Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Miley Cyrus is not a pole dancer.

Just a quick, throw away post about current events. (Health Care IV will come soon.)  Ok, I don’t follow celebrity news, if fact I don’t follow celebrities at all.  I’m a big believer in Cintra Wilson’s theory “Celebrity reexamined as a grotesque, crippling disease” .  But I feel a need to weigh in on this one.

Miley Cyrus does not disturb me.  What deeply, deeply disturbs me is what the world has done to her.  She is a goddess of sexless purity.  Parents make her hero to their daughters because she is pure, and clean, and good.  We know that she is pure, and clean, and good because she is unsullied by any sexuality whatsoever.  She has no sexual identity.  Her gender exists completely in following social convention.  She is the plastic, sexless ken doll of the age, to be dressed and positioned however the narrative of her sexless perfection demands.

The problem of course, is that I am describing a fictional character.  This is not the flesh and blood Miley Cyrus, but the highly successful Miley Cyrus brand.  Let me steal from Wikipedia here…

Careful brand management, supported by a cleverly crafted advertising campaign, can be highly successful in convincing consumers to pay remarkably high prices for products which are inherently extremely cheap to make. This concept, known as creating value, essentially consists of manipulating the projected image of the product so that the consumer sees the product as being worth the amount that the advertiser wants him/her to see, rather than a more logical valuation that comprises an aggregate of the cost of raw materials, plus the cost of manufacture, plus the cost of distribution. Modern value-creation branding-and-advertising campaigns are highly successful at inducing consumers to pay, for example, 50 dollars for a T-shirt that cost a mere 50 cents to make, or 5 dollars for a box of breakfast cereal that contains a few cents’ worth of wheat.

Ford doesn’t really have a personality.  Diseny doesn’t have a personality.  These are massive, multinational conglomerates.  But people treat brands like people: they have personalities, values, wishes, etc.  And the key to the $3.5 million per annum Miley Cyrus brand is the perverts’ idealization of childhood: A perpetual thirteen, one foot poised on childhood, one foot poised on sexuality.  Perhaps Britney Spears said it best with the song “I’m not girl, not yet a woman”.  Unfortunately for the Britney Spears brand, a perpetual gum chewing, curl twirling 13 year old did not appeal as much to the brand’s name sake as growing up.  Britney Spears first real controversy?  Her development of full breasts.  She went, as most young women will, from a B cup to a C cup.

The spokes person of the brand shattered the sick fantasies of nation by having hormones.  The response? Unchecked rage, which only grew worse as she committed such horrible sins having sex drive, or having adult relationships.

Back to Miley Cyrus.  Her first controversy was a “topless” photo in Vanity Fair.  The words “child pornography” were thrown around.  Pornography has a fascinating entomology, being Greek for “Writings about whores”.

cusl02w-miley

If this image is pornographic to you, you need to talk to a therapist.  There is nothing sexual about this image at all.  (See comment).  Unless you’re a pervert.  But by doing this photo, she make clear that she had intentions of becoming a woman. That at some point in the future there would a person who was experiencing sexuality instead being totally oblivious to it.   And for that, all the perverts were up in arms.  They wanted her to stand between girl and woman so they could desire her, but tells themselves it was a pure healthy desire.  The image forced them to admit they were sexually attracted to her.  And for causing that revelation, she had to become “bad”.

But the point here is Miley Cyrus’s most recent flub.  SHE WAS POLE DANCING…SEE

miley-cyrus-pole-dancing-teen-choice-awards-03

Words like “pole dancing” “leather clad”,  “provocative” “dressed like a hooker” were bandied about.  Of course, the less popular version of this photo is this…

Miley-Cyrus-pole-dancing-20090810212121

Yeah, see she wasn’t “pole dancing” she was hanging onto a pole on top of a moving cart so she wouldn’t fall off.  It’s called a “stage show”.  Her ability to do that, while lip syncing, dancing, smiling, and not smudging her make-up, is one of the reasons she makes a couple million a year and most of us don’t.

But the public has to do this.  When ever Miley Cyrus the person (who actaully exists and has needs and desires) conflicts with Miley Cyrus the brand (which is pure fabrication to sell shitty merchandise) society at large must lose it’s pathetic little mind.  Because if Miley Cyrus isn’t child anymore, she forces people to admit they are getting old and their attraction to her is a bit perverse.  Thinking she is “dirty”, “slutty”, or “bad” is much easier then admitting they have problem.  Miley Cyrus’s (TM) owners however, make a lot more money if this pathology is encouraged.  Tellingly, the first person called in when she was accused of making child porn was not a lawyer specializing in anti-liable cases, or even a PR rep, but Disney brand consultant.

Oh, and my original thought, before this turned into a multimedia, decently researched post? Just because someone is famous, doesn’t mean they are a role model. In fact, it might  just mean they’re not.

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August 29, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, feminism, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Health Care Debate III

I thought this was going to be an easy post.  I thought, hey, the insurance companies are a bunch a bastards, but it turns out insurance companies, while not blameless, are not quite the devils I’d thought.

Basically, health insurance is expensive because (1.) Continual, long term expenses are a really stupid thing to pay with insurance. (2.) Hospital bills are really high and require high premiums.  Could insurance be improved? Certainly, but it is not the real cause of high medical bills.

So, then I went into why hospital bills are so high.  Basically hospital bills are high for a few reasons. (1.) Fear of litigation, rather than litigation itself, causes a lot of unnecessary stuff to be done.  (2.) Hospitals are a skilled labor intensive industry, and skilled labor is very costly. (3.) The existing socialized care costs the hospital about 15% loss off of net, or about a 40% loss off of gross.  Could hospitals improve administration and information management?  Certainly, but those are marginal gains compared to over-treatment and labor costs.

So, can hospitals be run cheaper?  Yes.  Should they be?  Should is a surprising long word. Every war in history has been fought between the S and the D of should. Should implies is an ideological question, not an economic one.

So lets talk about ideology.  First off, do you have a right to health care?  Absolutely!  You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Rights are tricky things though. The First Amendment says you have right to freedom of press.  Does this mean the government has to assist you in setting up your own news network? Or merely that the government is forbidden from preventing you from doing such?

You do have a right to life. You have right to not have the government forbid you from seeking health care. You categorically, do not have the right to have them provide it for you.  If you believe that health care is a right and the government must provide it, you must logically believe that government must provide printing presses to those to poor to afford them,  protests marches to those to poor to organize them, and guns to those to poor to buy them. (Your first and second amendment rights, respectively.)

Clearly, your right to life means the government cannot prevent you from seeking health care, not that it must provide it. So, accepting that fairly obvious fact, what is the health care problem? The fact the health care consumer is complaining health care costs too much really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.  Consumer think everything cost too much.  Producers think everything goes too cheap. Demand drives prices up, supply drives them down. So, what’s the problem?

Two possible ones: false expectations and market failure.

First false expectation?  You are entitled to long life.  Actually you’re not. No one is. Long life is combination of four things, genetics, choices, luck, and health care.  You know what the leading cause of death is in the United States? Heart disease. You know why that is pathetic? BECAUSE 80% OF IT IS PREVENTABLE THROUGH LIFE STYLE CHANGE!  That’s right, 80% (Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition)  Over 600K people died in 2006 from heart disease,  480,000 at the end of a series of stupid ideas.  Even if the US had the best health care in the world, even if by some economic miracle it was free, 20.8% of all fatalities would have happened anyway because people found health care more attractive than responsible living.

Second false expectation? The Law of Diminishing returns  doesn’t apply to health.  Actually it does.  Moving the age of mortality from 45 to 55 takes pennies.  From 55 to 65, took much more.  Surgery is a risk. We choose the risk of surgery when it is lower then the risk of not having it.  Unnecessary surgery means risk for no reason, and that means expense and injury.  Which leads me nicely into the…

Third false expectation: Doctors will make decisions dispassionately, and never expose patients to extra risk just to cover their legal rear.  Actually, doctors are people too.  And the fear of litigation hangs over them like anvil on string.  They order to many tests, and treat too agressively for fear of malpractice suits.  Which leads finally, to the…

Forth false expectation: people are entitled to a risk free life, and are entitled to compensation when risk has consequences.   No.  Just plain no.  Life is risk.  Hospitals, treatments, etc, all have risk, and if a person is made aware of the risks and choose the course anyway, they aren’t entitled to any form of compensation.

That just leaves market failure.  I try to keep my blogs under 1000 words, so I will have to write that one later.

August 27, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Pharmacology, Politics, Science, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Health Care Debate II

Ok, so last blog, I looked at the insurance companies.  Basically, there is large room for improvement, but I didn’t find the huge smoking gun of “THE WHOLE THING SUCKS BECAUSE OF THE INSURANCE COMPANIES” I thought I would.  In fact, ultimately, premiums are high because hospital care (which premiums insure) are high.

A hospital is a business, even when it is a non-profit.  If cash out exceeds cash in, like all other businesses, it fails.   Right now, hospital costs are higher then they have ever been, so we would think that hospitals are making money hand over fist.  Actually, not at all.

Over the last 10 years the average profit margin (the amount of economic surplus) has increased. It’s gone from (ready for this)… 4.9 to 5.2%.  An oft quoted stat is that many of the most profitable hospitals are making a 20.1% profit margin.  It’s true.  Some of the most profitable hospitals are putting a 20% mark up on certain procedures.  It’s to cover the 15% loss they take on the other ones, leaving an end of the year balance of…5%.

Why are they taking a 15% loss?  Well, because Medicare, Medicaid, SCHPs, (all the gov-care) doesn’t pay the full cost.  Note, this isn’t saying gov-care doesn’t pay the full charge.  Think of it this way. A procedure costs the hospital $100.  They bill $120 for a twenty percent markup.  Private insurance pays $120.  Gov-care pays whatever it can afford, usually around $85.  A 15% loss means 15% below cost, but about 43% below the price.

The reason for this is the program is never given enough money to pay all the expenses it incurs.  If the program was supposed to pay for 100 procedures at $1 each, and there are 140 procedures, then all the hospitals get $0.71 instead of a dollar.

Further, remember that gov-care is only about 1/3 of the number of patients, 2/3rds are private insurance, so how does the hospital not make a killing, taking 15% loss on 1/3 and getting 20% gain on 2/3rds?  Because the 1/3 of people on gov-care are the most expensive patients.  Despite the fact they make up only 33% of the hospital population, they make up 50% of the expenses.

Hospitals can refuse gov-care patients so why don’t they? If taking a patient on medicare meant you were going to loss 15% of the cost of care, why would hospitals take them in?  Because of the Emergency Medical Treatment Act of 1986, which means, “regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay” any patient who needs emergency care must receive it.

Hospitals loss on average, about $84 per emergency room patient.  Emergency rooms account for about 20% of the total cost of running a hospital.  So, why have one? Because 1/7 patients who visits the ER will have a highly profitable inpatient transfer.  The best way hospitals can get the profitable 2/3rds of insurance payers into inpatient surgery is through the ER doors.

What about people who don’t have insurance, and don’t qualify for gov-care and simply refuse to pay? They are very small part of hospital losses, about 3% on average.

So if, 97% of the hospital customers are paying, and half the cost is at a 15% loss, and half is at 20% profit, that doesn’t really explain why health care is so expensive.  I mean, yes all the responsible people are effectively paying a 20% sales tax to the hospital to cover the portion of socialized medicine that the their income tax didn’t pay.  But, 20% sales tax does not 200% overcharging make. (The cost US health care exceeds the cost of better health in many other industrialized democracies.) So what gives?

The most expensive thing in the hospital is labor.  If we are serious about reducing the cost of health care, we have two very basic options. One is make labor cheaper, the other is use less of it.

What about cheaper labor? The most expensive section of hospital is ICU and 80% of the cost of ICU is labor.  ICU nurses make about 46k a year.   I’ve often mentioned France in this study.  Nurses in France make half of what American ones do, and health care is cheaper.

As to reducing the number of hours nurses have to spend with patients, let me rip this long section from this article.

For example, if you are a Medicare recipient and you have a heart attack in a region where doctors practice less aggressive care, like Salt Lake City, your care will cost Medicare about $23,500 over the course of a year. But if you have your heart attack in a place like Los Angeles, the bill will be closer to $30,000.

The wide gulf in spending between the two cities is not because of different prices. Sure, everything costs a bit more in Los Angeles, including nurses’ salaries and the laundering of hospital linens, but not enough to account for the extra amount Medicare pays for a heart attack. The reason the same patient’s care costs more there than in Salt Lake City is that doctors and hospitals in Los Angeles tend to give their patients more tests, procedures, and surgeries, and their patients tend to spend more days in the hospital.

But here’s the important part. All that extra care in L.A. doesn’t lead to better outcomes. As it turns out, heart attack patients who receive the most care actually die at slightly higher rates than those who receive less care.

So, um, why are we doing this to our selves? Again, same article:

Why? Because doctors believe patients will be less likely to go to a lawyer if they think the doctor did everything possible—even when doing so doesn’t help the patient or causes harm…

The article puts forward the idea 50% of medical procedures are basically done to make people feel better rather than be better.  That is to say, nearly half of all procedures done have no backing in reality which suggest they are necessary.  At least one large portion of the problem is that lack of skepticism and respect for the scientific method exhibited by American medical consumers.

Tune in next time, when I tie the this blog and the last one together to create a cohesive solution.


August 24, 2009 Posted by | Pharmacology, Politics, Science, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Feeding babies = unwed mothers.

Controversial Doll Lets Little Girls Pretend to Breast-Feed

It’s come to this.  This is a doll that simulates breast feeding.  And people are appalled, not because electronic dolls are creepy, but because they think playing feed the baby (without a bottle) would lead little girls to have sex earlier.  Um…uh…Yeah.

Hey stupid people: heads up, I hate you all.

P.S. Yes the doll is incredibly, horribly creepy, but not because breast feeding is creepy. You pervs.

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, feminism, Politics, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sister in Christ

labelle-medlove

Brother this and brother that
Hold me I’m scared
and have I gotten fat?
Love should be shared

So tell me your prayers!
I’m ever so blessed
To have brother who cares
when I feel distressed

When I feel depressed
eyes stained red
Kind words confessed
He kisses my head

His white armour does shine
This man I love, “brother” of mine

Truly, I loved you
There could be no denying
My heart surely was true
But, a bit I was lying

Strong passions raised by your pining
I first feared your kindness
But you told me of love
How holiness makes blindness
Purity, gift from above

Would descend like a dove
And I believed
I fell for your drug
My heart was relieved

You were my “sister” appointed by Jesus
Divine friendship crafted to free us

Never had I loved with abandon
Trusted so completely
I wasn’t my way. I planned
relationships discretely

Scared to let love defeat me.
But you, I loved madly
Without contract or treaty
It couldn’t end badly

With the Lord as our daddy
Holy union, perfect, platonic
Life couldn’t go sadly
Love was our tonic

High on Jesus, love, and each other
I was truly happy being your “brother”

But a line had be crossed
A road had be started
The switch had been tossed
The train had departed

To and fro my emotions darted
I couldn’t shut it down
I became broken hearted
Needing more of the sound

Of your voice, heard round
Me. And every part of you.
needed to be around
I wanted all of you

I need to have all, the whole.
Union of flesh as well as the soul

Every time you touched my face
You called me brother
And I felt like disgrace
Because my feelings were other

Skin hot like a lover
You affection was damning
My smile a cover
Of the pain you were fanning

I hated my standing
Torn on the fence
One foot on your landing
The other intent

On running away from your sighs
and the adoration plain in your eyes

I didn’t know how to feel
I loved you so much
Not knowing how to deal
With hunger for your touch

Was it love or lust?
That drew my eyes
To your petite bust
And voluptuous thighs?

Wrong or right to despise
Myself, to feel a louse
For wanting you to abide
In my own house?

Torn up, I told you my feelings
You went sick, your stomach reeling.

I, your “brother”, no less
Wanted you for more?
This was plain incest
And I was a whore

The bands of union tore
You offended, left with a fight
your friend  no more
Because I didn’t love right

Years since that night
I’ve thought and thought
Relationship’s a rope tight
Upon which we walk

You told me to love you free
And did and loved indeed.

I would have gone back
And kept lying
At first when it was black
and felt I was dieing.

But after much sighing
I now know my statement
It was true love shining
And not abasement

Finished with self effacement
I wanted your body for your soul
Not for lusts enchainment
Intimacy means loving the whole

person, flesh, spirit or other.
Fear of love, not love, made you call me brother.

July 26, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, poetry, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Life, Love, Sex, and Porn

Aching loneliness in my soul
Led me down paths strange
Shoveling cinder and coal
Burying me in burning shame

It seemed a simple thing at first,
Images of women’s kindness
Did amply slake my thirst
And restore in me fineness

But my thirst would not be stayed
By such innocent mintage
Twas like sipping lemonade
But wanting headier vintage

Searching out stranger strangers
Seeing things which ought not.
Watching clips of varied dangers
Finding not that which I sought.

Then, forgetting mad dreams
I flesh and blood pursued
In hope and without schemes
I let myself be used

Steamy pictures o’ erotic tangles
Had awfully prepared me
For a real relationships’ tangles,
Arguments, tears, and pleas

Porn and I then parted ways
Religion was my watchword
I fantasized not of other lays
And followed always cross-ward.

Religion didn’t heal me
From the aching at the start
In fact, it just buried the real me
And broke my aching heart

Investigation of church’s claims
Left me scratching my head
The church had nefarious aims
Obsessed with others’ beds.

So I left the sacred fold
Trading one lonely for another
Finding bits of soul I’d sold
And myself, and my lover

When porn was viewed
By more secular angle
Without religious skew
Or tempting fallen angel

I realized I was never seeking
some erotic chemical high
Twas on beauty I was tweaking
Eros when most shy

To strange pastures I went
Not for tolerance built
To creepy content I was sent
Driven by crushing guilt

Atheism, ironic blessing
Freed me from guilt’s’ bully
To be myself without missing
The parts that are not “holy”

Free from guilt and shame
I view what I find lovely
I’m not driven by pain
And skip what misogyny makes ugly

And I can see clearly
With all the women I view
Real women I loved dearly
And almost always you

My taste has improved
I’m not looking in dark places
With all the shots perused
Trying to find you in their faces

But such an awful thing to say
And even worse to do!
To shape images like clay
To dream of loving you

The dream I often visit
Is us physically together
But, somehow, not illicit
A love that time could weather

I would be scorned
I seek images in replacement
I want to love and be loved in return,
You’d gag at my abasement.

None of them are right
None of them are you
All of them are right
All of them are you

So, to what cannot be
Between us, (though we love you)
Onan and I will  see
What can I substitute

But it would misleading,
To blame only the ‘net
Your image is fleeting
For we’ve nott met yet

Morning dew gleams
Moon beams shine brighter
Life is better it seems
When love’s circle is wider.

I don’t want love to still
At some arbitrarily limit
I do seek a thrill
But only if love gives it.

I want love’s full expression
In context of friendship
Where physical affection
Is compassions apprentice.

So, I am seeking another
to have and to hold
Addition and keeping
Not substitution of old

I want to love with depth
A true equal and partner
But also with breadth
A circle out farther

July 23, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, poetry, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Is the American System Good for the World?

This is TJ’s blog.  TJ asserts that the United States is responsible for numerous attrocites and gives references.   The references are largely solid, by my understanding, and, in part, I had this to say:

“In essence the links you have sent me say the US government lies, has poor or evil foreign policy, and uses it’s military for short term profit. Well, of course. No sane person would argue that. The case you need to prove is not that the US government does evil. All large organizations do evil. The case you need to prove is that the US governmental system does more evil than other available alternative systems, when given the same resources”

Specifically, I asked for a per person or per dollar measure of the attrocities, and TJ’s response was…

I appreciate that you say that no sane person would argue what you distilled my links to say: “The US government lies, has poor or evil foreign policy, and uses it’s military for short term profit.” But seemingly sane people seem to argue this all the time; most republicans seem to believe that our military escapades do in fact in some inexplicable way protect our freedoms here at home (even if they are willing to sit idly while these freedoms are stripped away by the government). In fact, I find it hard to believe that this tremendously damaging behavior to our safety and the safety of the globe would be allowed to continue unabated if only the insane would argue it.

My demand for a solid metric for suffering met this (reasonable) response: I don’t quite understand how you could or should expect to wait until the U.S. government is as efficient at causing suffering as say, the Sudanese regime, before trying to do everything in ones power to combat injustice.

Fair enough.  My reasons are as follows. Not all claims have a burden of proof. If you tell me you went out for cocktails with your aunt last night, I’m not going to fight to verify it. If you tell me I should donate large sums of money to you because of reason X, Y and Z, then I am going to verify your claim with rigor proportional to the money you request.  The degree to which claims are investigated and skepticsm is applied is proportional to the risk which is undertaken.

The claim is made, “The American Government should change the way it does things.”  A government is many things, but perhaps above all, a system.  A system is defined by all its parts.  Neither a track, nor a bridge, nor a junction is a railway network, but their sum is.  Changes in a system must be made holistically system wide, or the changes make things worse, not better.

The system can only do what the system was designed to do.  A railway network made for passengers will never work optimally for freight and vice versa.   No amount of refinement can change this because the cause of the failure is systemic.   All systems do what they are designed to do.  Changing the CEO of the railway will not change this.  Changing standard operating procedures will not change this.  Nothing can change systemic failure but systemic change.

If the system produces attrocity better than anything else, it is because that is what the system was designed to do. The issues of military policy, foreign policy, and civil intelligence, are systemic.  Stopping attrocity in those areas will not be achieved with a mere reshuffling of the buercracy.  It requires sweeping changes to the whole US government system.

Such a change is an enormous risk, and for the risk to be justified, the case must be made strongly that the proposed replacement system is better, and define what “better” means.

It is not enough to say the U.S. does harm.  Money is power.  A man with a million dollars could start library, a scholarship, or a charter school.  Or he could commit an act of unspeakable terror upon innocents.  Power is nuetral.  A million dollars can buy a million dollars worth of help or a million dollars worth of harm.  We must prove the current system does more harm and less good then the proposed replacement.  The U.S. currently has 20% of the wealth in the world.  Logically, we have 20% of the power in the world, and we use that power to achieve 20% of the harm done in the world, and 20% of help.

If the new system reduces the harm at the expense of the help, then then there is no net change, and attrocity will continue on, merely with new actors.  Further, the global community is a system as well.  The new system must not only allow for more help then harm, it must not impact the global system in such a way as to increase other nations’ capicity for harm.  Remember the the example of Sudan.  If the cost of reducing American harm is increasing Sudan’s capacity to do harm, the Sudanese system is significantly more efficient at producing harm.  Hence, America’s reduction in harm is offset, and again the attrocities continue with new actors.

For this reason, I do not support any change to the system, regardless of the local harm reduction, until the case is made that a change to the system will actually result in a global net loss of harm.  Otherwise, any fighting we do to change the system will, despite good intention, only result in more people being harmed.

July 21, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Government, Politics, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Inventing Government

I like to invent things (even if only on paper) and I do so in spurts of enthusiam for different things.  For the last year or so, my enthusiam has been about religion and government.

General, cultural Christianity as well as my personal upbringing, instilled in me the paradoxical idea that government is (omnipresent) God in abstentia, along with some other conflicting ideas like freedom being a gift from God, but only for good people not for undesirables like homosexuals or the inner-city poor.   These ideas were among the many that burned off like fog in the sun when I de-converted.

But it left me with a ticklish problem.  If the purpose of government wasn’t the “or else” in the statement “Obey God’s rules, or else!” what was it? I studied different ideologies and rejected them one by one.  Some ideologies contained more truth than others, but ultimately I found a lot of them were based on false premises, and unconfirmable or unconfirmed data.

Since I’ve been fascinated by revolutionary movements since I was child (When I was 9, I planned out an eloborate and violent coup of my school giving it up not out of moral qualms  but because I realized ultimately, any resistance I offered adults would not result in children being granted our constititional rights, but serve as pretext to steal the few we had.) I had decent working knowledge of revolutionary movements, further enhanced by some pretty hard reveiw of revoltionary movements I undertook to offer advice to my so called “revolutionary church”.

This knowledge served me well, as world history is the story of the revolutionary movements that worked.   Even within the scope of revolutions that effectively won, most revolutionary movements struggle enormously with the task of switching from David to Goliath.

War represents a reversal of normal values.  Normally killing people and taking their stuff is socially condemned, in war, it is applauded.  Civil war is worse because it is more specific.  Normally killing your neighbor is socially condemned, in civil war, it is applauded.  The same key that increases a revolutionary movements’ chance to succeed increases the revolutionary movements’ chance to successfully transition for revolutionary movement to rule. That key is how the members respond to the entrenched ideology of the existing government.

People gather together around ideologies, from NASCAR tailgating parties, to the ritual cannibalism of the Eucharist.  If a revolutionary movement gathers under hating the existing system, it is gathering around hate and no change of system will change the organized , systemic, rage.  Most likely the hate will destroy unit discipline within the revolutionary cabal and it will collapse into organized crime and terrorism. (Al-qaeda and the Tamil Tigers). Should the the hate-based group stay organized under a strong and ruthless leader (such as Lenin) as well as defeat the existing government, it will transition to power by entrenching the existing system at the point of a gun.  This is why so many revolutionary movements become everything they abhor.

Contrariwise,  if a revolutionary movement gathers around the postive change that it wants to make, it can often become a competeing voice in the existing system, growing in legitimacy and power.  Should it succesfully overthrow the incumbent government, it has a post-revolution plan.  Since the people revolting were gathered around something besides destruction they tend to have better idea of what to do with power once they have it.  For an object lesson on this,  juxtipose the American to the French revolution.

The government classes I had studied as outstanding young Christian gentleman were centered on what was wrong with the existant American system.  They offered no plan, no system, no roadmap for post-change improvement.  It was believed, I think, that no roadmap was nessisary.  When things were “made right” God would magically make everything work.  Question: Why did terrorists attack? Answer: Because we we’re too soft on queers and babykillers.   When we stopped allowing shows like “Will and Grace” to be broadcast and made abortion illegal, or at worst difficult to get, then the terrorism situation would improve in the total absence of systemic change.

So I addressed my desire to understand government, and the flaws I percieved in various ideolgeous by trying to invent a new government.  I won’t make any argument against the componants of the existant system until I can offer a better peice.  Not a peice I feel better about, mind you, but one that does the componants’ function better.

And finally, it must be remembered we speak of a system here.  By definition, systems are interconnected.  If 3 foot rail gauge is better than Standard for a rail system, you can’t make one line narrow gauge and expect improvement.  Systems must be integrated fully to function at all.  Thus, I can’t offer a single better peice to governmental theory.  In the absence of total systemic improvement, individual peicemeal improvements are actively destructive.

I’m trying to invent a whole new government from the ground up, with consistancy and reason throughout.  It’s the largest, and most encompassing inventing I’ve tried.

July 1, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Super Athiest

I have an online acquaintance who is disabled.  She speaks often of a struggle she has, which she calls the “Super Cripple” complex.  (Read her blog here).  Are you familiar with positive stereotypes? A positive stereotype is a belief which infers imaginary abilities to a group or subgroup, such as black people being better at sports or Asians being better at math, etc.

She deals daily with the struggle to accept herself as she is, rather than a Hallmark Movie caricature of herself crafted of positive stereotypes. She calls this caricature “Super Cripple”.  SC never gets tired of campaigning for human rights. SC can wheel-up gradual stairs.  SC is super, she doesn’t need help from ANYBODY!  The reality, of course, is that disabled means “less able” and she does need help.  The real strength is accepting the reality of needing help, rather than trying to pretend she doesn’t by playing the fictional part of SC.   Accepting this every day remains a challenge for her.

My struggle, or one of them, is to not be Super Atheist.  Super Atheist finds purpose and joy without God or religion.  Super Atheist doesn’t need faith; Super Atheist has reason!  Super Atheist never believes sincerely with one part of his mind something that another part of his mind knows is actually false.  Super Atheist finds happiness in holidays like Easter and Christmas, because even though he knows there is no God to celebrate, he is with his family and that is what really counts.  Super Atheist never wants to go to church, or take communion, or pray for the broken of the world. Super Atheist can do anything!

But the thing is, I’m not Super Atheist.  I miss the comfort of the God hypothesis.  The idea that I am here for a capital “P,” Purpose, a participant in a grand narrative.  I miss the afterlife hypothesis.  The idea that what we do on earth has a greater meaning than the handful of lives we touch, and that evil which is not caught in the here and now, will someday be punished in the after life.

I miss crappy church.  I miss getting dressed up and going and singing once a week.  I miss real church…a lot.  I miss sitting in a room full of adopted family, and singing and praying and feeling loving and loved.

I miss speaking in tongues and the emotional high that it brings.  Actually, come to mention that, I really miss it.  Someone would come forward and we would all put them in a group hug.  We’d all go around the circle and “pray a message of God’s heart for that person” which amounted to telling the person how valuable they were, how loved, how special.  It felt great to do and to have done to you. Then we’d pray in tongues.  The reason part of the brain idles down, and the emotional part revs up.   I’ve never taken 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (Ecstasy) but speaking in tongues seems to have the exact same effects.   From wikipedia:

  • Mental and physical euphoria
  • A sense of general well-being and contentedness
  • Decreased negative emotion and behavior such as stress, anxiety, fear, and paranoia
  • Increased sociability and feelings of communication being easy or simple
  • Increased urge to communicate with others.
  • Increased empathy and feelings of closeness or connection with others
  • Reduced insecurity, defensiveness, and fear of emotional injury
  • Decreased irritability, aggression, anger, and jealousy
  • A sense of increased insightfulness and introspection
  • Mild psychedelia (colors and sounds are enhanced, mild closed-eye visuals, improved pattern recognition, etc)
  • Enhanced tactile sensations (touching, hugging, and sex for example all feel better) Ask any married Pentecostal if you don’t believe me, by the way, sex after praying in tongues is an amazing spiri-sexual experience.)

And I miss them all.  Above all I miss feeling like I was apart of something really special:  a 2000 year old Royal guard, still fighting the rebels to have the kingship of the true and most high King recognized.  There is a romance to words like “Kingdom”, “Knight of the Cross”, “Sacred purpose”, “Most High”  that words like “country”, “community advocate”, “special reason”, and “President” simply cannot match.  Though administratively identical, they are rhetorically worlds apart.

I am not Super Atheist.  I confess, I have a desire in my heart to gather with believers, to sing songs of worship, reverence, sorrow, penitence, and heroic victory.  I long to kneel, to dip the broken crust in the wine, to speak the words of my heart to a friend and Lord.  My only caveat is that he not be imaginary.  I desperately want to sing, worship, kneel and gather my community around a real God.

I long for a god, a religion, a purpose, and grand narrative.  I long for everything worthy religion gives man.  My disbelief in God is not the result of a lack of longing, but a lack of God.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Atheism, Deism, Theism, Homosexuality, and Value.

Value is always subjective.  Different people value different things.  We know that, yet we are always slightly aware that the things we value are a little more important than what others value, and because of this awareness, we associate with people who value the things we do.   When values are sorted out on some sort of imaginary top ten (or so) list, we call that a value system. (Oddly, because it’s not particularly systematic.)

Because value is subjective, the ranking of value is always more or less arbitrary.  But for the value system’s practitioners, it’s not arbitrary; it’s self evident.  This results in a lot of exasperation, confusion, and distrust for practitioners, non-practitioners, and both, respectively.

Example: people believe in God because they value the god hypothesis.  To them, God is self evident.  To them, everything thing that exists, and every idea about existence, is in and of it self evidence.  They get very frustrated with people who don’t see the world that way.  To atheists, God is not self evident.  They demand falsifiable statements (which they don’t generally receive) and get very frustrated too.

The deist thinks the atheist must be purposefully ignoring the clear evidence of God for some (sick) reason.  The atheist thinks the deist must be purposefully ignoring the clear lack of evidence of God for some (bizarre) reason. Sanity is a gradient expressing ones communication with reality.  Those who are deeply in touch with reality are sane.  Those deeply out of touch with reality are insane.  So, each side views the other as, more-or-less, mentally ill.

I bring up God mostly for the opportunity to talk about atheism, (and maybe build some report between atheists and theists/deists) but my real point is to talk about value systems.

1. Value is relative.

2. Value systems are formed by “self evident” beliefs.

3. As such they are totally arbitrary.

4. This “Its self evident/No, its arbitrary!” can cause a huge amount of friction.

A note here.  I have no social friction with people who chose to value me and disregard in their own lives, my values, nor do they get any from me.  The trouble is when people assume because they do not value another group or person’s views, they must also devalue the group or person.

For instanse, I support the right of homosexuals to  be recognized as married, join the military, and do whatever other people get to do, because they are just that: people.  However, I think homosex is disgusting, and it takes regular effort on my part to remember that people who value an act I find repugnant are OK.

Social peace = seperating the value of the person from the person’s values.  Social friction = not seperating the value of the person from the person’s values.

June 2, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments