Saturday, September 23, 2006

Think about it.

"The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. It has no authority or obligation at all, unless as a contract between man and man. And it does not so much as even purport to be a contract between persons now existing. It purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago. And it can be supposed to have been a contract then only between persons who had already come to years of discretion, so as to be competent to make reasonable and obligatory contracts. Furthermore, we know, historically, that only a small portion even of the people then existing were consulted on the subject, or asked, or permitted to express either their consent or dissent in any formal manner. Those persons, if any, who did give their consent formally, are all dead now. Most of them have been dead forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years. And the constitution, so far as it was their contract, died with them. They had no natural power or right to make it obligatory upon their children. It is not only plainly impossible, in the nature of things, that they could bind their posterity, but they did not even attempt to bind them. That is to say, the instrument does not purport to be an agreement between any body but ‘the people’ then existing; nor does it, either expressly or impliedly, assert any right, power, or disposition, on their part, to bind anybody but themselves."
- Lysander Spooner

Lysander Spooner (January 19, 1808 – May 14, 1887) was an American individualist anarchist political philosopher, abolitionist, and legal theorist of the 19th century. He is best known for his role in the abolitionist movement, competing with the U.S. Post Office, and for his contributions to American individualist anarchism.

“A lot of people die for God and they’re not afraid.” “We’re kinda being trained to be warriors,” said another, “only in a funner way."

Words fail.

Except for "insane religious brainwashing apocalyptical batshit craziness."

Those words actually roll right off the tip of the tongue.

Vacation Bible School Has Changed A Lot
...But it seems that VBS [Vacation Bible School] has changed. I found this article at ABC News online about a documentary, “Jesus Camp” and am more than a little concerned.

Speaking in tongues, weeping for salvation, praying for an end to abortion and worshipping a picture of President Bush — these are some of the activities at Pastor Becky Fischer’s Bible camp in North Dakota, “Kids on Fire,” subject of the provocative new documentary, “Jesus Camp.” “I want to see them as radically laying down their lives for the gospel as they are in Palestine, Pakistan and all those different places,” Fisher said. “Because, excuse me, we have the truth.”

Wow. If Ms. Fischer’s comments aren’t enough to make you scratch your head, maybe the comments of the little ones are.

“A lot of people die for God,” one camper said, “and they’re not afraid.” “We’re kinda being trained to be warriors,” said another, “only in a funner way.”

Nope, this is not the VBS I remember. I am certain that there are still camps where paper plate art is the norm, but camps like “Kids on Fire” in North Dakota have little ones taping their mouths against abortion and speaking out on political issues like gay marriage.

As a libertarian, I generally support parental choice on everything. Watching the video makes me cringe though. Between the clips of kids praying in front of a Bush photograph, Ms. Fischer openly screaming, “this is war” and boys in battle fatigues, I see a generation of kids being trained for a holy war. I have to wonder how well this would go over if the kids were calling on Allah.

I do think people of every political and spiritual inclination need to pay attention to this trend. This is our future and they know it.

Worthy Religious Questions.

Thank god I'm agnostic. I'm too cowardly to take a stance and have to deal with questions like these.
Things get trickier when you base your religion on a nice fellow who wants you to give most of your money to the poor. How do you justify buying a third television set when people in New Orleans are living in rolled-up carpets? That’s not a rhetorical question. I actually wonder about the answer. Here are some of my best guesses about your rationalization:

1. Jesus likes me better than poor people. He’d approve of my second iPod.
2. If I give a poor person a fish, he’d only eat for a day anyway. What’s one day?
3. I give 10% of my money to charity. God says that’s exactly the right amount. 11% would anger God.
4. Poor people are lazy or crazy. My money won’t fix that.
5. There’s a loophole in the Bible that says I can keep my money. Woo-hoo!
6. I am bad at economics and I am convinced that keeping my money stimulates the economy and helps poor people indirectly.

Am I missing any reasons? I am actually curious.

The Klingon Language and those who speak it...

This sounds awesome...

But I'm a geek, so that works out that way. And recently, on the recommendations of JM and Spence I'm watching the Star Trek Deep Space 9, having never really seen it. I mean, when you've got Spenser for Hire's Hawk as a Starfleet captain, you can't really go wrong.

But I digress.

Fortean Times: Interviewing Earthlings
David Sutton talks to director Alexandre Philippe and producer David Marchiori about their new documentary focusing on the evolution of the Klingon language and the people who speak it, Earthlings: Ugly Bags of Mostly Water.

FT: Can you describe the genesis of the film and how you came across the Klingon language.

AP: ...I was at Denver International Airport on my way to Europe to visit my family, and had a little time to kill, so I went to one of their bookstores; and that’s where I found a copy of The Klingon Hamlet. I remember looking at this book, and thinking: “This is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.” And I made the decision, basically on the spot, to somehow make a movie about this.

Originally, I thought it would be wild to do a film version of The Klingon Hamlet; but then, I searched the web and discovered the Klingon Language Institute, located in Philadelphia. So, I picked up the phone, and talked to the Institute’s director, Dr Lawrence Schoen, and convinced him to let us film and interview them during their annual qep’a’ (or conference).

...The real question is: am I wasting my talents making films? Are you wasting your talents editing Fortean Times? Are sports fans wasting their talents watching football on TV? I don’t think so. Earth is a strange place, and it’s up to us to give meaning to our lives. If it’s meaningful to them to learn Klingon – because they have a good time, because it’s a great intellectual exercise, or because that’s how they want to make friends – who are we to say they’re wasting their time? I’d like people to be a little more introspective before they poke fun at Trekkies or Klingon speakers. To me, there’s nothing wrong with doing something you’re passionate about – especially if it doesn’t hurt of offend anyone.

And the Klingon language is, indeed, a fascinating cultural and linguistic phenomenon. It’s the first constructed language based on popular culture that has thrived to the point of being spoken in 55 countries around the world.

So, to me, the question isn’t “Why spend any time learning Klingon when there are so many other languages around” but “why not learn Klingon?”

FT: The interviewees in the movie are a pretty friendly and articulate bunch from a surprisingly wide range of backgrounds. Were they representative of Klingon speakers as a whole?

DM: Everyone we met during the filming process, and all the Klingons we have met since, are virtually the same – gentle, intelligent people. Many of them are genuine Trek fans and this is their way of exploiting their love of the franchise. Many are linguists and language experts; in some cases Klingon is the sixth or seventh language they speak. And many of them are in it for the social aspects. I will say that while KLI members for the most part don’t indulge in dressing the Klingon way, they do take on a different persona when in Klingon mode. The large groups of people who like to dress as Klingons really take on different personalities while in the role. They act boisterous and aggressive... but when they change back, all is normal.

Earthlings: Ugly Bags of Mostly Water will be available on DVD from 16 October.

What America increasingly stands for, if you didn't know...

The Case of Maher Arar
After a two-year investigation, the Canadian government issued a report this week regarding the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was abducted by the Bush administration during a layover at JFK Airport on his way home to Canada, and then brought to Syria to be "interrogated." He was kept in a tiny cell for the next 10 months in Syria and was repeatedly tortured. All along, he was guilty of nothing and had no ties of any kind to terrorism.

[..]Despite the stonewalling and coverup by the Bush administration, the Canadian report was able to conclude "categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offense." It also found that both the American government and the Syrian government lied to Canada about Arar’s whereabouts because they knew the Canadians would object to their citizen being brought to Syria to be tortured. Put another way, our government abducted a completely innocent Canadian citizen and deliberately caused him to subjected, in Syria, to the most brutal and inhumane treatment imaginable (where, among other things, he confessed under torture to training in an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan even though he was never in that country)...

Friday, September 22, 2006

The wisdom of Jet Li

Jet Li: Not retiring, reinventing
..."I've tried to retire many times," said Li, a devoted Buddhist since 1997. "But I've met many masters, many high monks who have said, `You cannot hide on a mountain for three years. That's not you. Just do your job and then you'll have space to talk to people about what you believe.'"

"Fearless," Li said, perfectly fits his vision of wushu as more than just self-defense but a path to self-discipline and spiritual peace.

Herein lies the central dichotomy: the Chinese characters for wushu are Zhi (meaning "stop" or "do not") and Ge (meaning "fight" or "war"). Together, Li said, they translate to "stop fighting."

...The answer, Li decided, would be to ramp up charity work for his One Foundation ( and to infuse his work with his Buddhist worldview.

"This is the perfect story to match my philosophy," Li says, referencing "Fearless."

The subject of the movie, Huo, turned martial arts into a sport, promoted it as a spiritual discipline and took on all challengers to defend China's martial honor in a series of high-profile exhibition fights against foreigners.

But will "Fearless" really be Li final martial arts movie? Yes, Li said, but with an addendum.

"People always change their minds," he said. "That's humanity, always changing."

Weird Al's got some skills...

This was pretty awesome.

And sadly, struck close to home on occasion.

And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Douglas Rushkoff gives good interview

I really dug his books Nothing Sacred and Coercion. This interview covers a bunch of stuff, including his new comic book series Testament.

Suicide Girls Interview w/ Douglas Rushkoff:
The idea of this comic is that the god God of Torah doesn’t really exist, but Adonai Eloheinu, that God, Yahweh, was a creation of three demigods. If you read Torah in order, you see God starts out as this fire-breathing god. Then he calms down and then becomes more of a human god. Then he becomes more of the Indian God as more influences came through and the various Prophets talked to different holy men of different regions. I have three gods come up with the great, big, unknowable God as a way of thinking they could make peace in the God world. That way we won’t have to fight. It’s in the way of having a corporation, having a nameless entity through which we’ll pledge allegiance to this thing and how humanity will create this Bible that has that God in charge of everything. It’s this great idea, but what ends up happening is that they repress the feminine because it’s abstract and it’s not based on Earth. It’s a theological system based in scarcity, abstractness and ideas, rather than abundance, the ground and fertility. What has to happen in my story is that in order for our characters to really liberate themselves from Torah, without just being Satanists or anti-Torah, punk reactionaries, is they’ve got to somehow create a marriage between this whole male culture and the female culture that got repressed. If you look in Torah, you can see all the matriarchs in Torah are actually sacred priestesses. All of them along with Sarah and Rebecca are temple prostitutes. There are little hints by the things that they do, who they’re having sex with other than the husband and when husbands are offering their wives up to strangers who come to the door. This isn’t just you offering up your wife because since these are temple priestesses it’s a blessing. But that whole aspect of history ended up getting repressed. I look around the world now and I actually see things like SuicideGirls as efforts to reclaim some of the power. The survival of the species is about that, whether or not we’re going to reintegrate what we call the feminine archetype back into our understanding of the world.

The voices in MY head tell me that this is okay.

You can tie this into the way the bicameral mind communicates between hemispheres and the ideas that in times past, the corpus callosum was far less developed than it is today... and that the "gods" men heard was the process of thinking we know today, but in a completely different context.

The voices, like Socrates' daemon, were seen as positive until the advent of Christianity and the voices became the work of "Satan and his minions."
Can hearing voices in your head be a good thing?

...The University of Manchester investigation – announced on World Hearing Voices Day (Thursday, 14th September) – comes after Dutch researchers found that many healthy members of the population there regularly hear voices.

Although hearing voices has traditionally been viewed as 'abnormal' and a symptom of mental illness, the Dutch findings suggest it is more widespread than previously thought, estimating that about 4% of the population could be affected.

Researcher Aylish Campbell said: "We know that many members of the general population hear voices but have never felt the need to access mental health services; some experts even claim that more people hear voices and don't seek psychiatric help than those who do.

"In fact, many of those affected describe their voices as being a positive influence in their lives, comforting or inspiring them as they go about their daily business. We're now keen to investigate why some people respond in this way while others are distressed and seek outside help."

Sunday, September 17, 2006


There are some fascinating downloads and lectures here:
Each year, TED hosts some of the world's most fascinating people: Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses. The talks they deliver have had had such a great impact, we thought they deserved a wider audience. So now - with our sponsor BMW and production partner WNYC/New York Public Radio we're sharing some of the most remarkable TED talks with the world at large. Each week, we'll release a new talk, in audio and video, to download or watch online. For best effect, plan to listen to at least three, start to finish. They have a cumulative effect...