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Journal: A Question of Philosophy 1

Journal by broter

Why is it that every monotheistic person I know always assumes that a normal person must be monotheistic? Why is it that educated people fail to see the logical fallicies inherent in religious questions? It's like watching crack heads justify their usage with circular arguments.

"You need to search for God!" "Just because there doesn't seem to be a God doesn't mean you don't need to search for him." "I know god exists because I BELIEVE he does."

Begging the question. Circular arguments. Following a book that has instructions not to extend it, but has beed extended many many times. Mysterious scrolls found by priests in temples. Followers who assasinate cult members and then claim to know their dead leader better than his brothers. Prophets who claim to have been given the "perfect" version of "The" religion that was perfect and unchangable before, but has nothing to do with the origional Judaism.

Monotheistic herds of people, most likely following an ancient Egyptian sun cult that should have died in the African desert, but somehow limps on. Somehow putting on a new mask for every season in the abyss and claiming this is the way it's always been.

How do they cope with this mess? They do what all their predecessors did. They ignore it.

Quite frankly, I don't care what people believe or do, as long as it doesn't invade my freedom to ignore it. If you need to do drugs to feel alive, ok. Just don't steal from me when you need a fix. If you need to believe in a crackpot religion to feel like your life means something, ok. Just don't ask me to believe in it with you.

I have a great respect for alternative religions. Mainly because they don't hinge on everyone else in the world following them. Don't get me wrong. I still think they're silly. But I have no problem with silly. I think silly is a wonderful way to run the world. What you know to be true today i most definitely going to be proven false tomorrow. Whatever you see is ony part of the system. Don't lose your sense of humour. Life's a joke.

At any rate, a healthy bit of perspective is needed. But what perspective? Is it better to let your peaceful movement die than take up arms an kill it yourself through hypocracy? If a group of people is willing to kill me for not following their beliefs and can't be swayed, is it ethical for me to kill them first? Both sides of this issue have been dealing with these questions for ages.

The Macabees decided that it's okay to murder an innocent man who would rather follow the classical culture than the Hebrew culture. The Christians were the origional hate criminals - destroying temples of the pagans and ultimately getting themselves labelled traitors of the Roman empire. Islam decided it was perfectly justifiable to kill a kindom of peoples... as long as you warned them first.

An old question. How do you integrate mutually exclusive philosophies? I'm an American brought up on the west coast. I was trained to believe in accepting all beliefs... even when I know it can't be done. But then I just ignore that hitch.

User Journal

Journal: Trouble in Saudi Arabia?

Journal by broter

While the situation in Iraq remains unstable, Bush is expected to announce the end of the US operation in Afghanistan dispite growing military action in the south against US and current government positions as well as NGO workers in the country, and rumours that Al Qaeda is regrouping there; US-Saudi seem to be weakening. The removal of US forces from Saudi air bases in the northern part of the country, a class action law suit by 9/11 victims' families alledging Saudi culpabillity, and the Saudi support for internal and international fundamentalist religious groups have put an unpresidented strain on the two countries.

There is mounting evidence that the US action against Iraq has bolstered bin Laden's support in Saudi Arabia. Some members of the US administration have suggested that American armed forces should take control of the Saudi oil fields if the royal family loses power.

Is Saudi Arabi in the queue of US millitary action items?

United States

Journal: A Minority of One? 2

Journal by broter

With the recent bipolar coverage of American opinion, I find myself in an ever decreasing minority. One one side, says the media, we have people who support the president and think this war is a great idea. On the other side we're presented with people that this the shooting should be stopped immediately and the troops brought home; leaving Iraq in whatever shape it's currently in.

I'm a mix of the two. Before 9/11, I though Bush was a buffoon. I still do. Rumsfeld was never on my list of camera friendly faces, but I never thought about him until I learned more about the neo-conservitives. Now, from everything I can see, I think they are practicing a losing strategy of global domination.

My opposition to the war had nothing to do with American lives, Iraqi lives, or morality. They would be lost and damaged, but my argument didn't even get to where that mattered. My argument was one of effectiveness.

First, I couldn't see a way where America would accomplish any of its people's interests would be saved. No matter how good we do, the treat of terrorism increases. Leaving Saddam with NBC weaponry while disrupting their further developement with coerrsive inpections (PDF) didn't threaten the US or any of its interests. I didn't believe then, nor do I believe now that secular Saddam had or will have any connection with fundamentalist Isalmic groups.

Second, by pushing through to this war the way he did, Bush damaged both the UN and NATO. There is a school of thought that internatinoal bodies simply get in the way of American protecting its global interests. But, just like American elections and a congressional rubber stamp on the current conflict (undeclared war), international organizations give a sense of ligitimacy to actions that can't otherwise be supported by constituent opinion. Historical alliances have been damaged as well.France and Germany, who could have need coersed into the coallition by the public revelation of WMD by the weapons inspectors, were sidelined.

What troubles me most is that, once again, my fellow Americans seem more intent on crushing freedoms at home than spreading freedom overseas. If we can't protect freedom at home, how can we export it? Some people say the first amendment needs to be curtailed while there's aterrorist threat. These are, presumably, the people who also believe that there will be a terrorist threat forever more.

User Journal

Journal: My fan base is growing!!!

Journal by broter

I'm on my way! 2 fans and counting. Watch out $$$$$exyGal, I'm on your tail!

1387) $$$$$exyGal
1219) CleverNickName
1201) CmdrTaco
364) hemos
310) SlashChick
2) broter

Books

Journal: The Joy of SEL Book Sales

Journal by broter

Next to $$$$$exyGal's journal, this will seem quite mundane. But if I can give just a splinter of the happiness a geek gets from the Science & Engineering Library's annual book sale; then I feel like I've done my part in world happiness.

For those who have never experienced a UCLA SEL book sale; it is an intense and intimate event (in a geek's perspective). Once a year, the library goes through its archives and takes donations from the faculty's personal stashes. All of these are collected and sold over two days for $2 a piece. Some are near useless (eg. "Extreme Netscape 2.x") others are near priceless.

The books are lumped into sections. Computer Science, Math, Atmosphere Sciences, Aerospace, Physics, Chemistry, et al. The shortest lived is Math. The most untouched is probably Computer Science. It's one of the few events where you'll see a 90lb mathematician lift more than his body wieght (...in books). Note: I actually wiegh 174lb and there simply weren't enough good books left for me to push my limits so far :)

So, $2 old books, you say. What can be so cool? Well, I found "The Theory of Branching Processes" by Harris (note it's $32.50 new), "The Theory of Convex Programming" by Gol'stem (out of print), and a few other math books. On the electronics side, a few old Vacuum tube circuit design books rewarded my audio-phelia bone [sic]. All in all, I'll be busy at least until the next SEL book sale.

Reader: But I'm nowhere near UCLA. Where can I get my $2 book fix?

That's a good question. The best way is to find your local university's website and locate all the libraries on their campus. They might have a book sale like UCLA's listed on their webpage. If not, don't fret. Just email, or drop by and ask, the librarian if they have one or if they know of one.

If all else fails, just try and google for it.

User Journal

Journal: Putting together a slash site to save face

Journal by broter

It's funny that I find myself obligated to cut out a nich of usefulness after the project I've been working on was out right rejected by the users. I say it's funny, cause I've been the person pointing out that it count do a damn thing that the biologists and chemists expected of it.

I've learned that I didn't complain loud enough or in the right manner. Or, perhaps, nothing I said would have convinced "them" that the over all design was irrepairably flawd. In either case, the hostile looks from the community this last week convinced me that if I didn't take matters into my own hands, then I'd endup looking like an incompetent fool. No glory heaped upon my name. No smiles of gratitude. Nothing.

So I've decided to create a Slashdot like site where the biologists can discuss TB Consortium related ideas between conferences. As an added side effect, I'd be informed about the happenings of my coworkers (currently, I'm the red headed step child). Also, this is the only thing I could do that isn't the staked out political territory of someone the lab.

Although I've gotten it installed on my home computer, I'm not sure it'll be possible to get running in the lab. This is a strange endevour.

He who steps on others to reach the top has good balance.

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