30 November 2006

ranting for dummies

I've decided now to turn to things of importance and create a listing of rantings.

House fires are terrible, now get them off breaking news. It can wait until later. I'm watching a game show. (well I'm not, but somewhere out there someone doesn't know the answer and never will)

Ditto car chases. I'm glad I'm not in LA.. Somehow I'm amazed they can have a car chase there. You'd think the traffic would prevent it.

Most everyone is a 'liberal' until they start paying taxes. Then everyone hates government. I don't think this means we should vote one way or the other. I just think it means there is something we can agree on: We hate taxes. While we're at it, enough with the name calling. Almost nobody is straight when it comes to politics.

Why is there so much coverage of disasters and bombings? You'd think the world was about to end every day by the news. I think every newscast should start with "and the sun will come up tomorrow", then it can proceed downhill. We'd feel a whole lot better knowing at least the sun will come up tomorrow.

Why do I care about two people I don't know getting married? Is this worthy of network news? Was it a slow day? I suspect in a world full of misery, carnage, and despair, they could have had a good story in there. No we have to see footage of tom-kat. I get enough of that waiting to check out when the self-checkout line is down for service thank you.

Why can't Ohio get with the program and realize that they are creating '007's in droves when they license old people to drive with little more than an eye test and a checkbox for the organ donor program. I've had to avoid 5 accidents in the past year and not one of them looked a day younger than King Tut (who's going on what, 4000?). The campaign against the elderly has officially been opened. I'm tired of this. Old people feel entitled and get to push us young rascals around because they actually vote. Well, your days are numbered old man.

In case you weren't paying attention, I tire of posting lengthy opininated essays that receive no attention. Apparently we are suffering from a dearth of intellectuals in this fading republic. So I will instead assemble a series of rambling insults in a deliberate attempt to incite rebellion in the minds of lesser mortals.

27 November 2006

trouble with science

Every so often history reaches a point where people believe that science has reached its end and no new things are around the corner. Then we are foolishly shown that hey, we never looked around the corner. Look at all that stuff around the bloody corner! Well that's all fine and good, but science has some problems that need to be addressed.

For starters, it lacks discipline. Knowledge that science attains can be collectively stored, studied and repeated without the original questions and designs that that information may have had. Einstein's special theory of relativity for example showed that atomic energy was powerful, but it made no mention of atomic bombs. Science is often so preoccupied with the next great discovery that it doesn't pause to understand the problems that come with it. The Internet gives us communication and accessibility to porn, but it also gives us communication (never get me a crackberry), accessibility to porn, and piracy. Atomic energy gives us tremendous energy supply, but also toxic waste and mushroom clouds. Genetic tailoring is the next wave of said problems, with issues with cloning, disease modification, cheating in athletics (completely undetectably, and already happening). The point is this, science can give us power through knowledge. Power without discipline is worthless. It is a kid in a candy store. A man who learns karate does not kill at will, despite the fact that his training allows him to do so. But science allows anyone with a chemistry and physics background to kill in minutes, as though it was a hideous late-night infomercial for $19.99.

This is only the beginning of my problem with science. The ancient Greeks viewed science as the study of things, the understanding of the nature of the world around us and in so doing, understanding our place in it. We use science as a means to pretend we are above nature and distinct from it. We shelter ourselves from it, presuming our technology and medicines will preserve us, all the while ignoring the fact that nature still dominates. We all still die; we are all still powerless in the face of disasters and viral epidemics.

The major issue I believe I have with science is that it focuses too much on the trees. The forest, the big picture often shows that a lot of little things are interacting, changing and affecting each other. We can't study each little thing unless we understand this. That's why computer models of weather have so many variables and permutations, and are quite often wrong. Weather, like human interactions, has so many variables, so many things going on at any given moment that it can't be studied scientifically in the old way. Each variable cannot be isolated with any certainty in the real world. It has to interact before it can be studied. It is a living system. Science is terrible with these. Psychology is a perfect example. Scientific study often looks for simple and quick formulas for explanation. But what I saw in psychology was that these simple formulas did not work in total and conflicted often totally. It was the general formulas which took in the varying parts interacting that seemed to have more success at explaining our behavior and outlook, but may have failed to explain very specific circumstances. A living system relies on these interactions fueling change and innovation to defeat the natural tendency to breakdown. What science seeks however is uniformity. It seeks replicants and verifiability. It won't find any. It can create them where there are none, thus why efficiency reigns in corporate industry and everyone is thus the same from any usable standpoint. Public education at work, crafting molds of uniform standards.. ...

I'm not saying its useless, but it shouldn't be a reliance on generating more scientists or mathematicians in our society. We need more thinkers. Generalists to keep the scientists in line, focused on the science instead of the credit.

17 November 2006

Religions' Sin.

In the spirit of annoying people of all creeds and manner of backgrounds, I'll say something now about religion. Those of you who have read my profile have no doubt observed that I'm listed as an atheist. This is in fact correct, technically speaking, from the manner that I'm not all that interested in whether or not god(s) exists. I'm not even agnostic, because I don't care to even make up my mind on that particular subject. It's not worth consideration, contemplation or any other mental exertions.

But while this is a good source for what I am not, what I am is observant. I've noticed a peculiar stain upon the practices of religion, and a disturbing lack noticed of obvious parallels. What I am about to say should not be taken as that your religion is stupid, it may very well be anyway, but rather that it is misguided in its practice.

Back in elementary school, those of us with a moderately decent education covered some mythology, often Greek or Roman, maybe a dash of Norse or Egyptian. In any case, there are alot of stories, family trees, etc. What apparently nobody grasps is that any mythology is basically alot of made up stories. While we may have taken a good deal of interest studying this mythology, drawing up reports on the Titans or Thor, no question is raised about the sound validity of our own mythos. I say this because there are still large tracts of our country that teach intelligent design right along side Darwin, because there are still lots of people who take things very literally, as though it really happened just that way, and because the consequential religions often seem far too focused on the ritualistic aspects, rather than the actual practice of religion, the philosophy behind it.

Rituals and rites of religions spawn from a time where man feared and did not understand the elements. If farming went well, gods had smiled, feasts were offered to keep it that way, etc. These rites have nothing, or at least not much, to do with being a virtuous person in and of our own volition. They have more to do with keeping the gods happy so they don't meddle in our affairs. The present rites and rituals as I see them are little more. They do not instill any major and valuable lessons as to the nature of man, as to how to conduct one self, or how not to. Its all designed to be a show and tell for the particular church, more like a magic show. Maybe a sermon or the like is designed to impart some wise counsel. But the rites are just mythology. I believe its high time they went out the window. They are not relevant. Teach and preach to the sufferings and improvement of peoples. Don't give me any crap about transubstantiation, resurrections, and original sin. Tell me how I can be a better person, with or without this spooky father figure. I find major flaws in a religion that says I am screwed (in the afterlife, another interesting myth by itself) if I don't participate in these weird rites. I find credence in a religion that tells me how to orient my being and spirit toward others. Not through imitation, but also introspection. Doing as others do is not enough, it must also mean something, spark some passion of life, how else will we know what to do when we encounter the unknown. We must purge ourselves of this mythology, so that we may have more of what we need in life.

Real faith relies not on believing everything we hear or read, but practicing and growing into what we believe we should or can be. I find that with all the advances in technology, we're not any better as people. We're disconnected, afraid, and embittered. We are missing what religions were intended to offer us, not rituals, but processes of orientation toward others. Serve mankind, quit wasting time on serving God with these ridiculous rites, you will accomplish more for whatever your god is by practicing actively.

09 November 2006

Elections over

Back for more after they're finally over I guess.

I cannot say I am surprised at the levels of uneducated responses for voting on our issues here in Ohio. Nor can I say I am displeased by the Democratic control of the Congress. I'm not a Democrat or Republican anyway, what concerns me is really the media's take on the results. The media appears to believe that the election reflects a public referendum on Iraq and the broiling war between various sects going on there (mostly with each other rather than us at this point). Iraq is not the issue; Sheehans to the contrary. Leading up to the election there were a number of polls which inquired as to the level of approval of both the President and Congress. Oddly enough, despite the overwhelming lack of interest in supporting W, Congress was even worse off. And we could say why with a variety of responses, many of which I covered before. Iraq was not one of them. Guess why not.

That's right, nobody has proposed a useful plan. It cannot be an issue if not one person has a clear and purposeful agenda. On either side. The reason is obvious. We did defeat the Iraqi forces, this happened sometime ago. The problem is now an uncoordinated but somewhat effective guerrilla campaign against the government we are installing, and yes we did not have sufficient forces, blah, blah (I am a strategic expert, and we blew a lot but we did go in with enough to defeat Iraq militarily, just not enough to conquer, this is key strategic point I acknowledge). It's not a Vietnam where we were the enemy and problem. We like to think so. But really it is an Iraq where Islam and Western ideas of democracy haven't meshed. The war we are embroiled in now has no central leadership against us, no one country supporting it (although some of the very regimes we back most seem likely candidates for the next 'regime change', ie Saudi & Pakistan), and thus no clear enemy. It is in a sense like fighting the Cold War without the Soviet Union, but instead with organized and separate political and guerrilla movements all over Eastern Europe making it difficult or impossible for us to govern or maintain stability in the region thus imposing their will. There are some focal points, the Ayotollah, bin Laden, the holocaust deniers, Hez'bollah fighters, and the Saudi propaganda wing that makes them look like good guys in all this. But these are minor in comparison to the true nature of our enemies. What we are opposed with is not Iraq, but an ideology, even a sub-ideology, of religious-political revolutionary fervor, cooked up by individuals without the direct subversion of powerful religious clerics. They are coming up with this stuff virtually on their own.

Imagine for a moment that we were given free reign in the West to interpret the Bible. We are of course, but there is a central authority that reigns it in a bit in the Holy See. Get rid of that and there is a whole lot of seemingly conflicting and bizarre scripture that we could refer to as fundamental and core beliefs, picking and choosing those which we preferred and ignoring those somewhat contradictory attitudes at will. How would we fare? Considering the mis-educated lot most of us have been cast, not so well. Now imagine that you do not have a common goal with other Westerners, but instead a similar means of expression, martyrdom. Find some explosives or pick up the automatic weapons and start pushing buttons, and you get the picture. There are some radical clerics with the sort of influence we might need to oppose, but the Islamic tradition does not place importance on a priesthood beyond matters of jurisprudence or interpretation on Q'oranic verse. The passages that are being bandied about are perfectly clear in intent and meaning. They might be a selective reading of the Q'oran, but that's just my opinion (and I couldn't translate classical Arabic yet anyway and so have to rely on others).

In any case, the point I am making is this. The War in Iraq is still there, the war against it is over. It is not Vietnam and it is not a political issue at this point. The War against Islamic revolutionary-fundamentalist attitudes is what continues. Be clear on what it is we are fighting and we can have a plan. This was the case throughout the Cold War: contain the Soviet threat, and later expand democratic ideals. It was clear what we were opposing, Marxism or Stalinism. It should be clear what we are fighting now. The problem herein is that while some in Islam are struggling without through jihad, others have been working for some generations to create gaps in Islam's power politically, reformers really starting in modern times with Sadat, and continuing in quiet and steady paces. It is principally these reformers that are being rebelled against. You don't see bombs going off in Saudi Arabia against Arabs, there they hit us. These chinks are of course, seen as a consequence of Western influence, and thus we as the embodiment of the West are a target. Good times all around. War is inevitable herein, unlike the Cold War where it would be a consequence of policy and failed diplomacy, here it is a consequence of the nature of the conflict. We can't get around it, because there can't be negotiations because there is no clear authority to negotiate with. There can't be surrender either, because we have no entity to surrender to. Can there be victory? Perhaps, but there are many levels that must be worked to proceed.

As far as Iraq goes, there is no reason to believe that either party has a plan to 'win' or to 'get us out of there', because neither party appears to have acknowledged the nature of the conflict. We are stuck in a not-another-Vietnam mode, and we haven't awakened to the fact that we aren't in Vietnam. Dororthy is still in an Oz, and its not the pleasant Emerald City version, but the HBO version. So don't tell me this was an election about Iraq, because if it was, what will change? Nothing of substance, some cosmetic things maybe, like oversight committees.. oooo. What a shift in policy. Give me a break.

05 November 2006

ohio elections

We're due up on the elections finally. Perhaps the annoying and useless commercials will end. But I thought it was time I chime in on the issues of this fair (by that I exaggerate heavily) state.

Issue 2 Min Wage. I don't know very many people working for minimum wage. Statistically there aren't very many adults making it, that's for sure. To be perfectly blunt, people who are working for peanuts in my experience probably should be and probably never will make much more than that. Those types of jobs that do pay minimum wage aren't worth having. Get a better one, ASAP. I don't see the point in risking more jobs by enforcing a wage structure artificially when one exists naturally through supply and demand. Do what you can or are talented enough for, and employers will pay for it, even compete for our time.

Issue 3- Gambling for school money.

Anybody who goes to a casino should take note of the opulent surroundings and be aware of something in the back of their minds. The people coming to it are not the winners. Someone else is winning, not us. A few people win, and yes, poker is fun. But it is like having a retirement plan through lottery tickets. Chances are, you won't win. The lottery is little more than a tax on the mathematically challenged. But go ahead if you want. Governments know that people lose fortunes gambling every year. Turning this loss into money for schools is only intelligent governance. Unfortunately, I'm not at all convinced that public universities are functionally educating people any longer. I would prefer that this money is turned into a school choice program at the high school level, not a school funding system. So I'm not sure this one makes any sense either. Maybe it treats a few gamblers, but that's not a good enough reason for me to support a hard in stone amendment that funds something I do not fully support.

Issue 4-5. The smoking issues. I am convinced that the issue of smoking is simply up to the customers and business owners. Business owners who fear losing business from protests or loss of customers from either smokers or non-smokers should choose how to deal with the smoky situation. For the record I am a non-smoker myself and do not frequent or enjoy the company of smokers. But I don't see the point in enforcing laws to protect against the stupid choices of few who harm mostly or only themselves. There are other ways to reduce smoking rates than removing the places it is permitted to do so. I've already addressed this. Making people do things that could be adverse to their businesses is not a good idea. Punish the smokers not the smoke permitters.

02 November 2006

Nba thoughts

NBA season has started, for those of us that care. I'm still confused to why the Suns and Bulls are such sexy picks. Sure they'll win 50 games, but given they are diametric opposites, neither is going to compete for a title anytime soon. One can't score, the other can't stop. Nobody wins titles if they can't do both. I see one of the 3 Texas teams coming out of the west and winning it all, probably the Spurs, and possibly the Cavs out of the East. Miami's older and a weak empty shell of last year's team, Bulls can't score, Cavs can run the old Jordan Bulls routine with no PG (Hughes and Bron with the ball) and still win in a weak conference. Just have to watch out for the Nets, and nobody on Jay-Z's team plays defense, so that's no biggie.

(Looking back on this, I'm glad I called this before the season. The Webber trade definitely threw me a loop.)