Friday, September 30, 2011

Elizabeth Warren on Success

Perhaps the lesson for the wealthy that trashing the social support is trashing self will soon be apparant. The writing is on the wall, and the night is falling.

No less of a Robber Baron than Henry Ford said (paraphrased) if I pay my workers enough to afford a car they will buy one and support the economy. The other car companies had to follow and for better or for worse the American economy was built on the automobile and the auto workers. Short lived as all progress is, by the late 20's wealth was moving up again and Hoover was attached to informal communities all over the country.

I recently read an article that by the end of each month even Wal-Mart is finding out that starvation wages can't even buy the cheapest shit in town.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jesus' Sources


There is nothing original about Jesus' "understanding." Virtually everything he said can be found in Cynic philosophy and liberal Pharasaism.

True but it was neither Cynic or Pharasaism, it was his synthesis of the important ideas of both, and certainly his showmanship in presenting the synthesis that made his message so important for its time. The fact that there are still many people trying to emulate his teachings no matter how corrupted, although some are going back to the gospels only, that makes Jesus so important in western religions. Show me a Cynic or a Pharasee of similar influence.

That's not a fair request. None of the Cynics or Pharasees had the advantage of being turned into gods.

Apparantly none of them had enough influence to be considered for the role. Jesus did. Against his specific wishes I might add. Sorry, I can't resist. Over his dead body so to speak.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Source of Wisdom


In a modern working society there is no single source of wisdom. All profound thinkers have been examined by peers and then the profound thoughts are further winnowed by thoughtful people who are the intellectual leaders of the society. The result is a society which integrates the wisdom of all and benefits not only those who choose to be a part of it, but the larger society of which it is a part.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More cool Rob Paterson Work

Rob Patterson: Mallethands. On the wonder and challenges of new music composing, promoting, and performing. Note use of the viola as a solo instrument.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Abiogenesis for Dummies


With primitive organisms reproducing in hours if conditions are right, how long will it be before that low probability of a favorable mutation happens? Then if that favorable mutation works it becomes the dominant strain of the organism until a low probability event happens again and it loses out to the improved strain. It is not only chance, but chance and selection that drives evolution.

If you wish you can take the concept back to the
(With thanks to Miguel_de_servet for the image)
There were a bunch of organic compounds doing their thing, that is combining, folding, stapling, and mutilating. Most of them ended up in the recycle bin where they continued to combine, fold, staple and mutilate. Trillions of compounds in this dance the tempo of the dance depending on moisture and heat. (The source of the heat is not necessarily sunlight, ocean rift smokers in the deep dark sea are rife with life.)

Sooner or later, probably sooner if you think about it in evolutionary time of millennia one stable compound had a form that allowed it to copy itself. It didn't intend to, just that things stuck to it in an organized way that mirrored the stable compound. Then things began to stick to other places weakening the bonds that held the mirrored compound to its parent. It fell off. But like its parent it was stable and things stuck to it just like things were sticking to its parent. Both broke apart then there were 4 scrounging for things that would stick to the sticky places. If the soup was rich enough (Campbell was famous for rich soups) there would soon be 8 then 16, 32, 64 ... until it ran out of things to stick at 2n. Then its soup puddle flooded and more things to stick to the sticky places came to the puddle and some of the stable compounds were washed to new soup puddles. Campbell made a hell of a lot of soup.

Are Believers Happier


The division between believers and non-believers seems to be on the question of who takes responsibility for the lives of the individual. It seems that believers are happiest when they can assign moral and ethical and even spiritual authority to God. In this sense perhaps believers are happier than those who assume personal control over their mores and spirituality. There is less angst, and unhappiness can be assigned to God's will and ignored. And of course all is better in heaven so unhappiness need not be really dealt with.

I for one am ok with the concept of believers being happier, I just don't consider happiness to be an overriding value. I would certainly rather be happy than sad or upset, but being responsible for my own life sometimes means dealing with sad or upsetting things. And by my standards being human means being responsible.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Origins of Morality

Beliefnet -
--We *are* hard-wired for morality... while we can accurately describe the biology of how this occurs, in my mind it doesn't speak to where this moral compass originally comes from.

It doesn't come from anywhere, it evolved as an advantage in humans.
Rules in religion are just other types of social rules. That they are religious is just a different classification. Many religious leaders use the idea of an authority of god as a way to persuade believers that a moral idea is better than if it was proposed on its own merit.

Friday, September 16, 2011


From notes for a talk about the Bible and Homosexuality posted on Facebook by Meg Barnhouse. If you are not familiar with Meg you should be. She is one of the sanest, funniest, and most profound of the modern UU ministers. Just called as the permanent minister of the Austin TX church. If you are ever in Austin take an extra day to go to church.

If you know any GLBT Christians who still have concerns, this whole article should be required reading for you as a friend and for them as a necessity.

One of the Bible stories used to talk about homosexuality is the story of Sodom and Gomorra. Briefly, here is what happened. In Genesis 19, you’ll find the story of two angels visiting Abraham’s brother Lot at his house in Sodom. The men of Sodom gathered, demanding that Lot’s guests be turned over to them to be raped. In that time, rape was a tactic of war, a way to humiliate an enemy. In that region of the world still, hospitality is of the highest value. Lot could not have let his guests be hurt. He offered to give his two virgin daughters to the crowd, but the crowd tried to break down the door instead. The angels blinded the crowd and they couldn't find the door. To assume that homosexuality was the problem here is a gross leap made possible only by a void of cultural understanding.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Remembering HUAC

It seems that it is time to once again remind people why "Under God" replaced "indivisible" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Those too young to remember the Army McCarthy Hearings of HUAC courageously broadcast by ABC seem to think it is an affirmation of God not a repudiation of atheists or in the vernacular of the time pinko-commie-atheist bastards. They wonder why atheists even bother to protest this "innocuous" insertion into the Pledge. Just for the record it is a painful reminder of the McCarthy witch hunt which deprived many artists and other citizens of their livelihood and their good names.

Mr. SEEGER: I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody. That is the only answer I can give along that line. From History Matters.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Moral Responsibility

Again ... "Religions" don't kill ... PEOPLE kill ...
... often in the name of god.

You are correct, religions don't kill people. Atheism doesn't kill people. People driven by ideology DO kill people. How humans manage their ideology is the crucial element. I'd suggest that ideologies that have irrational and unrealistic elements are more tempting. Religious ideologies have a built-in authority of god, and humans can use that "authority" to defer all sorts of moral accountability. Of course political authority can do the same thing for a person. The crux is a failure of personal and independent moral accountability. Any time a person has an ideology to absorb accountability the more tempting immorality can be.

This is why non-theism is an advantage to one's own moral sense: there is no ideology to justify moral ambiguity. The sole responsibility is on the self, and the self must account.

Sometimes a king or a priest or a despot finds it necessary to do things he wouldn't do as a person. This is the ultimate rejection of personal responsibility.
This is unfortunately a rejection of ones humanity as each human is ultimately responsible for everything hesh does. It cannot be laid off on a state, a God, or an ideal.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Atheist Pride

Other Supernatural Things
I'm proud to be atheist. To me, it's just another IQ test I've scored well on.