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Oakland, CA

Posted By Bakari

On race day I could understand people who didn't know me assuming I was gay, given the circumstances.

The Bay to Breakers, you probably know, is an annual running race is San Francisco which is unique in that it is simultaneously a legitimate competitive race in which people fly in from all over the world to compete for $74,000 in prize money, and a moving festival/party with giant floats, free alcohol, public nudity, and all manner of silly costumes.

This was my 3rd year competing, and as always I combine the two elements by actually running the course, but not wearing traditional running attire.  Its the one time a year I don my stripper outfit - silver swimsuit and a bowtie.
I hoped to beat last years time by 11 minutes.  To improve on last years haphazard practicing I started training earlier, made a schedule, kept a log, and made sure to begin my recovery earlier (I started last years race sore).  I trained smarter - but not harder.  I skipped on rainy days and never made up for them.  I did do one long run (11miles), but I never matched last year's 4 repeats on the 300ft-in-one-block hill near my house.
In the end I beat my old time but only by 30 seconds.
On the plus side I ended the race with very little soreness or pain, and for the first time had the strength and energy to walk around, see costumes and meet up with friends instead of just lying in the grass for an hour and then going home like last year.

As I began walking back the way I had come I noticed some of those "God Hates Sinners" people with their giant signs and bull horns who come out to every public party type event in San Fransisco.

And I got a spontaneous idea for a simple counter-protest.
No words.  No sign. 
I, dressed like a male stripper, still listening to my MP3 player music, stood near them, and began to dance. 

Fun.  Life.  Free. Joy.  Dance.  No one gets hurt.  How can anyone say dancing and enjoying a beautiful day like this is something God hates?  God invented all this. 
I just happen to not being wearing a lot of clothes.  Hell, humans invented clothes.  God puts us here naked.  I'm not even gay.  I'm not Catholic either.  (Catholic is in the largest font on the list of things God hates).  I think my implication was understood because all the people passing by began to cheer and wave and take pictures - which must have confused my Christian friends, as I had come from behind and they had no way to know I was there.
Eventually they turned around, and said something I couldn't hear over my headphones, and tried to move away from me a little.  Then I went on to put on another show near a different set of the same group a little up the road.  I was told by a couple people that I was their hero. 
I was just happy to make people's experience of passing by the hate filled religious fanatics a more positive and entertaining one.
I'm thinking, maybe a worthwhile annual tradition...

Posted By Bakari

The Warren controversy is over the following statement:

"But the issue to me is, I’m not opposed to that as much as I’m opposed to the redefinition of a 5,000-year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."

People are, of course, up in arms about this, as apparently comparing gays to people who commit incest or polygamy is extremely offensive.

Why is it ok to claim incest and polygamy are inherently immoral or unacceptable?
There are a great many cultures where polygamy is practiced, accepted, and legal. Obama's father, in fact, was married to more than one woman, which is legal in Kenya.
We are talking consenting adults. You personally may not want to share your spouse. What reason do you have to deprive someone who does?
It is legal, right here in CA, for cousins to marry. Siblings are slightly closer than cousins genetically, which makes it slightly more likely that certain genetic illnesses which reside on regressive genes could surface if they had children together - but we aren't talking about having children. Our sexual morays were developed long before the advent of accessible, safe, effective birth control. Set aside that its gross and weird, and that you personally would never want to do it. There is no objective reason why two siblings, who are consenting adults, shouldn't have sex if they so choose. No one is harmed. It isn't immoral. Its unusual, (because our brains evolved before birth control. We naturally feel its gross, because its better for the gene pool to be mixed up), but there is nothing wrong with it.
So then, seriously, why shouldn't siblings be allowed to marry?

In different cultures and times the age of adulthood has varied. A great number of countries - and most US states - currently allow marriage at 16, several at 14 (including 3 US states), and a few at 12. In many cases this is below the age of adulthood. Warren did not specify pedophilia (which implies a prepubescent child) nor the age of the older person.

The real issues are about sex - in general - and whether it is inherently immoral when used for pleasure; and about tradition and whether it is a legitimate basis for, well, anything.

Warren was not necessarily talking about morality. As a Christian pastor, his beliefs, "morality", and understanding are all influenced by, if not directly based on, some book written thousands of years ago. Essentially, tradition for tradition's sake. It has nothing to do with reason, or actual morality (based on the harm or good done to real people), or common sense, or modern reality.

That is not an issue of Warren himself, or of conservatives, or of Christians. Really, its an issue of having ANY tradition or text, religious or otherwise, dictate truth to you. The real issue is faith verses reason. If you accept a Christian as legitimate leader, you don't get to line-item-veto those things you don't like. The Bible is not ambiguous on homosexuality. (In fact, its rather more ambiguous on incest and pedophilia, and clearly accepts polygamy).
Instead of demonizing one individual, why not focus on the source?

I happen to agree with pastor Warren 100%. Those things he mentioned ARE similar to homosexuality. They are different than normal, different than what most people do. They are about sex, and as such are automatically pushed toward being considered immoral in many peoples eyes, independent of whether or not anyone actually gets hurt. And they are not actually immoral in any way. Creepy, maybe, but not immoral.

I find the response to his comments to be far more offensive than his comments themselves.
Prejudice is prejudice. Progressives are supposed to be the enlightened ones.

Posted By Bakari

The Amish, especially those of the Old Order, are probably best known for their avoidance of certain modern technologies. The avoidance of items such as automobiles and electricity is largely misunderstood. The Amish do not view technology as evil. Individuals may petition for acceptance of a particular technology in the local community. In some communities, the church leaders meet annually to review such proposals. In others, it is done whenever necessary. Because the Amish, like some Mennonite groups, and unlike the Catholic or Anglican Churches, do not have a hierarchical governing structure, differing communities often have different ideas as to which technological items are acceptable.


Electricity, for instance, is viewed as a connection to, and reliance on, "the World", the "English", or "Yankees" (the outside world), which is against their doctrine of separation. The use of electricity also could lead to the use of worldly household appliances such as televisions, which would complicate the Amish tradition of a simple life, and introduce individualist competition for worldly goods that would be destructive of community. In certain Amish groups, however, electricity can be used in very specific situations: for example, if electricity can be produced without access to outside power lines. Twelve-volt batteries, with their limited applications, are acceptable to these groups. Electric generators can be used for welding, recharging batteries, and powering milk stirrers. In certain situations, outdoor electrical appliances may be used: lawn mowers (riding and hand-pushed) and string trimmers, for example. Some Amish families have non-electric versions of vital appliances, such as kerosene-powered refrigerators.

Amish communities often adopt compromise solutions involving technology which may seem strange to outsiders. For example, many communities will allow gas-powered farm equipment such as tillers or mowers, but only if they are pushed by a human or pulled by a horse. The reasoning is that Amish farmers will not be tempted to purchase more land in order to outcompete other farmers in their community if they still have to move the equipment manually. Many Amish communities also accept the use of chemical pesticides and GM crops, forgoing more common Amish organic farming techniques.


The Ordnung is the guide to community standards, rather than doctrine that defines sin. For example, the four Old Order Amish communities of Allen County, Indiana, are more conservative than most; they use open buggies, even during the winter, and they wear black leather shoes even in the hot summer. The restrictions are not meant to impose suffering. In the 1970s, for example, a farmer near Milan Center, Indiana, was ordered by his bishop to buy a conventional tractor. He had severe progressive arthritis and, with no sons to harness the horses for him, the tractor was seen as a need, rather than a vanity. The rest of the community continued farming with horses.


<excerpted from Wikipedia - entire blog at MySpace>

Posted By Bakari

I went to see the exhibit where they dissect human cadavers, coat them in plastic, and display them in various poses in a cross between anatomy education and a morbid art form.

Two of my three companions skipped the section with embryos and fetuses, as well as a pregnant woman.

I found this surprising, as I found it among the most interesting of the sections there.

They said it made them uncomfortable (particularly in light of a job which involves pregnant women.)

I pointed out that they are, and interact with, people all the time, (like us, right then), and all the other dead people were people. But they felt it was different.

Although my third companion had not skipped this section, she found their aversion entirely understandable.

I've been thinking about that. People in general seem much more protective of pregnant women than anyone else.

Murdering a pregnant woman is seen as significantly more heinous than ordinary murder. A pregnant woman will cause people to give up a seat on the train who would not do the same for, say, an overweight person, or someone visibly tired, who may appreciate it just as much.

I suppose the roots may be biological, as embryos are delicate, or it may be social, but it seems pretty prevalent. The reason isn't important though.
Every person who feels this in someway should be able to understand the strong feeling of "right-to-lifers".
People who are against abortion are not misogynists, they are not advocating women be considered less important than men, or less in control of their bodies. They feel that life is valuable before birth. Apparently liberals feel this way too, just instinctively. When we argue that a several month old embryo doesn't have a brain, we are looking at a scientific issue. But in another, also objective, sense, there really are only two concrete lines that can be drawn - conception, and birth. Defining trimesters is very imprecise, and so in a way, a bit arbitrary. Of course if you believe (as most of the most passionate pro-life people do) that man is made in the image of God, then brain development is irrelevant, as the human soul is injected at the moment of conception.

I think this "reasoning" based on feeling may explain a good deal of (social) conservative views. Things like gay marriage, religion in schools and politics, porn and prostitution, sex-ed in schools, the death penalty, media censorship, or that every person should be responsible for themselves, what statistics say are irrelevant, what the practical consequences of a policy are are irrelevant.

On abortion we argue that a woman should have a choice in her reproductive choices. To a pro-life person this makes no more sense than arguing a mother should retain the right to kill her newborn. In each issue we put forth our own arguments, instead of addressing the issues the people we argue against raise.
Perhaps a more productive tactic would be to attempt first to understand our opponents view point, and then focus on education. Education of the science and statistics, but also of our own universal feelings. Anger management involves becoming aware of ones self. Irrationality management should contain the same. We need to acknowledge that we all feel unborn humans are valuable, and we all want rapists and murders put to death, we all feel homosexuality is a little gross, and that certain things shouldn't be said on TV.


<entire blog at MySpace>

Posted By Bakari

Buddhism doesn't believe in a supreme creator God, and different sects believe different things, but there are (in some versions and texts) other worldly or other dimensional beings, be they Gods, angels, spirits, or whatever.
They also believe in literal Karma, of being re-born indefinitely.
It still involves meta-physics, and it still involves faith.

The Mormons make a significant and deliberate point of saying that every individual should turn to God themselves and ask whether their teachings are true, they don't ask that you just believe what they tell you.

Buddhism specifically instructs its followers to refrain from "Sexual Misconduct" (although it does not specify what that means) and Buddhist monks and nuns are expected to remain celibate, just as Christian ones are.  Gender roles are determined and rigid.

Which is not to say it isn't a better religion in terms of its practical effects on society, but I don't see how it is any more or less "plausible".

Many westerners seem to have a view of Buddhism which would apply better to Taoism.
It is really more of a philosophy than a religion.

BTW I did figure out what you meant - I thought it was obvious, but maybe that's just me.

Personally, I find "spirituality" to be just as silly as religion.  It requires a denial of both the physical senses and common sense. I believe that thought is basically complex emotion, emotion is complex instinct, instinct is complex stimulus-response, stimulus-response is complex biology, biology is complex chemistry, chemistry is complex physics, and that's all there is.
But if some people can experience a personal higher power, or interconnectedness, or whatever, maybe people feel a sign that the Book of Mormon is really true once they read it and pray.  I think individuals of all religions are expected to not just believe, but to feel it is true from personal experience.  Just look at the practitioners "speaking in tongues".  And they say that everyone, given a life of goodness and faith, can achieve salvation, not just the Prophets.
Oh, and JCI doesn't just condone war against other religions, it insists on it.  And not just other religions, but anyone from the "countries around you".  And you can find people who are intelligent, who think critically, within every religion, no matter how stupid.  That's the thing about faith

Posted By Bakari

Adam and Eve are supposed to be the ONLY two people on the Earth.
They have a son, Cain; (and later his brother Abel).

There's the feud between them, Able dies, and then:

Cain goes out to the city, and gets married!

Where the fuck did a city come from?
Where the hell did his wife come from?

There are three people who exist - Adam, Eve, and Cain.
Who built the city? Is the wife his sister? Was God making people out of dirt all over, and they just didn't mention it? Whose rib did this new chick come out of?

Obviously anyone who takes Creationism seriously, or who takes the Bible literally, is either illiterate, or a complete fucking moron!

Oh, wait, no wonder they re-elected Bush!
It all makes so much sense now.

Posted By Bakari

They will find ambiguous passages to try to justify ignoring the parts they don't feel like doing, but the new testament is actually fairly clear that Jesus' teachings were meant to augment  the old testament, not replace it. 
This implies that to be a true Christian, you must still be koser, observe the sabbath, not collect interest on loans, and all the other great (and not so great) stuff that the old testament tells them to do. (see earlier blog post)
The 10 commandments were all in the old testament too.  If Jesus' arrival meant the end of staying kosher, shouldn't this also mean that thou may kill and covet as well, so long as you maintain faith in Him?

The New Testament, on the Old Law:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:17

"Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convicned that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law embodiment of knowledge and truth – you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?"
Romans 2:17

"Do we, then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law."
Romans 3:31

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!"
Galatians 1:6

"Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
Galatians 3:10

"Brothers let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human convenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case."
Galatians 3:15

"The law introduced 430 years later does not set aside the convenant previously established by God."
Galatians 3:17

Posted By Bakari

The Law of God, as recorded by the Old Testament

"To the woman He [God] said: 'I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you"
- Genesis 3:16

"I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation..."
-Exodus 20-5

"Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates."
-Exodus 20-8

"If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you six years."
Exodus 21-1

"If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free."
Exodus 21-4

"If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do."
Exodus 21-7

"If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property."
Exodus 21-20

"If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed."
Exodus 22-2

"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt."
Exodus 22-21

"If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a money lender; charge him no interest."
Exodus 21-25

"Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people."
Exodus 21-28

"If you listen carefully to what [my angel] says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces."
Exodus 23-22

"When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Lord his God, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect."
Leviticus 4-22

"When a man lies with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening."
Leviticus 15-18

"When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening."
Leviticus 15-19

"Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable."
Leviticus 18-22

"Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight."
Leviticus 19-13

"Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material."
Leviticus 19-19

"Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves."
Leviticus 19-27

"If a man commits adultery with another mans wife both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death."
Leviticus 20-10

"If a priests daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire."
Leviticus 21-9

<entire blog at MySpace >