Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I figured it out!

It always bothered me... what is it about Dick Cheney?

Then it hit me!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Oh, Was There An illection?

UC Berkeley Research Team Sounds 'Smoke Alarm' for Florida E-Vote Count
Statistical Analysis - the Sole Method for Tracking E-Voting - Shows Irregularities May Have Awarded 130,000 - 260,000 or More Excess Votes to Bush in Florida. Research Team Calls for Investigation

BERKELEY, CA -- November 18 -- Today the University of California's Berkeley Quantitative Methods Research Team released a statistical study - the sole method available to monitor the accuracy of e- voting - reporting irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000-260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The study shows an unexplained discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting methods - what the team says can be deemed a "smoke alarm." Discrepancies this large or larger rarely arise by chance - the probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research team formally disclosed results of the study at a press conference today at the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center, where they called on Florida voting officials to investigate.

The three counties where the voting anomalies were most prevalent were also the most heavily Democratic: Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, respectively. Statistical patterns in counties that did not have e-touch voting machines predict a 28,000 vote decrease in President Bush's support in Broward County; machines tallied an increase of 51,000 votes - a net gain of 81,000 for the incumbent. President Bush should have lost 8,900 votes in Palm Beach County, but instead gained 41,000 - a difference of 49,900. He should have gained only 18,400 votes in Miami-Dade County but saw a gain of 37,000 - a difference of 19,300 votes.

"For the sake of all future elections involving electronic voting - someone must investigate and explain the statistical anomalies in Florida," says Professor Michael Hout. "We're calling on voting officials in Florida to take action."

The research team is comprised of doctoral students and faculty in the UC Berkeley sociology department, and led by Sociology Professor Michael Hout, a nationally-known expert on statistical methods and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center.

For its research, the team used multiple-regression analysis, a statistical method widely used in the social and physical sciences to distinguish the individual effects of many variables on quantitative outcomes like vote totals. This multiple-regression analysis takes into account of the following variables by county:

* Number of voters
* Median income
* Hispanic/Latino population
* Change in voter turnout between 2000 and 2004
* Support for Senator Dole in the 1996 election
* Support for President Bush in the 2000 election.
* Use of electronic voting or paper ballots

"No matter how many factors and variables we took into consideration, the significant correlation in the votes for President Bush and electronic voting cannot be explained," said Hout. "The study shows, that a county's use of electronic voting resulted in a disproportionate increase in votes for President Bush. There is just a trivial probability of evidence like this appearing in a population where the true difference is zero - less than once in a thousand chances."

US Election: Democracy in Question
STOCKHOLM - John Zogby, president of the polling firm Zogby International, told IPS he has been calling it "the Armageddon election" for about a year. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader believes the Republican Party was able to "steal it before election day."

Facts suggest something went very wrong on Nov. 2.

Speculation focuses upon a number of questions -- purposeful miscounts, anomalies surrounding electronic voting (e-voting) machines, particularly the optical scan types; and numerous reports of voting "irregularities" in heavily Democratic areas.

"What they 'do' is minorities," Nader said, highlighting the thrust of Republican efforts, "and make sure that there aren't enough voting machines for the minority areas. They have to wait in line ... for hours, and most of them don't. There are all kinds of ways, and that's why I was quoted as saying, "this election was hijacked from A to Z," Nader told IPS.

Zogby was concerned about the difference between some of the exit polls (surveys of individuals who have just cast ballots) and the official vote counts. "We're talking about the Free World here," he pointedly noted.

On Nov. 10, University of Pennsylvania Professor Steven F Freeman, whose expertise includes "research methods," compiled an analysis entitled 'The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy'. The document was prepared in view of the unusually large differences between what exit polls had predicted and the recorded vote tallies.

His findings suggest Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry should have received far more votes than he did.

In three of the key battleground states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- Freeman's analysis states the odds of Kerry receiving the percentage of votes recorded, given the exit poll findings, were less than three in one thousand, per state.

Freeman also determined that the odds of any two of these states simultaneously reaching their stated vote tallies were "on the order of one-in-a-million," and the odds of all three states arriving at the vote counts they did "are 250 million to one."

"Something is definitely wrong," said Zogby.

Highlighting both the expected accuracy of exit polls and the significant disparity that Kerry's defeat illustrated, Republican consultant, commentator and Fox-TV News regular Dick Morris wrote an article, 'Those Faulty Exit Polls Were Sabotage', suggesting a pollster conspiracy to swing the election for Kerry.

In doing so he, perhaps inadvertently, provided ammunition for arguments from the opposite side -- that the exit polls were correct but the final results were fudged. "Exit polls are almost never wrong," argued Morris, and in 10 of the 11 key states they had predicted significantly fewer votes for Republican President George W Bush than he was eventually credited with.

In New Hampshire, Bush tallied a surprising 9.5 percent more votes than predicted, the most significant difference in any of the key states.

Morris observed that outside the United States, exit polls are often used to provide a check on official vote counts, in his words, "to foreclose the possibility of finagling with the returns."

Among the most cited exit polls were those conducted by Mitofsky International, whose founder, Warren Mitofsky, is widely credited with having invented exit polling. Zogby, whose firm was not among those that provided network TV coverage of the Nov. 2 election, described the possibility of either incompetence or fraud causing the controversial deviation as "impossible."

According to Zogby, it would have required "wrong sampling in wrong areas throughout the country," or the purposeful manipulation of data to obtain exit poll results so significantly different from the official totals. He viewed neither as a possibility.

When asked what exactly had happened then, Zogby replied, "a problem, but I don't know where it is ... something's wrong here, though."

On Nov. 5, Nader requested a hand recount of New Hampshire ballots, subsequently telling IPS he had "reports of irregularities there, and we have the cooperation of the state government ... the state attorney-general and secretary of state."

Nader also said his headquarters had been flooded with requests for assistance from a number of states.

On Thursday, five of the 11 New Hampshire voting wards where Nader requested a recount will undertake new tallies. According to his staff, all 11 wards had their votes counted with optical scan machines, primarily the AccuVote models made by Diebold.

"If there are irregularities, it may have broader applications in other states," Nader said, adding that the current recount -- a 45,000-vote sample -- is expected to be completed within a week.

Allegations regarding optical scan machines' potentially allowing the manipulation of Florida's vote have been widely reported. In Ohio, the Green and Libertarian parties are pursuing a recount, numerous instances of voting irregularities having been reported there.

"As far as I'm concerned, this election was clearly stolen. What they did in Ohio was systematically deny thousands of African Americans, and other suspected Democrats, the vote," charged progressive author, commentator and activist Harvey Wasserman of Franklin County, Ohio.

"It was like Mississippi in the fifties, and it was deliberate ... had there been enough (voting) machines, and had people equal access to the polls with a reliable vote count, there is no doubt that John Kerry would have carried Ohio," he told IPS.

The Nov. 14 'Cleveland Plain Dealer', one of the country's top 50 broadsheets, reported a Nov. 13 voter hearing where: "For three hours, burdened voters, one after another, offered sworn testimony about election day voter suppression and irregularities that they believe are threatening democracy."

"People are deeply concerned that this is the end of American democracy, that we cannot get a fair election," Wasserman said, poignantly adding, "there was no question of apathy in this election -- we had more volunteers than could be used ... thousands and thousands of grass-roots volunteers."

If Kerry had taken Ohio, he would have taken the presidency.

"In the end, what Nader is doing in New Hampshire is the best answer. And if there's a recount in Ohio," that is also important, said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist who specializes in statistical methods, elections and public opinion.

Somewhat concerned about the possible manipulation of e-voting machines, Franklin was more concerned over "the ordinary administration of elections," citing the simple logistical problems that had plagued voters.

He pointedly noted that the last two presidential elections highlighted "how the decisions of local people (officials) ... can have a considerable influence over who gets to vote, what rules govern."

When asked if he was aware of any parallels to the present election, Zogby replied, "I'm certainly aware of the election of 1960."

"It's been discussed, overtly, the roll that Richard Daley, and the roll that Lyndon Johnson played, separately," Zogby said, referring to an episode where the John F Kennedy campaign had supposedly asked, "How many votes do you have?", the reply allegedly being, "How many votes do you need?"

Of course, such examples also serve to highlight the influence "local people" can exert on an election's outcome.

In the end, many people speculated that the 1960 incidents were not part of a grand conspiracy per se, but the cumulative effects of the actions of a number of individuals who shared a similar perspective, acted semi-independently, and did whatever it took to win.

Political "dirty tricks" culminated in the Watergate scandal, forcing then President Richard Nixon (1969-1974) to resign, ushering in a long era without similar illicit activity, until questions raised by the election of 2000.

With American democracy, until now, providing an effective model for many, as Zogby said, "we're talking about the Free World here."

Nader-Requested Recount Begins

Hearings on Ohio Voting Put 2004 Election in Doubt
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

Highly-charged, jam-packed hearings held here in Columbus have cast serious doubt on the true outcome of the presidential election.

On Saturday, November 13, and Monday, November 15, the Ohio Election Protection Coalition’s public hearings in Columbus solicited extensive sworn first-person testimony from 32 of Ohio voters, precinct judges, poll workers, legal observers, party challengers. An additional 66 people provided written affidavits of election irregularities. The unavoidable conclusion is that this year's election in Ohio was deeply flawed, that thousands of Ohioans were denied their right to vote, and that the ultimate vote count is very much in doubt.

Most importantly, the testimony has revealed a widespread and concerted effort on the part of Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to deny primarily African-American and young voters the right to cast their ballots within a reasonable time. By depriving precincts of adequate numbers of functioning voting machines, Blackwell created waits of three to eleven hours, driving tens of thousands of likely Democratic voters away from the polls and very likely affecting the outcome of the Ohio vote count, which in turn decided the national election.

On November 17, Blackwell wrote an op-ed piece for Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, stating: “Every eligible voter who wanted to vote had the opportunity to vote. There was no widespread fraud, and there was no disenfranchisement. A half-million more Ohioans voted than ever before with fewer errors than four years ago, a sure sign on success by any measure,” Blackwell wrote. Moon's extreme right wing Unification Church has long-standing ties to the Bush Family and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Additional testimony also called into question the validity of the actual vote counts. There are thus serious doubts that the final official tally in Ohio, due December 1 to Blackwell’s office, will have any validity. Blackwell will certify the vote count on December 3.

While Blackwell supervised the Ohio vote he also served as co-chair of the Ohio Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, a clear conflict of interest that casts further doubt on how the Ohio election and vote counts have been conducted.

At the Columbus hearings, witness after witness under oath gave testimony to an election riddled with discrimination and disarray. Among them:

Werner Lange, a pastor from Youngstown, Ohio, who said in part:

“In precincts 1 A and 5 G, voting as Hillman Elementary School, which is a predominantly African American community, there were woefully insufficient number of voting machines in three precincts. I was told that the standard was to have one voting machine per 100 registered voters. Precinct A had 750 registered voters. Precinct G had 690. There should have been 14 voting machines at this site. There were only 6, three per precinct, less than 50 percent of the standard. This caused an enormous bottleneck among voters who had to wait a very, very long time to vote, many of them giving up in frustration and leaving. . . . I estimate, by the way, that an estimated loss of over 8,000 votes from the African American community in the City of Youngstown alone, with its 84 precincts, were lost due to insufficient voting machines, and that would translate to some 7,000 votes lost for John Kerry for President in Youngstown alone. . . .”

“Just yesterday I went to the Trumbull Board of Elections in northeast Ohio, I wanted to review their precinct logs so I could continue my investigation. This was denied. I was told by the Board of Elections official that I could not see them until after the official vote was given.”

Marion Brown, Columbus:

“I am here on behalf of a friend. My friend came to my home very upset while she was away standing four hours in the voting, her husband passed away. The funeral was on yesterday, November 13th, at 2:00. Perhaps had she not stood so long in the line, she may have been able to save her husband.”

Victoria Parks:

“In Pickaway County, oh, my goodness, in Pickaway County, I entered there, I was shown a table, 53 poll books were plunked down in front of my. I noticed there were no signature on file in any of the poll books, in any of the poll books, and furthermore, a minute later the director of the Board of Elections of Pickaway County came into the room and snatched the books away from me and said you cannot look at these books. I said are you aware that what you are doing is against the law? She said I have been on the phone with the Secretary of State and he has instructed me to take these books away and you cannot see them. I paraphrase very slightly here. She took them away. I was persona non grata. I did not want to risk arrest, and I left. . . . There were no signatures, and furthermore, the writing in the book seemed to have been written in the same hand, because that is a requirement.”

Boyd Mitchell, Columbus:

“What I saw was voter intimidation in the form of city employees that were sent in to stop illegal parking. Now, in Driving Park Rec Center there are less than 50 legal parking spots, and there were literally hundreds and hundreds of voters there, and I estimated at least 70 percent of the people were illegally parked in the grass around the perimeter of the Driving Park Rec Center, and two city employees drove up in a city truck and said that they had been sent there to stop illegal parking, and they went so far as to harass at least a couple of voters that I saw, and when they were talking to us, they were kind. But when they didn't realize we were overhearing them talking to voters, they were trying to keep people from parking where they were parking. They went so far as to set up some cones, trying to block people from getting into a grassy area...”

“I calculated that I maybe saw about 20 percent of the people that left Driving Park D and C, I personally saw and talked to about 20 percent of them as they left the poll between 12:30 and 8 p.m. And I saw 15 people who left because the line was too long. The lines inside were anywhere from 2 1/2 to 5 hours. Most everybody said 4 hours, and I saw at least 15 people who did not vote, and I heard a gentleman who was earlier making some mathematical calculations, well, if this is going on across town, and, you know, in a precinct where it was going so heavily for Kerry, and me only seeing 20 percent of the people coming out, I saw 15. We could just do the math and extrapolate that out into a huge number of people who might have voted had they had a chance.”

Joe Popich (entered into the record copies of the Perry County Board of Election poll book):

“There are a bunch of irregularities in this log book, but the most blatant irregularity would be the fact that there are 360 signatures in this book. There are 33 people who voted absentee ballot at this precinct, for a total of 393 votes that should be attributed to that precinct. However, the Board of Elections is attributing 96 more votes to that precinct than what this log book reflects.”

Derek Winsor, Columbus:

“Out of the six total voting machines that were at 14 C, three of them showed some type of malfunction that at one point or another during the three our so hours that we were waiting, and between my wife and me, we had asked poll workers individually if they could explain what was going on and what kind of reassurances they could give us that, for one machine in particular that the votes had already been posted on, that machine would be counted, and the response was just, oh, they will be counted. And how can you be sure of that? What storage mechanism do they use to ensure that the votes are stored, and, again, the response was just, well, they just are. And that was a bit of a concern here.”

Carol Shelton, presiding judge, precinct 25 B at the Linden Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library:

“The precinct is 95 to 99 percent black. . . . There were 1,500 persons on the precinct rolls. We received three machines. In my own precinct in Clintonville, 19E, we always received three machines for 700 to 730 voters. Voter turnout in my own precinct has reached as high as 70 percent while I worked there. I interviewed many voters in 25 B and asked how many machines they had had in the past. Everyone who had a recollection said five or six. I called to get more machines and ended up being connected with Matt Damschroder, the Director of the Board of Elections. After a real hassle -- and someone here has it on videotape, he sent me a fourth machine which did not dent the length of the line. Fewer than 700 voted, although the turnout at the beginning of the day would cause anyone to predict a turnout of over 80 percent. This was a clear case of voter suppression by making voting an impossibility for anyone who had to go to work or anyone who was stuck at home caring for children or the elderly while another family member voted.”

Allesondra Hernandez, Toledo:

“What I witnessed when I had gotten there about 9 A.M. was a young African American woman who had come out nearly in tears. She was a new voter, very first registered, very excited to vote, and she had said that she had been bounced around to three different polling places, and this one had just turned her down again. People were there to help her out, and I was concerned. I started asking around to everyone else, and they had informed me earlier that day that she was not the only one, but there were at least three others who had been bounced around. Also earlier that day the polls had opened an hour late, did not open until about 7:30 A.M. The polling machines were locked in the principal's office. Hundreds of people were turned away, were forced to leave the line because they needed to be at school, they needed to be at work, or they needed to take their children to school. The people there who were assisting did the best they could to take down numbers and take down names, but I am assuming that a majority of those people could not come back because of work and/or because of school, because they had shown up to vote, and that was the time that they could vote, and that is why they were there. Also along the same lines, they ran out of pencils for those ballots.”

Erin Deignan, Columbus:

“I was an official poll worker judge in precinct Columbus 25 F, at the East Linden School. We had between 1100 and 1200 people on the voter registry there. We had three voting machines. We did the math. I am sure lots of other people did too. With the five-minute limit, 13 hours the polls were open, three machines, that is 468 voters, that is less than half of the people we had on the registry. We stayed open three hours past 7:30 and got about 550 people through, but we had one Board of Elections worker come in the morning. We asked if he could bring more machines. He is said more machines had been delivered, but they didn't have any more. We had another Board of Elections official come later in the day, and he said that in Upper Arlington he had seen 12 machines.”

Matthew Segal, Gambier:

“In this past election, Kenyon College students and the residents of Gambier, Ohio, had to endure some of the most extenuating voting circumstances in the entire country. As many of you may already know, because they had it on national media attention, Kenyon students and the residents of Gambier had to stand in line up to 10 to 12 hours in the rain, through a hot gym, and crowded narrow lines, making it extremely uncomfortable. As a result of this, voters were disenfranchised, having class to attend to, sports commitments, and midterms for the next day, which they had to study for. Obviously, it is a disgrace that kids who are being perpetually told the importance of voting, could not vote because they had other commitments and had to be put up with a 12-hour line.”

Blackwell characterized Ohio’s Election Day as “tremendously successful” in the Washington Times. Several people at Saturday’s hearing said they’d like to hear Mr. Blackwell testify under oath, preferably under a criminal indictment.

'Stinking Evidence' of Possible Election Fraud Found in Florida

Welcome to the One-Party State

And for you "morally righteous people" who think the "liberals" rule the media, a wake up call:

The Political Monopoly: How the Democrats and Republicans Keep Out Competition

America currently has a two party political system, and if the Republican and Democratic parties have their way, it will always be restricted to two parties -- the same two parties, whether the American citizens want it that way or not. The Democrats and Republicans locked out competition by passing legislation requiring the federal government to give them a lot of money to fund their presidential campaigns, while making it virtually impossible for their competitors to get any. In 2000, the Democratic Party received $109.5 million in government funding for its presidential campaign: $66.6 million for the presidential election, $13.5 million for the party’s convention, and $29.4 million for primary candidates. The Republican Party received a similar amount for its presidential campaign - $107.1 million: $67.6 million for the presidential election, $13.5 million for its convention, and $26 million for primary candidates. Candidates from other parties received relatively little.

Your Republicans At Work!

Thank God for the "moral elite"! Where would our country be without them!

GOP Looking to Repeal Food Labeling Law
WASHINGTON -- Telling consumers where their meat, fruit and vegetables came from seemed such a good idea to U.S. ranchers and farmers in competition with imports that Congress two years ago ordered the food industry to do it. But meatpackers and food processors fought the law from the start, and newly emboldened Republicans now plan to repeal it before Thanksgiving.

As part of the 2002 farm bill, country-of-origin labeling was supposed to have gone into effect this fall. Congress last year postponed it until 2006. Now, House Republicans are trying to wipe it off the books as part of a spending bill they plan to finish this month.

House Ethics Rules Should Not Be Weakened To Let DeLay Remain House Majority Leader if Indicted
WASHINGTON -- November 17 -- In the frantic special session of Congress under way, House Republicans are rewriting House ethics rules to protect Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) from himself. Specifically, a handful of lawmakers are attempting to rescind the rule that would force DeLay to temporarily resign his leadership post if he is indicted for criminal activity in Texas until the case is resolved. Public Citizen strongly condemns any effort by House Republicans to insulate DeLay from the consequences of his ethical lapses.

The House ethics rule dates back to 1993, when House Republicans wanted then-House Ways and Means Chairperson Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) to be held accountable for his own ethics violations. In the early 1990s, DeLay helped lead the floor fight for tougher ethics requirements, resulting in the rule that members of the House cannot serve as leaders while under indictment for violating state or federal laws. DeLay complained that the House had become poorly managed because of disregard for the rules.

Today’s rule change, proposed by Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas), would end the penalty only for House leaders indicted by a state grand jury, as in DeLay’s potential situation.

New Documents Reveal Bush Administration Allowed Drilling Under National Park Service Areas:
Rules Made in Secret Would Affect More Than a Dozen Park Service Areas

WASHINGTON -- November 17 -- The Sierra Club today released documents showing that the Bush administration gave special treatment to Texas-based Davis Brothers Oil Producers, Inc., when it reversed a longstanding policy in order to allow oil and gas drilling underneath certain national parks, preserves and refuges regardless of potential environmental impacts. More than a dozen National Park Service areas could be impacted by the rule, including Big Thicket National Preserve and Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, New River Gorge in West Virginia, and Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida.

Documents obtained by Sierra Club through the Freedom of Information Act show that the Bush administration changed the rule specifically at the request of Ross Davis, who runs Davis Brothers Oil Producers. Moreover, the administration made its decision in secret and bypassed the regular rulemaking process, which allows for public input and a high degree of transparency.

“These documents show that the Bush administration bent over backwards to help its friends in the oil and gas industry even when the facts showed that its policy would harm national parks," said Brandt Mannchen of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, who has been tracking drilling problems around Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas. "This administration seems to think there are two sets of rules, one for oil and gas companies and one for everyone else."

More of that fine "morality" to come...

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

For Your Consideration

Someone posted this on an American History discussion board:

Of course, Iowa would later swing for Bush. The Republicans talk of a mandate. They take pride in the notion that more Americans voted for Bush in Nov 2004 than any other President in US history. What they're forgetting is that simultaneously more Americans voted AGAINST Bush than any other President in US history. These notions are trival. What is important to remember is the power ideology has in shaping perception.

What is important here?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Veteran's Day revisited

Last night, I watched a sobering program on Nightline with Ted Koppel. As usualy, Koppel offered some good thought provoking stuff.

Did you know that it is estimated that 1/3 of all homeless are Veterans? Eighty percent of those have substance abuse problems. Most of them have some form of severe psychological trauma.

As Koppel pointed out, we Americans rally around our troops when they go to war, and we support them while they fight. And when they come home, we often throw celebrations and parades. But then, after the emotional inertia peaks, and we erect symbollic monuments, we kinda forget about them.

Veterans Affairs hospitals and institutions around the country are finacially strapped. Many have been forced to close, many have been consolidated, but the fact remains that once the Vets are home, we tend to forget about their sacrifices. No one can deny the psychological impact that war has on those who experience it. Many soldiers that survive war come home and face a lifetime of psychological turmoil. They have a hard time adjusting to civilian life. They turn to chemical dependence to deal with the memories they bear. Many are handicapped from war, and must spend the rest of their lives in and out of medical institutions. Many disconnect emotionally from their families, from their employers, and from basic civil behavior.

You'd think that in a society of our vast wealth we would protect those who would sacrifice their lives to protect us. You'd think that most Americans would gladly support tax increases if it meant that ALL our Veterans could get the treatment they need. Saddly, this isn't true.

War is hell, but it doesn't need to last a lifetime. For many, it does.

We should exercise EXTREME caution when CHOOSING to send our soldiers into battle. We should fully commit to THEIR cause when WE CHOOSE war over diplomacy.

Upon pondering these issues, I'm left with the notion that MORALITY is MYTH, a DREAM in a REAL world. People believe only what they want to believe, often at the expense of others.

It's time to WAKE UP!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veterans Day - 2004

I have a good friend serving in Afghanistan. The last time I saw him, I told him to do his job well... and I meant it. I want him to come home alive. He is living a life that in another reality I would proudly live. I am happily and peacefully married, but if I were single, I would probably enter military service. I know this might come as a surprise to those of you who've been following my blogging, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for someone who would face death to get a job done. A career in the military would provide a very unique opportunity to study humanity under the most extreme conditions, and what I would gain in wisedom from such a career would far outweigh what I might loose.

As we reflect on this Veterans day, we should keep in mind the sacrifices that our soldiers, and the soldiers of every army, face in their duty to protect ideology.

Finally, we should bear in mind the path we've taken that leads to war. Don't dismiss the arbitrary nature of war. Violence is a choice. We should remember those who would choose to place our soldiers on the front line. We should remember those who would ask the soldier to sacrifice a life for a policy.

We should consistently remind those who would create war that lives are destroyed, and we should urge caution to those who drive the policies of war that they might force themselves to see other options beyond violence.

A Marine told me once that there are a thousand different ways to solve any given problem. Our options are only limited to our capacity to see alternative solutions.

How far are we willing to see to honor life?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Buffer Zone

The purpose of this post is simply to "buffer" the previous post from crowding the face of my blog.

As entropy would dictate, in time, the meaning of this post will fade. Alas, with everything, goes everything...

However, for the sake of meaning, I'd like to extend yet another opportunity for some of my visitors to leave a comment. Who are you guys? What do you like or dislike about life? What are your passions?

As the trend goes, this questions will probably go unanswered. But, thanks for stopping by and reading my off the deep end thoughts. Maybe one day we can meet and discuss or life... or perhaps you would just like to throw an egg in my face. Ah well, can't please everyone.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The BIG Picture

This is what our universe looks like from the edges looking inward:

This is what our universe looks like from space looking outward:

This is what our universe looks like at the quantum level:

This is what our galaxy looks like:

and this is Earth:

and this is earth from Mars:

we are moving at speeds we can't possibly imagine:

the TRUTH is that our perspective on REALITY is biased.

the TRUTH is that we humans are not as different from one another as we would have ourselves believe.

the TRUTH is that life on earth is precious and fragile.

It is tragic that our beliefs and our subjective perceptions threaten our very existence.

But,it doesn't NEED to be this way. We can always choose to see the Bigger picture.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Purging the PISSED

I've got just a few more thoughts to get off my chest. Hopefully, this will purge the PISSED ... I can't make any promises, but here's to hoping!

So, what is "morality". This concept was key to sending George W Bush into a second term, and obviously, this doesn't sit well with me. So, what is it? Is "morality" an absolute concept? I would argue that every culture has its own unique morality scale. Within radical fundamentalist Islamic cultures, "morality" feeds a very violence base. The "morality" of the terrorists embraces suicide bombings, gruesome beheadings, and strict stigmitaziation of opposing viewpoints. Are American's any different in their "morality"? Historically, no. American "morality" accepted the use of the atomic bomb (twice) on urban Japanese civilians. American "morality" accepted the widespread carpet bombing of German urban populaces during WWII. American "morality" supported the enslavement of racially "inferior" humans during the early decades of American nationalism, and promoted the oppression of women during the first century and a half of American social politics. Interestingly, in the case of American slavery, Biblical morality was used to justify the oppression of black workers, especially in the southern states. All this leaves me wondering, does "morality" actually mean anything significant?

I believe "morality" is relative, as in every human constructs a unique morality scale dependent upon the needs and/or desires of the self. With respect to human cultural identity, these subjective morality scales are fused into a larger, yet equally subjective poltical "morality". Let's examine this further...

Perhaps the biggest "moral" issue facing American voters was not war, or poverty, or the growing gap between the rich and the poor. It was gay marriage. This single issue galvanized the religious electorate in a very powerful way. On a personal note, I would gladly identify with Republican ideals if these ideals were expressed in the traditional "Jeffersonian" style. Saddly, Republicans today look nothing like the Republicans under Thomas Jefferson. Modern Republicans under Bush have created our nations LARGEST Federal government, and promoted an even larger Federal deficit. Modern Republicans have exercised their executive and legislative powers in a manner that sidesteps caution, patience, and the power of the common man for the sake of the
Money Elite and special interest groups.

The issue of Gay Marriage is NOT a Federal issue. This is a religious and State autonomy issue, but this hasn't stopped the NeoCons from backing a Constitutional Amendment prohibitng such action. What makes this worse for me is that the "Moral Elite", by electing George W Bush, has declared Gay Marriage to be an issue of Constitutional relevance. What happened to the Republicans? What happened to State Autonomy? What happened to the separation of Church and State?

Thank God the "Moral Elite" have sidestepped Christ's morality of tolerance and grace. Thank God Bush is keeping homosexuals in their place. Thank God the "moral elite" have left defending the "sanctity of marriage" in the hands of us heterosexuals. Now, it is only the "moral elite" who can destroy the institution of marriage.

Here are some other MORAL ISSUES ignored by the "moral elite":

1- The GROWING GAP between the haves and the have nots.
2- the escalating economic deficit which promises to shift the responsibilty of our gluttonous spending to our children and their children.
3- The explicit use of female sexuality to push consumer products, thus degrading female individuals to a life of poor self esteem and psychological sickness.
4- The covert manipulation of Middle Eastern and South American politics to maintain our oil based economy.
5- the increasing use of synthetic drugs in the consumer market, the encouragement of the use of mind altering drugs to school children to help them "focus", and the imprisonment of low economic people for using "illegal" drugs which are in some ways more benign than alcohol or tobacco.

the list goes on, but I've saved the most important for last.

6- those who preach the "sanctity of life" simultaneously promote behavior which seeks to destroy it. We still possess nuclear weapons (certainly more devastating than any drug). We arbitrarily engage in warfare which "incidentally" kills hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians to protect our "way of life".

a final thought:

Is this child worth saving?

How about this one?

Where do we draw the line?

One child may be killed before it breathes the air of life. The other child was killed, through the arbitrary actions of our "morally elite" Republican government, while it BREATHED THE AIR OF LIFE.

Can we really make a moral distinction?

What is the meaning of "morality"?

What does Christ say about "morality"?

Questioning Everything, as usual

What I'm about to say is likely influenced by the lingering effects of my PISSED infection.

For some time I've wrestled with the meaning of my Christian faith. God, if sHe exists, has made me a highly inquisitive person. This ontological and existential curiosity has challenged and forged my personal faith in very profound ways. In pursuing anthropological thougt, I've since come to embrace the idea that evolution through natural selection is a very real function of our physical world. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming if one truly recognizes the patterns of our world. In fact, the principles of evolutionary thinking drive the modern medical sciences which we as a society depend upon, and evolutionary forces drive our capitalist economy, technological progress, and affect every aspect of human culture and bio diversity.

Evolution does not deny the existence of God. Ironically, for me, those elements of our universe which DO imply the fiction of religious truth are found in the hypocracy of modern and historical Christian belief. "Christians" today, as they embrace social and political dogma, compell me to acknowledge the flaws in our theological doctrines, thus driving me away from religious faith. It is the self centered nature of modern Christianity, especially in America, which convinces me that all faith is ultimately empty and void of truth.

What made me PISSED about our recent illection was the fact that it was the "moral elite" which elected Bush to a second term. The FACTS about our current conflict is that our CIA armed and trained Usama Bin Ladin to build a radical fundamentalist army of Islamic zealots to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. It was our CIA which protected and provided Saddam with military intelligence to fight the Iranians in the eighties. It was Reagan and Rumsfeld who looked the other way when Saddam used chemical weapons on the Kurds and Iranian soldiers. American foreign policy created our current conflict, and it is Bush's foreign policy of division and manipulation which perpetuates those very same systems that now threaten our American democracy.

Usama Bin Ladin went on to kill over three thousand Americans on 9/11. America under Bush responded by killing tens of thousands of Aghani civilians AND OVER 100,000 Iraqi civilians! It is the Christians of America, denying Christ's Sermon on the Mount, which perpetuate the violence of our world today. If this is "Christian morality", then I have no desire to be a "Christian" anymore.

Bush lied when he said the "terrorists" hate freedom. The "terrorists" are only defending their people from American neo imperialism as it seeks to manipulate middle eastern politics to protect its access to oil. Bush's desire to spread "freedom and democracy" is a veil of untruth to disguise a foreign policy bent on oppressing a foreign people for the sake of American economic prosperity.

Instead of realizing the great humanitarian dream of Christ and promoting peace through nonviolence, forgiveness, tolerance, sacrifice, the "moral elite" of America has extended the powers of violent oppression and deception in the middle east as it divides the world at home and abroad. This, to me, is unacceptable. This flies in the face of Christ's moral mandate to humanity, and as American Christians embrace the tactics of a self centered ethic, I am left to question the TRUTH of my own faith.

Those who preach the "sanctity of life" simultaneously practice the destruction of life. I will have no part of it. If the "moral elite" in America stand for Christ, then I will have no part in it. Human culture has created many levels of belief, from economy, to law, and science. Having witnessed the current behavior of "Christian morality" I am inclined to suggest that religion too is a creation of human culture and nothing further.

In America today, GOD IS DEAD. The story of Christ appears to be purely mythological, as exemplified by the convoluted theology of the "moral elite". As for me, I will try as I may to love my neighbor AND my enemy, to exercise tolerance and forgiveness as instructed by Christ, and to turn the other cheek when confronted by an aggressor. This is, after all, the ONLY way to establish peace. But, it seems, I am alone on this endeavor, and I'm willing to accept this. What I won't accept is a morality that sacrifices others for the good of the self. America can have its religion. I will have no part of it.

Thank you, christians of America, for showing me the truth...

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Americans Take Democracy for Granted

Is there any surprise?

We take life for granted, wealth for granted, food and clean water for granted, the environment for granted, etc etc etc.

I don't want to perpetuate conspiracy theories, but we've embraced a system of paperless democracy. Whoever thought electronic voting systems with no paper trail would be a good idea was obviously thinking "unilaterally".

So here's the problem.

Published on Saturday, November 6, 2004 by CommonDreams.org

Evidence Mounts That The Vote Was Hacked

by Thom Hartmann

The State of Florida, for example, publishes a county-by-county record of votes cast and people registered to vote by party affiliation. Net denizen Kathy Dopp compiled the official state information into a table, available at http://ustogether.org/Florida_Election.htm, and noticed something startling.

While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios largely matched the Kerry/Bush vote, in Florida's counties using results from optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking – the results seem to contain substantial anomalies.

In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.

In Dixie County, with 4,988 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.

The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush.

Yet in the touch-screen counties, where investigators may have been more vigorously looking for such anomalies, high percentages of registered Democrats generally equaled high percentages of votes for Kerry. (I had earlier reported that county size was a variable – this turns out not to be the case. Just the use of touch-screens versus optical scanners.)

More visual analysis of the results can be seen at http://us together.org/election04/FloridaDataStats.htm, and www.rubberbug.com/temp/Florida2004chart.htm. Note the trend line – the only variable that determines a swing toward Bush was the use of optical scan machines.

On the CNBC TV show "Topic A With Tina Brown," several months ago, Howard Dean had filled in for Tina Brown as guest host. His guest was Bev Harris, the Seattle grandmother who started www.blackboxvoting.org from her living room. Bev pointed out that regardless of how votes were tabulated (other than hand counts, only done in odd places like small towns in Vermont), the real "counting" is done by computers. Be they Diebold Opti-Scan machines, which read paper ballots filled in by pencil or ink in the voter's hand, or the scanners that read punch cards, or the machines that simply record a touch of the screen, in all cases the final tally is sent to a "central tabulator" machine.

That central tabulator computer is a Windows-based PC.

"In a voting system," Harris explained to Dean on national television, "you have all the different voting machines at all the different polling places, sometimes, as in a county like mine, there's a thousand polling places in a single county. All those machines feed into the one machine so it can add up all the votes. So, of course, if you were going to do something you shouldn't to a voting machine, would it be more convenient to do it to each of the 4000 machines, or just come in here and deal with all of them at once?"

Dean nodded in rhetorical agreement, and Harris continued. "What surprises people is that the central tabulator is just a PC, like what you and I use. It's just a regular computer."

"So," Dean said, "anybody who can hack into a PC can hack into a central tabulator?"

Harris nodded affirmation, and pointed out how Diebold uses a program called GEMS, which fills the screen of the PC and effectively turns it into the central tabulator system. "This is the official program that the County Supervisor sees," she said, pointing to a PC that was sitting between them loaded with Diebold's software.

This is a rather lengthy article, but certainly worth the read.

Let's put aside the corrupt election hypothesis for a second and just recognize that many Americans were casting votes on an inherently flawed electronic system with no paper trail. Who's bright idea was this anyway?

I was surprised by the results of this past illection. Knowing the history of how Karl Rove drives conservative politics, is there any wonder that we now rest on the eve of illection scandal?

What does the future of America hold?

Extreme Primates

A little primatology news...

Super-gorillas spotted in Africa

From the article:
Shelly Williams, a primatologist affiliated to the renowned Jane Goodall Institute, has revealed her close - and chilling - encounter with the creatures in the current issue of New Scientist.

"We could hear them in the trees, about 10m away, and four suddenly came rushing through the brush towards me. If this had been a mock charge they would have been screaming to intimidate us. These guys were quiet, and they were huge. They were coming in for the kill - but as soon as they saw my face they stopped and disappeared."

Indeed, as far back as 1898, there were hints of another large ape existing undetected in the Congo basin after a Belgian expedition returned from the region with three skulls. Initially, they looked similar to a known species - the Western Lowland Gorilla.

But there was something odd about them. The shape of the brow-ridges and jaw was different to that of a true gorilla, but they remained unidentified until 1996, when a Swiss journalist called Karl Ammann decided to go in search of these "lost gorillas" of the Congo.

He travelled to a place more than 700km from the known ranges of either mountain or lowland gorilla, and met locals who told him strange tales. They spoke of a huge, ferocious ape which was capable of hunting - and killing - lions.

Furthermore, the animals' behaviour towards people was baffling: "Gorilla males will always charge when they encounter a hunter, but there were no stories like that," Ammann says. Instead, these apes would come face-to-face with their human cousins, stare intently in half-recognition, then slide away quietly. No aggression, yet no fear either.

Williams believes these creatures could be a new subspecies of chimpanzee, a gorilla-chimp hybrid, or they could be a wholly new species. There is probably no biological reason why chimps and gorillas could not mate and produce viable offspring.

At present, only eight of these fascinating creatures have been seen by scientists, and none has been captured for study.

Whatever they are, they are fortunate to be living in one of the world's most remote places, and yet unfortunate enough to be threatened by one of the world's nastiest civil wars.

It would be a tragic irony if these creatures, so new to science, are hunted to extinction before they are properly studied.

Isn't this stuff fascinating?

It makes me wonder about the legendary "Bigfoot"... could an intelligent "super primate" conceal its existence from humanity? A quick glance at our current state of social existence suggests that we humans are just not all that intelligent when it comes to "big picture" thinking. Our ontological arrogance blinds us from the true reality of "conscious" or "intelligent" life on Earth.

The more we learn about life on Earth, the more we realize that we are not alone...

Friday, November 05, 2004

More Stats to Make You Go "Hmmm?"

view the chart

In interesting chart measuring average population IQ by state and that state's corresponding electoral vote.

Here's the summary:

Average IQ Along Electoral Vote

"Blue States"= 104.21
"Red States"= 93.161

Highest IQ Along Electoral Vote

Connecticut "Blue State"= 113
Virginia "Red State"=100

Lowest IQ Along Electoral Vote

Oregon "BLue State"=99
Mississippi "Red State"=85

I guess I'm not THAT surprised that the "moral elite" supported Bush.

Stats to Make You Go "Hmmm?"

"Sen. John Kerry looks to make a victory of the electoral college, according to all sets of exit polls conducted by a consortium of six media organizations (the National Election Pool) that RAW STORY acquired earlier today, from the six major networks who conducted the polls."

view the whole article

All of the polls put Kerry ahead in Florida, Ohio, and New Mexico. The two for which polling was available for other states had Kerry ahead in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In the polls received, Bush leads in Colorado, Louisiana and Arizona. Iowa is a tie.

A source connected to the White House has dismissed the early polls as “skewed” and told a conservative magazine reporter that Bush would certainly win both Florida and Ohio.

Here are the first exit polls, confirmed from sources in both parties, as leaked to RAW STORY. The first number is the percentage of voters supporting Kerry, the second are those supporting Bush.

AZ 45-55
CO 48-51
LA 42-57
MI 51-48
WI 52-48
PA 60-40
OH 52-48
FL 51-48
MICH 51-47
NM 50-48
MINN 58-40
WISC 52-43
IOWA 49-49
NH 57-41

Here are the second polls:

U.S.: 50-49
FL: 50-49
OH: 50-49
CO: 48-50
NM: 50-48

Here are the third polls:


Florida: 50/49 - KERRY
Ohio: 50/49 - KERRY
Michigan: 51/47 - KERRY
Minnesota: 58/40 - KERRY
New Mexico: 50/48 - KERRY
Pennsylvania: 54/45 - KERRY
Wisconsin: 51/46- KERRY
Colorado: 46/53 - BUSH
North Carolina: 49/51 - BUSH


IA: 50/48 - KERRY
NH: 58/41 - KERRY
ME: 55/44 - KERRY
NV: 48/49 - BUSH
AR: 45/54 - BUSH

And the final 6 p.m. polls:
(The first number is the percentage of voters supporting Kerry, the second are those supporting Bush.)

PA 53 46
FL 51 49
NC 48 52
OH 51 49
MO 46 54
AK 47 53
MI 51 47
NM 50 49
LA 43 56
CO 48 51
AZ 45 55
MN 54 44
WI 52 47
IA 49 49

Also for your consideration:

Voting Machine Controversy
by Julie Carr Smyth

the whole article

COLUMBUS - The head of a company vying to sell voting machines in Ohio told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. - who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush - prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O'Dell's company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.

Diebold, Electronic Voting and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
by Bob Fitrakis

read the whole article

Diebold, located in North Canton, Ohio, does its primary business in ATM and ticket-vending machines. Critics of Diebold point out that virtually every other machine the company makes provides a paper trail to verify the machine’s calculations. Oddly, only the voting machines lack this essential function.

State Senator Teresa Fedor of Toledo introduced Senate Bill 167 late last year mandating that every voting machine in Ohio generate a “voter verified paper audit trail.” Secretary of State Blackwell has denounced any attempt to require a paper trail as an effort to “derail” election reform. Blackwell’s political career is an interesting one: he emerged as a black activist in Cincinnati supporting municipal charter reform, became an elected Democrat, then an Independent, and now is a prominent Republican with his eyes on the Governor’s mansion.

Johns Hopkins researchers at the Information Security Institute issued a report declaring that Diebold’s electronic voting software contained “stunning flaws.” The researchers concluded that vote totals could be altered at the voting machines and by remote access. Diebold vigorously refuted the Johns Hopkins report, claiming the researchers came to “a multitude of false conclusions.”

Perhaps to settle the issue, someone illegally hacked into the Diebold Election Systems website in March 2003 and stole internal documents from the company and posted them online. Diebold went to court to stop, according to court records, the “wholesale reproduction” of some 13,000 pages of company material.

Wherever Diebold and ES&S go, irregularities and historic Republican upsets follow. Alastair Thompson, writing for scoop.co of New Zealand, explored whether or not the 2002 U.S. mid-term elections were “fixed by electronic voting machines supplied by Republican-affiliated companies.” The scoop investigation concluded that: “The state where the biggest upset occurred, Georgia, is also the state that ran its election with the most electronic voting machines.” Those machines were supplied by Diebold.

Wired News reported that “. . . a former worker in Diebold’s Georgia warehouse says the company installed patches on its machine before the state’s 2002 gubernatorial election that were never certified by independent testing authorities or cleared with Georgia election officials.” Questions were raised in Texas when three Republican candidates in Comal County each received exactly the same number of votes – 18,181.

Following the 2003 California election, an audit of the company revealed that Diebold Election Systems voting machines installed uncertified software in all 17 counties using its equipment.

Former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell writes that one of the favorite tactics of the CIA during the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s was to control countries by manipulating the election process. “CIA apologists leap up and say, ‘Well, most of these things are not so bloody.’ And that’s true. You’re giving politicians some money so he’ll throw his party in this direction or that one, or make false speeches on your behalf, or something like that. It may be non-violent, but it’s still illegal intervention in other country’s affairs, raising the question of whether or not we’re going to have a world in which laws, rules of behavior are respected,” Stockwell wrote. Documents illustrate that the Reagan and Bush administration supported computer manipulation in both Noriega’s rise to power in Panama and in Marcos’ attempt to retain power in the Philippines. Many of the Reagan administration’s staunchest supporters were members of the Council on National Policy.

There's so much more, but for the sake of efficient information crunching, I continue later.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Post illection Sickness Syndrome Enigmatically Derived

On November 3, I came down with a twenty four hour bug called PISSED (Post Illection Sickness Syndrome Enigmatically Derived). Man, this bug was nasty. I didn't really turn my stomach in as much as it induced feverish hallucinations. Today, happily, I'm somewhat over it, but I anticipate a future recurrence.

I woke up after a late night watching our national illection via the "liberal" media. After hearing the results of the illection, I was consumed by an infectious rage which urged me to renounce my religious "morality" in a very public way. I came *this* close to posting a nasty response to the results of our 2004 Illection, but I refrained from any action and eventually, the fever passed.

The thing about PISSED is that once you're infected, it's a hard bug to shake. It's kinda like Herpes (so I hear) in that it comes and goes but never vanishes completely. There is no known cure for PISSED. It's a plague on modern society.

So, in the future, if I ever say things which REALLY rile you up, just know that it's the PISSED talking and not my "rational" mind.

One of the catalysts for my PISSED infection was the notion that it was the MORAL ELITE which elected Bush to office. Rest assured, I will expound on these ideas in (near) future posts. Until that time, I'll leave you with these comments from Undezdnu who runs Understanding Politics:

Undezdnu's Blog

Exit polls analysis versus reported vote count

This is an analysis that I found about exit polls vs. reported votes in this election...its just uncanny that in every other election (except FL in 2000, and a handful of states in 2002) exit polls have been spot on, and now all of a sudden they aren't, and they are always underestimating the Republican vote (and on top of that, republicans own these voting machines with no paper trail)...there is no explanation for that to me, except that something is terribly wrong here...THERE NEEDS TO BE A VERIFIABLE PAPER BALLOT FOR OUR VOTES!!!!! DEMOCRACY IS A STAKE!!! And, no, I'm not a conspiracy nut...I just can not think of any other explanation for this!!

She provides several links worth investigating, and I recommend all of them. Perhaps in the (near) future I'll elaborate on some of these.

As a side note, I've heard many people talk about how brilliant Karl Rove is (he predicted that the exit polls in Florida were skewed and that both Florida AND Ohio would swing for Bush).

Karl Rove is the ANTICHRIST. For you Bible people, think about the qualities of the antichrist and then look at how Rove designs Bush's campaigns and platforms. The smear list goes on... Ann Richards, John McCAin, John Kerry (basically, anyone who runs against Bush). On top of that, Bush's policy of "spreading freedom and democracy around the world" (both CULTURALLY DERIVED CONCEPTS) leads me to believe that Bush has his eye on global economic dominance. Surely, Machiavelli would be proud (and if you don't know who that is, look him up).

So, my bouts with PISSED will continue. I don't WANT to perpetuate conspiracy theories, but what makes me PISSED is that it was the "moral elite" which handed Bush the Presidency.

My conclusion: MORALITY IS RELATIVE. Why? Because Christian ethics mean nothing in the "real" world.

More on this later...

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

More "Hobbit" Theory

'What does it mean to be human?'
By David Wilkinson
Lecturer in theology and science

Anthropologist Desmond Morris suggested the discovery of a human "Hobbit" on Flores would force many religions to examine their basic beliefs. The suggestion provoked quite a reaction.

"The existence of 'Mini-Man' should destroy religion," claims Desmond Morris.

The author of the article, David Wilkinson,argues:

Yet as science progresses, despite the decline of allegiance to traditional Christian churches in Western Europe, religion continues to grow world-wide in many different forms.

This should not surprise us. Contemporary science, far from solving every question, often highlights the big questions which are central to human existence.

This is the case with the discovery of LB1, the 18,000-year-old specimen of the new species Homo floresiensis.

The find of this so-called "Hobbit" on Flores Island excites me both as a scientist and a Christian theologian, for it poses the big question of what it means to be human.

The author continues:

Within the Christian tradition, some have suggested that the key to being human is our ability of rational thinking, freewill, our moral sense or our capacity to face our own death.

However, the overwhelming view which can be found in the early chapters of Genesis is that human beings are defined in terms of relationship, and in particular their relationship to God.

Being made in the image of God is about being given the gift of intimate relationship with God, and a certain kind of responsibility in the natural world.

That human beings are special in terms of relationship allowed early astronomers such as Huygens to speculate about other worlds without having nightmares about his Christian faith.

The fact that God may have created many other species in the Universe does not diminish the relationship he has given to human beings.

The diversity and unpredictability of the cosmos or natural world was therefore a reflection of a God who gives the Universe the potential for extravagance.

Finally, the gift of responsibility brought with it the need for care and compassion to others, the animal kingdom and the environment.

The fact that God may have created many other species in the universe does not diminish the relationship he has given to human beings

Of course, this conversation just opens a whole new can of worms for me, but I'll end this episode here.

read the whole article plus reader's response here

and the ironic follow up:

Following the discovery of a previously unknown species of Human Being, bookmakers William Hill have issued odds for the discovery of other unlikely creatures or beings.

read the "books"

500/1 that conclusive proof of the current existence of the LOCH NESS MONSTER will be authenticated by the Natural History Museum on or before December 31, 2005.

1000/1 that incontrovertible proof of the existence of GHOSTS will be forthcoming by Dec 31, 2005.

250/1 that the UK Prime Minister will officially confirm the current existence of UFOs of extra-terrestrial origin on or before Dec 31, 2005.

250/1 that conclusive proof of the curent existence of the YETI will be authenticated by the Natural History Museum on or before Dec 31, 2005.

100/1 that the UK Prime Minister will confirm the current existence of intelligent ALIEN LIFE of extra-terrestrial origin on or before Dec 31, 2005.
'We have also taken bets on the existence of the TASMANIAN TIGER (50/1); the MOA (66/1);BIG FOOT (100/1) while a customer from Belfast has bet that a 90 ft long snake will be discovered.We are always happy to consider similar bets on currently unknown or unproven species' added Sharpe