Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Great News for Electric Car Aficionados

So, a kind of battery is being developed called the nanowire lithium battery.  I’m not much on electrochemistry, so I can’t tell you why having more lithium in the right place makes it work better, but I can tell you how.  The chemical relationship of silicone to lithium is such that a little bit of silicone chemically holds onto a lot of lithium.  They tried making silicone wires, but they cracked when electricity was passed through them, no small problem for a rechargeable battery.  Dr. Cui made nanowires of silicone bonded to stainless steel wire.  This gets around the cracking problem and allows 10 times more power density than is currently available from lithium-ion (li-on) cells.

He hopes it will be mass market ready by around 2013.  One likely application is electric vehicles.  I’m excited about it.  Electric cars have enourmous benefits compared to normal cars running normal engines.  Namely, mechanical simplicity.  A battery electric vehicle needs a motor, a battery pack, and a controller.  The controller is complicated at a microlevel, as it’s a large quantity of integrated circuits, but to the auto manufacturer or mechanic, it’s a just a brick.  Moving electrons beat precision moving parts every time.   Also, electric vehicles take the emissions problem from 100,000 engines built to wear out in 5 years dumping into 100,000 tail pipes and put it all into one power plant with every part designed to give the best performance dumping into one easy-to-monitor smoke stack.  

The problem with electric cars is one of energy storage.  The lithium ion nanowire battery (hereby called the Lionwire) has an energy density of 2.6 MJ per kilogram.  (Don’t know what a MJ is?  Megajoule, or 1 million joules.  Joules are a universal measure of energy that can be used to measure, heat, electricity, etc.  Handy thing to compare different energy densities because it’s universal between all types of energy.  A joule is very small, so MJ are the most convenient here.)  Anyway, the lionwire battery has 2.6 MJ/KG.  Gasoline has 46.4 MJ/KG.  

That’s not quite as bad as it looks.  A good electric car will be able to get 80% of the power that goes in down to the road.  A good gasoline engined car, 17%.  80% of 2.6 is 2.24.  17% of 46.4 is 7.89.  So, gasoline still holds 350% more energy per pound than the lionwire cell.

Well, with all the support systems for the gasoline engine out, don’t we get some extra weight allowance?  Yes.  The engine and transmission are gone, replaced by a advanced AC or DC motor.  No cooling system is needed, and no fuel system.  To actaully run this, we will need some real numbers. 

Using the example of a Ford Focus, we can remove the engine (400 lbs with alternator and oil) the transmission (135 lbs with fluid) the radiator and coolant (15 lbs) and fuel system (100 lbs)  We took 650lbs out.  We do need to put in a motor and controller.  I’ll use the Advanced DC FB1-4001A with a Curtis 1231C-8601, which has a 100HP peak rating same as the Focus OEM engine.  Unlike the OEM part, however, it weighs just 200 lbs including the electronic controller.  So we have 450lbs left over, or 204 kilograms.

The Focus has a 13.2 gallon tank, thats right around 80 lbs of gas, or 36 kg.  36kg times the post powertrain energy density of 7.89 is 284 MJ. The original energy storage of the car is 284MJ.   However, 204 kg surplus gained by removing the engine and its support systems times 2.24 is 457 MJ.  That’s gain of 160%!

That’s right, ladies and gentleman.  We finally have a battery that will yield equal or greater systemwide power densities than gas!!!  It’s not perfect, recharging still much slower than filling a tank of gas, and they will probably cost much more for awhile, but the days of the internal combustion engine car are numbered!  


November 14, 2008 Posted by | Ecology, Engines, Microcar, Small Car, Transportation, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The 4th Amendment VS. National Healthcare

Working nights is always odd for the personal biosystem.  I woke up at 2330 this evening, refreshed and ready to begin my day. Which of course, is my neighbors’ night, and being that I have many friends and family back at GMT -3 and GMT -5 and at least one in GMT 10, its sometime somewhere I guess.  

As I was laying in bed, staring at my pillow, I had a sudden realization of a situation analogous to nationalized healthcare.  

The Fourth Ammendment of the US Constitution reads as follows:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Basically, this means that the clothes you are wearing, your body fluids, your bag, purse or briefcase, your hardcopy and digital files, etc, are free from physical inspection or electronic inspection (bugs etc.) unless the lawful group investigating you has a warrant.

Most people however, are blissfully unaware that the the Constitution does not guarantee their rights.  It enumerates them.  Only hard work guarantees your rights.  The early civil rights movement was based on this.  Blacks insisting they could go to colleges or ride where they wished on busses was an example of working to guarantee rights. Those rights were listed on paper, they were the law of the land, but until blacks demanded the system follow its own rules, the old abuses continued.

Sadly, the Fourth Amendment, “The right of the people…against unreasonable searches…” is completely ignored in regards to certain groups of people.  

The first, and most obvious group is prisoners.  No one is going to raise any objection to a prisoners room being searched without a warrant, and they regularly are.

The next group is children in public schools.  This one is a little odder.  If  child is walking to school a police officer requires a warrant to take his bag away and search it. However, if the officer follows the child into school, he may now search the child’s bag without a warrant. Since the Constitution requires probable cause, this is to say that every child in school is a potential criminal. 

The next group is service members.  That’s right. If you are in the US military you have no fourth amendment rights.  All of your phone calls can be monitored, all your emails monitored, and all your property searched.  This does not refer to when you are one base, but when you are off base, or in your home.  

The next group government workers, who’s offices may be searched at anytime for any reason without warrant.

The final group is people who live in Section 8 housing. The police need only 2 warrants for a Section 8 housing complex to search the entire housing complex. For reasons I will explain in a moment, this one is the most disturbing.

By putting all the cases together, we can establish some trends.  If you live in government housing, be it a prison or a base, you have no 4th Amendment rights.  If you work in, or attend something in (like school) a government building, you have no 4th Amendment rights.  And finally, with Section 8, if you own property in the same building as people who own property but take a check from the government, you have no 4th Amendment rights.

Section 8, aka the projects, are not universally government owned buildings.  Many privately held apartments accept Section 8 payments from some residents.  So, a privately owned building, sub-sectioned and leased by law abiding citizens, my be searched in its entirety because 2 residents take money from the government.   That doesn’t make sense.  Law abiding citizens may have their 4th Amendment rights suspended for living in the same building as accused (not proven) criminals.

In other words, if receive money from the government in any form besides tax rebates and social security, your phone may be bugged at anytime, your house searched at any time, your computer searched at anytime.  

So, I ask you to consider in this pre-existing environment, is the socialization of American health care likely to result in greater freedom of the citizen from unreasonable searches, or greater freedom of the government to search?

This is not to say that socialization of healthcare is per say bad.  It’s just to spot a trend, and suggest where that trend is headed. I further say that absolutely no one will do anything about this.

Any attempt to uphold any rights whatsoever of criminals will be seen as “soft on crime”. Any attempt to uphold the rights of those on Section 8 will be seen as “Pro lazy welfare mom and anti cop, anti American”.   Any attempt to uphold the rights of children would be perhaps the most politically suicidal “Endangered our Children!”.  That leaves US service members and Government employees. City and State governments rarely take on the Federal Government.  There are federal funds that they need too badly to rock the boat over what amounts to employee rights. 

This will get worse, not better.

November 12, 2008 Posted by | Government, Politics, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s red hoard

The following is the ten planks of the communist party as stated in the Communist manifesto:

 

  1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
  7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

 

Ok,  let’s start from the the top.  (1.) “…property in land…”  They want to take away all the land! Actually no. This refers specifically to the form of parasitic land ownership practiced in Europe between about 1600 and 1916.   The modern use of money to make money is in factories, which requires active management.  So, despite a lack of laws abolishing it, it’s extremely rare in developed nations.

“…progressive or graduated income tax…” Got it.

“…abollition of all rights of inheritance tax…” Why abolish it when you can tax it as unearned income, at 60%

“…confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels..”  ie, illegal immigrants.  Glad to see Doctor Dobson and Engles/Marx agree on this.

“…national bank…with exclusive monopoly…” Aw, we can’t do that: not constitutional.  Let’s just make a US Treasury with all the same powers. Got it.

“…centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.”  Like the FCC and the F DOT?

We seem to have only partially dodged (7.) and (8.)

“Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries…”  Like the fact that the single largest receiver of US Dept of Agricultural subsidies is multinational super firm Monsanto?   (Who spent 3.6 million of their 8.5 billion on lobbying, by the way.)

“…Free education for all children in public school…”

So in order for Obama to not be seen as a socialist/communist he would need to (1.) Establish manorial farm management, (2.) Give tax breaks to the rich, (3.) Remove inheritance laws, (4.) Rob and imprison rather than ship out illegals (5.) Eliminate the Federal Treasury (6.) Eliminate the FCC and DOT, (7.)  Destroy the federally funded dams and canals in the Southwest which make agriculture possible there (8.) Refuse to let those on welfare work (9.) Eliminate the Department of Agriculture, and (10.) Make a constitutional amendment forbidding public schools.

So since, all of those programs have bipartisan support, doesn’t that mean the Republican party is also Communist? MY GOD, THE RED HOARDS! 

…Or, maybe, just maybe, we could admit that the US is a socialist democracy which uses a mixed economy which is predominately free market and includes many elements of command economy?

I’m not trying to be mean here, but how stupid are these people?  Yes, Obama is a socialist.  So is McCain.  “But socialist want to rob from the hard working and give to people who didn’t earn it!”  So what exactly did you do to earn the “EARNED INCOME CREDIT”?  The government is paying you to have HAVE PROCREATIVE SEX!  The government takes money from hardworking rich people without kids to pay it to you.   The government is paying for your kids to go to school.  The government is paying for your retirement.  The government is paying your workman’s comp.   The government is paying the interest on your college loans. This is a socialist society.  Freakin’ deal.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Government, Politics, Religion, skepticism, Transportation, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Church Eats Her Young.

Posting poetry pretty much kills activity on my blog.  I just can’t tag the poems well to get them read.  Atheism, religion, faith, skepticism.. these are things which people want to read about.  I generally don’t have the skills to write poetry about things like that, but I am working nights of late.  On my days off, I can’t sleep, and since I have 8 hours to write, I took the time to write a poem about my experiences in the church.

I’m not sure how good of a poet I am, so I’ll spell it out a bit before hand.  I was raised a Christian, from day one.  I prayed the sinners prayer as a 2 year old.  My whole life was struggle. I struggled constantly to be the person I was supposed be, to love Christ as he loved me, and do with my life things that would please him.  This was pure misery, but I kept with it because I loved God and wanted to do Right.  I was searching my whole life for people who had something about that God that they could give me so I could enjoy being who God wanted me to be, instead of working so hard for something that only brought me heartache.   Since God is the giver of good gifts, I knew that my pain must come from my failure to love him and not any fault of his.

I now know that I was so unhappy not because I didn’t trust God, but because I tried so hard to trust him.  Had I committed my life to the the ways of Superman, Marge Simpson, or Paul Bunion (other imaginary people of impeccable morals) I am sure I would have had the exact same experience.  Trusting someone who isn’t there to save you isn’t going to work.

I bought my misery with my faith.

The last few years has seen me become a progressively more liberal Christian, then not a Christian at all, and finally, now an atheist. With each shedding of lies and mistruths, my life became more joyful. My highs got higher, and my lows got higher too.

Right now, I am pretty lousy atheist, not in my belief in the Divine, which I think I can safely reject, but in my bitterness at the church. I’m not bitter at Ford for trying to tell me that my life would be better if I drove one, or bitter at Coors for telling me that if I drank their skunky beer, I would be surrounded by beautiful, half dressed woman.  Those too are lies that large organizations tell people to get them to give away their money.  I should have the maturity to shrug my shoulders at the church, and write of the time I spend there chasing unicorns and dragons as a learning experience.  Someday I will, but as of today, I still have to much of my identity invested in the wasted 25 years of my life.

This poem is an attempt to put some of my impotent rage behind me, that I feel for allowing myself to be treated the way I was.  I also write to accept my part in the spiritual abuse of others. Abuse I approved of by continuing to participate in being abused and allowing others to abuse.

I write as tribute to the following people, broken for, by, and near the Church:

Jason, who never gave up.  Paul and all other Z kids who suffered for no good reason. Kat, who prayed everyday for a conscience. Christopher, who joined a cult.  Mom and Dad, who did their best.  Lydia, who endured more pain than I can ever imagine.  Travis, who will never understand.

Holy and true were we

Heads and hearts bowed low

Broken hearted, on bended knee

Our source to you did go

We were born for You

A generation set apart

Our first breath for You

Always seeking Your Heart

We grew up in Your house

Clothed in Your words

Worldly desires doused

For Your presence we burned

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

First there was our Father

The reigning King of All

Who’s love and wrath ran like water

Beating us, breaking Adam’s fall

To save us from His wrath

He sent His only Son

Bloody death, His ultimate task

Our sins murdered the Holy One.

And to keep us Right

He sent his Holy Spirit

Teaching us Love’s flight

Lest we fear it

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

Last we loved our Divine Mother:

The Church, His Son’s Bride

His Love through Her, our cover

and to one another, our hearts tied.

In each other we saw God

Our love was His reflected

When on each other we trod

The failure ours, God neglected

In Her, His Beloved

We would stay forever curled

Side by side, we Beloved

Loving, apart from the world

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

But the eyes grow old

Though the heart does not

Truth be told

Our brothers and sisters fought

And did everything

Which our Father had banned

Sex and drugs and anything

A devious sinner could plan

The Bride was filthy

Her gown in tatters

Tithes and taxbreaks made wealthy

But bankrupted spiritual matters

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

We could not complain

The Bride was each other

If she was roughly arraigned

We were failing one another

If Father took away

If Spirit did not heal

All was His any way

Everything in the world

The pot dares not whine

To it’s master the Potter

He made and makes things fine

To Him we would totter.

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our live true to Faith

Led by Fools

With used carman smiles

We buried our tools

And deleted our files

Mastered by louts

And ruled by musicians

We hid from our doubts

And murdered statisticians

The facts were Bible

Anything which disagreed

Was prone to be libel

And not guarenteed

Our youth, one dream chased

To live our lives true to Faith

Questions were good

When they lead right directions

Encouraging one to “Should”

And not source inspections

We, the young set apart

With sharpest of minds

with purest of heart

Were told doubt is what one finds

In a heart full of lust.

Such thoughts were not level

“You’re not one of us…

Your of your father, the Devil.”

Our youths they were wasted

Desperate dreams, never tasted

Sweet mother Church,

You call this defection?

You and us these questions hurt!

We need Your affection

She threw a holy fit

and said, “We will be One.”

I watched in amazment

As she ate us, her young

Our youths, they were wasted

Desperate dreams, never tasted

Unity at any cost?

Dissent must be crushed

We were damned, lost

Under the rug, our questions were brushed.

On the outside

Afraid and alone

Learning she lied

My reason was honed

Free at last

Her “teachings” but splatters

Faithless, with happiness

I know now what matters

Our past, it was wasted

But I sip the Real, a wine rarely tasted

November 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reflections from the nightshift

When I met you

Then I knew you

Then I loved you

The more I loved you

The more it hurt

Then you were gone

The missing you hurt

With the missing hurting

Just like the loving.

I fell in love with the missing

Then you were gone so long

I didn’t know

If I loved you or

Loved the missing

Now, I wonder about you

But you been gone so long

I don’t know.

I can’t miss you

Because I don’t know you

I’m not the me

You aren’t the you

That we were then.

But I still hope

Everything is OK

For whoever you are.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Self discovery, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Proposition 8

So I have some liberal friends and some conservative friends. Both seem to be a bit confused about people and gay sex..

The conservative “pop thought” goes something like this:

If we allow homosexuals to have get married, we are allowing them and society to believe that they are normal healthy people, but they’re not. There are 2 dangerous things about homosexuals (1.) They are all pedophiles. (2.) They have secret homo-ninja powers. They will use these homo-ninja powers to take over the world a form a gay dictatorship, headquartered in San Fransisco. Once in control of the world, they will make straightness illegal and force everyone to be gay, causing massive depopulation and the eventual downfall of human civilization. Global-Dictator-for-life Bruce Johnson will wear spiked leather bondage gear as his official raiment, and sit on a throne of hot pink ass-plugs and child’s skulls.

The liberal pop though goes something like this:

Gays are wonderful, sensitive, caring people, who just happen to love people of the same sex. They are unusually cool, snappy dressers. All gays are well read, well adjusted, mature people. They are born leaders. They don’t pick their noses when they are alone in the car. They like only the best certified organic coffee. If gays are given the right to get married, adoption agencies will be emptied out as these, kind, loving people take all the unwanted children in the world. When gays are allowed in the military, all wars will be just, and peace will fall from the heavens.

Obviously, I am taking this a bit over the top, but not much. The top one actually squares up pretty nicely with the Dobsonite paper I put up a few days ago. The bottom squares up pretty well with a paper I had to read in a college lit class about how gays invented camp, thus sophistication in general. Camp is banality, artifice, mediocrity, or ostentation so extreme as to have perversely sophisticated appeal. (Stolen from Wikipeida) It claimed because gay’s invented camp, only they truly understood the culture that they were mocking. Thus, acceptance of gays was acceptance of all things sophisticated and would cause a Golden Age of western democracy. (No, I’m not kidding. That really was the thesis of a article we had to critique and by critique I mean describe its greatness.)

The truth is a bit less incredible. I know this is really hard for hardcore conservatives, so I will say it really slow…

Gays… are… people.

And this one is going to be really tough for some liberals

Gays… are… just people.

There are kind, loving, and monogamous gay people. There are also extremely slutty gay people. Their are liberal gay people and conservative gay people. There are gays that would make great parents. There are gays that should not be near children. They’re just people. Not demons, not angels.

That being the case, I think it bears some consideration of how, when the fact that gays are just people is pretty obvious, such a an incredible mythos has evolved. I think straight people started it.

Something that is really hard to accept, yet impossible to not agree with, is that morals are cultural, not absolute. The basic rule of morality:

Dislike = immoral

A lot of us would be comforted by the idea that morals spring forth from some place independent of tangible reality, but there is just no evidence. Being raised a Christian, I’ll use the Bible as my example.

The Old Testament says positive things about slavery. The New Testament says nothing negative about it. To them slavery was moral. Paul even commands slaves to obey their masters. 2000 years later, we dislike slavery and it becomes immoral, despite no judgement against it in the Holy book that most Americans claim to follow. Same for selling your kids, or stoning adulterers. We dislike them so they are immoral.

But evangelicals like the parts of about wives obeying husbands. So that’s moral. Spanking is liked and therefor moral. 100 years ago women voting was disliked, and thus immoral. Now it’s liked, and preventing it would be immoral.

Soooooo, gay sex is nasty. I’m sure it’s not if your gay, but most of us (90 – 98%) are straight. The idea of actually participating in homosex is, at best, disinteresting. So, the unreasoning states dislike = immoral, so really-grossed-out- y means horribly sinful. To most people the level of gross out is equal to the level of immorality. So, uncritically thinking, opinionated straight people, people who like gay sex are really disturbed and evil.

Liberals then say, “What! The conservatives don’t like gays? Then we think they’re great!”

My point is, the fact that you don’t like something doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be able to do it. I don’t like plaid with stripes. That doesn’t mean it’s a “sin”.

Gay’s should not have equal rights because they are gay. No one should have special rights. The should have equal rights, because they are people. Whether what they do in their free time is icky or hot, they are people who aren’t breaking the law, and they should be treated like it.  My preference is not for a law that allows gays to get married, but one that lets any two consenting adults enter a contract that provides the rights that the marriage document provides.

I want the government out of marriage, and marriage out of the government.  It is as wrong that the government subsidizes me having straight sex with my wife as it the they prevent gays from having the same legal benefits.
No one should get a break for being straight, and no one should be punished for being gay.

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

I am atheist, and I’m not sorry.

So, after much thought and deliberation, I get a little further along with my atheism. I am a skeptic, which means I believe in evidence.  I strive to be a good skeptic which means I can reverse course pretty quickly if evidence is presented.  Occam’s Razor is dependent on good data, so when I can have one opinion with data X and then change my opinion in the face of data X + Y.

Originally, I was a fundamentalist Christian.  This means that I chose which things in the Bible to believe very un-systematically.  Believing that it was wrong to own slaves, or sell your kids, but perfectly acceptable to beat children or stone homosexuals.  I realized how un-systematic my beliefs were and…

Then I was an Evangelical Christian.  This means that I chose which things in the Bible to believe somewhat more systematically, focused on the character of God as revealed by New Testament, rather than the old.  But I realized that you can’t develop the character God without the Old Testament, or what did Christ’s sacrifice mean?  Also, I realized I was as choosy about what I followed in the New Testament as I had been with the Old.  There was a lot in the second chapter of Acts that I wasn’t doing, and…

Then I was Charismatic.  That means I believed the stuff God said about healing and the church sharing everything in common.  But then I realized that the Charismatic rhetoric was much more revolutionary than anything the mainstream church was doing, and…

Then I became a radical charismatic.  That means I believed in the Kingdom Mandate. Read Das Kapital and substitute “capitalist” for “mainstream church” and “capital” for “power and presence of God”.  Then read Lenin’s Что делать? and substitute “house church” for “vanguard of the revolution” and “mega church” for “trade unionists” and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what a radical charismatic is.  Taking the Bible seriously got weirder  and sicker.  Following the commands of God took care for the poor and such took a real backseat to pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric and…

Then I became a Theist.  I still believed in God. I believed He was real and demanded action. But I couldn’t find Him.  Logical demand and….

Then I became a Deist.  That means I believed the divine is real, but I am not really sure how it works.

And now I am fully an atheist.  That doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist. It means I won’t believe he exists till I see proof.  My proof?  A single, documented healing of a amputee who prayed for healing.  I’d been loathe to just take that stance, both on my blog and real life, because saying you are an atheist means a lot of people are going to argue with you.  It also means I have to truly accept a lot of things, rather than just intellectually ascent to their likelihood.

I am now, in person and on my blog, an unapologetic atheist. (Before I was a very apologetic deist.)

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Power to the Sheeple!

Power is freedom from evidence. The more power a person has over others, the less evidence they need to back up their claims. Atheists like to imagine a world where everyone is rational and doesn’t surrender their power to some weirdo with an old book, but its not going to happen. People surrender their power because they can’t handle it. With practice anyone could learn to play a guitar or reason. But genetics decide if you are going to be jonny play-Hotel-California or Eric Clapton, and genetics decide if you are going to be a well-read pew warmer or someone truly amazing (and hot) like Rebecca Watson.

People need religion because whether to drink Coors or Miller is about all the empowerment they can handle. What atheism really needs to go mainstream is shrines and their ilk. A pretty little place with firelight where one can have a spiritual moment. Atheism needs to create a religion with all the extra bunk.

Is it in the spirit of atheism? Not at all. But people need some ceremony, some candles, some ego masturbation. Give it to them along with correctly presented truth, and they still get the truth. These people are going to believe things based on authority no mater what we do, so let’s make their dogma consistent with reality.

I mean the Bible, and therefore people who follow it, are right on with things like “Be ye kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other…” it’s just the places where it says things “Let’s beat our kids with sticks, stone to death disrespectful children, sexually active unmarried people, and homosexuals” that they run into trouble.

Heck, the whole book of Ecclesiastes is basically a bronze age apology for existentialism. (And makes points completely in conflict with the rest of Scripture.) In the end the real problem is that people aren’t capable of critical thinking. So, let’s make up religion that teaches critical thinking. Technically, the people running their mouths about critical thinking would be doing so because they were told to, but parallel it to people loving other’s because they have to. [As part of God’s non sequitur message of “Love me, or I’ll kill you”] . The fact that Christians attempt to love each other for reasons other than love doesn’t mean that people aren’t getting loved. Sometimes, rarely, the parts of the Bible about taking care of the poor are even followed. Good is done even though ultimately, blind faith in authority has equal potential for bad.

Basically: the fruits of critical thinking make people happy even if they get them by NOT critically thinking. So, we’ll start a church that teaches critical thinking as a command, giving the sheep a chance to be benefited by it without them actually developing the skills, because seriously, with people like Focus on the Family blowing 150 million a year on misinformation, who has the time to convert people one at a time?

Instead of missionaries, we can have ad executives. Instead of pastors we can have licensed therapists. It’ll be great. Who’s with me?

Doctrine to be announced.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | atheism, Paranormal, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shrine of Godlessness.

It was a beautiful day in the Mosel valley, today. We’ve got sun only about every 4th day or so this time of year, and one must take advantage of it when one can. Finishing a wonderful late lunch of a dry chicken curry, we laid the youngster down for nap, enjoyed a bit of marital bliss, and a post bliss nap, then went for a walk in the “forest”.

Now, forest here doesn’t mean quite what you might imagine. It’s a fiercely “managed” forest, i.e., there are no trees in a certain age/size range because they have been logged out. Biodiversity suffers correspondingly, making it more like a park than a wild wood, but its a lovely, leafy still place to take a walk. Down the middle of it is an old cobblestone road. It could be 200 years old, or 2000, you never know around here.

When the hand is held at arm’s length, every finger between the sun and horizon is 15 minutes of day light. We got to the woods with a finger of of sun left in the valley. The sky was orange, and the trees gradually lost color, the vibrance of their brown of bark and green of moss gradually fading to navy and gray on their way to the black of silhouette. As I walked along the muddy cobbles I saw lights on the hill. It looked as if Christmas lights had been laid in a heap on the floor of small room, and the lights shown red and white out the arched door.

As we walked the lights seemed to grow brighter against the gathering darkness while they go closer. In the last of the sunlight I could see the tiny building. It was shrine to Heilige Maria, Mutter Gottes, Saint Mary, the Mother of God. The red and white lights I had seen where the candles on the floor shining through the red and white glass that held them. The keystone of the arch read 1877, making this shrine a century younger than the one up the path a few miles.

I am not a Catholic, I am not even a Christian, but out of respect for the beliefs of those who built the shrine I removed my hat as I walked in. The shrine was warm, still holding the heat of the day in its massive stone walls, while the warmth outside disappeared with the sun. The ceiling was low, and the interior cramped by the two small kneeling rails.

I knelt on the first kneeler, the air thick with the scent of hot wax. I stared through the wrought iron bars at the tiny icon of Mary, holding the wounded Christ. Religiously, neither meant a lot to me. I never met Jesus, despite 25 years of looking. The Protestants tell me that woman holding him is not so important either, though the Catholics venerate her. As art, it was fairly weak, a mass produced bit of old plaster in a dusty hollow in the wall.

But that’s not to say I didn’t feel anything. I felt the press of history and the warmth of candles in room lit the color of gold and blood by the flame sparkling through the crimson wax. A shrine is repository of dreams and desperation. Though “Danke Maria” was written in stone on the walls, mostly I feel the dark peace of those accepting that there was nothing they could do to cause or prevent something. Kierkegaard’s dread poured out on the terra cotta tiles of this little stone room.

As always, I liked it. It’s the feeling you have when you stop crying and you know you aren’t going to cry any more. It’s the feeling of accepting the unacceptable because the only control you have is how you choose to feel about it. And so ironically, the shrine worked. I rose from the kneeler, feeling hard and strong. No mater how much I wanted something to be true, I couldn’t make it true. But I can change things by my actions.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | atheism, Paranormal, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment