[ a fully caused & embodied blog ] [ Good Sense Without God ]
It is in the prosecution of some single object, and in striving to reach its accomplishment by the combined application of his moral and physical energies, that the true happiness of man, in his full vigour and development, consists. Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with repose; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm our eyes. If we consider the position of man in the universe,—if we remember the constant tendency of his energies towards some definite activity, and recognize the influence of surrounding nature, which is ever provoking him to exertion, we shall be ready to acknowledge that repose and possession do not indeed exist but in imagination. - Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Repubs -- Yuck!

Kansas GOP is proud of caging!

To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Humanist News Network: Interviews with the "New Atheists"

In this month's audio podcast we celebrate our program's two-year anniversary by interviewing Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens. HNN's Duncan Crary interviewed these best-selling authors, a.k.a. "The New Atheists", at the Atheist Alliance International annual conference in September. At the conference, Harris, author of "The End of Faith," told the crowd that they should not identify with the atheist label. Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens react. So does the Rational Response Squad and Pastor Deacon Fred of the Landover Baptist Church. Also, Sweet Reason gives advice on "coming out" as an atheist.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tally: Week of Nov. 23 - 29, 2007

Letters Received: 575
Letters Published: 71

Most Popular Topic: Iraq War
Number of Letters: 60
Opposed: 56
Supported: 4

Second Most Popular Topic: The now-dead proposal to rename a Portland street after Cesar Chavez
Letters: 57

Good Sense Without God - Paul D'Holbach

50. If God be infinite, he has much less relation with man, than man with ants. Would the ants reason pertinently concerning the intentions, desires, and projects of the gardener? Could they justly imagine, that a park was planted for them alone, by an ostentatious monarch, and that the sole object of his goodness was to furnish them with a superb residence? But, according to theology, man is, with respect to God, far below what the vilest insect is to man. Thus, by theology itself, which is wholly devoted to the attributes and views of the Divinity, theology appears a complete folly.

( See link at top right. )

Friday, November 23, 2007

More on Terrorists

More eduction on who/what terrorists are.

Reinhard on Waterboarding & Response

David Reinhard offers yet another humanitarian column:

First, if all waterboarding is torture, why does the U.S. government waterboard its own folks in survival training programs?

. . .

Second, if it's torture, why didn't Congress say so when the issue came up in 2005.

. . .

Does it qualify as torture under some other U.S. law? As former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out in a crack National Review Online article, our criminal code defines torture as a government act "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering," with "severe" meaning "prolonged mental harm." Waterboarding could qualify if done repeatedly. "But," he asks, "what about doing it once, twice, or some number of instances that were not prolonged or extensive?"

. . .

Yes, what about this limited use when the time bomb is ticking and thousands of American lives are at stake? If your answer is "Yes, whatever it takes," you're in line with the public. In a Pew Research Center poll, 12 percent said torture (not waterboarding, general torture) was sometimes justified to gain critical information; 31 percent said it was often justified.

  1. Uh ... maybe they do it in a military program called "Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape", to uh you know, learn how to evade, resist and escape? Stooopid.
  2. Maybe because the Republicans were in the majority in Congress in 2005?
  3. This is just dumb. If you are going to use waterboarding "once, twice, or some number" then it is just sadistic. Making such a policy simply means the 'bad guys' know all they have to do is hold out.
  4. Reinhard's math skill are in line with the rest of his cognitive abilities. "In line with the public" means 12 + 31 = 43% of the public.

How about a video response from someone who ought to know?

Victor Stenger: Faith and Freethought Interview

Author of God: The Failed Hypothesis

Lectures on Terrorists

Here are three Youtube videos of a lecture on terrorists from AAI 2007. Educate yourself.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tally: Week of Oct. 19 - 25, 2007

Letters Received: 712
Letters Published: 80

Most Popular Topic: Oregon's Measure 49
Number of Letters: 96
'Yes' on 49: 57
'No' on 49: 34
No position: 5

Next Most Popular Topics:
Oregon's Measure 50: 67 letters
Bicyclists/traffic safety: 61 letters

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dinesh D'Souza is an idiot.

D'Souza, in the King's College debate, really has no clue what science is.

He says:

... Modern science itself is based on three Christian assumptions that are at root metaphysical.

Assumption number one: The universe as a whole is rational. The universe embodies rationality. ... that matter and objects and planets embody a certain kind of rationality they follow rational principles.

. . .

Number two: The universe obeys laws that are comprehensible in the language of mathematics. ... How does matter obey laws? How does the electron know what to do? ... It follows the laws of Newton's inverse square law, it obeys Einstein's laws.

. . .

A third one: The laws out there in nature are mirrored by the goings-on in my minds. We can apprehnd and understand the laws. Very odd. Why should the goingson within our head match the goings-on in the universe?

Now if you are ...

a scientist or have any knowledge about science, the statements: "How does matter obey laws?" or "matter ... follow[s] rational principles" are at best meaningless, perhaps only ignorant, but more likely stupid.

Matter - electrons - do NOT "obey" Einstein's laws! (And even better, they did not stop obeying Newton's laws once Einstein formulated his!) Scientific laws, theories, etc. are simply our predictive descriptions in a way we can understand, ie.&eg. mathematics. They are not reality! At most, scientists will admit, at times (see Popper), that hypotheses are at best our guess at reality. But in reality, a theory or law is simply our model that seems to work. Nothing more.

What a maroon!

Oh come on!

People! Duh!: "House Panel Screw-Up Reveals Whistleblower Email Addresses Honestly", email is no way to do anything secretly. Why is this lost on people? Computers track everything! EVERYTHING!

(Right Paul? Send me an email if you want. I have been wondering about you -- and everyone else -- too.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Work & Design Philosophy

As I wrote in this post I have recently been very motivated. Motivated in a personal development sense. I hope to write more, but the short version is that I needed to get out of my then current position at work.

So I started looking externally. And in doing so I felt I need to be able to present myself. In fact, I want(ed) to present me as a person and as a programmer so I made some serious improvements to my website.

But, I eventually found an internal opportunity that I hope will pan out. My old boss, though, wanted to know if I might explain why I wanted to leave his team and the department. So I wrote this little story.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vader Youtube Clip

Sure it is an internet meme with a half-life of .. oh .. already over. But still funny!

[Hat-tip Joshua!]

Sunday, October 14, 2007

PrjPlanner: My Open-Source Python project

I recently have been spending a lot of time feature enhancing and updating documentation for my open-source project: PrjPlanner. PrjPlanner is a project management tool for developers and small teams, hopefully ideal in an Agile methodology.

Well, I just released 1.1.0 -- a major feature enhancement release. I also announced on freshmeat.net.

Doing this project has taught me a lot. Not about the technologies used: Python, Qt, XML, but about myself. This is the most fun I have ever had programming. I have loved using the open-source community's resources (SourceForge, freshmeat). I love writing the documentation for the tool, especially the page on my Agile project management philosophy. I love the idea that today (Oct. 14th) PrjPlanner's website has been hit 829 times for a total of 220 pages! Who are these people?! Have they downloaded the tool and used it? What do they think? And why will they not leave a message in the forum!!?!

But, I was not motivated to work on PrjPlanner because it is fun, but because I have not enjoyed my day job for a long time. And so I began looking elsewhere. Doing so was the motivation behind this work and other efforts. [to be continued]

Purpose of this Blog

Well, when I started I hoped I could be similar (pale of course) to political bloggers such as: Atrios, Glenn, Arthur, etc. But I also have other interests that I could blog about but I have not because I thought this blog was not going to be a personal blog. Of course, I have already made non-political posts, but still I was filtering. Not anymore; hope you do not mind.

Hillary Clinton: Bad for Iraqis, Iranians, Americans and Democrats

This drove me to write this post.

Hillary voted for the Iraq invasion, each subsequent funding request, and the belligerent Senate resolution on Iran.

It should be extremely clear to anyone. Do not vote for Hillary.

Her Iraq related votes:

Her Iran related vote and statements:

Other voices:
Arthur Silber
Chris Floyd

Tally: Week of Oct. 5 - 11, 2007

Letters Received: 661
Letters Published: 80

Most Popular Topic: The Bush administration
Number of Letters: 72
Oppose: 69
Support: 3

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Iran, the Downfall of America & More

Culled from various sites:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why Republicanism is an Unholy Crock of Shit

David Vitter (R-La) attempts to spend our money on bullshit science:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.
. . .
"This program helps supplement and support educators and school systems that would like to offer all of the explanations in the study of controversial science topics such as global warming and the life sciences," Vitter said in a written statement.

If you are Republican and offended by both my name-calling AND what Vitter has done, why are you a Republican anyway?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

George Carlin on America's Owners

Keeping up-to-date on Iran

I recommend these sites:

Indicators on the Road to War with Iran -- The Rumors

Then there are the rumors about impending war:

Indicators on the Road to War with Iran

First, here is a previous post on the topic. Some links are repeated here.

But a summary so far:
There are a number of CIA analysts and others who feel war to be imminent:
And, of course the neo-cons want it:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Maha says impeachment would mean an exoneration

Nat Hentoff ("History Will Not Absolve Us") provides another corrective to Maha's reluctant support for impeachment.

Update: Maha was not too happy with me (see comments). Is this headline any better? "Maha says an almost certain/highly likely failed impeachment means an exoneration"

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Robert Ingersoll on "Republicanism"

While I have a link in my blog roll to my old blog, there are only 8 posts over there. If I would like anyone to read any of them, this one would be it.

Robert Ingersoll is an American figure everyone ought to know and have read (like Jefferson and Paine).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tally: Week of Aug. 17-23

Received: 612 Published: 76

Most Popular Topic: The Bush Administration - 73
Opposed 70
Support 3

Second Most Popular Topic: Iraq war - 60

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Letter on David Reinhard's: There are defeatists, and then there is Brian Baird

"There are defeatists, and then there is Brian Baird" was a commentary by David Reinhard about pretty much anyone who feels the Iraq Invasion has and can only fail and Representative Baird's recent trip to Iraq in which he finds both hope and a reason to stay forever.

Here was my letter:

In David Reinhard's latest absurdity ('There are defeatists, and then there is Brian Baird', Aug. 23), he convinces no one of the notion that he is either sorry for nor will refrain from "partisan name-calling". It is certainly not "defeatist" to recognize reality, as evidenced in the latest National Intelligence Estimate which notes that the "steep escalation of rates of violence has been checked for now" leaving Iraq with a best a flat rate of violence in which easily over 1500 Iraqi civilians are killed each month -- hooray! Since it is certain that US troops will kill more civilians, children among them, a "truth-telling simple descriptor" of David Reinhard and other 'succeedists' such as Baird would be: 'Child-killers'.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Michael Cohen still does not get it

After his run in with various blogs (here, here, and here) Michael wonders when exactly does he get to kill a bunch of other people?

He never mentions international law and mentions the UN in passing as one of those "multilateral" possibilities that justify aggression. It is left up to his commenters to bring this up.

I think Article 51 is unambiguous:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

I think it is obvious that there must be an on-going/active attack. Not one that happened 6 years ago. Sorry, but 9/11 can not justify any current action -- such as, say, Obama's theories about Pakistan.

Dan Kervick comments, that Michael says he agrees with, does not fall within Article 51:

If my neighbor is shooting at my house, I am entitled to shoot back. If my neighbor goes out onto his lawn, loads his gun and takes aim at my house in a deliberate and aggressive manner, I am also entitled to shoot back. That's preemption: once it is reasonably clear that an attack is about to take place or is under preparation, I need not wait for the first blow to be struck.

The first sentence falls within Article 51. The second sentence is completely wrong. The UN and other treaties of the time were created with WWII in mind. State aggression outside of self-defense under an active attack is meant to be forbidden to states; and state aggression is designated as a war crime. All as a response to WWII.

Michael says:

... but we have to recognize that there may be times and places where it is appropriate and where America must defend its national security.


... while also recognizing that in exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to act preemptively - say for example the takeover of Pakistan and its nukes by Islamic extremists.

This is the same sort of justification pro-torturists make.

And finally this:

Shoot first and ask questions later is not a good way to run a national security policy and frankly is out of mainstream of our nation's history.

Which Arthur has sufficiently (already) responded to (and this series).

Friday, July 27, 2007

What is his point?

I was thinking more about David Kane's paper on Roberts' Iraq mortality study published in the Lancet and wondering what is his point?

Well, here it is:
When including Falluja, it is impossible to have a precise estimate of post-invasion mortality. [p 3]

Yet excluding Falluja is not “conservative.” In fact, including this cluster — i.e., using all the available data — generates a result with such a wide confidence interval that the reported increase in Iraqi mortality becomes statistically insignificant. [p 5]

From the calculations above, it is impossible to be 95% confident that there was an increase in mortality. The lower bound of the confidence interval for the relative risk can not be 1.6, as reported in L1. It must be much lower. [last paragraph]
The goal it seems is to show that the study is wrong. And what is the motivation to show that it is wrong? Yummy soup indeed!

Sampling Soup: Iraq and the Lancet Study

In regard to this debate of the study by Roberts el al. in 2004, I will weigh in with a modification of an analogy I ran into somewhere. By the way, I have ZERO expertise in statistics soooo ... fortunately this is my blog and I can play one if I wanna! grin!

Somewhere at some point someone (hahaha!) suggested that sampling and polling and the like are similar to a cook taking a spoonful of their well-stirred soup to determine how it tastes. Assuming cooks do this and it works it seems just as amazing as deriving large conclusions from "such a small sample".

Well, to continue with and extend this metaphor to the study and Iraq. Imagine Iraq as a large pot of soup at a rolling boil. Now, you decide to take a couple of samples from various locations within the pot; not necessarily just with a spoon from the top but say you drop in your thimble-on-a-string and pull it up and taste it.

Now say that you get five samples this way. One tastes almost passable, three taste really bad and the fifth one tastes truly beyond horrible. What is the "taste mean"? Taste standard deviation? What do you think the soup tastes like "overall"? What about the "truly beyond horrible" sample? Is it an outlier? Do we throw it out? Do we have a large confidence interval? If so and we add in the outlier, does that increase our confidence interval? So much so, that maybe large portions of the soup actually taste quite yummy!?!
Anyway, probably does not make any sense or have any relation to reality, but it was fun coming up with anyway!!


Awww! Poor O'Reilly. This is a study in Bill O'Reilly's propagandistic techniques:

This study updates methods of communication analysis popular in the period between the world wars in an effort to analyze news commentator Bill O’Reilly’s ‘‘Talking Points Memo’’ editorials. The results show that O’Reilly is a heavier and less nuanced user of the seven devices developed by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in the late 1930s than the notorious radio commentator of that time, Father Charles Coughlin. O’Reilly also employs other propaganda techniques, identified by Lasswell, Berelson and Janowitz. This includes ample use of fear appeals and the construction of the battle between good and evil. The most evil villains in O’Reilly’s world are illegal aliens, terrorists, and foreigners because they are apparently a physical and moral threat to the United States. Slightly less evil -- but unambiguously bad -- are groups (media, organizations, politicians) who share a political leaning to the left. On the other side, the virtuous flank emerged as an all-American crew made up of the military, criminal justice system, Bush administration, and ordinary US citizens.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Anyone else notice?

Jon Stewart during his talk with Bill Moyers:

Bill Moyers: So, has it been within that period of time that you made this you wouldn't recognize it, but we recognize it, transformation from the stand-up comic to a serious social and political critic?

Jon Stewart: I don't consider myself a serious and social political critic.

Bill Moyers: But I do. And I'm your audience.

Jon Stewart: Yes, and I end up with one of your tote bags. But the important thing is, that I guess I don't spend any time thinking about what I am or what we do means. I spend my time doing it. And, I think that's I- I'm not trying to be modest of self-deprecating or in any way trying to do that.

Bill Moyers: Maybe you don't know why...

Jon Stewart: I'm just trying to tell you- I focus on the task and try and do it as best we can. And we're constantly evolving it, because it's my way of trying to make sense of all these ambivalent feelings I have.

Link: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/050107C.shtml

Hansel from Zoolander:

I wasn't like every other kid, you know, who dreams about being an astronaut, I was always more interested in what bark was made out of on a tree. Richard Gere's a real hero of mine. Sting. Sting would be another person who's a hero. The music he's created over the years, I don't really listen to it, but the fact that he's making it, I respect that. I care desperately about what I do. Do I know what product I'm selling? No. Do I know what I'm doing today? No. But I'm here, and I'm gonna give it my best shot.

Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0196229/quotes

Letter on David Reinhard's: A surge of information to counter the defeatocrats, Thur 26th 2007

"A surge of information to counter the defeatocrats" was a commentary by David Reinhard about Bush's latest attempt to justify the Iraq fiasco.

Here was my letter:

What was thuglican David Reinhard's point in his July 26th opinion "A surge of information to counter the defeatocrats"? Is it that Bush is taking propagandistic advice from Osama bin Laden in framing the war in Iraq as the "third world war"? Or is it to prove correct the assertion of critics when he informs us that "in 2004 [Zarqawi] pledged allegiance to bin Laden" finally giving al-Qaida any real sort of "presence" or "prestige" in Iraq and thereby putting the lie to al-Qaida as a justification for the invasion? Really, what is the point to David Reinhard?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Letter on two opinion pieces, Sun July 22nd 2007

"Hateful, insulting, unpatriotic - and so very Portland" by David Reinhard and "Bumper-sticker mentality opts for surrender to terrorism" by Charles Gorder Jr. Reinhard's was about a work of art at PDX (our local airport) that he found offensive and Gorder's was about those people with bumper-stickers saying things like U.S. Out of Iraq, Oppose the War, and Bring the Troops Home were the same as wanting to surrender to the terrorists.

Here was my letter:

David Reinhard ("[Hateful - so very Portland]") and Charles Gorder Jr. ("[Bumper-sticker mentality]") in Sunday's paper complain about the -- sarcasm ahead -- anti-war surrenderist Portlanders who make art and not bombs and sloganeer on their cars their support for bring the troops home. I, on the other hand, am proud to be a resident of this city and thoroughly enjoy seeing the weekly tally of letters received by the Oregonian which, this week and historically, are consistently 15 to 1 in favor of peace and rationality.

Letter on David Reinhard's: World's greatest deliberative ... pajama game, Thur July 19th 2007

"World's greatest deliberative ... pajama game" was a commentary by columnist David Reinhard regarding the Levin-Reed amendment that Harry Reid kept the Senate open late to debate.

Here was my letter:

It is revealing to note that recent events allowed David Reinhard in his commentary "World's greatest deliberative ... pajama game" to comment on two deliberative bodies: The US Senate and the Iraqi Parliament. In the Senate, Republicans filibustered, something they used to call the "nuclear option" and "obstructionism", a vote on the Levin-Reed admendment that would begin within 120 days troop redeployment from Iraq. In Iraq, its parliament is planning on taking off the month of August -- something Whitehouse press spokesman Tony Snow is sympathetic to: Baghdad is quite hot on the summer you know -- before the much anticipated report on progress to Congress by General Petraeus. Sadly but truely, yet another demonstration of David's partisan mind.

Letter on Debra Saunders': It is simply too soon to discuss surge failure, Mon July 16th 2007

"It is simply too soon to discuss surge failure" was a pundit commentary on the Iraq surge by Debra Saunders. I can not find it on the Oregonian's website, but I believe it was this one.

Here was my letter:

Presumably the Editors wished to provide some "balance" to the Iraq surge by offering Saunders' opinion ("too soon to discuss surge failure'), which 36% of Americans at most would agree with (Pew Research Center's survey of March 26, 2007). Saunders', like all those on her side of this issue (see Reinhard on Sunday), only offer as "evidence" of the surge's effectiveness the military's own statements and pronouncements. Such propagandistic stenography is repellent to the bulk of humanity that understood by the Enlightenment; Saunders ought to be ashamed.

Letter on David Reinhard's: A Soldier's Truth about Gitmo, Sun July 15th 2007

"A Soldier's Truth about Gitmo" was a commentary by columnist David Reinhard regarding Guantanamo.

Here was my letter -- and published!*

Reinhard pens another apologia for the military, straight from the military -- something we hoped had been left in the last century -- in "A Soldier's Truth about Gitmo". I will let other readers write in about his blatant lying ("the detainees are being treated humanely."); my favorite is the sympathy we are supposed to feel for the guards when the detainees react to their pleasant condition. Reinhard parrots: "Apparently, [the detainees] weren't impressed with Gitmo's good grub, top-tier medical care and Islamic sensitivity." Yes, it is unsurprising that Reinhard can not fathom why they go on hunger strikes, act up towards their most hospitable hosts, and attempt and succeed at killing themselves. One wonders why Reinhard does not make a reservation for himself: Certainly he would enjoy the amenities and has nothing to miss outside Gitmo - just like the current guests.
* - The editors unfortunately replaced "blatant lying" with "[such claims as]" suggesting that the treatment of the detainees is open for interpretation. Bullshit.

Letter on an Editorial: A license for chaos, Sun July 15th 2007

"A license for chaos" was an editorial regarding the Real ID Act of 2005 that the editors believed the Oregon legislature failed to address and act on by implementing it.

Here was my letter:

A useful corrective to the Oregonian's editorial
"A license for chaos" -- like much else in the paper --
is to review the ACLU's position. Unsurprisingly the ACLU
opposes the Real ID act, but more interestingly on the ACLU's
website for this issue (www.realnightmare.org) you can find a
color coded map of US states that have passed or introduced
state legislation *opposing* the federal Real ID act. It turns
out that 17 states have passed legislation opposing this
implementation of a national identification system. Arkansas
has decided to opt out, Georgia has authorized its governor
to delay compliance (because their attempt already ended
in disaster), Tennessee opposes its implementation and
urges its repeal, and finally Oregon has introduced legislation
requiring implementation only with federal funds and better
data security and privacy safeguards effectively opposing
Real ID. As usual, the Oregonian is on the wrong side of
the issue.

What is the point?

What is this blog for? Simply a place to document all the letters I will be sending to the Oregonian regarding their editorials, opinion pieces and commentaries. Of course, mostly it will be in response to the moron* David Reinhard and the regular right-wing syndicated pundits they publish.

There might be other posts as well ... but do not count on it!

The next couple of posts will be some catch-up.

* - a mildly mentally retarded person