"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong." Friedrich Nietzche

"Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society, ruled by a secular government, no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void." D. M. Mitchell (from The Myth of Inalienable Rights, at: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com/)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ravens 1, Vultures 0

I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, about 30 miles north of Fresno. We have ravens here. No crows, just ravens. We also have vultures, turkey vultures, actually. Both species of birds are what I call the garbage men of the wild. They scavenge on roadkill and naturally dead animals. I appreciate them for their helpful niche in nature.

The other day I was on my patio and observed something that I thought was both quite interesting and amusing. Here’s what I saw.

I noticed a vulture come lazily circling into my view. It had something in its beak about the size of a ground squirrel without its tail, maybe a gopher, maybe roadkill, maybe some part of a larger dead animal.

Following that vulture came about a dozen more. All of them making big lazy circles in the sky, not flapping their wings. The vulture with the bit of, well, I’ll just call it roadkill, in its beak became the center of the circling. This was about 200 feet above the ground and about 100 yards north of me.

Then I heard the raucous call of a raven. I saw two of them flying among the vultures. Now comes the interesting and amusing part.

One of the ravens attacked the vulture with the roadkill. (Smaller birds can out-maneuver larger birds and will attack them.) I saw the raven peck the vulture on the head. The vulture dropped whatever it was in its beak. I saw it falling through the air. Then I saw one of the ravens, I don’t know which one, dive on that roadkill and grab it with its right foot right there in mid-air. That was amazing, I thought.

After three or four attempts, the raven transferred the roadkill to its beak. By now it had been joined by the other raven and they flew off, in no hurry, to the south. The buzzards did not chase after them. They just kept circling lazily in the air for a while, then slowly the group broke up and went their separate ways.

Non-Stick Cookware, Perfluoroalkyl Acids, and Your Health

In 1935 Du Pont Corporation used the ad slogan “Better things for better living . . . through chemistry.” I first heard it as “Better living through chemistry.” In 1999, Du Pont changed it to “The miracles of science.”

Our modern technological society could better be called our modern chemical society. We are surrounded by a chemical soup. Some of them helpful. Many of them harmful. The miracles of science and chemistry brought us non-stick cookware. At first it truly seemed a miracle. We could cook our food without it sticking to the pans. But that miracle has come with a price. One that we should no longer pay, if we value our health over convenience.

The publication Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, September 2010, 164(9):860-9, reported that “[p]erfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) are manmade compounds with widespread presence in human [blood].”

A study was done on over 12,000 children and adolescents due to a lawsuit over PFOA contamination in drinking water. The lawsuit was settled pre-trial. The study showed a very high correlation “between . . . PFOA and PFOS and elevated total cholesterol and LDL-C levels” of cholesterol.

PFOA and PFOS are perfluoroalkyl acids. And while they are in many products, especially in the home, possibly one of the most abundant sources of those chemicals is non-stick cookware. When you heat non-stick cookware it starts to vaporized those chemicals, among others. You can breath them in and they will get into the food you eat. The lining of microwave popcorn bags is another source.

This family of chemicals, also known as perfluoronated compounds (PFC), can cause other health problems besides elevated cholesterol levels. Those problems include infertility, thyroid disease, cancer, and immune system problems.

And while I started out mentioning Du Pont, I wish to make clear that the 3M corporation was the major manufacturer of PFOS. It stopped producing it ten years ago under pressure from the EPA, but the chemical is still around, and still affecting our health.

For more a complete report on this issue by Dr. Mercola, go to the following site:

Friday, September 10, 2010

North Carolina Police State

The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association is asking the state to pass a law that would allow the police to access drug prescription records, without needing a warrant signed by a judge, in order to search for painkiller abusers.

According to Sheriff Samuel S. Page, president of the sheriff’s association, “We take that information, we could go and check against that database and see if that person, in fact, appears to be doctor shopping and obtaining prescriptions for the purpose of resell, which is illegal.”

However, the opposition, those who do not want the doctor-patient privilege to be compromised, believe that such a law could make any person who truly suffers from pain and needs the medication a possible criminal suspect.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states the following: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The law the Sheriff’s Association is wanting to get passed would negate the Fourth Amendment. There would be no probable cause, just the police going on fishing expeditions. But there is a bigger issue at stake: The right of all adults to the complete ownership and use of their bodies and minds.

The whole war on drugs is based on religious principles, that the use of certain drugs, including prescription drugs used in a non-doctor-prescribed way, is immoral. And, being immoral, they should be illegal. We’re talking about sins here. Sins are not the legitimate purview of our supposedly secular government.
I agree that anyone selling or giving minors mind-altering, possibly addictive drugs is committing a crime. That is, he or she is harming or endangering the mind and body of a person who in not old enough or experienced enough to make a consenting adult choice.

However, adults have the right to choose. If an adult wishes to use a drug, whether it is one of the presently illegal ones, or whether it is using a prescription drug as a recreational drug, that is their inalienable right. If it is not, then we have no inalienable rights, because then we would not actually own the property of our bodies and minds. The government would.

I also find this push by the police to be a bit hypocritical. It is well documented that the number one violence-causing drug in America is the true narcotic drug alcohol. And the police, as a group, has one of the highest rates, if not the highest rate of alcohol abuse.

What is a crime? Shouldn’t there be a definition as to what a crime is, besides “breaking the law?” I mean, once upon a time, in Colonial America, it was a crime to not go to church on Sunday; it was not a crime to own slaves; it was a crime to help slaves escape from slavery; it was a crime to be seen in public (a beach) in what all women now wear to the beach; it was a crime for a women to be pregnant and not be married. Those “crimes” were all based on the religious-moral beliefs of the time. But we got over it.

Here’s how I think a crime should be defined. A crime is committed by harming another person or their property, or by being an immediate and direct threat to another person or their property. It is not a crime to use drugs. My point about alcohol proves that.

Here is an example: A man can smoke three packs of cigarettes a day and drink whiskey until he pukes and passes out. He does all this in his own house and does not harm anyone else and does not threaten anyone else. He has not committed a crime. He will not be arrested. However, if that same man, goes outside and assaults his neighbor, or shoots his neighbor’s dog, or gets into a car and drives drunk, then he has committed a crime. But he will not be arrested for drinking. He will be arrested for harming someone else or, in the case of drunk driving, for being a danger to others or their property.

I am not, by any means, promoting drug use—alcohol, tobacco, heroin, prescription drugs, or whatever. That is a personal moral choice to be made by each adult. I think a chronic or habitual user of such drugs, when such use interferes with their jobs, their families, and their friends are emotionally damaged people and need help, or else they are just stupid and foolish.

I do believe in the concept of inalienable rights, which means that, as an adult, you own and own completely the property of your body and mind and can decide what to do with it just so long as your actions do not harm or endanger others. The government does not have the legitimate power to stop an adult from using drugs unless there is proof that the person is causing harm to others or is a direct and immediate threat to others.

(For a complete dissertation on this issue, go to: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com.)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thoughts on Burning the Koran*

In the Christian religion that I was brought up on, hating is a sin. You can’t get into Heaven if you are a hater. Jesus said: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44, KJB)

I have to wonder if the preacher in Gainesville, Florida, Terry Jones, who has said that he will burn a Koran on September 11th, has actually read and understood what Jesus meant. The Christian religion is supposed to be a religion of tolerance—despite all of the intolerance that those who claim to be Christians have shown in the past. I would expect a preacher to be the most tolerant of Christians because he has, supposedly, studied the Bible more that the laypeople.

What Pastor Jones is threatening to do is an act of hate, pure and simple. It is not an act of loving his perceived enemy, or of praying for those that have done us harm. It is merely a very human, very visceral act of anger and hatred. Shame on you Pastor Jones for calling yourself a Christian.

But, as to the actual act of burning a book, this is not a big deal, or shouldn’t be to anyone who is intelligent and logical. The book itself is not holy. The word of God is holy. The message is holy. The book is merely the printed word of God as—in the case of the Koran—interpreted by Muslim clerics over the ages. You can burn the book but you cannot burn the truth and the message of God.

I have to ask, considering all the uproar that this threat of book-burning has caused, how much uproar would there be in the Christian world if some Muslim Imam, say in Indonesia, decided to burn a Bible? How many Muslim clerics would condemn the act openly? Would it become the international incident that this has become? I think not.

But then, from the evidence that I have observed over the years, the Muslim religion, unlike Christianity, is not a religion of tolerance. For example: Salman Rushtie published The Satanic Verses in 1988. In February of 1989 a death fatwah (which is a legal pronouncement in Islamic countries) was placed against Mr. Rushdie. He had to go into hiding because he wrote a book that many clerics, if not all, in the Islamic world found to be offensive. That would be like the Pope declaring a death sentence on Dan Brown for writing The Da Vinci Code. No tolerance in the Islamic world.

Then there were twelve cartoonist for the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten who drew editorial cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad. That’s a no-no in the Islamic world. But this was Denmark. The cartoonist were not Muslim. There were death threats against those cartoonist, complete with rewards for their deaths. Further, in riots in Muslim countries related to those editorial cartoons at least 100 people died.

Then there is the case of Theo van Gogh, a controversial Dutch film maker who made a film about how the Islamic culture treats women. It upset an Islamic fundamentalist. While Mr. van Gogh was bicycling to work the Muslim man shot him eight time, then tried to decapitate him. Again, taking the Dan Brown novel, The Da Vinci Code, made into the movie by the same name, what happened to Mr. van Gogh would be like a Christian fundamentalist killing the producer or director of that movie. Hard to imagine in our tolerant, Western world, isn’t it? Not hard to imagine in the intolerant Islamic world, though.

Need more. Here is a quote from the Koran (2:194): “So if anyone transgresses against you, you should pay back in equal coins.” Not exactly like turn the other cheek or pray for those who abuse or persecute you, eh? Of course, there are few really true Christians. How can a true Christian believe in revenge or going to war and killing the enemy? That is totally un-Christ-like. And no, we can’t be perfect, like Christ. But we are supposed to try and behave like Christ would want us to, aren’t we? Take that thought to its logical conclusion.

And don’t bring up the Old Testament and an eye for an eye. That is the Hebrew holy book. Christians, to be called Christians, have to accept and embrace the New Testament, about the teachings of Jesus Christ. And Christ did not say an eye for an eye. He preached tolerance and forgiveness and praying for those that were your enemy. That’s 180 degrees different than the Hebrew’s Old Testament God.

Well, Islam is Islam. Those people have, in my opinion (which has been shaped by Western philosophy, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution) the right to believe whatever they want. To act upon what they believe in our country is quite another thing. There is no right to murder other people over words, even words that discredit or belittle your religion.

However, for Pastor Jones and the radical Islamic jihadists, here is something else to consider: God, the Almighty Creator God, doesn’t need your help to protect Him or His Word. He can do it Himself. And, no, He doesn’t need you to work as His tool. If He wanted to, if He thought it was necessary, He could kill anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world. Therefore, He could have killed Salman Rushtie, the twelve Danish cartoonists, Theo van Gogh, or Dan Brown for that matter. But He didn’t. Perhaps He will take the matter up with them later, after they die. It is not up to you to kill them in the name of what you belief to be your God’s will. When you, as a mere human, act in an intolerant way, you are merely projecting your human emotions into the situation that you find to be offensive. Emotions are, by definitions, irrational.

Finally, for those of you who didn’t know: Jews, Christians, and Muslims are people of the book. What does that mean? That means that the first five books of the Christian Bible are held in common with the Jews and Muslims. That means that the Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe in the same Almighty Creator God.

How, then, can we be so separated in our other beliefs? And which religion does God think is the one true religion? I don’t know. He hasn’t spoken on that Himself, only the religious leaders of those three faiths have. And, of course, those lay people who have been indoctrinated from birth by one of those various religions know, with absolute certainty, that they are the true believers.

Me? I’m in favor of tolerance. Pastor Jones. You can’t burn the Koran and call yourself tolerant or a Christian.

* I use the spelling, Koran, instead of the more politically correct version, Qur’an, because English doesn’t have the guttural sound that I think people are trying to get by using the Q instead of the K. In English, the closest we can get to it is the K sound and I write and speak in English.