Fuel Injected Freedom: New Truck and an Engine Swap

Last time, I wrote about the twelve cars I acquired in 2015, which I mostly got by trading. I ended the year with five vehicles: Toyota Tacoma, Mazda Miata, Volvo V40, 1981 Porsche 924, and of course my beloved 1987 Porsche 924S.

The Volvo went to my brother after a few repairs and is running very nicely. One interesting feature we discovered is that the passenger side engine mount was missing the long bolt through the center, thus hanging only from the rubber. So that was the source of the weird knocking sound during acceleration.

The Miata went to a guy with a beard. I’m sure he’ll love it.

The Tacoma went to a local young guy who needed a good daily driver. I’m sure he’ll be annoyed by it, but it’s reliable.

So what am I driving now? Well…

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Washington is Berning Again

This morning I attended my local caucus in Washington state, where seven rural precincts with a total of sixteen delegates went 16-0 for Bernie Sanders. I’m one of those sixteen, pledged to attend the legislative district caucus and county convention to represent my tiny town in support of Sanders.

The results from my beautiful county have been reported, and we had the highest margin win for Bernie of any county in the state: over 90 percent of the vote.

It’s a much better day than the one last August that choked us with smoke so thick the mountains half a mile away were invisible.

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Science Will Make Socialism Necessary

woman-506322_1920Recent developments in the fields of science and technology are proving that our exponential advancement continues. The artificial intelligence explained in this article shows that we’ve taken a very important step in a long-foreseen but little-expected direction. Noteworthy developments that will have similarly major consequences are quantum computing and 3D printing, the latter of which is probably as significant to manufacturing as the development of the assembly line.

It seems likely that AI and other technologies are going to force us into socialism if we don’t head that way in advance. The simple truth is that the time is coming when there will be so few jobs available for humans that linking a person’s ability to survive with their ability to obtain full time work will not only be dangerous for the economy as a whole, but terribly immoral. There aren’t a lot of options aside from socialism, and most of them don’t look good. Sure, it may take a few decades to make the transition, but let’s not pretend that what has worked in the past is always going to work in the future. When fundamental factors change, the strategy for reaching a goal must also change.

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Franklin Graham and God in Government

pledge of allegiance

The pledge of allegiance was originally written by a socialist without the words “under god”. He was also a Baptist preacher and advocated free public education.

Dear Mr. Graham,

If your god wants to be part of this nation’s government, he should run for office. Electing Christian politicians isn’t “putting god back in government”, it’s putting humans in government who claim to speak for god. As we all know, many who supposedly speak for god say completely different things. There is no objective way to test their claims and determine which of them is right, because their beliefs are protected by the power of unfalsifiability…which simply means there’s no way to figure out if they’re true or not.

The fact that there are so many contradictory religious beliefs that all claim to be the absolute truth is precisely why people like Thomas Jefferson so strongly opposed any attempt to put god into American government in the first place. As a result, Jefferson’s political opponents called him an infidel and convinced a lot of religious Americans that he would confiscate their bibles if he was elected president. Of course that didn’t happen, because religious fear-mongering is rarely based on reality.

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What Am I…Atheist, Agnostic, or Deist?

Dragontail SMALL

This is Dragontail Peak near Leavenworth, WA. It is mind-blowing to look at something like this and imagine the amount of time involved in creating such beauty.

Considering the things I say about religion, gods, and that whole mess, I imagine people who don’t know me (and probably most of those who do) might not fully understand my personal beliefs about these topics. Sometimes I think I sound more like an atheist, and sometimes I’m not sure.

First, I say I believe something when I’ve deliberately studied it from every perspective I can find, understood it, and subjected it to a logical analysis in order to fit it neatly into the collection of information that makes up my knowledge. There are plenty of gaps, some crossed signals, and a few mistakes here and there as my branching tree of confirmed knowledge continues to grow. Sometimes I have to cut out branches when a new piece of information kills them.

So I consider my beliefs to be those things that I have been able to logically support with data that I’ve rigorously checked for flaws. I believe that Einstein’s theories of relativity accurately explain the universe on a large scale, but I refrain from a belief about the absolute source of the constants, forces, and particles that make up the universe. I just don’t have enough data to reach a logical conclusion about such a thing.

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The Backward Thinking of Creationists

puddle-thinkingThere are a few arguments commonly used by opponents of evolution to postulate the need for a god. I wrote recently about the cosmological argument, and there are a few others that are particularly annoying because they involve such backward reasoning.

The first is the argument from design, or the “fine-tuning” argument. It notes the truth that if any one of various physical constants were to change by a small amount, life as we know it would be impossible, and based on this truth assumes that those constants must have been set at the beginning of the universe for the purpose of allowing the existence of life.

Douglas Adams satirized this argument with his story of the sentient puddle. The reasoning is obviously backward; water changes shape to fit into a hole that existed before it arrived. Likewise, the physical processes that produce what we call life change to fit the environment that existed before they arrived. This is why many animals have evolved very detailed camouflage that is specific to their habitat, and why you don’t find chameleons in Antarctica or whales in the Sahara.

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Lord Spiderman

The-Amazing-Spider-ManImagine, if you will, two thousand years in the future. Human civilization has collapsed and recovered, and a few scraps of literature from the early 21st century remain. They tell of a young man in New York who was bitten by a spider and gained superhuman abilities. A small group of people take these precious ancient scraps of paper and put together the story of Spiderman, claiming he was the incarnation of a god who used the spider to infuse a man with his power.

How might these people defend their holy scriptures? Let’s adapt some actual arguments that Christians have left on my blog. The only meaningful changes I have made are replacing God with Spiderman and the Bible with the Spiderman Chronicle.

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