Sunday, March 31, 2013

Radicalization of Religion

It is true that the US Founders were religious. But, they had a different understanding of religion that we have today.

When discussing religion, it is imperative to realize that "religion" is one of those broad terms that has a different meaning to different people. People at different times in history had different views of religion. For most of history, the term "religion" referred to one's highest thoughts. They applied the term "superstition" to things believed that were untrue.

The modern definition of religion is closer to the traditional definition of "superstition."

If I defined "religion" to mean everything that people believed throughout time that proved untrue; then, yes, religion is a silly thing. But what about the beliefs that I currently hold true? What about beliefs that actually are true?

If I held "religion" to mean my highest thoughts (which is closer to the traditional definition) and called my false beliefs superstition; then religion is a good thing while superstition is still a bad thing.

One of the odd things about logic is that it is possible to derive truth from myth. It is also possible to derive false beliefs from valid scientific observations. (This is a long post unto itself).

Personally, I find claims of non-religion absurd. Claims of non-religion begin with a person's assertion of what is true and what is not true (a religion). The anti-religious zealot then creates a hihgly parsed definitions of religion which is essentially the same as the traditional definition of "superstition."

This game of changing terms is called equivocation. Modern thinkers like to call it sublation.

The term "religion" often mixes in with our personal aspirations. For example, a person seeking power might come to see religion as a path to power. If a power monger is not positioned to use religion for power, the power monger is prone to reject religion as an obstacle to power.

Conversely, a person seeking freedom might come to see religion as a path to freedom. But if religion is being used for oppression, the same person might come to see established religion as a obstacle to freedom.

Since people tend to project their worst traits on others, the definition of religion because even more strained. If I am seeking to use religion (or irreligion) in my quest for power, I will project negative images on the religions of others.

People with a ruling class mentality are prone to see religion as a way to subdue the masses and to justify their actions. Machiavelli taught the prince to appear religious without actually being religious.

Prior to the US Revolution, the monarchs used a distortion of religion to claim authority from an ancient covenant that stretched back to the patriarchs of ancient Israel. Many monarchs were Machiavellian and hid their atrocities under the guise of religion

After the revolution, there was a flurry to create new religions as a new generations of power mongers sought to gain authority over others. The French Revolution saw both the invention of new religions and reactionary anti-religions

In philosophy the term "modern" refers to the school of thought following Kant (1724-1804). Modernism is actually centuries old. The US Founders had a classical liberal education and world view. Modernism swept the world in the early 1800s.

Hegel (1770-1831) is perhaps the most influential modern philosopher. Hegel created a modern logic to replace classical logic. Hegel also created a "Philosophy of History" that presented the Germanic people (and their king) as the leading character on the world stage. Hegel was immensely popular in the US. American Pundits in the early 1800s sought ways to position White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestants as the new master race. People made all sorts of bizarre claims to a new covenant that stretched back to ancient Israel.

Hegelians were trying to create a new radicalized philosophical religion.

A Young Hegelian named Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) created a radicalized anti-religion, which took things a step further.

Since anti-religion is a religion, anti-religion leads to an endless stream of clever sounding paradoxes. It is a form of the reflexive paradox (modern dialectics).

The US Founders were religious. Their thoughts on religion were profoundly different than those about religion today. They were part of a classical liberal tradition. This tradition combined Aristotelian, Judeo/Christian and nascent scientific thought in the pursuit of individual liberty.

There was a radicalization of religion (and anti-religion) that took place between us and them. Today religion is seen in the light of a never-ending culture war.

To make matters worse, in recent years we've seen a strong trend to commercialize all religious holidays. The commercial Easter is about bunnies, chocolate eggs and treasure hunts.

I wanted to write a post to wish everyone a glorious Easter Weekend. The Passover and Easter are highlights of the Judeo/Christian calendar. The Passover remembers a flight from bondage. Easter remembers the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The crucifixion took place in the generations following the transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. The Romans were crucifying people by the thousands.

These are both extremely important ideas in the evolution of Western thought. Both events involve the people faced with a tyrannical government.

The culture wars of the Modern Era have put so many blinders and filters on these important events that it is often difficult to derive meaning from them.

As we celebrate and think about the Passover and Easter, I find it worthwhile to think about how different people at different times perceived these events.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Are These Things Really Equal?

Way back in the 1980s I was a proponent of "gay marriage." Interestingly, my progressive friends, at the time, were against the idea of marriage as a whole and opposed gay marriage. They saw marriage as an enemy of the state and promoted the multi-partner gay lifestyle as a model for a new utopia.

I believed that if a same sex couple wanted to share a commitment of marriage, then more power to them.

I turned against gay marriage after going to a lecture in which a lawyer explained that, by giving legal status to marriage, they could then use the Equal Rights Act and gay marriage to attack the Christian Church and Western Tradition.

During the lecture, a radical professor explained to us how they intended to frame the gay marriage issue in a way to attack the ideals of sanctity of life at the heart of Christianity.

After that meeting, I turned against gay marriage. Oddly, my progressive friends flip-flopped as well and became big proponents of gay marriage.

To understand this blog post, you must understand the difference between "gay marriage" and "marriage equality."

"Gay Marriage" simply means that a same sex couple calls their relation a "marriage."

Marriage Equality demands that all marriage be treated the same by all people at all times, and that the state must close entities that treat gay marriage differently from heterosexual marriage.

Specifically, Marriage Equality means that churches must extend the sacrament of marriage to same sex couples.

This is problematic because the Christian Sacrament of Marriage is not about sex or financial benefits.

LDS Experience

The LDS Church was one of the first groups to experiment with redefining marriage for political ends. Early LDS Patriarchs not only experimented with polygamy, the claimed that polygamy was a duty. Patriarchs with massive clans with hundreds of children are able to take political control of local communities.

The effort to redefine marriage was extremely fun for the first generation of Mormons. It gave a few patriarchs extreme wealth and power. Polygamy has had many unintended consequences for subsequent generations with young girls kept in ignorance and forced to marry old men, to be knocked up and become dependent.

The FLDS simply cast aside boys (The lost boys) who have terrible times being outcasts and vilified by the clan.

The LDS experiment with polygamy was a failure. I applaud the LDS Church for their defense of traditional marriage. Since the LDS Church had bad experience with experiments in redefining marriage, I believe that its comments on the subject are highly relevant and should be heeded.
The Christian Sacrament of Marriage is about the sanctity of life.

Most multi-cellular forms of life on the plant earth propagate through a system of sexual reproduction. This process has been going on for hundreds of millions of years. The method of sexual reproduction is used by  most plants as well as fish, reptiles and animals. Yes, there are boy pine trees and girl pine trees and pine trees know the difference.

Sexual reproduction involves combining the DNA of males with DNA of females to produce offspring with a slightly different DNA mix. This process of combining DNA appears to be fundamental to evolution of higher life forms on this planet.

Animals in the Mammalia Class of the Animalia Kingdom have the distinguishing trait that females have glands for feeding off spring after birth.

Caring for off spring is not just something dreamed up by some evil pope. It is trait that is inherent in animal life. This is most notable in mammals which have sexually specific physical adaptations for this trait. Both sexual reproduction and caring for offspring are fundamental to human life and many other species.

The Christian Tradition holds human life as sacred and uses the term "procreation" for the reproduction of human life.

Other cultural and religious traditions have similar ideas. Progressive are specifically attacking the Christian tradition; so, I am concentrating on Christian terminology..

The Christian Sacrament of Marriage is about the sanctity of life. Marriage is not about sex or government benefits. It has every thing to do with procreation. Marriage sanctifies the natural process of procreation. The It is about holding birth and the relation of parents and children sacred.

A state claiming that a coupling that results in procreation is equal to one that does not is problematic.

If there were some clean way to have "gay marriage" that was considered distinct from the Sacrament of Marriage, then I might still be for the idea.

Sadly, this is not the way culture wars work.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Painfully Slow


I feel like I am in an alternate universe called "Broken."

On the third of the month (nine days ago) I decided that I wanted to add maps to This project should have taken eight hours at most.

 I had taken some pictures of Holladay and recorded the addresses of the pictures (that was easy).

I started by looking up the latitudes and longitudes of the addresses. The process was really quick at the beginning, then started to slow down. The service I use throttles address look ups (which is fine).

When I was done with that, I began the process of integrating the addresses with the Google Map API. I've used Google Maps multiple times to show a small number of points on a map. The moment I tried pushing the envelope with Google Maps, Google Maps pushed back and began behaving odd.

Perhaps the problem was my antivirus software, or perhaps I hit a site with a javascript exploit.

See, Google Maps uses a great deal of javascript. I went to numerous different sites to see how they implemented the Google Map API.

My antivirus software scrutinizes every character of javascript. Not only were the maps going slow, the antivirus software began consuming all of my computer's resources as I visited different sites to check out their scripts. Maybe one of them included a javascript exploit with their Google Map? Who knows?

To make matters more interesting, my ISP began crashing. The crashing affected every site on the network. and I had to reboot the DSL modem multiple times.

When dealing with a combinations of slow web sites, slow modems and a slow ISP, my website crashed. The NetStatus report at my WebHost told me that something bad happened to the server and they migrated me to new hardware. This took a whole day.

This combination of problems created a scenario where each action took an hour or more to accomplish.

The combination of hardware and software glitches made checking Twitter and blogging painfully slow as well.

To make matters even worse, the hinge that holds the gate between the house and driveway explored. It shattered into slivers; so I had to build a new gate door.

After all of the drama trying to make google maps work, I decided to take a more direct approach to mapping. I now download PNG versions of maps from

I had a really horrible last ten days in which my computer, anti-virus software, ISP, web host and front gate all crashed on me.

In ten days, I was only able to make two maps. The first map is of Downtown Holladay. I also made a bigger map that shows all of Holladay.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Attributing Stock Photography

Microstock Photography is a fun way to enhance a blog post. A stock photo is a professional quality photo made available to the public often at a low price. The price is often under a dollar per use. You are paying for the right to use an image on your blog post. (Be sure to check the prices of each purchase ... some of the images cost substantially more than a dollar.)

Photographers can make some extra money by uploading their best images to the microstock sites. The photographers get a chunk of each image purchased. A few really good photographers have been able to make a living from Microstock. I like industries that pay money to artists.

I maintain a list of microstock web sites. There are two common ways to sell microstock. Subscription services have a monthly fee and you are allowed to use a given number of images a month. I dislike the subscription sites. I prefer the credit system. With the credit system; you buy a set number of credits which you then use to buy images.

On my previous post, I posted an image that I bought for one credit (about $0.80). The image below was a free "Free Image of the Week" photo from iStockPhoto. (I said I like programs that give money to artists. I didn't say that I am not cheap).

When you use a microstock image, you are expected to give the artist credit ... which is the point of this post.

Netiquette requires that bloggers credit photographer's for their work.

Web sites also need inbound links. Combining these two needs, I created a project to credit microstock photographers. When I use an image, I add a row to the MicroStock Database on I use some CSS to put the credit for the image on the lower right corner of the page. This page links to iRivers then includes a link back to my site.

Using this little trick, I fulfill the requirement of giving credit to the photographer and I get a free link to my blog post.

I opened the MicroStock credit program to the users of Community Color. I will block users who abuse it.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Zion Curtains

I like enhancing web site posts with stock images.

Today's post is about the Utah Zion Curtain Law. This law requires restaurants to install an expensive barrier to save customers from viewing the sinful act of pouring liquor into a glass.

So, I found a stock image relevant to the post. Realizing that many readers my find the image disturbing I used a little Javascript to create my own Zion Curtain.

If you press "Click to view objectionable image" you can enhance this post with an image.

But, I warn you, DO NOT PRESS THE LINK unless you are over twenty-one and have the moral fortitude of on ox. You need the moral fortitude of an ox to see this image, I tell-ya. The moral fortitude of an ox.

Simply by including such seductive images in this post (in words of John Valentine R-Orem) "we are crossing that line we should not be crossing."

Click to view objectionable image

As noted in the past. Utah Republicans use free market rhetoric to gain power, then actively suppress debate about substantive free market reform. For example, in five years I've been unable to find a single Utah Republican willing to spend an afternoon to talk about free market health care reform. Any attempts to start a discussion is kicked to the ground.

You would think people who use free market rhetoric to gain power would welcome discussion of free market reform. Oppressive conservatives will not tolerate discussions that give people control of their own health care. Since people are not allowed to discuss freedom to control the care for their own body, it brings up the question what are people allowed to talk about here in the Arch-Conservative state of Zion?

Well, there is the ever-important issue of legislating morality.

In 2009, to protect Utah citizens from bearing witness to the sin of pouring wine into a glass, the Arch-Conservative Utah legislature passed a law requiring restaurants to install a thing called a "Zion Curtain."

So, in the heart of a recession, restaurants were required to install expensive barriers that serve no function beyond appeasing the the self-righteousness of Conservative legislature. The law has been unevenly applied. Some restaurants were forced into expensive remodeling projects and others given a pass.

Restaurants have united against the law and have forced enough of the legislature to reconsider the hypocrisy. This stupid law is being reconsidered in 2013.

Mormons are people who whine about ObamaCare while routinely engaging in the same totalitarian thinking. Meanwhile, Independents like me see the Republican Party as disgusting as the Democratic Party.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Tea Party v. Groomed GOP

Yes, some of the Tea Party candidates were silly and were unelectable.

Need I remind you? An extremely large number of the groomed candidates have proven disastrous as well.

Mitt Romney was groomed for the presidency from birth. He fit the image of electability to a tee, and lost big time in 2012.  Many Republicans went down on the coattails of Romney.

In contrast, during the Tea Party election of 2010, there was palpable energy and all elements of the Republican rose with the enthusiasm.

The most disastrous episode in Republican history was the Bush Administration. The Bush administration was a solid 8 years of groomed candidates who held re-election over ideals. The Bush Administration expanded government at every turn. Increased spending to buy re-election.

When all was said and done, the Republican Party was left with nothing but scandal with Obama and the Democrats winning a super majority.

The idea that electability trumps ideals is wrong on two levels. A long history of scandals has proven that groomed candidates are as likely to be flawed as idealistic Tea Party candidates.

When groomed candidates win, they are more likely to sell out the ideals of a free society than the idealistic ones.

Republicans won big in 2010 when people were talking about ideals.

Republicans lost in 2012 and 2008 when grooming was the primary concern.

Both Romney and McCain were perfectly groomed. Both matched the Republican ideal of an electable candidate.

Both lost.

In the long run, winning the war of ideas is far more important than any given candidacy. The freedom movement would do well to get off this kick that electability matters more than ideas and discuss ideas.

NOTE: For the last five years I've been hoping to find a group of people willing to meet and talk about free market health care?

I confess. I am an independent and not a Republican. I think the GOP should be ashamed that people who want to talk about free market ideals are completely shut out. I spent every penny I had and drove over 10,000 to find some one in the Republican Party interested in overturning PPACA.

If I was a member of the GOP, I would be ashamed of my party for shutting people out like it does.