Saturday, December 27, 2014

Kant Gives Me His Blessings

"Human Reason, in one sphere of its cognition, is called upon to consider questions, which it cannot decline, as they are presented by its own nature, but which it cannot answer, as they transcend every faculty of mind."  - Immanuel Kant

The Moon Landings, Science, and Early Video Technology

The moon landings were practical science at its best. Computer technology, rocket technology, and mathematics were used and/or developed to accomplish a goal. Our understandings of conditions outside of our planet were tested and we learned that the moon was not made of cheese and was very much like what we already knew about our own planet.

Magical thinking can be used to convince people of many strange things whether it be modern faith healing, wild conspiracy theories about things like faking the moon landing, or the strong belief in modern physics and its theoretical guesswork about how the universe was created. I believe intuitively that the moon landings occurred because I followed them and lived in that time period. Admittedly, I did not go to the moon and have no physical proof. But proof of the moon landings is a whole lot easier to understand than hypothetical guesswork about how our universe was formed. Sometimes there is a point where preponderance of supporting evidence or the lack of legitimate conflicting evidence makes certain assertions correct as historical fact. This is easier to do in time periods that are recent rather than billions of years ago. And it helps to actually be there to see or do it.

How could one believe a person were not born as a result of the mating of two humans (most likely to be the people professed to be our parents) rather than resulting from a magical occurrence? Perhaps an alternative scientific hypothesis might be that we were individually placed on the earth by aliens. Then there is the supernatural explanation likened to be a possible by many of, say, a virgin birth. Finally we could very possibly be the result of an alternate scientific process whether it be a more likely scientific possibility like cloning or a fairly unlikely scientific explanation that we could have been sent back in time by future scientists.

There is really no way to prove even the most basic of events beyond all doubt.

That said, I take it on logic and faith that the moon landings did indeed occur and I like this video:

Monday, December 15, 2014


At first, I thought I had no comment upon this, but I do. While looking at the lack of thought and common sense in the above video makes me highly uncomfortable, the intellectual attack upon the common man in the next video gives me the same feeling. There are several points to make. In this second video a man takes a premise way beyond the logic he touts making a broadside personal attack on anyone he thinks disagrees with his opinions about "logic." While the argument is seemingly thoughtful and his command of the language is quite remarkable, he actually uses several logic flaws in a continuous manner (logic being fairly important to his argument.). When he brings up television advertising (one of my pet subjects for scorn) it makes me wish I were watching the first video instead. Here is a man I agree with in principle who is making a mockery of it with his venomous words and manner. It is as if the man is similarly possessed as the man above. The audiences both entranced by the psychology of crowds, though it is more obvious in the first where everyone is allowed to... well speak. In neither video does someone speak up and say "enough, you have made your point." The heart of the second video begins at 3:10. Notice how he begins by putting down the first speaker as being too professionally minded:

I think I find video two more repulsive. Oddly, I found both these videos in the same evening. I think, together, they illustrate the central theme of this blog.

"Science is capable of undertaking it's own reformation and critique and has been engaged in that fairly vigorously for some time." Thou shalt have no other God before science, though through reformation it may negate its earlier beliefs and there are clear postulates one must have faith in to make it correct. Place your emerald glasses on before entering the Emerald City.

Our main goal above all others is to "build a world based on clarity" and I say that in language that is intentionally verbose.

The "abduction phenomenon" of which he spoke takes a bit of thought because it dates his opinion (which is perfectly acceptable to science which can turn on a dime with no logical flaw). His intent is to make fools of those who believe nonsense (with a very nice use of wordplay which is funny only in the sense that it is cleverly pejorative) and equate this with all peoples who do not think as he does, or the "idiots." At first this phrase seemed odd because we have basically fictionalized the alien abduction concept for good plot development, whether it be in the "X-files" or on a "science channel" like the ironically fictional Discovery Channel.

Of course, the Discovery Channel is an example of the commercialization of science which I think he would equally loathe at this point in his life. I actually believe he is correct in much of what he says but somehow his personal bitterness did not gain popular traction and stop the "idiots" that are part of the establishment he so strongly believed in.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thank a Surgeon

When my son survived a serious accident, I didn’t thank God. I thanked Honda.

Lynn Beisner
 December 12 
Under a pen name, Lynn Beisner writes about family and social justice issues. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Altnernet, The Good Men Project and Role Reboot.
Last Friday night, a semi-trailer pushed the car my son was driving into a Jersey barrier. The trailer’s back wheel landed on the hood of the car, less than six inches from my son’s head. Every window shattered, throwing glass inches from his face.
But my son has not a scratch on him.
I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I wrote a letter to Honda praising the expertly engineered safety features that saved his life. I explained that I had been in an equally serious accident 18 years earlier and had suffered a serious brain injury and broken bones all over the right side of my body, requiring countless surgeries.
I posted the letter on Facebook, and closed it with this:
I want to extend my thanks to the engineers who used their intelligence and skill to create a car that safe, to the crash test dummies who have died a thousand horrible deaths and to your executives who did not scrimp on safety.
Thank you, Honda.
That last line rubbed some people the wrong way. While many who left comments on my post were just glad that my son was alive and well, others wanted to know why I had thanked Honda for that outcome. The entity that deserved my thanks, they said, was God. One commenter wrote: “I am thankful that God held your son in His embrace and I am curious why you thanked Honda rather than Him.”
Before I go any further, let me be clear: I am deeply grateful that I still have a son to make fun of my tastes in music, drink milk out of the carton and turn my mother-heart to mush when he tells me that he loves me. In moments of private devotion, I find myself at a loss to express how thankful I felt when I saw the remains of his car and how perfectly it had formed a cocoon for his body.
However, over many years of thinking about religion and faith, I have noticed that something sad and somewhat strange happens when we thank God: We tend to stop there. We simply overlook the decisions, the science, the policies and the people who contributed to the “miracle.” To put it another way: When we focus on supernatural deliverance from harm, we often ignore all of the human ways we can improve our own safety. I am concerned that we may associate survival of serious accidents with the unpredictable hand of Providence, not with airbags, safety testing and the regulations that have put them in place.
For the first 29 years of my life, the only cars that I could afford were dodgy and dangerous. One of them had a tricky power-steering pump. One day, when the power steering went out, the wheel whipped back when I tapped a curb, hitting my hand on the inside of the wheel and snapping one of the bones. My 4-year-old daughter had to shift gears as I drove myself to the emergency room. Another car required that I park on a hill because, no matter what part we repaired or replaced, it often wouldn’t drive unless I gave it a rolling start and popped the clutch.
When my husband introduced me to Honda, I fell deeply in love. I named that first Honda Mr. Belvedere, after the 1980s television housekeeper because, like its namesake, the car was reliable, boring, safe and served our family well. Every other car that we have owned has been a Honda. The company has not violated our trust in more than 16 years.
But here is the other reason that I thanked Honda: Automobile safety is a cause that is very important to me. I understand from painful personal experience just how fragile the human body can be and how savage a car can become during an accident. I did not want to waste an opportunity to credit a company that saved a life by doing the right thing. More importantly, I do not want to contribute to the mistaken idea that surviving a motor vehicle accident is more a stroke of luck or divine providence than the result of human actions and decisions.
Thankfully, Honda is not the only car company that is producing safer vehicles. The number of traffic fatalities dropped 26 percent between 2005 and 2012, to about 1 in 10,000 people. Such a significant improvement in safety does not happen by accident. And it’s also not a product solely of the free market. The airbag was patented in 1951 and offered in luxury vehicles in the 1970s. But airbags did not become standard in American vehicles until federal regulations began requiring them in the mid-1990s.
Fatal car accidents are not inevitable. We have the ability to prevent them and the amount of injury they cause. Accidents also are not an act of God. No matter what you believe about a divine creator, I think most would agree that an all-poweful and all-loving being would not need encouragement to do the right thing. Unlike people, God does not require regulations and oversight – or even thanks – to be sure that human beings are never sacrificed for profit. The truth is, we cannot make our roads and our cars safer if we ignore what makes them that way: science, regulations and corporations that prioritize safety.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Oh Myyyy

There are commandments and then there are things God "recommends" like executing the "homos."

There are many broad logical reasons not to be a fundamentalist. One is illustrated here clearly. The implementation of the "final solution" is just not going to win many converts to your cause or even be very easy. Further...why are we just condoning the killing of homos? Imagine the endless resources we could share among the remaining people after we kill the adulterers like God recommends as well.

Wikipedia: The Torah and Hebrew Bible made clear distinctions between the shedding of innocent blood and killing as the due consequence of a crime. A number of sins were considered to be worthy of the death penalty including murder,[21] incest,[22] bearing false witness on a capital charge,[23] adultery,[24] idolatry,[25] having sexual relations with a member of the same sex, etc.[16]

And Wikipedia appears to diplomatically use "etc." for a number of other punishable by death crimes like working on the Sabbath, cursing your parents, and not being a virgin on your wedding night. I know, I know- I was a bit skeptical until I read the verses. But behold:

14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death.Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord.Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. - Exodus 31:14-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

I'm fairly certain that creating the necessary mass extermination camps all before Christmas is a bit of a stretch in a logistical way for even the narrow focus on just one group your God recommends to be killed  [ridding ourselves of aids, or "90 some percent" of it because, well, 78% of new HIV infections among males are homos... and when we add female homos well, um.. that's science.] 

I'm sorry dude of God but Christmas would be a tough timetable even if you started in January, because well,  that's history. I hate to be picky in a literal way but you started it. The Jewish peoples composed a similarly small percent of the German population during WWII, and look how hard that attempt at extermination was. 

Christmas might be a bothersome day to announce your accomplishment as well. 

Fundamentalism and literal interpretation of the Bible are not for the faint of heart and you, sir, have a little pansy paper cup on your podium.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Case of Eric Garner Will Matter Regardless of Jon Stewart

The case of Eric Garner does not mean cameras won't work. To say that taking measures to try to stop the carnage will always fail or are useless is to give in to hopelessness and to ignore the power of popular opinion Jon Stewart uses to generate his paycheck. Without the camera footage we have of Eric Garner we would not have Jon Stewart's segment. Even though Jon Stewart rightfully bashes the television media news, he too is tone deaf to any event that does not have visual footage or pictures. To ignore that is hypocrisy that he is intelligent enough to be aware of. As cameras became official records, cops WOULD act better because they WOULD be held accountable, maybe not on a case by case basis at first but eventually in the power of opinion which again, Jon Stewart is actively appealing to in this segment albeit feigning his personal suffering as the main focus. There is no solution to racism or violence, there are only steps forward. And the step Barack Obama is attempting would be a gigantic step forward even if it is now seemingly popular for Stewart to bash the president. The action of placing cameras at the heart of the problem is such a good idea that I find it hard to believe Stewart is not playing for ratings by acting serious because there are no jokes to be made.

Dying in complete anonymity at the hands of brutes...that IS worse... so, let's get those cameras out there.