Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Recently back!

Well, I might be getting back into rock climbing. I’ve been wanted to for awhile now. Elvis and I hit up the climbing gym Friday night for a belay lesson. I totally forgot how to make the proper knots for the climbing rope, so it was a good refresher. It seemed to click better for me this time too, for some reason. I remember before always forgetting how to do the knots, but this time, I think I have it down.

After the gym (and me going home for a shower), we meet up with some other friends at California Billiards. It’s been forever since I’ll played pool, and it’s been forever and a day since I’ve been to California Billiards.

On Saturday, I visited Miriam for her daughters birthday. It was a pretty tame crowd. I had a good time.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Superstitious metaphor

I am superstition only to the extent that I know thinking about something contributes to making it real to me. The new goal I set for myself is to focus on what I desire, and discontinue thoughts on that which I spurn. I feel this simple truth is nothing new, however. It was expressed by the ancients through metaphor, in the form of stories about gods. In that, I do not hold any beliefs regarding gods. When I do refer to god, it is simply the knowing use of such as a metaphor. Another metaphoric use of gods employed by the ancients was to plainly explain and understand what was then unknowable. As knowledge increases, that metaphor loses value.

However, this does not mean I deny the spiritual or supernatural experience. Too many people from every realm on Earth, in every known time frame, and walk of life have extraordinary experiences that go beyond simple physical world explanation. Too easy is it when someone who is void of such experiences attributes anecdotal recountings to the devil or imagination. I regard these dismissals as silly.

Even after experiencing something extraordinary, it is hard for some to understand the experience properly because they have been so indoctrinated with a system of beliefs. How much less so can someone who has not experienced a thing judge one who has?

The question is why have beliefs? Why not base everything on the self-quest for knowledge? I find that I seek out what others have learned, and augment that with my own experiences. For example, I know that terrestrial life develops over time through the processes of evolution and natural selection, but I do not hold a belief about these. I simply know that discernable and testable evidence makes knowledge about these processes more clear. I don’t try to fit in a god into my understanding of these processes. Nor do I try to use my limited knowledge of these processes to come up with unsupported conclusions that I then rigidly believe. In other words, I do not hold any beliefs about how life got started, even though I have knowledge about how it develops. I am aware of notions and ideas about the origin of life, but I treat these has just that. I do not need to have a belief regarding the origin of life in order to know that evolution is currently the best description of those processes.

My experience is that Christians and Atheists alike are too easy to judge something based on beliefs they hold, rather than on the human experience itself. To a supernatural event, the Christian will say, “It was God’s will” or “The devil did that”. To that same event, the Atheist will say, “It was your imagination” or “You misinterpreted the event; there must be a logical explanation.” To this I say that’s pretty arrogant to assume that they know the answer outright. In particular, this is the one area with Atheist are hypocrites because the general idea behind atheism is the lack of beliefs without evidence. If they have no evidence one way or another, they normally don’t jump to conclusions, except when something supernatural or spiritual is being questioned. Of course, Christians just make stuff up in their heads as they go along, in order to fit everything into their picture of this world created from their overly literal, under-educated understanding of ancient texts.

It’s expected to develop notions about something, and to test those as hypothesis. Most of us are in the wrong profession and/or will simply not live long enough to have the time to challenge every hypothesis or theory for ourselves. So, some bit of trust has to be placed in the works of others. Just as long as everything is understood as not absolute, it’s ok to accept reasonable margins of error in one’s knowledge.

I am not an atheist. I am not religious either. To me, both are contrary to my experiences and gathered knowledge. Both have had value in the process of developing my current knowledge base. They are not useless. They are both stepping stones to gaining experience and knowledge in one’s life. They both have their place, though neither can be used as reason to end the search for new knowledge and experiences.

Focusing one’s thoughts on a god can make that god real to that person. But each of us has the power to create our own metaphoric god. Judging someone’s metaphor is ultimately a judgment of our own. In this, I am also a little superstitious. Do not judge, lest ye be judged. Of course, I’m not perfect. I judge all the time. It’s the effort that counts; at least in my metaphor.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Super Geek

I recently went to a users group meeting for SolidWorks. SolidWorks is a 3D modelling program that engineers use to create components on the computer to have them made in real life. The fact that I feel I have to explain this may suggest that perhaps this is a geek topic. Well, in the wrong context, this can be a bit of an embarrassment to some. ::Queue wrong context:: (-:

At this meeting, for some reason they had these car large magnets that said something like "I design with SolidWorks". Not exactly the coolest statement around. Most everyone at the meeting was like scratching their head as to why SolidWorks would make these things. But, of course, I immediately realized their value. I picked one up.

I waited for the ideal opportunity to put this magnet squarely on the passenger side door of my coworker's 1989 Nissan Z. This opportunity came on Tuesday (a couple weeks ago). So on that Friday morning, Elvis comes in to work and precedes to tell me how he has been rolling all around town the day before, only to discover to his horror this magnet on the side of his car. He even explained to me why he didn't notice it right away (cuz he doesn't see the passenger side of his car very often). The only reason he found it is because he happened to need to get something from the right side of his car that night (Thursday). He was telling me this first because he knew the thoughtful gift was from me.

Of course, being the good friend I am, I made sure he knew just how long it had been on his car, since that Tuesday lunch time. He was all, "Oh man! You mean I went all over town with this super geeky thing on my car? I went [to the local college] for an evening class, rolling around pimpin' in the parking lot, laid back with my arm up on the wheel [straight armed]." Elvis takes classes at the local college in order to meet girls. So, all the while he was rolling around with confidence, he had this super geeky magnet on the side of his car, proudly displaying his inner geek for all to see.

My only regret is that I didn't pick up more of these magnets to plaster all over the passenger side of the car to amp up the humiliation, NASCAR style.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hell is Home

As I've said before, Earth is Hell. Things are as bad as they can possibly be anywhere else. And if anyone can imagine things worse, they are free make things worse right here!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ten Commandments are where?

The Ten Commandments of the Bible aren't where or what most Christians are taught. Normally, most Christians believe that the Ten Commandments is at Exodus 20: 1-17. However, these verses are neither identified as the Ten Commandments, nor are they just ten commandments. These verses are at the head of a whole series of commandments that go on and on about building an alter to God, how to treat slaves, family matters, national matters, etc.

So what? Well, there is only one set of ten commandments that are labelled as the Ten Commandments in the Bible. These are found at Exodus 34: 12-28. Here's the confusing part, Deuteronomy 4: 13 and 10: 3-4 mention the Ten Commandments by name, but do not identify their contents. However Deuteronomy 5: 7-21 does list a set of commandments that mirrors Exodus 20: 1-17, though with somewhat different words. Also, neither Exodus 20: 1-17 nor Deuteronomy 5: 7-21 has a list that adds up to ten. It is really eleven, or even just nine depending how one reads the texts, but definitely not ten.

So, there are three different lists which are purported to be the Ten Commandments. The ten commandments found at Exodus 34: 12-28 is official Ten Commandments in the Bible. However, one will never find this Ten Commandments on display in front a Church, Courthouse or anywhere else that claims to represent God. Why? The answer lies in comparing each (from New American Standard Bible):


Red: Deuteronomy 5: 7-21 (eleven commandments)
Blue: Exodus 20: 1-17 (also eleven commandments)

I.
You shall have no other gods before Me.
You shall have no other gods before Me.

IIa.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

IIb.
You shall not worship them or serve [idols]
You shall not worship them or serve [idols]
(This commandment is often not counted because it's essentially a repeat of the first two. However, it could also be argued that these first three commandments are really one commandment being explained three different ways. Of course that means there are only nine commandments here; not ten or eleven)

III.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain

IIII.
Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy [to remember you where slaves in Egypt]
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.
(Notice the justification for this commandment is significantly different between the two versions.)

V.
Honor your father and your mother
Honor your father and your mother

VI.
You shall not murder.
You shall not murder.

VII.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not commit adultery.

VIII.
You shall not steal.
You shall not steal.

VIIII.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

X.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Those two versions are very similar to each other, but do have an interestingly different explanation for why the Sabbath should be kept. Now compare these to the commandments that are officially labelled as the Ten Commandments. This list can be tedious since it provides so much explanation for some of the commandments, so I've bolded each within its context.

Green: Exodus 34: 12-28

I.
Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim --for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God-- otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.

II.
You shall make for yourself no molten gods.

III.
You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt.

IIII.
The first offspring from every womb belongs to Me, and all your male livestock, the first offspring from cattle and sheep. You shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring from a donkey; and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. None shall appear before Me empty-handed.

V.
You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.

VI.
You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.

VII.
Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel. For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the LORD your God.

VIII.
You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, nor is the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover to be left over until morning.

VIIII.
You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God.

X.
You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.
Wow, the official Ten Commandments don't make much sence in modern context. In fact, the last five are kinda creepy. I can understand why the Churches ignore this official set of Ten Commandments in favor of the much easier to follow lists elsewhere in the Bible. However, this picking and choosing which verses to use and which to hide is yet another example of the hypocrisy that seethes from organized religion and a very good reason not to have their ten commandments plastered in front of our Courthouses and government buildings.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

God Protects Our Children?

Although the bible should sometimes be taken with a grain of salt, it is an excellent source for learning how to raise children. The advice it gives for dealing with a problem child is simple, straightforward, and 100% effective. Here's is an excerpt from Deuteronomy 21: 18-21 according to the New American Standard Bible:

18. If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19. then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. 20. They shall say to the elders of his city, `This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.' 21. Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.
So, according to wisdom the bible, God's way of dealing with a problem child is to have them lovingly stoned to death by the local community. God's loving nature comes through very clearly in this command to his people.

Now, someone may say that I'm taking this text out of context. To such a defensive comment, I gladly suggest such a person should read whole chapter of Duet. 21. It is a list of commandments on when to kill cattle for murder, how to properly rape a woman captured during military conquests, and when to stone people to death for various deeds; among other things. This commandment to stone a problem child to death is simply one commandment from among that list, similar to the famous Ten Commandments.

This brief expose on the Bible's consideration of children was triggered because I recently ran across a request by a person looking for a scripture in the bible that showed God protects children from harm. Being the good former pseudo-fundamentalist that I am, I immediately felt inclined to clear up the issue on just how God treats children in the bible. Deut. 21: 18-21 is just one of a hundred examples where children are treated with disdain, as afterthoughts, and as property. The bible isn't the best place to look when trying to learn how to raise children. It doesn't really give any practical advice at all. There's nothing on how to change a baby's diaper, how to burp a baby, how to deal with bully's in school, how to read and write, how to teach a child about sex, etc etc. It does have a commandment about how one's hair should be cut, but if we followed that, we'd all look like a bunch of nappy hippies. More to the point, the bible promotes physical abuse and murder of our children. This more than offsets any supposed scriptures in the Bible that do offer mildly useful advise if interpreted in a particular way.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Agnosticism is false

From my view point, the word agnostic is a Christian-centric term use to describe something that is foreign to Christianity; that is something which Christians cannot understand. In the Christian mind set, an agnostic person isn’t sure whether their God exists are not. They are a person that doesn’t necessarily believe in the bible, but doesn’t really believe that the Universe came about by some random chance. In other words, a person who is agnostic is someone that hasn’t made up their mind as to whether they believe that God exists or not.

It seems that this is a false belief on the part of Christians. Also, it seems that this is why there really is no such thing as an agnostic person. When someone doesn’t have evidence as to whether or not there is a god or gods, this isn’t the lack of making one’s mind up about the matter. This is a statement that person does not hold to beliefs that cannot be proven about gods or otherwise. They are open to whatever can be proven with regards to reality, and are not held down by some ancient beliefs.

For example, by the Christian use of the term agnostic, a person would say, “I don’t know whether there is a God or not.” However, for myself, I know enough to know that-I-don’t-know. What does this mean? Well, I know that the idea of God is simply a metaphor for what is unknowable. At issue is the fact that I also know the idea of God comes with a ton of cultural baggage. For me to say that I don’t know the reality of God is itself an acceptance of society’s ideas about God. I know that God is an over used metaphor. I don’t need the God metaphor to make me comfortable about what I cannot know, that is the unknowable. Again, I know enough to know that-I-don’t-know. That is to say, I’m comfortable with not knowing what I don’t know. Another way I’ve said this before is, “I’m confused, but I’m comfortable with that confusion.”

So, because the term agnostic is used by Christians to define that which they don’t understand regarding the lack of belief in their god, it seems that the term doesn’t describe any person, but is only describes a phrase that people go through when they are losing their faith in Christianity, before they give up on the Christian metaphor all-together.

What are people called when they don’t have beliefs about gods, but also don't hold to the traditional ideas of atheism? The term freethinker comes to mind. However, freethought is also heavily loaded with history in which the average person just isn’t interested. I don’t care, for one. At this point, I contend there is no term coined as of yet which describes the average person who just doesn’t have god beliefs.

Why am I not an atheist? Well, this is a whole other topic. Let me just say my personal experiences and traditional atheism are mutually exclusive.

Wedding Bells

So, it's coming time for me to don the penguin suit. The big day is coming up quick. It's been a long time, but my cuzin is finally going to tie the knot with her man. I'm going to be in the wedding party. They we going through the usual last minute rush trying to pull everything together, even though the day is still 3 weeks away. Well, I'm happy for them. Been way too long. It's been a tough road for them at times, especially since they've been together since their mid-teens. Best wishes! Now, when's the bachelor party?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Out of nowhere

Someone working for the Attorney General pleds the 5th? This crack in the dam is starting to widen.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Organized mess

I'm not going to comment beyond just saying I never trust someone who keeps a neat desk: Here's the article about having messy organization.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

SolidWorks Website

Ok, so I'm shamelessly self-promoting again. I have an ever expanding SolidWorks website at: Lorono's SolidWorks Resources. I have also just added an Amazon shopping (Tools of the Trade)page for SolidWorks and Engineering related items. This is all in the hopes of providing immediate information resources useful to the mechanical engineering field.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Rhode Island Trip

The weather was near perfect on Wednesday and Thursday. It had just stopped snowing the day before our arrival. The sun was out and everything was beautiful. On Wednesday, I explored parts of Providence myself while Allie was at Day 1 of her meeting. I found some interesting places. I had intended to go to a particular museum, but I got there only to discover visitation was by appointment only. So, I walked around a nearby small town like downtownish area for a little while before roaming around town again.
Thursday, I went to the Newport area, while Allie was in Day 2 of her meeting. It is beautiful and very quiet. I made a sincere effort to get lost, but never was really ever able to lose track of where I was. I drove along this road that has many old mansions and properties. Oddly enough, the road was called “Ocean View”, but would’ve been better named “Mansions View”. There was only one short stretch of ocean within site of the road. Funny how things are so misnamed in Rhode Island. I ended up having clam chowder for lunch at this one rest’rant at Bowen Wharf. It was a seasoned and well flavored type. It was apparently award winning, and I agree that it was very good.
That night we had diner at Providence Prime at Federal Hill. It was a high class rest’rant with really good food. I was a little disappointed by my lobster, but over all, the food and experience was great. We had a new waitress who was very attentive and helpful.
Friday rained, and hard. A winter storm ran through town, but it was over by the end of the day. We drove into Connecticut to an Indian Casino called Foxwoods. Foxwoods is as big as many of the Vegas Casinos, and it’s in the middle of nowhere.
On Saturday, we drove up to Boston and spent the day at the Prudential Tower and Quincy Market. This allowed us to see Boston from way up high, and down in the basement, in a manner of speaking. Shopping at Quincy was unique. Normally, all across the U.S., shopping is pretty much a homogeneous experience everywhere, but at Quincy, it actually felt like we where visiting some place special. This one place there was called The Oyster Bar, and that’s pretty much was it was. Their clam chowder was good.
We drove back to Rhode Island. That evening we had an excellent dinner at Legal Seafood. The whole point for me to come to New England was to experience the much raved about seafood. Legal Seafood by itself was enough to make my experience complete. Lobster was perfect, and so was the clam chowder and Clam Bake.
On Sunday, we visited a local zoo. It was tiny as most local zoos are. That evening we just relaxed as we had a long day of travel ahead of us on Monday. The snow just started to fall minutes before we boarded our plane in Rhode Island Monday afternoon.
Boy was Monday a long day. I really dislike travelling through JFK. It is as though JFK was designed by a Los Angeles Traffic Civil Engineer. Planes can literal spend an hour on the tarmac driving around like cars moving through city streets. The flight was over 6 hours long (not including JFK time) with no meal service.
Well, it was worth it though. I’m glad I got a chance to briefly explore southern New England.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I'm in Rhode Island. It's not really known for its roads, nor its it an
island. That's not all. I just drove the lenght of road called "Ocean
View". You guessed it. There is no view of the ocean, except for a small
area somewhere halfway.
I found this one point called Forty Steps, whick is a stone stairway down
to a small bit of rocky shore. At the bottom, I found a drainage pipe that
was relaeasing some lowing green ooze into the ocean. I'm not even kidding.
Mosr of the shorine along Ocean View is walled, so there's not many places
to actually get to the ocean. I guess one is excepted to just enjoy nature
from their car.
Right now, I'm at Firt Beach next to what appears to be an assasinated
Gull.
Ok, it's not all that bad, but I'll get into that larer.
___
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Monday, February 26, 2007

Jesus is Alive!

The rediscovery of Jesus' family tomb has sparked a lot of debate. No one has seen all of the evidence yet, yet everyone is piping up with criticisms. So far, none of the criticisms have been scientific in nature. "Jesus family was too poor for a tomb of such luxury". Umm, for starters, there is no statement in the bible about Jesus' wealth! In fact, it is unlikely that anyone with so much influence was poor! How unscientific can one get? It's just funny how everyone is panicking.
Hey Christians, your god was just a man! Not even all Christians look to Jesus as a god. Certainly, he had a life prior to the age of about 34, when we started preaching openly. So, there's nothing odd about him having a family. In fact, there's nothing odd about his family being hidden from history! Perhaps the story of Jesus' death and lack of mention of his family is due to the fact that his followers were trying to protect them from the Roman Empire. Or perhaps the politics within the Christian Church were at play, as groups fought for control of the faith. Maybe Jesus lineage lost power in the group once he died, so their record was expunged to justify the resulting power shift. This sort of activity is evident from within the text of the New Testament. There is obvious tells about the raise and fall of apostles and other leaders within the Church in power struggles where the victor was not necessarily even familiar with Jesus (for example, St. Paul). After all, the Council of Nicaea was commissioned by the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine. If an outsider held that much say over the faith, how much more was the faith in flux from within?
So, do I believe these remains belong to Jesus and his family? No, I don't hold a belief about such things. Do I think there is a possibility that these remains are of Jesus? Yeah. In fact, I think it is likely.