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User Journal

Journal Journal: What drives fundamentalist Christian policy in Middle East

Ever wonder why fundies in the US have such a woody for Israel? Puzzled that the Bible belt indigent elected a rich boy to 2 terms? Someone asked me this question and I finally found the answer, so I wrote it here.

The following is a timeline of events, each followed by a passage of the Bible which fundamentalists link with the modern day event. As you read the following timeline, remember that Fundamentalist Christians believe in an all-powerful God who does not always pal it up with mankind. They do not interpret the following as pure chance.

1947-1991 - US supports Israel during Cold War. US grows prosperous as depression and rationing end. In contrast, rationing begins in Bloc nations supporting the Arab nations about Israel. "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Genesis 12:1-3"

August, 1991 - Soviet Union collapses in coup
Oct 30, 1991 - President George H. Bush crafts and signs the Oslo Accord. The Accord required Israel to award land to the Palestinians in exchange for peace.
Oct 31, 1991 - The Perfect Storm rages over the Atlantic, rides into Kennebunkport, Maine and demolishes Bush's house. "They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance... So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. Psalms 83:4, 15"

Aug 23, 1992 - President Bush again tries to sell the Oslo Accord.
Aug 23, 1992 - Hurricane Andrew hits Florida, at the time the worst natural disaster to hit the US.

Jan 16, 1994 - President Clinton meets with Syria President Assad to discuss divestiture of Golan Heights
Jan 17, 1994 - 6.9 mag earthquake hits California, at the time the second most destructive disaster to hit the US.

Sep 28, 1998 - Sec State Albright finalizes land-for-peace agreement. US President Clinton meets with PLO Leader Arafat and Israeli President Netanyahu to sign it. Arafat addresses UN pledging a Palestinian homeland by 1999.
Sep 28, 1998 - Hurricane George hits Gulf Coast. "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. Joel 3:1-2"

Oct 15, 1998 - Arafat and Netanyahu meet at the Wye River Plantation in Maryland to discuss Israel giving up land.
Oct 17, 1998 - Tornadoes hit Texas. Rain and floods continue for 5 days. "O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. Psalm 83:13"

Nov 30, 1998 - Arafat meets with Clinton to raise money for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital. 42 nations agree to donate 3 billion dollars each.
Nov 30, 1998 - Financial disaster. Dow drops 216 points, market capital is wiped out.

May 3, 1998 - Arafat schedules press conference to announce Palestinian state with Jerusalem as capital.
May 3, 1998 - The most powerful US tornado storm on record hits the Midwest. Winds clocked at 316 mph, fastest ever.

June 8, 2001 - President George W. Bush sends Sec Tenet to pursue the Oslo accord.
June 8, 2001 - Tropical Storm Allison hits Texas and closes the George Bush airport for 2 days. Storm continues over the area until Tenet leaves 5 days later.

Aug 23, 2001 - Via CNN, President Bush tells Arafat to put 100% effort into stopping terrorism if he wants Israel to negotiate. Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah recalls Ambassador Bandar from the US in retaliation.
Aug 27, 2001 - Bandar meets with Sec Rice and threatens to withhold oil because of the comments. Pres Bush writes an apology letter to Bandar stating that Palestinian people have the right to live in their own state in their own homeland.
Sept 7, 2001 - Bandar returns to US. With the President he announces the creation of a Palestinian State. Negotiations continue until Sept 9.
Sep 10, 2001 - The negotiations are complete. Bandar calls Saudi Arabia to inform the Crown Prince.
Sep 11, 2001 - Terrorists destroy the World Trade Center and damage the Pentagon, killing thousands.

Aug 23, 2005 - Under threats of economic action from President Bush, Israel evicts settlers from the disputed territories and gives them to the Palestinians, as per Bush's "Roadmap For Peace".
Aug 23, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina forms in the Carribean.
Aug 29, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina evicts thousands from New Orleans.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "I'm more productive|happier with my [gimmick software]"

In the 80's a person might have had a single home computer over which they had complete authority. Now it's unlikely for me to go 24 hours without touching at least 4 different computers with different operating systems and capabilities. My authority over them is often limited. If I struggle with someone else's weird setup I am readily forgiven, but if I mess up using vi or Word I look incompetent. Most time-saving components require configuration, personalization, and training. Experience has shown me that this is only practical with a high-end home computer you will limp along with for many years. So I personally use the most common types of software in order to get good at using what I am most likely to encounter in life. I avoid aliases, macros, and custom Autocorrect dictionaries, because I can't make them follow me everywhere. I refuse to learn both the original command AND an easy-to-type alias for it. However, when such things are ported to run on any web browser, I'll be there.

Note: Theoretically I could get a custom environment to follow me around with a LiveCD. This has not occurred in practice, because I can't seem to find a LiveCD that can account for everything without a lot of hassle. For me to use it, the LiveCD must be less hassle than the crufty windoze zombie it displaces.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "I'm more productive|happier with my [custom input device]"

In the 80's a person might have had a single home computer over which they had complete authority. Now it's unlikely for me to go 24 hours without touching at least 4 different terminals with different pointer devices and key layouts. My authority over them is often limited. If I struggle with someone else's weird setup I am readily forgiven, but if I mess up on a extended keyboard & mouse I look incompetent. So I personally use the most common types of input devices in order to get good at using what I am most likely to encounter.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "Bookmarks help you keep track of your favorite sites"

The claim: Bookmarks help you keep track of internet sites that are important to you.
The truth: Bookmarks make it painful to switch browsers (save Mozilla), operating systems (favoring Microsoft), and computers (favoring ISPs).
Update: the advent of, pbwiki, and other means of global bookmarking via Internet server have solved this problem.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "Copyright runs too long! They're stealing our culture!"

Copyright creates a false scarcity in order to inflate the value of items of small worth. The greatest works of information stand on their own, they need no prop and cannot be "stolen". It is foolish to consider items of small worth your culture, for you see yourself in relation to your culture and its worth. Copyright does you, humble member of society, a favor: you are rescued from further saturation of our worst works that would crowd out our best ones.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "Use the government to accomplish religious goals"

You vote without proof that your vote is counted or protected from misuse. You do it because the government promised you that. You declare for your faith without proof that it is the one way. You do it because your religious text or authority promised you that. Now compare the track record of promises kept by your religious faith against those kept by your government. BTW, if the government comes out ahead, then the government IS your religion.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "Passwords need special chars to beat dictionary attack"

People use a dictionary word to help them remember the sequence of characters they need to type. Why not just pick a sequence of characters that is easy to remember, given the position of the characters on a keyboard? Try typing "mnbvcxz" and you'll see what I mean. For paranoid password programs you can include numbers and special characters without much difficulty. For learning purposes, you can write the first letter on a sticky and then draw the shape with a line and arrow thus: <---m

User Journal

Journal Journal: "Wow, a cellphone that also does ___!"

Badly. The WWW, IM, music, photos, telephony, and now sadly, ringtones exist just about everywhere I visit. The convenience of modern telephony ensures that people will call without thinking through their questions first. What's left is small talk and not urgent. The ability to leave messages for oneself seems intriguing, but the technology is surpassed by that of an 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper-- it stands up to abuse better, is more user-friendly, and requires no monetary contractual obligation.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "I hate telemarketers, don't you?"

When I don't want to be bothered, I turn the telephone ringer off. When I pick up the phone to make a call, the handset alerts me to any voicemail messages. I then skim my voicemail, which sometimes eliminates the need to call. After I call I'll turn the ringer on, if I feel like it. I do not own exclusive rights to the 10-digit number sequence that is my telephone number. But the handset is mine, and I will choose whether to answer it or not. I set my boundaries-- I choose when I will talk and when I will listen. It is not selfish, it is my responsibility. No one else is responsible for my behaviour, so with my own property I will act as I see fit. To not understand this is to ultimately require counseling.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "If only my manager would switch to Linux"

Imagine your manager switching to Linux. Imagine him asking you lots of questions at inopportune times. Imagine spending a lot of time at his computer, educating him over and over about the dangers of running as root. Imagine upper management putting together policies to govern the frightening liability risk caused by this do-anything system. Imagine IT co-opting the Linux rollout in order to provide "better service". Imagine Red Hat 5.1, because IT has the manual for that distro. Imagine typing "grep" and seeing "grep: not found". Imagine booting Linux and watching crappy desktop apps you never use automatically open on startup, thanks to IT rollout policy. Now imagine they find out about LiveCDs. Remember those 3 1/2 inch drives with the boot floppy locked in so you couldn't eject or use the drive any other way? What's to stop them from doing the same thing to a CD drive with a LiveCD inside? Believe it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Thoughts on unreligion vs religion 10

This comment represents the point of view of many I have talked with. I decided to set down my thoughts about it here.

I have found that those who advocate a point of view seek to present one side of a story and place a low priority on learning the other side. But those who care more about the truth than about being viewed as right never stop reading both sides of the story. If you can find one of these people, you can learn some good stuff. But it is hard to trust the rest, because both sides behave as if they have personally vested interests.

For example, the commenter claims that religious adherents bear the mark of "cult-like programming". As a religious adherent, I have to admit there is a kernel of truth in that statement. Most people join both churches and cults out of needs for physical aid, companionship, or imposed order, unless they are coerced into joining. If you adopt the belief system of the people you most deeply respect, you can bond with them and receive their respect. To some extent you will benefit from their virtues and adopt their vices. But if you discard that belief system, that bond is tested. They can no longer understand your decisions, and the quality of your relationship is threatened. This is undeniably evident in the lives of my agnostic friends, no matter how they seek to deny it. They all nurture relationships with people they deeply respect who share their agnostic beliefs. We all seek relationships with those we respect and desire to protect our most valued relationships. It seems that this is the perspective from which all men approach both religion and unreligion: steeped in a personal bias stemming from our instinctual desires connected to our relationships.

It enrages me to realize this. I don't want to approach any search for truth with any bias no matter what it buys me. How much less would I relish the thought of a hopelessly biased perspective in The Search for Ultimate Truth(tm)? I hate having to accept this, and it seems like many refuse to admit such a bias outright. Although the notion that all religious persons are brainwashed is popular among the unreligious, the possibility that they themselves might exhibit any bias is laughed at. But they cannot relinquish their bias any more than they can shed their instincts.

The only way I can think that this could be done would be to cut off contact with all humanity. As it turns out, my father did this very thing. He spent time exploring remote areas of the Minnesota backwoods alone for several months. As it turns out, it was there that he decided that both the unbelief of the people he encountered at university and the church-faith of the farm town he grew up in were wrong.

The person who would show me genuine respect and love, seeking to understand me in spite of our conflict in beliefs-- that is a person I would trust. My desire to nullify my selfish bias is so strong that I would desire to be like this person enough to adopt his beliefs. But it must be genuine love, or I'd chuck his beliefs as soon as I found it was fake (that's my bias at work again). I would need a person committed both to loving me as I am and to his beliefs. If he was noncommittal in his beliefs, how could I trust him to continue to care about me? In a world full of fakers, he'd have to prove both love and commitment to beliefs by facing anything for me, even torture and death. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to truly throw myself into the relationship (including understanding and adopting his beliefs) until I was sure. And I couldn't be sure until he was dead. And once he was dead, my bias would make it all moot. Regardless of where my instincts came from, I have them, they demand to be satisfied, and none of them can be lastingly satisfied by a dead person. Other persons of respect would show up with their beliefs, I'd seek a bond with them, and eventually they would also die. So in the interests of saving time and hurt, if I really wanted to seek the truth, I would have to turn down every man-made belief. Many gods, one god, zero gods, i'm god, joe schmoe is god, god died, if I heard it from someone, I couldn't risk believing it no matter how much I respected him, no matter how much he begged me or cared about me. I'd have to live solely on instinct, and I'd probably be a wretched little bastard for the rest of my short life.

Of course, if that person came back from death after being tortured, I might put my trust in him. If I can't believe in anything else, I might as well believe in something crazy enough to get someone tortured and killed, in view of the alternatives. At least the guy really liked me, and he seemed to have his instincts licked, mine would not willingly submit to torture. But if I couldn't be sure of torture, death, and recovery, I'd think it was a scam. If I could be there and use all my senses then maybe I'd believe it. It still wouldn't be unequivocal proof, but it would be good enough to chance it, given the alternatives of trusting someone out for themselves or going animalistic. If someone else was there and told me about it, it's a bit dicier. I might believe him if he met the following conditions. All his senses would have to agree about the torture, death, and recovery of the dead man. He'd also have to prove his commitment to his beliefs by being tortured and dying for them. But he'd also have to prove his love to me somehow. If his beliefs centered on genuinely loving others, and if he was tortured and died for those beliefs, perhaps I could believe he would have loved me. Perhaps then I could believe that this happened. Having thought about it, the choice is brutal. But at least there is room to choose, I'm not forced to accept this dead man's account. If it had happened in front of me (or to me) I would have had to believe it or stop trusting my senses.

My beliefs have become apparent here, something I didn't expect when I began writing this. But having faced the difficulty of this sort of choice here, I can't call anyone a whack job for their choice. I feel that more than ever I am interested in truth, in all sides of the story, so flame on.

If you want to hear what my father decided and his reasoning as he explained it to me, ask.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Planned Parenthood/Abortion

First let me address the pro-life readers. Consider who gets a late-term, partial birth abortion. You have the people who couldn't come up with the money right away because of genuine financial hardship (i.e., homeless people). You have the people who could have done it sooner but refused to get their priorities straight until they became inconvenienced by the pregnancy (i.e., crack whores). You have the people who didn't realize they were pregnant for 6 months (i.e., mentally challenged). Note that these are the people the state declares unfit parents-- it routinely removes children from such parents to protect them. These three types certainly aren't going to use contraceptives. If they don't have an abortion, they will become parents. Do we really want that to happen? Ah, you say, that's the beauty of adoption. Well I doubt the typical pro-lifer has given much thought to where an unwanted child goes.

There are more than 150,000 children in the US foster care system waiting for permanent homes (1). Foster care can never be a permanent solution, because without inheritance and the permanancy of true adoption a child knows that every time he oversteps his bounds he might lose his family (2). Neither are orphanages a permanent solution-- imagine being 25th in line for a hug from your father-figure. These children need parents to adopt them. If the (more than 150,000) moral majority (3) lived what they say, this would be a non-issue. They would be holding crack babies in hospital delivery rooms and making cooing noises. They would be waiting at our borders for refugee minors and welcoming them into their homes permanently. Well I have some news for you. First of all, I have it on good authority that people are not, I repeat, not rushing to the adoption center and saying "One homeless retarded crack baby, please." Secondly, the fees are so prohibitive (4) it's cheaper to have your own, even with costly fertility drugs (5). Thirdly, have you seen the adoption paperwork (6)? It's impenetrable! You need a whole team of contract lawyers to figure it out. Good parents don't usually have the kind of money to handle that, but some career criminals do-- perhaps some who specialize in child slave labor exports (7).

Having popped that beautiful dream bubble, I'll address the pro-choice readers. I assume there are some homeless retarded crack whores among your number who protest, aid petition drives, and so on, for whom this cause is near and dear to their hearts. Oh, there aren't? Then they asked you to stand up for them, right? No? So you are all planning to have late-term partial birth abortions and this legislation will ruin your plans, yes? No? Oh, yeah, I remember that speech about "They came and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a crack whore". Yes, I agree that someone should speak up for the rights of crack whores. Taxpayers clearly owe crack whores (the backbone of our civilized society) a debt of gratitude, and I for one think we should pay that debt in the right to an abortion they won't get, along with medical treatment for heroin abscesses and petty theft court costs. Hell, they already cost us millions (8).

See, one thing is clear from this current legal battle. For both sides, it's not about lives or the quality of life anymore. It's just about getting My Own Way, even if it screws over someone else. Such hypocrites can never be part of any solution. If you're pro-life, what have you done to show love to the children you had a hand in bringing to life, despite the fact that they never asked to be born? Yelling doesn't count. Nor does paying someone else to make the problem go away. If you're pro-choice, what have you done to show love to the woman in crisis? If she had the rest of her ducks in a row, she'd be celebrating her pregnancy instead of calling it a crisis. Even Planned Parenthood knows abortion is at best a bandage over a bad situation. Yet 24% of women having an abortion are on their second trip, 7% on their third, 3% on their fourth (9). The underlying problems have been ignored. And as every engineer knows, if you try to create a solution without understanding the underlying problem, you're just asking for trouble.

Until we reach the point where technology allows individuals to control their reproductive capabilities with a toggle switch, how anyone on either side of the issue can think they are making a difference in solving social problems is beyond me.

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