Wednesday, January 30, 2008


     Another election season is upon us. The way it works in this country is that the Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler parties (acting as private clubs) select their candidates for various offices. (Does it really matter which is which?) After that, the public is given a nominal vote between the two worthless bags of (ahem) garbage. The system is essentially rigged so that it is not possible to elect someone actually representative of the people.
     Our political system could stand improving, and it should start by removing the special privileges granted to the parties. The rules for getting on the general election ballot should be the same for all potential candidates and the parties should not be able to advance candidates. The plurality voting method, which locks into the two parties by making all other votes "unsafe," also needs to go. People should not fear that not voting for the "best" of the main party candidates might throw the election to the other.
     If I could work my will, we would use a modified instant runoff voting method. Voters would rank the candidates in order of preference. Whoever received the most last place votes would be eliminated. Then whoever had the most last place among the remaining candidates would be removed. This would continue until only one candidate remained and he would take office.
     I also believe that governing bodies should also be subject to regular "votes of confidence." People would vote on whether they thought Congress had done a good job the previous year. If they do not get a 75 percent or higher approval, all of them would be removed and ineligible for office for ten years.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Understanding others' perspectives

     A comment that I saw about muslims assuming everyone else is christian (okay, I'm probably misinterpereting that; I will try not to be offended when I am corrected) inspired a train of thought. People, in general have difficulty understanding the belief systems of others. Most things I see seem to try to pigeon-hole belief systems. As my own beliefs don't match any of the holes, no one seems to understand just what I believe.
     People also seem to think that their beliefs are "obviously true." Hello! If the beliefs were obviously true, there would be no dissent.
     I would like to see more people trying to understand different perspectives. They don't have to agree, just understand. It should be reasonable to be able to think of the consequences of a belief without committing to it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Worldviews and perspectives

It appears that there are several evangelical christians who cannot comprehend worldviews other than their own. As I have seen quite a bit of "Well, what if the christian god is real?" together with "Anything god does is automaticly just because he's god," I have started asking what if this god has decided that the bible is a hoax and sends them to torment anyway.

So far, I have not had anyone answer that question directly. I have seen wiggle out answers instead, claims that it is inconsistent for god to lie. An interesting example of circular reasoning is "We know that god has revealed his honesty in a way that we can be certain because god has revealed his honesty in a way that we can be certain." Naturally, they recognize such blatent abuses of logic when applied to anything else.

Reflections: Chapter 2

A little bit more of what I wrote:

     The day of departure was almost routine. There were the same news reports that there were every day. A few couples had been caught engaging in kalwah without using the zimteff. Sarah was appalled. Sure, it happenned all the time; but her feelings about it never waned. These people should be content to perform GOD'S holy task without attempting to derive unholy pleasures. Several people were also detained for self-stimulation. The penalty for these abominations was death; and Sarah knew further that GOD would pour HIS wrath on their souls. There was just no excuse for such behaviour. From the time of childhood, all subjects were told how important it was to avoid such activities and what the punishment was.
     Sarah could not understand it. This was a nation dedicated to GOD, and yet people still went against his will. Theft and murder were commonplace, even though the eyes of the enforcers were everywhere -- even if some people could not understand that GOD saw everything and would demand an account. What Sarah found truly shocking (and the common people weren't told about this; why give them more reason to try to leave?) was that places without GOD often had much lower rates of these crimes. Clearly, Satan was working night and day because he didn't like the fact that this place was established for GOD.
     It was about 8:30 when Thomas, the leader of the group, came to pick Sarah up. The group walked over to the airport, discussing possible strategies for leading people to the LORD. If you simply walked up to an unbeliever and started talking about GOD, he was likely to walk away. They wanted the people to stay and hear the message. When the group reached the airport, Sarah was awestruck. Never before had she seen that many enforcers in one location. She wondered how many people actually tried to leave the country without authorization. The members of the Awakening Group presented their passes to the main enforcer and waited while he checked them. Apparently satisfied, the main enforcer called over three other enforcers who escorted the group to the plane.
     Sarah felt positively frightened as they proceeded to the plane. It may have been due to the fact that the enforcers didn't speak. Oh, the lead enforcer said "Follow me," at the outset and "This is your plane," when they arrived; but during the walk, the only sounds she heard were the footsteps of the group and the marching in the background. Even though she knew that the enforcers were only doing their job in protecting the area, she could not get rid of the uncomfortable feeling of fear. Actually arriving at the plane was a relief. Soon they would be in a new land, preparing to spread the WORD.
     The flight itself was short and unmemorable; but the group had landed safely in the Progressive States. The first thing that Sarah noticed was that most of the people were underdressed. She had already known that people here had turned their backs on GOD; but she didn't expect them to be so shameless. As the group left the airport, Sarah noticed that there were still very few people around. Strangely, she had not noticed any enforcers in the airport at this end. She decided they must just operate in a less conspicuous manner here. She wondered how far the restricted area went. It was a significant concern; she did not know what would happen if the group remained here longer than permitted. At last she saw a woman in what looked like an official's uniform. That might be one of the enforcers in this country. She went up to her and asked how far the restricted area went and explained that the group might need to be escorted to the nearest common area so that the members didn't overstay their eligibility in this place.
     The official looked at Sarah. This made Sarah feel intimidated. Time seemed to stand still and Sarah thought she might already be in trouble. Her own country gave some consideration for new visitors (not that they had very many) and the enforcers took time to explain the rules. She hoped that the official would accept that she was new here. Finally, the official said, "This is a public area. Why did you think it was restricted?"
     "There are so few people here. Public areas are usually crowded." This was a public area? That was hard to believe. She had seen people enter the airport without being checked. That would make the airport a public area as well; and that thought just didn't make any sense. She added "How do you keep people from leaving the country without permission?"
     "You must be from the Conservative States. You don't see as many people as you normally do because we have a lower population. Our citizens understand the miseries that come from overpopulation and practice methods of population control. Our birth control methods have been perfected. No one here becomes pregnant by accident. As for keeping people from leaving the country, we don't. Our citizens are free to come and go as they please. Of course, they do need to get passports before leaving so that they can come back in. We do excersize some caution about possible invaders." Sarah remembered that their passports had been checked as they got off the flight. She was starting to wonder if that was the extent of security here.
     "So you don't have restricted areas or strong security? That seems so unlikely." She was completely unprepared for this sort of place.
     "We have restricted areas, primarily military bases and wildlife preserves. We just don't have many of them. We do have sufficient security, however. If your passport had been from a hostile nation, you would have gone through an extensive security check. But we can't become so focused on security that our nation loses its freedom."
     Sarah decided this all seemed bizarre. At this time, though, she had nothing further to say. The Awakening Group was going to need to organize itself before the members would be ready to start leading people to CHRIST. As Sarah left, she felt there was something else wrong with the people here, something more than what she could already identify. Whatever it was, it would have to wait.
     Thomas consulted his instructions and the group went to the designated house. The landlord was waiting for them. She looked as though she had been growing impatient, but she greeted the group members with a friendly voice. She walked them through the house informing them it was to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. Sarah thought the kitchen was a useful size in which to prepare meals. The four bedrooms were rather small. The living room was comfortable, and had an interactive viewing screen for news and entertainment. The two bathrooms and the laundry room were compact but functional. When the landlord was finished taking them through the house, she demonstrated how to use the key card and asked if there were any questions.
     Thomas asked where the delivery box was.
     The landlord replied, "Delivery box?" She seemed unfamiliar with the idea.
     Thomas explained, "Yes, when you buy food, clothing, or other items, they are dropped off in the delivery box -- usually a week or two later."
     "Oh, we don't have that sort of thing here. You can take your purchases straight home from the store. I would recommend buying a personal cart or something to make transporting your goods easier."
     Next, Martin commented, "I must say; I'm impressed. I couldn't even see the enforcement cameras." During training, Martin had claimed to be able to see the cameras. Sarah and the other trainees had never been able to see anything where he had pointed to indicate a camera. She was sure he had been making it all up. Sure, everyone knew that there were cameras; but the enforcers would never make it possible for anyone to be able to tell where they were just by sight.
     The landlord looked absolutely horrified. "There are no 'enforcement cameras' on the premises. They would be a clear violation of our privacy laws. You can't install cameras in someone else's home without permission."
     This didn't make any sense in Sarah's mind. If people left the stores with their purchases, they could buy things not allowed for their class. (It was well known that any store would check authorization for the purchases prior to making the deliveries.) Without the cameras, there would be nothing to ensure that people's actions stayed holy. (True, GOD was still watching; but that was a surprisingly small deterrent for many people.) She expressed her objections to the landlord.
     The landlord seemed outright dismissive. "I don't know where you learned those ideas, but we have no such restrictions. As long as a product is legal, any adult may buy it. This idea of restricting people's actions by 'class' sounds dreadful. We certainly have no concern with 'holiness.' Our laws deal primarily with harming or endangering people, animals, or property. If someone is harmless, we think that the government should leave them alone."
     Sarah could not believe this. Harmless? Unholy acts caused people to go into eternal torment!! That was more harmful than anything imaginable. This place needed an Awakening more than she had previously thought. The group in which she was placed had an enormous task ahead and was going to have to set up quickly. While she unpacked, Sarah could think of nothing but the work which lay ahead of them. She was so eager to get started that sleep did not come easily that night.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Reflections: Chapter 1

Here's a little something I actually wrote.

     Sarah was nervous that morning. It was Announcement Day. On this day, officials would announce who would be going into the heathen nations to spread the glorious message of JESUS CHRIST. It was one of the most important events of the year. Even the laboring class was given a half-day off (without pay, of course) so the laborers could watch the ceremony.
     This year, Announcement Day had a special significance to Sarah. For the last six years, she had been training to participate in an Awakening Group. Her excitement swelled as she hoped that she would be selected. It was a great honor and privilege to serve GOD in that way. Even as far as she had come was exciting; most people were unable to complete the training. She grabbed her BIBLE and her Awakening-Group-training robe and set out for the Great Hall.
     Sarah was glad that being a member of the studying class (studying GOD'S WORD in order to explain it to the people) afforded her the ability to live in a restricted area. It was a beautiful day for a walk. There were only a few white clouds in the sky. The air had that crispness to it that always follows a good rain. Even the chirping of the birds seemed especially cheerful. Sarah thought that she could just stay here and enjoy herself for hours. But she had to get to the Great Hall and she did not have the luxury of stopping.
     Sarah exitted the gate into the common area at the closest point to her destination. She loathed walking through the common areas. They were always so crowded. There was still about a mile left before Sarah reached the Great Hall; but already if felt as though the crowd was going to squeeze her out of existence.
     Sarah was relieved finally to reach the Great Hall. She passed her hand under a scanner and was admitted to the trainee area. Every subject of the Conservative States of America was implanted with a chip in the left hand at age three. The chips were primarily used for access control. They identified a person's class and determined whether he was allowed to enter a given area. They were also used by the enforcers to track down anyone who would violate the holy laws. The chips made Sarah feel very secure. She did know, however, that there would come a time when the Beast would rule. He would also make use of such chips; but he was going to require that people have them in their right hands. There were rumors that the rulers and enforcers did not have the chips in their hands. It didn't really matter. They were privileged by GOD and did not need to be tracked.
     Sarah had arrived a little early; and she had time to think about her training. She had learned many different ways to bring people's defenses down and lead them to CHRIST. She thought about how exciting a time this was in which to be alive. Israel had already taken over most of Asia. (The "fig tree" was spreading out her branches. Soon the tree would bud. Prophecies were being fulfilled in her time.) Soon, CHRIST would be coming for HIS church. It was exceedingly important, in these final days, to bring as many people to CHRIST as they possibly could.
     Slowly, the other people started to arrive; and the preparations started. The people seeking to be part of an Awakening Group took their seats according to the locations to which they had applied to travel in order to lead the heathens to the LORD. An astonishing number had sought to go to states in Euronat. Sarah discovered that most people seeking to go into the Progressive States had selected states like Arizona, which already had substantial CHRISTIAN influence. She believed that GOD had chosen her for a greater challenge. She, herself, had applied to go to the state of Massachusetts and the hostility people had to the LORD would not faze her.
     Sarah thought about the name of the country to which she expected to go. Progressive States of America -- how progressive was it to take GOD out of the government? In the Conservative States, they knew how to do things GOD'S way. There was none of this nonsense about Marriage, as a religious institution, being off-limits to the government. If you did not marry in a timely fashion, the State would appoint you a partner. Naturally, what constituted a timely fashion depended on your class.
     The Conservative States kept things right. People in the laboring class were put to work at age 13 and had to marry by age 16. Those in other classes, who served GOD in other ways, would meet those obligations first. (For example, Sarah would have to marry within three years of completing her awakening journey.) Tithes of 10 per cent were taken out of pay automaticly. (For the laboring class, the tithes were 20 percent.) And cameras allowed the enforcers to make sure people weren't violating GOD'S law.
     The ceremony itself was long; but Sarah was able to stand at attention like a good trainee. It was four hours before the officiaries started announcing the Awakening Groups that the State was sending. As each group was announced, the members walked up to the stage, were given some paperwork, and were escorted to another room for further instructions.
     It seemed an incredible length of time; but the announcer finally came to Massachusetts. "For Massachusetts, in the Progressive States of America, there will be four groups. Group A will consist of Charles Kingley, Edward Glimfry, Harold Zendell, and Linda Arkland. Group B will consist of Norman Whitsack, Lawrence Klugman, William Lovejoy, and Helen Maitland. Group C will consist of Thomas Catford, Spencer Fulsom, Martin Bellows, and Sarah Neflack..."
     Sarah was elated. She had been chosen! It took all her discipline, but she managed to keep her dignity while walking to the stage and the appropriate instruction room. Despite her efforts, she was certain that everyone could sense her excitement. She wanted to do cartwheels, although they would be terribly inappropriate here. She waited eagerly for her instructions.
     The instructor explained how things worked from this point. "I want each of you to open your envelopes. You will find a pass that will permit you to reach the airport. It is critical that you do not lose this. As you are all quite aware, every location that can be used to leave the country is highly restricted. If you try to enter even the perimeter of the airport without a pass, you will be shot. Unfortunately, the enforcers have found that these security measures are imperative. For some unknown reason, there are still people that try to flee the country and escape GOD'S will.
     "You will also find plane tickets in two separate holders. The red holder holds the ticket to your destination; the green holder holds the ticket for your return trip. You will also find a passport (which will
serve as your identification in the foreign country) directions to your temporary home, your key card to allow you into that home and money to pay for expenses for the year. Be careful with the money. If you overspend you may not be able to survive the year. If, for an unforseen reason, you need additional funds for expenses for which we have not accounted, the leader of your Awakening Group will
need to contact us for approval. Leaders, you have been provided with contact information.
     "Remember, your purpose is to lead people to CHRIST. You will need to exercise caution in your interactions with the people you meet. The unbelievers may give arguments for unbelief. It is vitally important that you listen only for entries for attack. Do not listen to the arguments themselves. Satan is very crafty; and if you are careless, you may be deceived. You should only trust the WORD of GOD. You must shun anything that sounds like it should be right but disagrees with the WORD."
     Sarah looked through the materials given to her. The Progressive States's currency was called markers. Each marker was divided into 1,000 tokens. That was different from the money to which she had been accustomed. Denariuses were worth 15 holies each and each holy was worth 40 pieces. Sarah considered that the Beast was likely to use the currency method of the Conservative States. The book of Revelation indicated that the price for a ration of wheat would be a denarius.
     There were four weeks before departure. Sarah decided to make herself as ready as she could. She purchased a new BIBLE (Standard Commitment Version) and an Awakener's Guide. After they arrived at her home (in about a week) she studied the Awakener's Guide thoroughly. She wanted to know as many arguments as possible to lead people to the LORD.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

You're the meanest mommy in the whole wide world!!

Every parent has heard some variation of that. It is a common response when a child doesn't get what he wants and doesn't understand why. But what of a mother who would punish a child for saying that? Such a mother would be a bad mother. Truly good parents accept the child's judgements for what they are -- judgements based on limited information.

Many religions (particularly the ones that say they are not religions) claim a god who would punish people for making the best judgements they can with the information available. Any such god would be wicked. Yes, there could be a god that sends me to eternal torment for saying so. But I am still morally better than him.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Work is a four-letter word

I found a book called How to be Idle at the library. So far, it looks rather interesting. One point that it makes is that workers have effectively become slaves to their jobs. There was a time, when most people were self-employed, when people were able to set their own hours and had more free time. Granted, there were far fewer gadgets. But when you look at it, modern industry has caused most people to work harder for less pay. If it weren't for the upper classes wanting to see people work to near exhaustion, the needs of the people in the world might be able to be satisfied by people working 15-20 hours a week.

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't like working. I work because I have bills to pay and I need to eat. Rather than focus on the "creation of jobs" (so that people can work for starvation wages) the government should focus on basic necessities being met for everyone even when jobs are not there. People should only need to work to achieve the comforts they desire. I am quite sure that there would still be enough workers to fill all actual needs. Although some of the paperwork might need to disappear.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gun control

I have read from quite a few people who assert that the world would be a better place if all guns were removed. While that is an interesting thought, there are two minor drawbacks.

1) Governments are going to keep their guns.
2) Governments are going to keep their guns.

Now, I realize that, technically, that's only one drawback. But I thought that it was such a BIG one that it deserved to be mentioned twice. The reason why I think that citizens should be allowed to arm themselves is as a layer of defense against a government that could become oppressive. In short, even though I know that, for some things, we need government, I do not believe that we should ever trust government.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Objective Morality

There are many people that say one cannot have an objective moral standard without god. I, naturally, disagree completely. I think that for a moral standard to be objective, it cannot be relative to a supposed god.

It is necessary to consider what it means for a standard to be objective. It means that, once set, it does not change. An old standard could be discarded and a new one used in its place; but the old standard would give the same measurements as it always did. As an example, the standard meter is defined as the distance between 2 marks on a specific platinum bar housed somewhere in Europe. It is objective, or nearly so, because the spacing of the marks does not change. (Actually, it does change slightly with temperature, so it is not completely objective.)

In the same way, we can get a sense for what would be an objective moral standard. For example a standard that says "It is always wrong to kill" would be objective. It would also have to be rejected because survival requires that we kill plants and/or animals. A standard that says "It is wrong to kill unless god commands the killing" would not be objective. Such a standard changes with the whims of the god -- or, more likely, whoever is claiming to speak for him.

I believe that there is an absolute objective moral standard, though I do not pretend to posess it. Such a standard is what we endeavor to approach as our knowledge of how actions affect other beings increases.