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Rwanda today struggles to heal and rebuild, and shows signs of rapid development, but some Rwandans continue to struggle with the legacy of genocide and war.
Brief history: In July, 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Front won its military campaign and organized a coalition government. Since that time, that government has been a force for peace and reconciliation between the two previously warring groups. The main difference between it and Iraq’s current coalition government? The Rwandan’s did it themselves.
Its quite likely that the current situation in Iraq will devolve into something matching full out “ethnic cleansing.” Yet, Rwanda reminds us that perhaps all of this will work itself out on its own. So, maybe the best course of action for the United States is actually full withdrawal.
In the past, I have argued long and hard that any pullout from Iraq would leave the country in shambles. But what if that is how it needs to be, in order to rebuild? All of the tension in the region screams for a release, and while this may sound absolutely horrible, I’d rather they “work things out on their own,” as opposed to targeting us any further, or focusing additional aggression towards the United States. If we simply packed up and left, removing our presence from the situation, violence would increase drastically, in the immediate. But eventually, the people would grow so sick of it, that they would demand peaceful revolution on their own. If we had never maintained a presence in the country after removing Saddam, we would still be historical “liberators.” The resulting violence within the nation would be seen as internally induced, and as an outlet for pent-up aggression and frustration. Their mess would be their problem; one they would eventually work out on their own.
Tomb of Jesus Found? February 27, 2007Posted by Dan in Middle East, Must Read, Religion, Science, Video.
The truth is indisputable, 2000 year old tombs bearing the names of Jesus and his family have been found, and at least so far, are proving to be authentic. Scholars calculate the odds of this “family” being found together, and not being that of Jesus, to be around 600 to 1…. still within the realm of ‘random chance’ possibility. So ultimately, nothing is proven that can be interpreted as anything other than an article of faith.
Still, should the tomb prove to be genuinely that of the Biblical Jesus and his family, the fact that one of the other tombs bears the name of Jesus’ son would cast major doubt upon the accuracy of large portions of Biblical text. Such an error at the very heart of Christianity could potentially invalidate the entire religion in one fell swoop. If the New Testament is wrong about such a critical fact of Jesus’ progeny, and in actuality, claims the opposite to be true, then every other statement made within its text should be doubted; if not as historically accurate, than certainly not as the literal word of God (how could God make so many mistakes?)
It is through this chain of logic that the discovery gains so much meaning. But will Christians every truly accept that their most esteemed religious text could be flawed… and fatally so? Those who believe the literal truth of the Bible have managed to ignore things like Archeology, Astronomy, Biology, and Sociology in favor of things like Astrology and Alchemy (Don’t believe me? Read your Bible). So who are we to think that the addition of History into the mix would have any bearing on the minds of a true “believer”?
UPDATE: You can “explore the tomb” and the documentary at Discovery’s website.
Boys will be Boys… So Shut-Up about your Book, Lady February 19, 2007Posted by Dan in Main, Must Read, News, Politics, Religion, Sex.
I have been neglecting my blog for the past week… I know. But, work was crazy and the only news seemed to be about Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears’ shaved head, or some hikers stupid enough to get lost… none of which I actually consider to be “news” as the events have absolutely no relevance to anyone but those directly involved.
So imagine my surprise when today I was in my car and heard on CNN (satellite radio) that a 17 year old had been sent to jail for 10 years because he had sex. Thats absurd! Clearly some over-zealous father was upset that his daughter turned out to be ‘less than chaste’ and he exercised power he probably shouldn’t have to ruin the life of the boy who she “consensually had intercourse with.” Why did tax dollars pay for this? Why will they be used to pay for this kid’s incarceration? What a waste.
But, my real problem was this woman that CNN had on, who was giving her opinion of what the Bible has to say about sex. Of course, the average age of marriage 2000 years ago was shortly after puberty, the biological indicator, or in the mid teens, but this historical fact did not enter her argument for “family values.” Its not one I’m going to rehash here, but her main point was this: “People who wait until marriage live happier lives.” She actually said that, and I can’t believe the reporter doing the interview didn’t smack her in the face. Anyone who’s actually been married knows this is far from the truth, but thats ignoring the fact that what she said is absolutely impossible to prove or back up with evidence/study/research of any quality.
So where was the voice of reason in this “newscast”? Where was the sociologist (person who studies people) asking “What the hell are you talking about?” In fact, there was no expert of any kind. The woman herself wasn’t even a Biblical Historian (someone who studies the Bible), simply a devout believer with some B.S. Church of This or That credentials.
Where is the accountability in NEWS!? When did saying whatever you want replace factual descriptions of events? When did advancing some religious agenda become more important than the issue that A SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD WAS SENT TO JAIL FOR HAVING SEX!!!!!!!! This is when you take the time to talk about how screwed up our Courts are, not how screwed up our families are. You analyze what happened: why this kid ended up in jail, what occurred during the trial, what evidence was presented, and not why he wasn’t reading the Bible more!
…. My 2 cents
Haggard Cured! Now Completely Heterosexual, Thank God February 6, 2007Posted by Dan in Must Read, Politics, Religion.
After only three weeks of “intensive counseling,” Reverend Ted Haggard, best known for doing meth with a gay prostitute, now claims to be “completely heterosexual.” Wow… that was close. Just one little thing remains unresolved…. Who the fuck does this guy think he’s kidding!?
Thats the first time I’ve ever used profanity on this blog, but in this case I feel it is completely warranted. Haggard (who will herein be known as ‘hypocritical asshole’) claims his homosexual behavior was just “acting out,” and “[not] a constant thing.” And now that he’s had a full 21 days to think it over, he believes that he has come to the realization that he is “completely heterosexual.” Well, sorry Ted, but I don’t buy it. Your own proclaimed religious beliefs don’t work that way.
But for the man who’s life has amounted to something of a lie, founding a church in his basement and expanding it into strip-malls should’ve been a tip-off that he was less than religious in intent. Of course, I could be wrong about that… I have never been a member of any evangelical church. Maybe massive, multi-million dollar “World Prayer Centers” with jumbo-tron screens, gift shops, telethons and convention halls are exactly what God had in mind when he sent Jesus to die for the sins of all mankind (that seems to be what Evangelicals believe and practice). But, if you’re also going to claim the literal truth of the Bible, then you think it to be the word of God, and those who honestly, truly and deeply believe in the literal God of the Bible do not disobey him with frightening regularity. At least, I know that if I believed in a God who was watching and grading my every step through life with the slightest mistake translating into an eternity of suffering in the fires of some Satanic Hell, I certainly wouldn’t screw anything up, ever. But, all religion aside, Haggard had millions of people looking up to him…. real people, real families with real children living today, and not thousands of years ago…. and in one fell swoop he tossed away everything he had ever taught them, good or bad. A man like that certainly does not believe in the God he claims to.
And now, to state that some deep and fundamental flaw in his character has been overcome, and that which his own friends have quoted him as saying is “genetic” has been removed by 3 weeks of therapy, is ludicrous. But in the spirit of fairness, here is what Ted had to say to his own congregation in a letter read by someone else:
I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you…. The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life…. The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry.
The (Non)Religious Person’s Guide to Evolution v Creationism, Choice v Destiny, Reprogramming Our DNA and The Ethics Behind It January 6, 2007Posted by Dan in Health, Main, Must Read, News, Politics, Religion, Science, Technology.
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Recently, the BBC reported on increasing controversy over human/animal hybrids. As most embryonic science is outlawed in our wonderful country of Freedom, the only real science has to come from outside. What’s the worry with this particular study? Simply that the population’s failure or unwillingness to understand the science behind the work is going to increase negative public opinion, just as it is in the United States.
So… the ultra-controversial question is: should human genetic material be mixed with animal genetic material if it provides cures for disease? Furthermore, how far should science be allowed to go?
Here are the facts: DNA is nothing more than a series of chemicals that exact exactly like the programs on your computer. Very different pieces of complex coding designed so that each little bit works to perform a specific task. Think about the portion of you DNA that runs your brain as Microsoft Windows, while the portion that runs your heart is like the computer coding designed to run your Pentium processor. As people, we have “bugs” in our DNA, just like there are bugs within the code for Windows (ever seen the blue screen of death? That’s like computer epilepsy).
And just like Windows, people are working hard to fix all the bugs with the software that is our DNA. Unfortunately, also like Windows, you have to take the code apart and actually read it to find the problems. Its bloated beyond belief, full of junk programming/DNA that doesn’t ever do anything, and no two computers/people work exactly alike. (Makes sense?) While its relatively easy to just type new instructions into a computer, its much more difficult and controversial to do the same with human DNA. Why?
Well, DNA = Computer Code for Life…. its just that simple. Up until now, “natural selection” has taken care of the “bugs” within the genetic code of every species on the planet. It works like this: If you have a section of code (this is what’s called a Gene) that, for instance, makes it impossible for you to walk. Now, pretend its 5,000 years ago, and you’re living in a jungle. You wouldn’t be able to find food on your own, and you’d make a very easy target for some very harmful animals. Without help, you would’ve certainly died, and that Gene that kept you from walking dies with you. But, all it takes for a Gene to end is for the person with it to never reproduce. If you don’t have kids, all of the genetic material specific to you, good and bad, ends there. When this happens billions of times over millions of years, its called “Evolution;” the organism that you started with will always seem completely different from the one you end with.
So, God, Biology, and the World have been changing our DNA for us ever since life began on this planet. If you believe that this happened 6,000 years ago, as implied by the Bible, then within that time our average height has increased by more than a foot and a half. We know this is true because we can figure out how tall people were 6,000 years ago by looking at their bones. But we don’t even have to do that! Anyone who’s even taken a trip to the Middle East has already had this proven, repeatedly; you learn by bumping your head every-time you forget to duck down for an ancient doorway. People were smaller then. We have changed in the last several thousand years, and that means our DNA has changed as well.
Is playing around with our DNA the same as playing God? The answer here is: possibly. If you believe that God controls life, and we have no free will (everything is predetermined for us, and we’re simply following along), the changing our DNA is playing God, because thats His job. On the other hand, if you believe God set things up, made the world with everything in it, but then sat back to let us make our own future by giving us the freedom of choice, then changing our DNA is not playing God; its actually “playing evolution.” If, on the other hand, you do not believe in God, then you already understand that changing our DNA is only science, and you should probably just forward this post to one of your friend’s who doesn’t.
As you may have realized already, the belief in God and the belief in evolution are not mutually exclusive. This is what our founding father’s believed. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin… indeed most of the men who ratified our Constitution and Bill of Rights were Deists. If this term sounds new to you, thats because formal religious institutions aren’t in the habit of telling people that God is simply an omnipotent voyeur. Deists believe that God set up the governing principles of the universe, and everything that follows is a result. The principle amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the separation of church and state was implemented from this belief! In other words, there is no one religious concept that fits our nation more perfectly. “In God We Trust” really means, “In The Universe We Trust.” We know that gravity will be there tomorrow, that the speed of light is set exactly at 299,792,458 meters per second, and that the fourth dimension will always be Time. We can rely on the reality around us to remain reality. That is the United States’ Constitutional view of God.
So for us, changing our DNA to fix the errors and “bugs” is nothing more than “playing Evolution” and is actively protected and promoted by the laws at the very core of our society. Should medicine, science, and technology be used to reduce human death and suffering? Absolutely! There is perhaps no more noble cause with which research proceeds.
Meanwhile, In Somalia…. December 31, 2006Posted by Dan in Main, Middle East, Must Read, News, Politics, Religion, Snipets, War.
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Somali Islamist forces have backed into their last stronghold, the port of Kismayo. The largely supported Ethiopian invasion is an effort to expel the standing Islamic government of Somalia. The outbreak of fighting, however, seemed largely unprovoked. The Ethiopian government is accusing Somali Islamists of “harboring terrorists,” and used this as justification for war. It seems as if the United States has set a bad example and legitimized unilateral invasions, provided they fly the flag of anti-terrorism. The consequences of the failed occupation of Iraq have bled outside of the Middle East to start another war in Africa. This one, largely uncovered by the media, may be far more brutal than Iraq. You can rest assured that no one will be asking about the captives taken in this conflict. Mass-media blinders have largely seen to that. The UN estimates that 30,000 people have already been displaced during the fighting, and that casualties have been high. The war officially began when Somali Islamic forces were forced from the capital of Mogadishu three days ago, on Thursday.
From the BBC:
Somali Islamist militiamen are fighting Ethiopian and Somali government troops advancing towards their last major stronghold in the port of Kismayo.
Artillery fire has been reported near the town of Jilib, close to Kismayo. (more…)
Saddam’s Last Words – The Death Letter December 30, 2006Posted by Dan in Main, Middle East, Must Read, News, Politics, Religion, Snipets, War.
“The Letter” written by Saddam Hussein on November 5th, was released by his lawyers following his death. Key excepts from the BBC’s translation are below. However, I want to prefix this with a statement. While he speaks towards the good of his country, know that he was put to death for executing a large percentage of that country. He speaks of sacrifice, yet he lived in palaces. He speaks of enemies, but he has done everything in his power to make them. The only good thing he he says is that people should not hate, but for a man who inspired such fear from his own population, that is quite a claim. Did he not hate the Olympic athletes from his own country that were executed for their under-performance? What about those he killed strictly for their religion? He can’t white-wash history with this letter….
A letter written on 5 November by Saddam Hussein has been released by the former Iraqi leader’s lawyers. Here are some key excerpts.
In the past, I was, as you all know, in the battlefield of jihad and struggle.
God, exalted by He, wished that I face the same again in the same manner and the same spirit in which we were before the revolution but with a problem that is greater and harsher.
Oh beloved, this harsh situation, which we and our great Iraq are facing, is a new lesson and a new trial for the people by which to be judged, each depending on their intention, so that it becomes an identifier before God and the people in the present and after our current situation becomes a glorious history.
It is, above all, the foundation upon which the success of the future phases of history can be built.
In this situation and in no other, the veritable are the honest and faithful and the opposing are the false.
When the insignificant people use the power given to them by the foreigners to oppress their own people, they are but worthless and lowly. In our country only good must result from what we are experiencing.
To the great nation, to the people of our country, and humanity: Many of you have known the writer of this letter to be faithful, honest, caring for others, wise, of sound judgement, just, decisive, careful with the wealth of the people and the state… and that his heart is big enough to embrace all without discrimination.
His heart aches for the poor and he does not rest until he helps in improving their condition and attends to their needs.
His heart contains all his people and his nation, and he craves to be honest and faithful without differentiating between his people except on the basis of their efforts, efficiency, and patriotism.
Here I am speaking today in your name and for your eyes and the eyes of our nation and the eyes of the just, the people of the truth, wherever their banner is hoisted.
You have known your brother and leader very well and he never bowed to the despots and, in accordance with the wishes of those who loved him, remained a sword and a banner.
This is how you want your brother, son or leader to be… and those who will lead you (in the future) should have the same qualifications.
Here, I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if He wants, He will send it to heaven with the martyrs, or, He will postpone that… so let us be patient and depend on Him against the unjust nations.
In spite of all the difficulties and the storms which we and Iraq had to face, before and after the revolution, God the Almighty did not want death for Saddam Hussein.
But if He wants it this time, it (Saddam’s life) is His creation. He created it and He protected it until now.
Thus, by its martyrdom, He will be bringing glory to a faithful soul, for there were souls that were younger than Saddam Hussein that had departed and had taken this path before him. If He wants it martyred, we thank Him and offer Him gratitude, before and after.
The enemies of your country, the invaders and the Persians, found that your unity stands as a barrier between them and your enslavement.
They planted and grounded their hateful old and new wedge between you.
The strangers who are carrying the Iraqi citizenship, whose hearts are empty or filled with the hatred that was planted in them by Iran, responded to it, but how wrong they were to think that they could divide the noble among our people, weaken your determination, and fill the hearts of the sons of the nation with hatred against each other, instead of against their true enemies that will lead them in one direction to fight under the banner of God is great: The great flag of the people and the nation.
Remember that God has enabled you to become an example of love, forgiveness and brotherly co-existence…
I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave a space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking and keeps away one from balanced thinking and making the right choice …
I also call on you not to hate the peoples of the other countries that attacked us and differentiate between the decision-makers and peoples…
Anyone who repents – whether in Iraq or abroad – you must forgive him…
You should know that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle against the invaders, and some of them volunteered for the legal defence of prisoners, including Saddam Hussein…
Some of these people wept profusely when they said goodbye to me…
Dear faithful people, I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any faithful, honest believer… God is Great… God is great… Long live our nation… Long live our great struggling people…
Long live Iraq, long live Iraq… Long live Palestine… Long live jihad and the mujahideen.
President and Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Mujahid Armed Forces
I have written this letter because the lawyers told me that the so-called criminal court – established and named by the invaders – will allow the so-called defendants the chance for a last word.
But that court and its chief judge did not give us the chance to say a word, and issued its verdict without explanation and read out the sentence – dictated by the invaders – without presenting the evidence.
I wanted the people to know this.
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Up until very recently, the general trend of medicine throughout history has been to take someone who is sick, and treat their symptoms until their body corrects the problem on its own. Vaccines are just weakened forms of the virus they prevent, allowing your body to “practice” fighting it off, and “learn” to do it before you’re exposed to the real disease. Even antibiotics just give the body a serious advantage over microbial infections; its your immune system that ultimately gets the job done.
So, how are you going to live forever? Well, not with this kind of medicine. Fortunately for us (the now living) an entirely new avenue of health care is opening up, thanks in part to advances in three primary fields: Computer Science, Biology, and Nanotechnology. We now know more about the genetic precursors for serious disease, where the body’s weak points are, and how to fix them. We have advanced technology to see inside ourselves and examine in great detail the natural functions of our cells, and where they break down.
Yet, the real miracle of medicine is still some 80 years away. Imagine a robot, smaller than a human blood cell, capable of traveling throughout your body, detecting problems and fixing them automatically. This is the “Holy Grail” of nanotechnology and would represent the ultimate convergence of those three fields. The machine would have to be self replicating (able to build more of itself), allowing a single injection to send millions into your body. They would scrape your blood vessels free of cholesterol buildup, clear aneurisms before they strike, eliminate cancerous cells while there are still only a few of them, and no danger to anything. They could even go as far as to identify genetic weak-points in our DNA, spotting susceptibility to things like heart disease, Parkinson’s, and anything else that shouldn’t be there, correcting errors as they go.
This somewhat trippy video portrays a possible future with nano-bots:
True nanotechnology would mean the total annihilation of disease in all its forms. Correcting problems with our body’s natural functions is still new, but we can already see the beginning of this road. Personally, I have a great deal of experience with Propecia, a pill that actually halts hair loss by modifying the body’s natural hormone concentrations. While this may seem like a small achievement, it is in fact monumental in its importance: Propecia is a medication that changes you, to fix a totally natural, expected, part of aging, simply because it is undesirable.
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Entire Video! December 25, 2006Posted by Dan in Funny, Main, Religion, Video.
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In honor of Christmas, Webmerica is presenting “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” in its entirety. Merry Christmas!
Pope Says: Worship God, Not Technology – Do We Need A Saviour? December 25, 2006Posted by Dan in Main, Must Read, News, Politics, Religion, Science, Technology.
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“Does a ‘Saviour’ still have any value and meaning for the men and women of the third millennium?” he asked of his global audience. A great question, considering all that technology has does for us. Is it possible tech is our saviour?
“Is a ‘Saviour’ still needed by a humanity which has reached the moon and Mars and is prepared to conquer the universe; for a humanity which knows no limits in its pursuit of nature’s secrets and which has succeeded even in deciphering the marvelous codes of the human genome?”
“Is a Saviour needed by a humanity which has invented interactive communication, which navigates in the virtual ocean of the Internet and, thanks to the most advanced modern communications technologies, has now made the Earth, our great common home, a global village?”