This Weeks Reader March 2, 2008  

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I lost track of reading on Wednesday due to work deadlines and I only sort of caught up today. If you know of any articles that were posted this week that deserve to be here, put a link in the comments and I'll be sure to read them for next week's reader.

My Argument With God: How I went from a Jesus-loving Christian to a fun-loving infidel...all in one afternoon
But anyway, there I was, happily drawing my hero when my big brother Bob asked, "Why do you believe in God?" Just a simple question. But mum panicked, "Bob," she said, in a tone I knew meant, "shut up." Why was that a bad thing to ask? If there was a God and my faith was strong, it didn't matter what people said.

Oh...hang on. There is no God. He knows it, and she knows it deep down. It was as simple as that. I started thinking about it and asking more questions, and within an hour, I was an atheist.

On Happiness
I am much happier knowing that I am the maker of my own destiny, as limited in time as that may be. I’m much happier knowing that some arbitrary super being hasn’t already decided my destiny, in the process creating really good odds that I will burn in hell, or be consigned to some equally deplorable place for all eternity. For that matter, I am much happier knowing that I won’t exist for eternity, for an infinite period of time (that alone would be a reason to snuff out one’s existence). I’m also much happier knowing that life has an explanation, (even though I may not fully know how it works) that the natural order of things is THE order of things, and that I can depend on the natural order to be consistent, without the occasional, unpredictable and arbitrary intervention by god. I don’t have to wonder why the universe is as it is, and I can simply accept the fact that it is, and stand in awe of it.

Book Review: The Mind of the Market
For example, consider universal health care. Shermer expresses concern that this policy would lead to waste, inefficiency, and cost overruns. I quite agree - these are things that can go wrong with government-provided universal health insurance. Now, let's consider the alternative: what can go wrong with private health insurance? I can think of one obvious negative consequence: people die painfully from treatable conditions because they cannot afford medical care. This seems like an obvious followup point, but Shermer ignores it. In a similar passage, he discusses the phenomenon of confirmation bias as it applies to members of both American political parties - again, a serious and legitimate issue, I agree - but never shows any acknowledgment that this is a problem which might apply to him as well.

A look at the studios EA has bought and shuttered
As Electronic Arts begins its forward assault on adding Take-Two to the list of companies the monolith has swallowed, CVG has taken some time to reflect on the history of EA takeovers. A full list of the absorbed companies has been compiled, and the number in retrospect is staggering.

The Texas Dildo Massacre, or, Reason Number 2,767 Why Gay Rights Matter To Everyone
The Lawrence case didn’t just say that gay sex couldn’t be criminalized. It said that people — all people — have the right to engage in any consensual intimate conduct in their home, free from government intrusion. It said that people’s sex lives are not their neighbors’ business, not society’s business, and most emphatically not the government’s business. It said that the fact that the State doesn’t happen to like a particular kind of sex doesn’t mean they have a right to ban it, or indeed to have any say in it at all.

Corporatism and Socialism in America
Conservatives and many libertarians, on the other hand, frequently dismiss many ills such as poverty as fabricated by the left-liberal imagination, when in fact it does a disservice to the cause of liberty and free markets to defend the current system and ignore very real and serious problems, which are often caused by government intervention in the economy. We should recognize that state corporatism is a form of socialism, and it is nearly inevitable in a mixed economy that the introduction of more socialism will cartelize industry and consolidate wealth in the hands of the few.

The Worst Presidents?
Athena is learning about the presidents these days, not through school, but via the Animaniacs, whose “President’s Song” she is memorizing much in the same way she memorized their “50 states and their capitals” song (clearly, Animaniacs are her Schoolhouse Rock). While she was running down the presidents in the songs, and because she is into quantifying stuff as only a nine-year-old can be, she asked me which presidents I thought were the worst ever.

Party Time
The above were all relatively narrow few issues parties with limited electoral appeal though a few of them did win local and state elections as well as Congressional seats. However there were three other political parties with a more lasting impact and that received broader popular support. The first of these is the People’s Party, better known as the Populist Party, that was founded after the Panic of 1873. The Populists campaigned against the gold standard and had major successes in the Plains states. In the election of 1892, James Weaver garnered 1,041,028 votes or 8.5% of the popular vote. He carried 4 states (KS, CO, NV, ID) and won 22 electoral votes including one each from unfaithful electors in North Dakota and Oregon. There is one lasting legacy from the Populist Party: the direct election of United States Senators with the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913. Previously Senators were appointed by state legislatures. They were also instrumental in extending women’s suffrage especially in the Mountain West. The Populist Party faded from the scene with the passage of these issues and the rise of the next two parties.

Life Stories
What Clown Called Me the "Pussy-minator"?
I'd pray that the woman would head well past us, toward the rear of the bus. But most of the time she'd slither into the seat right in front, or directly in back, or immediately across the aisle. If the vehicle was crowded, she'd always find an empty strap to hang onto right beside us, her ample breasts swaying over our heads whenever we hit a pothole or lurched to a stop. Every near-poke in the head would elicit a muttered comment: "Uy, it's a wonder she doesn't kill somebody with those things."

A Long, Aimless, Pointless, Rambling Post
I was wrong. Bullfighting is nothing more than humans dressing in ritual and colorful pageantry the maiming, torturing, and killing of an animal that has no choices. The ritual exists to cover the essential brutality of psychopaths torturing an animal to death in order to stroke the ego of one central narcissistic sonofabitch and to satisfy the sadistic impulses of everyone else involved, including the crowd. There’s nothing noble about it. The stadium and the corrida comprise an asylum full of sadists.

Monkeys and the wild animals don’t do that. They hunt and they kill, but they don’t dress it up and pretend it’s anything other than bloody dinner. Their satisfaction comprises a full stomach and another day alive.

I wrote this poem just now because it's true (even though it's not terribly original)
It has to be perfect,
But it won't is perfect.
So, it's better to do nothing
Or put very little effort into it,
Because if it can't be perfect why does it matter?

Obama Campaign Could Force America To Address Race
And yet, many Americans harbor doubts about their own beliefs when it comes to race. We may catch ourselves feeling uncomfortable around members of other races. We may become aware of our own racist attitudes, thoughts which we would never express but which might nevertheless influence our behavior in subtle ways. We recognize that modern racism is more covert than than the overt acts which litter our nation's history, but that this makes them no less destructive. We do not want to deal with our own misgivings about race; we would prefer to ignore it and hope that it just goes away.

Mass trance afflicts Indonesian women, factory workers
During the morning flag-raising ceremony, one of the girls suddenly started screaming and couldn't move. Soon her friends joined in until more than 30 of them were screaming and fainting, the deputy principal Friskila told Reuters.

Some of the girls woke from the trance after a student played a Muslim prayer ring tone on her mobile phone. Others were taken by their parents to local witch doctors.

Friskila, however, favors a less superstitious explanation.

"They are bored, tired and then this happened, she said. They all got a day off school."

The View Over the Sanctuary Wall
For them, faith-based belief is utterly an exercise in superiority. At faith’s base level, particularly present in the Abrahamic traditions, there is an element of being “chosen.” These theists know just enough doctrine and dogma to justify their own spiritual (and empirical) elevation and others’ spiritual and empirical damnation, even going so far as to extend this type of judgment toward those who adhere to a somewhat similar faith-based ideology (viewing this as an outsider, of course; as someone who was once “in the light,” I can tell you that the small differences have major faith-based, spiritual consequences).


This is our country
This was a sentiment that was echoed by a few people, but look at the way this guy opens his comment. He's a democrat, hates Bush and is from a blue state. Okay, there's no way he can be sexist. Now let's move on to his reasonable argument: Women shouldn't officiate because (a) guys aren't comfortable with it, and (b) they are inferior refs. Just like men aren't comfortable having a female boss, and besides, females don't make good leaders. Just like white students weren't comfortable having classes with black students, and besides, black students don't make good students. Just like heterosexuals aren't comfortable with homosexuals getting married, and besides, homosexuals don't make good parents.

And the argument that females aren't familiar with the men's game because the game they played was different ignores the fact that most refs--especially at high levels of play--never played high level basketball, if they played at all. This is a clear case of males trying to justify their prejudice, even though this guy admits that he's just not comfortable with women being refs.

Why Do Men Oppress Women?
In sum, women who dress provocatively increase the number of men attracted to them and hence the number of choices they have when it comes to mating. Societies that limit or restrict how provocatively a woman can dress thus limit or restrict a woman’s choice in mates.

Moreover, it does not seem to be an accident that those societies which most limit a woman’s choice in dress (and, hence, mates) are also those societies which most limit other rights and freedoms for women. The oppression of women therefore seems to have a strong sexual component.

More on Millennials
But aside from this disconnect, there's the assignment of blame, the all to frequent treat one gets when dealing with Millennials, the aversion to accountability. Notice this girl says she NEEDS to stay constantly engaged, so she's saying that it's the employers' fault that they're flighty because they're not being properly stimulated. Hey listen up cupcake, you know what's stimulating and might keep you engaged? FUCKING DOING GOOD WORK! Backing up my claims is this comment, "Millennials are masters of 'continuous partial attention'". Yeah, no shit.

A trip to the Taj Mahal - a slide show
This slideshow shows you the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. The photographs of the Taj are taken from various distances and from different angles. The Taj in real life is sparkling white but you might notice that this doesn’t seem so in all the pictures and you can take it as a defect in the photograph. There are some photographs not of the Taj itself, but of the monuments around the Taj Mahal.

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