Category Archives: Philosophy

A child of the 1960’s

I was 17 back in 1968, one of the most important Presidential elections I ever voted in. No I didn’t cheat. My parents told my older brother , Al, and me that they would cast the vote for president we wanted. Papa for Al and Momma for me. This was because both of us were facing the draft and going off to the Vietnam War. I had been aware of presidential elections since 1964 (LBJ vs. Goldwater) but what the parties and candidates stood for really didn’t sink in. 1968 was totally different. For many reasons.

I shan’t go into the politics as you can find way too many books, blogs, podcasts, etc on that era. I’m going to talk about myself, personally. First of I was NOT a flower child nor hippie. I was quite emphatic in my being a radical “Middle of the Bird” (see Rowan & Martin Laugh-In). Also, like now, I have total intolerance of hypocrisy. I came by this both naturally and from the 60’s culture. The easiest and quickest way to get me to reject your idea is to appear to be hypocritical.

For example: If you want to have a “Double Standard” where you get to have or do something you do not want others to have or do I will accept the idea if you will just admit you want a double standard and not say that double standards are bad. The problem I have finally learn is that getting a double standard and saying you don’t like double standards is an application of the double standard. I couldn’t win. I challenge you to find a single ‘hypocrite’ who will admit to hypocrisy.

For all you out there who the 1960’s is just a decade in your history books, the 1960’s was a time where the teenagers of the decade took great joy in calling there elders “Hypocrites” in loud pear-shaped tones. While I think I rarely said this to my parents, I hope I didn’t, I did do it in school, clubs, and shouting at the TV. Please note that changing your mind was all too often taken as hypocrisy back then and I had a long hard road learning to tell the difference.

With time, age and a heart attack I think I’ve changed some. I still hold hypocrisy in great disdain but I hope I do not call it out so self righteously as my 18 year old self did. An if you find some of my ideas odd or dated please just remember where I came from.

A Theory On Hell

As many of you already know I don’t believe in a HELL as is common in Christo-Judaic theology. I shan’t go into why right now, just go along with me that I just believe in a Heaven. Sometime ago I did come up with why what could look like a HELL but isn’t could exist and I want to share it with you now.

First some Postulates:

  1. God doe not make any errors, ever.
  2. God has already forgiven every “sin” you have ever committed
  3. All you have to do is accept your failings, admit them to God and bingo your in what you think of as Heaven.
  4. There was never a “War in Heaven” and there are no “Fallen Angels”.
  5. Some people can not accept their failings and feel that anyone who has such failings deserve HELL
  6. Some peoples idea of heaven is getting to punish “bad” people.

So stay with me on this.

When people die and stand in judgment before God they just can not forgive themselves, be truly repentant, and therefore feel they must be condemned to HELL for punishment. They have been told that they are forgiven and be truly repentant and all is good, they don’t believe or accept it. God has all the time in the universe and then some so he gives them what they expect and will welcome them once they are ready. (Think about a four year old beating his head to punish his parent(s). They will wait and watch to be sure they do no great harm knowing full well they will get tired sooner or later.)

Now think of those people who think that the most heavenly thing is to be able to punish all those people who were “bad people”, sinners if you will. They also get sent to a “Heaven” that looks like HELL. They know they are in a HELL, but it seems like heaven to them because they get totally punish all the “bad people”. They are both Happy and Miserable at the same time. Happy because they are getting to punish everyone the wanted to wreck revenge upon in life, and miserable because they have to be in HELL to do it. This is where all the demons of the classic mythology of Christianity come from. An in a way they are the “Fallen Ones”, they just haven’t made it to being angles yet.

Crazy, No?

Why I’m Optomistic About Thing To Come

The Future of Telephones in 2000
Telephones of the Year 2000

As I write it is 2 January 2024. In the past year I’ve been asked why I’m optimistic about the future. An while the answer is not particularly complex I have found it hard to explain to others. After much thought I’ve come to understand it comes down to two things. I know the history of what we thought the future will be like and I know the history of doom I have personally lived thru.

Let’s start with the History of the future and by that I mean what did we think the future would be like back in the day. The two pictures above show to distinct images of the future. One from around 1920 and one from 1973. The top one is wildly optimistic and the other is wildly pessimistic. Both are quite inaccurate in their vision. I can go on and on with examples and I invite the reader to try looking for their own for examples. They are surprisingly easy to find.

My second reason for being optimistic is I have personally lives thru three “we are DOOMED” events. Back when I was just a boy (1950s) it was the “Atomic Bomb”. Quite a few of the SF movies of the era delt with both the “Atomic War” and or it’s aftermath. Some, like “On the Beach” were very well done. Others like “Panic in the Year Zero” not very good at all. Most were made to be “B” reel movies. Like the movies, the written SF of the time that dealt with “Atomic War” tended to be only fair to poor and were mostly pulp fiction. They all had a few things in common. First the “Atomic War” was inevitable. Next nobody wanted it and last “It just Happened”. An finally it almost always ended up where everything was “Bad”, with wildly varying degrees of ‘Bad’. As of this writing the “Atomic War” has yet to happen.

The next, second, “we are DOOMED” even started in the 1960’s, over population and is in the second of my images above. I selected “Soylent Green” because it is set in the ‘far distant future of 2022’. None of what it predicted has come to pass. Although we do seem to be working our way to the ‘permanent heat wave’ of the story. There have not been as many movies/stories about the “over population crisis” as the “Atomic Bomb crisis” but it was not as “flashy” as an atomic explosion.

The third and last event was the short lived “Ozone Layer”. This “Dooms Day” event could be easily missed if you blinked hard as it was going by. Needless to say the Ozone Lay is still with us.

We are now in a new “We are Doomed” crisis with “Climate Change (AKA Global warming). I don’t know how we are going to solve this one, thankfully it is not my job or responsibility. An that brings me to why I’m optimistic. It is simple, I have faith that the up and coming generations will find solutions to their problems just like mine found solutions to its “crisis” events. I feel this way because they are just like my generation it what is important. They don’t know what is impossible. They do not accept that there are “Insolvable Problems” and they, like us, are ready, willing an able to tackle what comes their way.

Now don’t ask me what the solutions they will find will be or look like, I don’t have a clue. But I do know it will most likely not look like, if even be, what we can imagine today. That is why I have the first picture. To show how right and wrong our current visions are. We have the video phone, and no, they don’t look or work like anything imagined back then. But it will happen and it will be wondrous.

A fun little thought experiment

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine

I would like to share a fun little thing I do to get a perspective on things. I also use it to show why I have such high hopes for the kids of today. So here we go….

First think about the year you were born. In my case that is 1951. Now think about 100 years earlier, again in my case that would be 1851. Now here comes the first hard part, think about how people lived in that year. Then think about how things were 100 years ago, 1923 and how people lived back the. This last part is easier to do because there is an excellent and very readable history “Only Yesterday’ by Fredrick Lewis Allen to help you out. Now just think about just how much things changed in that time. In 1851 the telegraph was brand new. There was no Republican Party. Most Americans lived either on farms or in small market towns, lest than a few thousand people. Slavery was still going strong in the south. Most people depended on walking to get anywhere, you were both luck and well off to be able to ride a mule or a horse and that for a long trip, like 20 miles to town. Finally a dollar a day was very good wages, especially if you were paired in gold coin.

Now let us look at 1923. The telegraph is being changed by the Telephone. Railroads are “The” way to travel long distance over land. Commercial Radio stations were springing up and in two years the live broadcast of a Presidential Inauguration will take place. The start of the age of the automobile and expanse of paved highways between towns. The idea that to become a medical doctor you need to have a college degree before medical school. The list seems to go on and on.

Now look at your life, in my case 1951 to 2023 and look at what you took for granted when you were in grade school or Middle school or High school. For me one easy way is to watch old movies of the 1960’s that I watched. Not just science fiction, spy dramas, crime dramas, even comedies. With Science fiction it can be an especially big giggle when they talk about the distant future like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solent Green (set in 2022)., By the way I’m still waiting for my self driving flying car. Other movies like “Fantastic Voyage” and “ Satan Bug” can remind you of cutting edge technologies of the 1960s. In any case it will give you a wonderful feel for how we misestimated the changes we will see, both what we thought would happen and things we never saw coming.

Now to the whole point of this experiment. When ever you start getting down about the state of the world. When the “Doom” sayers get to you take a look and all we have accomplished in just your life time and even before. An have faith in the kids to over face what comes, to adapt and to over come.

The Forgotten IX

IX Amendment
US Constitution Bill of Rights

One of the first things I notice about Justice Alito’s option in Dobbs v Jackson was it was very careful about all of the texts in the Constitution it thought would apply or be affected by the decision. Except one. The IX Amendment (see above). Years ago when I first started to really started to study the Constitution one of my Professors called the IXth the forgotten amendment. We spent quite some time on just why it was forgotten and why it is so important.

Take a moment to look at it carefully. Now think about just what it is saying. It is just one sentence but it says something very important to all of us. In more modern language it says that the enumeration of specific rights, does not mean and should not be taken to mean, that the people do not still retain those rights. What Justice Alito’s ignoring of the Amendment seems to be implying is that the Federal Courts, and the Supreme Court in particular, has no role in protecting these unenumerated rights.

This idea is just one of many issues I have with both the ”Originalist” and/or ”Textualist” doctrines on interpreting the Constitution. I will not go into all of my issues with these two doctrines for they are legion. In stead I will concentrate on just one issue bought to light here. This is the idea that Enumerated Rights take president over unEnumerated rights to the extent that the IX Amendment is meaningless.

Before I start I’d like to point out one fundamental principle I have in reading the Constitution. There is nothing in it just for ”show”. Every word, every phrase, everything is there for a reason and therefor can not be ignored. Too many modern scholars of the Constitution seem to be unaware of this principle. They read the Constitution like “ Elmer Gantry“ read scripture. Quote what supports your view and ignore what contradicts you. We have seen this before in the “Great 2nd Amendment Debate” where the entire first clause is totally ignored. The same thing is being done with the IX Amendment, except it is the entire text being relegated to the trash bin.

What is truly fascinating about Dobbs is that in many many cases it takes head on the many of the clauses they wish to overturn in the reasoning of Roe vs Wade. Justice Alito does this in with the 15th Amendment. He does not with the IX. I think this is because, like himself, Roe vs Wade also ignores the IX. It also could be that he thought that the IX Amendment had no bearing on the case before the Court. (By the way, I accept this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do.) This seems to be stretching things just a might as Dobb’s deals with rights not enumerated in the Constitution (ie Privacy) and the IX Amendment is all about unenumerated rights.

In closing all we can really say is the Dobbs totally ignores the IX Amendment and we don’t know why.

Some Thoughts on Hell and Evil

Just so those of you reading this who know me, I still don’t believe in the traditional christian concept of Hell. Nor do I accept the classic portrayal of evil. What I want to do here is talk about a possible kind of Hell that the kind of just and loving God could possibly allow to exits.

This idea started to form in my thinking of just where all of the demons that ’punish’ the damned souls in hell. In all of the representations I have ever seen there are many more demons than souls. Like on the order of 3/4 to 1 or 10+ to 1. The traditional answer to this question is they are all fallen angles. Really? The classic all powerful / all knowing God created that many flawed Angles? This always bothered me.

Given that I currently work on the theory that 1) God does not make mistakes, is loving and Forgiving 2) while Heaven could exist, Hell does not; it has occurred to that a kind of Hell just may exist. It is actually a kind of Heaven. A Heaven for all those souls who do believe in a Hell and do believe the greatest duty of all ”True Believers” is to punish everyone who rejects ”The One True God/Religion” for all time.

Before you reject this idea, just stop and consider the idea for a minute or two. To those who feel that it is their calling to punish the evil/wicked what could be more heaven like than a place where they get to punish, personally, those people they feel are the most sinful? Where they get to enjoy seeing them, the sinful, suffer for their sins? Horrifying isn’t? But is it anymore horrifying than the classic view of hell? A place with out hope?

I think not.

Our Continuing Sheldon Crisis….

Foundation

With the 2022 primaries true and well started I’d like to stop and take note of the ”Sheldon” crisis we are in. I know I’ve been talking about a crisis for several years now and before I go on, I’d like to point out some things usually over looked when talking about ”Sheldon” Crisis’. First, the ”Foundation” novels never really give us a good time frame for just how long a ”Sheldon” crisis takes to start and end. Shoot, we never get a good idea of how long it takes to travel from Terminus to Trator. Weeks, months? No clue, just that it is not too long for the people making the trip.

Also we are never told just what a ”Sheldon” crisis is. All we know is that it is a phenomenon of ”Psycohistory” a science that was invented by the mathematician Hari Sheldon. We are also told that ”Psyohistory” can predict the actions of very large bodies of humans (very large being the populations of entire planets if not multiple planets). So just how am I using the phase ”Sheldon” Crisis? What do I mean by it.

Simple put I’m talking about the phenomenon of a Sociopolitical science where a sudden, often violent events occur that mark a distinct change in a socialites social, political, and/or economic state. a good example is what happened between 1914 and 1945. Yes that is 31 years. But in the history of people and nations it is shorter than a blink of the eye. So live with it. I will go on from there.

What I’m looking at today is the possible death of the Republican Party that came into being in the last half of the 20th Century. If you look at the demographics of the Republican Party in the 1950/60 and the 2010/20 you can see a significant difference. (Please note that you can see a related demographic change in the Democratic Party) These changes are most notable in the rise of extreme politics. The shift from seeing someone with a differing political/economic/social/religious view point not just as opponent, not just as the enemy, but as fundamentally evil. Something to be eradicated at all cost. My side, right or wrong, but my side.

One of the key issues with this phenomenon is that it has a strong tendency to concentrate concentrate “The True Believer” (See Eric Hofer) into one political party or movement. It also has a tendency to concentrate the Authoritarian-Autocrat personality into one political party or movement. When it is in one political party/movement we have a very explosive mixture. This is what I see happening with the Republican Party of the early 2020’s. I shall give some examples of what I think of as symptomatic and/or diagnostic events in my next posting.

The American War on Science

Orange Koolaid

Ever sense the spring of 2020 and the struggle began against the Covid-19 pandemic we have been able to see the American War on Science shown in all it’s ferocity. I say the American War because America has been of two minds about science since the first colonist arrived on these shores. Part of us are children of the Enlightenment and another part are children of hyper religious dissidence. These two groups have never gotten along with each other and for the same reason. They perceive the other as a trying to destroy the other. An in away they are right.

First lets look at the basic philosophical positions of both sides:

Let us first look at the Children of the Enlightenment and their handmaiden, Science. I shall be using “Science” from here on out for brevity’s sake. Science, as seen by many, has as a central principle that there is nothing that can not be questioned. Even the most fundamental concepts and principles can be questioned. An by questioned I mean ‘put to the test’. We teach science both by lecture and actual hand on experimental experience. We have students conduct experiments for many reasons but one of the most important is to check the results of all the experiments that went before. An sometime, very rarely, a student will get a result that will like a spark in their mind that will lead to great and new findings.

Now lets pause right here because I’m sure there is someone reading this who will know, either personally or otherwise, a time when someone was “don’t question” X. It is a ‘fundamental law of nature’. An this happens much to often but it is not the philosophy of science that says this, but individuals who say it. People are human and so will have all of the failings of humans. All we can do is ‘smile sweetly’ and keep on questioning everything.

Now on the other side are people (both the Puritans and Quakers just to name a few) who believe and accept the philosophy of ‘“absolute truth”. There are somethings that are true for all time and therefore can not be questioned. Ever. And these things can not be discovered by asking questions, they can only be ‘revealed’. An there lies both the problem and the strength of Religion. It provides the comfort that a young child gets from asking a parent to deal with an impossible/unsolvable problem. And it provides the security to the one providing the answer of “Because I Say So.” An this is excepted. An the fundamental problem with reviled truth is there is never just one truth revealed.

Looking at the history of this country we have many many examples of intractable problems facing our body politic. From the ‘Devine right of kings’ in the 18th century, to who is ‘sovereign’ (the states or the federal government) and slavery of the 19th century. To segregation and racism of the 20th century. An none of these problems can be resolved from ‘reviled truth’. Why? Mostly because there is more that one reviled truth being referenced. And even when all sides agree on the source of the “truth” (in the USA it is often the Bible) they end up with a battle of scriptures. By a battle of scriptures I mean where all sides can find one or more lines in the reviled truth to support there position. Both are ‘right’ but we have no way of testing for who is right.

But wait you say, that happens in science all the time. Well, yes and no. Yes we get heated debates where all sides point out the “Math”, “Observations” and or experiments that ‘Prove’ there theory is correct/wrong. But unlike in Religion, in Science you have to answer the question “How do we test it?” One of the greatest challenges to “How do we test the theory?” If it can’t be tested it can’t be accepted as fact, no mater who says it is true.

So now we come to the “War on Science”. This is not a unquietly American phenomenon. But it is new in a historically as what we now call ‘science’ is new. Science as we now know it came in to being with the ‘Scientific Method’ in the 17th Century and the ‘Age of Enlightenment’. The ‘Scientific Method’ was and still is by some, seen as a direct challenge to ‘Reviled Faith’. Originally because science was seen to challenge reviled truth that dealt with the observable world. An not just in esoteric fields like chemistry but in very day to day issues like Astrology. After all if moving the sun to the center of the ‘universe’ (or solar system) makes doing ‘accurate’ astrological charts for your king or emperor your going to use it even if the church says the Earth is at the center of all things.

The problem this war has in America is that most of the people who came here to colonize were of the ‘very hard headed’ (some would say pig headed) verity. Both those of the Enlightenment and Regions verity. Next is the problem we have faced ever sense 1792 politicians have seen taking sides in this fight as an excellent way to win and keep voters. More on the ‘Reviled Truth’ side, mostly because they are less likely to respond to hard data and reasoned debate than those of the enlightenment bent.

So there you have it. Don’t get depressed about this “War on Science”. It not new. In fact it is a grand old American tradition we have been practicing since the founding of the country.

A Problem Facing the MAGA

MAGA

With the Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus) pandemic entering it’s fourth month and the slow, if not laggardly, actions of Pres. Trump and his fellow MAGAs to fight this pandemic. The biggest problem is that like all MAGA Pres. Trump does not really understand the age in which we live.

This is the Information Age.when everything you say in public can, and often is, recorded for all time. More than that it can, and will, be shared with the entire world with in hours, if not minutes. An unlike MiniTrue in 1984 it is not possible for any government to control what information is peeing shared. So we have the problem facing the Governor of Georgia saying that he just found out that asymptotic people can spread the infection. With in minutes he was show to be either 1) a liar 2) ignorant beyond belief or 3) a total fool.

This is the problem of the use of the “Leadership Priciple” as first formalized in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. You have to be shown ‘leading’ and it must conform to your exposed political principles (even if it has nothing to do with politics) and you just may get it wrong. But as the ‘Leader’ you can’t be wrong, so now what? Back in the middle of the 20th century it was possible for government and big businesses to make the unpleasant truth to disappear down the memory hole.

There are several great examples of this in history the one I like the best was how Stalin was able to make one of the biggest communists of the revolution just disappear from wall USSR records. Photographs and all. But it was not just in communist states has this happened, nor just in the 20th century. This has been going on since before recorded records. Until now.

With the arrival of electronic computers, the internet and the ‘cloud’ it has become almost impossible for anything, truth of lie, to disappear down the memory hole. Now what happens is the truth is buried under an avalanche of lies and other ‘the real truth’. But do not loose hope. We also have the tools to protect the truth and it too is as old as history. Critical Thinking and the simple fundamental principle that the universe is non-partisan.

Something like Covid-19 does not, in fact can not, care what the leaders want. It will do what the natural laws of the universe dictate. If our leaders refuse to acknowledge this and we don’t do ‘social distancing’ and we let profiteers practice ‘classical’ capitalism and the ‘privileged few’ think it “can’t happen here” then we will have a great pandemic here with many deaths that would not have happened if they, the leaders, had acted as the medical specialist recommended.

Remember “The piper is Always Paid.”

The Age of Newspeak

Big Broghrt

One of the mistakes made by people who read George Orwell’s 1984 is that he was just righting about the threat of Soviet Communism. He wasn’t. 1984 was published in 1948 and this numeric relationship is not unintentional. George Orwell was a Socialist but a rabbit anti Communist. He also knew how people will use words to hide what they really mean. That is why NewSpeak is so important. That is why Oceania and EngSoc bear so little resemblance to any kind of Socialist state. When looked at closely Oceania looks more like a National Socialist sate (that is Nazi Germany) or a Stalinist Communist state. An just what does this have to do with NewSpeak? Just this.

Both states used what Orwell called Newspeak to the maximum extent possible. When I was studying Russian in the late 70’s my Russian teacher told the class a Russian saying. “There is no truth in News and no news in Truth”. The two major newspapers in the USSR were Pravda (the Truth) and Izvestia (News). It is quite telling when the two major sources of information are so characterize. The same could be said about all of the news sources coming out of the Nazi Germany although the Nazi’s were content with just seating up a ministry of Propaganda. In both cases it was up to the individual to understand just what the ‘leaders’ were actually saying and what should be done. That is the leaders were speaking using ‘code’ words.

This kind of speaking by leaders, or anyone for that mater is not new, it has been going on ever sense humans started to speak. It is quit often used by leaders to get someone to do something while giving the leader ‘plausible denial’ if it what is done comes to like. What’s new now is the general acceptance in the United States of the use of NewSpeak not just occasionally, but every day. Not just by some of our leaders, our mover & shakers, or anyone who want’s to influence the populous. It has gotten so bad it is both blatant and obvious to even the most casual observer.

For me, as an Amateur Historian, it reminds me more of the situation in the USA in the 1850’s. Every movement, religious, political, or what not, had it’s own newspaper. None of these newspapers even attempted to pretend any kind of objectivity but they often did speak in code words. Some of the code words were old, like “Peculiar Institution” for Slavery. Or “Manifest Destiny” for stealing Indian lands. But unlike today they were not hypocritical about their bias, they openly admitted it. Now we don’t.

I think this is a hold over from the dawn of electronic mss communication with the advent of Radio. (Interesting point it still has not been 100 years since the first commercial radio station went on the air.). At this same time a new ideal was taken hold in news reporting. The idea of objectivity. This was a very radical idea and was fought tough an nail for many years. It seems to have lost. Starting with the end of the ‘Fairness Doctrine” for Radio/TV in the Reagan administration the idea of objective reporting as been disappearing. The ideal still exists but it is in the ICU in the age of the internet. We need to do something NOW to resurrect it.

This is not impossible. What we need is one or more of our Techno-Genus’s to start working on a way to quickly, effortlessly, and reliably fact check what we see on the interned and in Social Media. I propose this effort start with some way to identify the “point of origin” of any and all posting. Next is a way to block on any social media postings from a source. Next we need a way of identifying just who is who. I mean do you really know just who is funding and/or running “the Good Guys Group”? Right now you may not even find out that they are a corporate entity based somewhere in the Federated States of Micronesia, on an island with a listed population of 0 (zero).

None of this is anymore impossible than what we take for granted today. Look around you, every person you see walking around you with a Cell Phone is walking around with a portable computer more powerful than ALL of the computers used to land men on the moon 50 years ago. Almost none of the software running on you cell phone was even dreamed of 50 years ago, some wasn’t even an idea 10 years ago. So what you and I need to do is start asking for, no demanding, technology that will take away the Antonymy of people who post on the internet and Social Media. It looked like a good idea, but it wasn’t.