Friday, December 28, 2007

I want one

This car looks very cool, and is actually affordable. I'll take the hybrid in 2009. 300MPG is perfect. Fill it up once a year. At that rate, on a 10 gallon tank, one could drive from LA to Miami.

Even with the electric, I seldom drive more than 120 mi/ day. More like 6.

I had wondered to myself why I couldn't get a good electric car, when I wanted one. There's demand, why is there no supply? And I noted how the giant US auto companies were not in my consideration set for a new car. Why are they still around? I thought it might take starting a car company from scratch to respond to this shift in demand, since the current US dinosaurs don't seem capable of adapting.

Seems these guys at Aptera were well ahead of me. And with all the orders on the books they need to turn a profit, I expect they'll be around. I expect US auto firms won't be able to compete. They'll try to buy this company, then will run it into the ground. Meanwhile, the original founders will pull a Jet Blue, and start over, even better, and kick the giant companies butts once more.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The New Testament + Logic: Also Happy Fun Times!

Ok, so the Old testament is barbaric. If we choose to be good Christians and ditch the Old Testament as "Pre-Jesus" and accept the New Testament as the basis of Christian ethics, we will also find ourselves quickly confused.

In Luke 14:26 we get: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own soul, he cannot be my disciple."

I have to hate my parents and my spouse and my kids and my siblings to follow Jesus? That's not very nice, Jesus. Downright un-Christian. And a bit of a mind fuck. I have to hate my soul? So... should I sin? How should I show this righteous hatred for my soul? Become a cutter? Get into S&M? I'm confused...

Fortunately, John writes in his first letter (4:20) "If anyone makes the statement: 'I love God,' and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen." Seems Jesus got a little "off message" there in Luke, so John, his PR flack, set us straight. "When Jesus said 'Hate your brother' he really meant 'Love your brother.'" Ah, got it. So to love God and follow Jesus, I have to both love and hate my brother. No problem, since 'love' and 'hate' aren't opposites, or anything.

In Matthew 26:52, JC is pretty clear:"Then Jesus said to him: 'Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.'" Swords = bad. Clear.

Yet in Luke 32:36-38, we get: "Then he [Jesus] said to them: 'But now let the one that has a purse take it up, likewise also a food pouch; and let the one having no sword sell his outer garment and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be accomplished in me, namely, ‘And he was reckoned with lawless ones.’ For that which concerns me is having an accomplishment.'Then they said: 'Lord, look! here are two swords.' He said to them: 'It is enough.'" Swords = quite useful. Glad you guys brought those swords. Too bad you'll now perish by them, because I also said that.

In Matthew 5:44 we get some Jesus Classic: "However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you." Aw, that's so nice! That's the Jesus we all know and love, except when crusading, denying gays civil rights, or assassinating folks who work in reproductive health. Then we forget that part.

But then, JC starts showing some attitude in 22:18: "But Jesus, knowing their wickedness, said: 'Why do you put me to the test, hypocrites?'" Yeah, bitches, why? And then there's that whole knocking over the tables of the money changers at the temple. Nice way to show love for the enemies, chasing them with a whip. I actually know a few folks who'd find being chased with a whip a sign of love. But this is San Francisco.

So: Love your enemies, unless they piss you off, in which case, violence and name calling are A-OK. Ah: Crusades explained. Inquisition justified. What would Jesus do? Manifest his love of his enemies through war & torture. Coming to a theater near you: Jesus vs. Predator. Watch Jesus love his enemy from outer space to death.

In Matthew 5:32 we get divorce is bad, unless she's a skank: "However, I say to you that everyone divorcing his wife, except on account of fornication, makes her a subject for adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

Yet in Mark 10:11-12 we get that divorce is bad, no exceptions: "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if ever a woman, after divorcing her husband, marries another, she commits adultery"

So, Jesus, which is it? Is there a skank escape clause, or no?

Now I don't know about you, but I have a hard time both loving and hating my brother, both loving my enemies and calling them names, both owning and using weapons and not owning and using weapons, and thinking that divorce for adultery is both permissible and not permissible. It makes my head explode. Like believing both 2 + 2 = 4, and 2+ 2 = 376. Maybe some "faith" would help?

Now it's possible that only some of the New Testament is bullshit, but once we accept that, we're no longer on "because the bible says so" grounds, but, having turned on our own factory-installed bullshit detectors, we're now on "because the bible says so and I agree" grounds, which is more or less "because I think so" grounds, since you could choose whichever book you like to justify your morality. If I had to choose, I think I'd live my life according to the teachings of Yoda. Episode V, Chapter 13, verse 12: "Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try."

If we go beyond the philosophical inconsistencies (nay, contradictions) in the NT, and take in the outright "factual" contradictions, there are too many to name. Fortunately, others have done this for me. Were there 28 generations from David to Jesus, or 43? What's a mere 15 generations, between friends? But the bible is all true. Just don't, you know, expect the math to check out.

The factual contradictions merely serve to demonstrate the impact of the giant game of telephone that's been played with this book, as translated, re-translated, edited and re-edited over the years. It's been so corrupted by human influence that it's difficult to take any of it seriously.

Of course, people are free to take it as the source of their moral convictions, if they like. But those literarily-sourced convictions should get no less scrutiny than those who base theirs on "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", or Machiavelli's "The Prince". "Because my special book says so" can't be a legit answer to "Why is that wrong?".

The Old Testament is barbaric ("Hey, Abraham, I'd like a human sacrifice of your kid"), the New Testament is self contradictory and corrupted by human influence. So if you're going to say that "Homosexuality is a sin because the Old New Testament says so", you may do that, as long as you also hate your whole family, as Jesus instructed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Logic + Bible = Happy fun time

I was web surfing and found some dark corner of the Internet in which 35% of the folks thought evolution was "a lie". And 61% said homosexuality was a sin. "Read Leviticus." As if that's the final answer.

So I responded:

If we take the bible as the final word on what is and isn't sin, and if, even further, we're going to take Leviticus as a legitimate arbiter of what's sin and what's not (a la hot_gamama), then we find ourselves having to accept as sinful many things that our modern sensibilities might find quite harmless.

For example, Leviticus 3:17 would have us not eating any fat. At all. Because all the fat belongs to Jehovah. Prime rib, anyone?

Leviticus 11:6-7 rules out rabbit and pork. Bacon, anyone? Oops, that's a sin. Jehovah very angry you eat his bacon. Now he smite you with pestilence, or something.

Leviticus 11:10 is where we lose lobster, clams, mussels, scallops and crab to sin. And since this is the bible, and it's Leviticus, it's a sin. Because the bible said so. Red Lobster: For people who want to go to hell.

To make up for this, Leviticus 11:22 enumerates the bugs we can eat. Which is nice. For when you want to do some un-sinful bug eating. Bible scoreboard says,"Eating bugs: OK! Eating bacon: EVIL!"

Helpful hints for all you moms out there on a tough issue of etiquette that you won't find adequately addressed in any Martha Stewart book: What's the appropriate animal sacrifice after giving birth? Leviticus 12 has all the answers. Quick hint: Rams & pigeons are always in style.

Leviticus 18:22 is where it implies that sex between two men is bad, but only assuming the listener is a heterosexual male. Doesn't rule out lesbianism, though, so that kind of homosexuality seems just fine. Actually "And you must not lie down with a male the same as you lie down with a woman" just says "don't be bi". Seems you just have to have a preference to please Jehovah. I know the lesbians don't lie with a male the same way they lie with a woman. Seems they're actually fine.

In Leviticus 19:19, in the same chapter as we get "YOU people must not steal, and YOU must not deceive, and YOU must not deal falsely anyone with his associate," we also get " must not put upon yourself a garment of two sorts of thread, mixed together." Stealing: EVIL! Cotton-lycra yoga pants? Also EVIL!

So all this fun bible study time seems to leave us with two choices:

  1. Accept Leviticus and/ or the bible as the final word on right and wrong, and give up bacon, pick up animal sacrifice, call same sex sexual expression a sin and have an entirely consistent set of beliefs.


  2. Recognize that "The bible says to act thusly, ergo, we should" isn't such a great argument for proclaiming what is and what's not right conduct. Assuming you like lobster and don't want to kill and burn a ram every time you have a baby. And you wear cotton-lycra yoga pants.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Originally uploaded by ken_is_a_verb
Brew pub no 4 in a week.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The carbon footprint of my cheese

Stopped at the expensive, ultra-affluent Marin county soccer mom-oriented Molly Stone's supermarket in Greenbrae on my way home last night. I just needed some non-boring bread and a spreadable, slightly exotic cheese. I planned to slice bread, spread cheese, lightly broil.

I chose to choose my cheese first.

One of the benefits of living in Marin is, in the west of the county lie genuine pasture lands with genuine dairies. Most of which are organic, hippy dairies, or snooty, fine cheese makers. All of them make good stuff, and they're located within a 25-30 minute drive. Many of the local supermarkets (including Safeway) carry their products. When I shop at Safeway and United markets, I find the local-produced feta and blue cheeses priced at slight and quality justified premium to the national products.

Yet in Molly Stone's, these local cheeses were going for nearly $20/ pound. Nearly twice what I usually pay for them. Meanwhile, in the same store, there were equivalent cheeses from very un-local places, such as Israel, Spain, France, and Italy. And they cost about half of the local cheeses. Feta from Marin: $12. Feta from Israel: $6. Goat cheese from Marin: $10. Goat cheese from Spain: $5.

The green economist in me wonders why.

I believe the answer is the high concentration of affluent progressives who will buy local when they can. Hell, I'm an (arguably) affluent progressive, and I wanted to buy locally. But $12 cheese was insane. Why does being green have to be more expensive? Some times it is, but transportation costs alone have to hamper the economics of cheese from Israel (other side of planet) versus cheese from a place I could ride my bike to. Even if the Israeli cheese is produced on a larger scale. Even if it's inorganic. The trip to California's gotta cost something.

And I wonder: who wins? Does the local farm really get major $$ because rich hippies want their product? Or does the retailer, who's clever enough to figure out they can raise prices with no change in sales volume, simply reap the reward?

I struggled. Principles in play: Supporting lower (judging transportation alone) carbon cheese, or punishing (in my mind) at best irrational and at worst gouging prices.

I went home with Spanish goat cheese.

If only it came with a carbon offset.