Life > Profit

capitalism-religionI have formerly framed the left vs right spectrum of politics as socialism vs capitalism, or collectivism vs individualism. But as I was pondering the fundamental differences between the far left and the far right, I thought of a different pair of words that might be more accurate: inclusive vs exclusive.

I don’t mean that people on the left never have problems with tribalism; I’m not talking about the people at all. What I’m talking about is the philosophies that form the basis of these different models of government. If we go back to the origins of socialism, we find that it was conceived as a social movement in which the tension between the elite ruling class and the workers reaches a breaking point, where the much more numerous working class overthrows the elite and implements a classless economic system characterized by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production.

Let’s examine that definition a bit. Social ownership is not the same as state ownership–in fact, the two are almost opposites. Since socialism was meant to involve the destruction of a state ruled by the elite, the citizens would be the ones owning things. Instead of having a privately-owned company that earns profits for rich shareholders, you’d have a publicly owned company that earns profits for the local citizens. The people are the shareholders of a socialist economy. The “democratic control” part is equally important, because entrusting management of a socially owned economy to a handful of elites would recreate the problem of capitalism. Socialism calls for decisions and management to be handled by the people themselves, and no state involvement is necessary, which is why socialist anarchists exist.

Continue reading

Thing Creation: Duduk Box

I bought my fifth instrument recently, a beautiful Armenian duduk made of apricot wood. It didn’t come with a case, though, so I decided to make my own using the resources at my disposal.

In the wood milling room at work I dug a few pieces out of the scrap box. I think I ended up with maple, red oak, ash, and possibly mahogany. It’s a bit of a patchwork box, which reflects its recycled nature. I measured a few times, and chopped the wood down to size. Assembly was a simple matter of glue and staples.

After making the basic box and finding a nice chunk of wood for the lid, I went to the hardware store to pick up brass hinges and a clasp. After treating the wood with tung oil, I installed the brass, and then used an old leather wristband as a stop for the lid–if it swings back too far, it’ll strain the hinges and make the box fall over.


Continue reading

Dozens of Dishonest Questions, Dozens I Tell You

10259699_10206679101548941_563729809442277661_nThe following list of questions have been gathered from various Christian sources for my own amusement. They are taken unmodified from their sources, so all the original punctuation, emphasis, and errors have been preserved. Most were presented as questions “atheists can’t answer”, so I’m going to answer them all quite easily and then laugh about it.

How did you become an atheist?

By not believing in gods.

What happens when we die?

Our bodies stop functioning and our consciousness ends.

What if you’re wrong? And there is a heaven? And there is a HELL!

What if you’re wrong and there is a hell for people who believe in gods?

Continue reading

It’s a Dangerous World

annie5In October a 21-year-old woman named Anna Schmidt (also known as Annie) went missing in the Columbia River Gorge. Her car was found at a trailhead directly across the river from my house. After several days the official search and rescue teams were called off and volunteers took over, but nobody found her for weeks. Finally, last weekend someone reported finding human remains, and it’s been confirmed: Anna died of blunt force trauma after falling off a cliff below Munra Point.

In the few weeks of October before she went missing, this area received almost twelve inches of rain. My lawn became a squishy, muddy mess, and the sidewalks and paved trails in town turned green with moss. This is not a good time of year to go hiking, much less in the area she was found. Here is a picture of the ridge leading to the viewpoint, where a tumble off either side means a fall of several hundred feet:


Continue reading

Omniscient and Omnipotent Dragons that Obsessively Hoard Precious Metals

dragonThere’s a crappy Christian webcomic that I keep running into, which tends to utilize worn-out apologetics fallacies while failing to actually answer the questions. For example, I just saw this one in which he attempts to tackle the problem of evil, but instead ends up writing a bunch of nonsense that only adds to his problems.

Let’s rewrite the dialogue with an analogy to see how it holds up. Instead of god, we’re going to hypothesize the existence of omniscient and omnipotent dragons that obsessively hoard precious metals. The greatest desire of these dragons is to obtain all precious metals, and since they are omniscient and omnipotent it is impossible to hide any precious metal from them or stop them from taking it. In this analogy, the dragons represent the Christian god, precious metals represent evil, and the dragons’ obsession with obtaining all precious metals represents god’s obsession with destroying evil.

Continue reading

Questions About Christianity, Answered

question-and-answer-images-clipart-panda-free-clipart-images-eodncb-clipartMy friend Neil Carter over at Godless in Dixie shared a set of ten questions for atheists about Christianity, along with his excellent answers. Since answering questions is an easy way to fill up a blog post, and they are good questions, I decided to answer them as well. (I consider myself fully agnostic–I have no belief about the existence of gods in general, but I do think all gods with names were probably invented by humans.)

Have you ever been to church?

Whether in my own home, someone else’s house, or a dedicated church building, I attended church about every week until I was 21 years old, and was thoroughly indoctrinated from infancy to believe a certain type of Christianity (which changed slightly over the years as my parents bounced from church to church). For many years in my teens I participated in mid-week bible studies, and I frequently played piano for worship services both at home and at churches. I’ve been to churches a few times since I deconverted, for various reasons, but I find that climbing a mountain on a sunny Sunday morning is far more beneficial for my physical and mental health than sitting for an hour or more while somebody bloviates about their personal opinions regarding an ancient book of myths that I’ve already read cover to cover multiple times.

Continue reading