Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

My Photo
Location: California, United States

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I was thinking about the whole idea of truth last night. Truth seems like such an easy thing to understand. But when one starts to look at the details of how someone even knows what they believe to be true is even true, the truth becomes confusing. I often wondered why some people just didn’t really care much about the truth. How could scientific observations be ignored in favor of a text of myths and folk stories passed down through generations over thousands of years? What is true is often determined by someone in authority, instead of the observed facts. Truth often seems to have nothing to do with reality.

Maybe that’s why the eighth commandment says “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16) Lying or not telling the truth would actually cover more than only bearing false witness. Bearing false witness is more about getting someone in trouble for something that they may not have done. The truth is more about what “really” happened, regardless of whether is gets someone in trouble or not.

For example, making up stories that neither harm nor hurt anyone might not be the truth, but it isn’t a sin against the eighth commandment. Fiction writers are saved by this technicality. Of course by telling everyone that the story is not true already does this anyway.

In this line of thinking, one begins to wonder if the creation of false stories in an effort to help people might be a good thing. Aesop’s Fables, for example, are stories that we all understand to be made up. If we didn’t know this before hand, the talking animals give it away as we listen to the stories. We also understand that the stories are meant to teach us a moral, or lesson that we can use to help us live a better life. The stories are not true, but they are good for the common good of society. If people believe that the morals of the stories are true, then they will use the morals as a way to live their lives. If a majority of people live their lives by these morals, then the society will function better.

However, even the morals taught in these stories might not really be true. The truth might be that society functions better when more people live by these morals, but some individuals might actually benefit from circumventing the morals and being selfish citizens instead. Children know that pushing to the head of the line benefits the strong aggressive children. Children, however, are taught that patience is the ideal that we should live up to, because society functions better with a majority of patient people. So, which truth should we teach our children? Only one of these facts can be true: “patience gives you what you want” or “aggressiveness gives you what you want.”

This question does not center around the “patience” or “aggressiveness” issue, but instead it centers around the “what you want” issue. This is because people are incapable of seeing everything and everyone. They see things from their personal point of view and they are capable of seeing things from the point of view of a few neighboring people. So, when a person has something that they personally want they are tempted to aggressively take that thing from the person and allow aggressiveness to give them what they want. This is the state of human nature before we begin to use our wisdom to makes rules and laws to give people something else that they want - peace and security. When a person uses aggression to get what they want they aren’t thinking of the ramifications of their actions on the total peace and security of a society. They are thinking about whether they can get away with getting what they want.

People who support the idea that more law and order makes society better have a good point. Making rules and creating punishments will deter some crime. It doesn’t, however deter all crime. This is because the truth is still lurking out there. People still know that aggression will get you what you want. Whether the aggression is in the form of hitting a person, taking what they have, and running as fast as you can or stealing people’s credit card numbers on the internet by using aggressive software to cheat the system the truth is that people can get what they want in this way. The truth is that the laws only effect those who are caught.

Of course, most people are not aggressive enough to get away with breaking the laws. Either they aren’t fast enough to get away from the police, or they aren’t smart enough to get away with the crime. There are those who are the most aggressive and they do have all their bases covered. Some of these people break the spirit of the law and protect themselves with an army of lawyers. Others simply break the laws and protect themselves with an army of force, which we call gangs or organized crime. When a large group of people choose to ignore the punishment for the crimes and consider only the reward for aggression, further laws and punishments will no longer be effective. The truth is, crime does pay for those who are aggressive enough. But, the truth is also that we do not like to live in a society dominated by aggression.

So, it could make sense that we as a society should spread the lies of morals that will make life better for all of us. If we believe that everyone else will want to live under the rules of a moral based society, then we will be willing to live under those same morals. When we do this we don’t feel like the guy down the street is able to get away with cheating the system, because we believe that honest “good” guys will respect the laws, be patient and work toward the honorable goal of getting what you want through fair and competitive patience.

There might be some truth in the idea that society would be better if everyone worked for the common good of society. But, the truth is there are lazy people in society that don’t want to work for the common good of everyone. The goal of making the world a better place is just a bit to abstract for them to understand the concept. These are the people who drive SUVs because they like big cars that will kill the little people who might choose to drive an economical hybrid. Better them rather than me, floats through the heads of these people. Global Warming and high rates of SUV rollovers can not penetrate this mentality. Aggression wins, is all they can think about. The truth is based on observations, and heavier cars will certainly cause more damage to smaller cars if they hit each other head on at the same speeds. But, the truths about SUV rollovers, Global Warming, effects of smog on people with asthma, the funding of terrorist groups with profits from Middle East oil and many more are out there as well. And, aggression means picking the truth that supports your cause, not the truth that supports the entire society.

Religion is selective with the truths that it supports as well. Religion is not based on observed evidence, but rather on faith. And, faith presupposes what the “truth” is, then it hunts for the evidence that supports that “truth.” For example, some religions have determined that homosexuality is a sin. Even if we were to assume that the Bible were the complete unambiguous truth about all things, there is very little support for this conjecture. If the religion were to determine that polygamy were the true calling of men, there would be much more evidence found in the Bible supporting this claim. But religion selects its evidence carefully and the followers are told not to question their faith, which is a code word for “authority.” If you think about this, truth is never in question if the authority can not be questioned. But, the truth is out there for those who seek it.

As the religious right in the United States has gradually taken control of the Republican Party in the United States the politicians have not resisted them. This was mainly because these religious zealots have brought their own version of the truth with them. Republicans have learned from the religious right how to project authority without being questioned in this newly acquired religious way. Republicans tell their followers not to question them, and then they don’t need to answer those questions. This is why George W Bush only spoke at “friendly” crowds during the 2004 presidential election. He didn’t want to face people who might question the faith. He asked his followers to trust him and believe in him, to have unquestionable faith in him. Then he could lead us into whatever debacle he chose, without being questioned. The truth continued to poke its little head out of the sand, and the faithful repeatedly buried it again, doing what they were told. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” they were repeatedly told. And, since they were raised to be incurious and unquestioning they continued to cling to their faith.

Could you imagine a world where politicians were concerned about truth and not power or control? Imagine what would happen after a school shooting. We wouldn’t have the pointless calls for posting the Ten Commandments on the classroom walls so that the students could “learn” that it is a sin to kill. I am guessing that everyone of the students who have ever brought a weapon to school, had been told at some point that killing was “bad.” They were probably told that it was a sin as well. They were probably told that they might even get the death penalty for killing. But, they still go forward and carry out the planned killing any way. The law and order solution to this problem is to make sure that everyone knows the laws, and the consequences of these laws. And, if that doesn’t work, then they would like to monitor every person in the world and make sure that they don’t have any thoughts about killing people. Since this can not work, they would rather created fear in the population so that neighbors will become so fearful of each other that they will monitor each other, therefore protecting everyone. The other solution depends on other truths that are often ignored. Parents need to spend time with their children and be able to determine mood changes and emotional states. The easy access to weapons could be examined.

The point is that evidence that contradicts the faith is taught to be wrong, sinful, “the devils work.” Truth is taught to be found in faith and not in the observable evidence. This circular reasoning always concludes that the truth is what the authority teaches, and everything else is wrong. In other words truth is based on what a religion proclaims to be true and nothing else can question that. If the Eighth Commandment had said, “Thou shall not lie,” things would be much different. Religions that based their teachings on the Bible would be obliged to search for the “truth.” The truth could only be spoken if people were confident that they really knew the truth. Speaking of something that were merely a conjecture would be prefaced with a warning that “some people believe,” or “we don’t know for sure, but.” This would result in a more honest view of the world than we typically get from many religions. But, honesty is not written in the Ten Commandments, so we can’t expect this from these people.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, February 23, 2007

Join Our Peloton

A few weeks ago I was invited to join a peloton. Of course I didn’t know what a peloton was, but I was able to infer its meaning from the context of the conversation. The invitation was to ride our bicycles across town and up some incredibly steep road, then stop, and watch as the cyclists from the “Amgen Tour of California” come racing up the hill.

As I have written here several times in the past, I am in much better condition than I was just three years ago. I am aerobically fit, from my daily workouts at the pool and my weekly jogging expeditions. But, my experience on a bicycle is not very recent. About 15 years ago my bicycle was my main transportation to and from work. I road a couple of miles on the bike trails in The Woodlands, Texas. And, I road a couple of miles each way to work in the rains of northern Germany. But the bike riding wasn’t really enough to keep me fit, because I managed to put on a few pounds even with the cycling. I rode, but I never made the trip a challenge, cycling was just another mode of transportation.

Since I hadn’t ridden my bicycle for quite some time I knew that it needed some maintenance. A quick look showed me that my tires were basically rotting on the rims and one of my brake cables was about to break. I bought new tires and inner tubes, but the little piece of brake cable wasn’t a standard part at the “big box” sporting goods store that I visited. The salesman suggested that I visit a “bike shop” to find the piece that I needed.

One might want to reflect on this little incident, if we remember that the “bike shop” is having difficulty competing with the “big box” sporting goods store across town. The “bike shop” is actually a neighborhood sporting goods store that also repairs bicycles in the back of the shop. The “big box” store has only been in town for about a year. I ended up buying the tires and the inner tubes at the “big box” store and then traveled across town to see if the “bike shop” had the piece of cable that I needed. I spent about $20 at the “big box” store, and the bike shop had the small cable piece I needed for $2. They also had the tires and inner tubes, but I had already bought them at the “big box” store. Obviously if other patrons behave the same way that I did it is easy to read the writing on the wall - the “bike shop” really isn’t going to survive. When I realized what I had done I looked around for something else that I might need. And I found a $20 bicycle pump that I thought that I might like to have, and I bought it. But, this was a charity purchase that I didn’t really need to make. Most people don’t even think in those terms, so I began to lament the demise of the “bike shop” before it has happened. We will all loose the ability to find those “little pieces” that the “big box” store won’t keep in inventory because they don’t sell that fast. We’ll end up needing to go online, find these things, and order them “next day” delivery instead.

With all the parts in hand I attacked my bicycle. I tore it apart and then put it back together again. I even used the new bicycle pump to fill the tires. I petitioned my family to go on a bike ride so I could test my handy work. Of course I was greeted with a blank stare questioning my sanity. My wife, feeling guilty, joined me on a short ride of about ten miles. The bicycle seemed to be in working order - ready for the peloton.

My brother-in-law works at a big “bike shop” that actually sells high-end bikes to professional racers. His store sponsors at least one race a year and maybe more. He sent us a professional bike-racing shirt that I thought would be appropriate to wear on this journey across town and into the world of bike racing. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I figured that bike racing wasn’t really as popular as the Super Bowl or the World Series. I figured that we would ride up the hill that was blocked off from automobiles and we would find ourselves alone, as I expected the typical overweight out-of-shape Americans to stay at the bottom of the hill and root from there if they even decided to watch the race at all.

I was slightly surprised when I met up with our peloton and discovered what cycling enthusiasts they were. Two of them had also wore their cycling jerseys. Three of them had very nice bikes, where mine was at least 20 years old with about 20,000 miles on it. At least it had new tires on it.

Well, as we started off I felt at ease knowing that these guys had major cycling experience. They used cycling hand signals to worn us of potential dangers, like cars. They knew how to ride through traffic and signal to the cars. And, I just followed their example. All of my cycling experience was basically on bike trails or in bicycle friendly countries. So, I followed, watched and learned.

We rode for several miles until the hill emerged ahead of us. I anticipated the hill looking forward to testing my ability to climb it with my bike. Of course the riding became slower and my heart pounded harder as we began to climb. And eventually I stopped and walked my bike a short distance up a very steep section. Then I hopped on the bike and pushed ahead a bit more. Then I was completely embarrassed when one of the experts in our group asked me why I didn’t down shift my gears. Well, I had down shifted my rear gears, but I completely forgot to do the same in the front. And, of course that made things much easier.

We rode about 1 mile up this hill and found a sharp turn in the road where we could wait for the professionals to race by. And, to my surprise the crowd had not thinned out on this stretch of the course. People were crowded and they clutched their cowbells. In fact, as we rode by many of the people rang these cowbells “just for fun” as they waited. The crowd was quite large. I imagined that the number of people crowed along this mile up the hill was larger than the number of people that gathered for the last parade that I attended. And, the people seemed to be more excited than the crowd at the last parade that I attended. Many of these people had chalked messages on the road as they waited. “Floyd was Framed, ” “Go Levi,” and “Super Fan” were some of the messages that I remember. But, the road had hundreds of these. I couldn’t imagine that any of the cyclists would even read them, but you never know.

The particular spot where we stopped had a Fox News TV camera set up on a tripod. At the time we had no idea who owned the camera, but later in the evening some footage showed up on the local Fox News affiliate taken from that vantage point. It also helped to have “Super Fan” choose this spot to root for the cyclists.

Super Fan is a guy who wore a big fuzzy wig, a red, white and blue jump suit and a red, white and blue cape. The guy was obviously an attention seeking person possibly with a mental disease. (;-}) And, he managed to get himself on the evening news acting like a loony, so got some of that attention that he was seeking.

We waited for over 30 minutes to see a couple of minutes of bike racing. First we saw a few cars and motorcycles traveling the course 10 to 15 minutes ahead of the cyclists. Apparently they are looking for loonies like “Super Fan” that might decide to disrupt the race. Super Fan got a lot of coverage on the local TV station, but he didn’t have a message. Perhaps if he were protesting something or making another statement the advance cars might figure out a way to detain him before the cyclists were to reach that spot. Behind these advance cars were several units of police, on motorcycles and in cars. These guys yelled at the crowd that walked into the street as we waited for the cyclists. More motorcycles and cars came through until finally the first group of riders came riding through behind a motorcycle that stayed just in front of the leaders.

Well, I certainly appreciated the effort those cyclists made as they pumped their way up that hill after my earlier attempt. It was amazing to me how close those guys hung together as they climbed that hill. The skill they demonstrated to me went beyond the simple ability to power that bike 650 miles across the California landscape. Controlling that bike, in that pack of cyclists pushing up and then racing down the hills, is certainly beyond my ability. Being there and witnessing the actual event is difficult to put into words, simply because so much was happening that made the event and writing about it can only be done by excluding so much.

After just a few minutes the cyclists had passed and we were on our way to the next vantage-point. As it turned out the cyclists went up the hill and around a loop. In about 30 minutes they were due to pass by once again. So, we rode back down the hill to another place to wait for them to come around their loop. And, as we waited it got colder and I began to freeze. One of the guys in our peloton made a break away and decided to ride the five miles from where we were to the finish line. But, I decided to wait instead of ride basically because I had a meeting back at work that I didn’t want to miss.

As we waited the Girl Scouts came by and sold us cookies. As I imagine this phenomena 20 years hence I see businesses exploiting this by selling soft drinks, hot dogs, ice cream and more. Once they identify the “hot spots” where all the people come to wait for the racers fly by the venders will fill in the vacuum.

The ride back afterward was fast. Most of the ride was down hill, except for a short segment uphill and into the wind. Most of the ride was effortless, aside from that little climb that I pushed hard against. But, that little fight just before arriving at my destination brought back memories of those professionals climbing that hill. My struggle made me want to fight harder. But, I wondered how long I could keep up that fight. One quarter of the way up that hill was tough, but the professionals had ¾ of the way more to go up that hill after almost 100 miles of riding. Wow.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Stupid is as Stupid Does

I awoke with the sound of my radio telling me the latest news this morning. It wasn’t much different than it has been over the last five years. More stupidity in Iraq came out of the radio and into my ears.

But, today’s stupidity was another dunce cap placed on the head of the Bush administration. They must truly believe that Americans are that stupid. First I heard that Tony Blair has finally come to his senses and is bringing about 20% of the British troops home. In addition two more countries Denmark and Lithuania have come to their senses as well and are bringing their troops home. I know that Denmark and Lithuania didn’t really contribute a huge amount of manpower to this fight, however, when we went into the war 50 soldiers counted as a major contribution by the “coalition of the willing.” Now, as these “major” contributions are being withdrawn the Bush administration ignores them and looks the other way.

So, when I heard the Bush administration’s response to these withdrawals I was not really surprised at what they said. If fact, I am more surprised that Americans are not seeing through this nonsense. Dick Cheney said, "I think they believe that in southern Iraq, that Basra region where they've been most active, we have made significant progress," if referring to the British plan to withdraw troops.

Why does this statement makes logical sense?

Let me get this straight. We are loosing the battle in the streets of Baghdad. I know this because George W Bush told us that when he begged for more troops to be sent to Iraq, to fight in Baghdad. We are also failing in Anbar province. I know this because George W Bush is sending more Americans there to die for the Iraqi people who don’t appreciate the Democracy that we have forced on them. But, the British are pulling their troops from southern Iraq and taking them home because the Sunis don’t live in Southern Iraq.

Let’s imagine for a minute that there is an out of control wild fire approaching two towns. The firemen are split into two teams to protect the two towns. Now, imagine that the wind shifts direction in such a way that the fire is moving away from one of the towns, but it is baring down on the other town twice as fast. Does it make sense to withdraw half the firefighters from the one town and send them home while leaving the other half just in case the wind shifts again? Of course the Shiite people in the south are cooperating with the Shiite lead government. Why wouldn't they? In fact, shouldn’t the British soldiers in Southern Iraq just turn over control to the Iraqis and head north to lend a helping hand?

Unless… Unless Tony Blair has finally come to his senses and he realizes that this is the perfect excuse to leave the unwinnable war to the idiot who started it. Politicians are like that. They realize that they don’t have any support for a loosing idea and they figure out how to make things right again. Unless your name is George W Bush and you just don’t have the ability to learn or change. And, since that happens to be our leader and we don’t have congress with enough backbone to stand up to him we are just doomed to follow the stupid people we voted for right off that big cliff.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Culture and Ethnicity

I am of Scots decent. My family has been in this country since 1654; maybe longer because I don’t every ancestor 12 generations or more back 350 years. Over these past 350 years my family has lost the taste for haggis and the urge to toss the caber. In a strange twist of history my ancient ancestor was born after the time when the old style philabeg (predecessor of the kilt) had been banned by the government and before the new style kilt was invented in 1725. My ancestor from Scotland who was captured and brought to the “New World” against his will and sold as an indentured servant had only ever worn pants. It is quite strange to think of the idea of a Scottish Highland games that glorifies the kilt, but had never been part of my Scottish family’s heritage.

Actually there are quite a few ironies and distortions in our relationship between our ethnic heritage and our ethnic culture.

Did that last sentence sound strange to anyone? I am saying that ethnic heritage and ethnic culture are two different things. This is because people no longer live in the same small village for their entire life. More people travel than they used to. And, more people especially in America move around and live in different places. This mobile culture “overwrites” our “hometown” culture. And, when we leave a particular place our memory of that place becomes frozen in our minds as the way that place “IS.” But, the reality is that the place continues to evolve after we leave that place. And, the new place that we find ourselves a part of begins to change because of the ideas that we bring to it.

When we go to another country we take our “American” ideas with us. But those “American” ideas might be a mixture of 1970s Chicago, 1980s rural Texas and 1990s rural California experience plus everything we “know” from TV about America. And when the German who meets you learns about “America” he will form an idea about America that isn’t the same as if she had met a person who has a 1970s New York, 1980s LA and 1990s Seattle experience of America. In fact, it might make sense to talk about a “personal” culture at some point.

But, underlying these experiences of American life that give us an American culture we also have an ethnic culture that is passed down through our family by means of ethnic tradition. But when you live close to people from many different backgrounds it is likely that you will pick up bits and pieces of the cultures that surround you. We see this all the time in regard to food and drink. We eat Mexican, Chinese and Japanese food all the time. We serve bagels, falafel, pita pockets, hummus, coffee and tea that all came from other places and other cultures. We absorb new words and descriptions when we hear our neighbors use them. We wear clothes and shoes that we see our neighbors wear. Culture flows, it isn’t stagnant. But our mind freezes what we see today and we call that American culture. Maybe that is why many of us don’t like change. We have learned to like the culture that we have, because it gives us comfort, but as the culture changes as it always will we find ourselves looking for that old culture that we once knew so well.

My grandmother came to the United States in the early 1900s. She was following her father who was looking for a better life. He first travel to Leadville, Colorado where he went to work in the lead mines. After a short while he learned that the lead mines in Colorado were dangerous. They were dangerous because the owners of the mines owned the town and they knew that the workers didn’t have enough money to just pick up everyone in the family and move to a better place very easily. But my great grandfather was all alone and he didn’t have to pick up the family and move. He just needed to move himself, and so he did. He went to the coalmines in Pennsylvania and worked there, where he found that competition had forced the mines to be safer, although not completely safe.

When my grandmother and her family finally reached Pennsylvania they brought the culture of the “old” country with them. They made friends with others from their country and they attempted to save the traditions that they could. Some of their holidays fell on workdays in Pennsylvania, so they found that they couldn’t celebrate them in the same way. They found that those who wore the latest fashion quickly ridiculed them for wearing their native dress.

With all of this talk about culture, maybe we should define it to make sure that we understand what we mean by culture. And, what it comes down to is that culture is the same as values. What we value is a function of our experience and tradition. When the religious right talks about values they are talking about culture. And, the issue is that some people desire a common culture where everyone understands the standard values of the whole. The problem is that there is no such thing as a common uniform culture in a world where everyone is mobile. People bring their values with them as they move around the world and they leave their values with the people that they have contact with.

There are three broad categories of values: utilitarian, moral and existential. Utilitarian values are the foods and material things that we value. We might say that Americans value hamburgers as utilitarian value. We rank our favorite foods as a country and we determine what we value as the best foods as a culture. If we had a more uniform culture we might be able to have an “American” Restaurant where everyone would agree that “American” food was served there. Maybe it would be called Applebee’s or Marie Calendar’s. It is quite obvious that American food really isn’t a very strong utilitarian value. With so many different ethnic foods brought to the American dinner table our culture is extremely diverse.

Moral values are what we view as a culture to be right and wrong. The Christian right is correct when they say that our moral values are largely based on a Judeo-Christian ethic. This is because people with a Judeo-Christian heritage founded the Untied States and they brought those values with them. But, just because they passed those values down to us does not mean that those are the best moral values that exist. Many cultures have explored moral questions and those cultures have discovered different answers to those questions. Philosophers and theologians have explored the questions of ethics and morals and public discussion on these issues would be a good way to approach the problems we have with moral values. The main problem with our current understanding of morals is that they are based in many different religions, and many people find it difficult to question their personal religion. Therefore many issues such as gay marriage or abortion have little room for debate. There are too many people out there with an absolute view on the issues. If too many people have an absolute view on a religious issue they will not be persuaded by argument, and they will not accept the decision by the majority. If a minority feels strongly about a moral issue that they regard as an absolute, they may resort to violence and believe that they are justified by a higher power.

Even more important than moral values are existential values. These are the values that we have about our purpose as a species, society, culture, family or person. These questions are so important that we are afraid to think about them. We often teach our children to find their purpose through their religion, prayer, meditation or spiritual ritual. Since most of us have little confidence in what our purpose truly is we often defer the question to someone older and wiser, which also have no idea. And, sometimes we just “know” what we are meant to do. Currently, however our country is not united behind any specific purpose. We have determined earlier that we are “not the world’s policeman.” We have also determined that we should “spread democracy throughout the Middle East, starting in Iraq.” But what should our purpose as a country be? With the country being run by a group that believe that we are in the “End Times” predicted by the Bible purpose is not weighing on their minds. And, if we do not have a purpose articulated to the people, then the next crisis will make us ripe for the extremists to take another shot at grabbing for power, like the Bush administration did after 9/11/2001. Next time it might not turn out as well.

The point that I am trying to make with this post is that America is a land of diversity. The diversity is “good” in that it gives us plenty of choices when it comes to culture. Naturally as we experience different cultures we take what we value from them when we can. We take foods and art and ideas. We also take moral and ethical ideas as well when we see that they make more sense or solve social problems. But, with so much diversity we lose a sense of communal culture where we know what everyone else likes and believes. This makes things more difficult, because we need to communicate more to find out what our neighbor thinks. And, when we don’t have a defined purpose as a country, which is most often communicated through the culture, we could find ourselves vulnerable to extremists who could tell us what we should do in time of the next crisis. People will respond more easily if they do not have a clear picture of our purpose. This is a dangerous place for our country to be.

The solution is to discuss these things before we have our next crisis, so that we will be on the same page as a country and not be vulnerable to some crazy lunatic in the next crisis.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

White House Secret Plans

So, you thought that Washington was the place where people went to debate the issues and where Americans come together to do what is best for our country. I guess that you are just a naïve fool then.

A memo to the Republicans in congress has been leaked, and we can all see that Republicans are not interested in doing what is best for our country, or even debate the issues. The memo is written by GOP Reps. John Shadegg and Peter Hoekstra tells their audience that they should first of all avoid debate. We “…urge you not to debate the Democratic Iraq resolution, …” they write. They go on to say, “Democrats want to force us to focus on defending the surge, making the case that it will work and explaining why the President's new Iraq policy is different from prior efforts and therefore justified.” Well, of course they can’t do that, they would loose. But, the problem is that the resolution offered says these exact things. The point of the Iraq resolution is to get everyone on the same page in agreement that the president’s policy is a failure and the surge is not likely to succeed. But, the “brave” Republican “warriors” are afraid to debate the issue at hand, and instead they would rather avoid the issue. They are choosing to “cut and run” on this debate. They would rather “stay the course” with George W Bush’s failure of a plan in Iraq.

Once again it is quite clear that the Republicans are interested in furthering the “fear” factor. They have learned that when America is afraid, then the Republicans win. Keep us fearful and then Americans will sacrifice whatever it takes to make us safe again. But, the point is that fear leads to power and this memo shows that the goal is to makes us afraid, very afraid. However, this might not be so true. It might be the case that when America is fearful, those in power acquire more power because the public will defer to authority when in doubt. Perhaps the Democrats will realize this and take charge of the situation when the Republicans stoke the coals of fear once again.

The memo also takes a dig at the liberal mainstream media for reminding Americans that there are actually Americans dying in Iraq and it is costing billions of dollars. These clowns are actually saying that they are upset that the media is doing their job - reporting the facts. Would they rather that we just entrust them with the keys to the treasury and let them have all of our young men and women fight for them? Don’t answer that, it was a rhetorical question. Actually they do want us to give them all the levers of power and go away. Fortunately we do have a media that is now a voice of skepticism that is much welcomed in light of the free pass that they gave to the Bush administration in the run up to the Iraq invasion. Sorry guys, this time we actually have a couple of guys pointing out the flaws in your plan.

But the best line from this memo is: “If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose.” It hard to imagine anything less democratic. Don’t debate the issue, obfuscate the issue and make America fearful.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Monday, February 12, 2007

Swing Voter

I still have time before the upcoming presidential primaries before I need to determine which party to register under. So do you.

As I have said many times before, I was a registered Libertarian for some years before I registered as a Democrat. In fact, the main reason I registered as a Democrat was to have the chance to nominate a Democrat to take on the corruption of the Republican Party. From my point of view I saw no possibility of swinging the train wreck of the Republican Party away from its date with destiny. But, I thought, perhaps I could have a voice in choosing someone who could challenge George W Bush.

It’s all history now, so that doesn’t really matter. The new election cycle has begun and many have thrown their hats into the ring. And, that being the case I must decide which Party I’d like to cast my vote for.

I could go back and register as a Libertarian. Unfortunately the Libertarian Party does not seem to have many candidates vying to win the nomination for the Libertarian to be placed on the ballot. And, the American public doesn’t really understand the Libertarian ideology, so they aren’t likely to elect a Libertarian Party candidate anyway. Instead, I need to figure out which political party has the highest probability of nominating a Libertarian to the top of their ticket. Actually, it might not be to bad to have a few libertarian candidates for other offices on the ticket as well.

Since most of my readers are Americans and might not be aware of my particular libertarian position I’ll point out how libertarian I am.

Libertarian in general means liberty. In other words, a libertarian would like to have minimal government control over our lives. Minimal intervention is not the same as no intervention. The government is the main way that we the people are able to work together for the common good. So, the issue becomes how much government intervention is needed to maintain social and economic order without out the destruction of our liberty.

This is the age-old problem that has been with us since the dawn of time. Leaders want total control in order to maintain total order. They sell this control as peace and security to their followers who pay with their liberty. So, the political libertarian seeks to control the politician’s desire for power and control. Obviously this is a losing battle, because the motivation for politicians is to seek power and control, by definition. If the Libertarian Party were every to take over the government chances are that they would no longer be a libertarian political party. Instead they would talk libertarian ideology and use political power to maintain political control. We have seen this happen before with the Republican Party of recent years. Republicans told us that they wanted to make government small, but after they took power we learned that their real motivation was to reduce taxes of the very wealthy and take away our social liberty.

In fact, neither of the two major political parties in America are libertarian. The Republican Party desires financial or property liberties while seeking too control social order by denying social liberties. The Democrats tend to be more socially tolerant allowing social liberties while passing laws that constrain the power of corporations, the wealthy and other property owners. A true libertarian seeks to reduce government control in all areas.

Now, personally I am not an anarchist. An anarchist believes that life would be better without a government at all. This would be a world without rules and laws. This would be a world with complete liberty, but a dangerous world where thugs and gangs would rule. It would be a lot like Afghanistan.

From my point of view we need a government to enforce reasonable laws that prevent others from seizing your liberty. It could be corporations that would like to take away our environment, or fundamentalist Christians that would like to take away our personal freedoms. The point is that we need some protection from those who want to take power. And, we should have by default all the rest of the liberty we desire. No one has the right to abridge another’s liberty, be they neighbor, employer or governor.

This seems simple, but like anything else the Devil is in the details. One man’s liberty or freedom butts up against another man’s liberty or freedom. The ignorant can be taken advantage of by the knowledgeable and the deceitful can have a field day with the honest.

So, I am left with the question, which party should I register in for the next election season? I have been considering registering Republican this time around. I think that Rudi Giuliani might be the guy. Especially if John McCain continues to move into the Devil’s den of the Christian right he just might be the man of the hour. But, if John McCain gets back on his “Straight Talk Express” he could be the guy. Perhaps I’d vote for one of the Democrats if they survive the right wing swift boating. But if they don’t, it would be nice to have a socially less conservative Republican to vote for.

The thing I worry about the most, as far as the Republican Party is concerned, of course, is how badly it has been corrupted. It is still susceptible to the claws of the Religious right and the special interest groups encouraged by Tom Delay. I don’t know how well the Party has been able to clean itself up. With George W Bush and Dick Cheney still at the head of the table, it still hasn’t been purged. But, maybe if there were more people like me who are willing to vote for a leader with reason in the next primary we will be able to get back on track and build a better America.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, February 09, 2007

Economics 101

Suddenly, with the Democrats in power the debate has turned to income inequality. The problem is that the Democrats don’t seem to frame the issue very well. And, because the Democrats can’t frame the issue we suddenly find a debate about income distribution and socialism. I would like to say, before anyone from the right jumps on this train wreck about to happen that we already know that socialism doesn’t work. There is no need to debate this, because we have a real life example of the failure of socialism with the economic failure of the Soviet Union.

In fact, the real problem isn’t really a problem with income inequality. There are many problems with our current economic system, but income inequality is not the biggest problem.

We have a real problem with economic hypocrisy in the United States. We have a real problem with dishonest representation of the economic facts and figures in the United States. We have a real problem with the fair distribution of costs of infrastructure to those who use the infrastructure in the United States. And, we have a real problem with not giving all children an equal start in life in the United States. But, income inequality is a symptom of these other problems and not a problem in itself.

After all, we believe in a meritocracy in the United States. We believe that people should be paid for their usefulness in the United States. Unfortunately we only partially practice what we preach in the United States. The argument is that those who are innovative are rewarded for their efforts with large salaries and other compensation. But, I would argue that the guy in manufacturing that figures out how to speed up a step in the process is not rewarded as highly as the quarterback that wins nine out sixteen games in a season. In fact, many of the linemen on that football team are paid more than the innovative guy in manufacturing. In fact, the manager of the guy in manufacturing most likely gets a bigger bonus than the guy who actually figured out the improvement. The fact of the matter is that we reward innovation when we are forced to, but if we can get away with ignoring it we will tell the guy “thanks for doing your job, that’s what we pay you for.” That guy in manufacturing had no idea what the real effect of his innovation was on the company’s bottom line. And, because he was kept in the dark he had no idea what a reasonable request for a salary increase or bonus might be. And also, since he had already given his innovation up to the company it is likely that if he were to demand reasonable compensation he would probably be let go before that ever happened. The company knows that these guys are always going to look for new ways to make their lives easier and the guy’s replacement is just as likely to find the next new innovation.

Income inequality is actually a very good motivator, if the difference in income is actually due to job performance, innovation or other desirable contributions. That being said, income is not always unequal due to these factors. In fact, other things often contribute to income inequality that do not benefit the overall economy or the company’s bottom line for that matter. This is mainly due to basic misconceptions. For example, an employer is likely to pay more money to friends and relatives than people that are an unknown. This is often justified by risk considerations. An employer is likely to suggest that risk is lower for known people and higher for unknown people. But, the reality is not always this simple. Many friends and relatives are likely to loaf on the job, because they believe that there are no consequences for this behavior. Most likely, however, job performance is not likely to be related to the relationship to the employer.

The situation is so complex, and the subtle reasons for salary differences so intangible that people don’t normally discuss their salaries. Government pay scales are specified precisely because of these issues. But, private industry is not governed by these rules, so an executive could hire his wife for ten times the amount that a normal employee receives for doing the same job. As a family they both benefit from this nepotism.

Well, nepotism has existed since the dawn of time and it is frowned upon. But this idea exists in a spectrum of reality. Just as we all have people we know very well, less well, not at all and everything in between. Similarly employers favor those they are familiar with and exploit those they know less about. And, this extends to all possible cultural generalizations. For example, men relate to men in the work place better than women in the workplace. So, it shouldn’t surprise us that women are paid less than men in general. And, this goes for the upper class, middle class blacks, lower class Hispanics and other groups. Employers tend to rely on stereotypes and other generalizations. It has even been documented that handsome men are paid more than ugly men are. It shouldn’t surprise us that friendly talkative employees are paid more than quiet shy employees, even when their work is equal.

The real problem is not income inequality, it is the inherited wealth of the privileged classes. When the wealthy class controls a large portion of the wealth of the United States these people do not have to face up to the meritocracy that the rest of us face. The wealthy put their children into elite schools where they use the name of that institution to acquire placement into other elite schools. This class has solidified their hold on the top jobs in the top companies, if they choose to go in that direction. But with their personal wealth invested in the top companies they don’t even need to work. In fact, at this level wealth becomes power and these people don’t need to follow the rules that the rest of us do.

Of course the problem of the wealthy class isn’t as bad as it is in other older countries, but it certainly persists and degrades our society. If we truly had a meritocracy, it would weed out some of these people with no talent and no drive. Perhaps if we truly had a meritocracy we would never have heard of people like Paris Hilton.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Clothing Optional

Yes, I have been to a nude beach. Or, as the signs around the beach proclaim, “clothing optional” beach. To my surprise however, not many people that I know have actually participated at a “clothing optional” beach. So, the mystique of nude beaches persists through our culture.

Now, of course my experience was many years ago quite far away from where I live. It wouldn’t be very likely that I would go there again, even though I enjoyed the experience quite well. That being said, my experience and my expectations at the outset were quite different. And, I believe that the expectations, false or real, are at the root of the misconceptions surrounding the whole idea of nude beaches in American culture.

I expect that many Americans who happen to go to nude beaches do so because of expectations, or in a way similar to my experience. I never planned to go to a nude beach, it just happened. I was on a trip and a group of people that I knew suggested that we go swimming. It was summer, and we had several breaks through out the day for lunch or other things. So, the time to go swimming was available. However, since swimming was not on the agenda for the trip it, most of us hadn’t brought swimming suits, or even shorts for that matter.

As we began to complain about not bringing the normally required attire, one the members of the group explained that there was a clothing optional beach within walking distance. Since our group was coed I had expected sigh of “Oh well.” Instead I was surprised that the group was in favor of giving the beach a try at lunchtime. Maybe it was peer pressure, maybe it was curiosity or maybe it was the expectation of something forbidden, but all of us got together to trek to the beach at lunchtime.

I had known the people I was with for some years by this time, but I had never seen any of them naked. At the time I wasn’t in top physical condition, but neither were they. Curiosity and expectation gripped me, and so I never thought much about embarrassment. Like Popeye said, “I yam what I yam.”

We actually had to climb down a fairly steep sea cliff in order to get to the beach, which was secluded from the road above. Trees grew high up and down the cliff, so there was no possibility of a casual observer being surprised by what was on the beach. And, furthermore signs along the path warned that the beach was clothing optional.

When we reached the bottom of the cliff I didn’t pause to contemplate the situation. I quickly found a place to put my clothes and I took them off and piled them up. We all carried towels from the hotel we were staying in, but no one rapped themselves in it. Instead we did what anyone who goes to the beach does; we put our towels on the beach and sat down.

The perfection of the experience must have been with the people I was with. No one acted embarrassed or insecure. Everyone continued to talk about the things we had talked about as we continued to watch the people around us. After a while some of us decided to sun bathe while others went in the water for a dip. In fact, I don’t remember exactly what I did moment by moment. Instead I remember the experience as something exotic and unusual.

My expectations might have been along the lines of something potentially erotic, but the reality of the situation was more along the lines of something freeing. Of course that sounds like some type of liberal mumbo jumbo, but the experience is easier to experience than to explain.

Maybe painting a picture would help to explain the experience. There were about 100 people on the beach, maybe more. Most of them were sunbathing, but some were swimming in the chilly ocean waves. The weather was warm and comfortable, not windy at all. There was a logging company a short way up the beach in one direction, but there was little activity taking place there. There were several seals in the area, many of them were climbing huge stacks of logs and jumping into the water. They chased each other around the piles and we all watched them from time to time. As I sat down and looked around I began to notice the people who occupied the beach. It was easy to spot the regulars, because they were the ones who were completely tanned - no tan lines at all. One of the regulars was a woman, in her thirties. She walked up and down the beach selling drinks. She carried a cooler but covered nothing what-so-ever. It was obvious that she rarely if ever had worn a bra, because her mammaries hung low, much lower than anyone else’s on the beach.

In that first hour at the nude, or clothing optional, beach I began to enjoy the freedom to observe and freedom from the restriction of clothes. The novelty of the experience hadn’t worn off and I felt a sense of accomplishment that I had actually done something that cultured society doesn’t normally approve of. We spent a week at this meeting and we skipped several lunches in order to go back to this special place. The weather cooperated and we had a great time.

But, like with anything there are always problems normally unforeseen at the outset. Imagine for a moment what happens when a male is erotically stimulated. Now, imagine a beach full of erotically stimulating females. Trouble can happen in the form of embarrassment if one isn’t careful. Actually, this is in one form a relief for some females at the beach, because they may have some insight into the men that she may encounter on the beach. On the other hand the men on the beach need to put some restraint or control on any fantasies that might happen from time to time. I found that this wasn’t as big of a problem that I had imagined, which surprised me in a strange sort of way.

Some things can not be controlled. And, on a nude beach I found this out as well. As I opted to sunbathe on one occasion I drifted off to sleep in the nice warm sun. And thirty minutes later when I had awoken I discovered an artist sketching my anatomy. Apparently I had a mildly erotic dream and an artist had taken his opportunity to draw me in my pose. I wasn’t upset, after all there wasn’t much that I could have done about it. And, what difference did it make to me. But, it was certainly not something that I had expected when I had thought about the potential of going to a nude beach.

Over the years since this experience I have often thought about it in the light of experience. One thing is for certain; I appreciate the functionality of clothing more than I had before my experience. It has also allowed me to separate the difference between nudity and eroticism that is based in reality. Before this experience I had imagined a quick jump between naked bodies to sex. Instead I appreciate the important human relationship aspect of the whole process. Of course, I am not saying that I appreciate human relationships because I went to a nude beach. Instead I am saying that this experience lead to a different point of view that assists in drawing the whole picture. Relationships are tricky, and any insight into how they works seems to be a good thing from my point of view. And, if nothing else, the experience showed me that the crazy religious right that is afraid of nudity because they think that it will automatically lead to sexual promiscuity have their facts wrong. There were no wild and crazy sex orgies on that beach. There wasn’t even one couple making out on the beach that I saw. In fact, I would say that nudity may have prevented some of those things because of the embarrassment factor I mentioned above. So, if I have any words of wisdom from this experience they would be, “Try it yourself, you’ll be surprised. If you ever have the opportunity go to a nude beach and experience it.”


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Entertainment Breakthrough

Some of you might remember a short lived show from last year called, “The Book of Daniel.” The religious right managed to censor the networks and prevent this show from being aired after the first few episodes. The network, NBC, decided to experiment with this show and actually continued to show the remaining episodes over the Internet. Now I’m not an avid TV watcher by any means, but my family and I liked the show, “The Book of Daniel” so we continued to watch the remaining episodes on the computer at home.

We discovered an amazing thing, we were no longer constrained by time. If the pop corn wasn’t ready we could wait for it before we started the show. Not only that, but we could pause the show just as we do DVDs or video cassettes. What a powerful thing this technology truly is!

But, it seemed to us that NBC just showed this show because they had nothing to loose. The shows were made in advance and it really didn’t matter what they did with them because they weren’t a revenue stream. But, at least by showing them on the web they were able to smooth the feathers of a few avid fans while still preventing the onslaught of letter writing to the FCC or their local affiliates. The religious right has learned how to mobilize their army and prevent what they don’t like from being aired on the public air waves.

But, the Internet is different, and slowly the major media providers are learning this. Instead of providing a constant stream of content at the providers will, the Internet allows users to find the content that they’d like to view whenever they want. It worked for “The Book of Daniel” with our family.

I don’t have many TV shows that I really like to watch. But, occasionally I find myself sitting in front of the TV watching something while I am waiting for the show that I really want to see. This is such a waste of time, but human nature being what it is I just sit there and wait. With the Internet I don’t have to wait, I can have my show during a break, then I can do something else.

Well, one of the shows that I do like to watch is “Heroes.” It comes on at 9:00 PM, which isn’t such a bad time. But, occasionally I haven’t finished helping the kids with their homework, or getting them off to bed before the show begins. In addition, my son has taken to taping the show and watching it the next day, because 9:00 PM is his bedtime. But, taping a show requires remembering to tape it. So, last week when he forgot to tape the show he decided to check the NBC web site, where he discovered that the show was archived there. Or, at least the last few episodes were archived there. So, he watched the show when he came home from school and I watched it a few days later in the evening after everything had settled down. I have to say that this is truly amazing technology.

When we watched “The Book of Daniel” last year there weren’t any commercials. NBC simply net-cast this at a loss. This year there are a few commercials, and I’m sure that they will grow as advertisers become aware of the advantages of being out there continuously as people download the shows. Like TV in the past, as advertisers pour money into this “new” media it will continue to get better and better. And, as word gets out more and more media providers will continue to put more and more entertainment on their web sites. NBC already has archives of many of its current shows including clips from “Saturday Night Live” that go back to the first season.

The only problem I foresee is the bandwidth that video uses. As more and more people watch video asynchronously on the Internet the bandwidth gets sucked up. The Internet providers will need to improve their infrastructure to keep up with this demand as it grows. Will these providers raise the cost of Internet access? Or, will advertising cover the costs? And, will all of this video on the Internet create bottle necks and frustrate us into going back and watching the shows on the tried and true television?

My guess is where ever there is a buck to be made someone will find a way to make it and make a few more a well.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Issue of an Up or Down Vote

This is just a quickie. Well, it is a quickie as far as I, the blogger that doesn’t know when to quit writing is concerned.

Last year, (or was it even longer than that?) we had the Republicans trying to push George W Bush’s right wing extremist federal judge nominations on the American people. The Senate was deadlocked because the Democrats were determined to filibuster these extremists. The results of having these radicals on the bench could be detrimental to hundreds of court cases that would be brought before these people. It was clear that these people were far right from the mainstream, however the Republicans pushed their agenda by announcing to the media that they just wanted “an up or down vote.” Of course this was only an effort to try to embarrass the Democrats into falling in line with the Republicans. The Democrats knew that the tide had turned and most Americans no longer blindly threw their allegiance behind the extremist leaders.

Now with the tables turned the issue is no longer the fate of extremist judges. Instead we have the lives of thousands of soldiers being wasted on a lost cause. We have billions of dollars being spent on a futile effort of trying to build a nation for people who would rather have us leave them alone. The Democrats are not even asking for a law to change anything. Instead the Democrats are trying to find out who’s on board and who is still standing with the lost cause. The Democrats want to debate the effort in the light of public scrutiny so the law makers will finally understand what the moral and ethical way forward truly is. And, the Republicans don’t even want the issue to come up for a vote.

This isn’t even a law. It doesn’t change anything except the way America may actually look at the war. And the Republicans are afraid of “an up or down vote” on this issue. The Republican Party has truly become the Party of the wimps.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, February 02, 2007

Freedom vs. Intrusion

When does one man’s freedom become another man’s intrusion?

Sometimes these things are simple to understand. If you don’t like someone you do not have the freedom to harm him, because your freedom intrudes on his freedom. However, these things are not always black and white.

Think of the situation where a salesman wants to sell something. He believes that he has the freedom to walk up to someone’s home, knock on the door and offer his wares for sale. It is certain that the home owner had no intention of buying whatever is being offered, but the salesman believes that he has the right to ring the door bell and intrude on the homeowner.

Most often the homeowner doesn’t feel put out. The homeowner might feel annoyed. The homeowner might just want the salesman to go away. Or, the homeowner might suddenly realize that the wares that the salesman is selling are the magic that is missing in his life and he would be lucky to pay $19.99 for whatever the salesman is selling.

Some people are lonely and they hope that a salesman will come knock on their door in order to break up the monotony and loneliness. But, if you ask most people they will tell you that they dread the strange knock at the door because it is most often a salesman trying to unload his wares.

People often erect “no soliciting” signs as a warning to those who wish it sell their goods. Apartment complexes and buildings also erect these signs. And, many mostly affluent cities have ordinances prohibiting solicitation. And, these signs and laws often have very little effect on curbing the eager salesman from offering his wares.

Actually, we should face the reality of the situation. No one likes to be marketed to. We don’t like to be told what we should buy. It doesn’t matter how great the product is; we would like to learn about it ourselves. When the salesman appears, then we all would like to have time to think about the product. And, when the salesman is about to leave, then we fear that we will have missed the opportunity to buy that special product.

Dealing with a salesman at the front door is one thing. It is a small intrusion that we are willing to forgive if he offers something that we either want or need. However, the intrusion is less forgivable when the wares are not wanted or needed. One particular salesman has a monopoly on the product that isn’t wanted or needed (At least from my point of view.). This, of course, is the religious salesman selling his faith. These guys aren’t asking for money, they are asking for your faith. In fact, these people are asking for your faith based on a short talk crafted to convince you that their faith is the one true faith.

Now, I am not arguing that there aren’t people out there that don’t need some guidance, and perhaps religious guidance might be the right fit. But, doesn’t the idea of fast thoughtless religion put a bad taste in your mouth? Since people are naturally drawn to ask these philosophical and religious questions, I would expect that people searching on their own are more likely to find their best personal way to God on their own. People who are spoon fed a simple spiritual solution at their doorstep will be disappointed down the road when the doorstep religion slowly becomes real. However, that assumes that religions are all basically equal with no religion better than another. This might be the case, however for most religions there is only one true way. And, of course that one true way is through their doors.

People can be compelled to do many strange things when they are taught to believe that those who don’t share the same faith are likely to be lost souls condemned to eternal damnation. Imagine the sorrow you feel for that dog that was lying dead on the side of the road. Imagine the greater sorrow you feel for the child that died of a terrible disease. And, if you were compelled to believe that that child was condemned to eternal damnation because they weren’t saved by your religion. How could anyone let that happen? And one way to do that is to go out and sell your religion.

As a nation we have created public safety laws that we believe help protect our society from needless death and suffering. Seatbelt laws, traffic laws, drunk driving laws, and Arizona even has a stupidity law that are meant to protect the public from unnecessary death and injury. And so, to the religious it would only make sense that we pass similar protection laws that would protect the public from eternal damnation. After all, isn’t damnation worse that simple death? Well, it is if you believe in it. And, being hounded about damnation might be worse than death if you don’t believe in it.

Conservatives have been known to argue about the ridiculous overreaching of the liberal laws passed to protect us from death and injury. They protested against seatbelt laws. They protested against smoking bans in public places. They argued against clean air and clean water. The only safety laws that conservatives have agreed with over the last few decades have been those dealing with alcohol. This however could be based in the religious morality issues dealing with drinking more than an actually concern with safety. This is because many religious believe that the effects of alcohol and drugs is to disable the personal moral control of a person. From observed evidence of protection laws passed by liberals and conservatives it is clear that the main concern of liberal is to protect the body and the main concern of conservatives is to protect the spirit. Conservatives will argue that government should not waste money on laws that protect stupid people from doing stupid things. And, liberals argue that the government should not enforce religious laws. In both cases each groups intends to take away someone’s freedom for their own good. And both groups feel justified in doing so.

So, the final question here is - If you own a business and you want to protect your clients should you be allowed to exclude dangerous clients? For example, if you have a paintball range are you allowed to exclude people who don’t follow the rules? Not following the rules could result in bodily injury of you or another patron.

This seems to be a straight forward question with a straight forward answer. Of course you should be allowed to exclude those who you deem to be dangerous. After all, if someone is injured at your place you could be sued.

So, for a religious person who believes that damnation is worse than death, should he be allowed to exclude people who he deems dangerous to the spirituality of the others at his place? Or, in simple language, could the exclusion of non-Christians from Christian business owner’s place be allowed? Or, would the exclusion of non-Christians from his place be considered a form of discrimination?

I ask this question because I read of the owner of an athletic club that demands that his swim team members sign a contract that list all the rules of the team. One of the items on the list is “I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior.” Of course in all honesty non-Christians would not sign this contract and the net result is that the non-Christians would not be allowed to swim on the team. Of course the owner of the athletic club sees himself as protecting the spirituality of the other children on his team. Read about it here.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit