Friday, March 31, 2006 

Prayers can't heal people? Duh.

Apparently the scale of this study on intercessory prayer was the largest of it's kind. Basically, people in certain churches or monastaries around the country prayed for 1,800 individuals right before they went into heart surgery. Curiously, the study showed that people who knew they were being prayed for had more complications resulting from the surgery. Other than that, there were no discernable healing abilities shown from the praying.

That didn't stop religious quacks from trying to rescue the power of prayer. Nope, here's what they said:

"Our study was never intended to address the existence of God or the presence or absence of intelligent design in the universe or to compare the efficacy of one prayer form over another," said the Rev. Dean Marek, director of chaplain services at the Mayo Clinic, one of the authors. "The patients in the study had similar religious profiles with most believing in spiritual healing and almost all also thinking that friends or relatives would be praying for them as well," he said.

And then:

"One caveat is that with so many individuals receiving prayer from friends and family, as well as personal prayer, it may be impossible to disentangle the effects of study prayer from background prayer," Manoj Jain of Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, another author of the report.

The authors said one possible limitation to their study was that those doing the special praying had no connection or acquaintance with the subjects of their prayer, which would not usually be the norm.

"Private or family prayer is widely believed to influence recovery from illness, and the results of this study do not challenge this belief," the report concluded.

If only they had used the family members of each of these 1,800 patients to conduct this study, then the power of prayer would be known to all! What a joke...

Thursday, March 30, 2006 

State of War

Why is the State allowed to consistently justify war on moral grounds and how does it happen? Aside from the simple "Because it can" answer, perhaps we can clear some of that up with the following:

First we must ask the obvious, "what is a state?" A state is nothing more than a monopoly of force over a territory by a very small portion of the inhabitants of that territory. Ensuring it maintains a monopoly of force is it's primary function. The second aspect of a State is it's ability to tax those within it's territory for it's services - health care, protection, social sercurity, parks and roads, whatever.

There is a key point to be remembered in regard to the State and these "services": the State does not produce anything. Instead of producing something on its own in order to generate the money it needs, the State acts like a parasite on newly generated and existing wealth. The rate at which a State draws from the wealth within it's territory is a factor in how well the State can expand (i.e. taking over states or territories which tend to have high taxation and few foreign policy entanglements). The liberal super state has a low tax rate, comparatively, allowing it to naturally grow faster than lesser states.

A note should be made that the State is not a natural form of societal structure, rather, it is a highly lucrative opportunity for a very tiny segment of a peoples within a territory to gain everything they desire and provide nothing in return. States do not produce anything. What they offer are services which can be gotten elsewhere at a much better value, except that it is not the State's best interest to allow competition. It thrives on the monopoly it holds over the territory. The services it provides are offered at gun point. "Pay taxes or we'll shoot you", is the State's way of dealing with those in its territory. Just extrapolate it to the end. If you refuse to pay taxes, lose every appeal you file in a court of law, and resist the police to the fullest when they attempt to arrest you, you'll be shot. Thus, there is no incentive for the State to provide the best possible services. Why should it? It takes the money it requires, and then some, by the way of a gun in your face. There is no threat of the State losing business.

It is in the State's best interest to have as many monetary hosts to draw from as possible, which allows it to achieve massive resource advantages over the high tax rate, isolationist states (for example, Iraq). Therefore, the lower the tax rate, the larger the State can become. This is key in how states like the U.S. can invade Iraq so easily in terms of having an abundance of resources available.

How, then, does a State legitimize war, and other such actions, amongst it's own people and peoples of other states/semi-states? By creating circumstances which make a stateless society appear wholly untenable - inciting riots and looting; a chaotic scene in general. This gives the individuals of a territory the impression that without a State private property is up for grabs to anyone willing and able to take hold of it. And then the vast majority of those with property side with the State because the State promises that it can protect them from such a thing happening. This is the building block for all states either starting anew or simply expanding a territory. (The U.S. currently has around 1,000 military bases in over 50 countries around the globe - proof of its efficiency at expansion.)

The type of State mentioned above necessarily has to grow. It needs an ever increasing amount of money to keep those who provide nothing with pockets lined in gold. And, as we know all too well, war is the one way that a State can be allowed to spend stolen dollars as irrationaly, and immorally, as possible. The cycle never ends. There will always be another war because an unworthy someone has pockets that perpetually lack that golden hue.

We should be aware of the fact that the well will eventually dry up for the State. As history attests, no empire or State functions infinitely. This tangled web of coercion will eventually fade out on its own after its looted and plundered all that it possibly can. In today's geopolitical climate, however, there always exists a possibility of that process being expedited. The only way to ensure a free market society when the State finally succumbs to its on violent ways, is to make sure people are educated to the immoral ways of the State. Nothing else will give us the freedom we deserve.

Thursday, March 23, 2006 

Those aren't anarchists

Just checked the Drudge Report for late breaking lies and what d'ya know? I found one!

He has the following picture and link/caption:

Typical Sludge, I mean Drudge. The imagery and captioned link are completely opposite of what I know entails being anarchist. Violence is what an anarchy is trying to escape; coercion first and foremost. Destruction of private property and blood in the streets isn't the anarchist's goal or even first response to problems of this nature - job laws being changed in this case - and anyone who tells you it is justified is a socialist/syndicalist quack. You'll note that the story, to which the link takes you, does not even mention the word anarchist once. Why? Because they're not anarchists. They're simply accustomed to the old state-enforced employment laws and airtight unions. The French are having that taken away and now they cry afoul by tipping over cars and lighting things on fire. See what statism does to people?

So, here we have Drudge using yet another underhanded way to paint anarchism as the 'chaotic party' which wants corspes to pile up in the streets in order to accomplish it's goal. The masses in the U.S. bite on this sort of tripe hook, line, and sinker too (especially, especially in this country). It does make our job more difficult in educating people when major media outlets attempt to blur reality in this way, but we can take solace in the notion that they're doing it because they see moral truths in a free-market society and it scares the hell out of them.

Saturday, March 18, 2006 

It's a war! No, it's a picnic!

Out of boredom, I found myself rereading 1984 over the past couple of days.

When comparing the reporting of happenings in the War on Terror with the Ministry of Truth's dealings in the coverage of Oceania's foreign relations, the two strike each other as eerily similiar. Headlines and huge announcements made one day only for them to be something different, if not completely unrecognizable a few days later.

Granted, the actual ruling class doesn't have as much authority over the press as Orwell's fictional one but there isn't all that much of a difference. For instance, the supposed "largest air assault on Iraq since the begining of the war", Operation Swarmer, is today found out to be anything but what it was originally billed as. 1500 troops, transported by 50 helicopters, managed to capture a whopping 48 people (17 of which were released shortly after). There's efficient use of taxpayer money, for you. And when does it get reported as to how many innocents were killed and how much of their property was destroyed?

Nothing groundbreaking here, merely a subject that has been refreshed in my mind.


Love me not

I've been thinking about love lately; the concept as I understand it now and how i've misused it in the past. Love, as I view it, is a value judgement between yourself and whomever(be it family or friends). The values I see in someone else must mirror my own in a number of ways - obviously there isn't anyone else on the planet who holds my exact set of values - in order for that person to garner my love. Why would a person love another person whom shared hardly any of the same values? Would that be love? I don't think so.

Admiration is a large part of love for me as well. Seeing something in someone else that you wish to strive for while that person sees the same in you is one of the deepest connections two people can make, I think.

And then there is this notion of unconditional love. I now see this aspect of normal familial relations as comical. Why should one hold a family member in some special regard over someone who is unrelated to you? If a family member holds none of your values or moral convictions, why is there this general rule of sticking by your family before all others, even if you despise them? Solely because parts of their genetic makeup mirror my own? Pfft, that doesn't void a person's immorality.

I hear "I love you" plenty of times from people i've considered my family for as long as I can remember. Some of them I know to be completely immoral and insane, others I am not so sure about, but why should I hold onto this notion of them as "always on my side of the fence" when they hold none of the same values, or show no curiousity towards mine for that matter, and lack the slightest grasp of an objective moral standard. I don't think anyone deserves anything unconditionally, especially love. Though, i'm just now learning what it is to not expect any when ties are severed, and to deny it when it's offered still.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 

Intellectual Cowardice

The following has been stuck in my craw all day.

Last night on The Daily Show, the guest was Bart Ehrman, author of Mistquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. During the course of the interview, the author correctly pointed out several instances where things in the Bible had been altered, added in at a later date, and just flat out didn't corroborate themselves. Of note, Mr. Ehrman pointed to the story of Jesus and the prostitute in the square, where Jesus supposedly said "let he who is without sin cast the first stone". Pretty notable biblical tale, right? Well, Mr. Ehrman shows where the inconsistencies lie and comes to the conclusion that the story was most likely added a few centeries after the first cannonization of the New Testament.

As the guest proceeded to make his case and state the evidence in his book, both he and John Stewart just flat out left me stupified. After all of these affirmations of what any ardent atheist already knows to be the case, the two of them conclude each mini-discussion, and ultimately the interview, with statements such as: "It's as though the bible really is a living document!", "Yes, yes, it is ever changing!", and "To me, this makes the bible seem more godly".

How is it that seemingly educated, intelligent, learned individuals can so completely miss the obvious in what they had just discussed? All of these discrepancies don't discredit the Bible in their eyes. Oh, no. It somehow becomes a quaint little document of truth when all of these things are pointed out. I mean, come on! The author even started off the interview by saying that he was led down the path of writing this book by his questioning of the Gospels and their contradictions. It's as though theists come so close to forming a coherent thought and then smash it with a sledge hammer because going down that avenue is unfamiliar and scary.

John Stewart is the main reason why I got ticked off last night though. Here is a satirist who is paid to be skeptical on national television and has pointed out a plethora of inconsistencies in government and religion prior to last night's show. But when it came to the Bible and a man openly admitting that their were serious flaws in people's understanding of biblical writings, what did Stewart do? He cowered in a corner, shrugged aside any intellectual honesty he had left, and called the book magical and "more godly".

Or, maybe he just doesn't have the mental capacity to recognize such a glaring opportunity to nail someone to the wall. It really makes you miss those giants of men like Harry Browne.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 

The Bird Flu Cometh

I hope people realize that this designer virus will be striking the U.S. rather soon.

I hope people realize that there is a reason for the spreading of this virus.

I hope people realize that it seems to be the same reason that Haliburton received all of these wartime contracts.

I hope people realize that Donald Rumsfeld used to be the chairman of the board at Gilead Sciences which manufactures the most widely recommended medication(Tamiflu) specifically for severe flu strains.

I hope people realize that this is all a money grab. Cheney and his Haliburton crew got theirs, now it's Rumsfeld's turn. If you don't think they get kickbacks in some shape or form then I should tell you that i'm selling some swamp land in Florida and you're more than likely in the market.

I hope people realize that the poultry industry will take a huge hit when this goes down.

Finally, I hope people don't listen to anything PETA has to say when the bird flu hits the U.S. because they are a clan of terrorists whose sole purpose is to impede human beings' livelihood by means of force.

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