Finding our way

Maha has a great post on being good, moral, well socialized human beings, regardless of your professed religion. She concludes with a beautiful passage of the Tao Te Ching.

Twin sisters born this year

Alicia and Jasmin Singerl

Elissa Lawrence reports in the Sunday Times (Australia):

Experts say the chance of twins being born with such different physical characteristics is about a million to one.

The sisters from Burpengary, north of Brisbane, were born in May.

Mother Natasha Knight, 35, has Jamaican-English heritage, and their father, Michael Singerl, 34, was born in Germany.

Hat-tip to Donna Woodka.

Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae suddenly and unexpectedly doubled its brightness in 1998-1999. It is the most massive star known to scientists, along with the Pistol Star which was also just discovered in the early 1990s.

The gift economy

Quoting a commenter on Slashdot (ShieldW0lf) about Richard Stallman:

The consequence of Richard’s vision is plenty for everyone and no capacity for hoarding, depriving, controlling and trading.

So may it be.

All we take with us is our memory

If you think you have lost your memory, you haven’t. You have just lost your recall temporarily.

Every cell of your body is alive, and every cell has memory. As one cell passes it is replaced by another with the memory of the first cell. All of the cells of your body (with a few immortal exceptions, which I won’t discuss right now) replenish themselves in this manner, and you have hardly any of the same cells alive comprising your body today that you did when you were an infant. You are like a new person since then.

When you grew more quickly you were turning cells over faster, as we age we turn them over more slowly or fail to replace them at the rate of decay. Still, there is persistence of memory. So long as life exists, memory persists. And when life ends, those bits of yourself that you have shed, those parts remember you, and everyone you have touched and all you have done that was in the sight of God. You are remembered.

So how much more important can it be to have good memories, memories of goodness. For those who make memories of evil, torture, fear, suffering, these will be their legacy too. But whatever wrongs you have done in the past to make bad memories, you can always start making good memories right now. And you can always start fixing what you’ve broken, so you won’t be afraid to look back at what you’ve done.

Welcome to eternity.

No more secrets and lies, put them on the table

This Thanksgiving will be fine.

I will remember Jonatha Brooke.

Google gives money to child molesters

Tell them to stop.

Heather Wilson is a Republican member of congress, and Google has been helping to finance her political career. She admits covering up for her husband’s “inappropriate touching” of a teenage boy, ten years ago, for which a police incident report had been filed.

I’d like to believe that Google does not intend to be evil. I’d like to believe they are just not aware of who they are supporting.

Related post:

How to have a democracy

Voter verified paper audit trails (VVPAT) are a big issue in this era of electronic voting with untrusted proprietary machines made by partisan contributors like Diebold. Does VVPAT make any beneficial difference at all? No, as arete writes on Slashdot,

I early voted on a Diebold voter verified machine – and it’s NOT good enough. I even had a nice conversation with the technical election judge, and since it did print a verified trail I did have to go home and think about this before I realized how it sucked.

They totally and complete circumvented the idea of a voter verified paper trail.

The way this machine works is you vote, it prints, you can see-but-not-touch the printout. You can vote AGAIN (up to 3 times) and it voids the previous printouts. Again, without you touching them. Which means the process expects that some percentage of its paper trail will be voided. The printouts get sent into some magic compartment.

So 1) there’s no way except by noise for the election monitors to know if it printed a variety of extra votes. And they were pretty quiet.

2) There’s absolutely zero way to know if it went back and voided your vote, because there’s plenty of precedent for voiding votes.

3) It can absolutely tell via paper alone who voted in which order; it’s on a spool. Which could be easily tracked by anyone who watched what order people voted at that machine. Your votes are even less anonymous.

If you want democracy with electronic voting, you have to have open voting. It’s that simple. No more secret ballots. But what is worse, is telling people that they have secret elections while they actually don’t.

You don’t. With electronic voting machines, they can find out how you voted anyhow.

The problem is that the public doesn’t know, and there is no way for the public to be sure that the elections were fairly conducted and the votes fairly counted. So open the whole thing up, put it online, let everyone see everything so that we will all know what the result was.

If you want secret ballots, only paper ballots work. And elections conducted with paper ballots are not immune to tampering either, so if people prefer to vote by paper then the results of each ballot box should be counted in the open and posted immediately to the net.

Corporate press discovers competition

CNN’s Gary Tuchman discovers YouTube.

Somehow we were lied to, weren’t we?

Kevin Tillman, who joined the army with his more famous brother Pat, only to lose his brother and friend in a friendly fire incident that has never been adequately explained, and which the administration has consistently lied about for political advantage, has written some thoughts on what would be the upcoming birthday of his brother.

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Read more.

Hat-tip to Paul the Spud.