Thursday, January 31, 2008

GMail and Spam

Has anyone else seen a big up-tick in spam they receive in their gmail account? What's the dealio?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yellow Journalism

Am I the only person that sees parallels in yellow journalism and today's cable and, to a lesser degree, news print media? The lead up to the Iraq war and the Spanish-American War is particularly interesting.

Abu Ghraib and the Stanford Prison Experiment

Don't even ask how I came open the Stanford Prison Experiment but I found it extremely interesting, particularly in the light of the abuses at Abu Ghraib a few years ago.

In a nutshell, this guy at Stanford took a bunch of students and stuck them in a basement to replicate a jail. Half played prisoners and the other half guards. The experiment was to run for two weeks. It was shut down after six days because the guards became too sadistic and the prisoners really started to suffer a lot of emotional damage. Six days. That's fricken nuts. Read the Results section to see some of the craizness.

So this is what I take away from that experiment and the Abu Ghraib ordeal. In normal prisons you have a pretty exhaustive training and screening process to weed out the 'bad apples'. I assume prisons are also regularly supervised from outside sources to prevent abuses, etc. As a result, while abuses probably still happen, they are as systemic or widespread as the Abu Ghraib and the Standford ones become.

These kids playing guards weren't throughouly screened nor trained so it makes sense to me that you end up with more people that have sadistic tendencies than you would in professional prisons. I think a similiar thing happened in Abu Ghraib and who knows where else where you have soldiers put into a position they weren't screened or training for enough and you end up with more people with sadistic tendencies in those positions of power. As a result, you end up with the abuses that came to light. I think the Stanford experiment supports this pretty well.

Anyway, just thought it was pretty interesting.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Country Today vs. Jan 20th 2001

The chart in this article puts a really nice perspective on where the country was when Bush came into office and where it is now a year from when he leaves (give or take a few days).


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


So I'm toying with the idea of trying an extended fast sometime in the next couple of months. Has anyone ever done this? I don't mean a 12 or 24 hour fast but more along the 7-day deal or something like that. I've been reading A LOT about that stuff recently and the more I read the more it seems like a healthy thing to do once or twice a year to clear our the system and give it a chance to repair a bunch of damage that occurs during modern living.

The thing is, unless you grow your own stuff you are going to be taking in a lot of garbage with what you eat. That stuff builds up and causes all sorts of weirdness to happen. So I want to give a fast a try and see what happens.

From what I can gather, day 2 and 3 are REALLY bad. After about 24 hours your body stops the digestion process and starts processing fat and such from your reserves. The toxins that you take in are mostly stored in the fat so your bloodstream just gets flooded with this crap. Additionally once the digestion process stops your body can start looking for dead or damaged cells and start to fix them. Between these two actions your can have 10x the toxicity in your blood than you normally have. This leads to, apparently, a REALLY BAD TIME for a couple of days while your body gets rid of all this crap that has been building up. The more toxic you are, the worse it is. Apparently it can be similar to a really bad hang over, vomit included. All kinds of weird crap comes out of your body in all kinds of weird ways. Sounds positively delightful.

However, once you get past that 2 day hellish period things start to look up and start to cycle between these really intense highs and these more mild lows as your body switches between detox and healing cycles. By the time you get to the end of the fast (if you do it for 7 days in a water fast) your body has more or less cleansed itself off the majority of toxins and your digestive track has regenerated itself. Several other systems reset and, apparently, you feel fricken awesome for quite some time. Then if you fast once a week for 24 hours or so and/or do a 7-day water fast twice a year you can maintain a more healthy system and those two days won't be as hellish.

So, wtf, right? I just feel like I am full of garbage in my system. I've been eating super healthy the past two weeks and have noticed a marked difference in my energy and mood. I just keep coming back to thinking if just eating a lot of fruit and nuts and cutting out the majority of processed foods can make that much of a difference, what would really cleaning my system out and resetting do? Everything I read about it and people I talk do that have done an extended fast all tell me that it really makes a difference.

There are two different types of fasts. A water fast, which is just absolutely brutal but is the shorter 7-10 day one. And a juice fast which is much longer but a lot more gentle. My current plan is to make an appointment with my doctor next week to talk to him about it. I am leaning to the 30 day juice fast but I'd like to see if he would be willing to monitor me to make sure the toxicity doesn't get to such a level that I my body can't deal with it. I'm also not sure how to deal with my medication in a fast. So I figure with his guidance I can give this a shot sometime in February or March and see what happens. If (when) I do it I will be updating my blog with my experience as it goes (I hope) with the good, the bad and the ugly.



The last flight I was on was between the coasts several years ago. It was the first time I flew in five years or so and it went pretty smoothly. I remember being somewhat anxious and I couldn't sleep a damn on the red eye home, but other than that it wasn't bad.

I'm about to fly west again this afternoon and for some reason the anxiety is really building up this time. I'm writing this to try to rid myself of some of it because it helps to just talk it out sometimes, so bear with me.

I'm not sure what gets me anxious. I think, since I don't fly that often, it seems a very unnatural experience to me. There is definately a control issue involved. And it also triggers some of my anxiety about being stuck in a situation I can't move around freely in. I'm not sure that any particular fear of crashing or such really enters into it that much, surely a bit but it's not what really drives my anxiety. It has to be the 'moving freely' trigger more than anything else I think. That stinks, I thought I was more or less past that.

Oh well, now that I kinda pin pointed it I feel better. Yay!

Fate versus Destiny - My Take

Ok, so I've gotten a couple of comments on this. This is my take.

I believe fate and destiny, while related, are different. To me, fate is unnavoidable. If you believe in fate or that you are fated to do something, nothing you can do, no choice you make, will change that. It will happen. You are fated to it.

Destiny, on the other hand, is what you are meant to do and that there are paths you can follow that will take you to your destiny, but there is no promise that you will meet it. I think if you listen to yourself and are just aware you know if you are on the right path to whatever your destiny may be. I also believe that you know damn well when you aren't on the right path, even if you choose not to listen.

Now neither of these talk to how your fate or destiny is set and that is a different subject all together.

I don't believe in fate but I do believe in destiny. To me, fate, as I defined it above, is just the easy way to avoid responsibility for your decisions and actions.


A study was released today that reviewed the statements made in the run-up to the Iraq war that came up with 950+ direct, provable lies that led us to war. The report is an interesting read.

I'd like to say a bit about holding our elected representatives responsible. It is the nature of our government to make things difficult to prove wrongdoing sometimes. While I believe that some efforts can turn into witch hunts, this is not one of them. We are in this mess because of lies by public officials and they need to be held accountable for it in order to help stem this sort of thing happening on this scale again. That is why I believe studies like these and continuing investigations into pre-war rationale, intelligence, and other factors must continue and must end with people being held responsible, even if they are no longer in office at the time.

UPDATE: Check this fricken awesome tool out.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fate versus Destiny - The Question

I've had this conversation with two different people over the last two days so I decided it was blogworthy. In this post I'll just ask the question to get input from everyone without poluting it with my beliefs. In a follow-up post in the next day or two I'll talk about what I believe.

The question: To you, is fate and destiny the same thing or different? If they are different, how are they different?

A Religious Question

So I was in the shower where I do my best thinking this morning and religion popped into my mind. I don't recall the train of thought that led me there but I'm sure it was weird.

Anyway, I got to thinking about what the peeps that wrote the various cannon's believed before they believed in Christ? Particularly the old-testament peeps. What they heck were they into before Christianity came along? I know the answer if you buy into the 6000 year old earth thing but how do you square it if you don't buy into that?

I realize this may be totally naive so educate me?

Friday, January 18, 2008


Some fun stuff, after the more serious stuff below:

An Auto-Commenter with such comments as 'all your a[i] are belong to us'

Hobbit House

A Religous One

Relationships and the Plan of Three

I am a serial monogamist. What that means is I meet someone, fall in love, think they are the one, really get into the relationship, start to have doubts, relationship goes to shit, takes forever to end, swear of women for a time then rinse and repeat. One of the problems with that is it really limits experience and confidence and forces me to settle instead of really shooting for the moon.

My therapist has a solution for serial is called The Plan Of Three! Here is how it works.

First, you define your type on three levels. And yes, everyone has a type. Each level is the perfect one, a perfect 10. The first level is physical and doesn't need an explanation. The second level is emotional and intellectually which also probably doesn't need an explanation. The third level is the tough one to put into words. Basically it whether or not the person feels like they are on the right path and far along that path they are that you are comfortable with. It doesn't mean they know what their 'destiny' is but more like if they feel like they are moving along in their life and if you are comfortable with whatever level that may be.

Second, you only date people that are 9's and 10's in all three levels. The idea is to NOT settle but to shoot for the moon. The ones that make you do a double-take are who you are shooting for. Don't settle is the mantra.

Third, it is non-sexual dating. You want to get to know these people on a friendship level with the intent of dating before you start banging pelvises. Kissing and that sorta thing is totally ok but you don't want to move into the type of intimacy that changes relationships until you are sure he/she fits 9/10 on all three levels.

Forth, you date multiple people and make sure everyone knows you are dating others, not necessarily who. The idea is date three people or so for a while until you really land on that one person.

Fifth, if you do decide to move into a more intimate relationship with someone, you break it off with everyone else. This part is key, for obvious reasons.

Ok, so what is the goal here? Why date three, etc? One thing to keep in mind is that this plan is totally not for everyone. It is mainly aimed at people (like me) with a somewhat limited dating experience, a lack of confidence in initiating relationships and a lack of perspective in what works for you and what doesn't on all three levels. For example, I can sit here and tell you, intellectually, what my type is. What I like physically, emotionally and whatever. However, I don't know for sure. How can I without something to really base it on? So by dating multiple people and, yes, comparing experiences I can really start to figure out what I really want. What the ideal is for me. And in doing so, if I really REALLY click with someone and I am totally open and honest with myself, then I make the next move and go exclusive with that person.

With me so far? That is the Plan of Three and it has worked for quite a few of my therapists clients'. Basically, as long as you are honest with it and really work it, it'll work. All of the things that make me uncomfortable about it hit on areas that I am not confident and tend to shy away from. So it makes sense to me.

Moving on. Shana and I decided to just be friends and she is dating someone we both know and they are quite taken with each other, so good for her! I am dating a wonderful woman named Melissa (Mel) and so far things have been going very well.

Good times.


I've been wanted to write a Quote post for a while with some quotes that mean something to me. I figure this will be a living post and I'll just add to it. Please comment and some of your favorites.

"Dreamers may leave, but they are here ever after." -- David Gilmore, "On An Island"

"Life is hard."
"Compared to what?"

"The universe will unfold the way it is meant to." -- Lazy Boy

Songs That Move You

There are songs that mean something to me and songs that I just like to listen to...and then there are the songs that really move me. The ones that I refuse to listen to covers of or the radio versions because they always cut off the good part. These are the songs that bring back very vivid memories or give me goosebumps. The songs I close my eyes to listen to and just let them take me away.

I wanted to write a post about a few of these songs so I picked three. I'm going to list the song and then why it means something to me, why it moves me so. And away!

Comfortably Numb
Pink Floyd "The Wall"

In 1994 I went to see Pink Floyd play at RFK stadium in DC during there 'Division Bell' tour. It turned out to be their last tour, unfortunately. In any case, they put on this amazing show. It is absolutely astounding. They have this huge arch over the stage that is some 8 stories tall and suspended in the middle is this huge circular screen with lights around the outside of it that they project video onto. At the very back of the stadium they have a huge speaker setup and to the left and right halfway back as well so you end up with this huge stereo system. During some songs they swirl the music around the stadium from speaker to speaker that just makes the pot smokers minds explode.

Anyway, 'Comfortably Numb' is the last encore song they perform. I've always enjoyed the song, particularly the guitar solo at the end which, in my mind, is the best guitar solo ever. The lyrics have meant something to me at different points in my life and play a part in why I like the song so much, but mostly it is the Gilmore's guitar work.

So throughout the song they have these amazing light show that goes with it. During the part when they give Floyd a shot and he screams all these lights come on and kinda move from the top of the stadium to the bottom...very cool. Song continues and then we get to the solo at the end. Now on the radio they cut the solo off maybe 1/3 of the way through. Live it goes on and on in sonic bliss for quite a while. The thing that makes the solo so cool is the way it builds and how edgy it can just feel the emotion from it. So Gilmore is up there playing his heart out and slowly this big circular screen starts to move! It starts to rotate so that the screen faces down toward the stage. This happens pretty slowly so you don't even notice it at first but eventually the screen is perpendicular to the stage right above Gilmore's head. At a key point in the solo all the lights in the stadium go out except for the ones around the circle...those lights come on and you end up with this amazing cone of light that just totally surrounds him. Man I get goosebumps just describing this.

While that screen was moving something was happening in the middle of the stadium that you don't notice. Out of the control station or whatever it is in the middle on the field this HUGE disco ball had been slowly rising out of the ground. There is a point in the solo where it has built to this crazy sorta wailing and it climaxes with some really high powerful stuff. At this moment a bunch of lights come on to the ball and the entire 50,000+ (or whatever) packed RFK stadium is full of swirling lights. It was absolutely amazing because everyone was so fixated on the stage that you didn't even see it coming. The solo goes into this kinda wavy back-and-forth thing and I'm like 'How the hell do you top this?' Well, you top it by slowly opening the disco ball up. It folds back on itself and has these crazy lights inside. The solo is going nuts, lights and lasers and crap are all over the place and people are literally jumping up-and-down. What a fucking amazing thing.

Every time I hear that song now and it gets to that solo I close my eyes and listen and just remember. It was a really comfortable night, perfect weather...couldn't hear a damn thing for a week afterwards.

It literally brings tears to my eyes.

99 Flavors
Chick Corea "Beneath the Mask"

This song is a Jazz Fusion song - purely instrumental. On my first trip to Europe I had a walkman and had a tape with this album on it. The trip involved a lot of riding on a bus through some amazing scenery. During these trips I would just listen to this album from start to finish over and over, never rewinding to repeat a song or anything. The '99 Flavors' song is relatively short but has a part that is almost spiritual. Every time I'd get to that part I would again close my eyes and just really let myself go in the music. That bit of music - actually the entire album - now brings back memories of the countryside we traveled through. In particular one bit of Austria near the Crow's Nest where Hitler hung out. It was a highway that was on the side of a mountain and you could look over the edge all the way to a lake with the most blue water I have ever seen.

On An Island
David Gilmore "On An Island"

Most songs I get into because of the music, not the lyrics. In this case, it is both. David Gilmore is the guitarist and lead singer for Pink Floyd and 'On An Island' is his third (and latest) solo album. I just recently found it in the fall and totally fell in love with this song. The music is beautiful but has this undercurrent of hardness to it that just fits perfectly. The chorus goes like this:

Let the night surround you,
Halfway to the stars.
Ebb and flow,
Let it go
Feel the warmth beside you.

The song is about a time he spent with his wife on an island but it really hits home to me on a lot of different levels, particularly the chorus. There is also one line near the end that I love both because of it's lyrical beauty (to me) and because of what the music does to complement it. The line is:

Dreamers may leave, but their here ever after.

Text really can't do the song justice because the lyrics and the music fit together so perfectly.

Anyway, those are probably my top three. What are yours?

Friday, January 11, 2008


I decided to review a couple of movies for you all. These reviews will contain some things that could be considered spoliers. In order to protect anyone from being spoiled I will begin each paragraph with the name of the movie it reviews. If you don't want spoilage, don't read that paragraph. However, be warned that you will miss some witty and funny descriptions that will make you snort and, in the case of drinking a beverage, would make you snarf it. That would be unfortunate because I would like to be there to watch you snarf and then laugh at you and since I cannot you would be wasting a perfectly good snarf. Onward!

Crap. Ok, not total crap, but not nearly as good as the first one. I just couldn't care less about Cage's character wanting to clear his families name. So your family shot Lincoln, who cares! It's not like you did it. Get a grip, man. And what was up with the bad guy suddenly turning good and redeeming himself? That was a little abrupt, after going out of your way to show how evil he was he flips on the turn of a dime? Blah. I will say the big ass table balancing act thingy was fun.

Think '28 Days Later' meets 'Cast Away' with a black Tom Hanks (think about it, both Will Smith and Tom Hanks come from similiar comedy backgrounds and then proved they are incrediably versitle actors). Well, 'Cast Away' if it happened in New York city and a bunch of crazies that used to be people were trying to eat you. Oh, and there seems to be one crazy that leads the show even though you spent part of the movie explaining how all social behavior has left them and then never quite explaining how that one guy was the ring leader. Smith's performance was amazing, however and the movie itself is actually very good and enjoyable.

Come on, it's RAMBO! You can't go wrong! It comes out on Jan 25th and my ass is there for the opening. I've been waiting to see a Rambo in the theater and I can't wait for this. I have no idea who he is taking out all by his lonesome this time but I bet it'll be just as unbelievable as the rest. I hope they don't even bother with a plot this time. Just plop him down in some random jungle and have the blood bath start. That's the Rambo I like.

Yay Movies!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Innate Talent or Beginner's Luck

I was sitting on the shitter reading a book the other day and I thought occurred to me, although it is kinda hard to put into words. I shall try.

Have you ever been in a situation where you started something new, something that involved a skill set you have not used before, and you were just really good at it. More established people were impressed. Then, as time went on and you learned more about the rules and structures around whatever it is you were now doing, your 'innate ability' kinda waned and you became more average?

I'm probably not describing it really well or coming across as being a cocky bastard. Let me try a different tact. Have you ever come into something new knowing nothing about the way it is supposed to be done and performed surprisingly well? There, that sounds better. Happens all the time in sports. New QB comes in because the other one was injured and turns the game around. Then the next week he tanks and you find out why he was the backup in the first place.

What the hell is all that about? Is it some innate ability that was never tapped before or just beginner's luck? And what is beginner's luck?

I feel like it is more than that. I like to believe that because you don't know what you aren't supposed to be able to do, the pressure is off and you are free to just do. So a lot of the stress/anxiety/whatever is missing that occurs during later attempts.

Does this make sense to anyone else or was I pushing too hard on the shitter? ;)

And Now, For Something Completely Different

I've been on a streak with the political and religious stuff so I figured I'd shift gears back to the third leg in my posting stool and talk about me again.

I think, as a human as most of us are, that we react to how other people react to us. No matter how much you may deny it, a certain part of your personality and self-worth is going to be defined in this way. The amount of that self-worth will vary greatly between person and during your lifetime.

For example, it wasn't too many years ago that I derived a great part of my self-worth from how I felt people related to me. And it was even less time ago that critisim of any sort really cut to the bone (like a matter of months on that one). That isn't to say that critisim still doesn't hurt or that if everyone suddenly turned their back on me I wouldn't be crushed, it just means that I have an easier time now taking it stride and not letting if affect my self-worth.

To put it another way, you can't control what a person says or does to you but you can control your reaction to it. If someone says something hurtful, whether purposely hateful or supposedly constructive, you can either internalize that and start doubting yourself and your motives...or you can really be in touch with who you are and let it slide off your back or take it for the constructive critisim that it is. I certainly picked the first option quite a bit in the past and still do from time to time, but I am falling on the second option more and more.

What are your experiences with this?

Jimmy Carter - The Man

See, if we only listened to Jimmy back in the day...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Media, The Primaries and Sexism

So by now everyone should know how much I loathe the media, primarily the TV gas bags and blow hards. Last night was AWESOME in-so-much that it was egg on their collective faces. I would love to see that happen more often. Maybe get these dipshits to talk about the canditates based on their issues and now their 'tears'. Jesus.

Anyway, here in Lou Dobbs saying pretty much the same thing. Although his claiming independence is shit, but whatever.

And because my bitching at Mathews went over so well last time, here he is again proving my point. Oh, and this. I like how she totally brushes him off at the end and he is all red faced. Good lovin.

Speaking of sexism, here is an article I lined to in the Iowa thread that talks about it. And here is the famous back rub to the Germany Chancelor by the Frat-Boy-In-Chief back at the G8 summit. What an embarassement that guy is.

So do I think sexism has something to do with the HRC compagin, whether for it or against, you damn well bet I do. I think the evidence is clear.

It'll be a REAL interesting 11 months.

The HRC 'Upset' In NH


Clinton won in NH because she has been aiming at it for the past year. She had much more of a network there than anyone else and she has been working the state longer than anyone. To think that the tears or whatever is what pulled her ahead of Obama is silly. It only became an 'upset' because our all-knowing press corp made it one, not because of reality.

God I hate the press.

I will add that I love how wrong the press got this one. They were already writing HRC off and I find that funny. Almost as funny as Huck, but not quite. They fancy themselves king makers and that is just wrong.

NH and South Carolina

Since I rocked with my Clinton win prediction in NH I figure I'll toss some out for South Carolina. Michigan doesn't really count because it really isn't a contest.

South Carolina is interesting. The primary system as it is today was put in place in the 60's. I'm not totally sure on the exact dates but I believe during the Goldwater revolution in the Republican party and the rise of the 'southern strategy' during Reagan and the exodus of the Dixiecrats from the Democratic party, South Carolina was envisioned as a fire wall from any non-establishment canaditate in the Republican party (how do you like that run-on sentence). A recent example of this strategy in work was the 2000 election when Bush beat McCain in SC and then on to win the nomination. Bush was the establishment canaditate and SC did exactly what it was meant to do, it weeded out the garbage. Of course, the famous 'McCain fathered a black son' push poll helped.

So, it is with a fair amount of glee and irony that SC, the firewall to protect the establishment, may very well propel Huckabee towards the nomination against the establishments wishes. So funny. You can't write this stuff.

On the Dem side, this one is tough. Edwards is very strong in SC and he could make a strong showing. I'm betting he pulls in second if he decides to make a stand there, although I'm betting he makes his stand on Feb 5th. It'll be a fight for 1st but I bet Obama wins with Hillary in 3rd...basically a repeat of Iowa just closer.

In summary, on the Repub side Huck, McCain then Romney. On the Dem side Obama, Edwards, Clinton.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Freedom of Religion not Freedom from Religion"

I saw this quote and it doesn't sit well with me. Why wouldn't a freedom of religion also include a freedom from religion? This quote, to me, implies that as long as you worship something that is ok, but if you don't worship anything that isn't accepted.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Why The Hate, Part Two

So after writing my first post about this and kinda exploring where I was coming from I've had some time to think about it and chat about it with some others. In doing so a couple of events I had forgotten about came up and some further thoughts, so I thought a follow-up would be a good thing.

I was actually kinda surprised of the conclusion I finally ended up with...although it totally makes sense. The whole 'preying on the weak' thing really gets under my skin and that is what I feel keeps happening. A better way to describe the 'weak' however, and to tie it into stuff I have been saying for a while, is that the people must vunerable and whom tend to be targetted simply lack perspective. They don't have anything to compare what is being told to them against. Therefore, why wouldn't it make sense? As far as they know, it is what everyone does, right? While is more true for the younger people I think someone in a confused state (like High School) can fall into this as well.

Ok, so they experience I had forgotten about was with Young Life. This is, on the surface, a pretty cool organization. They get a bunch of High School kids together and go do stuff with them. It is very social and a good way to hang out and get to know people. However, just like the guy at the High School with his flyers I feel they misrepresent themselves to you at the start. Maybe not everyone but in my case I thought it was just a social organization, I didn't realize the purpose was to bring people together to experience Christ or whatever. That didn't start happening until later and it really just turned me off from them.

Anyway, to wrap all this up. Religion serves a good purpose when it is up-front and personal. When it prays on those that lack perspective and have nothing to compare it against, or hides what the true goals are, that is when it crosses a line and I think does a dis-service.


So let me tell you about one of the many reasons I really like LOST!.

I was watching TV about 15 minutes ago and saw a commerical for Oceanic Airlines. If you are a follower of LOST! you may recall that Oceanic Airlines is the airline that crashed on the island in LOST!. The commerical had a website URL at the end: Now even if you have never seen LOST! click on it and watch the video to the end. It's good stuff.

This isn't the first time they have done this. Two summer's ago it was an entire online mystery spread out all over the Internet through secret pages and clues embedded in some sponsers like Jeep. Last summer was something a bit similiar but required more cooperation from fans to work out. In both cases (and this one too) it adds back story and answers some questions (such as what those numbers mean).

Apparently this one just started. The first episode is what I stumbled on 15 minutes ago. The next one comes out in 18 hours.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Why The Hate

So Bunny brought up a question and it is one I've heard before. Did someone in my past shove religion down my throat so hard that it scarred me and thus sent me on this crusade to rant against it so much. Ok, maybe not that starkly but you get the idea.

The answer in a nutshell is I can't point to one or two events that soured me. My views evolved over time and they continue to evolve. Who knows if I will be on the same lines I am now in 10 years, I doubt it. That is part of the fun, though.

Anyway, time to explore. I'm just more or less going to write down what I think influenced me and see what pops out.

My parents took my brother and I to First Christain Church in Hagerstown somewhat regularly. We would also go to Bible School over the summer's for a few years and did the one hour class after the main ceramony each Sunday as well. There would be times I would skip going or feign sickness, but I did that with school as well. I certainly wasn't against religion or anything at that age, it was all that I knew and I just assumed everyone went through it. I was just soooooooo bored in the ceramonies.

Time passed and we started going less and less and then just on special occasions, which was fine with me. I discovered some of my friends didn't go regularly and I remember a particular episode of a that TV show with the rich family taking in the two black kids regarding switching of to Judaism that started my first thoughts that not everyone was Christian. Looking back that was a bit of a shock to me.

Believe it or not, and I am somewhat ashamed to admit this now, I was a Rush fan for a bit and read two of his books. Some of what he said made sense to me and fit with some of the lessons I learned through church. Leslie can vouch that I refused to have sex for quite a while, for example. And I had other much more socially conservative values through High School. However, I was anything but a practicing Christian although I was very confused for a while. I recall an someone coming to the High School and passing out flyers that there would be a conference in the auditorium after school to talk about self-confidence and such. It turned out to an evangelical Christain talking about God and offering everyone to come down and be saved. At the time I actually went through it and became 'saved'. Now I look at that very differently.

Never during this time was I political in any real way, certainly not progressive like I am now. I hated Clinton during the 1992 election and was not happy when he was elected. I liked Reagan and Bush, etc. However, as I look back at all this now I can honestly say these views came from listening to other people and not really looking at what was going on nor by challenging my views. They were just adopted from others I assumed knew more and had my best interests at heart.

So when did it change? I have written about when my politics changed and I guess to a degree my views on religion started to then as well. My politics changed, and this happened pretty starkly, when I was in California working for Postal Innovations for 5 weeks. All I had was the job, so no social life. I remember every morning it would be all OJ all the time, and I remember being absolutely disgusted with it. That is what clued me in to how silly the mainstream media became and I started to not trust it as more. Then the Whitewater/Lewinsky witch hunt started and that is what pushed me left in a big way very fast. You want to talk about a fishing expedition that is example A of one.

That is when the I started to realize that the religious right had really gotten into power and was faith as a basis for law and not logic. That is probably the point I started to really examine motives and such. However, I was still not really pissed about stuff yet.

In steps the 2000 election and all the crap that has happened in the past 7 years. The Terri Shavio case puts what I rant against into perspective better than anything I could ever say. That entire episode shows just how powerfull faith has become in a place where faith is more of an obstacle than not. You can't argue with people about faith by its very nature. You have the Brownbeck's and Santorum's of the world pushing faith as the basis of law and that is clearly outlawed in the constitution.

In addition, you have a pretty underhanded way some people go about preying on people. That guy in High School is a prime example of it and it does bother me a lot. There was nothing about religion in the flyer and that type of person preys on people at age when they are confused and are looking for something with more meaning. The 'Jesus Camp' people are even scarier because they are preying on kids that don't even know what the heck is going on.

I guess what really bothers me, and what really fuels me, is that I was in a position that these people were in and looking back more people did try to prey on my insecurities and almost were successfull. I just happen to be lazy enough not to follow up on stuff that I let it slide and never went anywhere with it. As I said before, religion is deeply personal and I believe should be discovered by yourself. When it is 'passed down' or, worse, indoctrinated based on your insecurities or confusion or doubts it crosses a line and becomes dangerous. And this is true for any religion, hell for anything really.

Oh, one other point. Back when I really started becoming poltical I talked with a guy who was solidly in the religious right corner, nice guy though. Anyway, this was at a time when Bush was nominiating Ashcroft as the AG. I let this guy actually convince me that because Ashcroft was so devotely religious he could be trusted and would be a good choice. God what a dumbass I was. That was more or less the final nail in the coffin for me and believing that just because you were devotely religious you would be trustworthy in office.

In summary, I guess it is the preying on the weak that I get the most upset about because I was one of the weak for quite some time and I was preyed upon. That's why I keep saying that when people have well-thought out views and know why they believe what they believe, I have no problem with that. But when a person just spouts what they heard the last gasbag on TV say or whatever, I get kinda bent out of shape. I feel like they are being taken advantage of and so I challenge the heck out them.

Hurray for self discovery. Thanks for the question, Jesse.

Die, Spam, Die

Ha ha! Take that evil doer!

Marriage, Progressive Tax Codes and State Rights

Figured I would answer Joe's comments to the 'I Am Progressive' post in a new post since it would be more fun that way.

Regarding marriage, he brings up a good point. Basically he is saying (if I understand correctly) that marriage, being conducted by churchs and the like, is a religious institution and as such, the special benefits married couples received is a violation of church and state. I actually agree with this arguement. Ideally the government should be in the business of civil unions and the churches the marriage bit. That way, you take the entire 'marriage is the union of a man and a woman' out of the equation of whether or not you receive government tax breaks and the like and just leave it to the churchs to work that out. When people get hitched, they go down to the City Hall, get it notorized or whatever as a civil union, then do whatever religious or pagan or whatever ceremony they want to do as far as marriage goes and yer all done. To me that makes a lot more sense then what you have now.

Regarding the progressive tax code question. A progressive tax code is what we have now in which you are taxed at a higher rate the more you make. This is different than a regressive or flat tax where everyone is taxed at the same rate or you levy a heavier sales tax to make-up the short fall. The theory is 10% of someone's income for someone making $20,000 is a lot more to them than 10% of someone making $200,000 in terms of standard of living, etc. This is something I agree with.

Finally, state's rights. I believe Joe's question boils down to stronger state's rights equals more division between the states and within the country as a whole. While there is a certain amount of truth to this, I believe states are in a better position to identify the needs of their population and to react to those needs faster and more effeciently than the federal government. Additionally, the needs of your California's and New York's are very different thatn the needs of your Kansas's and Texas's, so the 'one size fits all' of the Feds doesn't always make sense. With that said, I also believe the Federal government has a strong role to play. I'm just not sure where the line is. What I do know is that it is too far on the fed side now.


So Obama wins big, Edwards is second and HRC is third. Not a bad turn out. Obama wins that big because Richardson played king maker and asked that his caucus members vote for Obama, otherwise those results may have turned out the same but it would have been A LOT closer.

Unfortunately, I fear Obama's victory may be short lived. The HRC machine was never really banking on Iowa and has always focused on NH first. That kinda sucks because I would prefer an Obama presidency over a HRC one and an Edwards over both. Hopefully some miracle happens but there it is.

On the other side of the fence you have Huck trashing everyone else. Mitt came in second but pretty weakly. I think that was more or less predicted. What is interesting on that side is how well Paul and McCain did and how lousy Rudy did. Although Rudy is betting on Florida and bigger states so he more or less didn't campaign in Iowa or NH, so I guess that isn't that much of a surprise. But Paul and Thompson tied for 4th and McCain is 3rd, not bad. NH will be really interesting.

Go Huck!

I bet you never saw me saying that coming!

It's awesome. It is almost as good as a Ron Paul victory. Why? Because it is TOTALLY screwing the Republican elites that have been using the religious right to do their bidding but screwing them in the end. Bush was never more than a token but Huck is the real thing and it has the power players of the right flipping out.

Check this out for some insight. Here is the money line that more or less sums it up:

But Huckabee, despite an inept last week of campaigning, has forced the Republican party to face the Wal-Mart shoppers that they have long taken advantage of. He’s here. He’s Gomer. And he’s not going away.

So funny.

Go Huck!

Religious Clarification

Meant to do this a week or so ago.

Over a very enjoyable discussion with some friends before x-mas it was expressed to me that I tend to generalize in my rants about religion. I believe that as far as this blog goes that view is probably correct. When I discuss religion with people in person I tend to lay out the following clarification and I don't believe I ever did the same here.

Most people of the religious type, and I mean the vast majority, I have absolutely no issue with and, in fact, am jealous of to some degree. I believe religion is deeply personal and can provide a person with a certain comfort that I just don't have in my life.

When I rant about religion I am mostly ranting against those that try to push religion down my throat. Those people that mix religion and politics or who are just as busy brainwashing the young of America as those they rail against are in Islam or whatever (see Jesus Camp, for a great example of this). I believe that kind of religion is extremist and that is what I rant against, not the everyday average believer with whom I have no problem.

So while my language can be interpreted sometimes as being generalist, I do not mean it to and I hope this post clarifies that.