Friday, December 25, 2009

Who Of Us Makes Mistakes?

It is often said the man who makes no mistakes is the man who does nothing. Why would this be so?

Because just about everything any of us does is fraught with "mistakes" from somebody's point of view. The reason this is the case is that reality is or certainly seems to be predicated on a duality of opposites. Meaning something considered good is only good if there is something bad to oppose it, and vice versa.

But depending on the point of view espoused, good and bad can simultaneously be bad and good. Hence, no matter what action is taken, it is a "mistake" to somebody. Abstaining from action seems to produce no mistakes because of this "point of view" dilemma, hence the implication that the inactive man makes no mistakes.

But of course from a certain point of view it can be said that inaction itself is an action meaning even inactive types are prone to making "mistakes" as well.

So what is the best course of action then? Do 1) X,2) its opposite or 3) "nothing"? Why that is left to the discretion of the individual.

Whichever way, one's inevitable fate is that of making a mistake, or many I suppose. But of course the opposite seems true as well.....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Apparently It's OK For Poor To Shoplift From Big Stores

That's not me saying this but rather a priest from England. Apart from the absurdity inherent in this kind of "thinking" that goes without saying, I have two simple questions:

1) What is poor?
2) What is a big store?

Simple to comprehend but impossible to answer!

Who Among Us Causes Wrecks?

Some will say it's the slower of us, others the faster. But in the end, it is essentially neither. How can this be so if wrecks happen with such reckless abandon?

Because it is neither fastness nor slowness in itself that causes wrecks* but the duality of two starkly different and hence contradictory behaviors!

It seems much like politics and religion. Whereas many identify with one belief or style, the remaining must be made wrong or bad because these contradictory beliefs or styles do not lend themselves to cooperation.

*Though once they happen, it is likely fastness or slowness will greatly affect the severity of the wrecks

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Insanity And Absurdity Of Life

How do we determine the "right" course of action with "something" that more often than not seems neither "right" nor "wrong" but merely "liked" or "disliked"?

Since the "something" is not likely good or bad in itself, it needs to be "made" good or bad to provide the necessary moral justification for argument and conflict.

On the other hand, I understand that acknowledging the lack of goodness or badness in the "something" itself is not constructive because then HOW THE HELL DO WE DETERMINE WHAT THE "SOMETHING" SHOULD BE IF IT IS ULTIMATELY ARBITRARY?

Hence, in order to choose the "right" arbitrary decision, an ideological war must be waged. This is where politicians, talk show hosts and war mongers, notably, come into the fray. They (attempt to) recruit people to their arbitrarily chosen "something" by deluding others into believing there is either their "right something" or somebody else's "wrong something". People thus choose sides and war is waged.

Remember, people actually believe the "something" is over "right" and "wrong", not over mere preferences. But in the end, the chips "fall as they will" and the winner of this arbitrary decision "decides" what is "right".

Think of wars and conflict that result from argument and disagreement over mere preferences (of course it is by definition always believed to be over right and wrong). For if societies at large became aware that they were killing or fighting each other over mere preferences, they would likely cease fighting because of the lack of moral justification. But then how else would we determine what the "something" should be without waging wars or other forms of conflict?


Friday, December 18, 2009

Think Think

Is double think any less insane than going about murdering people simply out of prejudice? Any sort of ideological militant driven by a pathological propensity to commit murder or some other such dehumanizing act is insane, in my opinion.

On the other hand, what about one who claims to uphold grace as the ultimate law of God who then goes on to claim these militant criminals should be judged to the full extent of the law? How can one uphold the ideal of grace yet simultaneously believe these criminals should be judged maximally? This, among many other sentiments, is double think.

Since it is wholeheartedly believing 2 opposing ideals, is this thinking not clearly insane as well? Certainly much less destructive than fanatics going about committing their egregious acts. But insane nonetheless.

In much the same way it is often said that “sin is sin”, perhaps “insanity is insanity”!

Hope A Bit Off The Beaten Track

What is hope to me? To see life for what it seems to be and through this attaining peace and happiness through a perspective that comes to terms with this.

Hope to me is not deluding myself with some warm, fuzzy account of life very unlikely to be true merely because it sounds warm and fuzzy. Acknowledging that bad outcomes could only have been worse (this itself usually unconsciously implied), is a decidedly warm, fuzzy account of life.

For if one sees things as they truly are, is it not patently clear things could easily have been better as well? As such, my quest for knowledge and truth does not discriminate against ideas thought to be sad and hopeless or seemingly “inferior” in other ways.

For instance, many see Friedrich Nietzsche's ideas as not worth following only because he led such a seemingly tragic life. But maybe he stumbled upon some real truths and it is only because of this that he became so depressed?

As I seek truth, I refuse to suppress or deny ideas solely because I do not like them.....that would be incredibly irrational and discriminatory. Perhaps rationality is depressing?

Might this be why irrational thinking (a seeming oxymoron?) seems to be the order of the day?

Capitalism's And Socialism's Mutual Shortfall

Although capitalism, at least initially, encourages innovation and maximum effort, it seems to devolve into something else after sufficient time. When just 1 competitor starts "cutting corners" to cater to the cost conscious among us (who of us is not), this in turn seduces others to follow suit. In effect, it leaves something to be desired*!

Socialism leads to "cutting corners" no less because there is no "force" as it were to encourage innovation and maximum effort**. We are once again left wanting!

Regrettably, wanting seems to be life's greatest unquenchable desire. Perhaps we should just accept what is?

*Examples: customer service being automated (though I do love that sexy woman's voice!), decreasing quality of many products or their almost instantaneous obsolescence (presumably this is very deliberate, as it goes hand in hand with capitalism itself. For it "beautifully" necessitates a continuous need for more "stuff")

**Examples: any "to do" with the Department of Motor Vehicles, procuring a business license in the city of Atlanta

I will end with a bit of a pipe dream. What if we as a society were just motivated to work hard simply for its own sake? Like I said, a bit of a pipe dream.....or perhaps far more.

If I Were Him, I Would Blah Blah Blah!

But you are NOT are you. If you were him, presumably you would do EXACTLY as he does!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Is The Greater Good For Society?

By honoring the brave men and women who fought and died for "our" country, might we simply be perpetuating resentment and conflict? By not honoring these brave men and women, might we curtail the sowing of resentment and conflict and as a result progress toward world peace? What if history stopped being taught?

Aside from the "immorality" of not honoring "our" brave forebears, what other detrimental consequence might result? Perhaps ignorance of history? But does not much of history seem very subjectively written (especially by winners of wars)? Might we be wise to question whether being taught history actually does make us less ignorant if much of it is overly subjective anyway?

Imagine Palestinian and Israeli kids no longer being taught (perhaps indoctrinated with might be more precise) their vile history. Might they become amiable to one another? Is this more or less a societal priority than honoring "our" brave forebears which seems to, among other things, perpetuate resentment and conflict?

What is the greater good for society?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Correlation Between Disbelief And Dislike

Do you agree with much or even any of my writings? If yes, so be it. If no, why? Do you (want to) disbelieve them because you dislike them* or do you (want to) dislike them because you disbelieve them**?

On the other hand, might disbelief and dislike be interchangeable? Perhaps disbelieving something is but a proxy for disliking it? In this sense, much of our argument and conflict could be over mere preferences, not over right and wrong.

It is very reasonable to ask the inverse as you (want to) believe "x" because you like "x" or do you (want to) like "x" because you believe "x"?

In this case, from what do we derive our moral justification for fighting and arguing over mere preferences?

Notice this makes no attempt to discern what is actually true. Rather, it is merely an attempt to explain why one might choose to believe or disbelieve something.

*If you disbelieve them because you dislike them, this categorically denies what might be true simply because it is disliked. This is a decidedly subjective verdict, devoid of objectivity. Which brings us to a very critical you seek to believe what your intellectual honesty can afford or what you want?

**If your disbelief in them inclines you to dislike them, this will inevitably lead to argument and conflict because disliking "x" has a way of making "x" wrong or bad. At which point the purported right/wrong dichotomy is fabricated to provide the moral justification for argument and conflict.

Everything Is A Trade-Off

Cities around the country are finding out their energy saving LED traffic lights (which use up to 90% less energy than the conventional incandescent type) are not producing enough heat to keep them sufficiently thawed during winter months. As a result, they are crusting over and becoming invisible. This oversight is implicated in many accidents and at least one death! What to do?

Well, how about installing heaters on the lights to prevent this from happening*? Of course this will bump up energy usage thus making the environmental impact of the switch futile. Though they do look pretty cool, I don't think that was a consideration in their implementation.

On the other hand, they could employ crews to thaw them out, making any sort of cost saving benefit futile once again.

It just goes to show, although we strive to do things with the utmost of honorable intentions, we mustn't forget that good intentions have a way of going horribly awry. Alas, everything is a trade-off!

*A client of mine had a most sensible about cities in, say, Minnesota trading their LEDs with cities in Florida that have not yet upgraded from conventional types?

The Paradox Of “Good" Guys Using War For Peace's Sake

It is often resentfully claimed that when “good” guys are "forced" to attack “bad” guys, these “bad” guys routinely resort to cruel and sadistic methods to tip the scale in their favor. They even use innocent women and children as shields! Can you believe that? Innocent women and children as shields!

Well, since they have already been labeled “bad”, why should they be dissuaded from using any strategy which might afford them an advantage over the “good” guys. What do they have to lose in the way of reputation at this point? The best they can hope for in not using women and children as shields would be for others to view them as merely “bad” instead of something much worse. In essence, this would assure their defeat but be mitigated by the fact that others will see them as only “bad”.

This does not sound particularly alluring even to me. And I have little or no proclivity to get angry or violent when confronted by people that accuse me of being bad! What does one suppose a person with this proclivity will do if he is accused of being “bad”. If I had to guess, he will become really bad!

This is perhaps the most fundamental dilemma in trying to reconcile war to morality and peace. Labeling people negatively will only further aggravate them, in turn dragging them into an even deeper state of unconsciousness thus prompting their use of more and worse defensive measures.

Using violence under the guise of upholding truth and righteousness is yet more unconsciousness fighting unconsciousness*. This cycle will only ever manifest itself as more unconsciousness.

War is like a pendulum. No matter how out of equilibrium it might be at any given time (this being analogous to lulls in violence and conflict), if left untouched for sufficiently long, it will reach equilibrium (war)!

*Am I saying "we" should NEVER go to war? Decidedly not! Herein lies the most fundamental insanity and absurdity of existence.....fighting wars while claiming (and presumably believing) they will eventually lead to peace! If "we" choose to go to war or it is chosen for us, "we" should harbor no such pretense that peace will ever avail. War is what it is. Though there does not seem to be moral justification for it largely because of the indiscriminate death and destruction it leaves behind, many times it seems "we" must declare it. Once again, this is life's most insane and cruel irony!

If Only Everybody Believed The Same Thing, Things Would Be Fine!

"Well," it will likely be retorted, "I don't think things would be fine if everybody was a militant Muslim!" But if everybody was a militant Muslim, would anybody be a militant Muslim? It seems a militant Muslim would have nobody to be militant toward and hence no reason to be militant at all. Which just begs the question, how could a militant mindset originate without a purported enemy?

It takes an opposing view, not necessarily any more right or wrong or good or bad than another, to foment conflict in the first place! So once again, if only everybody believed the same thing, things would be fine.

I must confess, however, I'm not quite that naive. After all, I'm pretty certain if we did not have religion or politics or alma maters or whatever else to fight over, we would "find" as-yet-unknown things to fight over. After all, we must fight. It's that pesky ego!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The High Cost Of Belief

There was a time not long ago when the Catholic Church held Jewish children ransom until the parents agreed to have them converted to the Catholic faith. But most of the Jewish parents allowed no such thing! Of course the "evil" of extorting the parents to begin with need not even be mentioned, but something else should. Had the Jewish parents simply acquiesced to the demands of the Church, their children would have been promptly returned after said religious "conversion" rites were performed.

I know the idea of the Jewish parents conceding to the demands of the Catholic Church angers many because it "holds hostage" their cherished Jewish beliefs. And rightfully so, they should have been allowed to "believe" whatever they so chose, free of intimidation. Then I'm afraid SO SHOULD HAVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!

Of course many, including myself, will claim the Catholic Church's intimidation tactics were beyond reproach. But I think this "blackmailing" tactic was a genuine, even non-malicious part of its doctrine, or so the Church believed.

Herein lies the dilemma: if one sympathizes with those that choose to "believe" in Judaism or anything else for that matter, he should likewise sympathize with the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Which in this case compelled it to hold the children ransom for their own sake: TO SAVE THEM FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION! Or so the Church believed.

This example perfectly illustrates how contradictory beliefs create conflict which would otherwise be absent. Eliminate either (or perhaps ideally both) of 2 contradictory views and there is no conflict!

A most important consideration needs to be addressed. Since most people "respect" some but not all beliefs, what does this really say about belief itself? That the goodness or badness of any given belief has NOTHING to do with the belief itself. IT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE BEHAVIOR IT ENGENDERS. This is why most people feel compelled to "respect" a kind and generous person's Islamic or Christian beliefs but NOT the beliefs of an Islamic terrorist or Christian abortion clinic bomber!

Furthermore, if it is belief that is respected, what of the uncommonly kind and generous types that essentially believe nothing? Are they to be unrespected? I think not. Reason being, it is ultimately and only one's behavior that earns respect. Respecting belief is superficial. It is nothing but a distraction from respecting the only thing that matters: behavior.

How About Illegalizing Indoctrination?

Where does much of society's conflict and strife seem to originate? Perhaps indoctrination explains much of it, most notably among its naive "little ones". For children will pretty much believe anything they are told to believe (sadly, many of us will too). If they are told in the crib that certain races or cultures are inherently evil or inferior or that others with divergent beliefs or cultural practices are wrong or weird, they will have little gumption not to believe it.

Much of this indoctrination will sow ill feelings in the years to come, creating conflict which would otherwise be absent. Should "we"* forcefully prevent the kind of indoctrination that leads to terrorism, this being perhaps the worst of its many ill faces? Certainly it can then be argued that this would be an affront to the basic freedom of allowing a person to "believe whatever he wants to believe". However, the ill consequence of "protecting" this freedom is that it seems to create or at least magnify wars and other such conflicts thus providing the ultimate trigger to kill and maim.

What is the imperative? To provide the freedom of allowing a person to "believe whatever he wants" knowing full well its negative consequences or simply banning the kind of indoctrination that creates such violent division in the first place?

*"We" is highlighted to differentiate its many faces. Ask "we" in Iran or North Korea or Afghanistan or Iraq or Papua New Guinea or Scandinavia or France or wherever else and "we" will have many divergent goals and ideals. So the relevant question might be, "whose indoctrination should be censored?" It seems wars and violence are predicated not necessarily on clear right/wrong dichotomies but on the simple principle that peoples' opposing views and preferences create contradictions and hence conflict when "forced" to live side by side. At this point, "creating" enemies out of "others" (herein enters the purported right/wrong dichotomy into the conflict, thus giving the "good" guy moral justification for it) is obligatory when it becomes apparent that any attempt to "intertwine" these contradictions is destined to fail.** And so ensues tension which manifests itself as at best simple conflict and disagreement, at worst war. Much like the AIDS virus being viewed as "bad" from our perspective, it is only "bad" because the both of us cannot peacefully coexist. But ask yourself this: in the grand scheme of things, do you really think there is anything particularly "bad" about the AIDS virus in itself? Decidedly not! It is just trying to make its way about the world like the rest of us! But it causes US harm so we think it fair to label IT "bad" and believe this to be an objective judgment. But of course it is anything but objective! Once again, as per my hypothetical idea of censoring certain types of indoctrination, which types then? Perhaps those with uncontested control of the world should make this decision for everybody else, as has always been the case. But these days, I don't know? Who might this be?

**This is a rather silly argument to illustrate my point. I ask you to think more deeply than seeing this only as an argument between 2 young boys fighting over a most trivial matter. As such, project the following parable onto almost any argument and I believe there is relevance: I have never met anybody that believes colors to be intrinsically "good" or "bad". Imagine 2 brothers are going to share a Nintendo DS for Christmas. Peter likes blue but Sam likes red. Each is so compelled to get the device in his chosen color that it becomes an obsession. As a result, they become so identified with their chosen colors that they actually convince themselves their favorite colors are "good" in turn making other colors antithetical to "good" and hence "bad". If you're not with me you're against me! It's that vexatious war mindset so commonly used to justify conflict in the first place***. Since the other brother wants a "bad" color, he is "bad" and thus an enemy. Once again, the purported right/wrong dichotomy creeps into the conflict because it provides moral justification. With this then, the "good" guy is justified to fight because he is "right". And which one IS the "good" guy? Why that's simply a matter of perspective.

***This "if you're not with me you're against me" dichotomy preys on human instinct with reckless abandon. Since we are social animals, we have a need (or perhaps just an irresistible instinct) to be part of clearly defined groups to give us a sense of social identity. What does this compel us to do? Choose sides. In which case people "join" either the "with" or "against" group and conflict is thus born! Note that without this "choosing of sides", there would exist no with/against dichotomy and hence conflict would be avoided altogether! It is also important to note that most of us are compelled to choose one or the other because it "seems" as if those are the only two options. Politicians, talk show hosts and war mongers, notably, love to delude us (and themselves of course) into believing there is only "with" and "against" because they are always looking to recruit people for their "sacred" cause(s). Of course if you choose "against" them, they are morally justified in criticizing you! However, this with/against dichotomy is usually untenable. Almost always "with" and "against" are simply opposite ends of a spectrum. In which case there exist many subtle combinations of "with" and "against" along this spectrum. Upon recognizing this "truth" in a given conflict, I myself choose the "middle", in effect doing my part to "strip" the conflict of its "identity". This is what politicians, talk show hosts and war mongers, among others, live for: to recruit people for their cause(s) in order to give the conflict(s) "identity".

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Could Jesus Have Been A Capitalist?

What did Jesus imply by his outburst in the temple? Apparently his disdain for "moneymaking" within the confines of his Father's house. In the grand scheme of things though, I can't help but think these "opportunists" were just trying to make a few bucks by selling religious "trinkets" and other indulgences to a willing audience. Is this not the epitome of capitalism?

Apparently Jesus did not very much like this and made it known by turning over the tables and accusing these merchants of "mocking his Father". Perhaps many will claim Jesus was only against this "moneymaking" mentality within the confines of "God's house". However, this seems curiously analogous to the idea that followers of Jesus are expected to be "churchy" and on their best behavior only within the confines of "God's house". Should this be the mentality of His followers? Sadly, it oftentimes seems so. In any case, could Jesus have been a capitalist?

On the other hand, I can't help but think of the parable Jesus told about the servants entrusted with a landowner's talents. Whereas one servant held onto it out of fear he would lose it and was subsequently vilified, another servant "invested" it to earn interest and was thus praised. Could Jesus have been advocating capitalism? Was this really about investing money or more about investing oneself selflessly? Hmmm? Could Jesus have been a capitalist?

I'm puzzled how so many people that "study" Jesus so nobly imply that He was, or at least would be, a capitalist? Could it be predicated on His messages of "a man shall reap what he sows"? If this is true, where does grace fit into this?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What Do We Do?

Housing prices have tumbled in many areas. How should assessed valuations be determined such that property taxes are handled "fairly"? How should current homeowners who have experienced devastating losses in value wish this issue to be handled? Perhaps an even more challenging question, what about investors who have purchased greatly distressed properties? Should those who purchased a dwelling for $50,000 previously valued at $200,000 pay property taxes based on an assessed value closer to $200,000 or $50,000? What's "fair"?

I am afraid this is the most highly subjective of questions. Of course the buyer of a greatly discounted dwelling (and those who have experienced significant losses on their "investment") will in all likelihood claim it is more fair to pay taxes on an assessed value closer to $50,000, to him at least. Why should he pay taxes on an amount in excess of its purported value?

Conversely, a struggling municipality will likely claim it is more fair to pay taxes on an assessed value closer to $200,000, to it at least. After all, the buyer is getting such a steal of a deal that he makes up for the taxes he's paying in excess of its perhaps "truer" value.

So in a sense, it could be construed as unfair (in the buyer's favor) for getting such a deal on it which can be mitigated by making him pay taxes in excess of its value (to the buyer's detriment). In this way, the unfairness seems more or less neutralized.

To the municipality then, it continues to collect property taxes close to what it was previously (giving it no "free lunch"), allowing it to maintain essential services and other "quality of life" necessities.

Imagine buyers paying taxes on houses' "actual" values. What would happen to the municipality? It would likely collapse, creating perhaps even more loss of value! In short order, the bitching and complaining would focus on the quickly decaying municipality INSTEAD OF THE UNFAIR TAX ASSESSMENTS!

In the end, I am afraid NOTHING is "fair" when the shit hits the fan! Apparently, we ALL must get F_C_E_ up the you-know-what!

How then should tax valuations be "fairly" determined?

Perhaps they should be valued somewhere in the MIDDLE?

Or perhaps it should depend on whether the losses in value are predicted to be short-lived or long-lived? If this is a very temporary blip, it seems more "fair" to leave the assessed values closer to their original values. On the other hand, if they are predicted to be protracted, perhaps they should drop correspondingly? But what if these predictions are wholly inaccurate?


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No Faith Or The Wrong Faith?

It is often claimed by those certain of God's existence that atheists are unwise not to have faith. But then it is just as easily stated that "it takes more faith to be an atheist than to believe in God". So is the issue that atheists lack faith or that atheists simply have the wrong faith?

In the end, whether one chooses to place his faith in God or atheism, the problem is the same: they are both blind assumptions. Hence the need to make faith commitments. How much faith does it require to concede uncertainty?

The Problem Of Complexity

Believers in God often claim that atheism is problematic because how, without a divine Designer, could we, let alone other less complicated things, exist at all*?

Implicit in this question is an attempt to explain how complexity arose by positing that God minimizes this "problem". But how? From where did God come?

"He is uncaused! He needs no explanation!" Really? How would we know this to be true? It is but a blind assumption, tantamount to believing everything is WITHOUT God. Furthermore, if it is assumed that something infinitely complicated requires no cause, why should it be anymore assumed that something merely finitely complicated requires a cause?

At this point, might it be less absurd to believe a finite thing (like atheism) requires no cause than to believe an infinite thing (like God) requires no cause?

In the end, how does God minimize the problem of complexity? Might He actually MAGNIFY it?

*Might God ever ponder who or what designed Himself? If He does, this puts Him in the very same predicament as us, attempting to appeal to someone or something beyond Himself. If He does not, doesn't this make Him just like an atheist?