Archive for the ‘ Atheism ’ Category

Racists, Bigots, Multicultural … Out On A Limb

I shouldn’t have to show you pictures of or tell you about Charleston, McKinney, Baltimore, and other places which have been in the news lately. As proven by thousands of blog posts and news broadcasts there are a many opinions about what is wrong and why it is wrong and why the other group who is complaining is wrong.

The fundamentalists told us the mass killings in schools was because there was no god allowed in schools, now they tell us that it’s the gay agenda that got the Charleston 9 killed. Everyone is busy blaming everyone and everything else as the cause of the violence, hatred, and … well… humans being humans.

We hear a lot about how feminists think society should be or at least what they think is wrong. Blacks tell us what they think is wrong. Each political party tells us what they think is wrong. In fact there is an endless stream of people and groups that are more than willing to tell the rest of us what is wrong with the world today, or society, or that other country etc.

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I have my own ideas about who is to blame and what groups we could do without. My unspoken knee-jerk reactions would make vehement fundamentalists look like babes in cradles should I let them fester and act on them. I’m not here to talk about those or such from other people. In fact I’m not here to talk in this post other than to ask a simple question of all who read this.

What does a society without racism, bigotry, cultural hatred and similar items look like? Maybe you’ve only thought what it would be like without violent cops. Maybe you’ve only thought of what it would be like without gender inequality. Maybe you’ve only thought about what it would be like with equality under the law for all people. No matter what your pet project is I want to know what you think a society would look like that did not have hatred, racism, bigotry, fundamentalism, gender inequality, sexual orientation discrimination and so on. What would that world or country look like?

Between this current world we live in and the utopian world I’ve asked about, what are the low hanging fruits that we can work together to start us on that path to the world without the worst parts of humanity?

Go on, I want to hear it in the comments. I want to know what we are supposed to do to fix the giant fucking mess we humans have made of life and living. I want to hear how we fix it not what is wrong with it.

So tell us, what does a ‘perfect’ world look like? How does it work? Where would you fit in that world? Where would McKinney cops fit in that world? Where would former racists (of every color) fit in that world?

I know many may read this. Some may even click the like button. What I really want is to hear what a ‘perfect’ society would be like. Let’s have that discussion here.

Something Rather Than Nothing … What Would Moses Say?

This might simply be a side note on an otherwise huge debate regarding the subject of this post but I would like to share a few thoughts about that

That video shows imagery which were built from actual photographs taken by space craft that we humans have sent out into the solar system. Apparently a creator god made Ceres too.  Go on, watch that video again. There is a dwarf planet in our solar system that looks just like this (nearly). Why did it need to be created? Why did it need to be pummelled with asteroids so many times. Why would it need to have water on it? What was the creator’s plan for this rock that might have more fresh water than Earth does.

Ceres is not the only body begging these questions.

If you read the holy books of Earth’s religions none of them address this. None of them predicted humans getting up close photographs of these space bodies or even landing craft on them. Since the dawn of modern science we have been living beyond the grasp of anything in those holy books. You may be reading this post on your phone, even watching the video on your phone. In your hand is more technology than could even be dreamed of in the stories of the holy books.

What is the creator god’s position on bioethics? Is it okay to eat meat grown in a lab? Is it okay to grow new body parts and then graft them on to our bodies? Is it okay to augment our bodies to make them better than his supposed design? Is it okay for us to change our diets to improve our cognitive abilities? Is it okay to use nuclear energy to provide energy for the survival of humans? There are thousands more questions that the holy books cannot and will not answer. Everything that any believer has to say about the modern world is simply interpretation to try to make it fit into the ideals of the ancient world. I’d be willing to bet that if we had a time machine nobody would go back to 500 bce to bring someone to this day to work on cars, and with good reason. Why do we keep bringing books from that time to our current day thinking they will fix our problems? I know that was not the best analogy but the point stands.

What would be Moses’ take on images of Ceres or Pluto? Could or should we expect anything cogent if he could answer?

What do you think Moses would make of our technology, the technology that we take for granted?

In Progress … Please Wait

A lot of believers spend a great deal of time worshipping their deity of choice. You know the one, the deity their parents handed down to them like an old bicycle from grandpa. That religious belief takes a lot of effort. They are in church once, twice, maybe more times per week.

The math quickly: 16 waking hours times 7 is 112 waking hours per week. If you take away 3 (18.75%) hours per day for meals and meal related things we’re down to 91. Let’s say we spend an hour per day (6.25%) on hygienic activities. Basic survival means we spend 50% of our lives doing mandatory things as a kind of average value.That’s 12 hours per day to stay alive and leaves us 84 hours per week for other stuff.

That doesn’t count the hours spent each week at work or travelling to and from work. It takes 50% of our time to simply keep breathing. Of the other 50% we have about 9 hours per day 5 days a week for work as a sort of minimum. That drops our 84 hours to 39 on average, less for a great many people.

To get a calculation, let’s say the religious believer goes to a meeting building 3 times per week. Preparation, travel, and meeting time (I’m guessing) take up the better part of 4.5 hours or 13.5 hours per week.

13.5 hours is 34.62% of our available time, on average.

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Where there is a choice, believers (arguably) spend more than 1/3 of their disposable time worshipping their ‘deity of choice’. Now let’s add in daily prayer and other events such as bible study and discussion etc. It can quickly and easily become 50% of their disposable time. That would leave them 19.5 hours per week to do things other than survive, work, and worship. Average television time for Americans is around 3 hours per day (ref) , and that drops the disposable time to a negative value. I didn’t count household chores etc. You can use the link to adjust the values to see where the time goes.

So where do the religious folk get their worshipping time from? If religion was an app on your phone, it’d be too busy to be useful.

 

 

I’m Tired Of This Bullshit

Here it is, watch the full glory of it, then let’s talk about it. I have some experience with McKinney Texas. Full disclosure, I live in McKinney.

Nobody got tased, nobody was shot, there were no riot police, nobody was beaten. There are no signs of abusive physical behavior.

I know about McKinney Texas. It ranks in the top ten places to live for as many years. These people (black and white and hispanic) are among the most coddled people on the planet. The live in one of the best places of one of the best countries on the entire planet. You might argue but it would be pointless. These people have the lives of the most privileged on the planet. The poor people in McKinney Texas are hispanic. These black people involved live in very affluent neighborhoods. This is one of the last places you will see white on black crime or even black on anything crime. There is no crime in McKinney Texas except for personal property theft/damage. It is nearly utopian in many ways. These people are coddled and treated as though they deserve it.

That is not to say that nobody in McKinney ever has a bad opinion or ever gets hard done by. It is to say that McKinney _IS_ one of the top 5 places in the top country to live on this planet and that doesn’t happen with racist cops running loose. Kids are kids. They aren’t always very smart. In the video you see some actually running from cops. This action is NEVER a good idea. If you simply talk to them they will not have reason to worry or handcuff you or detain you. The video shows the police acting very civil toward anyone not being uncooperative.

You can find videos of several people telling the world (including the girls cousin) that this is not about race. It’s about teens behaving badly and showing zero respect for the police. I have met and talked to several of the police officers here. They are genuinely nice people even if their view of the world is skewed necessarily by their job responsibilities.

Toward the end of the video you see that the cop is not holding her down. He did so only as long as it was needed. I won’t argue that he did not appear or seem aggressive but I don’t think he reacted more than was called for in the situation. He was called to the scene because a fight was reported… actual violence was what he was there to respond to.

It does not matter what color you are. If you want to run your mouth and show disrespect to a man amped up on adrenaline with a gun then bad things can happen. Watch how many people were told to simply go away or go home and did not listen.

Being that I live in McKinney I know that this party was not just at the pool. It started the night before. There were drugs involved (big deal, meh) and sex among the teens and all the reckless party stuff you can imagine goes with end of school antics. The real problem is that these teens (color does not matter here) showed no respect for the community, other people, security, or the cops. What do you think is going to happen when you mouth off at a policeman? That policeman will do what he is trained to do… control the situation in order to protect others. That fucking stupid teen girl ran her mouth off at a man with a gun and a butt load of adrenaline. She should be arrested just for being stupid.

There is no race problem in McKinney. My friends are free and feel free to talk about racial issues. My friends and neighbors are a different color than me, my golf buddies are a different color than me. There are no race problems in McKinney Texas except for the problem of some few individuals wanting to call this a race problem. It isn’t. This is just teens showing no respect for anyone and getting taught a lesson in how to communicate with police officers.

The community of McKinney Texas is quite an awesome and good community. It has built a community based on diversity through equal treatment. The biggest problem that I’ve seen is drug use in the high schools. There is very little crime, very little racial anything. To think this is a racial incident is to completely NOT know McKinney Texas.

Why Praying Is Hard

It used to be easy for me when I believed that it did something useful. Then I wondered why an omniscient creator god needed to hear from me to guide his perfect plan. Then I wondered why his perfect plan included so much pain and suffering in the world. Then I learned statistics.

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On any given day there will be a sizable portion of the population of which it can be said “it sucks to be you.” It’s hard to remember that when it’s my day to have a sucky life. These days are the ones that I used to pray about. It never did any good. Sometimes, drinking few fingers of Scotch and playing with my dogs makes it better. Some days there is nothing for it but a few aspirin and more sleep than normal.

In the end, no matter what your philosophical position is, none of us have it all figured out. Some days or weeks just suck, badly.
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When that happens, I try to meditate, relax, remind myself that it will pass because it will pass. I’m not talking about first world problems or fears about imaginary things. I’m talking about real life that grabs me and shakes me and won’t let go till I somehow figure out how to solve the problem. Without a solution at hand it often enough feels like a good scotch and some tearful moments will fix things. Perhaps even an attempt to ignore them will do it. Sadly, nothing like that really works.

Instead of prayer I sit and talk with myself. Amazingly there is a sound thinking part of me willing to have the conversation. I complain and that other part of me tells me it’s just one of those days so buck up sunshine, till you do something nothing will change. It would be nice to have a skydaddy that would fix it all for me but there is none. Even when I pretended there was, it was me that did all the hard work.
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If I can do this anyone can. I’m juggling 153 things at once and I just want to put some of them down. No such luck. I just have to soldier on. Writing this is not helping me do any of them but it is allowing me to have that internal conversation that I need. Do a few more things tonight, wake up, shower, do some more of them. Keep doing that till there is room to breathe or sleep. That is all I have. It’s the only plan I’ve got. The weight on my shoulders will not go away till I shed it myself. Praying would not fix it. In fact, praying would be no more effective than me writing this post.

That’s how this nihilist anti-theist does it.

How do you deal with shitty days?

How To Think Like A Baby, Why That Is A Good Idea

That title can lead a lot of places so some of you may be wondering where this is going to go. Well, it’s movie night or at least video night. I’ve got two videos for you to watch on the topic of babies and what or how they think.I know that 45 minutes is a long time to carve out of your day but I think both of these are worth watching. The second one can be understood with just the audio for the most part.

Some of my regular readers will be aware that I think we humans are meat machines with grand computers between our ears. I’ll go ahead and say it here, we are born blank slates with no reason to even think there are imaginary or invisible beings that created all that is existence. This first video goes a long way to explaining why we might be thinking there are gods by the time we are 5 years old.

Our brains are given to us with little to no meta-data about the world. We do not know red or round or hot or that sometimes all three belong to the same object. These are things we must learn as children. We learn from our parents and our surroundings. When all we know insists that there is an invisible being that created all existence and watches when we masturbate it is completely natural that our brains would accept this as true. The experiments in the first video hint at this without going that far.

In the second video the speaker talks about babies doing something that we like to call critical thinking. Don’t rule out options a priori, explore the evidence and then make a decision.

Our brains are brilliant at several things and from the time we open our eyes (if not before) they are doing just that. One of those things I think is hugely important to intelligence is to acquire and assign meta data about the objects we find in the world around us so that we can simulate those objects in our brain. Linguists study how we use communication as do authors and others. When I say “I like driving my vehicle except when other drivers are careless” I have communicated an incomplete idea. Your human brain will, in an attempt to simulate the idea in your brain, assign ‘reasonable’ meta data to the objects in the story. You will have done one or more of the following as you read that sentence:

  • envisioned what kind of vehicle I drive
  • where I am driving
  • the type of traffic
  • what it means when I say drivers being careless

The reason that your brain does this is because you have to simulate the idea in your head to comprehend it. Even if someone is talking to you over the phone you can see how you imagine in your head what the story is doing even as it is being told. Critical thinking is about not using your own meta data but investigating until you have all the meta-data required to replicate the idea in your brain rather than simply simulate an approximation of it. The critical thinker will ask

  • what kind of vehicle
  • where I am driving (highway, small country lane etc)
  • is the road busy or near empty?
  • By careless do I mean talking and texting while driving, not using proper signals, or something else.

Most of the human race likes to take short cuts in communication. You can think of hundreds of ways that you do so every day. The better thing is to not accept short cuts from others, especially those with a reason to confuse you or lie to you. Politicians and preachers come to mind. Even if they are not trying to confuse you on purpose and their intent is good, do not accept short cuts. Don’t fill in any of the details for yourself. Make them give you every detail of the ideas they are trying to convey. This is exactly what children are doing as they learn about the world. They will make inferences about what they are shown. The isolation that religion creates is bad. If you showed kids of 2 years old that people go to all kinds of churches it would be very helpful to those children. Most religious groups are guilty of abusing the children in their care simply because they isolate the learning mind of that child from the other possibilities.

I suspect that boredom or the ‘know it all’ syndrome in teens stems from not having enough to learn or the challenge to learn it. This is where I think our learning institutions could do much more and exactly why they should be better funded. Who knows how many geniuses fell prey to ‘boredom’ and never expressed the genius in them?

 

 

Moon Stories – Fountain Of Wisdom

Don’t ask me about the title. Moon stories these will be and you’ll know what kind they are by the label. You can read Heavy Construction too. I think I’ll make a page for them.

 

Everyone knows what drinking fountains look like, or should. This is a story that starts with one much like the one pictured here. As you can see it’s not all that special and has just enough ‘stuff’ to qualify as a drinking fountain that you might find in an elementary school. The fountain of the title looked much like this _and_ was to be found in a school. It might still be there if you were interested in looking.

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Still, it was an ordinary drinking fountain until one day at lunch when I happened to be standing in line to get my school lunch. To me it seemed like a long line but there were probably 100 kids or so in the line wrapped around the outside of the lunch room which doubled as theater. Nothing special should have happened that day at lunch but that drinking fountain changed my life forever. Now I’m not going to tell you that actually drinking from the fountain imbued into me some sort of wisdom. No. The wisdom, if I can call it that, was given to me for using the fountain the wrong way. A great many discoveries are made this way and some of them are good. I’m calling this one good.

So there I was standing in line, anticipation of 8 ounces of milk and something that was not a baloney sandwich when the guy in front of me went to get a drink of water from this fountain of wisdom. He probably grew up to be the class clown type, not because he drank funny, but because as he finished he thought it would be funny to splash me with some water. Even at 6 years old I was none too fond of this type of behavior. Anger leads to action and before I could voice my disapproval there were a few pushes. Not happy with the outcome I reached to the fountain and scraped my hand across the basin to splash him with considerably more water than he’d gotten on me. One would think that this would be victory but there was no time to celebrate because a teacher’s hands were milliseconds in reaching my wrists. I cannot tell you what words she used, only that she was not happy. Before I could contemplate the fact that this now all seemed to be my fault I was being told I was going to the principals office despite my protestation that I did not start the great lunchroom brawl.

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When you’re 6 years old the principal ranks pretty damn high on the list of authority figures. Having to go see him was definitely a situation that called for regret and fear.

So there I sat in the principal’s office, waiting to be punished in some unknowable way. I was probably waiting for him to finish his lunch but who knows. It seemed many minutes of anticipatory terror for my 6 year old brain. Finally I got called into his office. I sat down stoically. I can’t remember everything but he basically gave me the ‘good cop’ routine. Probably because I looked like I was ready for the bad one. No matter what I had to say he was convinced that I was the problem and that I needed to learn to resolve my issues in non-violent ways. His words and body language let me know that I’d not be harmed but I’d have to listen to him tell me I was wrong no matter what. I settled for that given the alternatives I had dreamed up in my head. He seemed like a nice guy by the end of it, though completely lost on the plot of things. I was just relieved that he was only going to talk to me. The following days found me nervous at school. The water fountain ape did not stop with his picking.

Then about a week later we had a new principal. It turns out that Maryland had a thing or 80 against cheap booze and porn. If you were caught importing such into the state without paying state taxes it was a criminal offence. Guess where ‘good cop’ principal was? Yep, jail for the aforementioned offences. He’d managed to break both rules in one go. Of course, at just about the same time as he was breaking the law he was talking down at me and telling me that I need to learn to be better than others, that I need to obey the rules and not cause trouble.

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I’m sure he was a fun guy … maybe

Where is the wisdom already?

That episode did change my life. I learned quite a few things all in one short charade. Authority is not given just to those that deserve it and will bear it well. Sometimes the crooks are in charge no matter how kind or law abiding they appear. Authority figures don’t really care what your problem is or what social justice issues you suffer. They are concerned about their own issues and those will always come before yours. At the drinking fountain I learned that it is not what you do but what people perceive that you do that is important. They will not take time to study the matter and come to a conclusion based on the evidence unless forced to upon penalty of contempt of court etc. I also learned that you can’t trust authority blindly because it is often enough wrong despite any good intentions. That boy taught me what all politicians know, what they buy their groceries with: If you can avoid being seen doing wrong the public will side with you. Justice, as precious as it is, is rarely meted out with accuracy. I also learned that it’s not always true but it’s worth betting that the best liar will always win.

I’m not a teacher or paediatric psychologist but I can guarantee you that children are learning life lessons from about the time that they can talk.

What did you learn in the first grade?

 

 

 

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