Tuesday, June 29, 2004

How to see further and clearer

Here is an essay from the late ( and incredibly great) Isaac Asimov written in roughly 1981. It proves we must stand on the shoulders of giants to see further. I say this because many in our world have not learned from the teachings of history. Compare Ronald Reagan's viewpoint to that of George W Bush's and you will we see we have not moved forward we have taken many steps backwards with the war in Iraq...

"The Reagan Doctrine"

Some time ago, Ronald Reagan pointed out that one couldn't trust the Soviet government because the Soviets didn't believe in God or in an afterlife and therefore had no reason to behave honorably, but would be willing to lie and cheat and do all sorts of wicked things to aid their cause. Naturally, I firmly believe that the president of the United States knows what he is talking about, so I've done my very best to puzzle out the meaning of that statement.

Let me begin by presenting this "Reagan Doctrine" (using the term with all possible respect): "No one who disbelieves in God and in an afterlife can possibly be trusted." If this is true (and it must be if the president says so), then people are just naturally dishonest and crooked and downright rotten. In order to keep them from lying and cheating every time they open their mouths, they must be bribed or scared out of doing so. They have to be told and made to believe that if they tell the truth and do the right thing and behave themselves, they will go to heaven and get to plunk a harp and wear the latest design in halos. They must also be told and made to believe that if they lie and steal and run around with the opposite sex, they are going to hell and will roast over a brimstone fire forever.

It's a little depressing, if you come to think of it. By the Reagan Doctrine, there is no such thing as a person who keeps his word just because he has a sense of honor. No one tells the truth just because he thinks that it is the decent thing to do. No one is kind because he feels sympathy for others, or treats others decently because he likes the kind of world in which decency exists.

Instead, according to the Reagan Doctrine, anytime we meet someone who pays his debts, or hands in a wallet he found in the street, or stops to help a blind man cross the road, or tells a casual truth — he's just buying himself a ticket to heaven, or else canceling out a demerit that might send him to hell. It's all a matter of good, solid business practice; a matter of turning a spiritual profit and of responding prudently to spiritual blackmail.

Personally, I don't think that I — or you — or even president Reagan — would knock down an old lady and snatch her purse the next time we're short a few bucks. If only we were sure of that heavenly choir, or if only we were certain we wouldn't get into that people-fry down in hell. But by the Reagan Doctrine, if we didn't believe in God and in an afterlife, there would be nothing to stop us, so l guess we all would.

But let's take the reverse of the Reagan Doctrine. If no one who disbelieves in God and in an afterlife can possibly be trusted, it seems to follow that those who do believe in God and in an afterlife can be trusted. Since the American government consists of god-fearing people who believe in an afterlife, it seems pretty significant that the Soviet Union nevertheless would not trust us any farther than they can throw an ICBM. Since the Soviets are slaves to godless communism, they would naturally think everyone else is as evil as they are. Consequently, the Soviet Union's distrust of us is in accordance with the Reagan Doctrine.

Yet there are puzzles. Consider Iran. The Iranians are a god-fearing people and believe in an afterlife, and this is certainly true of the mullahs and ayatollahs who comprise their government. And yet we are reluctant to trust them for some reason. President Reagan himself has referred to the Iranian leaders as "barbarians."

Oddly enough, the Iranians are reluctant to trust us, either. They referred to the ex-president (I forget his name for he is never mentioned in the media anymore) as the "Great Satan" and yet we all know that the ex-president was a born-again Christian.

There's something wrong here. God-fearing Americans and god-fearing Iranians don't trust each other and call each other terrible names. How does that square with the Reagan Doctrine?

To be sure, the God in whom the Iranians believe is not quite the God in whom we believe, and the afterlife they believe in is a little different from ours. There are no houris, alas, in our heaven. We call our system of belief Christianity and they call theirs Islam, and come to think of it, for something like twelve centuries, good Christians believed Islam was an invention of the devil and believers in Islam ("Moslems") courteously returned the compliment so that there was almost continuous war between them. Both sides considered it a holy war and felt that the surest way of going to heaven was to clobber an infidel. What's more, you didn't have to do it in a fair and honorable way, either. Tickets of admission just said, "Clobber!"

This bothers me a little. The Reagan Doctrine doesn't mention the variety of god or afterlife that is concerned. It doesn't indicate that it matters what you call God — Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, Zeus, Ishtar. I don't think that president Reagan meant to imply a Moslem couldn't trust a Shintoist or that a Buddhist couldn't trust a Parsee. I think it was just the godless Soviets he was after.

Yet perhaps he was just being cautious in not mentioning the fact that the variety of deity counted. But even if that were so there are problems.

For instance, the Iranians are Moslems and the Iraqis are Moslems. Both are certain that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet and believe it with all their hearts. And yet, at the moment, Iraq doesn't trust Iran worth a damn, and Iran trusts Iraq even less than that. In fact, Iran is convinced that Iraq is in the pay of the Great Satan (that's god-fearing America, in case you've forgotten) and Iraq counters with the accusation that it is Iran who is in the pay of the Great Satan. Neither side is accusing the godless Soviets of anything, which is a puzzle.

But then, you know, they are Moslems and perhaps we can't just go along with any old god. I can see why Reagan might not like to specify, since it might not be good presidential business to offend the billions of people who are sincerely religious but lack the good taste to be Christians. Still, just among ourselves, and in a whisper, perhaps the only people you can really trust are good Christians.

Yet even that raises difficulties. For instance, I doubt that anyone can seriously maintain that the Irish people are anything but god-fearing, and certainly they don't have the slightest doubts concerning the existence of an afterlife. Some are Catholics and some are Protestants, but both of these Christian varieties believe in the Bible and in God and in Jesus and in heaven and in hell. Therefore, by the Reagan Doctrine, the people of Ireland should trust each other.

Oddly enough, they don't. In Northern Ireland there has been a two-sided terrorism that has existed for years and shows no sign of ever abating. Catholics and Protestants blow each other up every chance they get and there seems to be no indication of either side trusting the other even a little bit.

But then, come to think of it, Catholics and Protestants have had a thing about each other for centuries. They have fought each other, massacred each other, and burned each other at the stake. And at no time was this conflict fought in a gentlemanly, let's-fight-fair manner. Any time you caught a heretic or an idolater (or whatever nasty name you wanted to use) looking the other way, you sneaked up behind him and bopped him and collected your ticket to heaven.

We can't even make the Reagan Doctrine show complete sense here in the United States. Consider the Ku Klux Klan. They don't like the Jews or the Catholics, but then, the Jews don't accept Jesus and the Catholics do accept the Pope, and these fine religious distinctions undoubtedly justify distrust by a narrow interpretation of the Reagan Doctrine. The Protestant Ku Klux Klan can only cotton to Protestants.

Blacks, however, are predominantly Protestant, and of southern varieties, too, for that is where their immediate ancestors learned their religion. Ku Kluxers and Blacks have very similar religions and therefore even by a narrow interpretation of the Reagan Doctrine should trust each other. It is difficult to see why they don't.

What about the Moral Majority? They're absolute professionals when it comes to putting a lot of stock in God and in an afterlife. They practice it all day, apparently. Naturally, they're a little picky. One of them said that God didn't listen to the prayers of a Jew. Another refused to share a platform with Phyllis Schlafly, the moral majority's very own sweetheart, because she was a Catholic. Some of them don't even require religious disagreements, just political ones. They have said that one can't be a liberal and a good Christian at one and the same time so that if you don't vote right, you are going straight to hell whatever your religious beliefs are. Fortunately, at every election they will tell you what the right vote is so that you don't go to hell by accident.

Perhaps we shouldn't get into the small details, though. The main thing is that the Soviet Union is Godless and, therefore, sneaky, tricky, crooked, untrustworthy, and willing to stop at nothing to advance their cause. The United States is god-fearing and therefore forthright, candid, honest, trustworthy, and willing to let their cause lose sooner than behave in anything but the most decent possible way.

It bothers the heck out of me therefore that there's probably not a country in the world that doesn't think the United States, through the agency of the CIA and its supposedly underhanded methods, has upset governments in Guatemala, Chile, and Iran (among others), has tried to overthrow the Cuban government by a variety of economic, political, and even military methods, and so on. In every country, you'll find large numbers who claim that the United States fought a cruel and unjust war in Vietnam and that it is the most violent and crime-ridden nation in the world.

They don't seem to be impressed by the fact that we're god-fearing.

Next they'll be saying that Ronald Reagan (our very own president) doesn't know what he's talking about."

BTW This was copied fromwww.randi.org, the original can be found here (I hope i'm not infringing on anyone's copyright ??!!)

Cars - Toys or Transportation

As of late I cannot get cars out of my head. For some reason its been dominating my thoughts. Here's my situation I have a 2002 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE V6, loaded to the max with 5 speed transmission. It's got 4 doors but it is faster then stink, actually it's stupid fast, it corners incredibly well. It has a huge interior, huge trunk and it is one of the best looking family cars on the market. But I guess there is where lies the problem with this car it is a big family car. I do not have a family, well not per se, I do not have kids or stollers or the bitchy wife. I have a family but that consists of a girl friend named chuck (click here for her blog) and a dog named ender (click here for his blog). There is just something about the car that chuck and I just don't like, we cannot put our finger on it but its always there naggin us. My definition of a great car is a small compact made in japan with a high revving 4 cyclinder engine with 4 wheel independent suspension, a tight firm ride, 5 speed transmission and 9000 rpm redline. Luckily I also have one of those! We have a 1995 Acura Integra RS as well, that has been heavily modified. I dropped a 95 JDM H22A engine and tranny in her and had her custom tuned. The teg is one hell of a blast to drive, it has loads of torque and plenty of high revving fury to put a smile on your face. The problem with it is it delivers its boat loads of fun with a very rough edge, it is loud and because we had to shoe horn the engine in the engine bay the engine is almost completely hard mounted which sends vibrations all through the car and did I mention it is loud? So for long journeys it is not the ideal car.

Recently we(mainly I) have been pondering why not get rid of the altima and get a car that fits closer to our ideal car yet still offers some levels of creature comforts that are superior to the teg? There in lies the big problem, what to buy? First I guess some criteria of what kind of car I(we) like, it must be Japanese or German, it must have 4 cylinders, it must have 4 wheel independent suspension or as close as possible, it must have comparable performance to the altima, it must have a 5 speed manaul transmission and it must have room for ender (my co-pilot), it should have 2 doors although on the right car 4 doors is acceptable, it must have good build and fit and finsih quality. And overall it must have good gas mileage.

So here is a short list of what we are considering:

  • Mazda 3 Sport GT
  • Fits pretty nicely with our specs, costs about $23000 fully loaded with leather, and has things that lexus and mercedez do not such as steering wheel mounted audio controls and electonic brake force distribution
  • Acura RSX Type S
  • Not a bad performer, excellent quality, good interior room but not as much as the Mazda 3, very expensive for what you get, when all said and done it will be $34000, and has no bell and whistles just a basic car really.
  • Mercedez C230 Coupe Kompressor
  • Not sure of the quality, Mercedez quality has been nose diving for years, it is a rear wheel drive which tweaks my interest but has lower performance numbers then any of the front wheel drive cars we are considering. It is the slowest of all the cars we are considering, it is the only car that is not naturally aspirated (higher maintenance costs). It is the worse on gas considering it is a 1.8l four cylinder. Roughly $38,000
  • Lexus IS 300
  • Very nice car, clean styling, incredible fit and finish and excellent quality. Performance is less then breath taking although competent (The mazda 3 is faster). It is rear wheel drive but again has worse cornering performance then the front wheel drive cars we are considering. Well apointed interior but lacks steering wheel audio controls (what kind of sick bastard sells a $45,000 luxury car without steering wheel mounted audio controls?) Very small interior space, back seat does not fold down or flat, it has a small trunk pass through. the most expensive of the bunch at $45,000
  • BMW 1 Series
  • At this point we have only seen pictures of these cars and they look similar to the Mazda 3 Sport but not as nice. My estimate at this point in time is that it will not have good acceleration will handle poorly like the 3 series (except for the M3) and will probably cost too much for what you get. I would like just one auto magazine to put the BMW 3 series up aginst a Honda Prelude, they will never pick the 3 series.
  • Honda Civic SI & SIR
  • hahaha what a joke, Honda were they having a sale on Crack Cocaine when you guys were redesigning it? It looks bland, its performance is bland, its technology is bland not to mention way too over priced base price is $4000 higher then the Mazda 3 Sport GT and lacks half the features. This is not the civic the world knew and loved.

    That's it what would you pick?

    Monday, June 28, 2004

    Music, Music, Music -

    Sometimes I feel, like I'm living my life on cruise control, getting up in the morning, shower, go to work, put my head down, 5 o'clock lift my head and drive home, eat dinner, then a small activity usually trivial like washing my car or tweaking something here or there on the car or perhaps a few rounds of killing people then its time for bed again usually with no fond memories. This goes on for weeks on end but I'll get back to this shortly.

    I absolutely despise the radio, not for what it is I actually love what it is (technologically speaking), I despise it because of how people use it or maybe its always been that way. You could have the best band/music/song it doesn't matter unless the very few people who hold the reigns decide to put it on the radio you will never hear it. You poor fool, like something that's maybe a little edgy or "different", ha ha fuck you you're not going hear it. Anyways I guess if you like the music that is played on popular radio today I guess you really will not be able to relate to me on this. And let's face it people do listen to the radio and do like what they hear. About a year ago I got a job that is roughly 60 kilometers from where I live, which translates into roughly an hour and half driving each way. In that time I have a lot of time to listen to music yet I get so frustrated that I turned entirely to listening to the CBC news or my CD collection. Frustrated that they keep regurgitate the same stuff over and over again most of which I don't care for. So why do I get so frustrated? I'm not sure, there really isn't much of a solution I'm afraid. If you were to take what is being played on the radio and replace it with stuff that isn't being played on the radio you really aren't fixing anything your just pissing the people off that currently like what's on the radio. Why can't they simply play more selection then the same 40 songs over and over again? Or have selected shows that offer more variety then what is currently offered? I'm not sure but I think people will say "tried that and it didn't work" but I have never seen it tried.

    Back in 1997 I toyed with internet radio stations, this seemed rather promising but to my horror most internet radio stations at least the ones I could find were no different then the analog radio stations I could find on my analog radio. That was the end of that. Damn it.

    I got bored back in February and decided to do a google search on the term "Industrial" which happens to be my favourite genre of music. After some useless page hits I found a link to a Toronto internet radio station, tuned in and was blown away! Music I actually liked and not just one song here or there but many many songs in a row and new music too, music from bands I have never heard of. Back to my boring life, I felt like someone just turned the cruise control off and let me live a little. I cannot explain how a little "good" music has made me come alive at least when I'm listening to it. So newly invigorated I did more searches and found www.shoutcast.com which I'm sure many people already know about but it's a great place to find internet radio stations of any genre. Now I just need a way to get these internet radio stations in my car. Anyone for helping me setup a streaming service of internet content to mobile devices???? Anyone played with Satellite radio? Is it any better or just more of the same?

    For the more adventurous here is a cool song (with lyrics) check it out, you might like it Wolfsheim - She Said

    Monday, June 14, 2004

    The Generation 2 Integra Club: G2IC.COM 1990-1993 Model Honda/Acura Integra

    If you have an Acura Integra and you're into modding it, check out this site.

    The Generation 2 Integra Club: G2IC.COM 1990-1993 Model Honda/Acura Integra

    Saturday, June 12, 2004

    Ever wonder how ridiculous belief sounds to the non-believer?

    I am not a believer, I like to think of myself as a thinker. I know that even as a critical thinker I still hold beliefs. For example I have a belief that all laws and rules should be secular. An example is in many parts of the world, homesexuals cannot be married, why is this? Well because many of the laws pertaining to this were made strictly from a belief perspective and not a secular perspective. If these rules/laws were made on a secular basis all human beings including homosexuals would be treated equal. Why would they be treated equal you might ask? Because they are human beings just like everyone else and there is nothing save their sexual orientation that makes them different and I had hardly classify that as "different". Every rule or law should go through a simple test, here is the test and answers for same sex marriage.

    Should same sex partners be allowed to legally marry?

    Question 1
  • Q How does this affect the individuals involved?
  • A It would allow the individuals to be accepted in the society they are a part of, it would make them a level citizen and in summary would be good for them.

    Question 2
  • Q How does this affect the individuals that are not involved?
  • A It does not affect them in the least, this does not interfere with non-participants nor does it diminish anything that non-participants currently have.

    Question 3
  • Q How does this affect the society as a whole?
  • A This would bring positive changes to the society as a whole. All citizens of the society would benefit because a level of tolerance for differences would be introduced and re-enforced. More tolerance equals less hate crimes less crimes mean less wasted money on policing, health care, support services and a happier population as a whole. A happier, healthier society means a more productive society.

    Conclusion: Same sex marriages should be allowed legally everywhere in the world.

    The above test is an over simplification however what I am trying to illustrate is that I believe a secular system is better then a non-secular system. It is truly a belief but it has some seemingly critical thinking to back up that belief. Unfortunately many believe simply for the sake of believing and do not apply any critical thinking to that belief. The following article on www.jref.org is a rather humorous example of when one persons belief gets out of hand. The Fabulous QXCI Quack Machine

  • Friday, June 11, 2004

    4 wheels, some steel, some wood and whole lot o'concrete

    without getting into my current age let me just say its been 12 years since I have seriously did some skateboarding. I keep wondering why so long? I have heard other people talking about other sports saying it is their "source", I love many other sports and am actively involved in other sports but to me skateboarding truly is my source. When I was in the 8th grade (mid eighties) a classmate came to school with a skateboard that had a wood deck, when I saw it my eyes nearly came out of my head. It looked completely foreign to me. Up to that point a skateboard to me was a toy made of plastic with a skinny deck and roller skate wheels. I had boat loads of fun as a kid playing with these toys. But seeing a "pro" skateboard or at least a modern interpretation of the skateboard really made my mind race. My classmate was and is one of the better people who walk on the face of this earth and luckily he let me ride it. It was an awkward first ride to say the least but it definitely sealed the deal for me, I had to have one at any and all costs. Now my family was and continues to be to this day very poor and to make matters worse my father had recently retired from his factory job to a very meager pension and was in very poor health, so simply going to my parents and asking for a $200 skateboard was simply ignorant and rude, but being the asshole that I was(is) I did and it was futile and I regret it to this day. Even if my parents could afford it there is no way in hell they would simply dump that kind of money on a brat like me. $200 was about one third of our entire family monthly income and that monthly income had to feed, cloth, house and transport 4 adults and 2 teen agers. Bleak were my chances. Luckily I was just old enough to work, and even luckier I got a summer job corn de-tassling. I have many fond memories of my first real job but the best memory of all is getting a $400 cheque at the end of the summer. Woohoo... Well to keep the story short that first ride my classmate let me have on his real skateboard, was truly my defining moment. It changed my life forever, I know that for sure. It has changed me physically, mentally, emotionally. I cannot sum up how much skateboarding has changed me. I guess by change I mean it has shaped me or rather sculpted me into what I am today. I am not sure quite what I am but I know I would not be where I am today without skateboarding. that's it for today but I am going to continue the history of the stick another day.

    in the beginning....

    I've known about blogs and blogging for quite a while, actually too long now. I personally love the idea however I am not certain as to how much I will actually post. By that I don't mean at what frequency will I post, I mean how many of my thoughts will actually make it to the keyboard. This is truly is a test for me as I have never been one for expressing how I truly feel on any given subject. Although some feel I am too quick to reveal and bore them with my opines, I never or rarely really let the inner thoughts out. I welcome whoever is bored enough to try reading my posts, those who know me email me your thoughts and urls.

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