President “Pussy-grabber” fails again:

So, the Dumbass-in-Chief attempted to follow through on one of his campaign lies (er, I mean “promises”).  Since the U.S. is still interested in stuff like “religious freedom”, and at least somewhat reluctant to enact  what amounts to a “religious test’ (IE: the “total ban on Muslims” he was babbling about) Ttumpty-Dumpty decided to throw his xenophobic, dickhead “base” a bone, by means of an executive order which resulted in a bunch of people from “majority Muslim” nation-states being detailed on entry to the U.S.  (even though their visas etc. were all in order).

Predictably, this has resulted in total, abject failure, and — more critically — a hell of a lot of backlash.

The “total abject failure” part has to do with a judge putting forward an injunction against what Trumpty-Dumpty is trying to do.  The backlash has to do with the truly a amazing amount of protests and (justifiable) condemnation directed against his administration — and him personally.

To be clear: these protests aren’t merely your typical “Occupy” Hipster dickheads standing around in public parks, livestreaming to one another, and whining on Tumblr (although there’s bound to be some of that).

THIS involves something much more important: people outside of the borders of the U.S. seeing the POTUS as a complete dumbass, who can’t even manage to abide by his own oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution”, correctly.

He has also irremediably fucked up on the “Border Wall” proposal:  Mexico ain’t paying for it.  Even if they did pay for it, it won’t actually “work” (in terms of either stopping undocumented persons entering the U.S., OR curtailing the Hispanic birthrate.

Here’s the thing: the ONLY possible hope for long-term viability (hell, for anything other than total marginalization) was for the Republican party — and other notionally “Rightist” orgamizations/movements to somehow “sell” themselves to Non-Whites, Non-Christians, Women, etc.

They’ve been busily squandering that opportunity since at least the 1960s, and the process has been accelerating for the past 50 years:

Goldwater’s advocacy of “States’ Rights” during the Civil Rights era essentially guaranteed that only a vanishingly small number of real-life “Clayton Bigsby”types would actually participate in “Conservatism”:

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/media/embed/82404406

(Which is not to say that this kind of idiocy doesn’t have historical precedent”:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Burros

(Fun: the ultimate “Self-hating” Jew!) 🙂

“Conservatives” have managed to systematically fuck up at every critical juncture, since then:

  1. Opposing the ERA
  2. Sucking up to the “Religious” Right
  3. Milking the “War on terror” for Islamophobia
  4. Dan Quayle/Sarah Palin as spokespersons
  5. The Anti-Gay/Anti-trans fiasco

I could go on, but the above should be sufficient evidence why “Conservatism” is pretty much destined to become a dwindling fringe viewpoint, confined to an increasingly impotent demographic.

Trump’s “presidency” is pretty much guaranteed  to further discredit “The Right”.

Trump’s “presidency” is basically the death-rattle of both the “Reagan Revolution”and Falwell’s so-called “moral majority” bullshit.

It’s gonna be fun to watch. 🙂

 

 

Funny — or maybe depressing — story:

Some while back, an acquaintance of mine related the following story.  I’m not entirely clear on all of the details, but the substantive outlines should be pretty clear:

So, this guy and his wife both self-identify as Baptists of some some kind.  Some while back, the guy’s wife had the misfortune to have some Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on their door (as part of the endless — and thankfully mostly fruitless — attempts at proselytizing for which Jefhovah’s Witnesses are — justifiably — infamous.)

At any rate, the guy’s wife experienced some sort of extreme emotional meltdown, to the point where she began repeatedly shrieking at the Jehovah’s Witnesses about how their were “all going to hell” (since  — as is typical of just about anything which identifies as “Christianity”, she and her “clique” explicitly view the JW’s version of “Christianity” to be a Satanic Counterfeit.

The go-to (ir)raitonalization among “Christians” of all sorts seems to be to cherry-pick certain Bible verses about people having their “ears tickled” by “false doctrine”.  (Fun fact: for some mysterious reason, nobody resorting to this gimmick EVER sees themselves as having their “ears tickled” by “false doctrine”.  I can’t help but find that interesting.)

I don’t know if anyone will find the above story amusing.  To be honest, I find it more than a bit sad.  Then again, it does indicate that “Christians” have become too socio-politically impotent to be able to torture and slaughter those they deem “heretical”.

Personally, I think that’s a good thing.

Unitarian Universalism is a “Granfaloon”:

Broadly speaking, “Unitarian Universalism” (or something functionally indistinguishable) is what must result, when any given “religion” abandons the following points:

  1. The (implicit or explicit) claim that its tenets are (broadly) true
  2. The (tacit or explicit) claim that what it proscribes/prescribes is good
  3. The (tacit or explicit) claim that it is (at the bare-minimum) “more” correct/valuable than its competitors.

Now, I am fully aware that the above statements might be “controversial”.  However, I have never encountered a religion which explicitly stated that it was false, that its specific taboos/sacraments/lists of “virtues” and “vices” were irrelevant, or which granted validity to the myriad of other religions which have existed — both historically, and currently.

Fundamentally, any religion  necessarily contains some sort of (implicit or explicit) metaphysicsTacitly or explicitly, religions also typically offer some sort of epistemological guidance.  (For example: the – explicit or implicit – claim that particular texts are “divinely inspired’, and the advocacy of “faith”, etc.

Another  basic aspect of religions is the system of ethnics they advocate.

Now, here’s the thing about “Unitarian Universalism”:

The only way that “Unitarian Universalists” can PRETEND that they’re doing something genuinely valuable by participating in UUism, is by  deliberately lying – to themselves, other UU participants — and (most importantly) to everyone else.

First, they need to lie to themselves.  They do this, by pretending that the myriad other factions of Unitarian Universalists (even within their own congregation) actually share any sort of “beliefs” in common.

Except, of course, that they don’t.  THIS is where the second level of dishonesty comes into play.

They lie to one another, mostly by “omission” — by resorting to what I can only describe as the “religious” version of “political correctness” — to the point where they can’t even risk having content in their songs, for fear that it might be “offensive” to somebody.

At the same time, they pretend that it is actually possible to “respect” all religions — and all sub-types OF any given religion – equally.

Except, of course, for the fact that it’s NOT actually possible to do that.

For example: gay/lesbian/”trans” equality:  EITHER you are “accepting” of such things (within a specific context) — or you’re not.  Moreover, if you are an advocate of such equality, then you really cannot “respect” (for example) the Westboro Baptist church.

Another (somewhat more esoteric) example is what passes for discussion between so-called “theists” and so-called “Atheists”.

In most cases, the discussion is utterly inane — UNLESS the participants get around to explicitly defining key terms — and agree to exclusively operate on the basis of those definitions,  at least within the confines of that specific debate.

For example: if two individuals happen to be using the term “God” to designate radically different concepts (say, one is a monotheist, while the other is a polytheist or pantheist), then they may each mistakenly delude themselves into believing that they are actually “communicating” with one another, when in reality they are merely talking “past” one another — while each one (implicitly or explicitly) “smuggles in” key definitions from their OWN context — without admitting it.

But, this is exactly what Unitarian Universalists can never actually do.. first, because their “principled” refusal to even REQUEST that self-proclaimed adherents agree to any sort of “baseline” definition (IE, anybody defines key terms like “god” in whatever way makes them feel most comfortable, as per their “free and responsible search for truth”) — and ALSO because they can’t really discuss those key terms in any meaningful sense, for fear that somebody might be “offended”.

In other words, lip-service to the 7 banalities (“Free and responsible search for truth”, “inherent worth and dignity of each individual”), etc.) serve as “purr”-phrases, upon which UU-folks can build a totally false sense of “community” with other participants, merely on the basis that THEY TOO pay vigorous lip-service to the same platitudes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granfalloon

Personally, I cannot help but see “Unitarian Universalism” as a sort of feel-good play-acting, where those who are either unable — or unwilling to actively commit either to an existing religious tradition, the atheist/secularlist/freethought axis, or even the fact that an individual search for truth necessarily imperils ones ability to (mindlessly) acquiesce to the “groupthink” endemic to  any “community” — can derive a false sense of “belonging”  from the fact that  they happen to sometimes hang out with other such malcontents, who *also* happen to mouth the same bromides, on occasion.

I simply can’t find that compelling, no matter how hard I try.

It amounts to: “Believe” whatever you already happen to believe, but don’t commit to advocating for those views, or actively attempting to persuade anyone, because that might be “offensive”. The really important thing is: keep funneling money into the UUA, and pretending that what you’re doing actually makes sense.

Speaking for myself, I can’t help but recognize the fact that most “communities” (implicitly or explicitly) expect  a certain basic level of mindlessness from their members.(victims?)

I honestly can’t see how any “community” could be otherwise.   At base, any “community” necessarily requires some notion of “Us” vs. “Them”.  “Community” (in anything other than the merely ‘geographical” sense of the term) relies on the notion of “contradistinction”  between two (or more) alternatives.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/contradistinction

But that leads me the next question: Who do “Unitarian Universalists” define their “community” AGAINST?

 

 

 

 

 

I dislike the “Matrix” franchise. Here’s why:

I have never been able to take The Matrix franchise seriously.  Literally everything about it is so pervasively flawed as to render the end-product utterly un-watchable.

First, “back-story” is idiotic.  Okay, so I “get” the notion that an AI would (for whatever reason) be unable/unwilling to coexist with humans.    Oh, wait, that’s right: I actually don’t..

First, I’m not entirely sure that an AGI (“Artificial general intelligence”) would be at all “human-like”, in any sense other than in terms of raw information-processing power.

Humans are a specific sort of entity, with a specific sort of sensory field, a (fairly) rigid pallete of physical and psychological needs, etc.

I am simply unconvinced that (say) any AI would find it necessary either to fight humans for “dominance”, resources, etc.  There’s very little basis for “competition”.

Let’s think about this:

First, it is exceedingly likely that any sufficiently advanced AI would be distributed in nature.  It is exceedingly unlikely to be “embodied” in the same  sense as a human.  Thus, to the extent that an AI would have “needs”, they would probably be so radically different from what humans need/(want?), as to render the notion of “competition” between the two types of conscious entities utterly superfluous.

(Also, given the realities of such thing as emulation/virtualization, it is extremely unlikely that any such AI would even be restricted to any specific hardware platform.

Further, let’s assume that an AI was invented which was (in some sense) “as intelligent as a human”.   Given how amazingly variable humans are (in life experiences, educational levels, etc.) “human-level intelligence” is nebulous to the point of absurdity, as any kind of “benchmark”.

So, we have the first basic problem (which is admittedly also a problem for the Terminator franchise, as well): There simply wouldn’t be enough grounds for “competition” between AI and humans, to be able to lead to any sort of “war” between the two.

But, I’ll play along.

2. The next (pervasive) flaw in the whole scenario about humans “scorching the sky”.  What the fuck, seriously?  Are the AI’s incapable of using geo-thermal energy?  Moreover, why the fuck wouldn’t they just use that “form of fusion” power (which Morpheus claims they have) — in conjunction with plain old nuclear fission? 

The primary issue with nuclear power (for humans) has to do with excessive radiation exposure, and “waste”-products — NONE of which would mean diddly-shit to the AIs.

3. The NEXT level of stupid involves the claim that the AIs “need” captive-bred humans, as a source of “bio-energy”.   Really?  seriously?

EVEN ASSUMING that harnessing “bio-energy” was any kind of sensible strategy — Why humans in particular?  Cloned elephants/whales would be WAY bigger, and would ALSO sidestep the “need” to link humans together into a big-ass VR scenario.

Oh, wait: that brings me to the next abysmally stupid plot-chasm:

Linking their human bio-batteries together into the VR scenario obviously involves shit-tons of surgery, right?  So WHY THE FUCK WOULDN’T THE AI’s simply LOBOTOMIZE their human bio-batteries, in the first place?   Do humans generate more “bio-energy” if they’re conscious?

So, yeah: why wouldn’t the AIs just breed/design a version of humans who were utterly lacking in the kind of higher-order brain function which supposedly makes The Matrix necessary in the first place?

4. But again: leaving ALL of that aside.  Why the hell would the AI’s bother to put all of their human bio-batteries into the same VR world?

This begs the question: are there OTHER populations of captive-bred humans somewhere, being subjected either to an entirely different VR scenario — or even an identical copy of the same VR scenario “Neo” and “Morpheus” experienced?

5. WHY an attempt to re-create a specific era of human history?

6. Why the late 20th century?

7. Furthermore: assuming that they did bother to re-create the late 20th century, how do they ensure that the in-world “timeline” unfolds in a similar fashion to the period they’re trying to duplicate?  (For example:  That the in-world equivalent of Bill Clinton gets the specific blow-job in the oval office, which came up during the impeachment hearings?

8. Why duplicate a time-period where people understood computer technology, AI, and the notion of “virtual reality” at all?   EVEN IF you grant the idiotic attempt to “ret-con” things in the second (or was it third?) film, about how humans “need” an imperfect VR world, or they become dissatisfied, or however else they tried to hand-wave it away — Why not (for example) create what atmounts to a stereotypical “fantasy” world — swords, sorcerers, etc.?

Then, you could ssimply pass of any “glitches in the Matrix” as being either “magical” or “miraculous”.  Moreover, guys like Morpheus would lack the conceptual vocabulary necessary to be able to “see through the illusion” — EVEN IF THEY SOMEHOW WANTED TO DO SO.

They would be guaranteed to misunderstand their own abilities as some sort of “magic”, and — at best — end up trapped into some idiotic notion that they were “good wizards” battling ‘evil wizards”, or something along those lines.

EITHER WAY, that would render them utterly impotent to resist — or even understand — the true nature of the AI’s, themselves.

9. Given that Neo, Morpheus, Trinity and their pals are acquainted with the notion of VR, and totally convinced that the “world” they experienced for their entire lives was merely a VR scenario — exactly what evidence is even POSSIBLE to justify their later confidence (after taking the ‘red pill”), that the post-apocalyptic wasteland, etc. is IN FACT the “desert of the real?”

After all, Morpheus outright tells Neo that — should he take the Blue pill — his memories will be wiped, and he’ll be dumped RIGHT back into his previous life, none the wiser.

It is infinitely more likely that the whole Neo/Morpheus/Trinity/”Zion” scenario is ITSELF just another VR scenario, the sole purpose of which is to keep the pseudo-intellectual jagoffs like Morpheus/Trinity/Neo distracted/amused — even though they are *still* inside of their VR-pods, somewhere.

The “simulation in a simulation” thing, basically.

But, probably the single worst thing about The Matrix franchise is: it gives pseudo-intellectuals an excuse to read “meaning” into what has to be the single flimsiest scenario in the history of — well — the “creative arts” as such.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unitarian Universalism: “political correctness”, cliques, and empty slogans:

I’ll admit it:

At one point, “Unitarian Universalism” intrigued me — in passing.

For one thing, the notion of a “religion” which pretended to be “inclusive” (such that self-designated Jews/Christians/agnostics/atheists/”humanists”/wiccans, etc.) could form a “community” appeared intriguing — until I actually started doing some research.

That was when I discovered the fact that what “Unitarian Universalism” is trying to be is both impossible and redundant.

First, the “impossible” part of it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/29/unitarian-universalists_n_887267.html

Essentially, the article is about the fact that a Unitarian Universalist “church” was experiencing tensions, because one of their “clergy” had (inadvertently?) failed at making the songs used during theier “worship” as bland, contentless, and inoffensive as possible:

BALTIMORE (RNS) A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology.

Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program.

But Mendes, a neo-pagan lay member who led the service, feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might upset the humanists in the pews.

“I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by reciting something that might be considered a profession of faith,” said Mendes, 52, after the service. “We did say ‘God,’ which you don’t often hear in our most politically correct hymns.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/29/unitarian-universalists_n_887267.html

Now, let’s think about that for a moment, shall we?

The only way “Unitarian Universalism” can even PRETEND to be an “inclusive” community is by resorting to what the wider culture would (correctly) describe as “political correctness”.  (Wouldn’t it just be easier if they prefaced any of that pesky “god-talk” with some sort of TRIGGER WARNING?)

But hey, it’s not like “political correctness” doesn’t infest the wider culture, right?  So maybe they should get a pass.

Except….not so much.

If you dig even a little deeper, you can’t help but stumble across two other things:

  1. What UU-fans call the “revolving door syndrome”
  2. The fact that they barely have any membership other than the “revolving door” folksThese two facts would be both surprising and (for UU-folks) depressing — UNTIL you grasp the fact that they are both two aspects of the same underlying issue:

“Unitarian Universalism” is a “religion” for those who don’t actually want to “do” religion.

For whatever reason, they don’t “buy into” the theological claims (and resultant lifestyle) of whatever ethnoreligious subculture was perpetrated on them during childhood.  (This is one reason why UUism is a “chosen faith”: the vast majority of them are basically refugees from something else.

http://www.meadville.edu/uploads/files/101.pdf

http://levlafayette.com/node/204

At any rate,  by their own admission, UUism tends to serve as the religious equivalent of the “Island of misfit toys”.

Then you dig a little bit deeper, and you stumble across the “Humanist/Theist” split.

This basically boils down to: Agnostics/atheists who are too damned gutless to actually “come out” openly, vs. “everybody else”.

So, there you have it: “Unitarian Universalism” is basically the (nearly) empty husks of TWO (only partially-compatible) “Liberal Christian” denominations, cobbled together into an “umbrella” organization, which is itself inhabited mostly by “defectors” form other religions (or atheism?) — who can’t quite bring themselves to CONVERT – or simply drop out.

The other major “motivator” for involvement in Unitarian Universalism,  appears — by their own admission — to mostly be people who think  that their children should  be subjected to some form of “religious instruction” (even if they themselves don’t “buy” it) — on the premise that it would be “good for the kids”.

Then, they usually drop out when their kids stop bothering to  attend.

Predictably, that “religious instruction” tends to be about other religions.  Thus — more of the “revolving-door” thing, as they eventually “sift” out into actually getting involved with a “religion” which has content of its own, or simply abandon the whole “religion” exercise as pointless (apatheism/humanism/atheism — that whole spectrum).

Meanwhile, the “services”  appear to consist mostly of a sort of dumbed-down self-help pablum, overlaid with a big ol’ mess of SJW butthurt.

So, here’s the thing:

What exactly does UUism “offer?”

  1. I already know that I don’t need “permission” to engage in a “free and responsible search for truth”.
  2. I already spend fairly-large amounts of my time interacting with  people, at least some of whom who have a “diversity of beliefs”  (read: religion and politics) — which we don’t discuss with one another, for fear of “offending” one another.

(that whole “don’t discuss religion and politics in ‘polite’  company’ bromide.)

So, what do  get, exactly?

3. touchy-feely “Self-help” bullshit is easily available, as well.

6. 101-level “introductions” to world religions are, likewise, easily available.

7. Both “political correctness” and “safe-space” culture are also readily-available (if you’re thin-skinned enough to actually “need” such things).

So — what would I “gain” from Unitarian Universalism, again?

The chance to “participate” in a “religion” which can only survive at all because there happens to be a steady stream of malcontents defecting from OTHER religions.

As one commentator (who I think is actually some sort of UU clergy-type?, put it:

What I’m trying to get at here is the sad fact that the humanist/theist battle at mid-century stopped theological development in UU congregations in both the Christian and humanist traditions. There have been exceptions—Forrest Church, for instance—but you see my point. The battles did not serve either camp well. So, at present we have a humanism that is as antiquated as tail fins on cars and a theism that’s mostly muddled Methodism.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/uucollective/2016/02/to-whom-it-may-concern-the-humanisttheist-split-in-unitarian-universalism/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the StUUpid drama is actually fairly insightful:

UU makes all kinds of claims about being able to look at all sides of an issue etc. etc, but then is not so good about living up to them.

The one thing UU is not open to is conflict. It happens. Instead of dealing with things, and making decisions, and being honest about how the decisions are made…UU avoids the issues by being “open” to everything. It says…”that’s ok”, and then silently goes on smiling through clenched teeth until the annoyance goes away.

I would have tons more respect for UU if it actually stood for something besides…diversity. Having a lot of people together in a room who have nothing in common but a general discomfort with organized religion…does not constitute a purposeful, progressive group.

Be something, dammit!

http://www.beliefnet.com/boards/message_list.asp?pageID=1&discussionID=513625&messages_per_page=16

The more I look into it, UUism comes off as far less of a “chosen faith” (which is the title of one of their agitprop books, btw), and ore of a dumping-ground from anybody and everybody who — for whatever reason — couldnt (or wouldn’t) actually be bothered to join a real “community” centered around their specific viewpoint:

Fluffy-Bunny “Wiccans”

“cultural” Christians

Those who can’t (won’t?) come out openly as “atheists” or “agnostic” or whatever, and instead hide behind the incredibly hazy self-designation of “Humanist”

The whole thing just strikes me as incredibly superficial, and looks like it requires a truly mind-boggling amount of “lying by omission” (IE: pretending to “tolerate” beliefs/viewpoints you find arrogant/irrational/idiotic, etc.)

This kind of explains the “revolving door”, thing.