God picks strange folks to listen to some times

Supreme Court halts Texas man’s execution http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/09/15/MNPN1L55PV.DTL

“Praise the Lord!” Buck told Clark. “God is worthy to be praised. God’s mercy triumphs over judgment. I feel good.”

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The Most Cliched Things I’ve Written Recently

Rules:
Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

Done in the third person, for effect.

1. Roy likes some plot in his porn.  Hey, what can I say, I’m a romantic.

2. Roy is a bit too honest sometimes.  I’m working on being a better liar.

3. Roy is absolutely sure the next statement is true.

4. Roy is totally positive the previous statement is false.

5. Roy has been studying infinite self-referential loops for a while now.

6. Roy has been studying consciousness for a while now.

7. Roy sometimes repeats himself.  In the third person.  Sometimes even in fourth.

8. Simon says start over.  From the top.

9. Roy wrote a short proof for the existence of evil (according to Simon) in this list.  He also posted a longer one to Flickr a while back.

10.Roy has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and not accused of one he’s sure he committed. He’s also been accused of a crime he committed, was honest about it, and went to prison for a few days.

11.Roy likes to tell stories.  Some of which are based on true stories, some of which I pull out of my ass.

12.Roy would like to mention the POMA stories are usually the happy ones. 

13.Roy enjoys discussing politics and religion, but only if the people in the conversation follow simple rules.  Rule #1: Define terms.

14.Rule #1 means you usually don’t actually talk about politics or religion, but what words mean.  It’s like Fight Club, but in real life and with characters instead of actors.  Err, English characters…you know…letters.  Fighting makes you tougher, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Suck it up.

15.Roy is pretty sure Rule #1 ends most discussions before they begin, and certainly before they become violent. 

16.Roy is almost positive that most bad arguments and many wars come from two people, or two groups of people, using the same word to define different things.  “God” is a big one, in this context.

17.Roy has some rather curious, and rational, definitions of God.  Yes, there is more than one that applies.  Hence the confusion and the killing.  Sooooo much killing.

18.Roy is pretty sure our species has figured it out again, just in time for us to self-annihilate and let the turtles take over.  Again.

19.Roy doesn’t really think there are Aliens, but if there are, he’s pretty sure he knows where they are hiding.

20.Roy has friends from all over, and is rather adept at making new ones.  It’s about one word, and projecting that word into the minds of others.  Smiles work, as does honesty, kind words and sincere interest.

21.Roy also knows how to shatter minds and hearts.  Hey, it comes with the territory.  You have to learn how to break it before you can put it back together.

22.Roy is like an ogre and a troll.  He’s got layers and they regenerate.

23.Roy has watched New York City sleeping.  It was cute and cuddly.  Then it nearly killed him.

24.Roy kept re-creating himself until he was happy.  Then he started freaking people out with what he had created, and how he did so.

25.Roy is like a computer with feelings.  Yea, computers have feelings.  Well, one of them, anyway.

26.Roy is pretty sure he found a serious flaw in Newton’s math and is absolutely positive Newton was a nutjob.

27.Roy doesn’t believe in imaginary numbers.  And thinks rules are made to be broken and fixed later.

28.Roy is totally positive he has solved that whole “moral relativism” problem.   And the mind/body one.

29.Roy spent twenty years in a cave studying light and the things light does.  He also read his first book on quantum mechanics at about 15.  He didn’t tell anyone.  Intellectualism was a dirty word in his home.

30.Roy likes to calculate things in his head, and made up a system of calculus to do so.  But it’s more of a metaphorical calculus than a mathematical one.  It does, however, work for math too.  Solves it, in a sense.

31.Roy can prove that P=NP and that it sometimes doesn’t.  The solution, curiously enough, includes an infinite number of zeros.  Also, you need at least one time dimension.   

32.Roy thinks the Buddha was hilarious and that Jesus had a better sense of humor than most modern Jewish comedians.  

33.Roy knows that without a brain to process reality, it looks a whole lot different.  This is why he values his time here so much it often looks like he’s wasting it.  And why he doesn’t believe in traditional versions of Heaven or Hell.  They are both real, and here.  I’ve been to both and lived to tell about it…for some god-damned reason.

34.Roy thinks that if you can’t explain your theory to an eight-year old, it’s either not a very good theory, or you don’t understand it yourself.  Eight-year-olds, dude. 

35.Uncle Roy is a big hit with his nieces and nephews. Roy is not so much a big hit with his own family.  See his list of “25” things for a few hints.  What, it wasn’t supposed to be in base 22.5?  Says who?

36.Roy got the fuck out of Texas after college to free his mind.  He came back after he freed his soul.

37.Roy knows a bit more, and a bit less, than he lets on. 

38.Roy is really fun to watch football with.

39.Roy decided to go with RobotPirateNinja because it’s the coolest thing ever and was bored shitless watching the economy collapse around him. It was only a matter of time, people.

40.Roy has probably written more online that most people will read in a lifetime.  If you factor in the illiterates.  What?!  It’s not like they are going to read this and get all pissy about it.

41.Roy thinks making fun of illiterate people is mean and should certainly not be done in prose. 

42.Roy is mean sometimes, for comedy’s sake.  Comedy is a right bastard.

43.Roy has been very blessed and is moderately cursed. 

44.Roy acts like a slacker but is a cave-dwelling over-achiever.

45.Roy has lived in a cave since about 10.  He thought everyone did.  Then he realized it’s only most people, and they live in caves of their own creation.

46.Roy likes it better outside.  A lot better.

47.Roy is an Eagle Scout.  This got him his first real job.  Which then got him his second.  Which then got him his third (repeat until last summer).

48.Roy sometimes thinks N-dimensionally, which is tiring and stressful, and more fun than people might imagine.  Kinda like sex.

49.Roy is pretty sure he talks too much, but he’s got a lot to say.  Spending twenty years in a cave will do that do a man.

50.Roy is a big fan of the number fifty.  It’s waaay cooler than twenty-five, although hyphens are fun too.

0. Thanks for reading.  I could do this all day.  Did it for a month, turned it into a book.

Educating Rick Warren On What Jesus Said (and how He Acted)

I can’t believe I have to do this.  I was reading an interview that Rick Warren (of the Purpose Driven Life) gave and was struck by something he wrote.  So I kept reading the interview and was struck by a few other silly things he said.

Look, I’ve got nothing against Rick Warren personally.  From what I’ve seen he seems like a nice guy who does some good work.  My problem is with the lack of…shall we say…accountability of his theology.  And the lack of reason and logic in his worldview.   In his mind, what you do in life doesn’t matter, as long as you declare your love for God, it’s all good.

This leads to some really, really, nasty things when applied to real life, which is far more complex that it seems Mr. Warren is capable of conceiving.

Read on for that argument…

Continue reading

“They Hate Us For Our Freedom”

This is perhaps the stupidest idea ever put forth in the arena of foreign relations.

May I quote someone?

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over ablack, nor a black has any superiority over a white- except by piety and good action.

Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.  Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim, which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.

Do not therefor, do injustice to yourselves.

There’s other parts of the speech i don’t agree with, obviously, but the basic premise is a fairly strong argument against the idiocy displayed by those who would profess that the title of this post is true.

Iraq and Afghanistan War Updates (and of course juicy Palin bits)

Sorry, I’ve been slacking on the war updates. Some big things have happened, so let me dig ’em out of me email and let you know what the hell is going on and, as per, what I think about that.

First up is some good news, direct from al-Anbar province in Iraq.

RAMADI, Iraq, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Iraq on Monday took over security control of the western province of Anbar from U.S. troops, a provincial security source said.

In a ceremony held in the provincial government building in the provincial capital city Ramadi under tough security measures, the U.S. military transferred the security file of the Sunni province to Iraqi security forces.

Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Advisor announced the security transfer, saying “the Anbar province which once was one of the hottest areas in Iraq is celebrating today the transfer of security file.”

Ma’moun al-Alwani, the governor of Anbar and the commander of the U.S. troops in the province signed the agreement of the handover during the televised ceremony.

Anbar would be the 11th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to return to the control of Iraqi security forces. It would also be the first Sunni-dominated province to be handed over by the coalition forces.

Anbar, the country’s largest province, expanding from Baghdad all the way west to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, has been relatively calm since more than a year and a half ago after Sunni tribes and anti-U.S. insurgent groups turn up against al-Qaida in Iraq network, cooperating with the U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces.

[full story]

This is good news. We are giving them back their country. That is the only kind of victory we can fully achieve here. I say we go for it. Now is the time to make the decision about who is going to lead us in the “right” direction here.

Let me show you two links, both attached to the above story that illustrate the current divide.

U.S. proposes troops presence to 2015 in Iraq, Talabani

BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that the United States asked Iraq to keep its troops in the war-torn country until 2015, but negotiations set 2011 as a dead line, website of Talabani’s party posted on Wednesday.

“It was an American proposal that its troops to stay in Iraq to2015 while the Iraqi one suggested 2010, then we agreed on the date 2011,” Talabani said in an interview with the al-Hurra television from Washington late on Tuesday.

——

Iraq, U.S. eye troops withdrawal by end of 2011

BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) — Iraq and the U.S. negotiators have reached a draft agreement on a proposed withdrawal timetable and other issues on the U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond 2008, CNN reported Friday.

Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Hamoud, who is also Iraq’s chief negotiator, told the channel that the U.S. troops would completely pull out by the end of 2011.

So the basic issue is that at the end of this year, there is no even-paper-thin, reason for the United States to continue having a military presence in Iraq. They are trying to hammer out such an agreement now. Iraq wants us gone anywhere from now to 2011. Bush wants us there to 2015. McCain wants at least 2013 and maybe 2113. Obama wants now to 2010 (maybe 2011).

I think that makes the choice easy. This war needs to be over. It’s reaching a point where we can hand it back over to the Iraqis we put in power. I think that’s about all we can ask for now. I seriously doubt we want to stay there until the Iraqi commit to fighting the “war on terror” (i.e. Iran and Syria) for us.

Now, this is all assuming (in one branch of future reality) that McCain wins and survives a full term. Say he wins and doesn’t. Then one Sarah Palin takes over. You may have heard of her by now. You may have even seen her speaking to people before. What you probably haven’t seen is her preaching before. Which brings us to Sarah Palin and Iraq. In this case, I’ll let her speak for herself.

Part 1

Part 2

[source and more on Palin’s church here…all part of the vetting process for the American people, it would seem]

The part that freaks me the fuck out, quite frankly, is where she is talking about sending her son off to war. She asks for only one thing (well, after asking them to pray for a $30,000,000,000 pipeline project)

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country.

That our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure we are praying for. That there is a plan, and that plan is God’s plan.

Oh golly. Let me catch you up a bit here. I know it’s hard to follow what’s going on in the rest of the world while you are busy pumping oil and negotiating pipeline contracts (and raising 5 kids, and going to snowmobile races, and teaching abstinence classes…it’s a full life I know).

The “Plan” you are talking about in regards to Iraq was actually put together by the last Vice-President. That’s what he did. And no, he’s not God. Nor is Bush. And quite frankly, after following the action overseas for the last 7 years quite closely, I’m not sure you want to bring “God’s Plan” into it.

And frankly, Mrs. Palin, if something happens to McCain, it’s going to be your plan. Do you have one? Have you even thought about it, a little bit?

Really though, this kind of stuff freaks me out. There’s another quote out there about how she doesn’t really follow what’s going on. To have someone that doesn’t know (like Bush) surrounded by people with a serious agenda (the Neocons, rallying to McCain) scares the every-living shit out of me.

Now, as to Afghanistan….

“Victory in Afghanistan Is Impossible”

Gèrard Chaliand: No. Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. With the heralded reinforcements, there will be about 80,000 NATO soldiers on the ground. That is insufficient to control the terrain. We’re in a military impasse. In this country, one and a quarter times the size of France with an incomparably more difficult topography, we would have had to send more men and above all to have actively contributed to ameliorating economic conditions in the countryside. Today, we must also try to negotiate. There’s no other way out. The Taliban cannot win the war against NATO, which is just as incapable of eradicating the Taliban.

Outside of Kabul and several big cities, it’s the Taliban who control the local governments, and not foreign soldiers, most usually barricaded inside their little forts. In the south and east of the country, the Taliban – with the support of a large part of the local population – have succeeded in establishing a political infrastructure, parallel hierarchies that are the real power. Now experience shows that when it’s the opponent who exercises that power, the war is lost.

How did we get to that point?

The Taliban filled the vacuum left between 2002 and 2004, when the 15,000 GIs who were there were mainly busy with tracking bin Laden, when the other international forces remained concentrated in Kabul and nothing was done for the peasant populations, especially in the south and east (the Pashtun regions) even though those regions are the keys to the country.

International development aid, directed for the most part towards Kabul, represents less than 10 percent of the donations paid out. The reconstruction teams in the provinces represent fewer than 10,000 men for a population of 20 million rural residents!

Contrary to preconceptions, the Taliban have a better understanding of what is strategically important. They have understood that the conflict’s center of gravity is the sensitivity of Western public opinion – which they must impress by killing NATO – preferably American – soldiers. Our refusal to incur losses is notorious.

So we got that going for us. It turns out that when you stop one war half-way through to start another one that drags on for 10 times longer than you thought it would, that first, easy, half-way-through war comes back bigger and badder than ever. So much so that now we will have to re-fight it.

And most likely do so without the support of Pakistan. I know, I haven’t been writing about that either, but Musharraf is gone. It looks like the assassination of Bhutto is going to lead to Bhutto getting elected (hey, it’s Pakistani politics). Mostly there is disarray there, but a consistent lack of general support for U.S. goals in the region.

Afghanistan is also fucked for us because of stuff like this.

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, according to the United Nations mission in Kabul.

If the assertion proves to be correct, this would almost certainly be the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

The United Nations statement adds pressure to the United States military, which maintains that 25 militants and 5 civilians were killed in the airstrikes, but has ordered an investigation after Afghan officials reported the higher civilian death toll.

The United Nations team visited the scene and interviewed survivors and local officials and elders, getting a name, age and gender of each person reported killed. The team reported that 15 people had been wounded in the airstrikes.

I saw some other news reports on this and it looks more like 9 or 10 people got killed. A whole family. Kids, parents, grandparents. The target they wanted wasn’t there. This was a village in sight of the U.S. base in the area. The house had been searched the day before, then the 2,000 lb. bombs. came. And the family disintegrated.

They quoted some of the survivors as saying that the U.S. was worse than the Russians. Worse than the Russian, can you believe it? They quoted the recent burning of Georgia (Atlanta), which they had just heard about, as proof of the “Amrikaans” barbarity.

Thank God For Small Favors

Declining membership, baptisms worry Southern Baptists – USATODAY.com

For most of four decades, Southern Baptists could boast of rising membership even as more moderate and liberal Protestant denominations lost members in droves.

But with membership slightly down last year, and flat for the past five, Southern Baptists face a growing anxiety about their future as they gather for their annual meeting Tuesday in Indianapolis.

“We have peaked,” Southern Baptist statistician Ed Stetzer wrote in an online commentary on the latest statistics from 2007. “…For now, Southern Baptists are a denomination in decline.”

I blame the dancing, or lack thereof.   This trend will generally continue in the modern world because of two things.

1) This is the Information Age and many (most) dogmatic religions require a good bit of ignorance to be considered accurate descriptions of the (unknown) world.  With more information available, it is more likely people will be exposed to a world their religion does a poor job of explaining/describing.

And…2) People are getting smarter…

Professor Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, said many more members of the “intellectual elite” considered themselves atheists than the national average.

A decline in religious observance over the last century was directly linked to a rise in average intelligence, he claimed.

But the conclusions – in a paper for the academic journal Intelligence – have been branded “simplistic” by critics.

He said religious belief had declined across 137 developed nations in the 20th century at the same time as people became more intelligent.

“Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation of religion as primitive, which – while we are trying to deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism – is perhaps not the most helpful response,” [Professor Gordon Lynch] said.

[full story]

Quite the contrary, in fact.  Looking at it as primitive is precisely what the world needs.   There are primitive things that are useful, but they are not dominant…anymore.  That’s why we call them “primitive”.  We have better answers now.

Yet Another Nutjob Deist

Hillary’s Nasty Pastorate

You can find all about it in a widely under-read article in the September 2007 issue of Mother Jones, in which Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet reported that “through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as “The “Fellowship,” also known as The Family. But it won’t be a secret much longer. Jeff Sharlet’s shocking exposé The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power will be published in May.

I’ll bet she’s one of the weirdo theists. Man…when are you people going to appreciate physics? How about reality?

Heck, even on my plane of existence it takes two to make one, if you know what I’m saying.

People Who Believe In Me Are Happiest of ALL

‘Believers are happier than atheists’ – Telegraph

People who believe in God are happier than agnostics or atheists, researchers claimed yesterday.

A report found that religious people were better able to cope with disappointments such as unemployment or divorce than non-believers.

Moreover, they become even happier the more they pray and go to church, claims the study by Prof Andrew Clark and Dr Orsolya Lelkes.

Say it with me now….Robot Pirate Ninja is the Flying Spagetti Monster’s representative on Earth.

Now repeat it 1,000 times, thinking of strippers and beer.