Recent Articles

A Fun Way to be More Successful

| April 26, 2015 | Reply

Eric Barker shows the research: worker bees are not the most successful workers, and it’s because they are focusing only on the work while ignoring their social needs and becoming unhappy in the process.

Barker recommends this excellent TED talk by Shawn Achor:

Another helpful post is Barker on getting organized/happy.

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About ignoring the Old Testament

| April 26, 2015 | Reply

Most Christians I meet embrace only the most popular teachings from the New Testament, but ignore all of the embarrassing passages from the Old Testament, all the while claiming that the Bible is the most important book in the world.

This site reminds Christians that Jesus himself embraced all the Old Testament.

1) “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV) Clearly the Old Testament is to be abided by until the end of human existence itself. None other then Jesus said so.

2) All of the vicious Old Testament laws will be binding forever. “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB)

3) Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

3b) “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16 NAB)

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About Libertarianism

| April 25, 2015 | 3 Replies

At my Facebook page, I often banter with self-declared Libertarians. This is a comment I recently wrote, attempting to explain my disagreement with a claim that the estate tax should be repealed (and, in fact, the IRS should be abolished):

I disagree with your assumption that everything will become the land of milk and honey if only government will just get out of the way. I’m not for bad government, yet much of the federal government today is bad government. But if we dismantle government power, power will re-assert itself, one way or the other.

Government HAS gotten out of the way of Wall Street, Insurance Industry, Big Pharma, Telecoms, and they have run rampant — they are FUCKING the American public. They are like sociopathic gangsters and thugs who have filled the vacuum, thanks to the federal government having already gotten out of the way. We already HAVE libertarian government regarding many major industries, many of whom pay no tax or minimal tax. And we now see their true colors. They don’t give a shit about ordinary people–they fuel the short-sighted desires of their boards, officers and stockholders They believe that they live in a amoral oasis–a moral-free zone where commerce is simply a place to make money, despite long term damage to ordinary people or the environment. Most big industries also seek to destroy all competition and steal your money through monopolistic practicers, because the current system invites this, once the “evil” once the government steps out of the way. For instance, large monied industries are in the process of dismantling all consumer protection laws – it’s happening right now in Missouri.

I’m for smart, self-critical government that serves as a referee to keep the playing field even. I’m not for wild-eyed governmental reallocation of money from those who work hard to those who choose to not work hard. But the government involvement I seek does require funding, and the next question is where this funding should come from. Taking a tiny slice of money from extremely rich dead people does not offend me to the extent that that funding is used wisely to increase opportunities (not guaranteed outcomes) to those who need a hand and who desire to work hard to become taxpaying citizens themselves.

I was not born into poverty — I assume you were not either. Those who were born into poverty cannot be expected to magically do well, although a few of them will, despite the horrible odds against them. We can either cross our fingers and hope (or pray) that they simply somehow become productive members of society, but there are only relatively rare examples of that. To the 8 year old kid who is trapped in a crappy household, school and neighborhood, it is a moral imperative that we lend a hand, not just sit there and let him or her languish.

I try to live in the real world–I’ve avoided any form of gated community, but I need and appreciate public funding to allow good things to happen. I treasure public libraries (which allows me to volunteer to teach ESL) and public parks, which thousands of people in my neighborhood enjoy every day. One of my children goes to an amazing public performing arts school where almost 70% of the kids are on free or reduced meals. I see these kids brimming with potential every day, and thank goodness the government has offered them an incredible opportunity. Shall we yank that food from those kids and tell them to go find food in dumpsters? Should we close down the public schools and tell those families to go find private schools that will give them high quality educations pro bono? Good luck with that plan. There are millions of kids out there who need better food, shelter and schools, and for the great majority of them, no one is stepping up for them. I believe that government has a legitimate roll to play.

Can we do better than we are currently doing? Of course, and a huge reason for that is that people from all points of the political spectrum have been trying to grow government to fuel their pet projects and pet ideologies even when those programs have been shown to be counterproductive and destructive.

I understand, then, your distrust of government. It is run poorly in many respects. But completely unplugging government funding, which I understand to be your preferred approach, is an experiment I am not willing to partake in. It will turn society over to the mercy of gangsters and thugs, many of them wearing suits and ties. Note that I am not criticizing you for being “selfish.”

All of us want to keep what we work for. Most of us are wary of altruistic schemes, other than our own pet projects. My concern is that pulling the government out of the picture will lead to massive social disorder many levels of magnitude greater than our current level of social disorder.

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The bad things about religions

| April 23, 2015 | 2 Replies

New article at Raw Story is titled, “These are the 12 worst ideas religion has unleashed on the world.” If only religions would divest themselves of these tendencies. But then, if they did so, they wouldn’t be considered religions.

Chosen People

Heretics

Holy War

Blasphemy – Blasphemy is the notion that some ideas are inviolable, off limits to criticism, satire, debate, or even question.

Glorified suffering

Genital mutilation

Blood sacrifice

Hell

Karma

Eternal Life

Male Ownership of Female Fertility

Bibliolatry (aka Book Worship)

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What it takes to get fired as head of the DEA

| April 21, 2015 | 1 Reply

So . . . carrying on a non-stop immoral war on drugs that ruins the lives of millions of Americans–a war that is much worse than the medically treatable problem of drug addictions–is not a problem. But a tiny-blip-on-the-radar sex scandal IS enough to get, Michele M. Leonhart, the leader of the DEA, fired. We have such fucked up priorities here in the US. There is a voice in my head keeps saying that we are getting what we deserve for letting viral fear, corrupt money, state-orchestrated violence and fake piety dictate how we handle so many major policy issues. The war on drugs is an especially distressing case in point.

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Genocidal Libertarianism

| April 15, 2015 | Reply

How much collateral damage are libertarians willing to accept as the price for implementing their policies? In my experience, they avoid this topic by refusing to recognize the existence of collateral damage. Instead, they speak of the Promised Land on the horizon – – the utopian society that will simply occur once government packs up and leaves.

At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser discusses the foundation principles of libertarianism set forth by Herbert Spencer. Here’s an excerpt:

Herbert Spencer was a popular author during the nineteenth century who supported strict limits on the government and even opposed many forms of charity towards the poor. Nature, Spencer argued, “secures the growth” of the human race by “weeding out those of lowest development,” and he also believed that neither government nor private charity should interfere with this process of natural selection. Though Spencer was not a eugenicist — he actually argued that the poor should be treated much more harshly than nineteenth and twentieth century eugenicists did — he was both a social acquaintance of Sir Francis Galton, the father of the eugenics movement, and a significant influence on Galton’s thinking. Spencer also shaped many of the policies developed by some of the most powerful judges and lawmakers of his era.

Reading Spencer’s many works today is an uncomfortable experience — the man devotes hundreds of pages to establishing a philosophical justification for a kind of neglect that most Americans would now view as a moral atrocity. Yet Spencer is also one of the foundational thinkers in the development of the economically libertarian philosophy that drives politicians such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). . . . Not long after we published this piece, two of the libertarian movement’s flagship institutions leaped to Spencer’s defense. Over at Reason, Damon Root does not contest our description of Spencer as one of the foundational thinkers in the development of Rand Paul’s economic libertarianism. He does, however, contest our description of Spencer as a genocidal libertarian. Though we quote Spencer’s 1851 book Social Statics, which opposes “[a]cts of parliament to save silly people” and argues that if a man or woman is “not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they should die,” Root claims that Spencer “never advocated anything remotely like letting the poor die in the streets.”

Miller quotes Spencer on the roll of charity:

Instead of diminishing suffering, it eventually increases it. It favours the multiplication of those worst fitted for existence, and, by consequence, hinders the multiplication of those best fitted for existence—leaving, as it does, less room for them. It tends to fill the world with those to whom life will bring most pain, and tends to keep out of it those to whom life will bring most pleasure. It inflicts positive misery, and prevents positive happiness. . . . ”

Miller comments on Spencer’s disparagement of public (governmental) and private charity:

Spencer called for a near-blanket prohibition on “relief of the poor from public funds raised by rates,” but he also objected to charity administered by “privately established and voluntary organizations.” When a donor gives to such an organization, Spencer reasoned, the “beneficiary is not brought in direct relation with the benefactor” and this increases the likelihood that the money will ultimately be spent on “idlers, spendthrifts, and drunkards” or someone else that Spencer viewed as “worthless.

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The Onion explores the evolution of God.

| April 15, 2015 | Reply

According to The Onion:

“Challenging long-held views on the origins of divinity, biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, presented findings Thursday that confirm God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, evolved from an ancient chimpanzee deity.

The recently discovered sacred ancestor, a divine chimp species scientists have named Pan sanctorum, reportedly gave rise over millions of years to the Lord Our God, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”

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What is marriage according to the Bible?

| April 14, 2015 | Reply

What is marriage according to the Bible? Betty Bowers explains:

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The American Public should have input on the TPP

| April 10, 2015 | Reply

Congress is about to introduce a bill to fast track a secret deal that could lead to global censorship. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We think Internet users everywhere should have a say in decisions that affect the Internet — but if “Fast Track” legislation passes, there is no chance that the public will see the text before the deal is approved. Join the Internet Vote on April 23rd and let’s make it clear to DC how we’re voting: against Fast Track and against Internet censorship.

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