Friday, June 30, 2006

Mighty Thor

This is my dog Thor. He is dumb for a dog, but part of the family. I used this picture to test Picasa's online photo album. I added a few other pictures using the Picasa2 interface at the same time. The service seems easy, but lacks some of the nice features found in competing sites. I like the interface and upload capability. It was very easy to use. Its best feature - It's free.

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Left Behind Letters

Pastor Brad,

Oh gosh, I really don't know what to say here. Every time I think I've seen it all, I run into something like the Left Behind Letters. Apparently, there are some Christians who really believe that Christ will return and take them away in the "blink of an eye". These Christians have taken the time to write family and friends letters explaining why a billion people disappeared. At first, I thought this site was a joke, it is not; these nutballs are serious.

A few of my fav’s (Yes – I read them all)

Are you looking for me? Is the world looking for millions of missing people that have just vanished in an instant? Are all little children around the globe part of the missing group? If so, I can tell you what has happened. Don't believe the very convincing lies you will hear. Don't believe UFO's got us. Don't believe some cosmic reaction erased us.

If you're reading this, then I, along with our kids, have probably vanished. Trust me, I've vanished into thin air - literally! I didn't run away, I haven't been hurt or killed. What has happened is what is known as "God's Rapture". You may be getting some sort of political spin on how the "silly Christians" went away, or some nonsense about UFOs.

To those lost in the chaos of what just occurred. My name is Alex. I am a Christian. I gave my heart to Jesus and I lived for Him best I could. That is why I am no longer here on earth. I wrote this letter a while back in case the Rapture came.
Suspend your disbelief. Let's say that the Bible is 100 percent accurate in ALL it's predictions....did you know that it IS? Did you know the odds are IMPOSSIBLE for it to be that way, yet that proves it's truth!
Pastor Brad - What do I call these people - Nutballs?

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Convert or die

The dominionist dispensationalist video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces is due for release this fall. In advance of the release, conservative Christian leaders have been asked to protest the release of the game as an unholy unchristian hate fest. The premise of the soon-to-be-released video game is for non-Christians of every ilk to convert to Christianity or die at the hands of Christian warriors in a post-rapture New York. Christian warriors run the streets of New York’s China Town, Soho, and other marquee neighborhoods, killing Atheists, Jews, and Muslims (and maybe even Catholics) unless they convert to fundamentalist Christianity.

In the War on Terror we have the word Islamist used to describe adherents of extremist Islam. Left Behind: Eternal Forces seems to be grooming the next generation of young Christianists. Who will be the target of their terror campaign? Any guesses?

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Superman as an Anti-Christ figure

Jordan Ballor of the Action Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty thinks that Superman is an Anti-Christ figure. His Commentary: Anti-Christ Superman: The Superhero and the Suffering Servant contrasts conflicting views of Superman as a Christ like figure and as an Anti-Christ like figure. Ballor is focused on Nietzsche’s will to power masterpeice The Anti-Christ.
Nietzsche’s Superman is a being who embodies the will to power, for “Life itself is to my mind the instinct for growth, for durability, for an accumulation of forces, for power: where the will to power is lacking, there is decline.” Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound: The comic book figure Superman is the embodiment of such invincibility and power
My guess is that Jordan Ballor is a Spiderman fan. Superman blows.

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It can happen here

Baptist historian Walter Shurden told religious-freedom advocates that loss of religious freedoms similar to what happened during the German Nationalist movement of the 1930s can happen in American. He emphasized that organizations like Generation Joshua are leading the charge.
It can happen here because of Generation Joshua,” he said. The name denotes “an effort by Michael Farris—founder of Patrick Henry College—to turn a generation of home-school students into foot soldiers to gain political power in order to subsume everything ... under their right-wing interpretation of the Christian fait

It is a scary thought. No?

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My Innova driver

Disc golf has been a hobby since I started playing in the 70’s. At my best, I could throw about 400 feet on a good drive. I have backed off a bit with age. Today I throw about 325 feet unless I have been playing every day, in which case I can add 25 feet to my best throws. I’ve thrown a JLS for several years. I love them. They are great discs and very stable. On a good throw I can be assured of landing in the area I am aiming for about 2 out of three throws. That is good enough for me.

Since I have been playing a lot lately, I have seen kids throwing Innova drivers and getting 400+ feet with almost no effort. I figured I would try it.

I picked up an Innova Champion Sidewinder at Discovering the World on Monday. I played the front nine at La Mirada in in the steamy afternoon sun. I played to three over par with a series of shots that put me pin high or higher on 6 of the 9 holes. I could have hit par or lower if I focused on my game. My average throw was hitting 340 to 360 feet with less effort than I usually put into a drive. The Innova flight path was a gentle S with a landing spot about ten to fifteen feet right of my aim point. I was in heaven. My trusty JLS did not come out of the bag.

I played Huntington Beach this morning with my son. I sucked. My game was all over the place. I missed the fairway on three holes. It was so bad that my son had to go bushing whacking to recover my discs for me. It was one of those days where you want to throw your discs in the lake. I resisted and tried hard to teach my son the game. On the ninth hole, I teed up on for a 460-foot drive. I threw about 400 feet. My son landed next to me on his second throw. We holed out together. He laughed at me because I missed a 12-foot putt. We both bogied the hole. Oh well, it turned out to be a memorable game anyway.

I am keeping the Innova driver. My guess is that I have a good chance of playing El Dorado Park to par in the morning. If I manage this, it is Champaign for lunch – and another Innova disc for my bag. At $12 the purchase will not break me.

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The dog park

I’m on vacation this week. Not the long planned Grand Teton getaway. Nope, I’m on the plan B vacation. My son and I are playing disc golf at each of the top Southern California courses each morning. Each afternoon we hit a museum, except for today. Today we improvised and hit a dog park in Huntington Beach instead. I was only able to take one picture – the little cutie pictured above. She is not my dog. I have a godlike Minpin named Thor.

Today was Thor’s first visit to a dog park. He behaved admirably with only one small fight against a much larger but aggressive German Shepard. After an hour or so, Thor calmly walked to the exit to with me. It was completely out of character. I think a social hour was good for him. It was not as good for me.

Apparently, the dog park is a very social place. There was a group of middle-aged housewives gathered under a tree, a few younger women with young children, and an older professional dog sitter. The social structure was firmly established. I was the only adult male present for the first half of an hour. Nobody made eye contact with me. There were no smiles. They looked my dog over and dismissed him (he is somewhat fat, like his owner). I tried to join the conversation. I fail utterly. What do I know about chick small talk? It was awkward as hell. However, I enjoyed myself. I listened and watched the dog owners and their dogs. They were entertaining. It would have been more fun with a working camera. Many of the owners looked a lot like their dogs. It would have made for some interesting pictures.

Vacation should always be like this - fun, new, and very relaxing. Tomorrow promises to be more of the same.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

A typical LA morning

Well ok, not so typical. I normally only see three for four of these rods on the way in to work. I drove something like it back in the day, a pink 54. It was sweet.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Emblems of Belief

Every bureaucracy has official lists, including the US Government. The Department of Veterans Affairs publishes the official list of Emblems of Belief on its website. These symbols are the only official markings besides the Civil War Union Shield, the Civil War Confederate Southern Cross of Honor, and the Medal of Honor insignias, that can appear on an official US grave marker. If you are unfortunate enough die while in the service of our country and you happen to believe in the fiction of Wicca, your grave marker will be blank.

There is a symbol for atheists. It is the atom (number 16 on the list). Only, I do not think atheism is a faith. I must ponder this.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

James Dobson on interracial marriage

In pursuit of my daily news habit this morning, I found myself following a link to the evangelical website Apparent James Dobson has a position on interracial marriage. I thought it odd that anyone these days would have a position on this subject. Problems with interracial marriage are a thing of 20th century in America. Granted, people in interracial marriages face some difficulties with the attitudes of American’s ignorant racists. However, these problems are inconsequential in comparison to the legal and social problems of the mid 20th century. Why would Dobson have any other position than “it is none of my business?”

Dobson does not oppose interracial marriage. His position is subtle. He uses his power and vast influence to suggest that the path of those choosing interracial marriage is difficult and those considering a relationship should reconsider and pray for guidance. He is suggesting that couples think better of it. Which can be considered the same as suggesting one should not get involved in a interracial marriage in the first place. His position is morally wrong. Even worse, it is hateful. Why would a man in his position take a position like this?

I submitted a question to asking for clarification. I will post’s response when it arrives.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Smile - Jesus hearts you

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

1 in 26.5 million

I received my official notification from the Department of Veteran Affairs that I was one of the 26.5 million veterans who had their social security number stolen through government negligence. The letter warns against phishing. Apparently, phishing scams are already underway. The letter warns to be vigilant. They give the 1-800-333-4636 Fed info number that I can use in case I notice suspicious activity on my financial accounts. As I read more of the letter, I begin to feel better. Maybe they recovered the numbers before the hit the wild. Maybe I’m just one of many million others and will be ignored. Then I read the last paragraph.
“In accordance with current policy, the Internal Revenue Service has agreed to forward this letter because we don not have current addresses for all affected individuals. The IRS has not disclosed your address or any other tax information to us.”

Oh god…

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This will only hurt for a second

Is Bush anti-science? I often wonder. When I hear fundamentalists and the Bush administration push abstinence over contraception, I wonder. When I hear that RU-486 was held from release over concerns over promoting promiscuity, I wonder. I stopped wondering today. I read this Nancy Gibbs article. The article explores another Bush administration attempt to imprint its moral vision on the county by withholding approval for a vaccine that helped prevent cervical cancel. The reason, administering the vaccine to girls under the age of nine might promote sexual promiscuity. I do not wonder about Bush anymore. He and the conservative republican religious establishment are firmly anti-science. Although I adore the left, I would rather deal with their form of madness than watch the country move towards a head-in-the-sand religious theocracy. Separation of church and state, it is a good idea.

As I understand it. The vaccine works by reducing the population of potentially infected woman. The more women vaccinated, the lower the chance of cancer and the higher the likelihood that the virus will be eliminated. What does sexual promiscuity have to do with protecting our at risk population of woman for this deadly disease. How do fundamentalists rationalize causing the death of innocent women through their un-scientific religious moral posturing? They do not have the right to act this way. It is amoral.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

dirty goose

This photo was taken at a taco stand in the Port of Los Angeles. Good tacos, chicken only, no goose.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

The weird things that I do

I am watching Jurassic Park this Sunday morning while the house is quite. Well actually, I am kind of watching it. It is on, and it catches my attention now and then, but I am actually working at my computer. One of the annoying weird things I do at times like this is ask myself useless questions. I do so because I have this child like curiosity and I know the internet is like a big library. I can find answers to my questions if I apply myself hard enough. A good example of the type of question I pursue is trying to determine the name of the little blond girl who plays Lex in Jurassic Park. The answer for me at first is always - I don’t know. So, I look her up. She is Ariana Richards and now ~25 years old. I wonder if she is still acting so I dig deeper. I find that she has a Star Wars themed movie titled “5-27-77” in the works. A little more poking around and I find the real gem of my quest. Ariana has become a fine arts painter. Her paintings are beautiful.

Of course, if you ask me her name in a week I will struggle to remember it. I will remember that she is a painter and that I like her work. I may even go out of my way on some museum weekend to view one of her paintings in person.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Nutball alert: Paul Ireland

I’ve been a libertarian for years and years. At times, I’ve even been a big “L” registered and dues paying libertarian. Most other time I'm just a normal free market and civil liberties libertarian. I’ve got to admit, I’ve never met a more entertaining collection of socially inept fringe nutballs. They never cease to entertain. I’m highlighting Paul Ireland today because he is the worst of the worst when it comes to libertarian idocy. People flee the party, good people mind you, because of out-of-control personalities like Ireland. He will be the first to tell you that you are not a libertarian because you do not “do this” or “support that”. There is no room in his tent for anybody who he disagrees with. If you are the unfortunate victim of one of his base and uncivil attacks, well, your only real option is to become a Republican. Quite simply, Paul Ireland is a braggart, a bore, and a disgrace to a an already marginalized political party.

Ireland ran for United States Representative; District 35 in the June 6th Primary. He did well.

Ireland (Libertarian) - 63
Mego (American Independent) - 218
McGill (Democratic) – 5,207
Waters (Democratic) – 32,338

63 votes – hard earned votes! That is like one tenth of a percent. Wohoo!

Ireland’s campaign website is interesting. I particularly like his “pictures with constituents” section. Hmm, don’t you have to be elected to have constituents?

My favorite Ireland quotes:

You have been over it 15 times, and each and every time, I've proven you wrong. When will you get it through your head?

"you're a sleazy, slimey, worthless, scumbag who is worth less than a ton of dead rats in a tampon factory"

"Nothing inside the body of a person has any rights. Not even if it were a fully sentient being capable of communication begging to be allowed to live. [...] Until the moment the fetus is removed from the womb, it is has no more human rights than a brick."

The is a movement to kick Ireland out of the Libertarian party. I fully support it.

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What is beauty?

I don't friggen know, but I know it when I see it.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

52 - that's my number

Numbers are important, 9/11, 666, 7, and the 12 steps, all conjure an image, some images are good and some are bad. We can add 52 to the list now. The 52 minutes of suffering felt by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after our military dropped two bombs on his safehouse. 52 minutes of payback, of crushing pain, of final justice metered out cowboy style to a monster. The blog were full of these sentiments a few days ago. At first I agreed with my fellow bloggers, but then I thought about what really scares me concerning death.
That death, if instant, is so rapid that you are not able to finish your thought. You do not get a chance to prepare yourself for what is to come; instead, you are not even aware you have died. You are just gone.
I would rather have seen Zarqawi’s death be sudden and unexpected, when the big sleep came for him, it should have been like flipping off a light switch. One moment Zarqawi was plotting evil. The next minute, no the next second, Zarqawi was gone.

His suffering, as so lovingly captured by the media, is a disappointment. He may have been aware enough to offer a prayer, issue a command, or reflect on his detestable accomplishments. What if Zarqawi had spent his last few moments reliving the beheading of Nicholas Berg? His agony could have been ecstasy. A quick death would have been better.

There are other numbers that are important in this story, take the numbers 18, 16, and 14:

18 - The age of his son in months
16 - Is the age of his wife (deceased)
14 - The age of his child bride

That’s right, the bastard was a child molester as-well-as a murdering terrorist. He married and impregnated a 14 year girl. If I believed in hell, I would wish that Zarqawi burn in it. However, even without hell, I am comforted by the thought the he is dead. Unfortunately, he will never be forgotten.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006


I spent a great deal of time cleaning dust bunnies off the CCD in my D70. This was one of the test images I shot to check for spots. I like it.

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RIP Billy Preston

Another blogger bites the dust

My friend, who blogged under the pseudonym sMhyla, has ender her blog at I do not know the back-story, but for a blog addict like sMhyla to give it up, well, must be a compelling. Story. . Several bloggers I know have stopped blogging because of interference from work, or conflict with friends, or out of fear that family or friends will judge them by their blogs. Hell, I have those same fears myself, especially about work. I never do it.

I have a few rules that helps keep it all in perspective.
  • Never blog about work – it is a dumb idea at best.
  • Never say anything in a blog that I would not say to someone’s face.
  • Avoid fisking a friend (an important concept all by itself)
  • Set a standard for your reading audience – (my family reads my blog, so I write with that in mind.)
  • Develop thick skin and the ability to say, “Screw it” when dealing with critics. I always like to remember that critics love to tear you up, but rarely if ever produce anything of value themselves.
  • Be genuine – people who know me know that I am an atheist and a cynic. It should not be a surprise.
  • Keep a secret blog - write about everything - tell no one.
  • Have somebody spell check my work!
sMhyla and I survived grad school together. I have other ways to keep in touch. But, I must admit, reading her blog was a weekly guilty pleasure that I will miss. Come back soon sMhyla.

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I love my job. I take picture of weird stuff. Take Mr. Red M&M here, it looks like he put his M on up side down today. How odd.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Good atheists and bad atheists

Good Atheists:
Gene Roddenberry, George Bernard Shaw, Freidrich Nietzsche, Frank Zappa, Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clark, Me!

Bad Atheists:
Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, this guy I know named Ken, and... Larry Darby

Who is Larry Darby? A self-professed atheist, Holocaust denier, and possible white supremacist that unsuccessfully ran for Alabama Attorney General in a Democratic primary a few days ago. Darby got 40% of the vote. I don’t’ want to go into how screwed up it is to have 40% of voting Alabama Democrats casting votes in favor of a deranged nutball like Darby. It boggles my mind. I want to talk about his Libertarian connection instead. When I first heard this story, I thought he must be a Libertarian. No real political party would let someone like Darby run for office. Libertarians on the other hand, they let anybody run for office. All you need do is fill out the necessary forms. Ferret rights – no problem, legalize prostitution and heroin use – no problem. Any position that even remotely sounds like a libertarian argument is fully endorsed. Darby would have fit right in. In fact he did. He left the Libertarian party to “save it from itself”.

Democrats tried to stop Darby. By the time they discovered his true colors it was too late. Darby was past the point of no return. Libertarians have been silent on this. For the most part, so have atheists. I am an atheist and a libertarian. Darby pisses me off, so does anybody who voted for him. Darby actually wants to shoot illegal aliens on sight. What the hell does an illegal alien look like these days? Darby should be riding the pine in a mental institute.

Just for the record, the libertarian position on immigration is to open the borders. Immigrants, both illegal and legal, fuel our economy. Fencing in the border, sending illegal immigrants home, or “shooting them at the border” as Darby suggests, would kill our economy. Not to mention the fact that these immigrants are people, treating them like cattle would violate every ethical standard that America stands for.

My family is five generations off the boat. I am a descendant of Irish immigrants. My wife is a first generation immigrant. Darby’s ex-wife is a Chinese immigrant, how do you spell hypocrisy? Apparently, you spell it Larry Darby.

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Touched by an Atheist

Mad TV can be so damn funny. This video clip is a George Carlin skit called Touched by an Atheist. It is of course, sacrilegious, disrespectful, and totally hilarious. I highly recommend it.

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Turn Arond

My son spotted this one. I would have missed it.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Hatem Bazian interview

I like to keep my eye on Mr. Bazian. He hates Israel with a passion that is hard to describe. He has publicly called for an Intifada in America, and he takes any opportunity to spew his particular brand of hate to anyone who will listen. Jeff Blankfort interviews Hatem Bazian in this poorly produced podcast. Take a few minutes to listen to the voice of hate, oops, I mean Hatem.

btw – the host site, Ihsan Podcast, has some other jewels too.

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The problem with graffiti

is that it always looks better on someone else’s wall. This jewel is at the end of a street near my home. Or was anyway, graffiti removal obliterated it this afternoon.

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Nutball Altert: The Cursing Pastor

I love this kind of news story . John Sabbath, pastor of the Liv in Christ Christian Center of Ontario California cursed Ontario City Manager Greg Devereaux, Devereaux's wife and his family. Apparently the curse was about funding, or rather a lack of funding. The exact text of the curse was not published.

I did a quick internet search and found this authoritative assessment as to if a Christian can be cursed. I guess City Manager Greg Devereaux in not a Christian. Surely, a pastor would understand he does not have the authority to curse anyone. Surely pastor Sabbath he would also understand that heathen non-believers are fair game to curses. I wonder, do pastors learn how to curse while in seminary?

On a more sober note, the City of Ontario wants to limit free speech because of Sabbath’s inappropriate behavior. Unfortunately, for those who must sit through city council meetings, nutball outbursts area all part of the game. Attempts to limit free speech may seem like a good idea, but this road leads to the dark side.

Pastor Sabbath can be reached at I sent him an email asking for the text of curse and his side of the story. I'll publish his response.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Gay Pride on Yahoo

Well this warms my metro heart. Yahoo has a site celebrating gay pride month. I’ve always meant to catch a gay pride parade. Maybe one of these days I will. I hear they are a hoot. A few years back I ran into a couple of my big burley Texas friends in the parking lot of the Long Beach Marina after a meal with my brother-in-law and our children. My friends were trying to find parking near the Yard House. It was gay pride weekend. They were from out of town and claimed to have just “followed the freeways”, ending up at the gay pride festival. It was a very funny but enjoyably awkward moment.

Anyway, three cheers for Yahoo, and thanks to Lifehacker for bringing this to my attention.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Prayer in schools

Wayne Adkins writes a nice essay on On Prayer in Public Schools. There is nothing really new here, but he hits the main points quite well. Some Christians want officially sanction prayer because having a teacher lead a prayer will somehow endorse it in front of the non-believing students. Our public schools should remain secular.

Friday, June 02, 2006

street art - Long Beach

I'm taking a blog timeout. In the meantime, please enjoy this fine example of stencil art.

And thanks to my buddy RG for this great street art link.

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