Arizona Lottery Looks Into Identical Tickets

Arizona lottery looks into identical tickets

Two lottery tickets bought at the same time have the same exact numbers.

Interesting and sort of funny.

I would be somewhat suspicious myself, especially since it took an individual going to the media to get any response from Arizona Lottery officials. I doubt it was anything more than a malfunction with the machine or program running the random number generator but a little more transparency by official would have been better received by the public.

As an aside, congratulations to the winners of last night’s Mega Millions jackpot.

Mega Millions Mega Madness

Although admittedly the Mega Million madness doesn’t seem too bad around here since I haven’t seen long lines, or well, lines at all for that matter. Like millions of others I decided to give it shot and bought some tickets back on Wednesday. Why not? Sure the likelihood of winning is slim to none, but it’s also a rarely large sum up for grabs, so a couple bucks spent seems okay to me.

Whoever wins (whether now or a later drawing) will definitely be set for life, so long as they don’t fall into the trap of spending it wildly. I just hope whoever wins is someone (or several someones) who really need the money. I have nothing against the well to do and rich, but I admit it rubs me the wrong way when I see such people win large prizes. It seems greedy to me.

Whoever wins, it’ll be historic. Even more so if no one wins the prize given projections for next drawing in that circumstance.

So good luck to all partaking in the madness.

Atheist Billboard Problem (Again)

Just some thoughts on:

Atheists ‘Slaves Obey Your Masters’ Billboard Raises Tempers In Pennsylvania

A billboard erected in one of the city’s most racially diverse neighborhoods featured an African slave with the biblical quote, “Slaves, obey your masters.” It lasted less than a day before someone tore it down.

And Atheists wonder why main stream Americans dislike them so much. There’s no way the Atheists responsible for this billboard could claim they don’t deserve the anger and outrage aimed at them. Why?

  1. The scripture quote is incomplete and therefor ignores the context in which it was intended. (Yes, the Bible said slavery was okay, a concept we consider abhorrent and no one endorses in the modern day United States.)
  2. Using black slavery imagery was a blatant racist poke. This no other way around it. No one educated in the United States could claim to be unaware of how offensive that imagery is to all Americans, but especially blacks. I dare say most foreigners understand and find the imagery offensive as well.

So they rightly deserve the anger directed at them , though certainly not the death threats. You can not engage others in religious discussions by demeaning and insulting your target audience. Being upset over the legislature calling 2012 the year of the Bible or whatever is silly. Be more concerned about religiously affiliated politicians trying to pass regulations and laws based on religious dogma (like recent efforts by Christians against contraception, women’s health, and Sharia). Atheists who proselytize atheism are no better than those religious groups they target.

Besides, a real Atheist wouldn’t care about another person’s religion anyway. As an Agnostic, I don’t. When approached by those proselytizing I make it clear I’m not interested in converting (though I will discuss their beliefs with them if they remain civil) and walk away from those that can’t accept my refusal to convert.

An Atheist proselytizing Atheism is about as effective as a Creationist teaching Evolution.

Commentary: Pope Denounces Gay Marriage In US

Pope Benedict Denounces Gay Marriage Efforts In U.S.

He added that the traditional family and marriage had to be “defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature” because, he said, whatever injured families injured society.

The Pope is too late on “defending” traditional family and marriage when you look at it from a historical perspective. A modern “traditional” family is not the traditional family of a century ago, let alone five hundred years ago and certainly not the same as the traditional family of the time of Jesus. For example, during my grandmother’s time it was not unusual for multi-generational homes to exist in which the grandparents, parents, and children to live together (sometimes including aunts and uncles and their families as well). My mother’s generation saw the creation of the so-called nuclear family (parents and children) which also started a trend of divorces by those who realized they didn’t have to remain in horrible marriages. By my generation we’ve reached the modern family which includes the gamut of multi-generational homes to single parent households to gay couples. In other words, traditional is a meaningless term with respect to family.

As for the “true nature” of traditional marriage that’s simple: marriage was created as a means of enslaving women to men, of treating women as property by trading daughters off. Worse, being punished for not being “wifely” or forced into a marriage with their rapist as the Bible dictates. Do you honestly think independently minded women today would willingly walk back into being forced into arranged marriages and denied their equal rights? It’s only been a relatively new concept that marriage is a partnership between a man and woman, and really only the last one hundred years that women have started to achieve of semblance of equality to men in Western European, Christian based cultures. Even that appearance of equality is still lacking in many areas such as career opportunities, wages, politics, education, and so forth.

So the Pope’s argument against gay marriage is a weak position and one that likely would have never arisen if not for the bigotry of the religious community against their fellow human beings. I remember in my teens and you adult life homosexuals simply asked for civil unions so that homosexual couples could receive the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples. When they were vehemently denied such equality under the law, that is when I first heard them start using the term marriage which has now inevitably led to this notion that gays somehow “threaten” heterosexual marriages and families.

One would think the Pope has better things to worry about than homosexuals, such as the pedophile priests and allegations of the rape of nuns, justifying the vast wealth of the Vatican when compared to the poor and impoverished of the Catholic masses, and championing Christians facing persecution around the world for their faith.

Commentary: Contraception Debate, Health Care, Beliefs and Taxes

Just some rambling commentary on the so-called debate on contraception and health care with respect to beliefs and taxes.

Let me start off by saying that this debate over mandated contraception coverage is a prime reason why there should be no government controlled (in part or in whole) health care system in which the bureaucrat has any say in what treatment an individual should receive. It’s far too easy for special interest groups to get into power within such government bureaucracy and impose their social or political agenda. All we need do to see evidence of this fact is look at the abuses and failures of the EPA, the FDA, the DoJ and DHS in recent years. For now it’s contraception. What happens when others come in who oppose cancer screening and treatment or oppose vaccinations or oppose organ transplants or conversely want mandatory organ transplants or sterilization of those deemed “unfit” or “unsound” or ones who would deny medical care based upon genetic background? I’ve heard and seen people advocating these things long before the notion of government run health care became so prominent on the political scene. If we’re still publicly arguing about contraception after a hundred year (or more) it’s not that far a stretch for these other medical issues to come up in the name of religious freedoms and personal beliefs.

One hundred years ago it was illegal to discuss contraception under Federal morality laws. So here we are still arguing over contraception because some religious zealots wish to impose their beliefs upon the nation under the guise of religious liberty. The issue is contentious but mainly only by those who use their position to impose their religious agenda. Specifically, I speak of the Roman Catholic Church and it’s antiquated approach to women in general, and specifically with respect to reproductive health and rights. (Let’s be honest here, the conservative religious groups really want to use this to strip away abortion rights. Why else would they be pushing for so-called “personhood” laws for fetuses and even sperm? (What’s even more sad was the woman who wrote the bill intended it to be a sarcastic wake-up call to ignorant people; instead it was taken seriously.)

I get that the religious institutions feel they are under attack by the mandate that covers women’s reproductive health issues (among them contraceptives) but their argument for being excluded from the mandated coverage is somewhat specious.

To say that your beliefs should supersede law is a rather dangerous notion if it were allowed to become acceptable legal practice to exclude those from laws because their beliefs say they should oppose the law or find the law “morally objectionable”. With that sort of thinking ethno-racial supremacist groups like Stormfront, Brown Berets or the Black Panthers could argue they are exempt from desegregation, interracial marriage, and equal opportunity laws or misogynists could claim immunity from employment or equal pay for women because of their belief in women’s inferiority.

Dogma, religious or otherwise, can not be used to justify receiving special consideration under the law when that special consideration infringes upon another individuals rights and protections under the law. This is especially so if an organization is accepting tax payer funding or receives any sort of tax breaks and/or exemptions. If you accept tax payer money or funding or any other special treatment that involves tax payers then you must be held to the same laws and standards as the tax payers.

Everyday we all accept that our taxes go to things we do not support. Businesses and workers alike having to pay taxes and fees related to our employment. Does any one group deserve special treatment over the other because of self professed belief? Of course not. Laws and regulations only work when applied equally and impartially. When they are not that is when lawlessness and eventual anarchy begin to creep in if the unequal application if law is not corrected.

California Considers Outlawing Discrimination Against Unemployed

California Considers Outlawing Discrimination Against Unemployed

A bill introduced Jan. 5 and sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Michael Allen wouldn’t allow unemployed job-seekers to sue for discrimination, but companies that violate the law would face investigation and fines of up to $10,000.

“There’s been an increasing utilization of using this as a crude screening process to keep applicants from even being interviewed,” Allen told The Huffington Post. “It’s better to be proactive rather than to let this become a common practice.”

I rarely like government making regulations on business given the plethora of bureaucracy such laws often create, but this is one of those times were such regulations I feel are necessary. I’ve known several people that were denied jobs simply because they were currently unemployed at the time the interviewed. I was once told that I fit all the criteria for a position but that I was not selected to be hired solely on the grounds that I was not “currently employed” while undergoing the hiring process. I discussed the issue with the HR person, who agreed with me that it was silly not to hire a perfectly qualified candidate based on their current unemployment, but ultimately it was the bosses decision to make. While I felt it unfair I moved on as working for such a company, in my opinion, isn’t worth it as such an attitude often reflects a lack of commitment and respect by the employer towards their employees.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard similar stories from assorted friends, family, and associates over the years, particularly when the recession really hit hard between 2008-2010. I’ve even seen posts at job board over the last couple years while I was hunting for contract and freelance work with the ridiculous requirement that one must be employed in order to be hired. In other words, it’s slowly becoming a serious problem and a means used by some unscrupulous employers to justify their personal biases. (I still get amusement over an HR person for a foreign company wanting to hire American engineers and designers insisting I was lying about being a U.S. citizen because I had a “strange accent”. I assume they meant my native Arizonan accent, which is rare and really not that noticeably different.)

Yes, employers want their employees to be up to date on their skills, but an employed person is not necessarily one who has kept current for their field. (I’ve certainly met enough to confirm that over the years.) This desire for skilled labor does not justify discrimination in any form, especially against those who need the work the most: the unemployed.

I guess it’s a good thing I simply don’t get the need of others to discriminate. If someone’s qualified and can do the job, who cares about their appearance, gender, beliefs, or any of the rest. If they can do the job and work with their fellow employees to accomplish tasks, that is what should matter.

BBC – US Declaration of Independence illegal?

BBC News – Is the US Declaration of Independence illegal?

At least, that was what lawyers from the UK argued during a debate at Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Hall.

And a cow goes ‘moo’.

Of course the Brits would say the Declaration of Independence was illegal based on what they deemed lawful. The Americans of the time had an entirely different perspective of what was lawful. In the end the Revolutionaries’ viewpoint won out after a lengthy conflict with a combination of foreign assistance (France) and some miscalculations by the British troops/officers when dealing with the Colonies’ civilians and army.

Those in power always claim those who challenge their authority and succeed did so illegally. Even centuries after the fact. For example, both branches of my family could rightly claim that the British Empire illegally forced them to leave their homelands (Scotland and Ireland). What does that accomplish? Nothing. It doesn’t change the fact that my family is here and the old homelands are now viewed as a place to visit to reconnect with our heritage, nothing more.

10th Anniversary of 9/11

I debated whether to make a post on this tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks before deciding to add my own reminiscing about that the morning to the general outpouring of reflection and remembrances across the internet. I spent some time earlier today doing much the same thing with a small gathering of friends and colleagues that were together that morning and the remainder of the day (and coming weeks) watching from distant Phoenix, AZ what was happening in the East Coast. Sadly some of those friends and colleagues were no longer with us and others unable to attend due to their duties with the military.

The morning of September 11, 2001 was especially notable as I prepared to leave for college for an early morning chemistry lab class. The sky was clear and the sun shining as you would expect in the Valley of the Sun for this time of year. It wasn’t a particularly warm day though we hadn’t fully shaken of the heat of an Arizona summer for the cooler temperatures of the Fall. As was my usual morning routine of the time I was eating breakfast and watching the news with my brother: first the local channels and then switching to one of the cable networks (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox) which I typically cycled through. That morning we just happened to settle on Fox. Around twenty to thirty minutes later, word of the first tower being hit came through, followed after that with footage and undeniable proof of what was happening.

I eventually left for class and was admittedly surprised how many of the students showed up. Many were upset and worried (especially after a false rumor that the White House had been hit) but still there, none the less. Our class actually did the experiment that was planned for the day, and I’d dare say it was the fastest I’d ever seen the entire class work as most were done within twenty minutes and allowed to leave. Several of us shared the next class together, a macroeconomics class (later cancelled by the professor), that was in a room with access to cable news where we watched in disbelief for hours on end. Several of my friends who were from New York couldn’t watch after the towers were gone, concerned about family in friends in and around what would become Ground Zero. One, as we found out days later, had lost a cousin who died doing his job with the FDNY. I remember he and I, being older than the other students and having grown up with the World Trade Center being a signature part of the New York City skyline, just shaking our heads commenting how it no longer looked like New York. Nothing would be the same again.

And it wasn’t. The nation changed, people changed. Some for the better, some for the worse. Only a few classmates, friends, and colleagues carried on with the plans they had set out for themselves in their lives. Many more changed as they used 9/11 to reassess their lives and their values. Several classmates were called back in to service, others left to join the military service in order to help protect the homeland. Some changed careers to become fireman, police, doctors, nurses, and EMTs. One young man I knew decided to become a priest because he felt the world needed people preaching peace and tolerance and love after such an act of hatred and evil. I decided to settle on becoming an engineer, one of three choices I had been waffling on for the past semester. I didn’t become a civil or structural engineer as I had originally thought I would, but eventually went on to become an aerospace engineer. The friend who lost his cousin went on to become a fireman.

So that is my brief remembrance and thought on that day, an ordinary day that became so extraordinary. As I do every year on this day, I light a candle for those lost and for those seeking to leave the darkness behind. And I also try to remember that everyday, no matter how mundane it seems, that it should be treated for what it, and the people in our lives, are – extraordinary.

I hope someday to be able to visit New York City once more and pay my respects at the September 11 Memorial but until then I’ll continue to light a candle every year and remember.

Valley Roman Catholic Church Says No More Altar Girls

Fox News Radio 550 KFYI

In explaining his decision to ban girls from altar service, the rector tells The Arizona Republic that Christ established the priesthood by choosing men and serving at the altar is a specifically priestly act. Instead, girls will be offered the opportunity to prepare the church and altar area before Mass.

Yeah but the bible says a lot of things are acceptable that people in the United States don’t accept anymore. Things like slavery, forcing a raped woman to marry her rapist, killing adulterers, etc., etc.  The RCC is just showing themselves to be the same old misogynistic and backwards church that they’ve always been in vain attempts to regain their dwindling influence and authority.