Friday, May 28, 2010

My Conspecifics are Blind

Most of my conspecifics seem to think that large corporations are just the small businesses on main street writ large. They don't recognize them as the powerful, unaccountable institutions that they are. They don't see that large corporations more or less own the agencies that purport to regulate them. To a close approximation, governments and corporations constitute a single institutional network, but my conspecifics have been mystified and see it not.

My conspecifics are dupes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why I Am NOT Proud to be a Christian or an American

Dante characterized pride as love of self turned into hatred and denigration of others.

I think of this, and the sinfulness of pride, whenever I am asked to proclaim that I am proud to possess some attribute such as, most often, being an American. On occasion, I have even been invited to express my pride in being a Christian!

God forbid that I should ever express any such pride. For to do so is to pervert the gratitude and joy that I feel to be a Christian into the vainglorious and mean spirited denigration of all those who are not. Moreover, being a Christian is not any sort of achievement for which I may take credit. All the credit goes to Jesus, and if I presume to be proud I must presume to share in His glory in my own right which I certainly do not. Finally, if I boast of my Christianity, I set myself up for judgment as an ideal practitioner of the faith, and I am the least worthy of all Christians to assume such a role.

I am grateful to be a Christian. I am blessed and joyful. I am awestruck. I cannot be proud.

Nor am I proud to be an American. I am grateful and happy to live in a society which affords relative freedom and prosperity, but I am unwilling to declare that I am a better human being on account of my being a subject of the United States than those who are not or that my fellow subjects are worthier of my esteem and compassion solely by virtue of their domicile than those who dwell elsewhere. Moreover, I did not create the positive conditions in America for which I am grateful, and I am an American primarily because I was born in America to American parents. How can I take credit for any of this without usurping it and wallowing in vainglory? I submit that I cannot and that to express pride in being an American would, therefore, be foolish.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » What Exactly Are They Supposed To Do?

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » What Exactly Are They Supposed To Do?

This is an excellent point. The capabilities to deal with a disaster like this BP snafu do not seem to exist. Arguably, we should insist on their development before assuming the risk that they will occur. NASA needs to put its brain trust to work.

Bipartisan Senate bill aims to take 'retarded' out of federal lexicon -

Bipartisan Senate bill aims to take 'retarded' out of federal lexicon -

"Intellectual disability" seems apt as a label, but it could very well apply to everyone who is not a genius. Or is genius level intellect also an abnormality of which folks may be said to suffer?

Now can everyone use retard and retarded in the comedic sense freely?

Monday, May 24, 2010

When I Let Myself Feel

I've made a huge mistake over the years in thinking that medication was all I needed to deal with my anxiety and depression. Medication and alcohol have just been ways of avoiding having feelings and listening to what my unconscious has been trying to tell me. I have always been afraid that it will be demons all the way down. That the self loathing I feel is utterly justified and that I truly am a total piece a shit and not just someone who suspects that he might be a total piece of shit.

When I avoid these feelings and subconscious messages and dreams, when I drink myself to sleep or take a sleeping pill, or when I engage in obsessive and compulsive behaviors to occupy my mind against intrusive thoughts, I also block out any chance to feel anything pleasant or to learn any lessons or to be open to love. I have been experimenting with just feeling and letting my thoughts run rampant, and I am discovering that there are some disturbing programs running my life when I'm on auto-pilot. I have lots of faults, indeed I do, but I am also deep down a decent human being, and I believe I am capable of giving and receiving love.

What do I have to fear when I have already assumed the worst of myself?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bluebird of Unhappiness

Just yesterday, I thought to myself what a lucky man I am. A loving wife, a comfortable home with a beautiful garden, a great church, two of the best dogs in the world, and a job that I actually enjoy. I figured I'd get cancer or something to make up for all this happiness.

Even this morning on my quick errand to Home Depot, I was taken by how beautiful the world is and how much I had been looking forward to the weekend with Mrs Vache Folle. But I had just walked in my front door when Mrs Vache Folle announced that she has been having an affair. I was stunned. I was just not ready to take it in that my whole wonderful life was about to change in almost every particular.

At first, she let on that she wasn't sure what she wanted to do but it soon became clear that she wants me out of her life whatever happens with her lover. I saw at once that there is no use trying to talk her out of it. Hell, why would I? If she doesn't love me after 26 plus years enough to choose me over some guy she has known less than a year, then what would be the point of sticking it out? I can't make her love me back.

While we were talking about all this on the back deck, an eastern bluebird pair showed up on the feeder, the first I had ever seen on our property. I suppose I will always associate bluebirds with the heartache I felt this morning.

Now we have to sell our house, the one I love and have put so much effort into. I'll have to look for a job with health insurance. I'll probably move away from this area and have to find a new church. The dogs will go with Mrs Vache Folle. I am stressed as hell about this, but I aim to be an adult about it and part with Mrs Vache Folle (#1) in a spirit of love and gratitude for the years we had together and with best wishes for a happy life.

In the short term, I aim to get my drink on in a serious way this evening.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Defending BP is not Libertarian (except if you are a Dondero-ite)

I'm listening to a libertarian on Rachel Maddow argue that defending BP is not very libertarian. He's right. BP is a corporation, a creature of the state with limited liability granted by the state. It, with all oil companies, gets billions in tax breaks and subsidies. It won't have to pay for the damage it is doing because of a government granted cap on liability and a clean-up fund that works as a bailout.

I am tired of the kind of "libertarian" who stands with big corporations against the people and who wants the government to get out of the way while they oppress others. I wish the libertarian left would get more exposure so I wouldn't have to distance myself from idiots all the time.

Rand Paul’s speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Birmingham, Alabama in April, 1963 (hypothetical) « The Poor Man Institute

Rand Paul’s speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Birmingham, Alabama in April, 1963 (hypothetical) « The Poor Man Institute

What Kind of Racist Are You?

Folks who think that we are living in a "post-racial" America are mostly racists.

I have encountered several kinds of racists in America and understand that all these categories of racists exist in America at this very moment.

Firstly, you have your die hard, unapologetic and admitted racists in the KKK and other white supremacist or separatist organizations or who agree openly with the organizations about the inferiority of other races. Fortunately, these are few in number.

Secondly, you have folks who believe in the inferiority of other races but are aware that it is inappropriate to express their beliefs outside of the most intimate circles. There are a crapload of people like this. Everybody knows somebody like this. They whine about "political correctness" because it makes it harder for them to express their odious views.

Thirdly, you have folks who would deny that they are racists but who actually are, often without realizing it. They don't even know that their viewpoints are racist, and they reckon that as long as they aren't overtly hostile toward someone from another race, they aren't racist. Yet they believe in the inferiority of other races and wonder why they don't just get up off their lazy asses and stop whining about discrimination and playing the victim. These people just don't get it. They don't live near anyone of the other race, go to church with them, or socialize with them, and they don't have any idea about the circumstances of people in that other racial category other than to note that they are relatively poor, often in trouble with the law, and scary in large numbers. They are pretty sure that whatever problems the other race has are their own fault.

Fourthly, you have folks who claim not to be racists and who reckon racism is a bad thing that ought to be eradicated, but they are sick and tired of "white guilt". They want other races to get over it and move on to a post-racial society and reckon that the other races are the obstacles to this. This is because they fail to understand that nobody cares whether they experience "guilt", only that they acknowledge the reality of discrimination and racist attitudes in the country and the damage that these do.

Fifthly, you have folks who harbor unconscious racist ideas as a result of their upbringing and living in a racist society. They may well deny being racist and hate racism and acknowledge its harmful effects in society, but there's a little part of them that reacts negatively whenever they see an interracial couple, for example.

Sixthly, you have folks from the fifth category who admit that they almost certainly harbor some unconscious prejudices and are working on dealing with them. When it comes to racial justice, however, they don't really go out of their way to change things through the way they live.

Add these up, and I will bet you will have a supermajority of white Americans.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Valuing Freedom Means Respecting a Variety of "Family" Values

Some families prefer for a parent to leave work and stay home with small children full time while others prefer for the parents to return to work as soon as possible. They live out these preferences according to their own judgments about what is best for them, and I reckon that it is the height of arrogance to second guess such judgments. As a lover of freedom, I reckon it is better to affirm people in such choices and rejoice in their good fortune at being able to live as they please. Neither the stay at home parent nor the working parent should be made to feel defensive about their choice. Neither should feel any need to disparage the other's preference and set his or her own subjective preference up as some kind of virtue. This is true of a wide range of preferences about family life, childrearing's being an example with which many can readily identify.

I prefer to be childfree. The Duggars of Arkansas aim to have as many children as possible and already have 19. Neither of our choices is superior or inferior. I thank God that the Duggars are free to live out their dream and that I don't have to have children if I don't want to. It is nobody's business how many kids anyone else has, and we ought to affirm one another in our choices and our ability to live them out if we value freedom.

Some folks have pretty vanilla sexual preferences. Others might be furries or leather slaves. How fortunate we are to be able to gratify ourselves as we please. Good for the furries! I probably wouldn't enjoy the furry scene (I've never tried it so I won't knock it), but good for you if you do.

Folks divide up decisonmaking in their households in a lot of ways, and whatever works for them is good. Folks rear their children in a lot of different ways, and I reckon it's nobody else's affair (as long as nobody is getting injured). Some folks stay together, others break up. They know what is best for themselves. Some folks live in extended families, others live in non-traditional families. They know what they're doing, and we should hope that it works out for them and that they are happy.

Meddling, authoritarian busybodies who, in the name of "Family Values", endeavor to regulate household structure and private interpersonal relations are great threats to freedom and ought to be told often to shut their pie holes and mind their own business. They are arrogant earslings who reckon they know better than everyone else how the rest of us should live and organize our homes.

Any of us who claims to love freedom should strive to affirm others in their private choices and familial and household arrangements whether or not we ourselves would have gone the same route.

I Clarify My Military Record

I did not mean to imply that I was a Medal of Honor recipient on account of my service in Desert Storm. I meant to stay that I was an honor student and received a medal for exceptional work as a student of history while at Dug Gap Elementary School long before Desert Storm. I did not receive any kind of medal for my actual service in Desert Storm. I spent part of Desert Storm and Desert Shield on active duty and contributed, I like to think, in my small way to the glorious victory of our troops, some of whom may have had wills and powers of attorney drafted by me, thereby relieving them of worries about their estates and allowing them to focus on their combat or combat support duties.

I was not "in theatre" during Desert Storm, but I was in "a theatre" in Harrisburg watching a movie one evening on a break from my duties at Fort Indiantown Gap, so I can see where folks might have gotten the wrong idea when I mentioned that I was in [a] theatre during the campaign.

At the time, I was domiciled in Florida, so the Harrisburg area was, in fact, "far from the comforts of home and concerned loved ones". I did not mean to imply that I was in the Middle East. I have never been to the Middle East. I may have mispronounced Middle Earth where I was often present in my imagination during marathon sessions of D&D. I fought side my side with Rammer, my elven warrior half brother, and a band of brothers not unlike the soldiers in the HBO miniseries of that name, except for the part about not really being in any danger. I fear that a lot of folks confused my waxing nostalgic for my days as Schlonak, the half elf wizard, in Middle Earth with my service in Desert Storm in the Middle East, where I never was. I regret any misconceptions that people may have had about this.

It happened that my two weeks of annual active duty coincided with Desert Shield and the first days of Desert Storm, and I was involved in getting soldiers ready to be deployed. When I said that I didn't like to talk about the war and my part in it, I was not trying to imply that it was terrible and frightening, only that it was really boring.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mr Baggett is Getting On

I took Jesse Lou Baggett to the veterinarian this morning. Yesterday, my neighbor, who walks the dogs for us when we are at work, called me at the office and reported that Jesse was falling down and could not walk very well on the hardwood floors. By the time I got home, he had improved a great deal but did seem a bit off kilter. Meanwhile, Mrs Vache Folle had scheduled an appointment with the vet.

Jesse has manifested problems with his hindquarters for several months now, and we have been giving him anti-inflammatories in the hope that he has arthritis rather than degenerative myelopathy (he has some shepherd in his ancestry). He also has had bouts of vestibulitis, and I suspected that he might have had the perfect storm of vestibular symptoms coupled with his weak hind legs.

Jesse hates riding in the car, especially the SUV, and has a hard time getting in and out of it and sitting still when it is moving. Jasper Stone, in contrast, lives for car rides, and I had to take him along for moral support. I had to lift Jesse into the car, which he hates. We arrived early at the vet's, so I walked the boys around the grounds for about 15 minutes, something they both love. There are so many new and strange smells for them to enjoy and so many unfamiliar trees to pee on. I think of this as the boys' "reading their pee-mail".

While we were waiting inside the veterinary hospital, a couple of other dogs came in, a min-pin and a golden retriever. This inspired Jasper to whine pitiably because he was not allowed to greet the other dogs and their owners. Jesse was likewise unhappy, but his intentions were not so honorable. He hates other dogs, except for Jasper and a couple of close friends he has made over the years. Given the opportunity, he might very well kill or severely injure a small dog or a cat even now in his golden years. I don't take any chances with him and warn others to keep their dogs away from him lest he start a fight. Anyway, it was a long five minutes in the waiting room with the boys' keen to get up close and personal with their conspecifics.

After an examination, Dr Christiansen agreed with me that Jesse exhibited lack of balance in his front legs as well as the back and that the onset of active vestibular disease could very well be the cause. We are supposed to take him off one of his meds, a side effect of which is sedation, to minimize any impacts on his coordination, and to substitute Metacam for it. He is also supposed to take Bonine, an over the counter motion sickness drug, to deal with the dizziness caused by vestibulitis. I hope we can nip this episode in the bud without going through the starvation and dehydration Jesse endured last time.

Jesse pooped on the vet while his temperature was being taken, and he pooped in the car on the way home. The poops were healthy looking but ill timed.

It is very difficult to see Jesse's decline with old age. He was always so vigorous and active. He was one of the fastest dogs I have ever known. Now he can barely walk. He can still get on the furniture, though, and he loves to sleep on the sofa. I hope we can keep him comfortable and happy for a long time yet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Conversion Story

Over the past six Sundays, the sermons in our church have been about conversions: Peter, Paul, the Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius the centurion, Lydia the dye maker, and the Philippian jailer. Before each sermon, a co-religionist has gotten up and spoken about their conversion experience. None of the witnesses I have heard has been able to identify a precise moment of conversion. For them, it has been a process, in some cases lifelong. So far, not one witness has claimed to have come to Jesus at a certain moment of a certain day by praying a prayer from the Four Spiritual Laws tract or some version of a the formulaic prayer of acceptance I was taught as being required.

We don't have any choice as followers of Jesus. We cannot reject Him or accept Him. He chooses us, and we don't always realize it right away.

There was a time in my youth when I would have told you the very moment I had been saved when I had officially asked Jesus to be my "personal" Lord and Savior. I was fifteen years old in the family room of my friend at a weekly Bible study. I now know that I was not converted or "saved" at that moment. Rather, I was chosen from before time and the world began. I was a troubled young Christian struggling to believe, to accept, to embrace a whole religion so much of which was unbelievable, unacceptable and unembraceable. I had the idea that I had to go all in, to take it all hook, line and sinker or be damned. And I just couldn't do it. I could not make myself believe in the whole fundamentalist program.

I gradually became an "unchurched", "lapsed" apostate and dabbled in Unitarianism (which I still respect and admire). When I was forty two, I discovered the Congregationalist denomination and began to attend a tiny church in Bronxville, New York. There I was exposed to a more liberal form of Christianity with a diversity of theological views and a commitment to tolerance and coexistence. I met Christians who did not feel led to accept the Bible as the literal Word of God; rather, they undertook to read the Bible in the light of when, how, why and by whom it had been written. I began to study the Bible in this light and to read books by critical Biblical scholars.

I met Christians who were more interested in how you treated other people than in your theological opinions, and I began to realize that a lot of theology does not translate meaningfully into action as a loving disciple of Jesus. What possible difference could divergent views on the nature of the Trinity or the afterlife or other mysteries for which many women and men have been put to the stake make in how we treat each other? So what if we hear hats/don't wear hats, dress up for church or go casual, sing old hymns or praise songs? All that matters is loving God and loving one another with all our faculties.

Then I discovered Calvin and learned that belief is involuntary (the Pragmatists were also a big help) and began to realize that it was OK to acknowledge that my beliefs about the supernatural are irrational and not susceptible to proof. I believe what I believe because I believe it, and my belief system has it that belief in Jesus is a gift, not something you can attain or choose. And I don't believe what I don't believe about the supernatural because I don't believe it. I am not answerable to anyone for my beliefs or unbelief. I am happy to discuss them but I know there's no use arguing with anyone about them.

I have been led by the Spirit to focus on how we live in the here and now so as to manifest love and advance the Kingdom rather than on sin and legalism and mysteries we can neither solve nor understand.

I am the least of all Christians but grateful for the gift of belief and hopeful of advancing in some small way the work of the Kingdom even if only as a cautionary example.


On Saturday evening, Mrs Vache Folle and I attended the first shareholders' meeting of the year of the Healthy Harvest Community Supported Agriculture farm in East Fishkill. We got to meet Dave, the director of the enterprise and his flock of sheep. He explained to us that the Johnson ladies, aged 79 to 100, who own the Johnson Farm where the CSA operates receive a property tax break by having a portion of their property put to agricultural use. There are about three acres under cultivation at the moment with additional land to be used for pasturage and hay. Norbert, the farmer hired to do the tilling and what have you, was supposed to appear but did not arrive before our departure. (We didn't stay for the potluck because we had a steak thawing out on the counter at home.)

We took a look at the sprouts that were coming up from what had been planted relatively early and wandered down to see the chicken coop under construction. I'd say about ten families or so came to the meeting out of thirty shares.

We're pretty excited about the CSA, and I am keen to help with some of the work. Mrs Vache Folle may pitch in with the accounting. I'd like to learn some organic farming techniques and aim to work on that end of the business. All in all, it seems like a chance to make some acquaintances, help out some nice old ladies, contribute to local agriculture, and get heaps of fresh produce.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Customer Non-appreciation Tip of the Day

One way to tell your customers (and employees) how much you despise them is to install one of those toilet paper dispensers in your business bathroom that rations sheets of toilet paper one at a time. Another way is to fill that dispenser with single ply toilet paper.

Levi's Undershorts Suck

The folks at Levi's should stick to dungarees, because they don't seem to be able to make underwear. I bought some Levi's boxer briefs a few months ago, and I have been meaning to throw them away since week one. I don't know why I don't think of it until I'm wearing the damned things, but I don't. I forget all about them and wear them over and over and experience the same problems over and over. I'm an idiot.

These briefs are cut in a way that after you have been wearing them a few hours the short leg part curls up and starts to constrict the scrotum and chafe the insides of the thighs. And if that weren't bad enough, the back end simply will not stay out of the gluteal cleft. The most uncomfortable undershorts ever is what they are.

And another thing. The slit in the front that let's you urinate without pulling down your shorts is horizontal instead of vertical and is practically unworkable without wetting yourself.

Empire Starts at Home

So we've got this huge military and are intent on building an empire, but we're going about it all wrong. Why would we want Afghanistan as a possession? It's a dung heap, and it's on the other side of the planet. Iraq at least has oil, but we can buy Iraq's oil the same as anybody else and don't need to occupy the country, an expensive proposition, to get it. The Romans didn't run off conquering distant lands until they had conquered nearby lands, and we should follow their lead.

Let's take Canada and Mexico for starters. And the Bahamas. That way, we would save money on transportation and logistics and wouldn't have so much of a problem with the language and culture. We'd still get practice for our youth as bullet stoppers, and military contractors and suppliers would still be fed. Better yet, we'd get to practice fighting in all kinds of climates and terrains instead of just all desert, all the time. The Navy might even see some action.

Americans could colonize and Americanize the conquered territories as they are pacified.

Eventually we'd take over the whole hemisphere at which point we should probably just stop for a while and consolidate our gains.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Manifesto « The Dark Mountain Project

I heard about this on the BBC radio news this morning and had to check it out.

The Manifesto « The Dark Mountain Project

"It is, it seems, our civilisation’s turn to experience the inrush of the savage and the unseen; our turn to be brought up short by contact with untamed reality. There is a fall coming. We live in an age in which familiar restraints are being kicked away, and foundations snatched from under us. After a quarter century of complacency, in which we were invited to believe in bubbles that would never burst, prices that would never fall, the end of history, the crude repackaging of the triumphalism of Conrad’s Victorian twilight – Hubris has been introduced to Nemesis. Now a familiar human story is being played out. It is the story of an empire corroding from within. It is the story of a people who believed, for a long time, that their actions did not have consequences. It is the story of how that people will cope with the crumbling of their own myth. It is our story.

This time, the crumbling empire is the unassailable global economy, and the brave new world of consumer democracy being forged worldwide in its name. Upon the indestructibility of this edifice we have pinned the hopes of this latest phase of our civilisation. Now, its failure and fallibility exposed, the world’s elites are scrabbling frantically to buoy up an economic machine which, for decades, they told us needed little restraint, for restraint would be its undoing. Uncountable sums of money are being funnelled upwards in order to prevent an uncontrolled explosion. The machine is stuttering and the engineers are in panic. They are wondering if perhaps they do not understand it as well as they imagined. They are wondering whether they are controlling it at all or whether, perhaps, it is controlling them."

"And over it all looms runaway climate change. Climate change, which threatens to render all human projects irrelevant; which presents us with detailed evidence of our lack of understanding of the world we inhabit while, at the same time, demonstrating that we are still entirely reliant upon it. Climate change, which highlights in painful colour the head-on crash between civilisation and ‘nature’; which makes plain, more effectively than any carefully constructed argument or optimistically defiant protest, how the machine’s need for permanent growth will require us to destroy ourselves in its name. Climate change, which brings home at last our ultimate powerlessness."

We won't stop growing our economy until the planet starts killing us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Majority Of Americans Think Afghanistan 'Not Worth It,' Poll Finds

Majority Of Americans Think Afghanistan 'Not Worth It,' Poll Finds

And they are absolutely right. This is unwinnable unless you define winning as mucking around in a barbaric hell hole for no apparent reason. Afghanistan is not governable.

Sarah Palin: American Law Should Be 'Based On The God Of The Bible And The Ten Commandments'

Sarah Palin: American Law Should Be 'Based On The God Of The Bible And The Ten Commandments'

Sarah Palin is a crazy person. I used to think she was kind of an undereducated grifter, but now it seems clear to me that she's a nut.

American law is based on (a) the common law as it had developed in England over the centuries, and (b) the Constitution. It is not based on the Bible or the Decalogue or the Law of Moses. The Founders, not being ignorant and crazy, knew that, and those of us who are not ignorant and crazy know it now.

At least she allows for a quick diagnosis of idiocy in anyone who is a Palin follower or voter.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Screw Global warming; It Will Screw Us Soon Enough

What can be done about Global Warming? At this point, probably not much. We should have started working on this 30 years ago, but we didn't and now it is too late to prevent disastrous climate change. About all we can do is to hope to slow it down, ameliorate its impacts, and adapt to a hotter and less human friendly planet.

There is likely to be extensive desertification and a breakdown of the Monsoon Cycle with resultant widespread famine, war and misery. Africa, already as miserable as one would think it could get, is going to get even worse.

On the plus side, that American obesity problem is going to go away with food shortages. And Social Security won't need as much money because folks will die a lot sooner. Good news for "family values" Republicans! Families will be strengthened because we'll have to pool our resources and cooperate for our very survival. The Middle East won't hate us for our freedom anymore, because we won't really have any.

It may be a good time to invest in the things that folks will need in the postapocalyptic dystopia. I'm thinking old timey farm implements and draft animals and kits for making bullets.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Nothing is Beyond the Reach of the Commerce Clause

For those who reckon that the federales are powerless to regulate health insurance, let me remind them of Gonzales v Raich, wherein the conservative SCOTUS held that the federales had the power under the interstate commerce clause to criminalize home grown cannabis for medicinal use. From the concurrence of Fat Tony Scalia:

"And the category of 'activities that substantially affect interstate commerce'... is incomplete because the authority to enact laws necessary and proper for the regulation of interstate commerce is not limited to laws governing intrastate activities that substantially affect interstate commerce. Where necessary to make a regulation of interstate commerce effective, Congress may regulate even those intrastate activities that do not themselves substantially affect interstate commerce." (emphasis added).

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Freedom Lovers do not Discriminate on Irrational Bases

In a perfect world, as I envision it, no person would be hated or discriminated against on account of race, gender, age, disability, national origin, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. I embrace non-uniformity and non-conformity. I love freedom, and a truly free society is bound to be diverse. In my freedom loving value system, it is immoral to deprive anyone of the means to earn a livelihood, housing, and access to public facilities on the basis of the categories or attributes I have listed. One may loathe Baptists and all that they stand for, but one ought not to treat Baptists differently in employment, housing or access to commerce that is generally open to the public.

The religious beliefs of Baptists, however misguided one may consider them, do not do anyone other than possibly the believers any harm, and the performance of Baptist rituals is generally not a nuisance. Behavior by Baptists which is predicated on or justified by Baptist religious beliefs is for the most part peaceful. To interfere with a Baptist's exercise of his religion where that exercise is harmless and does not infringe on the rights of others would be arrogant, immoral and uncivilized. Of course, one may choose not to associate with Baptists socially as long as one does not undermine their livelihood, shelter or ability to trade in the open market.

Despite their misguided protestations to the contrary, Baptists did not choose their irrational beliefs about the supernatural any more than they chose their race or sexual orientation. Although it may be argued that Baptists can choose not to express their beliefs or practice their religion, what purpose would be served by requiring them to deny their identity and suppress their true selves? Inasmuch as they do no harm and their happiness is increased by professing and practicing their religion openly and freely, it is incumbent on freedom lovers to avoid interfering with them. In fact, a true spirit of freedom requires affirmation of the Baptist in his faith.

Some may argue that their own religious views differ from those of the Baptists and that their faith requires them to despise Baptists, perhaps even kill them. Shouldn't those persons be entitled to practice their religion freely and to express their hatred of Baptists in any manner they choose? There are limits to the privileges conferred on the faithful in the freedom loving value system. If religion leads one to harm others, perhaps by discriminating against them, then it becomes a legitimate basis for complaint and discrimination against those who harbor the harmful belief. Clothing wrongdoing in religious garb does not exempt it from punishment.

Some may argue that their own happiness is diminished by the existence of Baptists and the open practice of their religion because they have a subjective preference for a world that is Baptist-free. Those with such preferences must subordinate them to the more important principle of love of freedom. It is not merely one's own freedom that one loves but the freedom of everyone.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I Kvetch About How the Suffering of Others Causes Me Pain

I have become increasingly aware in the last year of a lot of horrific things. There is a holocaust in the Congo as well as mass murder in Sudan. Young boys are sold into sexual slavery in Afghanistan. Girls are being raped to death by their husbands in Yemen. Life still sucks in Haiti and in other areas devastated by earthquakes and other disasters both natural and man made.

The US is still in Afghanistan and Iraq with no apparent schedule to withdraw and no mission that is remotely feasible. The Middle East is rife with abuses of women and exploitation of children.

I could go on, but it is wearing on the soul. I can't seem to keep up with all the things I am supposed to feel compassion for and to remember in my prayers. What can be done? What can I do? What can my rulers do? What should my rulers do, if anything? Where do I give money? Whom do I boycott? How do I change the way I live so that I make any kind of difference for good or at least avoid contributing to the evil in the world?

Of course, suffering from compassion fatigue is way better than suffering from any of the evils for which I feel compassion, and I feel like a douche for kvetching about it. Great, now I'm fatigued and full of self loathing. Are you happy now, suffering masses?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Democratic Republic of Congo | Genocide Intervention Network

Democratic Republic of Congo Genocide Intervention Network

5 million civilians have been murdered since 1996 by government forces and rebels in the eastern Congo.

Would it make sense to raise a force of volunteers/mercenaries to keep the peace and protect civilians?

We Can't Decriminalize Cannabis Because...

I have been trying to come up with an argument against decriminalizing cannabis, and the only one I can think of is that criminalization justifies a lot of police powers and spending on police. Also, it provides cover for surveillance and harassment of poor people.

Er...those don't sound like very good reasons, either.

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Freakonomics

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Freakonomics

From DougJ comes the threat of Wall Streeters to come to our towns and take our jobs and live on $85K a year.

"So now that we’re going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we’re going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren’t going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We’re going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours."

Can anyone be that big a douche?