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.