Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window - Steve Wozniak

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Old Lang Zine
by Lee

It’s New Year’s Eve.  Go get drunk.  See you tomorrow!

Posted by Lee on 12/31/06 at 09:05 PM in Life & Culture  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

In Case You Haven’t Seen It Yet…
by Lee

Camera phone footage of Saddam being executed.

I blame Bush.

Posted by Lee on 12/31/06 at 12:28 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Legitimately Upset
by Lee

I know I said the next post would be from California, but I couldn’t resist posting this.  Check out this post over at the blog on TNR.

It seems incredible that a man like Saddam could hope to burnish his reputation, but a friend I was with tonight—a very smart guy who works for a major newspaper—was legitimately upset about Saddam’s hanging, expressing concern that the post-capture process had not been fair to him.

Now, does anyone think that this very smart guy who works for a major newspaper would be “legitimately upset” if Bush happened to be assassinated?

Oh, that liberal media.

Posted by Lee on 12/30/06 at 10:58 AM in The Press Machine  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

The Great Return
by Lee

Well, I’m off the airport in a few hours, going back to Cali, Cali, Cali.  (Hmmm.  I don’t think so.) Next post will be from the Left Coast.

Posted by Lee on 12/30/06 at 10:16 AM in Etcetera  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, December 29, 2006

I Blame Bush
by Lee

Wow, holy shit!  I went to see Apocalypto with my mom, and I come home to find out that Saddam has been hung.  As I’ve said before, this is going to be Bush’s legacy.  All of the little things we argue about now, like wiretapping or torture, will largely be lost to history 50 years from now.  But everyone, for the rest of time, will know that George W. Bush got Saddam.

He may be a fuck-up in many respects, but he got the job done.  That can never be taken away from him. 

Bravo zulu, sir.

Posted by Lee on 12/29/06 at 10:35 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Deism and Other Musings
by Lee

I’ve been asked a question in the comments to one of the recent religion discussions.

Lee, I’m sure that the post I’m referring to disappeared, but a couple of years ago, didn’t you state that you were a deist? What had a larger influence on your change of heart-----religion or science?

Allow me to elaborate here.  I am not a religious person.  I do not believe there is a God.  However, I am perfectly willing to accept the idea that I am wrong.  There very well could be a god of some description out there.  And as soon as I see evidence of his existence you will not find a more devoted worshiper than me.

My problem with religion is the faith aspect.  I don’t take anything on faith.  I don’t believe anything at all, ever, unless I have a logical reason to do so.  Anyone who has ever been blindsided by an unfaithful spouse will know what I mean.  You would have sworn—sworn!—that your wife would “never do that,” but there she is fucking some other guy.  To you the love you felt was real and tangible and irreversible, a true soulmate connection with the partner that God chose for you.  Then you come in and find her riding the pool boy like a bucking bronco.

Oops, so much for love.

I believe in love as a concept, but I certainly am not delusional enough to think that love always conquers all, or that there is absolutely no possibility of my wife betraying me.  Of course there is.  You might have faith that your relationship is impervious to adultery, but this is an article of faith based on pure emotion, not logic.  You might not have any specific reason to think that your wife would be unfaithful, and you might have every reason in the world to think that she will be loyal to you forever, but only someone willing to deny reality would ever be so delusional as to think it could never, ever happen.

Note the root of the word “unfaithful.” It is an article of faith that a relationship will always last, not a product of logic.

To me, faith only makes sense when based on a logical premise.  I have faith that when I throw a ball up in the air it will come back down, because that is demonstrably true.  I have faith that my girlfriend loves me because every indication she has ever given me leads me to that assumption—she has never given me the slightest reason not to believe her.  But religion simply makes no logical sense to me.  And I cannot have faith in anything that makes no logical sense.

I mean, come on.  Even if you are devoutly faithful, you have to admit that the idea is pretty ridiculous.  This doesn’t mean it isn’t true, but if you’re being intellectually honest then you have to admit how stupid it all sounds.  “Okay, there’s a guy that nobody can see, who lives in a place nobody can find, and he created the entire universe for some reason.  Then he made a man.  The entire purpose of your life is to prove your worth to ascend into this mystical place upon your death.  And, if you don’t prove your worth, this invisible man is going to send you to spent eternity in torment.  Oh, and he loves you unconditionally.”

It’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard in my life.  It makes no sense.  Yet so many people believe it passionately, so passionately that they are willing to oppress their fellow man to prove that theirs is the one true faith.

So, could there be a god?  Sure, I’ll concede that.  Science tells us that there are dimensions all around us, but we can only see three of them.  Perhaps heaven and this supernatural being exist on one of these planes.  Then again, maybe they don’t.

Let me put it this way.  The number of people who are completely non-religious is minuscule.  Even those indignant lefties who poo-poo stupid Christians will often believe in a concept like karma, or will say something like “Everything happens for a reason.” Well, if there’s no god, who decides what reason things happen for?  Who decides that bad people will have bad things happen to them?  Spirituality is embedded in our DNA.  I happen to think that it is this spirituality which is one of the things which made man evolve from lower life forms.  It provides the basis for our explorer nature, and prompted early man to civilize himself.  So, the question then becomes, is the “religion gene” a divine creation?  It makes sense, doesn’t it?  We are biological creatures, so surely a creator god would have given us a biological mechanism by which to understand and know him, right?  Or, perhaps the spirituality gene is simply some kind of mutation, a product of random chance which happened to be very beneficial to mankind.

Beats me.  But neither of us can say one way or another.

I will say one thing.  Logic tells me that if there is a creator god of some kind, then not one religion on earth has it right.  Everyone is wrong.  Every religion is a construct of the people who were its early adopters.  I believe that religion is a product of society to a far greater degree than society is a product of religion.  (Well, at least in early times.  As religions became prevalent as governmental and political systems this dynamic changed.) But the idea that there is one faith which is right, and everyone else is wrong, is just asinine.  It’s completely illogical.

There’s a reason I always refer to myself as non-religious and ever as an atheist or agnostic.  I choose not to label myself.  I believe that strict atheism is just as much a religion as strict theism.  An atheist has as much of an axe to grind as any fundamentalist religious person.  I have no axe to grind.  When God reveals Himself to me then I will worship Him.  Until then, he’s an abstract concept which makes no sense.

This is why I have never said that anyone who is religious is somehow less intelligent.  Being devout is in no way a reflection on someone’s intelligence.  Some of the most brilliant people in history have been devout, people who are significantly smarter than I am.  I’m certainly willing to admit the possibility that I am wrong.  Say 99% of the world believes in some kind of spirituality, be it an actual religion or some kind of ethereal concept like karma, or in ghosts or spirits.  I’m in no way going to sit there and say that this 99% of mankind is less intelligent than I am.  I fully support the right of people to believe whatever they like, on the condition that they keep it out of the political realm and restrict their faith to appropriate venues.

So, in this sense, I guess I could be considered a partial deist.  I don’t think that any one religion has it right, but I’m more than willing to admit the possibility that there could be some kind of god.  The question then becomes, if you are a religious person, are you willing to admit the possibility that you are wrong?

Posted by Lee on 12/29/06 at 09:43 PM in Deep Thoughts  • (12) TrackbacksPermalink

Germs of Peace™
by Lee

If you live in the UK, let’s see which will kill you first, the National Health Service, or dirty Muslims.

SOME Muslims are undermining the battle to rid Britain’s hospitals of killer infections by refusing to wash their hands when visiting sick relatives.

Dispensers containing anti-bacterial gel have been placed outside wards at hospitals all over Britain in a bid to get rid of superbugs like MRSA and PVL.

It prevents people bringing in more infections. But some Muslims refuse to use the hand cleansers on religious grounds because they contain alcohol.

Health watchdogs are so concerned they intend to meet with NHS bosses in the New Year to try and hammer out a solution.

How about this:  clean your fucking hands or you don’t go in.  End of story.

Posted by Lee on 12/29/06 at 11:47 AM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Moral Authority?
by Lee

A point of discussion on Biblical morality.  Can anyone point me to the verse in the Bible in which Jesus explicitly condemns slavery?  Is slavery moral?  Why do the Ten Commandments not condemn the owning of one person by another?

Update: A lot of you are missing the point, so alllow me to rephrase.  Morality allegedly comes from God.  Neither God nor Jesus ever explicitly condemn slavery.  This fact was used for two thousand years to justify slavery, that it was permitted by the Bible and thus not only not immoral but proper and righteous.  So if the Bible does not explicitly condemn slavery, and slavery is now considered immoral, then where did the idea that slavery is immoral come from? 

Posted by Lee on 12/29/06 at 12:39 AM in Deep Thoughts  • (2) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, December 28, 2006

How To Deal With Rational People
by Lee

The fine folks over at Code Monkey Ramblings have made me out to be the poster child for the world’s Jesus-haters, employing the time-tested technique of taking a few snippets and sentences here and there to make whatever gross mischaracterization they like.  This is, unfortunately, all too typical of the whining, indignant strain of Christianity, which seems to act more or less like liberals when it comes to anyone being critical of their beliefs.

(Strangely, this post was written in August, but was only tracked back to my blog today, so this is the first time I’ve read it.  And the original post was lost during the—ahem—“server crash” a few months ago.)

The CMR post gives a list of “advice” to eeeeeevil secular Christ-punchers like me on how to deal with Christians.  Allow me to respond with a list of my own.

1) When you bring your faith into the political realm, it is no longer a faith—it becomes a political issue.  As such, I reserve the right to skewer it, belittle it, make fun of it, criticize it, and generally tear it to shreds, just like I would any other political issue.  Isn’t is strange that an avowed secularist like me manages to avoid writing posts that tear into Buddhists or Hindus or Jews?  Why would that be?  Why would I limit my religious criticism to two religions, Christianity and Islam?  Simple.  Because those two religions are the only ones which attempt to intrude on my life.  Hare Krishnas might be annoying as hell when I walk down the promenade in Santa Monica, but they’re not trying to get their faith taught as science in the local high school.

If you want to keep your faith as off-limits as a faith should be, keep it out of politics.  When you bring it out of your church and into my living room, you open yourself up to whatever you get.

2) Don’t assume that your religion is inherently better than any other, and thus worthy of more respect than others.  I see no difference between Christianity, Islam, Druidism, Zoroastrianism, Norse mythology, Shinto Buddhism, or any other superstition.  I find the idea of God to be as ridiculous believing in the Tooth Fairy.  However, we all need something to believe in, and if Jesus happens to be your preferred delusion, so be it.  Just because Jesus fills your heart with joy do not assume that this somehow means that Jesus or his followers earn a “Get out of Jail Free” card.

If you want examples of what I’m talking about, go to the above-linked page and read the comments.  Jesus’ lapdogs have no compunction whatsoever about being highly critical of Islam.  But if I dare to be critical of Christianity, well, that means that I hate people of faith.

3) You don’t need to tell me that the people who act in Christianity’s name aren’t always acting in the true spirit of Christianity, I totally agree with that premise.  It’s exactly the same thing that Soviet apologists have been saying about communism since fall of the USSR.  “Well, that wasn’t really communism.  If communism had been actually put in place, well, then you would have seen something wonderful!” So spare me the bullshit about how great Christianity is, and how anything bad that Christians do has nothing to do with Christianity.

I’ve written numerous posts where I clearly stated that Islam is inherently more violent a religion than Christianity.  But the Muslim will tell you that, well, terrorism isn’t “real” Islam.  I think that’s a bullshit argument, too.  The work product of Christianity is in the actions of its followers, just like Islam.  If we’re going to look at terrorists who claim Islam as divine justification for their actions and base it on scripture, then we also must look at the fact that some of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind have been committed in the name of Christianity, and those actions have all had a scriptural justification.  Christianity has brought some of the most wonderful benefits to mankind, and than cannot be discounted, but let’s not ignore the atrocities done by people acting in the name of God.

4) Many people have turned to religion.  Many people have turned away from it.  Funny how that works. 

5) Most people who work in the sciences do not believe in literal fundamentalist creationism.  Many believe in God, and a belief in science does not preclude the ability to hold religious faith.  But you cannot, ever, under any circumstances, believe the world is 6,000 years old and man lived side-by-side with dinosaurs and expect to be treated as anything more than a fucking lunatic.

6) I realize that you religious types love to think that your faith invented morality, but it’s so demonstrably false it isn’t even funny.  If the Ten Commandments had never existed, the general concepts codified therein would still be necessary for the evolution of mankind.  A society (i.e. human society) cannot evolve without order.  Just like how we today, in the political realm, continue to create new laws as new situations arise out of necessity, so did “morality.” A group of hunter-gatherers would never have formed villages and towns if everyone was stealing from everyone else, or everyone was killing everyone else, or everyone was raping their neighbor’s wives and children.  So while it might give you a warm, fuzzy feeling deep down in the cockles to think that God sent a lighting bolt down to Charlton Heston and wrote some rules on some tablets, the idea that this is where morality originates is absolutely fucking absurd.

If you believe that morality comes from the Ten Commandments, do you also believe that different languages come from the Tower of Babel, rather than something that evolved through human interaction?  Why believe one and not the other, they’re both in the Bible, right?

In short, believe whatever idiocy you choose, but don’t whine like a bunch of little bitches when some of us think you’re fucking nuts for doing so.

Posted by Lee on 12/28/06 at 11:26 PM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (3) TrackbacksPermalink

I’ll Give You A Hint
by Lee

It begins with an “M” and rhymes with ”uslims."

Suspected separatists shot dead two Buddhist teachers on Friday and burnt their bodies in Thailand’s rebellious Muslim south, police said, the latest attack in a three-year insurgency that has killed more than 1,800.

Insurgency?  Thousands dead?  Bodies mutilated?  Surely the Religion of Peace™ is not involved…

Posted by Lee on 12/28/06 at 10:39 PM in The Religion of Peace™  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Bill Gates Must Die
by Lee

So my mom has asked me to set up a wireless network at her house so she can connect to the internet without walking upstairs.  No problem, piece of cake.  I go to Best Buy and picked up a Linksys wireless router and network card and start installing.

What a convoluted, backwards process this is.  On a Mac, setting up a wireless network is this easy.

1) Plug in.
2) Connect to internet.
3) There’s no step 3.

Here I am two fucking hours later, and this goddamn fucking piece of shit Windows machine still won’t connect properly.  I enter in the name of the network, then the Linksys software changes it.  I tell it I want to use 128-bit WEP encryption, it changes it to WPA.  It is, literally, doing the exact opposite of what I am telling it to do.

Fucking Windows, I swear to Christ.  How anyone actually uses this fucking thing is beyond me.

Update: Okay, so I finally got the network working.  Like most things associated with Windows, I had to install and reinstall everything five times, and then for some reason on the fifth time it worked.  My next task was to share the printer.  No problem, I’ve done that a thousand times.  I set up sharing, then went to my mom’s computer (which is now downstairs) and opened a random document on her desktop as a test page.  I heard the computer start printing upstairs.  It was then that I realized that the document I opened had six pages of images embedded in it.  I ran upstairs and canceled the print job.  Now there’s a flashing light on the printer telling me that there’s an “unsupported cartridge” in the right side of the caddy.  Now, remember, this was printing perfectly five seconds ago.  So I open the printer, remove the right cartridge, place it back in, and close the printer lid.  Still blinking.  Did it again.  Still blinking.  Blink blink blink fucking goddamn cocksucking blink.

Honestly, I’ve been using computers since 1981, and I have no idea why anyone would ever voluntarily put up with this shit.

Update 2: Well, the printer is still fucked.  The network connection works about half the time.  The Windows machine says it’s connected, the network is set up correctly, there’s nothing apparently wrong.  Half the time it works fine, the other half the time… not so much.  You try to connect to a website and it just sits and sits and sits.

My Mac, connected to the exact same wireless router, works flawlessly.  Fucking Windows.

Posted by Lee on 12/28/06 at 12:12 PM in Science and Technology  • (8) TrackbacksPermalink

Christmas Holiday
by Lee

Sorry for the lack of posting, I’ve been busy doing family stuff.  Yesterday was movie night, I went and saw Blood Diamond and Casino Royale.  Both of them are fantastic, if you haven’t seen them I highly recommend it.

Oh, and not ONE FUCKING PERSON talked during the movie.  Funny how that works.

Posted by Lee on 12/28/06 at 10:00 AM in Etcetera  • (2) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I Love My Jack & Coke
by Lee

A reader sent this over to me, and said that if I posted it they didn’t want any of their info used.  To make this easy I uploaded it to YouTube.

Posted by Lee on 12/27/06 at 12:18 AM in Fun and Humor  • (3) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

They Always Come In Threes
by Lee

James Brown… Gerald Ford… Saddam?  Keep your fingers crossed.

Posted by Lee on 12/26/06 at 10:27 PM in Life & Culture  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

It’s A Small Earth
by Lee

I tell you something else I’ve been doing this weekend.  I downloaded Google Earth, and my mom and I have been looking up the houses I grew up in all over the world.  I’ve found satellite images of my houses in Houston, Norway, two in Australia, and one in Scotland.  I’m still trying to track down a few houses in Singapore, Malaysia, and a few other exotic locales. 

Update: Here’s an example.  It’s the chicken farm I lived on in Stavanger, Norway, in 1981.  Yes, a chicken farm.  The house we rented was on the farm, and my brother and I used to go in there and have egg fights.  Ah, the glorious days of the 4th grade.

image

That body of water to the right is a fjord.  During low tide you can walk across it, and when the tide comes in it fills up with frigid North Sea water.  My brother and I used to go wading in it in the summer.  Even then it was freezing, but we were kids, we didn’t give a damn.

Posted by Lee on 12/26/06 at 10:04 PM in Etcetera  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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