Category Archives: philosophy

True religion

Some of the most important questions ever posed by humanity involve religion, spirituality, faith and belief. Most people, in every culture, profess to some spirituality, though things get more complicated when it comes to religion. Religion is related to spirituality, and faith, and belief, but you can be spiritual, and have faith, and belief without belonging to a religion.

So what, exactly, is a religious requirement? Apparently there are four of them, at least according to a mail order ministerial ordination company. From the questions, it is clear the company is of the (sort of) Christian variety. Here are the four requirements for being ordained a minister:

  1. Swear a belief in one true God.
  2. Accept Jesus Christ as the savior.
  3. Confess you sin, and ask for forgiveness. (And if you haven’t confessed yet, the form, below, encourages you to do so as part of the application process.)
  4. Pay $139.00. Note that you can “add $25 for optional wallet ID card.”

The form is reproduced below, only with the address and other identifying information blotted out. Some have spent their life working for ordination. Others pay $139. Or optionally $164.

Application for ordination. Yes, this might be crass, vulgar, and more profane than sacred, but they do accept cash or credit.
Application for ordination. Yes, this might be crass, vulgar, and more profane than sacred, but they do accept cash or credit.

Pirate Party: success at last!

Pirates are thriving, and it may be a good thing.

On December 2, Iceland’s President mandated that Pirate Party Member of Parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir form a government. In the October 2016 general election, the Pirate Party came in third, but the two top vote-getting parties, the Independence Party and the Left-Green Movement, failed to build a coalition large enough to run the country. It is now time for the Pirates!

Yes, Iceland has a Pirate Party. As the Pirate Party website notes, it is patterned after the Swedish Pirate Party.

The UK established a Pirate Party in 2009, again patterned after the Swedish party. Founded in Manchester, it espouses civil liberties, privacy, direct democracy, and other very sensible things, constrained only by the somewhat strange name. It has never managed to get anyone elected to the UK parliament, but a quick read of the pamphlet distributed in Manchester for the 2015 election demonstrates a very workable set of policies:

What is the Pirate Party? "We believe that being a pirate means you are independently minded and independently minded politicians are what we need right now. If you believe most politicians are crooks, then maybe it's time to try the Pirate Party. Think different, vote different."
What is the Pirate Party? “We believe that being a pirate means you are independently minded and independently minded politicians are what we need right now. If you believe most politicians are crooks, then maybe it’s time to try the Pirate Party. Think different, vote different.”
Platform of the Pirate Party: end mass surveillance, respect privacy, basic living income for all, openness and transparency in government, free health care, broadband for all, education as a lifelong right.
Platform of the Pirate Party: end mass surveillance, respect privacy, basic living income for all, openness and transparency in government, free health care, broadband for all, education as a lifelong right.

Given the state of recent political rhetoric in the UK and the US, consider the Pirate Codex. It lays out a simple set of principles that, despite being political, are remarkably non-partisan.

Early version of Google

This was the early version of Google. Using these humble wooden drawers, generations of scholars and researchers, desperate students and cunning spies, despairing parents and fanatical bibliophiles, and every other shape and size of reader delved into the depth and breadth of human understanding.

Something worth considering: Google contains only a fraction of the knowledge once cataloged by card catalogs. Technology has digitized and indexed only that which is easy to digitize and index; most journal articles, newspaper articles, books, scientific papers, notebooks and other written material are still confined to physical forms, and unknown to Internet search engines.

How I miss card catalogs.

The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder's of the world's past and the future of the universe.
The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder’s of the world’s past and the future of the universe.

Bottle cap Flag

In the United States, you can start a riot, or sink a political campaign, or fill nightly newscasts for a week with a real or implied desecration of the American flag. But apparently there is nothing at all wrong with creating a flag out of beer bottle caps.

Beer bottlecap flag over bar in Northern Virginia
To be honest, this really is an impressive piece of artwork.

It is worth noting that the American Revolution was fomented, in large measure, in the fermented confines of taverns.

Official Fourth Estate

Here we see a newspaper box at George Mason University in Northern Virginia. Note that the title of the newspaper is “Fourth Estate.” Then notice the slogan at the top: “Broadside and Connect2Mason present George Mason University’s official student news outlet.”

George Mason University has an official Fourth Estate, just like other well-known totalitarian regimes.
George Mason University has an official Fourth Estate, just like other well-known totalitarian regimes.

We can only assume that George Mason either lacks a department of journalism or lacks a history department, or both.