Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving: what this day and is not about.

Happy Thanksgiving. Today is a day to have fun with your family & to talk with them.

When I was a kid we went to granny's house and had turkey. Now as an adult I go to a sister's house and later to a cousin's of my wife.

Never was this day about apologizing for the sins of people who may or may not have been my ancestors, or who may or may not have shared the same skin color as myself.

Here's some links that came to mind as I read some other blog posts today:

What did the Romans ever do for us? Here's a related sketch from the film Life of Brian by Monty Python:
The noble savage myth:

The myth that ancient people of all stripes were less violent:

The bottom line is this: children are not responsible for the sins of their parents or ancestors, and we need not apologize for the misdeeds of others.

There can be shame based religion, and also apparently shame based culture in general.

The right wing has shame based religion.

The left wing has shame based politics and culture.

Can't we just move beyond shame based culture/religion and having any concept of original sin or having to apologizing for the "sins" of other people who aren't us?

Everyone is a bit racist, as per Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

The tribalistic ethos that teaches children to hate & resent others because of misdeeds done in the past sets up fertile ground for an endless cycle of revenge. Which culture in America does this? Is it politically incorrect to say? Maybe the government should provide free health care, free land, and job assistance to groups who were oppressed in the past, but that doesn't mean I personally have any personal responsibility whatsoever for what other people may have done - people who aren't me.

Thank goodness that the in-group morality of humanity is expanding. This is happening because of things like the Internet, TV. film, and ease of travel. All human groups are capable of genocide and of expressing out-group morality. What's most important is to simple be conscious of how human nature works.

You are a native to the country you were born in. All people in the U.S. are the children of immigrants. And given the chance. all groups of humans would screw over the Earth if they were unenlightened. What man who clubbed the last Dodo and what was his tribe & culture?

Keeping cultures in the dark because they are just "so cute" with their little cute beliefs isn't right. The detached defacto atheist academic who views the demon-haunted beliefs of others as "cute" and "worth preserving in totality & isolation" - they are helping to keep their fellow humans in the dark. Maybe having everyone buy into greedy cutthroat social-darwinist (spencerist) capitalism would not be so good. But all children should have the benefit of a proper education which includes science, art, history, math, comparative religion, and so on.

So today I won't be apologizing to anyone but my wife, and even in that case she's pretty easy going. Today is a day to have fun with your family - nothing more.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Atheism & having kids: the right to choose to be a zero

CFI in Portland (child group of Beaverton Atheists) recently hosted the following discussion: "Discussion: Demographics: Should Atheists be trying to have more children?"

I would answer a strong yes. Here's quotes from another blogger who also agrees:
"...Having children consciously, in full awareness of the insanity of the leap you are taking is a revolutionary act. It can be compared to picking up a weapon and walking on to a battle field. Sure, there are far more idiots that are willing to become soldiers, but when an educated individual chooses to take a stand it is very different. One who chooses to fight in full understanding is not a soldier but rather a warrior..."

"...Intelligence is a virtue but is it worthless without bravery. If you have brains and have a sense of what this world needs, then have children. Otherwise you have no one to blame but yourself when you find yourself old and infirm, surrounded by blithering morons."
Relative to overpopulation: There will be a natural curve limiting to exponential growth, and those limits will occur more on the uneducated ends of the curve, not so much in places where highly educated atheists tends to live. Science, technology, and education about both can help to save things.

Relative to whether it's stupid for someone to have 8 or 11 kids: Was it stupid for them to pass on their genes & memes more easily to a wide group of people? Transmitting memes is of value, but there's something about a living breathing human that doesn't quite compare to a book or computer. Their right to choose is the mirror of your right to choose not to. The drunk bums in my own family who were in the end zeros both genetically & memetically - their wasted lives show that sometimes there really is value in doing what comes natural.

There's a certain anti-having-kids ideology from the 1960s and 70s which continues today, and it goes something like this: Because there's overpopulation in third world countries that means I should have no kids myself. It's a false analogy, and it's about the same type of thing as saying that one should eat one's peas because of starving children elsewhere. This ideology robs people of a key part of life: reproduction! Yes that's right, having kids. It's not all about you. Biology & evolution will have the last laugh.

Just because resources are scarce in third world countries doesn't mean you should have kids. Have them, have as many as you want, but teach your kids the value of science and the value of continuing the Enlightenment.

Related links:
A video: Atheist family values: think about legacy, have kids, preserve the garden, don't be a drunk bum.

A related talk at my mother's funeral.

Should Christian women have breasts & vaginas?

Should Christian women have breasts & vaginas? These are a key questions I have been wondering about.

I watched the video "Should Christian women wear bikinis" at

Is there a middle ground between porn and berkas? Maybe. But one thing is certain: morality doesn't come from a certain religion.

Here's a related video on that front from Hitchens & Fry on the Catholic Church:
and more by Sam Harris as he talks about his new book The Moral Landscape

In my first hand experience, shame based religion wants you to forcibly remove and shut down the parts of your brain that deal with sex. And in response to the anti-bikini video by that nut job guy preaching to an audience in the referenced video, the last time I checked men are human. The way a man's brain reacts to a woman in a bikini is not dehumanizing. Shame based ideology destroys people's lives. Similar ideas keep women in bags (berkas).

And lastly a related video of my own:
Mormonsm & oral sex:

Haven't these people ever heard of having healthy boundaries? No. They get their jollies out of interrogating teenagers about their nascent sexuality. No maybe it's not quite as bad as the child rape that's rampant in Catholicism, but it's on the same playing field in my view.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tracy Aviary hides away an exotic jay because it likes people

Copy of comments made to fellow bird lovers:

Recently Tracy Aviary (a public bird zoo in Salt Lake City) had a pair of Plush Crested Jays on display (Cyanocorax chrysops). These are exotic crow family birds that do not require a permit to keep or breed in private aviculture in the U.S. One of the birds was more friendly with people.

A few weeks ago I found that the pair had been taken off display. I asked a staff member on site why this was. I was told the following: "The bird was imprinted, and it's not the mission of the Aviary to promote that sort of thing." My own response to a statement like this, when considering the several years that the Aviary had on display Lory parrots  that people could go and feed, and Sun Conures which people now can feed, as well as several other individual birds that were friendly & kept me & others coming back again and again - such a statement shocked me. And also I was taken aback because of my own personal associations with past Aviary curators.

In response I've sent them a few letters. No one at the Aviary has responded.

One additional thing is that on youtube I have observed their head keeper actively searching for videos made by members of the public, people who've made videos of birds at the Aviary. The head keeper tends to then make rather juvenile, snarky, and unprofessional comments about the various videos - while representing herself as being either "Tracy Aviary" or a keeper there.

Regarding the pair, reportedly one of them died and the remaining one is going to bird show, because the head keeper there & maybe more of their staff & leadership don't want to have an "imprinted" bird on display. However, the land and the birds of Tracy Aviary are owned by Salt Lake City. The Aviary is operated by a non-profit, but the birds their staff touch on a daily basis are owned by the public. And the non-profit is funded in whole by money from the public (routed either through direct donations, tax dollars, or money from corporate coffers that also comes from the public).

While it goes without saying among many of us that bird keeping requires a big commitment, having a public zoo take off display birds that like people too much, just because of this & for no other valid reason, that shows that Tracy Aviary may currently be operating in a way which runs counter to the values derived from enlightened private aviculture, which sees high value (including conservation value) in promoting enlightened & responsible first hand interaction between humans and birds.

Well, you're welcome to check out the letters I wrote them. Some of the first ones are rather animated, in part because of a.) the pomposity of the statement made by their on site staff to me in person and b.) the unprofessional and snarky comments that their head keeper makes in online forums on behalf of the Aviary in response to media posted by members of the public (videos about several of the birds at the Aviary made by various people - not just the jays). But my latest letter is a bit more calm.

And it seems that I'm not the only one who discovered the friendly jays at the Aviary, with the more friendly of the two now being hidden away at the Aviary because of an apparent ideology that claims that a bird that likes people is an evil thing that should be hidden & discouraged.

The bird now being kept in some back room at Tracy Aviary:

My letters:

Here's a link to the City's statement of mission page about the Aviary. Nowhere in the mission statement does it say that "imprinted" birds must be hidden away in a back room because they like people too much.

"The mission of the Aviary is to foster caring for the natural world, enriching and transforming lives through connections with birds."

Right now those of us who loved seeing an enchanting pair of exotic plush crested jays at Tracy Aviary - our lives are not being enriched - maybe transformed, but transformed into people who recognize that right now there may be too much of an anti-bird-human-interaction mentality going on at our "public" Aviary that our tax dollars and gate & member fees go to support. I didn't become a member of the Aviary 16 years ago, and I didn't rejoin many times & make many one off donations & give several gift memberships to friends & family for this.


Tracy Aviary - "anti" to pet bird keeping? - August 19, 2011 letter to Tim Brown

August 19, 2011
Tim Brown
Friends of Tracy Aviary
c/o: Tracy Aviary
589 East 1300 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105

Hello Mr. Brown,

This is a follow up to my August 7th and 13th letters to the chair of your board of directors.

I have found that Tracy Aviary sits on property owned by the City, and that the property & bird collection there is owned by the City. Also here’s a mission statement for the Aviary I found on the City’s website:
Tracy Aviary operates in partnership with Salt Lake City Corporation wherein the non-profit entity manages the day-to-day operations for Salt Lake City Corporation and the City retains ownership of the assets.  The mission of the Aviary is to foster caring for the natural world, enriching and transforming lives through connections with birds.  In addition, Salt Lake City provides an operating subsidy.
Having your staff walk around the grounds pompously telling long time members like me, that the mission of the Aviary requires that a Plush Crested Jay that “likes people too much” must be hidden away in a back room --- as a citizen here, tax payer, and long time member of the Aviary, I say to you that such actions run counter to the stated mission of the Aviary as from the City’s website.
...foster caring for the natural world, enriching and transforming lives through connections with birds
Nothing more than this. Not a warped ideology of supposed conservation that believes that all first hand interaction between humans and birds should be done on a permit-only basis. Humans are part of the natural world - with a shared common ancestor between us & chimps & bonobos, and a 1 to 5% genetic difference between us and the latter two species. We are animals just as much as are all the other animals on this pale blue dot.

Also I do not see how it is within the scope of the City-mandated mission of the Aviary to have your employees go to participate in online forums, on behalf of the Aviary, in juvenile, childish, and retributive ways (as indicated in my previous letters). I have observed first hand the comments your current head aviculturist as made in online forums, for and on behalf of the Aviary. They have been unprofessional & childish.

The Aviary has come a long way in 16 years. Lots of new exhibits have been built. A back room area that isn’t like the dark ages. But what I and others who visit care most about are the individual birds themselves, not about whether your staff feel that no one should have a pet bird at home, or about whether your staff feel a video of the hornbills has an accurate verbal description of them, or about whether your head keeper has a fawning appreciation for the work of Doug Folland. Who cares. The Aviary should be about the birds, not about having your staff get in the way via one method or another. And certainly not via the alienation process initiated by the actions of your head keeper in this case - perhaps spurred on by your own personal bias against pet bird keeping?

And just to be clear - regarding Plush Crested Jays:
    Plush Crested Jays are not endangered.
    They are not on a species survival plan (SSP).
    They are legal to keep & breed with out a permit.

    There is no difference legally nor with regard to conservation impact, between the keeping of a Quaker parrot, an African Grey parrot, or a Plush Crested Jay.

    Plush Crested Jays are not listed on the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

So, I strongly object as noted to the double standard here taken here. You may as well also hide away in a back room all of the Sun Conures next, and several of the ducks & geese.

I have visited zoos around the world, and outside of Utah I’ve lived in Oregon & Texas. Zoos visited include: Oregon Zoo, London Zoo, San Antonio Zoo, zoos in China & Ukraine, the National Zoo in D.C., and so on. The things that made all these zoos special were the individual birds there and how they expressed and showed their own intelligence, grace, and unique personalities. The staff at these other zoos weren’t walking around the grounds pontificating about how birds and humans must be kept separate. And their staff weren’t going online so as to have negative and childish interactions with members of the public in the name of these zoos.

I know that statements from your staff on these issues don’t come out of a vacuum. They may be resulting from directives from yourself & the other leadership team of the Friends of Tracy Aviary. So if there is an anti-pet-bird mentality there that is so fearful of an exotic jay actually liking people, this needs to change.

It goes without saying that having an exotic corvid at home requires a huge commitment. The cost of entry for an African Pied Crow is now approaching $2,000. And a pair of Plush Crested Jays may go for $1,400. In my view it’s a good thing that these birds cost as much as they do. And if in the future a way could be found to legalize native corvids, perhaps in a similar manner to how native raptors are legal within falconry, that would be good.

And, my own reactions to your leadership on this issue were highly justified, because of what I saw as a breach of trust by your staff & indirectly by your management team. Passive aggression on the part of your staff, via hiding away a pair or one bird that “liked people too much,” and because “it’s not the mission of the aviary to have imprinted birds on display.”

Yes it is, in part, and with care.

Use of words like “imprinted” in this case by your staff are rather inappropriate, bigoted, and counterproductive though. The term negates the fact that a.) humans are animals too, and b.) it’s the mission of the Aviary to enrich and transform lives through connections with birds, and c.) it implies that there’s something inherently evil about a bird actually liking a human, and d.) indicative of an anti-pet-bird ideology that really is counter productive and directly goes against the mission of the Aviary. You don’t have to highly promote pet bird keeping. You can teach about how to do it responsibly. But don’t treat an “imprinted” exotic non-endangered jay the same way you would a highly endangered SSP participant bird that really should not be kept as a pet - Plush Crested Jays are not SSP birds.

Tracy Aviary has been and should continue to be a place for people who love birds. Nothing more. The extra stuff, such as an advocacy for conservation will come naturally. But micro-managing individual birds, especially exotic non-threatened ones that are legal without a permit in private aviculture, in a vindictive and petty way - that really is counter productive. And such actions will prompt people like me who have had ties to the wider avicultural world for a lot longer than most of your staff have been adults, well it will prompt me to make note of how things have gone down hill there to fellow aviculturists around the world.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tracy Aviary: Hypocritical Animal Hoarders

As a follow up to the post here.

To: Tom Barton, Chair
Board of Directors
Tracy Aviary
Salt Lake City, Utah

August 13, 2011

Greetings Mr. Barton,
No response has been received to the August 7th letter I sent.

I am highly concerned that head Aviary keeper Jennifer Evans is treating the Aviary as if it’s her own private zoo. Hiding birds away that are “too friendly,” and driving long time members like me away as a result.

Additionally Ms. Evans has a rather unfortunate habit of going online and making petty & shallow comments, in the name of, and on behalf of, Tracy Aviary. Is Ms. Evans the new executive director there?

In response, I have some questions for you:

Are employees of the Aviary employees of Salt Lake City, or are they employees of a non-profit organization registered with the State?

The actions of Ms. Evans pale in comparison to the work of past curators there, when there was a sense of professionalism, respect for the public, and appreciation for the value of allowing individual birds to be how they are - even if they happen to like human beings and to not punish the birds for this trait. And also respect for where the money comes from to make the Aviary possible.

Having your current head keeper treating the Aviary as if it’s her own private zoo, and having her going online, representing the Aviary as she does so (and stating as much), and making comments for and on behalf of the Aviary in all the places where this can be done nowadays - is this acceptable behavior?

Is this appropriate Mr. Barton? Is the Aviary a department of the City? Just how much of my tax dollars go to support the Aviary? And as a participant in the local economy, how much corporate profits garnered from the public here also go to support the Aviary?

Aside from the donations I’ve personally made over the years, how much tax money and how much corporate profits which result from the community here are resulting in your staff being able to treat the Aviary and the birds there as if they are their pets, while at the same time being overly concerned if given individual birds exhibit the apparently abhorrent trait of actually liking a human.       
By allowing your Jennifer Evans to be the defacto representative of the Aviary in all online discussions and forums, you are, with all due respect, cutting off the nose of the Aviary despite it’s face. Petty, shallow, and juvenile comments from Ms. Evans in online forums, forums where she states that she is writing on behalf of the Aviary - this is absurd!
I don’t pay taxes to the City, County & State, and I don’t make donations to the Aviary, so that you can have a rogue head keeper who acts in such a juvenile manner online.

No other zoo that I have known does this. Their employees don’t go online and seek to make comments & to participate, in the name of those institutions, and to respond to whatever social media related comments people may have made about a given zoo. And when I think about my own associations with Grenville Roles, and with the other curators who came after him, and when I think about all the friendly people I’ve met at the Aviary over the years in the front booth and in the back, the rather petty actions of your current head keeper really are hurting the Aviary and it’s mission: unless your mission is now to pretend like a bird cannot like a human. They can. They do. There’s ones at my home that prove this every day.

In this case, the harmless actions of a little birdie, a bird that delighted visitors and kept them coming back, has been turned into a large problem by a misguided, fearful, and zealous anti-visitor anti-bird-human-interaction type of ideology, where the littlest glimpse of a bird liking a person results in the affected bird being hidden away in the back.

Hypocritical animal hoarders with their own private zoo. Is this what the Aviary, my Aviary, has become?



Monday, August 8, 2011

Tracy Aviary: Plush Crested Jay "likes people too much?" And that's a bad thing?

Copy of letter sent:

August 7, 2011

Tom Barton, Chair
Board of Directors
Tracy Aviary
589 East 1300 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105

Greetings Mr. Barton,

I have been going to the Aviary on a very regular basis since 1994, and on a less frequent basis since about 1970.

When former curator Grenville Roles was at the Aviary I had frequent contact with him, and I have some of his art in my home. I understand that Grenville played a key role in the Aviary’s initial admittance into the A.Z.A., and he’s now moved on to Disney in Florida.

I am writing to you about a concern I have about what appears to be a new approach at the Aviary, which has perhaps resulted from the fact that at present the Aviary is largely staffed by a whole host of new college graduates. The new approach at the Aviary is typified by the following two words:  sanctimony and pretension.

Here is a specific example:

For several years the Aviary had on display an enchanting pair of Plush Crested Jays (Cyanocorax chrysops). These birds are not native to the U.S., and thus are legal to keep & breed in private aviculture.
The pair was in the old pavilion. And when the pavilion was redone they were placed in the rear enclosure.

The pair was particularly enchanting.

Recently I found that the female had died, and that the male had been moved off exhibit. Today I enquired why this was. Here is what I was told: “because the bird was getting too friendly with people, and that is not the sort of thing the Aviary wants to promote.”

Excuse me, Mr. Barton? Not the sort of the thing the Aviary wants to promote?

Can I get a refund for the past 16 years of membership dues, and for all the gift memberships I’ve donated to friends & family? How about a refund for all the Aviary-provided duck food I’ve purchased and fed to the ducks since 1994? And also for all the one-off individual donations I’ve made?

One key reason people come to the Aviary is because there are enchanting birds there who like people!

What about the Lory Parrots?

What about the Sun Conures?
What about the ducks & geese?

All of these classes of birds were “welcome” to interact and be friendly with people.

But when it was discovered, by your rather pretentious, myopic, and sanctimonious head keeper, that one of the Plush Crested Jays also liked people - that was too much for her. The bird had to be moved off exhibit.

But, Mr. Barton, as a long time member of the Aviary, and as someone who’s donated thousands of dollars to the Aviary, it just so happens that I get to have a say in what goes on there.
When an exotic and non-native bird in the form of a Lory Parrot gets to be friendly with people who come to the Aviary - when this happens, it’s a good thing, because people are drawn to the Aviary, and because when a person sees how a bird can be friendly and not just a lump that sits on a branch and does nothing - when people have first hand interaction with a bird, it bennefits conservation.

When an exotic and non-native bird in the form of a Sun Conure enchants children and adults at the Aviary, a similar result happens.

And, yes, Mr. Barton, when an exotic and non-native bird in the form of a Plush Crested Jay enchants and delights people, they are drawn to come back. They pay money to donate gift memberships, and they even donate several times outside of their regular membership payments.

The Aviary staff really needs to be careful about what they say to members of the public & the tone they take. We’re the ones who pay the bills.
Before I had a parrot at home I took zero interest in the birds outside. But now I care about what they do, how they are doing, and about their welfare. Birds at the Aviary who like people are your key asset. Don’t pretend they don’t exist. Don’t hunt them down as on a witch hunt. You should be doing the opposite and realize that a friendly bird will cause people like me to donate, again, and again, and again, for several years.

Enlightened Private Aviculture plays a key role in conservation. Public zoos can’t and won’t do it all. Bird lovers come to the Aviary because you have birds there, and when you have a bird there who likes people, that makes us want to come more.

As a long time member and donor of thousands of dollars to the Aviary I request the following:

1. That the Plush Crested Jay currently off exhibit be placed back on exhibit in exactly the same place he was at before.       

2. That a new mate for the jay be obtained.

3. That the Aviary staff be told to be careful about how they present themselves in public, when speaking to the public - because it’s the public that pays the bills and makes their paychecks possible. It’s our money that made the A.Z.A. enrollments and recertifications possible. It’s our money and our love of the birds at the Aviary that made the new exhibits possible.

Oh, and by the way, you’re welcome to call up Grenville Roles at Disney and he can tell you about birds there who also like people. They don’t hide them away.

It’s rather hypocritical for your keepers to go around essentially developing relationships with the birds they care for on a daily basis while at the same time trying to zealously keep members of the public (who pay the bills) from doing the same, on a small, occasional, and small time basis. In subtle ways that don’t go over the top, but in ways that keep us coming back. This was the situation with the Plush Crested Jays. I could name similar birds I’ve noticed since 1994. But I’m reluctant to do so because of the witch hunt which may ensue, in case your current head keeper discovers that there are other birds at the Aviary who commit the crime of actually paying attention to and liking a human being.


---------------------------- end of letter

African Pied Crows and White Necked Ravens are legal without a permit in private aviculture in the USA. So are Plush Crested Jays. Here's one page that has these types of birds for sale, and another, and another, and another. It goes without saying that keeping such a bird, and keeping it happy, requires a lot of work (as with a parrot). And here's a related discussion list.

More info on enlightened private aviculture is here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Retardianism (Possibilianism) of David Eagleman

Straight from the mind of lame neologism syndrome (LNS) afflicted David Eagleman, comes a nifty new term which he was just so pleased to have enter the nerdgastic-retardian lexicon: possibilianism. Oh my, do you think you have what it takes to be an Eagleman-brand possibilian?

Here's the basic premise of the term:

Explore. Learn. Seek. But never be intellectually honest about conclusions or levels of probability about outcomes.

Yes, my friend, reach, reach, reach for the stars. Glory in the wondrous beauty of it all. But, simultaneously keep your head in the sand, and silent about what the real facts are, and what the true history is of science and religion.

We get this kind of thing all the time from people who have zero experience with real hard core religion. David Eagleman was raised a secular Jew. So basically the guy never spent one way in anything approaching a religion with actual hard core literal beliefs in an alien god creature, or in a god who sends you to hell, or to some gradation of heaven depending on how many brownie points you rack up either by kissing His ass, or by doing His bidding here.

In Eagleman's talk here, he talks about how the creation myths of various religions can be like points in the sky. Oh, and boy howdy, we get to look up at the sky of "possibilities," and wonder with great awe about which one just might be correct. Oh, and he says the most important words in science are "I don't know."

But these claims of his are all bogus because:

1. We do know. And we only know because humans have developed to a point where they've finally happened across the most effective means of separating fact from fiction: science & the scientific method. So, we DO know. We can know. We will know. But ONLY because we have only very recently discovered that SCIENCE is the best method humans have developed thus far to separate fact from fiction.

2. Not all myths have an equal change of being true (an equal probability level of being accurate). Do you think the creation myth of the Amerindians, of the Catholics, of the Mormons, of Islam, of the ancient Greeks, and of all the other religions & cultures, - that all these different stories about how we & the Universe came into existence - that all these have the exact same probability level of being true? No. You don't believe them all. And to claim that all have the same chance (possibility) of being true is not only absurd, it feels like a purposeful lie.

3. Science (and atheism) are different BECAUSE we're willing to accept new facts about existence, if they are shown to be accurate through reasonably verifiable or cogent explanations, explanations that match up with observations and with cogent mathematical and scientific theory. Regions are either NOT willing, or they are VERY RELUCTANT, to accept new facts about existence. And when they do partially accept the new clearly evident facts they tent to warp their acceptance so as to fit the facts into their own narrative about existence (so they can keep saying "yes my god did that," even though the ever growing pile of evidence shows that their supposed god had little if anything to do with creation or anything).

Is your belief falsifiable? Can you state what it would take for you to change your mind? A committed theist will usually always say no. Committed atheists & honest scientists will usually say yes.

4. Not all definitions of the word god are the same - in fact none of the definitions are are. The word is therefore largely a lie every time someone says "I believe in the same god you do." Oh yes? Is the Mormon alien god from Kolob who literally had sex with Mary with Mother of Jesus the same being who caused the virgin birth of Jesus (a concept popular with Catholics)? No. Is a personal theistic god who fiddles constantly with Creation the same as a deistic one who never does? No. Are people who say "god is the Universe" or "god is sex" or "god is love" - do these people believe in the same god as those who believe in a god who sends people to hell or who cares about how, when, where, and with whom you have sex? No. So the term itself is dishonest, unless those who use it are willing to define what you mean when you use it.

Einstein's God is not your god, not if you're a regular church goer and you believe your god cares about whether your children masturbate or whether your neighbor's smoke. And not even if you believe your god is some intelligent creature somewhere out there, or a giant multiverse-existing termite who spits universes out of her bum - even that god is probably not Einstein's God.

It's retarded to come up with a new word (possibilian) that is dishonest on it's premise.

Atheists believe in possibilities as much as anyone. If theism were true. If your alien god existed. We'd happily or unhappily admit it. We'd be honest and admit it, if there were any reasonable evidence.

We will freely state what it will take for us to change our mind.

The same cannot be said of the committed theist.

And THAT is one key difference between atheism and theism, and the difference between our view and that of Eagleman's bogus disingenuous "possibilianism," that claims "we cannot know."

We can know. We do know. We will know. And we'll only know because of the hard work of scientists. Not because a charismatic charlatan decided he could a.) create an Evil Santa Claus God from Kolob who micromanages the sex lives of all adults & their children, and b.) simultaneously sleep with any woman he wanted (women still married to other men) and with 14 year olds.

By Jonathan

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ayn Rand: idiot darling of the libertarian right

Today I watched Ayn Rand being interviewed, as follows:


It's painful to listen to the lady: the person who brought us Alan Greenspan and the latest looting of the national treasury by thieves.

Here's some key responses:

Her point: Morals should only come from logic.

My response: Morals come from a combination of biology, genetics, and socialization. Her ideas on the issue are rather myopic and primitive.

Her point: We shouldn't care about or serve others, but rather only value them by whatever inherent value they happen to have.

My response: Usually only sociopaths have no interest in serving others or caring about the welfare of others, oh, and rich pig republicans also.

I can see why she's a darling of the right. And for the Jesus freak hordes who're part of the tea bagging community, you may as well realize that the leaders of your movement, of the movement, at Fox news, and in the circles of power for the right wing, these leaders view your faith in Jesus in a highly cynical way. They play you like pawns and chumps.

Rand was an atheist and so am I. But we've come a fair distance from the days when people thought that the best practice of all humanity was to act in a completely logical manner. It's not so much about atheism as it is about comprehension of what human nature is. Her views were warped and myopic.

Humans are emotional animals, emotional beings, with a chorus of needs that culminate, through genetics, biology, and socialization into a general consensus of what we tend to value.

It's both fascinating & disconcerting to hear the lady first hand, and to realize how her views tie directly into the recently raping of everyone in the U.S. by Wall Street bankers.

Here's a quote from Rand: "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." - from

My response: Well, partly right and partly wrong. No human has reason as an absolute, not even those who claim they do. Happiness comes from a combination of things including doing what you feel inclined to do balanced with service to others. Doing what you feel as engrained in you by biology and genetics, doing what you feel is right based on socialization, serving others (in part because we have a lust to do so, as per Dawkins, and so on).

Basically Rand is the love bunny of today's libertarians, the people who'd have us turn mountain tops and national parks over to rich snobs, and who'd do away with all tax funded social programs. Basically libertarians are fundamentalist-social-Darwinists, even though some of them also ironically reject evolution as a fact. They advocate very fervently for their views, in a highly religious type of way, that the highest moral premise is selfishness and to let everyone else burn. The rich man should live on the mountain top and the national park, because he's rich and he deserves to live there, so they would say.

Since liberals and conservatives have such a hard time understanding each other, maybe there's some genetic basis as to whether one turns out to be someone who sees value in caring for your fellow man or not. Those who would rather see the old and young die rather than have key social programs in place, such people deserve the medicine they shell out. Being a human requires a social contract, and those who break the contract don't deserve the fruits of it.

It's funny and sad to hear those, for example, complain about Obama-care or having Canadian or UK style health care, while at the same time just loving their own Medicare and so on. Old fart idiot hypocrites who're fooled by the cynical likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck - three incredibly selfish and mean children who have no place in civil society, and the fruits of libertarianism today.

After listening to the lady I felt like a bit of a rant.

Further reading:

And some more recent views on morality:

Sam Harris & the Moral Landscape:

Dawkins, and the lust to be altruistic (to be kind to others - something Rand thought was offensive):

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Michael Moore is not the keeper of my soul - re the killing of Osama

Here's what Michael Moore claims: America ‘Lost Something Of Our Soul’ In Killing Osama Bin Laden.

Here's my response:

Ok so here’s a related article by Christopher Hitchens which is critical of Moore over 9/11:

And here's my view of Moore: He's an idiot. Admittedly he’s an idiot who I have sometimes enjoyed watching, but still, his recent ruminations on CNN about Osama show that the ultra left in the US has largely becoming an apologist for theocratic human spirit destroying gender apartheid advocating Islam. I don’t much like the ultra right either (which is what all the leading figures in the repiglican party are nowadays).

I’ll just float out in the middle away from all the nut jobs.

Moore isn’t the keeper of my soul.

And another related post:

The position of Harris, Hitchens, and people like Pat Condell and myself are all similar: We’ve been in the “left” camp ourselves, but we have found ourselves pushed away from it by crap talk such as comes from the likes of Moore, Amy Goodman, and Noam Chomsky. But I’ll stay out of the nutjob Ron Paul / John Birch Society as well if it’s all the same to you though.

On a related note, here's good responses to the killing of Osama from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert:

And more from Harris:

And a new related article from Hitchens on Osama:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

links regarding the circumcision ban in San Francisco

Links about the movement against circumcision in San Francisco:

Utah cut funding for medicaid for circumcision, and the state's circ rate has dropped to 50%.

In the U.S. 66% of baby boys are now not circed.
Praise the Lord.

Oh, and for those who enjoy the works of that crazy charismatic gold digging cuckold creating womanizer we have: Moroni 8:8.

And for the other religions: - including Christian, Jewish, and Islamic views against circumcision.

San Francisco Circumcision Ban: I support it big time.

People are working to ban circumcision in San Francisco.

The truth hurts. What results in about 15 square inches of skin is ripped off of a little helpless boy. His sex life, and the sex lives of his future partners will be forever altered. Is turn about fair play in parenting? Should we do unto others what we've first done to ourselves? Wading into the mire of "this is not as bad as that type of argument," when we're talking about mutilation and abuse - that isn't healthy nor helpful. Screaming. Pain. Death. Permanent change. Nerve cutting. Yes, they're similar. Why does the phrase "I like people damaged and mutilated just like me" appear both in retrograde tribes, and also with the gay hipsters who run Q? Go figure. If you were deceived by a doctor into doing this to your sons, that's too bad. It's unfortunate that many mothers didn't see how such a thing could be damaging or to have some empathy about what might happen. Didn't they have bodies of their own to think about? "Hey, what if something like this was done to me?" Why didn't they think that?

I'm with Hitchens on this one.

My girlfriend was horrified when she learned of this practice. They don't do stuff like this where she is. So there's hope: Some humans don't do this to their kids. And even in Utah the circ rate is going down.