jamespfp bald face

The Laws of Trollodynamics

Honest to no god in particular - I'm beginning to suspect there's a certain number of 'prayer warriors' doing their damndest to force a conversion experience on this atheist.  Perhaps not in particular, and I normally find not in my immediate vicinity (I generally try to avoid the firebrands and the fervent).  The funny thing is, it is surprisingly ineffective, due to the reliance on tactics and source material I already know from having forced conversion experiences on people during the late teenage years of my life.  So yeah:  I'm finally learning what the long-term effect of karma is, and its not a bad lesson at all.  If anything, it gives me wry chuckles when I take the old arguments I used to have so much faith in, and pick them apart.

There is one incredible moment I'm going to relate here, that occurred about a month ago.  I was walking a friend's dog late one evening when I heard voices in the vicinity.  I was on one side of the street; the voices came from the darkness of a parking lot in a nearby church, on the other side of the street.  One 'bold' guy commented loudly, 'Look at that upper-class idiot!' which, I have to be frank, gave me a wry grin.  I mean, I might have been able to believe that if I were driving a Mercedes or wearing a fur coat.  I haven't purchased new or expensive clothing in over two years.  I kept on walking the dog.

Then came the next pronouncement - 'Hey!  Jesus Hates You!'  And I thought to myself, Ha!  Shows what you know, pal (and more than likely, what denomination you are, but I won't out you here).  If that's the Jesus that's going forward into the 21st Century, I honestly Don't Give a Flying Fook if he hates me, or not; but if that's the vitriol he's storing up in the hearts of 'the faithful', then I am glad to be rid of the supposed son of a carpenter.

Part of me regrets walking past the nuts; and part of me wonders if it would have been worth having a 10-minute throw-down debate in the middle of the night.  Point being, the crazies aren't out for edification, but for vengeance, which is also denied them, if they care to read the damn book.  And fists (or swords) won't solve it either.

So, for the prayer warriors and the self-appointed modern day 'knights of truth' - bear in mind the words of your good pal, Jesus, found in Matthew, chapter 6, verse 6:
"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

In the meantime, I guess its kinda obvious that Atheists don't have to stay in the closet.  You don't have to take my word for it!  Jesus also said something about departing from his presence, those whom he never knew.  It doesn't worry me any... but if you really believe, then you might consider spending more time with the sick and imprisoned.  Call it hedging your bets.

Also - Found these online today.  Very useful, in more than one way.  It inspired the title of this post, too.
--
This is by no means an exhaustive treatment of this fascinating set of phenomena.

The Zeroeth Law
If two chatters are basically in agreement with one another, a third who joins in the agreement for a short period of time before making an unexpected reversal is a Troll.

The First Law (Conservation of Trolls)
In an isolated chatroom, the net effect of the Trolls is constant. That is to say, the change in the 'temperature' of the room is equal to the ideas added or condemned by the Trolls.

The Second Law (Entropy)
The entropy of a chatroom with Trolls always goes Downhill.  Information that contradicts a Troll can never push the conversation back Uphill, all the way.

The Third Law (Chat Death)
As a chatroom approaches Absolute Chat Death, observers will notice that all chatting virtually ceases. However, it is impossible to truly cause Absolute Chat Death, thank the Mods. Its nothing a 10 minute TO cannot cure.
jamespfp bald face

"Dances with Buddhism" or "Free Will, and Etc."

The following exchange came from a throw-away comment on YouTube, where I drew a parallel between "free will" and "free lunch"; the comment in particular that drew him out was "What is 'free-as-in-motion' about the Ten Commandments?"

I wrote him a reply via private message, versus continuing to comment.

The reply followed with a flood - but I think I got his number somewhere in the middle.  I am not afraid: this separates me from the meek and mild, toothless Buddhist.

--
Jamespfp #1
--

Hi!

You commented "Control is why they all teach the ten commandments. Its the same reason they use all those rituals, they are all designed to control the masses. My view is one of someone who HAS read that crap, understand that the religions chose to use it for controlling the people through fear. Which is why they only teach the ten, not the two. Basically, the church is full of shit."

So - thanks for your affirmation, I think! You are admitting to some happy-clappy personal understanding, jes' you and your Bible then - as if that's a good thing?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzGgkhR1c6c

What happens to free will when you recognize the cosmic dictatorship? And what happens to the concept of the cosmic dictator with a couple of hundred years of reason and scientific investigation?

The two that "hang all the Law and the Prophets" are no better, wingsuitfreak. They are abhorrent to me (and I'm not alone in thinking that), and have a bunch of New Testament extra commandments, such as proscriptions against thought-crime, which is apparently worse than actually doing something "evil" or just plain "bad" - an entirely abhorrent teaching straight from Jesus' mouth, in order to guilt people.

Are you suggesting that all other religions, except yours - which I take to be "Cosmic Free Love" - are crap? There is no revealed "God" that is deserving of love and respect. And while I agree, it is possible to love others (with the Golden Rule) I do not see why religion or even faith is necessary for its application, at all.

regards,
J.

--
Reply #1
--

I am not religious at all. I am merely stating what the bible states. Love God/Love thy neighbor in which the namesake of the religion states these are the two highest commandments of them all, none are higher. His teachings are all based around them as well. The ten commandments, being from the Old Testament, are not Christian law, but Judaic. The following of the two commandments will result in no violations (other than the idea of monotheism) of the ten commandments, but is more uplifting while the ten commandments are limited in scope and are mostly negative in nature.

--
J. #2
--

Thanks for the clarification, too - I'm merely pointing out that the Bible states a great deal more than what one "man" (viz. Jesus) stated, if he can be said to have stated it at all. So where's your justification for asserting the Ten Commandments do not reflect Christian reality? It is clearly not the case.

And I still assert, the two that you're holding up do not represent something that is uplifting, but inherently at odds with "freedom". I do not need to be commanded anything at all. That is true freedom.

Regards (once more!)

J.

--
Reply #2
--

Oh yeah, religion is for man to control other men. Faith is an action. As in when you breathe, you have faith that there will be air for your next breath.

--
J. #3
--

Whaaaaa?

Faith is a bad word, without the added "good" that modern thinkers tack onto it. You do not exercise faith when you breath, but are responding to a biological imperative and the universe (or, nature, or "the world") does not care if you expect another lungful of air, or not.

Faith is not an action, but non-action in and of itself, in a religious context. Faith is not-thinking, and doing what some external authority tells you.

"Good faith", by contrast, is acting with expectation that the other party will do as they say they will do. But it is no assurance that the other party *will* actually do as they said they will do...

J.

--
Reply #3
--

Christian reality doesn (sic.) not exist in accordance to those teachings at all. They follow the ten commandments. They are pretty fucked up in my opinion.

"The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."


This is King James version. The first commandment does include monotheism (which wasn't really what the Pharisees had. They merely insisted they had the best god of the lot. And that he was theirs, by god! But the concept of loving God is radically different from the Old Testament view of fearing God. With the fear, one can control the population better. Still, it's your choice to choose. Free will there.

The second commandment is just the way it is. If you revert to the admonishment against judgement (sic.), then it makes more sense. How you judge others tells more of the judger (sic.), than the one being judged. This is merely a natural law placed as a commandment. How you love your neighbor, tells the world how you love yourself. There is some contradiction in that doctrine, but who knows if there ever was a Christ figure to start with? You certainly won't find proof of that in the four gospels. They all have different views of the whole thing. I look at the Bible as less a historical fact/word of god thing than I do a pretty amazing look at the result of developing morality and how to get rid of it to retain your natural state of grace.

--
J. #4
--

You said you're not religious, right? That looks a tiny bit contradictory, given the content of the above passage, cousin.

J.

--
Reply #4
--

faith of a mustard seed.

--
J. #5
--

Reading the Bible a lot, expecting what, exactly? Blake *may not* have been correct to assert there was some underlying grain of metaphysical truth contained within, and some universal "Poetic Genius" at work.

http://www.poetseers.org/the_poetseers/blake/all_religions_are_one/

I also practice meditation from time to time, but I do not subscribe to a god nor a deity. Subsequently, I am as free as I care to make myself - and certainly not going to engage in a debate that has shifting metaphorical distinctions about what faith is. Faith is NOT a mustard seed - that's out of context. "Faith as small as a mustard seed" was said to be able to move a mountain. Do you see this mountain moving, or do the mountains generally stay where they are, in all their chaotic glory?

J.

--
Reply #5
--

I don't think any of it is real in the sense that christians practise (sic.). I actually find that religion to be the most horrifying of our entire existence. I read the bible a lot, but mostly when I was practicing my Buddhistic meditations. If anything, I would be a stoic. I am extremely curious and enjoy studying.

--
Reply #6
--

Well, you are free to be as ignorant as you want. You are accusing me of being a follower of a religious order that I despise as being the most abhorrent in history. you can refuse to read the bible and be as guilty as the christians are in their willful ignorance. I led a very in=depth meditative practise (sic.). Not sure what sort of impact dabbling in something like that will result in. Probably the same results as in anything else. Junk. Faith is that simple. What you are describing is belief that is unwarranted. Faith is just doing. There is metaphysical truth in the bible. There is also metaphysical truth in the Vedas, the Torah, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelious (sic.), the Dao, the Koran. All paths have a metaphysical truth in them. Whether there is a god or not, no man knows. Personally, even if there is one, we are such a small speck of nothing on a speck of carbon that exists in a backwater galaxy which is only one of thousands of galaxies which form a single super galaxy, of which there are supposedly thousands of such super galaxies. I don't really think anything we do is that important. Even if there is a god, why would they care? Do you mourn the dead skin cells that expire on your body every day?

--
J. #6
--

You are also free to accuse me of ignorance, when I am the one who spent better than 20 years meditating on the Bible and it's contents. What does your quick judgment reveal? That you prefer a slave's lot to that of freedom, and instead choose to call your service "freedom" as if just calling it that will actually make it so?

Faith is not "just doing". To have, to take, or to hold to a faith is to *stop thinking* at some level or another, and you're (sic. Aha! I made a grammatical error here!) unwillingness to open your own eyes to it might be construed as just as ignorant.

There is no metaphysical truth in the Bible or any other text - there is only natural truth in metaphorical language, and the nature of Nature is one of Chaos. On this, we might learn to see eye to eye with one another. This is why I prefer Zen Buddhism as a source of philosophical revelation at present.

Chaos is Freedom. Chaos is Anarchy. But you might have been led to believe that anything other than "Cosmic order" is somehow a bad thing? Nice and incoherent, that "somehow", don't you think?

[N.B.  I'm wrong to assert anarchy and chaos are interchangeable.  My quick-tempered bad... ]

This is becoming more interesting by the second. I could learn to listen to you, so that you didn't feel as ignored. But your "faithful persistence" (very Biblical, that) will not move this mountain. This mountain has eyes, a head, and the will to use his hands creatively - all while recognizing individual freedom. This Head also happens to share with the spirit of Mario Savio. You should not be so judgmental, oh Buddhist.

J.

--
Reply #7
--

Oh, none are so much a slave as those who think they are free. I believe (not sure) that was Voltaire. An atheist. All of us are slaves to our opinions, most of us are slaves to everyones' (sic.) opinions.

--
J. #7
--

"Buddhism destroys the discriminating mind." - The Hagakure.

--
Reply #8
--

So you are all knowing? All knowledge is finite, therefore all ignorance is infinite. Samuel Johnson. In other words, you are ignorant. your denial of it only proves the point. Obviously, if you are looking for lies, you will find them. If you are looking for metaphysical truth, you will find it. If you read your Zen the way you read the christian bible, you would find no metaphysical truth whatsoever in it. Does that make it so? Chaos is the natural state of man. It does not mean violence. Only you can make it violent. And you can continue to believe that I am some christian person as long as you wish. And you will continue to prove yourself ignorant as long as you do so. I like the two commandments. I can follow them (excepting the one god thing, for I have no idea) without violating anyone's religious beliefs.And they also do nothing to violate one of the cardinal pledges of a Buddhist Monk (I believe it is in the Theravaden tradition) of doing no harm. Which is hard to do, and yet so easy as well.

--
J. #8
--

No, I am not all knowing. I'm a limited little human being who holds no pretense that he does not find useful.

But, I am well aware of the little that I can claim to know, and will not be bullied (again) by someone who thinks flowery metaphors make it all better. Thanks for your effort, though. Get back to destroying your discriminating mind, or learn to read my shorter responses.

;)

And yes, I know Chaos is not necessarily destructive. Just so, I do not necessarily want to destroy anything. You shall not find a non-faith based suicide bomber in me, cousin. Chaos is not self-destructive, but self-organizing with simple principles. That's where I find my Zen... in fractal complexity. Rather than straddling a picket fence trying to please everyone, I find a way of building a bridge, instead. Is that not beautiful? It sure beats sitting on a picket fence.

I don't believe that you are a Christian, but you might as well be one so long as you defend Judeo-Christian nonsense as metaphysical truth. That, It Ain't.

Warm regards,
J.

--
Reply #9
--

I think it has a long ways to go before it destroys the discriminating aspects of yours.


--
J. #9
--

Aha!! Touché! I do discriminate, and make no apologies for being able to discriminate. It separates a monk from a ronin, perhaps. But I can choose to not discriminate, and often that is just what I do, in order to get by in this world.

But where is knowledge without discrimination? The Christians use a word - "discernment" - and mean the same thing by it. So, all I'm suggesting to you is, "piss or get off the pot": either embrace that you can (and must) discriminate to be an effective person (and I think that's a safe bet) or, go whole hog and learn to stop discriminating, like a good Buddhist.

Honestly, this has been very useful to me. Thank you for caring!

J.

--
Reply #10
--

Excuse me, for someone who has such limited knowledge and is aware of it, you seem sure of your freedom, that there is no metaphysical truth, that Buddhism is the pure path, and that I am one of those christian idiots. That's a lot of surety and vanity for someone as humble as you declare yourself to be.

I don't defend the Jedeo-Christian (sic.) as nonsense. There is a reason why there is an annual meeting comprised of people from all around the world of all faiths. People who have gone beyond the dogmas of their religions and can communicate with each other without the bounds of their religious orders. It is because all of them are the same path in the end. To destroy one is to destroy all of them.

--
Reply #11
--

To observe, without judgement (sic.), that is the true mind. Oh, and I'm enjoying this as well.


--
J. #10
--

" To observe, without judgement, that is the true mind. Oh, and I'm enjoying this as well."

Notice that observing without judgment does not equal "not discriminating". One must learn to use the similarity/difference parts of the brain - but, one must not judge beforehand what one might see, for that influences our perception. Agreed?

Would you be interested in continuing it over a chat interface, then?

I really mean that - I'd prefer to be able to talk back and forth, and am perfectly capable of listening to the truth you wish to assert. Googletalk/Chat works well for me.

(Now, back to the earlier message...)

J.

--
J. #11
--

"To destroy one is to destroy all" is perfect nonsense.

You *are* defending Christian bullshit when you suggest the two commandments are better than the Ten, and not actually representative of the Faith. You happen to be defending a very narrow and scarcely held view, and you also happen to be affirming it for the poor "souls" who are bullied (sado-masochistically) by the religious organizations that you seem to profess to meet with - albeit, with the hope of ecumenism winning out.

So what if it means sharia law is defended, right? So what, that perfectly lovely people who never needed saving continue to believe it, because of your non-discrimination. You would have served them better by saying "This is nonsense" than "The Ten Commandments do not reflect Christian belief" when all the law and the prophets is exactly what Christian belief is based on.

Have you read Romans????

Regards!
J.

--
Reply #12
--

to discern is to make a judgement (sic.) of what's in front of you. It is the basis of morality, the judging of good and bad. There was a story about the buddhist monk who was separating the rice in his begging bowl so that he only ate the good ones. He was chastised for it for this very reason. The discernment is to understand that what is in front of you is merely there in front of you. How you perceive it is the discernment. If you perceive it as good or bad, that judgement tells you where you need to concentrate (if that is the type of meditation you are practicing at the moment. However, I believe the true definition of meditation is a 24/7 thing that demands awareness of your attention of what's in front of you at all times. I fall a bit short on that one as well.) on your own self.
I actually don't like chat. I never have, but also when I chat on this computer, it freezes everything up until I collapse the chat window and then I can reply or use other parts of my net. I would fix it, but I enjoy a moment or two to let what I say sink in.

--
J. #12
--

Discernment means many things, to different people. Sometimes it is "the perception of that which is obscure".

Discrimination is more along the lines of what your parable said - and as I said to you (several times) if that is what you think is best, why don't you practice it instead of accusing me of ignorance. I observe, and then I classify what I have observed, all the while holding myself at bay from making hasty judgment. This is not an impossible task. Kant talked of being "indifferent".

http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=discernment

There is a new thing called "Google Wave" that is a bit like emailing, and chatting, at the time time. If you would like an invite, I would gladly give you one.

J.

--
Reply #13
--

I am actually saying the ten commandments are not being violated by the two. The ten commandments is as relevant to our cultural/spiritual growth as any other bronze age religion. If one reads the bible as a study guide for growth, it is easy to note the ten commandments are in Christianity to show how the continued following of morality leads to the self-destructive elements like Moses and his politics. I actually don't think the lesson to learn from the ten commandments has anything to do with god's law. It has to do with how we become worse the more moral we become. Moses really ate a lot of fruit from that tree of knowledge of good and evil! I haven't studied the Torah, other than the excerpts of the Old Testament, but the Jews that are developed in their path certainly seem to have a similar teaching. The ten commandments as practiced by christians is not correct to follow, though you will if you follow the two, it is meant as a tool to teach the dangers of morality.

--
J. #13
--

...and (w.r.t. the Ten and the Two) I'm repeatedly telling you, the commandments are antithetical to "Free Will". The "Free" is an elaborate deception in order to bully people, by banging them on the head with a Bible that does not make sense, and moral codes that are anything but.

Do you suggest cutting out the parts of the Bible that should be forgotten, for the useless bronze-aged conceptions that they are?

J.

--
Reply #14
--

That's a bit convuluted (sic.), but eventually about right. Haven't read romans in a while. I don't read the bible much anymore. Began it to have a foundation of knowledge to argue back with southern baptist preachers in the 1970s.

--
J. #14
--

Romans is one of the reasons we're better off without "faith" - a rambling text that ties together the basics of *actual* christian belief much more concisely than any of the Gospels that you're relying on. Only the lowest common denominators use the Gospels. The preachers rely on Romans.

J.

--
Reply #15
--

Mine wasn't a judgement (sic.), it was an observation that you admitted. If you tell someone they are this, then I can usually say you think I am this. On the google wave thing, I just now switched to the ITunes on the web from CDs. In other words, I take a while to shift gears in technology. lol Saved me from the laser disc in the 70s! I'm also about to go eat some lunch and feed the farm animals (I try and live a simple life).

--
Reply #16
--

I am merely saying that the ten are taken out of context to rob the people of the truth of the book. They shouldn't be forgotten, more like they should be understood for what they are. Most people won't ever desire to do so though, as the ten commandments and the entire Old Testament provides plenty of excuses for them to act out of hate, greed, and power. If taken alone, they can do great harm, but if taken as part of the whole, they are a necessary element of the whole book. It would be like Buddha becoming enlightened without Mara. We must have obstacles (always within ourselves) in order to realize our perfections.

--
J. #15
--

"I am merely saying that the ten are taken out of context to rob the people of the truth of the book."

Are they? The truth is, there was never a Ten until Christianity got its hands upon the book, and it was Christians who popularized the Decalogue. You're re-writing history, as well.

They are not necessary for anything, except societal control - and, some of them most obviously go without saying, to most societies who never heard of them.

Are you sure you wouldn't like a Google Wave invite? It's less confusing than running two separate threads, I promise - inside a browser window, communal, editable, and you can playback the conversation.

Regards!
J.

--
J. #17
--

RE: Google Wave

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6pgxLaDdQw

It is possible you'd find Wave useful for your own ends, too - it makes collaboration easier (in my humble estimation) and if you want invites, you're welcome to some of mine as well.

Regards,
J.

--
Reply #17
--

Does Buddha not having survived on merely one hemp seed for years make his story less true? Truth is not found in facts. All facts are merely opinions. Truth is best told as fiction. for the bible to be true, most of it would necessarily be false. As I've said, I have not read the Torah, so I am assuming it is Judeaic (sic.). However, if they were taken out, the true lesson of the book would be lost. Is it used as a control mechanism? Of course it is. Whose fault is that? The people who are being controlled. They have access to the truth, but refuse to see it.
And though I'm sure you're right on the Google wave, I still prefer the internet.

--
J. #18
--

"Does Buddha not having survived on merely one hemp seed for years make his story less true? Truth is not found in facts."

Oh no? Truth is for those who Doubt, cousin, and not encapsulated by metaphor alone. Metaphors have no truth in them whatsoever, sometimes.

"All facts are merely opinions."

Bullshit, sorry! Some facts are not opinions at all, such as, all is chaos. *Order* is not a fact, and merely an opinion...

Google Wave is not a replacement for the internet; it is a replacement for email that has helpful inclusions. It is your loss, not mine; and rather than putting it like Jesus, I'll content myself with copy-n-pasting your replies with mine, however I see fit. The thing is, now you won't see how they fit.

But who needs eyes, right?

Regards,
J.

--
Reply #18
--

Even gravity is an opinion. Also, just because you perceive yourself as having jumped up and came down, does that make it so? Or did the world move down and up? Or is it all your imagination?
There is a story of these two russian writers. One wrote an academic work and felt he had done something worthy of praise from his fellow russian writer. Instead, he was chastised with something like "Real truth is only found in fiction." At one time, it was a fact that the sun rotated around the earth. That the stars were pinholes in the sky. The only thing I know for sure, is the more we learn, the more we discover how ignorant we are. Facts are merely the opinions of our industrialized age. Newtonian physics useful for industrialists and the like. Just as the facts of the shaman were useful for the health of the tribes in the olden days.
On the internet thing, I meant email.

--
J. #19
--

"Even gravity is an opinion."

Don't be a silly goose, wingsuitfreak. Gravity is a reality that we cannot subvert without expending significant energy. It is not even "wonderfully" consistent, but instead, wonderfully chaotic, just as some of us expect.

" Also, just because you perceive yourself as having jumped up and came down, does that make it so? Or did the world move down and up? Or is it all your imagination? "

Grade-A non-mysteries, as if they had no answer. Of course I jumped up and down - but relativity tells us that I have no reason to suspect anything is ever staying still, even if it looks like it is. What's your point again? Oh right, you think there's no good answer.

This is not all imagination: things are "real", and even though we perceive reality through two relatively tiny holes, the "reality" of the external world has to touch and change us, somewhat, in order for us to perceive it. If it were all imagination, this would not be the case.

Pointing to old false impressions of reality and expecting anyone to agree with your silliness is just plain foolish. You do not have to ruin a perfectly wonderful brain by filling it full of misconceptions; yea verily, that is what makes it silly.

"Facts are merely the opinions of our industrialized age. Newtonian physics useful for industrialists and the like. Just as the facts of the shaman were useful for the health of the tribes in the olden days."

Negative to the first; a "fact" is a well-understood thing. Some facts go way back, such as, humans need to eat to survive. The Word of any God is not enough. Newtonian physics was only ever a pipe dream, so why do you appeal to it? That is - we still use it for very limited kinds of problems, but it breaks down (and always broke down) as an explanation for everything. The Shaman *never* had a fact, only a ritual. You do not know the difference between the two - the damage to your discriminating mind is quite evident, even to a novice thinker like myself.

A pity, fit for a god to choke on.

Regards!
J.
jamespfp bald face

Reflections on the "Problem of Evil"

Do you know what is awesome? (he asks rhetorically, expecting the answer...)

Let me "tell you whut".  Anyone can stream live video for free, nowadays, either by signing up for cool services like Ustream, or be working with forward-thinking public access cable stations.  This last link works excellently on Winamp.

So, today, as I was working, I happened to catch snippets of the latest Tapestry show on the C.B.C. - entitled, Fear - featuring a rabbi as the guest.  Straight from the website, "Rabbi Harold Kushner has been Mary's guest before; he returns to talk to Mary about his new book, Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World, published by Knopf." I can condense his teachings in a single line, which I penciled into my little "Skull and Crossbones" notebook I've been using as a travel-log and diary.  This is it -  "Nature is blind, and totally amoral."  :O

But wait, there's more - for on the Atheist Experience show this evening, there was a surprise guest, in the form of a Baptist pastor from Texas, who - among his many "charming" ideas, I hasten to add - was willing to superficially engage in a discussion on "The Problem of Evil", which goes directly to the root of what the rabbi was saying, viz. the world, as we experience it, is a pretty scary place.  Zen Buddhism would quickly resolve the issue by pointing out that human fear of the unknown, particularly fear of personal loss, is almost always the cause of human-made suffering.  But what about Sin, as it relates to the world around us?

Remember - the rabbi above wanted desperately to assert that the universe around us is "amoral" to us.  I think the poor guy is playing semantic games with the audience, because he clearly meant to say "indifferent" but he could not, without making it really very very clear that the cosmos (or, the universe, or everything, all three of them usually interchangeable with "God") does not care about humanity.  It is totally indifferent and largely capricious with respect to us, something that flies in the face of Jewish belief, as well as Christianity.

The Baptist pastor, on the other hand, managed to avoid any debate by refusing to engage in it, and after offering many standard evasions, even started to fill in the hosts on several non-standard pet theses that he subscribes to;  to wit, the human being is a computer, and the problem of sin (and thus human-sanctioned, human-initiated evil) is a "computer virus".  This prompted me to break into the ustream IRC chat with any number of helpful suggestions for how to nail his ass to the boards, figuratively speaking of course.   When the pastor brought up hermeneutics, I helpfully asked whether or not Hermione (from Harry Potter) was the gal who invented hermeneutics.

The last time I heard that particular thesis (Human brain is a computer, sin a virus, and additionally, every cigarette you smoke burns away a little of your sin, to be totally accurate), I was at the Waterford.  The person who believed it was a troubled guy from Montreal, who identified himself as "Jewish" (no big shock, I don't hold that against him) and who went around the ward spreading his delusions to all and sundry who would listen.  The Bible was a computer code, according to him, and all that was required from us was to re-program our brains with it.  Begs the question, really, why it landed him in the sanitarium.  It also bears stating, apparently, that we are not computers, and neither are our brains...

Of course, when I identified myself as an atheist, he said, "Oh, well that's difficult." - proving, I suppose, that even the delusional are not entirely crazy, when they recognize they cannot bullshit you quickly into submission.

Let me offer you, who read, a little advice; and also a larger leg-up than either the Baptist pastor, the rabbi, or the delusional Jew, who all seem to disagree on most everything, even while finding "spooky" common ground from time to time.  There is a word called syzygy that has too many meanings to quickly list here, but which can be summed up in quick order with respect to the role it played for 1st century Gnostics, proto-Christians.  They believed that the world was created by - get ready ready for it! - a Blind Idiot God who bungled up the job, and that the True Word-Made-Flesh (Jesus "Pool-Cleaning" Christ, identified clearly as such in the surviving Gnostic text, the Gospel of John) was the re-incarnation of Seth, Adam and Eve's third love-child.  What happened to the first two?  One killed the other; and God smited the murderer.  Seth-the-supposedly-real-person bears striking resemblance to the Egyptian god, Set, when you get into the more arcane Jewish texts, forming the basis of the sort of numerological mumbo-jumbo that convinces a particular Jew from Montreal, I can hazard to guess.  The whole crux of the thing is this:  Set was the god responsible for Chaos, and the universe around us (ordered, some would say; full of holes and Blind Idiot mistakes, say others) is his opposite, the Cosmos.  Syzygy is the alignment of the two, the place or the configuration of supposed opposites where everything falls into place, a "greater order" - which sounds mysteriously like C.S. Lewis' "deeper magic" from Narnia.  In  a modern four word phrase,  syzygy is "right place, right time".

What does modern science have to say about this syzygy, which is to say, this unification of opposites, these two sides of a coin?  Well - it certainly seems to them that indeed, we live in spacetime that is controlled entirely by chaos.  We human beings invented the idea of order; we were not created within it, nor were we ordained from the beginning of spacetime (14+ billion years ago), by my estimation, or by the estimation of the rabbi, arguably the most learned of all the above (including myself).  Fine - Nonsense though it might be, I'll allow "The universe is amoral".  It does not have an order to teach us, and what we routinely construe as "order" is, in actually, elegant simplicity expressed within a universe (some say multiverse) of infinite possibility.  Yet, probability is better than certainty here, because anything can happen, at any time.

Observe this truth:  each day on the planet Earth is longer than the last.  Chew on that!!  The Earth's rotation is not a constant thing - we have Universal Time based on atomic clocks that add Leap Seconds to the hours once 0.9 seconds threaten to knock computers out of whack.  It is only humans that falsely believe the day will always have 24 hours.  And, furthermore, at some point in the future the day will have 25 hours, because the rotation of the Earth has slowed down so much.  Greenwich Mean Time is only useful to the relatively imprecise human being. The objective referent of every clock is ... another clock.  There is no Cosmic Clock that we can refer to; we use atoms, fused in the heart of stars that have long since exploded.  Where is the Blind Watchmaker, who didn't make a clock?  And why do creationists doubt the efficacy of the atom to tell the time??  Every one of their laptop computers synchronizes to these atoms, can ya dig it?

Observe this other truth!  The Moon is moving away from us; the orbit is not perfectly circular, or elliptical, but a gradually increasing chaotic spiral, that can change at any moment, from any number of perturbations or other influences, like bloody great rocks (or dirty snowballs) smashing into it, or even passing by it.  The same goes for the Earth.  The same presumably goes for the Sun.  All these things are nothing to be afraid of, because human beings have advanced, through the course of the development of life on this planet, to the point where we might actually be able to do something about the terrible chaotic nature of existence.

Chaos, or cosmic order?  Neither!!  As Slavoj Žižek says in The Pervert's Guide To Cinema, "I want a third pill!"  The universe, and all that is in it, including all the things we cannot yet observe, and are yet to observe, is greater than the words we use to describe it.  We view it through little holes in the things we call "eyes", and pretend to understand it with "Good Books".  Oh, there is much wonder to be observed, not absolute certainty nor mystical "get out of jail free" nonsense that assures a relative few of eternal salvation.  Very few, at that: Baptists honestly think that they are proven to be Elect by advancing to greatness within the here and now, the Hand of God guiding them to predetermined glory; there is that old "we are God's chosen people" argument.  Chosen for what?  Atrocity and near extinction, a horrible fate that a Blind Idiot must surely have ordained?  Sometimes I wish the batshit crazies would live more like Shakers, and let Nature do the work of getting rid of them.  The Order the Shakers followed eventually made their culture functionally extinct - celibacy! and only the conversion of adults, preventing the brainwashing of children.  You can bet the Baptists ain't down with that, y'all.

--

There are other paths, and anything is possible in them.  But not everything is probable.

--
jamespfp bald face

Atheism 101

or, Why It Is Important For Me to Exercise My Atheism, Politically.

Consider the following conundrum:  you have admitted yourself to a hospital for a short term stay, due to failing health, a poor diet, and destructive patterns of behavior such as a junkie or homeless person might experience; partly due, in fact, to the lingering effects (mental and otherwise) of a score of years in service to a god that doesn't exist, as well as a brace of them in chronic solitude.  For the sake of generalized argument, we'll suggest that this hospital stay happens to coincide with the month of December.  Life on your ward is regimented and formalized, depending entirely on co-operative patients, and a crack staff of health-care providers.

One evening, the routine of the ward is broken by a surprise visit from - you may have guessed it! - the Salvation Army, a religious denomination where I live, although not necessarily where you live, I trust.  The Sally Anns bring a team of volunteers, a few tattered books of holiday favorites (both secular and religious) and a batch of loot bags.

Now - I ask you:  what could be more conflicting for an enthusiastic humanist musician who doesn't owe any gratitude to the Salvation Army?  I mean - if you happen to be staying in a sanitarium, it might be argued that those Sally Anns are taking advantage of a captive audience, for their own desires and benefit;  I mean to say, good works is the sort of thing that stores up riches for one in Heaven, in one's Heavenly Mansion.  No matter, that God saw fit to "bless" some of the patients on your ward with a collection of fates worse than you currently enjoy, ye who read this!

But there's more!  Oh yes, there's also the idea that the sugar-coated philosophy they offer is basically as "junk" as the junk-food found in the loot bags.  It could as easily have been left-over candy and chips from the recently passed Halloween season, as anything specifically related to Christmas.

For the past number of years, all throughout Christendom, the various denominations have been struggling - aye, fair laboring in the fields! - while their young people learn to doubt, and leave them.  And while, I must wholeheartedly admit, it is important that these individuals who are struggling to understand the life they were born into are not forgotten by the world they are segregated from - the world of deadlines, schedules, annual calendars, tax write-offs - I do begin to understand why I'll never lend my talent, meager or profound, to the cause of the Salvation Army, again.  I'd prefer it if they never even know of the person who passed them by, the bird who'd sing with a pure and full heart, because of the bullshit they'd choose to use, to conform him.

There are a fraction of those believers who think ... and those who believe with all their heart, as the saying goes, that some of those patients are possessed by devils.  There are some who feel that the sickness and infirmity is the result of "sin", whatever that is.  There are some who hold onto the fixed dogmas, as they were first postulated by the fledgling Army in Victorian times, even while the science of the day began to make inroads into the nature of mental illness.

Humankind - call it Science, even - has a better plan in mind for people than God does.  So what comfort is there in Junk Food?  About the same as junk Philosophy ... merely a bad, superstitious habit; and do not think that you can make the argument, "Well!  Look at the ethics - those patients need an education in proper lifestyles, let alone a better hope for the world they're going to!  Surely - God has something better for the Meek in mind." 

To that, I say, Hogwash!  I propose that you consider the effect that "Pie in the Sky, When you Die" has on "perfectly" sane people, before you foist it on the infirm, the disadvantaged, or the underprivileged!  It seems to me to be more moral, far more ethical, to consider what effect such superstitious nonsense will have on the real, current lives of patients like me - or You! - than storing up riches for oneself in Heaven ... and dare I ask, taking the hard-earned money of agnostics who feel blessed in their own fortunes, from places (like sanitariums) that sorely need funding, full-time workers, and most of all, full-time friends.

So - do you want to give back this holiday season?  Take the initiative yourself, and make this world a better place, one that is less confusing for those too easily confused; Put a stop to the foolishness that reinforces the delusions of far too many of my fellow patients, and choose a world of wonder, in the Here and Now.  Incredibly (to hear some say it!) there are people in this world who see it is possible to be good - i.e. altruistic - without owing the strength of their own good natures, their character-by-inheritance, to some mythological Sky Daddy or Big Brother; there are those who understand that freedom is preferable to slavish devotion to a faith with no real basis; and who are interested in returning the gift of unclouded understanding without purchasing your attention with a loot bag.

- from a journal entryDec. 10th, 2009.

--Should you treat a mental patient like a child?  or a slave?  or as a human being?--
--Is it morally correct to reinforce a delusion, such as "Prayer will work better than medication"?--
--Is "Submission to a Higher Authority" necessary for salvation from addiction?--
jamespfp bald face

Wellness and Authority for the Practicing Anarchist

Dateline: Thursday, December 17th, 2009.

Much musings after 2 weeks and 2 days in the Waterford Hospital; my first and hopefully only time as a ward of the State, locked up on the 3rd floor in the Unit lovingly called "West 3-A".  That would make a fine tattoo, probably - but it is hardly a jail.  They keep the criminals in a more tightly secured location; at least, that is what I have been told.

What to record of my time here?  (If, in fact, I should record anything... because my gut says "Just pay attention, keep sane, get better, and don't try to save anyone unless circumstances deteriorate and a riot follows...") One thing to say and to even pay forward is, this is as real an education as an adult man with his wits can get, when it comes to behaving like an adult.  The System would force childhood on everyone else - you earn respect (and thus, "adult treatment") by presenting properly.  All others are "forced" into acting out their issues at every opportunity, and frequently, friends, they do just that up in West 3-A.

I have abandoned the T.V. room, not caring for the one-track cable-mind, too often switched (just as it gets interesting, it never fails) to some communal - yet - reprehensible option, and only ever changed when someone asks to have it switched... like asking a parent to open your bag of chips, or cut up the tender morsel of meat you've been served; I prefer a clicker and a browse around, don't you?

I have long since forgotten the "Muggles" way of preserving T.V. schedules in my head-RAM.  My idea of T.V. now is to search for it (when I chance to miss the quick D/L) or, preferring life in dangerous portions, to catch "pre-air" rushes that make it to the 'Net, in advance of the idiot-box's schedule.  I now deeply value the wisdom of sleeping well, but lightly, and even with one eye open; related to it, never sit with your back to the door (thanks for that timely reminder, Mr. Harlan Ellison) unless you're the impartial dealer who - by his nature, perhaps idiotic - has nothing to fear except indifferent customers.

Be wise and wary with one's words.  So often, as in real life, the petty paranoia of your fellow patients will leak their deepest fears as surely as it does on the schoolyard, where the bully last held sway and perhaps - a dangerous perhaps! See how lovely it can taste! - that is exactly the only - yea verily the last milieu that established these patterns for most everyone on the Unit, in terms of introducing stresses that trigger social disorders.  My own anxiety and dread - if I had to self-diagnose my issue, it would be "P.T.S.D." - pales in comparison to the kinds of cruelty one sees inflicted on those who are schizophrenic, or bipolar, placed in an environment of bullies.

Even more pointed:  one grandiose peek at my pages above (*1) for a look at why some people end up going more ridiculously "retarded" (I know, it's terrible, bear with me - I'm the one going back to the Unit on Monday... Ed.) when they start behaving like children - demanding things, slamming down their hands to get their way, belittling and berating with abandon (*2) - only to turn around and call you a prick for not feeding the acting out; for rewarding it, to put it in Pavlov.  You earn "ignorance" that way - either as a title, or a treatment - and mayhap, you'll learn the wisdom of showing your own kids that you expect them to behave like rational adults, and only wanted the best for them, anyhow.

What have I learned about "Me" during my convalescence?  Self-reflexive question... in my most ungracious moments, I tend to horribly lump others into the class "Ye Fuckers" - not a socially winning strategy, and difficult to explain oneself out of; I am a soft-spoken man who fears irrational labels, in my better moments, yet who chooses and cares to act with the boldness of a clown - and damn the torpedoes.  Soft-spoken ... but I can be tempted to the surface by reference to one of any number of my "dangerous opinions", which I treasure deeply and do not intend to change without, at least, a rational argument; a pragmatist, who remembers being conflicted by his understanding of the term - for, what was Brutus' one dangerous flaw, if not his pragmatism

"A barstool philosopher / an humanist historian" was what I wrote about myself in a poetry journal about ten years ago, when I suffered the onset of anxiety and my first panic attacks, partly from the barely conscious knowledge that most of what I believed, up to that point, appeared as nothing more than irrational superstition to many, if not all, of the people around me (while in university, you must understand).  I'm left now, ten years later, in the recovering bin ...  with two children from a spiteful and vindictive woman whom I could not tempt to a better, becoming nature; and furthermore, incapable - personally! - of holding down a steady job for fear of being stuck in it, like a fly trapped in amber.

Unabashed "truthiness" (*2.5) is a hard condition to explain - even harder, that I can readily point to the things that assure me of my own sanity, even whilst in the midst of any number of severely and seriously sick others whom I cannot help but "love" - because I was partly raised ready to be a(n) humanist, an advocate for egalitarian treatment, for French-style fraternité, for even "equality"; though, in my heart of hearts, I also believe that one size cannot - Must Not! - fit all. (*3)  This does not mean I'll end up in the gray moral areas, or the down-right dark and twisted ones that, say, Nazis frolicked in ... and I'm despairing that I must resort to the Nazi argument to make my point, anyway.

Having things "both ways" is how the world is, to my eyes.  I believe mostly in the Law of Excluded Middles.  I still abhor the "rationalizations" I once heard in Church meetings or gatherings, vis-a-vis pronouncements of the necessity of straddling fences, rather than building a new bridge.(*4)  Similarly, being counseled by "the best chaplain we ever had", who told me that all I needed was to "pull up my bootstraps", when a depression and a serious drinking problem  was the issue - this from a rumored-to-be-practical counselor, noted for his ability to effect change!  I'm glad to be clear of the Church; not "betrayed", not missed, and largely "ignored" for daring to fool with the sleeping dogs, when they lie.  I'd rather exist, even if the Church does not.  "Keep the Faith" is a hollow and pointless call that very few young folk even dare to dream of understanding - and why should they?  The Body is not whole; it does not illustrate, nor illuminate; the Candle under the Bushel died from a lack of oxygen, long ago.  Flames require fuel - not faith. (*5)

I'm terminal in my reservedness in some respects - he who loves to talk and compare notes.  I hold back from exposing my talents until I cannot hold back any longer (*6), and then I reap the rewards in probabilities of misunderstanding.  I do not mind exercising my long-suffering relationship with music; then, I depend on the world to recognize me, and re-engage.  I drop to the floor and start to play, to entertain as freely as I can - was that not always my way?  The Ex- has impressed this upon me: it can only lead to either a devaluation (*7) or, more infrequent, envious rejection from those who cannot compete.  "We are not equal" is a tough truth - but, "I choose to ignore the difference" is Buddhism.

I've been reading during my convalescence.  The first, "Galactic Pot Healer" by Philip K. Dick, which was excellent and short, and full of wit and wisdom; Second, "Shatterday", a collection of short stories by Harlan Ellison, a fabulous example of how to make a book of collected shorts on topic; Third, a peek at the plays of Aristophanes (I want MORE!); and last, "I will Fear No Evil" by Robert A. Heinlein, who, at long last, gave me a mantra I can at least learn to respect, as I begin to pull up my own bootstraps on my own terms, again.  "The Jewel in the Lotus..."

For the anti-climax, how about some Rinzai dessert?

From Japan: the Hagakure, "The Way of the Samurai" by Yamamoto Tsunetomo (*8):

"According to what the Buddhist priest Kaion said, a person becomes more and more prideful if he gains a little understanding because he thinks he knows his own limits and weak points.  However, it is a difficult thing to truly know one's own limits and weak points."

"At a glance, every individual's own measure of dignity is manifested just as it is.  There is dignity in personal appearance.  There is dignity in a calm aspect.  There is dignity in a paucity of words.  There is dignity in flawlessness of manners.  There is dignity in solemn behavior.  And there is dignity in deep insight and a clear perspective. / These are all reflected on the surface.  But in the end, their foundation is simplicity of thought and a tautness of spirit. / Covetousness, anger and foolishness are things to sort out well.  When bad things happen in the world, if you look at them comparatively, they are not unrelated to these three things.  Looking comparatively at the good things, you will see that they are not excluded from wisdom, humanity, and bravery."

Happy Holidays!

-- Foot-soldier-notes --

[*1 - Here, I am referring to one of many books that are bent to my purposes, mostly cheap spiral-bound notebooks from the drug-mart on the corner, near where I live.  This particular book has some of the best work I've been actually working on for the past year or so - has a baby Chimp on the cover, which brings me many smiles.]

[*2 - Like "Americans" demanding better service - though such action is not limited to Americans ... and one does not demand service in a hospital, does one?  That's plainly and utterly Rude. ]

[*2.5 - Ha-ha, I'm making fun of, or with, Colbert - I really mean, I have a problem with telling the truth, of being honest in a world where deception is king.]

[*3 - Science does offer one interesting note nowadays: one size "does fit all" when it comes to explaining human genetics, at least in terms of our inter-relatedness; thereby, in relativistic terms.  Call me "Pragmatic" once more, down to the very core of my being.  Relativism, even moral relativism, is superior in reality to out-dated, bronze-age conceptions of the absolute.  There is, at present, only one "human genome" with a huge amount of variety within it, no different than any other broad-band spectrum - but, we have not had the sufficient time, nor the inclination as a species, to pursue the kind of terrible isolationist path that would breed a "human" different enough from its neighbors, as to be considered another species.  "Race" is an atavistic (read: out-dated) and problematic distinction that we are better off without; like "religion" I suspect.  And, the rest of John Lennon's "Imagine" comes to mind immediately for me ... why not for you?]

[*4 - Bridge building shows fractal gumption and complexity.  To paraphrase the "Little Johnny" joke from school days, straddling the picket fence wrecks ya, damn near kills ya.]

[*5 - Dangerous truths contained within "church" music - "It only takes a spark / to get a fire going" is a barely veiled piece of anarchism, not a good reminder of God's Love at all!  Why do we teach such dangerous things to our young people?  My goodness ...]

[*6 - One last thought note - I'm like the little boy Hans in the fable, who did the brave thing, and plugged a hole in the levee by using his finger, until help arrived.  I hold back my emotions, when they feel like the weight behind them is immensely pressured, like water behind a dam - and when they burst, they run to overflowing.]

[*7 - Oh! He's always ready; absolute foolishness!]

[*8 - I started reading and meditating on this text about a year ago, after I saw the not-so-great-yet-not-so-terrible movie "Ghost Dog" with Forrest Whittaker, and got a copy of selected contents of the source some time after for a very reasonable price.  No, I'm not contemplating seppuku.]
jamespfp bald face

The Zygote Generation


Here is a ponderous task of a real-life article I could choose to relate to you:  I was once nearly stumped by a particular and obvious blocking question, one assumed to have no easy answer.  The question was, "But when does life begin?"

Well - for the trouble it took me to get to a relatively objective yet simple answer to that question, I might as well frame it up for you nice and square, so as to be sure that my own labor will not fall apart upon the first hard blow dealt to it.

I'll ask you, first, to consider the Gap that exists between the Lie that Hitler told the German people in order to win their support, to the Truth that John Lennon uttered, during a period of rapid population expansion.  I mean to say, Hitler campaigned on a platform that swore Eternal Peace and Work for the German people - and I doubt that you've had the chance to watch 'Triumph of the Will', I have only seen parts with subtitles, but that's the thematic basis of it - while the Other Fist promised and delivered war, pestilence, and the near destruction of entire peoples, the German people included.  Hitler, may I remind you, was a drug addict who self-administered a gunshot to his own head, rather than be called to account.  Lennon sang songs about Free Love, bold Imaginations, and personal self-determination to ask for Peace.  He delivers on all of the themes, and refused to engage himself in pedagogy or dictatorial control.  He beat a heroin addiction.

Which of these two Ways clearly served Life?   The one that yielded the greater portion of Life back, not the one that destroyed it.  Yet even today, there are horrors visited upon the world that may even make a Nazi blush.

And what got Lennon killed?  Free Love - what else would it be!  That is what makes him worthy of being gunned down by a lone assassin, after peaceably living his life in full view, and with happy consistency of vision.  Bill Hicks had it right.

So - consider this!  Worldwide, after World War II, populations begin to explode in as natural a backlash to heartfelt war and destruction as you could imagine!  The Baby Boom develops, and the power of the "Generation" is born.  By the mid-1960s, Pepsi seizes on the word as a marketing angle.  Coke backs Nixon.  Coke backed Ike, too.

Not only that!  But standards of living improve, and human lifespans become decidedly less brutish and short.  Before we knew it, we had multiple generations all stepping on the others toes, sometime between 1970 and 1979.  Generation X was born, the spiritual residue of the 1960s, stuck in a horrible parallel dimension where Marty didn't reunite his parents, because the Spiritual Awakening of the 1960s didn't have any lasting effect other than children.

The horrible truth is told to them directly on Cable, which provides a mystical and various sort of multi-cultured "meme-stream".  Most of the hard-core survivors of the 1970s are amazed when they outlive the maddest of the prophets around them, who all died at the same ages, as if they're souls were actually in a War somewhere in some other dimension, and they just accidentally got shot by the enemy - hell! Maybe even friendly fire! - and all at age 27.

By the 90s, the Gap widens between the Golden Oldies, the Boomers, and the Gen-Xers.  And then Y begins to be born.  The maddest prophets alive turn to heroin and shotguns, both self-administered - just like they saw on Cable, like all the poor old Viet Nam vets who'd been drafted against their will, thrown into the jungle and left to rot with a bunch of other people who didn't want to be there, smoking brainers with each other through the barrels of their Army-issued double-barreled, pump-action trench broom.  What could be more Pro... pro-fucking-found!  "This will be my Poetic justice, to suck the bullet for shame, because my fibered being says, Hey!  There's something totally fucked about this here situational Space-Time I'm in.  And what's more - I've a nagging suspicion that it is all for nothing, now.  It is Too Late."

What TRIPE!  It is NEVER too late, for Life.  It demands attention and YOU must get to it, no matter the number of noemas you might have to smash down along the way.  The work of the Left Hand path remains to be seen.

Anyhow - now that I've thoroughly digressed that thought to smithereens, how about the next?  While we merrily, here and now, plow through our Space-Time towards 2010, there is another Gap becoming visible - and it is among the generations, themselves, and it is clearly seen upon a vertical axis, if I were to plot what I see upon a chart. 

I have met more than one Gen-Xer who was a dyed in the wool Neo-Conservative... Shocking! And there are all sorts of those on the Basically Left, from the Wishy-Washy to the Militantly Insistent.  And there is a great mass of Apaths who have been bred - I cannot find another term for it! - for Servitude, to Something  that is always not as good as it may appear.  To them, the desire to Be Told something, for moral certainty, is a required condition of true happiness.

And the TV Always tells you everything.

Oh, but I hate to shock you in this Quest about Life, but the TV has also let us all down.  It is so often terrible today, that it takes charitable donations and fund-raising drives on an annual, even on-going basis (and even then, always with a gift in return for your kind donation, of CDs or DVDs or gym bags) to ensure the public broadcast of great Art, let alone things that document the journey of the political beasts of the past.  I watched Bob Dylan being lionized at Newport in the early 60's just this past weekend: pulled up to a microphone to sing his rambling lyrical compositions, the "last great hope of the Old Left".  He's a stunning example of the end of the New Deal, is Dylan - invited back year after year to astound the Folk.

Youth has passed from being Idolized, to being Marginalized, today.  Young people have simply surrendered themselves to "special case-hood", a willingly governed class - governed like an engine in a sports car, in fact!  Hold Back!  for the sake of those too slow to keep up.

Such a weird echoing combination can be found in today's Space-Time: where, on the one hand, part of the population knows by dreadful experience that the "Convoy" (read: 'Community', 'Country!' ed.) can only travel as fast as its slowest members - thus, the "need for government", especially for those too slow to govern themselves;  And on the other hand, where the multicultural and cosmopolitan side effects of television exposure to the world - 24 and 7 - breed young minds roaring to tear through all the layers of fabric that came before them, and weave new clothes of their own.

There is a distinction between pure "nihilation"  and "annihilation", of course (psst! I'm talking about Adolf and John again! ed.) - though the ones who are fending off the nihilists and their revelations in these times (and, in all the times before us - as if it were New, this atheism that patiently asserts that there are no moral reasons to instruct by rote religion) often accuse the them of being militant and bent on destruction; or, guilty of the "kind of atheism" evidenced by the Nazis.  What tripe, too!! The Nazis said it best, for themselves, on their Belt Buckles, and don't forget it:  "God with Us"

Then, of course, there are the nihilations of the Soviets, the godless/atheistic No-Good Red Commie Menace.  Why!! After Sputnik and Laika, they even orbited a Man before the United States.  One of those Commie bastards even had the nerve to nihilate God, His'self!  "He's nowhere to be seen," said the cosmonaut.

None of the US astronauts followed that lead, you can be sure.  They were busy reading passages from Genesis on Apollo 8, and remarking about the heavenliness of the light.  I have no doubt, they all returned with a fantastic sense of personal privilege, to have witnessed the views of the Earth and the Moon that they did.

And they have all remarked, at one time or another, upon the palpable sense of how Space-Time is "different, somehow" up there in Orbit - yet, I submit to you here and now, that the exact cause of this difference is well understood, and readily apparent, and NEVER talked about; from Space, whether you are in low-Earth orbit or on the way around the Moon, the eternal constant marking of the Day ... becomes Meaningless.  It self-nihilates.  I imagine it was most striking of all to the last star voyagers who took off into the blue-black yonder by themselves, to begin to appreciate that each day never really ends; it has all been one long day, from the point of view of the Sun, OR the Earth.

But to nihilate the very concept of Day??  That's crazy, right?  And probably blasphemous, to suggest that each day in the past has ceased to carry that importance it once had, and was not counted in, or counted down, towards any mystical Number of Days that the Earth has left... But no! you holler, the Days Must Be Numbered! Or else when will we ever be met with the End of Days?

There are some realizations that they must not let their own Youth receive, that they cannot risk telling, for fear of losing them, altogether.

Oh, the lies enshrined in our very deepest faiths:  "There is nothing new under the Sun."  Tripe!!  Patent falsehood, at every turn!  There is Nothing "under" the Sun at all; everything is more or less around it, and most of what immediately surrounds it considers IT to be Down.  That's what we, of a scientific bent, pithily designate as "gravity", the visible force of attraction exerted between disparate masses of matter.

So!  When does life begin??  It never ended, dummy.  Your Dad was alive, and so was your Mom; and that is a fairly safe assumption I recognize I'm making.  You are still alive, and someday you might pass on a spark to someone else, and then a whole new thing is born.

==
P.S.  Happy Birthday to my Little Brother, Paul.  I love you, bro!!
jamespfp bald face

B is for Batshit

One of the strange and formative lessons I've picked up, along the way, is that you can ONLY defeat Dr. Wily by using the Lead Bubble.

So, how does one go about defeating Pastor Wiley and his deluded ilk?

Having spent long hours arguing such petty and pointless things as Holy Writ online, I found myself confronted by a ten point list of slaps across the wrist of secular society, for daring to criticize Christianity as a whole.  This strikes me Funniest of All... you'll see why shortly. :D


1) Christians, by definition, do not think they are better than you. If somebody seems to, you know that he is being a very bad Christian if he is one at all. We get saved by grace. The main point of the entire religion is that we are so seriously messed up that we couldn’t save ourselves and needed God to do it for us. That means we think WE are sinners.
 

No - they think that they are "in line" with God's Will, and furthermore, that they are justified in their beliefs.  Whether or not you-all consider yourselves "sinners" matters nothing to anyone else.  The point is, you all think of yourselves as Servants of the Will of God - something that is also clearly not the case, since you-all are divided in your opinions as thoroughly as the rest of the world.

Where did he get his definition?  Sounds like (AT BEST) a synthesis of Scripture, but more likely some Baptist Dogma or another.


 
2) Christians (remembering the above proviso) do not think that morality is adherence to a set of moral precepts contained in a code (even the rules contained in the Bible). Morality is a heart issue for Christians, it is about the character of the person performing the act, not the act in itself. Thus talking about moral actions is non-sequential to our faith structure. While actions may be evidence of moral character, Good actions in themselves are simply not sequential to the issue of being good.

Ah!  Here comes something closer to the truth.  It must really irk him that the rest of the world does as it pleases (so to speak) while a relatively low number of Christian Elect wail and gnash their teeth over all the immorality in the world.

"Morality is a heart issue" is a nonsense statement.  Morality has to do with the Brain.  How long have you been misplacing the location of your Morality, Man?  Do you think it has something to do with all the lovely songs that encourage you to tap your chest like a prideful ape?


3) That said, Christians (if they are being Christian) do have some actions that they should be doing. If the person that claims to be Christian does not do them, you have a right to question their claim to be Christian. If you do not like what they are doing because they are acting in accordance with Christian expectations, then you can say it’s a problem with Christianity.

LOL - he has a superiority complex, granting with such magnanimity.  Some of us were already able to tell the difference between a "mostly harmless" Christian and a Batshit Crazy One.  Personally, I find it very easy since they themselves have a endemic (yet enduring) infection of Logs In Their Own Eyes.


4) Christians, like every other belief structure in the world, has adherents who have not thought about the implications of their beliefs, and people who have. Do not assume that Christians are all unthinking, because you only talk to the former. Similarly, some Christians are not very rational in their thinking, but some are.

The problem is, regardless of how well they think anything through, the thought process has little (or nothing) to do with Faith, and he knows it.  It has everything to do with being Subjected, often against our will.  That is why you-all MUST use a Bible to keep things clear, 'cuz the old Bean (in fact - the Whole Human Being) is ultimately more creative and useful than the Bible - not the other way round.


5) There are bad Christians. This is not an amazing revelation that upsets my entire faith structure, nor should it. The actions of people are actually independant of the belief structure and are relevant insofar as the specific actions you find abhorrent fit the belief structure.

Maybe it should bother him a little more!!  Haven't he ever thought about what it Implies, to have a huge, self-identified "Body of Christ" that suffers from a most debilitating form of Multiple Personality Disorder?  That is, why is the so-called Spirit of God so badly divided, when one does a straw poll of self-identified Christians on any given topic?

(The Baptist thinks he has a hidden, secret and personal answer - HE is Elect.  That's why the rest of the self-identified don't count - they're Goats who're going to find out the hard way, and tough titty to them, thinketh he.)


6) Christianity is a big religion. Do not assume that you understand what the specific Christian you are talking to believes. He is a different person from all the other Christians you have met. Indeed, given point 5, despite his claims, he might not actually be a Christian. If you want to know if a Christian believes something, ask him. You can attack a belief that he’s claimed to believe after he’s claimed to believe it, not before.


Here, he tries to get a "moral sanction" for existing at all, by asking us to concede Christianity as important because it "Is a big religion".  It is NOT the biggest, and it is not even Growing that well anymore, for some strange reason... 

:roll-eyes:  How about, don't be an Ass and try to belittle those who fit every scriptural definition of being a Christian, and say that they are not.  They think they are - they are no better than you (by his own point above) - who are YOU to assert that they don't count?


7) No Christian, not even fundamentalist Bible thumpers (save the most extreme groups which most other Christians think are nuts), think that you can understand the Bible’s teaching on ANYTHING by looking at isolated verses. So, God’s teaching on slavery is not completed by looking at Leviticus, the nature of God is not explained by looking at the genocides in Exodus, and our opinion about social concerns is not exhausted by John 3:16. We have to look at the whole of scripture (because scripture interprets scripture). You may think that’s a dodge, but it’s the way we actually roll.

LOL - it's not a Dodge, it's a dumb argument, because taking the Whole Into Account reveals the Whole to be Just As Divided (Conflicted, and Contradictory)  as the Multiple Personality "Body of Christ".  He shows us his underwear (by holding it up for inspection), now that he is stripped naked.


8) Christian beliefs are pretty central to the lives of Christians. It is the way we see the world. To ask us to put aside Jesus for a second is like asking you to put aside your understanding of reality for a second.

One should think that putting aside an imaginary friend would be exceedingly easy, given a little bit of backbone.  I mean to say - it would be harder to ignore him if he were there with you, day to day, in a real and undeniable way.  But as it is - it's possible to go whole weeks and years without ever encountering him in daily life.  I mean to say - One has to choose to Bring Jesus With One, because he Hath No Legs To Stand On For Himself.

Hey - how did his point go from "Christian Belief" to "Jesus", anyway?  Isn't he setting up this argument for one thing, and answering with another that he figures is untouchable?

/me slaps the Imaginary Jesus with an Equally Imaginary Very Large Trout.


9) Christians are not inherently opposed to science. I am not a scientist, so I usually recuse myself from such debates because I’m probably better to be listening at those points. This is not because I think that science is of the devil. The statement “Some anti-science people are Christian” is not a logically equivalent statement to “All Christians are anti-science”.

"All Christians are self-deluded."  How about arguing against that?


10)  Christians (at least of the type that I am) do not believe that forcing you to “become Christian” is even possible, much less permissible. In fact, in my experience the attempt is unbelieving and counter-productive. When I tell you what I believe, it is because a) I think what I believe is true and would benefit you or b) I feel the need to correct your erroneous understanding of what I believe. I would like you to believe, because I would like you to enjoy God as I do, but if you don’t, I can’t force you.

He cannot force - and he cannot persuade, either. :P
jamespfp bald face

Focus: The Parable of the Whispering Believer

I remember learning about a focus in high school geometry classes, particularly in how it applied to the creation of an ellipse.  This is one of Newton's general gifts to humanity, a proper understanding of how to resolve the motions of things geometrical, with a mathematics.  We all benefit from his vision, and we all ride an orbit which describes an ellipse.

And now for something, completely different!

Fucking Hell!!
'Focus on the Family' is exactly what those fuckers named the ministry!!

That's 'the edge of the Wedge' friends!  No different than the battle for Creationism, they translate their punches, moving forward first and drawing back the fist after, for better smacks.  I said in commentary, on the other blog, that bums like Warren and Dobson are 'mental bombers', and I mean it.  Using a Biblical understanding of sexuality is a BAD idea, and this is what it leads to: societies with bad understanding, exerting pressures they ought not to, on the people around them, unreasonably.  Like Nazis, or suicide bombers.

This is just the TIP of the fucking iceberg, pardonnez-moi.

--
I
--

A few months back, I kept a coffee 'date' (for lack of better terminology?  or pure badness?  Surely, the second...) with a male friend of mine:  in a nutshell, a fairly strict biblical literalist, a Bleating Baptist, but one who found it necessary to whisper certain words, when certain topics were breached, in public.  Why, I asked myself after, does this man whisper?  Because he was in public?  Or, by keeping what he had to say strictly between the two of us, was he exercising a kind of mercy?

Long and hard I pondered it, and now I can only suppose that he was merely concerned about what the many other people in the coffee shop would think of him, if he were to speak out openly and proudly on these secret things he instead chooses to whisper.  I can choose to call this discretion.

The hard question is, why had his blessed assurance, his Cosmic Surety given by biblical authority alone, lose its force against what mere humans around him are thinking?  For that matter - why does the dusty, dry and altogether questionable Bible continue to hold more weight than the revealed and living wisdom which emerges from the mouths of the faithful?  Isn't the supposed 'Spirit of God' revealing things to the living members of the Body?  Why is it that, in order to ask this very question, one must assume a bunch of imprecise metaphors for non-existent things ... like 'Body of Christ'?  There is no Body... wasn't that the point, and the consensus since 36 AD?

Times are getting tougher for the Whispering Believers - they move away rather than stay in places likely to become more cosmopolitan; and then again, in the Anderson Cooper video, Dobson announced the battle lost, for the Faithful!; elsewhere the times are getting easier, like in third world countries.  Sometimes, enough of them get together and then, they will yell and shout, sure that the 'Spirit' that failed them (and that they've since felt a degree of shame at having failed to fully defend) is once again theirs for the blessing.  They never ever think that the thing that silenced them - at least, to a vitriolic Whisper - is the thing they again feel at the rally.  But it is easy enough for this pseudo-relativist to see.

To a true bible-banging believer, the Bible is a Magical Object, and in a classical world, to boot; it is neither 'literal truth' nor 'metaphorical lesson' but instead, always both at once.  This is what irritates those of us in the real world, who are only too willing to engage critical faculties towards an Either/Or, and leave it at that.  When we are talking classically, that would make the most common sense.  But the believers refuse to have their favorite miraculous bone taken from them: it must transcend all other literature; it must be treated with additional respect; it must be treated as if God actually wrote the thing, even though we know the 'literal truth' of the matter is that thousands of human hands (and countless Heads) have had a Hand in helping the Almighty along with the grunt work.

If God is not dead, needing all this grunt work... wouldn't he be a Blind Idiot God?  Yes, I suppose he would be.  And his followers will be made into his image, like it or not.  Most of them happily admit to liking it.

Lovecraft's a spooky mo-fo, ain't he?

Deep Dark Fears can be outed by asking questions like this:
"I see now why; the How matters to you. How does this offend your sensibility? How are [HUMAN RIGHTS] to be enforced? By men with guns? Death penalties? Stoning? By secret courts with no press? By private counsels and perfect (or otherwise) revelations?"

'Cuz that's how a religion would enforce it!  By Inquisition.  That's what the Whispering Believer is afraid of... what he's to do unto others, if His God Told Him To, and his God does tell him to do things like that, in spots.  He thinks he's 'right' to fear likewise retribution, and at the very least, Lies and No Mercy at the hands of two Human Rights Investigators.

==
 II
==

Ha!  'Sudo'-Relativism, a Zenarchist's distinctive kind of martial art.  Damn, but I'm on a roll lately... and I guess I have a School to attend; or, is it a schooling to attend to?  My grammar teacher is rolling over in her grave with that last one.

Here follows the parable, "Of the Whispering Believer"

Time was, there were three male friends who came to meet one Thursday night following supper; one of them grew up in a broken family with a hard, abusive man for a father, the other two were brothers who lived in the house across the street from him.  Peter, the elder brother, and Michael, the man who'd grown up with the hard father, were stead-fast companions during their youth, being of the same age.  In fact, both had cemented their relationship while attended the same Church youth group together, a group that had been instructed by Michael's father.  Strangely, leading the Church youth group had not saved his marriage; his wife had left him after he beat her once too often, for answering him back, contrary to the teachings of Scripture.  

And the younger brother, Zachary, had mostly kept quiet and to himself.

Well, time came and went, and the boys grew up to men, leaving for college, and the wars, and to see the big city, respectively; and after some time, they all returned home to the town they'd grown up in for a Come Home Year, having settled down to respectable jobs and mortgage payments.  They met at Zach's house, because he had the nicest shed, and they could see everyone who passed by on the road from it, and because he was the only one who'd opted to return to the home community, for life.

Peter walked into the shed first, with two cases of beer, and promptly began to drink.  Michael arrived five minutes later carrying a guitar and a bottle of wine.  And Zach showed up at his own shed, last, twenty  minutes after that.

When he gets there, he finds Peter well on the way to drunk, and already speaking loudly.  "What I don't understand," says Peter, "Is why we keep letting the bastards into this country at all.  Why should some fucking immigrant be allowed to draw benefits off our backs!"

Michael is seated, drinking wine from the bottle in long intervals and playing the guitar.  He replies, "But Peter! They come from countries where they are tyrannized, and they choose this Country for freedom and safety.  They believe in the same Code as you did in the Army!  In fact - I don't remember being taught about that Code at all in School, only what my Father taught us in youth group.  Those immigrants understand this Country better than I do!"

Peter nods.  "Yup.  Kill 'em all in situ, I say," he says. "Like your Da' used to say, Let Him sort it out."

Michael looks up, sees Zachary, and blushes.  "Peter," he says, "I have something to tell you."

"What's that?" asks Peter, reaching for the other case.

"Well - I'm not a Christian any more," says Michael, plucking the guitar.

"Whattaya mean, not a Christian?  But your Da'..."

"Never mind my Da'.  He was a twisted, sick old man who drove everything he ever claimed to love away from him with his hatred that he called love.  You do him a favor he doesn't need by remembering him, at all," says Michael.

"Fucking atheist.  You'll whistle another tune when Hell's hot on your heels," says Peter.  "Hey! Look! It's short, quiet and mopey.  Decided to shit with the big Dogs, huh?"

Zachary keeps quiet, and to himself.

"Well, well... so out with it, Michael.  Tell me what this is REALLY about," says Peter, leaving his brother alone for a blessed minute and leaning towards Michael, with a cold, appraising eye that is entirely unlovable.  "I know your kind.  You bastards only bother to come out of the foxhole when you're done bumming around with one another.  Got yourself a little bravery, now that your Dad is dead?  Your finally going to admit to me, you're gay, aren't you!  You god-damned homo, I should have fucking known it.  Are you HOT for me, you sicko?"

Michael blushes again, but not from shame, nor from any sort of exposure - but from a little too much of his own wine, and his own rising angers.  Zachary says nothing.

"No, I'm not gay," says Michael, patient at last, controlled.  "And I'm not hot for you in the way you think I am.   Pete, tell me what happened to your mom and dad."

"What's to fucking tell.  Ask Zach, he's the expert."

And Zachary tells Michael about his parents; after thirty years of marriage, they had divorced on decent terms, because his own father was a homosexual.

"Fucking queer," adds Peter. "I haven't seen him since he did his Fairy Outing.  I didn't go either, I had manuevers at the O' Club that night."

And Zachary is once again silenced.

"Peter," says Michael, cool and slow, "Have you ever, just once in your life, thought perhaps God wanted your family to be whole?  That maybe He doesn't care about your Dad being gay, or straight?  Don't you see how the things my Dad used to tell us - the same things your parents heard in the Church when they went! - made things worse for your Mom and Dad?"

"WORSE," bellows Peter, "WORSE?!?!?  That god-damned fruitcake would have done us all a favor by swallowing a gun when he finally decided for himself.  I'd give him mine, if he had the guts to use it.  Suicide can't be a worse fate than what's coming to him for sodomy.   I hope he dies alone and bothered by every sexually transmitted disease he never dreamt of, and cancer besides."

Zachary's eyes are bright, and shining.  Michael sees them clearly when Zach turns to the door of the shed, the light from the sunset  cascading inside and around him.  He talks louder than he ever has.

"Peter, you bastard," he begins, "You're the most hateful person I've ever known.  You poison everything you touch with things you spit, thinking them funny and just, and righteous, and strong.  But you're the one who's left behind, not Raptured.  Get out."

"WHAT," says Peter, standing quick and unsteady. "What did you say," he sputters, then whispers in a hissing tone, "You Little Queer?"

Michael stands up as well, alongside Zachary.  "You're leaving," he tells Peter.

Peter is stunned.  He kicks the chair, throws bottles empty and full in all mad directions, and curses his way out of the shed and out of their lives.  Michael is left with Zachary.  He puts an arm around his shoulder, feels the rumbling shakes of heartbreak, and kisses his friend on the cheek, to let him know he is not alone.

"What kept you," Michael asks.

"That was Mom on the phone.  My Dad died an hour ago," he says, sobbing.  "He was asking for us."

--
LIttle Bit At The Bottom
--


Wisdom from Ho Chi Zen
Words of a Zen Anarchist Poet
Says Gary Snyder, "Three-fourths of philosophy and literature is the talk of people trying to convince themselves that they really like the cage they were tricked into entering."

jamespfp bald face

NL-First Is A Wonderful Slogan For Trench Warfare

Weeks ago, I received a notice in my favorite Inbox, informing me that I'd be invited to join the NL-First Group on Yahoo.  This didn't come as a shock to me; in fact, I took it that something might actually be going right, since I'd made contact with various and sundry members of this 'illustrious Party' (and I use both terms loosely) in the past, and would even count some of them among my friends.  But I fear my tone is getting ahead of the story...

Flash-cut forward to Sunday, November 30th; I receive the following email:
-
  'Jim
  Stop whining like a spoiled child.  NL First IS a political Party.  We are a    FEDERAL POLITICAL PARTY.  If you wish to start some ad hoc lobby group with no political affiliations them go ahead and start one.
   This Party will take the responsibility of its policies and directions very seriously and do everything we can for the betterment of the Province and its People through the Political Arena.  If you would like to coem on board andhelp us with the uphill battle we could sure use someone with our shared convictions, if however, you are just wanting to do something in some ad hoc way, then you are of no use to us and I wish you well on your future endeavours down that garden path.
    Might I enquire if you are indeed a member of this party ?  And if not how you came about to know of the group and access it??
    Thanks
    Darryl Harding.'
-

Where does one begin, he asks with a smile?

NL-First is, indeed, a Federal Political Party, but it's a Federal Political Party with a difference:  this particular Federal Party doesn't care to seek election in all the Federal ridings of Canada, but instead lays claim to only seven of the Federal seats.  In fact - not having any members elected to the House of Parliament, I seem to remember that the rules of the road state that this makes them 'only just' a Party, pretty much in their own minds... no 'Official Party Status', no perks to speak of.  They are, for all their intentions and purposes, EXACTLY as capable of 'doing anything' as a plain old vanilla Lobby, but without the brazeness to do so openly, it seems.  If there's a character trait I consider necessary to the Newfoundland Spirit, it's Brazeness.

When it comes down to it, even an ad-hoc citizens action group with 'direct action' on their minds could accomplish more, in shorter periods of time, one item at a time as need be - but again I'm getting ahead of myself, and sounding like a garden variety socialist.

So!  After I joined the Yahoo Group, which is to say, after agreeing to join having been invited, one day I received the following statement of purpose via the mailing-list:
--
  'Are we liberal? are we conservative? are we NDP? No! We are NL-FIRST we are  non partisan we will support or reject any and or all policies that either benefit and or hinder NL-First.

  We are your NDP .
  we are your Liberal.
  we are your Conservative.

  Federally.

  We won't engage in partisan politics of questioning PM's on their hair styles while issues and concerns affecting NL go unaddressed.

  We can never be the governing party but unlike any national party MP we can speak out on issues affecting NL that aren't in the best interest of the majority of canadians IE, Seal hunt, Border between Qu and NL, tragedy of the commons with reference to our contiental shelf and history in the fishing. and on and on.

  Regards
  G.B.'
  November 10/2008
--

And there you have it all, out in the open and dirtier than a mechanic's fingernails.  This 'Party' is actively planning to spend the next several years lobbying for position by 'supporting or rejecting all policies that either benefit or hinder NL-First' - **koff koff** - and they don't even have the guile to say that they're doing it for the benefit of their constituents (since, really, they don't have any yet - they've been counted once and found wanting) but rather, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THEIR PARTY.  I invite you to bear that last one in mind as this goes on.

Stating intentions is all well and good - but I seriously doubt that NL-First will ever be able to accomplish what they claimed they would do in this little piece of propag... policy statement.  Well, with one exception: "We won't engage in [partisan politics over PM hairstyles] while issues and concerns affecting NL go unaddressed" sounds eerily like spin on what is going to happen, since there's no NL-First members sitting in Parliament to hold the real members accountable anyhow; Spin, because it states the blatant and terrible obvious like it's a good thing.  My opinion on the matter has changed, I have to admit:  I'm glad they're not MPs, as well.  I voted for another Party, this time.  Mine won. 

NL-First is only as effective as the number of letters that they can write to their respective MPs, you see, making them a Lobby in action while 'concerned citizens' in Propa-reality.  To make the longer story short, I engaged in a spirited debate of the noted policy, with the fullest intention of refining what was clearly a poorly worded document at best, and a completely muddled Party at worst.  I mean - I could let these people bully me into believing that I don't have a voice, even that my point of view isn't valid; I could even be swayed into accepting their Party Line, to be towed, or toed - which, if you think about it, has tended to be the whole point of forming a Party, to get a bunch of votes from Toadies, who nod and smile, and donate freely, and don't care if things go on behind closed doors.  This is not to say that there will never be a Better Party, that can Better Accomplish Things by allowing all of the Provinces to have active responsibility for the management of resources, and only doing certain things Federally, like National Defense - but that's not what I hear the NL-First Yahoo group hollering.



--
Over the Top
--

Part-way through the discussion that was spawned on November the 10th, I asked myself: if there was an election called tomorrow, would you vote for the NL-First Yahoos?  And the answer was, No.  I could not, in good conscious, vote for them, the reason being that I seriously doubted that they were Organized like a Federal Party should be, in my estimation.  And I can't really say that it is anything they can fix, either, because they just don't have the grass-roots support (or support structure) to ever get them anywhere, in the beginning.

But don't let my bold, bald-faced assertions inform you without so much as a reference:  a quick check of the results from Election 2008 can easily give us an accurate reading of NL-First's efforts to date, on the best kind of litmus paper there is, the ballot.  I wrangled up my figures from the easily-Googled Elections Canada site and here's what my afternoon's worth of numerical analysis revealed, while I took my repast at a local pub.

Care to check my workings?

The total number of votes cast in the seven Federal Ridings of the Province was 195,669 - including a number of rejected or spoiled ballots, which for the purposes of our discussion can be included for research into significant plus and minus errors.  The Rejected variety totalled 974.  Across the province, candidates advanced by the NL-First Party represent a total of 1,713 of the accepted votes.  This, according to government statistics (and verified by yours truly) represents about 1% of the Province who took the trouble to vote.  And those math programs are sure generous when you round to 2 decimal places.

And a word, right here, about that:  for a Province of about 510,000 people, I'd think about 410,000 would be of the age to vote.  This would mean about 48% of the population voted.

I am, of course, one of them, although I have shirked in even this most basic of duties in the past.  In the meantime, I was actively advising people to think about who they'd be voting for, and telling them not to buy that bunk about not being able to bitch about it, if they didn't.  I happen to believe that even the silent majority who suffer the existence of the louder dogs among us have a right to be represented; and often-times I even dare to wonder if the silent majority is, in fact, a Great Disenfranchised who've been looking for something a little different, just like I am.  I knew full-well before I voted who was going to win in my riding, and I bet a generous fraction of the 52% who didn't vote knew as I did.

NL-First's numbers are easy to work with, which is a serendipitous shame really, since they only put a candidate into three of the seven ridings.  In order to be generous, I'm willing to count the Rejected ballots in the other four ridings as potential voters for NL-First, who had no other option but to spoil their ballot by writing in NL-FIRST as an act of defiance.  This actually changes the numbers very little - it increases the rounded-up percentage of the popular vote to 1.5%.  And so, from this quick and dirty analysis, and a couple of data points:

(1) NL-First may have leveraged about 1.5% of the population *on the strength of it's platform*.

(2) I predict that NL-First currently has about half that strength Province-wide; that is, of the 410,000 people who could vote (and, for kicks, organize I guess) less than 1% of them favor your Party, *based on it's platform alone*.

(3) I also predict that your card-carrying numbers are significantly lower than 4,100 souls, but even if you had two million signed up as card-carrying, it wouldn't matter a lick of salt to an election if they could never vote for a candidate; because

(4) There MUST be more expatriates than residents out there, who would like to be able to be involved in some manner, but because of their situation, would never be able to vote for a candidate in a NL riding.

Question arising:  Why isn't there another truly national party with a platform similar to NL-First, but which has been applied to all the provinces?  Oh right... that's the Big Question that they left for us, those 20th Century Bleeders.  Perish the thought it ever take a group of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to help work it out without so much as a Federal Grant. 

Do you know, it was Hitler who helped advise the conquering of the German Legislature from within, using their own federal structure to fund the successful Party Apparatus.  It has been done 'honestly' before.

A platform like 'Self-sufficiency' or 'self-regulation' could well be promoted by a national Society, while fostering Provincial Parties for real grass-roots growth.  Most disturbing to me, you see, is that NL-First seems to be throwing their proverbial Provincial Baby out with the bathwater, by pushing to be a National Party with a Yahoo group to prove it, instead of building up an 'actual Party' with chapters and members, or any kind of 'silly nonsense' like a national organization.  Heck - I hadn't thought to ask if any of them had ever been in the Scouts, let alone a union. :rolleyes:

Well, it's no real shock to me anyhow - if they really believed in their platform, I think they'd be trying to take down the Provincial Conservatives instead of wussing out for 7 Federal Seats we all know don't count for much.  No helping it I guess.  Enough stalling: there's the whistle - Jimmy, grab the gun.


--
The Garden Path of the Unknown Soldier
--

I don't receive emails like Darryl's that often, so I'd like to pick on one part, twice.
-
  This Party will take the responsibility of its policies and directions very seriously and do everything we can for the betterment of the Province and its People through the Political Arena.  If you would like to coem on board andhelp us with the uphill battle we could sure use someone with our shared convictions, if however, you are just wanting to do something in some ad hoc way, then you are of no use to us and I wish you well on your future endeavours down that garden path.
-
Here's a man, I think, who's never read 'Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom', if that even matters, and I'm not really saying that it does, just pushing it because it's free and speaks well to the thing he seems to be slandering.  It also covers dealing with technologically superior beings, who carry wetware upgrades in the strangest of places.  Best get the tin foil out, Darryl.

I suppose I feel outed by him; I have been, in the past, an ungrateful wretch - but never in my dealings with him or his Party, precisely because they all seem content to Sit Around and Poombah - S.A.P., Standard Autocratic Procedure.  The people around him, who have perhaps considered what it is to let go of their Ego once in a while, do not find it that amazing to consider more practical solutions.  I think it's most striking that NL-First's greatest 'win' was in a rural federal riding, and entirely keeps with my sense of how it would be around the Bay, where hardy and prosperous people Organize by nature. 

It's them I think about - especially when the times get the hardest for Someone Else.  Then, it's sort of a matter of generous hospitality, and never an 'Us First'!  Everyone equally, regardless.  That sounds just about right as a starting place, to me.

The NL-First Assumption is lacking in the most terrible department of all - it doesn't sound like anything that a Newfoundlander or Labradorian would say.  To begin to believe in this kind of selfishness - there's no other word for it! - would require that you begin to manipulate and twist the very fabric of the society you sought to protect.  Propaganda is a terrible yet fun thing to encounter - but then again, if there's anything constructive I could imagine for this whole sorry article, it would be to twist the nose of the closest 'imagined adversary'.  There is nothing inherently wrong about being a lobby, anyway.  It might be a good route forward, to form a Society first, and start at home.  Maybe the Slogan should have been the Target Market, located Down the Garden Path and to the Right or Left on the Map.

Being mad about not being self-responsible is entirely understandable to me; I don't understand why 'Us' needs to end at Newfoundland and Labrador's borders, why it needs to be ignorant, when the basic argument of Province's Rights seems to be sound.  This is a dangerous kind of new revelation, the one that dawns on principled young people of the 21st Century, who have been well-educated in the ways of the world.

And see here!  What an amazing thing this Eye of mine can see, with this revelation:  the Party doesn't really believe in the soundness of their own argument, let alone the investment, or else they'd see it could be universally applied.  The joy of the whole darn thing would have to be in the doing.  But they only want to have seven Federal Seats.  How ambitious are they, at all?   Yes; I can imagine a Party that is truly National, fields candidates in every riding and still manages to prevent the 'terrible tyranny of the majority' in Ontario or Quebec when elected.   Why can't you?


--
"Stop Whining, Jim"
--
There is a subtle but essential difference between a 'whine' and a genuine 'gripe', and it's very easy to hear it when you've got a critical ear.  Since I've made quite a career at awarding 'FAIL's to myself, perhaps it was indeed time for me to start passing them out whenever I found them.  How can one tell the difference between 'whining' and 'a zero-tolerance policy for bullshit'?  That's a tough question for sure, but it's not rhetorical - I want you to think about that one, long and hard if necessary, and if you have an answer for me, by all means tell me about it.  The best I can offer you in return, other than that, is a terrible impression of Napolean Dynamite saying, 'Idiot!'.

It seems to me that the way NL-First intends to behave is like a Lobby; or a very badly kept Party, I grant you, without even a modicum of organization as evidenced by any other 'Federal Political Party' with provincial axes to grind.  They do not represent me, or mine, and I think I made that clear on my own behalf when I removed myself from the NL-First Yahoo group and mailing list.  That should mean that they cannot even sneakily count me as one of their own, when next they're asked to estimate the amount of support they get from the province, by asking their Yahoo Group moderator to count the number of people registered for their group as if it were constituents.

In fact, the moment I knew I wasn't whining was when the aforementioned moderators of the Yahoo group set up a poll asking, 'Should only card-carrying NL-First Party Members be allowed to comment on the forums?'  I voted no, and then I left - but not before I sent out an email (November 14) to Myles Higgins, one of the Members of the Party:
 
"...It also begs the question - how DID I get on there in the first place?
I got a story of my own from this, it seems...
Thanks!
J."
 
To Darryl, and to the world:  I got to know the NL-First Yahoo group because I am also one of your own - in some cosmic sense, if you like.  I also told Myles I was willing to move myself out of your little club, not being 'card carrying', but I'm damned if you had to bump me out like that.  How you choose to engage with me counts more to me (and maybe, to my generation) than your best intentions ever will.  Your best intentions - and those of your generation - have also been counted, and found wanting. 

How very politic of you, to begin to re-engage me as if you were my parent!  Shame on you... I fear you have a tickling sensation in your belly, when you come to me bluffing like that, and asking a question I've already asked someone else - and perhaps answered for my own self!

One person on the group - I'll save him the shame of being named - said I was a defeatist... but I am not the defeatist, at all: I'm really very glad you guys bumped me out!!  Some people don't even know when they're being helped.  It's not like you've got any time on your hands to correct the problems you seem to have, when it comes to getting across to the voting public.  It's not even like now would be a good time for it, right?

And - methinks Darryl did protest too much, anyhow, calling me 'spoiled'.  They are, after all, NL-First: nothing says 'questionable altruistic credentials' like "Me first!", but I bet you like hearing it when you can sell a bingo ticket.

jamespfp bald face

Fries, Dressing, and Gravity.

Redargution is a word best served cold.  On first glance, it makes me feel about the way it was, the first time I ever went to one of the 'best takeouts' at which I've had the pleasure of dining.  The companions who'd dragged me along for the ride - nameless, but plentiful, strong Conception Bay stock and hearty - had given me a briefing on the names and places in the vicinity.  Brigus stretched along to the north, as we scooted along the road to the Takeout.  The food, when presented, game straight from a deep fryer, and required a minimum of fuss when you devoured it.  If it lost more than a few degrees of heat, and got cold - it would be like iron.  Getting that out must mean a lot of redargution, in the future.

Redargution is Confutation - and leads to Confusion.

I didn't write this - but I'm suuure glad these guys did.


"The French name for the island is Terre Neuve, while the name "Newfoundland"' is one of the oldest European place names in Canada in continuous geographical and cartographical use, dating from a 1502 letter, and clearly stated in the following poem."
Qvod Poster
    Although in cloaths, company, buildings faire
    With England, New-found-land cannot compare:
    Did some know what contentment I found there,
    Alwayes enough, most times somewhat to spare,
    With little paines, lesse toyle, and lesser care,
    Exempt from taxings, ill newes, Lawing, feare,
    If cleane, and warme, no matter what you weare,
    Healthy, and wealthy, if men carefull are,
    With much-much more, then I will now declare,
    (I say) if some wise men knew what this were
    (I doe beleeue) they'd live no other where.

        From 'The First Booke of Qvodlibets'
        Composed and done at Harbor-Grace in
        Britaniola, anciently called Newfound-Land
        by Governor Robert Hayman - 1628.


 MUCH more on the "Qvodlibets".   The Author.  Qvodlibets ("What you will") was the first book of English poetry written in what would become Canada.

Note please, the Exempt list, front and center.  This belongs on a ... poster. 


From later in the article:

"Elliot Leyton, a famous sociologist who specializes in the study of human aggression, notes that Newfoundland enjoys one of the lowest homicide rates in the western world. According to Leyton, the rate is approximately 1/100,000. This is the same rate as modern England and half that of the Canadian average of roughly 2/100,000. Leyton suggests the lower rate is rooted in the social and cultural characteristics of the island, primarily the historical need to resolve conflict without recourse to centralized formal social control mechanisms."

That's in Leyton's book w/ research partners on the "Rising crime rates" of the 80s... check Leyton's bio for the book - ah yes, (with William O'Grady and James Overton) "Violence and Public Anxiety: A Canadian Case. St John's, Nfld.: Institute of Social and Economic Research Press, 1992."  i.e. "Study in Rising Crime Rates Reveal That Media Attention is Increasing the Perception of Heightened Risk of Exposure, To Crime."  The Study itself was funded by the Government and received Media exposure, adding to the confusion.  You can't make an omelette without ... throwing on the Eggs.  This data needs to be re-studied! I could DIG that, and how.

This tells me two things:  that the +/- significant errors that get tacked onto scientific studies Mean Something, and!  It's a way for scientists, in the past, to send forward information, to the future - like, this needs to be re-studied, Marty. ;)

So I did my grave digging - and here's one more little bit of wisdom to impart to friends and family:

From the Fourth Book of Qvods -

        3. Redargution or payd with his owne money.

              When Pontius call'd his neighbour, Cuckold Asse,
              Being mad to see him blinded, as he was,
              His Wife him standing by, repli'd anon:
              Fie, Husband, fie, y'are such another man.
              Nay, I doe know (quoth Pontius) that there be
              Nine more in Towne, in as bad case as he.
              Then you know ten, if you (quoth she) say true.
              Fye, Husband, fie, what an odde man are you?
     
Mirth!  Laughter!  Does anything really change, or do we stay the same?  Tautology - that's why it's funny.  No matter what you do, the answer is "Fie!" ... the perfect machine for 'scientific verification'.  So long as the system can give you a "Fie!" response, you can always test a theory against it, to see if it IS the case, or NOT (Default).  The reality is, there are some machines that ONLY give Fie responses.  Why do they... lie...  What's going on here?

IT's happened to me... :blinking cursor:

I also must add - one thing that I attribute to Newfoundlanders above any and all other socio-cultural groups that I've thus encountered - it's the determination to say "What?" at the end of an exchange, as if he/she doesn't believe his/her eyes when he sees you responding to something he/she just said, or something you've said to either of the two.  He's thinking this over, he's wondering - hang on a second.  We've got it pretty good here - why are we gonna go traipsing out the door without so much as a clue, to actually do something about the situation we find ourself in?  Thus the whole 'wax-rhapsodic' pace of the top Verse.

Curiouser - and I'm prepared.  That's the name of my game, the rest is gravity - but no, I'm not gay.  At the moment.  How about that!