American Airlines and the Mile High Club

29 09 2006

The New Yorker has a piece about American Airlines’ anti kissing policy. 

Apperently a gay couple were told not to kiss or touch during the flight or the plane would be diverted.

One AA spokesman said that they would have been told that had they have been gay or straight, while another said that straight couples were not told they could not kiss.  The AA spokesman said that they have a responsability to make their customers comfortable.  That’s bull.  They have a responsability to get their customers from point A to point


The Politics of Dehumanization

29 09 2006

The NYT had an interesting articleabout the political ramifications of the senate’s passing of the detainee bill that would allow the government to hold enemy combatants without charge indefinitely, use questionable interrogation methods, and keep evidence from them.

While the article is interesting as we go into the election season – what we need to see is the actual result this bill will have on human lives.

“I think most Americans would agree that if somebody is held they should at least be able to respond to the charges,” said Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois. “The fact we don’t have that is something that, over time, Americans are going to be embarrassed about.”

While Sen. Obama has the right sentiment, I for one hope that in the future, when we’re lucky enough to look back at this with hindsight, we are not embarrassed – we should be ashamed and disgraced.  This bill does not just represent another political defeat for the democrats, it represents the current administrations complete disregard for basic human rights.

Supposed ‘protection from terrorism’ is important.  But what is it really worth?  Our dignity?  Our morality? 

I should hope not.

An Atheistic View of Morality

28 09 2006

So someone sent me a link to a pdf file of a 112 page document entitled, The Bible of the Good and Moral Atheist.  While I haven’t even begun to read the thing, one phrase early on made me think.

All morality begins and ends with sympathy.

In a society where the religious right is gaining more and more ground and atheists are still looked upon as amoral, it is good to remind ourselves that some morality begins and ends with sympathy.

Empathy does not belong soley to the religious.  Empathy is part of the human condition and is partly responsible for allowing humans to live in societies.  Partly responsible.

I do not think that sympathy is 100% responsible for morality.  Some morality comes from good ole fashioned genetics.  Richard Dawkins explored this in his book The Selfish Gene and Howard Bloom went into it in The Lucifer Principle.

Through evolution our brains are still hardwired to operate in certain ways.  Let’s take the example of our need to propagate the species.  This genetic need makes us behave in ways that are both selfish and selfless.  We want to make sure our offspring survive, and we’ll do almost anything to ensure this.  But we also know that unless we are able to peacefully interact with others, our offspring may not stand a chance.

This concept is true in many ways.  I am sure that you’re able to think of a few ways that you behave ‘morally’ for completely selfish reasons.  I’m not punching that stranger in the face because I sympathize with the pain he will be in, but because I don’t want to be punched back.

You don’t need to be afraid of divine retribution – there is enough immediate incentive to act morally.  In most cases, what’s good for the group is ultimately good for you.

And no, I am not, nor have ever been, a member of the communist party.  Kinda.

Throwing Away the Key

28 09 2006

Today the Senate shot down a proposed amendment to the Detainee Bill that would have allowed detainee’s to be treated like humans.

“What this bill would do is take our civilization back 900 years,” to before the adoption of the writ of habeas corpus in medieval England, Senator Specter said.

Mr. Leahy said the bill as written would allow the executive branch to hold any lawful immigrant in the United States indefinitely without charge. “We are about to put the darkest blot on the conscience of the nation,” he said, charging that the push for quick passage was purely for political gain.

You know something is serious when I agree with Arlen Specter.  I honestly can’t believe that the US House or Senate would pass a bill that would give the Executive branch the power to ignore basic civil liberties and international conventions.

Link to NYT article.

Atheistic Quotes

27 09 2006

I came across this excellent list of atheistic quotes.  Here’s a small sample:

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.  -George Bernard Shaw

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus

Those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities. – Voltaire

 A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. – Albert Einstein

My God’s Better than Yours!

27 09 2006

Type in “Richard Dawkins” in YouTube and you get a treasure of interesting videos.

In one of the interviews, he refers to the bible as “tribal mythology”.  Which makes you think.  What is the difference between Christianity, Islam, Hindu, et al.?  All of them come to us today from books, from oral mythology.  How can you accept the christian story rather than the Hindu story?  Because of what tribe you come from, what stories your people have told you since childhood.  If you were born in India you’d probably be Hindu and think Christianity is just as silly as you think Hinduism is now.

Stephen Roberts once said, “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

I would like to know why a religious person knows that they’re religion is true.  What is more compelling about Jesus than Krishna?  If you can dismiss one of them, why can’t you dismiss them all?  Please respond, that’s an honest question.

Cracking Down on Sinus Relief!

26 09 2006

It’s 1:37 and I should be at work.  Instead my head is pounding, my nose is running, and I’m standing in an aisle of the supermarket vainly trying to find the Advil.  Fast-forward to 15 minutes later.  I’m walking out of the supermarket, Advil in hand, and I think to myself “Sweet Jesus – it just took me 15 minutes to buy Advil.”

Colorado is cracking down on drugs that could potentially be used to make methamphetamine.  Apparently my favorite brand of cold medicine is one of those.  The saga grew to epic proportions when I wrote my name and address on the form on the clipboard and the guy say that I wrote a Colorado address and that I had an Oregon ID.  After a whispered conversation with his suprivisor he took my ID and the clipboard back to a computer and spent five minutes typing.

When he came back I was expecting him to want me to pee in a cup or something – but instead he just had me pay. 

Now I see that when all is said and done this wasn’t that big of a deal.  But I say: “DEAR GOD I JUST WANT TO BUY ADVIL!”  As far as thwarting drug makers go, I think this is stupid.  They’ll find a way.  A counter is not going to stop them. 

If nothing else I’m thinking about selling my left over Advil on the street – $5 in the store – 50 bones on the street!