral Values are eternal and perfect. Larry Norman reflected the better parts of religious life; one of community, creativity, openness and love. The Culture Wars have just began; and it’s because of people like Larry that oppressive fundamentalism can be beaten.

R.I.P Larry Norman; I don’t believe in heaven anymore, but I know the legacy of your art will live forever.

Kill Your Television

Having taken the last 6 months or so off, I had plenty of daylight hours to burn, only a small portion of which I used to do anything productive. Rather, I went through a period of “high inertia”, did some great internet surfing and T.V. watching.

Somehow I managed to make it through 63 episodes of Six Feet Under, an absolutely top notch HBO series. This is some of the BEST television ever made, IMO. And I watched all of Futurama, from beginning to end, and watched the new movie. Another amazing show. House is back and better than ever.

I watched American Gladiator. Wolf. Helga. Oh. Yeah.

I watched all the new Doctor Who, and the spinoff. Not to be flaimbait, but Torchwood is better. Way better; it’s better than most American TV shows. Still not as good as Red Drawf. Speaking of space shows, I watched some old Star Trek TNG and Voyager, TNG doesn’t age well, and Voyager isn’t far behind. But 7 of 9…yeah, that was a great idea; insert lame”Assimilate me!” joke here. Borgs are so cool.

Sci Fi/Fantasy is gaining in popularity, especially shows set in the present that contain fantastical Must see TV includes Heroes, Lost, and Jericho. Good TV includes Eureka and Moonlight. Even canceled shows like Journeyman and 4400 delivered with good characters and good storytelling, just not picking up the viewers in this online age.

I just watched the new Knight Rider premier. Yet again the car is by far the most well developed and three dimensional character. There are many other new shows worth checking out. Breaking Bad is a must watch. Californication proves that Duchovny’s still got it in ‘im. Weeds isn’t new anymore, but it took a few seasons to catch on. Burn Notice is lots of fun.

As a poker player I really enjoy Poker After Dark, as it shows you a large percentage of the hands. This helps you get a feel for the gameplay, making it more nuanced and realistic instead of a final table all-in shove fest. High Stakes Poker is also lots of fun.
I saw quite a few good miniseries. The Lost Room was good creepy fun. Rome was completely outstanding, some more BEST TV. The Nova Series on Evolution is a must watch for anybody who wants to make an informed decision on Intelligent Design vs. Evolution.

I can’t highly enough recommend the Nova episodes The Mind’s Big Bang and What About God. The first covers the evolution of consciousness and memetics, the second is a intense and surprisingly non-judgmental documentary on a private Evangelical liberal arts college in Illinois. Students at Wheaton College are taught that Science and Christianity are basically not at odds with each other. This claim comes under direct fire, as many of the students here were raised to believe in Biblical inerrancy, including a 6 day creation and the historical existence of Adam and Eve. So needless to say, the topics of Evolution, Higher Criticism, and Genetics are fraught with peril.

I would add that so are are Geology, Physics, Meteorology, Astronomy, and the Scientific Method at its very basis, but that’s just me. Very interesting and educational television.

May You Live in Interesting Times

I am seeing a marked decrease in complacency out there. Whether this will be good or bad remains to be seen, but I think it as a positive thing.

Obama is doing remarkably well against Clinton, winning the most delegates so far. More importantly, he’s smashing the popular vote, getting remarkably close to 2 to 1 against Billary. He is crushing both McCain and Clinton for the independent vote. A black man raised as a Muslim is being embraced by moderates; this country sure is learning from its past. Even more amazing is how well Obama is doing with the youth. The Democratic Party better realize the treasure it has in Obama. They need to recognize the amazing turnout at caucuses for exactly what it is; disgust with neo-conservative quasi-fascist policies. Obama is the the antithesis of this, and it is no surprise he has captured the imagination of so many people.

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Project Chanology invaded meat-space with a large worldwide protest, including one in dear old Seattle. It has also been noticed by the mainstream press, making the front page of newsweek.com Pretty cool. The “lulz” of Project Chanology is still coming through, with a parody of the Tom Cruise video by Pastafarians along with a companion “Anonymous” parody video against Pastafarianism:

“We are Anonymous

We do not forgive.

We do not double park.

We do not know the sweet touch of a woman.

Expect us.”

link.

Awesome. “Hot girls”, you must show up to these things. And I appreciate that so many people have stood up against using illegal and supressive tactics, as these just play right into their hands. The next protest in on March 5th, LRH’s BD. I have a lot more to say on this fascinating subject, but more on that later. Stay safe, kids!

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PS: Does anybody who is not Ethan know who Rob Sheridan is? (he took pic above)

Congress is finally showing some freakin’ balls. FISA, contempt, walk-outs, all sorts of good times. Public Service Announcement from Sidetrack: “if telco’s don’t get immunity, terrorists will kill your Grandmother.” Do you really think Bush & Co. gives a crap whether some telco executives go to jail? The problem is, the telco’s defense will be “We were just following orders“. Now that the wire-tapping is widely known (thank you internets!), “state secret privileges” do not apply, so this whole ball of crap is going to court. Can someone shout”Unconstitutional”? Guess who’s busy covering their asses!

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On some strictly personal news, I’ve started working for a multinational consulting company, as a Sr. Business Intelligence Developer. For good reason, corporations are sensitive about free expression of thought by their employees, especially if it contradicts societal norms. A loud mouth employee can be a bigger risk than asset, regardless of how effective he may be.

As a representative of my company what I do and say is very important, and I must always be respectful and courteous. So I want to make it clear this is my PERSONAL OPINION BLOG; protected under basic human rights, and has nothing to do with any corporate interests at all. It is in my legal right (and responsibility, I think) to use my real name for an opinion blog, and it is well within a company’s rights to not be represented on that blog. Free thinkers can be a tremendous asset for corporations as long as we all remember these things.

But on a strictly personal note, this is a very interesting time to live in, and I’m loving it! And speaking of interesting:

War on Pot: $42 Billion a Year

The War on Pot cost 42 billion last year; roughly 10% of the federal deficit.

I was listening to Love Line the other night; something I do rarely now that Adam is on in the morning.  Some surfer dude called up with an asinine question, but he mentioned that he smokes pot except before during competition (They are tested for drugs, performance enhancing or not).

Drew immediately called him an addict, and started lecturing him on his pot dependency, telling him to get help.  Drew has done this a number of times; and it’s always bugged me.  Freakin’ typical, that’s what I get for listening to radio “doctors.”

Chemical dependency is a very real pysiological effect, sometimes with disastrous results.  Drugs like tobacco, heroin, and meth form dependency in almost everyone very quickly, within days or months even if only used a few times a week.

Drugs like alchohol and pot make only a few dependent, and for those people it takes years of daily use, most often coupled with depression and an overall unhealthy lifestyle.  This is well documented, and available for anyone who cares to do the research. (I recommend “Chocolate to Morphine” to start).

There are very real symptoms experienced from taking these drugs, and they have been well studied.  If Drew categorized all wine drinkers as chemical dependents he would be flame-bait.  But he can pick on the weekend pot smoker with impunity, because of this country’s perverse war on a drug with less side effects than alchohol.

PS: Washington rocks;  Obama got 2 of every 3 caucus votes.

Obama is Your Man

Here is an excellent article explaining exactly why Hillary would make such a bad nominee; many independent voters hate her, especially those who have conservative leanings.  For them; she represents the good ol’ Democratic Party, the “New England” liberals.

Hillary as the Democratic nominee would push many independents to vote for John McCain.  Obama would at least assure that independents would be split fairly evenly.  And that’s enough to make a difference in who becomes the next president.  Remember, Bush lost the popular vote!

The Natural Philosophy of Scientology

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Someone went way overboard, and mailed packets of suspicious white powder to a number of Scientology offices. Fail; it terrified a bunch of people and wasted time and resources better utilized keeping the peace and tracking down Osama. This act has been vilified in the blogosphere, and Anonymous has condemned it and declared itself innocent of provoking this sort of behavior. Many have commented that this would make a good form of black propaganda, noting the many misdeeds of major and minor Scientologists.

If this was a Scientology operation, then it was done by a squirrel. Ditto if it was an Anon op. Not standard tech! The more I study these guys the less I believe that your average Scientologist is crazy or immoral; they are sane, rational, and follow the same basic code of ethics that the rest of us do. Good, solid citizens that you want for next door neighbors. They might try to give you a copy of Dianetics, but as long as you respect their beliefs they’ll respect theirs.

But if you are hostile to their beliefs, there is a good chance they’ll label you a suppressive person and consider you fair game. This is unfortunate and all to common in CoS, anybody who openly disagrees with their view of the world is persecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law, and sometimes beyond. This meme has been very damaging and is leading to a public relations nightmare that the church might not ever recover from.

Scientology was nominally founded as a way to improve the human condition through Science and Dianetics. Find me one Scientologist that would disagree with this and I’ll give you a nickel. But in order to practice the Scientific Method, you must publicize your finding for peer review, allow people to disagree with your findings, and even attempt to discredit them. You must take people’s criticisms and address them, and even discredit your own findings if you become convinced by evidence that you were wrong.

Indeed, this is a very accurate representation of L Ron Hubbard’s earliest activities, although he was of the type to rarely be convinced he was wrong about anything. Still, he tried to answer every critic, and deal with every situation; obsessively detailing exactly how everything should be painstakingly interpreted and resolved in order to make the idea all hang together. In this he behaved almost exactly like a scientific revolutionary, in the Kuhnian sense.

THIS DID NOT CONTINUE. The organization became more and more insulated as the attacks on their belief system became more hostile. They were called a cult, and started to behave like one. LRH became more and more isolated, always surrounded by adoring believers who thought he was the best thetan incarnation to come around in trillions of years. By definition it is impossible to practice Good Science in that environment The system became extremely hierarchal and tightly secretive. These days, to openly disagree with the church became exactly the same as mocking someone’s religious faith, and it is not taken lightly.

This is a far cry from where Scientology began, and it’s my personal belief the young LRH would be heartbroken if he saw his legacy today. He got rich, yes, but he lost the very basis of scientific value along the way. I’m a big science fiction fan, and Hubbard was one of the founding members of this genre. Their views on religion were extremely influential, as were their views on science. These were unmistakable and obvious values of the science fiction of Hubbard’s early career, causing many a Christian to vilify scifi as atheistic and humanistic propaganda. I’ve read a ton of it, and I think that’s a pretty fair judgment. They convinced me!

Nowadays, both Science and Science Fiction have moved into new territory, while Scientology is stuck in the 1940s. We now understand that rigid and authoritarian tech guidelines can never accurately model robust complex behavior. We understand that electroshock therapy really F’s people up, as does giving kids a bunch of mood altering drugs. Complexity, decentralization, networks and computation are everywhere around us, yet were practically unknown in the golden age of scifi. We understand that the clockwork universe is a myth, as we stare into the throat of the Singularity.

Is Scientology a corporation or a religion? Is it a sociological cult or a personality cult? Are they Amway or Jonestown? A knowing fraud or an honest delusion? Maybe it’s all true and 100% correct and Scientific Rationalists are the crazy ones. Probably something in between. I’m still checking it out.