Archive for January, 2008

Happy Birthday

January 29, 2008 2 comments

Thomas Paine. You should know who he is, but if you don’t, Wikipedia is your friend. Here’s a quote about the Christian doctrine of redemption, from The Age of Reason, his final book and the one that destroyed his reputation for good:

Since, then, no external evidence can, at this long distance of time, be produced to prove whether the church fabricated the doctrine called redemption or not, (for such evidence, whether for or against, would be subject to the same suspicion of being fabricated,) the case can only be referred to the internal evidence which the thing carries of itself; and this affords a very strong presumption of its being a fabrication. For the internal evidence is, that the theory or doctrine of redemption has for its basis an idea of pecuniary justice, and not that of moral justice.

If I owe a person money, and cannot pay him, and he threatens to put me in prison, another person can take the debt upon himself, and pay it for me. But if I have committed a crime, every circumstance of the case is changed. Moral justice cannot take the innocent for the guilty even if the innocent would offer itself. To suppose justice to do this, is to destroy the principle of its existence, which is the thing itself. It is then no longer justice. It is indiscriminate revenge.

I quote that mainly because I’ve been meaning to write something similar. Similar in content, that is. Paine’s prose is one of the reasons we’re a free country; it’s a tall order to write as well as he did.

Categories: Religion

Does not compute

January 28, 2008 Leave a comment

I swear to…whatever atheists swear to that Arch Enemy stole a Coldplay melody in one of the songs on Rise of the Tyrant.

Sadly, that’s the most interesting thing Arch Enemy have done since Wages of Sin.

Categories: Music

A distinct lack of caring

January 28, 2008 3 comments

There’s apparently a SOTU address tonight. Right now, even. I’m tempted to watch it, just because it’s the last one Bush is going to give. Even that’s not enough, though. What’s he going to do in a year? Actually, I shouldn’t say that. He’ll do something insane and prove me wrong.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do when Bush leaves. I get the impression from liberals I read that Bush is a uniquely bad president. The problem is, I have no idea. What other presidency have I paid attention to? The Clinton years? Aside from voting for Bob Dole in a mock election in 6th grade because that’s who my parents were going to vote for (the vote was a landslide for Clinton, by the way; 6th graders are surprisingly bright), I don’t remember much. Has my perspective been warped by Bush? Is this what I’m going to think about all Republican presidents? Am I going to be so disappointed by a Democratic presidency that I join the Montana blogosphere’s libertarian curmudgeon wing? Hell, what happens if a Democrat isn’t elected in November?

We’ll know soon enough, I guess.

Categories: 2008 elections, Bush

This is fun

January 23, 2008 1 comment

Hunter endorses Huckabee, conservatives are bewildered.

I don’t really care who wins the Republican nomination at this point. It’s just fun to watch. The blogs hate Huckabee and McCain, Romney is an obvious panderer, Guiliani is sinking fast, and Thompson already sank. It’s a train wreck. It would be disheartening if the Republican party actually offered a healthy alternative to the Democrats (by this I mean a small government party that isn’t for torture and bombing Muslims into oblivion), but they don’t, so I’m all too happy to watch this disaster unfold.

Categories: 2008 elections, The Right

Mmm, television

January 23, 2008 Leave a comment

Just three years late, I’m finally starting to watch Lost on DVD. While I have nothing more substantive to say than I like it so far, a couple of peripheral things amuse me. The opening “title” on the season 1 DVD looks like a second rate comp sci graphics course project. Also, the designer of the DVD case really needs a good talking to. I have other cases like it and the whole having to remove a disc to get to another one thing is annoying.

In any case, this is what I’ve been reduced to. Substantive thought outside of work is apparently the first thing to go for me.

Categories: Personal


January 22, 2008 1 comment

Unless Jesus was nailed to a u-shaped cross, I’m not seeing it.

I’m going to go with a referee signaling a touchdown.

Categories: Religion, Silliness

Election fraud and related musings

January 19, 2008 1 comment

Mark‘s been commenting a lot on New Hampshire’s primary and resulting oddities with Diebold voting machines. I’ve been too busy to pay that much attention, but it’s pretty clear there’s a difference in voting patterns correlated with the county using or not using Diebold machines, despite widely varying numbers on that score. The recount is proceeding, but observers haven’t been too impressed with the chain of custody.

I’m not really buying fraud there, though. There’s not much of a reason to swing the election from Obama to Clinton. As far as their policy positions go, they’re almost the same. Obama’s rhetoric is lighter, more inspirational, but anyone who’d rig an election is too cynical to be scared of rhetoric about change. Still, demonstrating fraud is not the issue. Demonstrating that the vote was fair and clean is.

Despite the occasional light at the end of the tunnel, I think e-voting activism is doomed to failure. Election fraud is a useful tool for politicians. Allegations of election fraud are also useful. Such allegations are confined to the Internet for the most part, but will probably grow as more electronic voting machines are used. Rigging elections has been around forever and electronic voting machines make it easier. Certainly some politicians won’t do a whole lot to fix the security issues, as they might have use for them later. Allegations of fraud, on the other hand, motivate people. As long as they don’t get beyond the realm of conspiracy theory, the public at large isn’t that interested. The alleged fraud victim’s base, however, will get irritated by them. Hardcore supporters will work harder, since as Hugh Hewitt title a book of his (apparently without irony), “if it’s not close, they can’t cheat.” Politicians, being good at playing to different segments of the population even when their interests conflict, can publicly avoid such allegations and quietly encourage them among their core supporters.

That’s not say any of that has happened. Voter fraud allegations surrounding electronic voting machines are still not widespread enough. It doesn’t look good, though. We just have to hope we can push a few of our elected officials to overcome such cynical manipulations and do something about it.

Mommy, he said a swear word!

January 13, 2008 6 comments

I must say, the folks getting the vapors over Jay’s quote from The Onion is pretty funny. I suppose for curse words to have any meaning there has to be someone getting offended by them, but I always find it jarring when those people express their displeasure.

Categories: Silliness

I should sleep

January 11, 2008 7 comments

Not long ago I thought to myself, “you know, I’ve never worked 60 hours in a week before.” Who knew I was setting a goal?

In other news, Guiliani is a complete idiot. If you didn’t know that already.

Plus, I must say, this Obama is a Muslim thing seems to be more popular than I thought. I thought it had all been dropped after CNN investigated the so-called madrassa that Obama attended and found it to be a pretty normal school. I didn’t realize there were e-mail forwards circulating and that people believe them without actually checking a site like Snopes. It does illustrate quite nicely the unhinged bigotry of the uber-partisan Right. Calling someone a Muslim is apparently the most devastating accusation they have.

Categories: 2008 elections, Personal

Religion: not even wrong

January 8, 2008 1 comment

Pat Robertson is making predictions again:

Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, who has made predicting the future an annual tradition, predicts a recession and a major stock market upheaval are on their way for the United States.

Aside from a recession this year, Robertson suggested Wednesday that Americans will be paying much more for gas at the pump as the price of a barrel of oil rises by 50 percent in the coming months.

“I also believe the Lord was saying by 2009, maybe 2010, there’s going to be a major stock market crash,” said Robertson, who is a millionaire businessman as well as an evangelical leader.

The second best part of the article is later:

But don’t unload your portfolio just yet. Robertson acknowledged Wednesday that his prophecy of a nuclear terror attack in 2007 failed to unfold.

He also cited information from God when he predicted on a year go that major U.S. cities would be hit by “very serious terrorist attacks” causing “possibly millions” of deaths.

No such catastrophe occurred.

“All I can think is that somehow the people of God prayed and God in his mercy spared us,” Robertson said on “The 700 Club,” a television show he hosts on the Christian Broadcasting Network, based in Virginia Beach.

“So did I miss it? Possibly,” he said of his unrealized prediction. “Or, on the other hand, did God avert it? Possibly. But whatever, it didn’t happen, so I think we can all rejoice.”

Convenient how Robertson can’t actually be wrong, isn’t it? Prediction didn’t come true? God changed his mind. Major event missed? God must have decided it was going to occur after he laid out the year for Robertson.

Don’t think Robertson’s nuttiness spares the rest of the religious here. Any time you justify an event with something like “God works in mysterious ways” or “it’s all part of God’s plan” you’re doing the same thing. Those are vacuous, ad hoc rationalizations that are beneath the intelligence of humanity.

We may have established this before, but Robertson has thrown out most of the arguments against the problem of evil here. His god clearly stops tragedies from occurring, so anything bad that happens to you, well, you deserved it. Pray harder next time.

The best part is this claim, though:

On Wednesday, Robertson, 77, implied that God informed him who will be elected president in November.

“He told me some things about the election, but I’m not going to say, because some old man on “60 Minutes” would make fun of me, so I’m not going to tell you who the winner’s going to be,” Robertson said, in apparent reference to CBS humorist Andy Rooney, who turns 89 on Jan. 14.

Well, he’s making progress. He’s now up to the way small children make unjustifiable claims: I know, I’m just not going to tell you. I assume Robertson stuck his tongue out at the camera after making that comment.

Categories: Religion, Silliness

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