Monday, August 30, 2004
Pretty neat, eh?
In other RNC protest news, there is a 10-minute mass panty flash scheduled for Wednesday, with over 100 women flashing underwear with slogans such as "give Bush the finger," "cream Bush", "drill Bush, not oil", "Ballot Box," "My Cherry For Kerry," etc.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Thursday, August 12, 2004
The opposition have always considered the case from the point of view of legality. Legally, they argue, the Ten Commandments are an endorsement of Christianity and unconstitutional. Imagine being a Muslim or (shudder) an atheist standing trial with a two-ton Judeo-Christian rulebook guiding the decisions of the judge and jurors. It simply isn't fair, and the opposition to the Ten Commandments is entirely justified.
However, the news rarely gets into whether, even if it were legal to have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, they should be there in the first place. Proponents argue that they are the basis of modern laws. But are they?
Then God spoke all these words: I am Yahweh, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, Yahweh, your God, am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of Yahweh, your God, for Yahweh will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to Yahweh, your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that Yahweh, your God, is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
In other words . . .
I. Don't worship anther god: not a law.
II. Don't make idols: not a law.
III. Don't say God's name in vain: not a law.
IV. Keep the Sabbath holy: not a law.
V. Honor your parents: not a law.
VI. Don't kill: a law!
VII. Don't commit adultery: not a law.
VII. Don't steal: a law!
IX. Don't lie: sometimes a law.
X. Don't covet: not a law.
So, at best, two and a half of the Ten Commandments are even related to our laws, and I don't think anyone could seriously propose that they are the origin of these ideas, since they are pretty much always illegal everywhere. Ironically, Yahweh approves of people both killing and stealing in many places in the Bible. What's really funny is that there are two sets of ten commandments that Yahweh gives to Moses. The set listed above, and generally supported by the fanatics, is never called "The Ten Commandments" in the Bible. In Exodus 20, Yahweh tells them to Moses and then tells him a whole bunch of other laws. In Exodus 31, Yahweh puts the ten on two stone tablets. However, Moses gets mad and breaks them before ordering the Levite priests to slaughter 3,000 people. So, Moses makes two new tablets and Yahweh writes twn commandments on them in Exodus 34. This time, they are called the Ten Commandments by name, the ten that everyone should remember. And this time, they read like this.
I. Don't worship any other gods.
II. Do not make idols.
III. Celebrate the festival of unleavened bread.
IV. Sacrifice the firstborn of every cow and sheep.
V. Rest every seventh day.
VI. Celebrate the festival of weeks.
VII. All males must appear before Yahweh three times a year.
VIII. Don't offer sacrificial blood with leaven.
IX. Bring the best of the "firstfruits" to the house of Yahweh.
X. Don't boil a baby goat in its mother's milk.
Yeah. I don't see the fanatics clammoring to get those ten posted, the only ten actually called the Ten Commandments!
Monday, August 9, 2004
"'In the communist era, about 90 percent of the people here were nude. [. . .] Now, only about 30 percent are. It's not fair. We're being pushed off our own beach into a crummy little zone on the edge. Being nude is not a crime.' [. . .] Easterners, raised in the atheist communist state, say the influence of the Catholic and Protestant churches are responsible for the comparatively prudish western attitudes. [. . .] 'And now I've got this white stripe around my midriff as a result. [. . .] Fabric swim suits are so terribly uncomfortable. How can anyone want to wear them?'"Why the big hang up about the naked body? I have to admit, I have been influenced by these same attitudes, and I would probably be uncomfortable at a nude beach, at least at first, but that doesn't mean that my logical brain thinks that perpetual shame about the body is healthy.
Friday, August 6, 2004
"Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whisper in my ear that
America is under attack, I would have told those kids very nicely and politely
that the president of the United States has something that he needs to attend
If you've seen Fahrenheit 9/11, you know that Bush's reaction was quite different.
[via Oliver Willis]
Thursday, August 5, 2004
Wednesday, August 4, 2004
Speaking of writing, here's an Onion-style brief Rachel and I came up with today.
Local restaurant closes doors
COPPELL, TX. After sixteen years serving legions of loyal customers,
Perky Pete's Diner closed its doors for the last time today. "Well, it was
getting to be about 10:45, and we just figured we'd better lock up since the
last guest left." The long-time host of Perky Pete's, two servers,
and three cooks were told to "go on home," losing their jobs until the restauraunt
opens again for breakfast service at 7:00 tomorrow.
Writing this satire stuff isn't as easy as I thought.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
I just ran accross this site, and it is fantastic.
"I am an atheist.
And no, I don't kick puppies or steal candy from babies. I don't hate God, but I don't have any secret desire to worship him either. Nor do I worship Satan. I'm not angry or depressed; I'm quite happy as I am, actually. In fact, I'm a person just like you. You probably wouldn't recognize me if you passed me on the street.
But I am indeed an atheist. What this means, quite simply, is that I don't believe in any gods. Not Jesus, not Yahweh, not Allah, not Vishnu, not Odin, not Zeus, not Gaea, not Quetzalcoatl, not Marduk, not Ahura Mazda, nor any other of the thousands and thousands of deities humanity has invented throughout its history. I don't single out any of them - I treat them all the same, and lack belief in each one equally. As far as I'm concerned, they're all imaginary - mere products of the human imagination and nothing more.
In this respect, I'm probably not that different from you. After all, most theists reject all but one of the many gods humans have invented. I just reject one more god than most people do."
If anyone wants to learn more about why atheists don't believe in God, and really what being a nonbeliever is all about, I can't think of a more well-considered place to do it. I'm already an atheist and I could while away the entire afternoon between the atheism and evolution pages.
Monday, August 2, 2004
Sunday, August 1, 2004
There is one line of research that has consistently produced results. In experiments, simply limiting the calories consumed by mice, monkeys, and other animals dramatically increased their lifespan. As long as they still got the required nutrients, of course. While obviously, this won't eliminate infectious disease, accident, or murder, it does slow the aging process and lessen the risk for things like heart attacks, strokes, and organ failure. There is every reason to believe that simply reducing the amount of calories one eats by 30% would have similar effects in humans, allowing the average person to reach 100 or even 120 years of age. Even better, if researchers could figure out how it does what it does, they could mimic it's effects by chemical or genetic means without requiring people to drastically change their lifetyle.
It goes without saying that this sort of thing will be exploited by those who want to make money from it. As one of my interests is transhumanism, somebody from immortalism.com contacted me after seeing my blog. The site is a promotional vehicle for the Elixxir Program, a type of caloric-restriction diet combined with religious mumbo-jumbo. The leader guy is a self-described "anti-aging guru" who actually goes by the name "Elixxir." Did they not realize that one of the central origins of transhumanism was humanism and the rejection of religion?
The Elixxir Program may actually work, since it does take caloric restriction into effect. But lose all of the bullshit, guys.