Thursday, April 29, 2004

Pat Tillman Valued America over Materialism

Pat Tillman gave up a million dollar football contract to become an Army Ranger and fight in Afghanistan.

Some people commented that Pat was "selfless" and unmaterialistic because he was willing to give up so much to fight for America.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being materialistic. What is wrong, however, is to value material things more than ethics, morals, and freedom. When a person gives up material things in order to keep or achieve their ethics, morals, values and freedom, it is indeed a great and noble thing. It's unfortunate that this is so rare that it's newsworthy when it happens.

An even more important sinister and ubiquitous misconception is that it is somehow good to be "selfless" and altruistic but bad and evil to be selfish. Nothing could be more ridiculous. In fact, nothing could be more evil than this philosophy if evil is defined as that which destroys and devalues human life. Selfish means having an interest in self. Being unselfish means having no interest in self. Part of being selfish is seeking happiness. A truly unselfish person would never seek their own happiness. If a woman were completely unselfish and completely altruistic, she would give her body to anybody that wanted it. Giving her body only to a person she chooses is a selfish act because she does it by her own choice for her own benefit. Would anybody suggest that it would be a good, noble act for a woman to give her body to anybody who wanted it? That is the meaning unselfish altruism.

For a person to be unselfish means that person does not value their own life and does not seek their own happiness. Being unselfish and altruistic means one must ignore their own life, goals and values and act according to "duty" or according to how someone else said they should act.

If everyone in the world was altruistic and unselfish, everyone would just sit still starving to death because no one would be seeking happiness. If everyone was unselfish, there would be no christians because the act of believing in Jesus is selfish - YOU believe in Jesus because YOU want to be saved for YOUR benefit! If everyone was unselfish there would be no families because parents would give away their child to any childless couple that asked.

The philosophy of altruistic unselfishness is absurd because if everyone followed it, no one would be seeking anything! It is evil because it destroys and devalues human life. It is like the solar system without gravity which would fall apart because the Earth wouldn't seek to draw the moon to itself. It is like matter without molecular forces which would fall apart because protons wouldn't seek to draw electrons.

The proper philosophy is objectivism as articulated by Ayn Rand. Everyone has the right to seek their own happiness as long as they don't interfere with the rights of others. This, in fact, is the proper definition of freedom. This is the way the solar system works with gravity. This is the way reality works. America was built on this principle and this is why America is the most successful country the world has ever seen. This is the nature of American Freedom that is worth fighting for.

So, when is it good and noble to be unselfish? NEVER! It is good and noble to value ethics and morality and freedom above material things and sometimes people confuse this with being unselfish.

After 9/11, the president tried to praise the firefighters in New York by referring to their "selfless" act of courage. The firemen were definitely heroic but they were not selfless! A person who is selfless does not value their own life at all. If a selfless person does not value their own life and gives up their life, what's so heroic about that? That's like saying a millionaire who throws away a single penny is a hero. The firemen in New York were heroes because they valued human life enough to risk their own attempting to save others.

The next time you hear a government official talking about a fallen soldier's SELFLESS act in dying for their country, think of a woman being "selfless" by giving her body to anybody who wants it and realize, the government official is confused and doesn't understand the soldier's death is noble because the soldier valued American freedom enough to risk his own life, NOT because the soldier had no interest in his own life.

Pay attention to how often someone in the media refers to a SELFLESS act. That's a good indicator of how common is this important misconception. Why is this important? Communism is based on this one single misconception! (the good of the one are not important, only the good of the many) Communism is just another form of dictatorship/slavery so this philosophical misconception has, in fact, enslaved millions of people around the world. The only way communists can sell their empty philosophy is to convince you that you do NOT have the right to pursue your own happiness or, at least, to make you feel guilty about pursuing your own happiness so that you will think there is something wrong with it. In other words, according to communism, if you pursue your own happiness you are being selfish and that is wrong so you must be unselfish and pursue the happiness of everyone EXCEPT yourself. Without this single misunderstanding of the concept of selfish/selfless, communism would disappear in a heartbeat and the world would be more free and happy.

Pat Tillman was a hero because he selfishly valued American freedom more than money and enough to risk his own life defending it. His values were well placed and he had the courage to risk his life fighting for his own values.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Next President Likely to Appoint Two Supreme Court Justices

We must stop Bush from getting elected! The next president is likely to appoint two or more Supreme Court justices. If Bush is elected, here are some things likely to result from his modern christian crusade:
  1. Abortion is likely to be outlawed!
  2. Torture and police abuse might become commonplace.
  3. Unmarried sex might become illegal.
  4. Gay sex might become illegal (Bush said it should be illegal in his 1994 campaign for governor).
  5. Sex toys might become illegal.
  6. We will continue to waste billions of tax dollars fighting the never-ending and never-to-be-won war on drugs while everyone who wants drugs continues to have them.
  7. Cloning and genetic and reproductive research will likely become more illegal.
  8. Instead of 7 words you can't say on TV, who knows how many will be illegal.
  9. We might waste money going to Mars.
  10. Pornography might become illegal.
  11. A large portion of our tax dollars will go toward "faith based initiatives" while aid to family planning groups is banned (Bush promotes abstinence over contraception).
  12. The wall between church and state might be destroyed.
  13. We might become a fundamentalist christian country similar in nature to the Taliban.
If Bush is elected, we will go back to McCarthyism. Back to the days when contraception was taboo and in some cases illegal. Back to the days when it was illegal for an unmarried man and woman to live together. Back to the days when the government could stomp all over people's rights with impunity.

This is not just more ranting from another bleeding heart liberal. Quite the opposite. I voted for Bush in 2000. I love guns and even assault rifles. I believe in free-enterprise, not socialism. I'm a Republican Without Religion.

But the Republican Party has been hijacked by religion. The Republican party does NOT stand for smaller, less-intrusive government anymore. The Republican Party doesn't stand for anything anymore other than religion.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Is Asbestos Dangerous?

I was in Thailand in December of 2003 talking to an architect. There were some roofing tiles lying nearby. They were the same kind of roofing tiles that cover the majority of houses and buildings in Thailand and I was thinking they must work very well and be very inexpensive since they are in such wide use all over Thailand. Curious, I asked the architect what the tiles are made of.

He said, "Asbestos. I know Americans don't like asbestos".

Asbestos litigation has cost America in the hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars because it supposedly causes cancer. With so much asbestos all over Thailand, have any scientists done any research to see if Thai people are having asbestos-related medical issues?

There are a lot of very old Thai people that bounce around with energy and flexibility I seldom see in Americans 30 years younger. I'm pretty skeptical of the claims that asbestos is so dangerous.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Why Limit the Power of Government?

Today, Bush was promoting the Patriot Act as a means of giving law enforcement the "tools" to defend our freedoms. Why is it a big deal and why do we need to be cautious about expanding the power of government? For the same reason that we have a written constitution - to protect us from our government! Our constitution was put down in writing to define and limit the power of the government. That is why there are the famous checks and balances in the government. It's why our government has three branches, each limiting the power of the other. It's why the president doesn't have absolute dictatorial power. It's why there is always an investigation when a police officer shoots someone. It's all about keeping the government under control because power corrupts and politicians are in the job of politics because they like power, making them dangerous and forcing us to be vigilante to keep them under control.

The Patriot Act broke down the wall between foreign intelligence and domestic intelligence. Why was there a wall? Because the government doesn't have to follow such strict rules with foreign intelligence as they do with domestic intelligence. They can get wire taps easier and conduct searches in secret and so on. Without the wall between foreign and domestic intelligence, the government can very easily abuse its power over the citizens of America. The Romans had a similar wall for the same reason. The Roman army was not allowed to set foot in Rome because there was too much potential for the government to abuse the power of the army.

I'm not saying we should keep the wall between foreign and domestic intelligence and I'm not saying the Patriot Act is all bad. I'm just saying we need to understand why it's important to limit the power of government and we need to be cautious.

In promoting the Patriot Act, Bush pointed out that law enforcement was able to break up several potential terrorist plots. No doubt. But just because it helps the government to fight terrorism doesn't make it okay. A dictatorship with absolute power in the hands of the president would really help a lot too but no one wants to make George W. Bush absolute dictator. Giving police the right to execute criminals on the spot would dramatically cut down on crime but no one wants that. That's the type of government the Taliban possessed and, in fact, they had a very peaceful and orderly society. North Korea is another absolute dictatorship with very little terrorism trouble.

Our police have to follow strict rules and everytime they shoot someone it will be investigated by the police internal affairs bureau. Why do police get investigated when they shoot someone even if it was clearly a justified shooting? Because we MUST make sure the police are not getting out of control. Because the police would become out-of-control thugs worse than the criminals in a heartbeat if left unchecked. Even with internal affairs watching over the police, there are still plenty of crooked cops. If police could get out of control so quickly, are we naive enough to think the leaders of the entire country could be trusted with unbridled power on a worldwide scale?

The government has been holding "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay Cuba for over a year without formal charges, without access to a lawyer, and without a trial. Breaking down the walls between foreign and domestic intelligence is just one step on the path to breaking down all the walls between how foreigners and American citizens can be treated by law enforcement. At the rate Bush is going, it won't be long before a person who simply operates a porn website will be quietly labelled a terrorist and carted off to prison to sit for years without charges, access to a lawyer, or a trial.

Of course, we all "know" the prisoners held in Guantanamo are terrorists and we don't really care about protecting any of their rights. We also "know" our government would never treat you and me that way. But the day one of us goes to jail in the middle of the night for writing a "terrorist blog" like this one is the day it's too late to slow down the expanding power of the government. I hope that day never comes because I love America and I would hate to see Bush destroy the first truly free country in the world.

So, why do we have to be cautious about giving too much power to the government? Because the government has the power and the legal right to put you in jail, take your property, and kill you.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Why Does the Pope Need a Bulletproof Popemobile?

If god is powerful and the pope is close to god, as catholics believe, why does the pope have to ride in a bullet-proof popemobile?

Why don't catholics trust god to protect the pope from bullets?

Why do soldiers and people flying on airplanes bother praying to god to keep them safe if god won't even keep the pope safe?

Why doesn't everyone wonder about this? This the most amazing scam in the world! How is it possible to convince 3 billion people an invisible superhero created and controls every detail in the universe and will hear and sometimes answer the prayers of an average nobody yet isn't reliable enough to protect one of the leaders of the church?

Like Mark Twain said:
When praying for rain, it's best to check the weather forecast first.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Does Israel Have a Right to Exist?

I ran across an interesting perspective by an atheist jew:
I am a Jew and an atheist and an American and I question Israel's right to exist.

In 1947 when the UN created Israel as a new country carved out of Palestine, less than 10% of the population of Palestine was Jewish. More than 90% was Arab. Jews from around the world went to Palestine to take it by force for a Jewish homeland because Jews believe God gave the land to them 2000 years ago.

How would Americans feel if the native American Indians took back America on the grounds they were in America first 200 years ago?

How would Americans feel if Saudi Arabia gave tons of money and military equipment to native American Indians to take back America?

The Jewish claim to Israel rests only on the belief that God gave Israel to Jews. It doesn't even rest on the fact that Jews lived there 2000 years ago because Jews were not there first - there were non-Jews living in Israel before the Jews arrived 2000 years ago!

So if you do not believe in God or you do not believe God gave Israel to the Jews 2000 years ago then there is no justifiable Jewish claim to Israel.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Myth of the Clinton Economy

Clintonites like to talk about how great the economy was under their administration but Clinton was just a lucky bystander to the prosperity that occurred during his tenure. In the last few months of Bush senior's administration before Clinton won the election, I heard many economists saying the economy was about to get better and whoever won the election would unjustly get the credit.

The prosperity during the Clinton administration was mainly due to the internet revolution and advances in digital electronics. That was the period of time when the internet came into existence and companies were spending madly on technology. That was the period when hard drives went from a few megabytes to a few gigabytes. When digital cameras were becoming popular. It was the ferocious spending on technology that gave us the prosperous economy. It was the large salaries and huge capital gains in the stock market that gave the government budget surplusses. This also happened to be a relatively peaceful time in the world. Clinton had nothing to do with any of this. He was just a bystander.

The truth is, Clinton was extremely lucky because he happened to be president at a time when the economy was prosperous and the world was peaceful. Any smooth-talking used-car salesman could have been a successful president during that period in history. Statements that Clinton's approach or the Democrat's platform led to the prosperity under Clinton are simply deceitful.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is one third of a trinity of three gods (1) who came to earth in human form but now lives in the sky, simultaneously reads your mind and the mind of every other person on earth, controls every molecule of the universe, and wants you to believe in him and dedicate your life to him but he won't provide a shred of evidence that he or anything else supernatural exists.

Jesus hid from Roman soldiers like a common criminal (2), was put to death like a common criminal, never personally wrote a single word of the bible or any other document, supposedly came back to life after being executed though only a few people "saw" him (and each of the accounts of the supposed eye-witnesses to his supposed resurrection contradict each other in the bible) before he disappeared permanently, and his death was for your benefit. Oh, and one more thing, if you find it difficult to believe in this ridiculous nonsense without even a little evidence then you will suffer eternal torture.

NOTE (1): The christian nuts believe there is a trinity of 3 gods, the son, the father and the holy ghost. But they also believe that all three distinct parts make a single whole god. This makes no sense because the religion as a whole makes no sense. Trying to find meaning or sense in the bible is futile - less productive than trying to find sense in one of David Lynch's wackier movies.

NOTE (2): Obviously he was hiding, otherwise, why did Judas have to "betray" him before the Romans could find him? Yet the religious nuts like to believe that Jesus purposely came to the earth in human form for the specific purpose of dying for humanity's sins.

Here are some good quotes regarding religion:
Gloria Steinem
It's an incredible con job when you think of it, to believe something now in exchange for life after death. Even corporations with all their reward systems don't try to make it posthumous.

Robert Ingersoll
Ministers say that they teach charity. That is natural. They live on hand-outs. All beggars teach that others should give.

Mark Twain
It is best to read the weather forecast before praying for rain.


Here is what James Randi has to say about religion:
... some 2,000 years ago a mid-East virgin was impregnated by a ghost of some sort, and as a result produced a son who could walk on water, raise the dead, turn water into wine, and multiply loaves of bread and fishes. All that was in addition to tossing out demons. He expected and accepted a brutal, sadistic, death — and then he rose from the dead.

There was much, much, more. Adam and Eve, they said, were the original humans, plunked down in a garden to start our species going. But I didn't understand, and still don't, that they had only two children, both sons — and one of them killed the other — yet somehow they produced enough people to populate the Earth, without incest, which was a big no-no! Then some prophet or other made the Earth stop turning, an army blew horns until a wall fell down, a guy named Moses made the Red Sea divide in two, and made frogs fall out of the sky….

I needn't go on. And that's only a small start on one religion! The Wizard of Oz is more believable. And more fun.

Consumer Music Purchasing Union (CMPU)

What if every music consumer in America agreed right now to never again buy any music CD priced over $7? The big 5 music cartel would quickly be forced to lower prices to $7 per CD. They would have no other option if they want to stay in business. At $7 per music CD, the artists will still get rich. The music producers will still get rich. File sharing will become less significant. And we'll all have more music to listen to.

The price of music CD's today is ridiculous. It's still at the same level as when CD technology was first invented! A music CD costs around $15 to buy retail. A DVD movie costs around $18. How can the two be nearly the same price? A movie costs hundreds of millions of dollars to create and requires the effort of thousands of people and certainly involves just as much artistic talent as a music CD. There's no way a music CD should cost the same as a movie DVD.

Other than insane marketing, a music CD costs only pennies to create and the artists are compensated only pennies per CD. Where is the rest of the money going? The big 5 music cartel.

Since the music producers have their price-fixing cartel, how about consumers have their own price-spending cartel? The music producers can collude all they want and we consumers can collude all we want and government can stay out of it. Free enterprise - simple, fair, free of coercion and no one's rights are violated.

If we consumers work together, we'll discover we have enormous power and market clout. Let's just do it!

Don't buy a music CD priced over $7!

Seven Years in Jail for Anonymously Owning a Website (HR 3754)

Republicans are on a mission to increase the size and power of the government. Now they want to make you reveal your home address to the entire world if you own a website and put you in jail for seven years if you don't. Currently, this proposed law is targeted at websites that somehow infringe on copyrights or trademarks but you know how the government works: give them an inch and they take a mile. How long will it be until they have a law that can shut down any blog, like this one, critical of the current Bush regime? If they make enough laws, I'm bound to have violated at least one giving them justification for throwing me in jail and shutting down this blog.

Laws are like tools in a toolbox. The government can pick and choose which tool to accomplish their mission. I saw a show on TV about a traffic cop in Florida who spotted a black man driving a nice car. He chose to stop the driver though he had no reason other than racial profiling. The cop noticed the license plate frame covered part of the county name on the license plate. Technically in Florida, all words on a license plate must be legible so the traffic cop wrote the ticket based on this infraction even though he had been previously warned by a judge not to write such tickets. It turned out the black driver was a police captain from another Florida county and that's why the issue made it to television. The point is, if the government puts enough laws on the books, virtually everyone is guilty of violating something. Even lying about your weight on your drivers license is an infraction.

The internet is the ultimate medium of free speech. The internet has been wildly free now for over 10 years and who has been hurt by all this freedom of speech? There are paedophiles in the chat rooms but it's certainly much easier for law enforcement to catch paedophiles on the internet than under the cloak of the catholic priesthood. The big 5 music producers have been hurt by file swapping but they deserve to be hurt after decades of abusing their cartel power over the consumer. And of course, a few kids have caught glimpses of naked bodies but that is certainly not as psychologically damaging as teaching our kids to fear an invisible superhero who lives in the sky and sees and controls everything and inflicts horrible eternal torture on nonbelievers yet can't be bothered to prove he exists. The internet is one area where the government should err on the side of allowing more free speech. Unless of course, we don't want to live in a free country anymore.

The law before congress is HR 3754

Here are some links regarding HR 3754:
The Register
ACLU