Thursday, September 30, 2010

The battle of the "makers" and "takers" in America

John Stossel does some great work in promoting capitalism. He ain't perfect, but his spirit and the spirit of those he interviews inspires me and millions of others.

If you need some inspiration and want to see the battle that's going on between the "makers" and the "takers" in this once-great country, watch his six-part series below from YouTube. You'll be stunned by the brazen remarks of the takers and floored by the wonderful remarks of the makers and their proponents.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Atheists beat mystics on religion quiz

It will come as little surprise that we atheists obliterate the mystics at their own game.

In a new poll by the Pew Research Center, atheists and agnostics and Jews and Mormons (yuck) smashed the Protestants and Catholics at an understanding of world religions.

And (equally of little surprise) the more educated you are, the more you know about religions.

The reason I say "little surprise," of course, is that if you have talked with any number of Christian mystics, you know that they know bupkis about their own myth book.

They don't know that the four so-called Gospels can't even agree on who was outside Jesus' tomb or where his carcass walked after being dead for three days or who was at his crucifixion or what he said to whom or what he preached on the mount or that there are two entirely differing accounts of Adam and Eve or ...

In the survey, almost half of Christians didn't know the name of the first book of the Bible, only two-thirds knew the names of the four alleged Gospel writers, less than half know that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist, less than half of Protestants know who Martin Luther is, barely half of Catholics know that they are allegedly literally eating the body and blood of Jesus when they take communion. The list goes on.

You'd think that any human being that commits himself to a fundamental philosophy/viewpoint of the universe and morality would steep himself in the ideas and words of that philosophy, to show at least some respect for the knowledge that is the foundation for his worldview.

No, not Christians. They remain doggedly consistent in their irrationality and remain haughty about their alleged "truth."

I'd have no problem with this if they didn't vote away my individual rights. If we lived in America under a supremely rational constitution, then we rational people could blissfully make fun of Christians without worrying that they will vote away more of our rights, without living with the knowledge that the mystic slaves insist upon us being slaves to their government.

Alas, that day of reckoning for the mystics is coming -- hopefully in my lifetime.

"To Serve and to Protect"

As a child who'd just learned to read, I looked over at the police car from the back seat of my mom and dad's lime-green Maverick.

The officer inside seemed dignified and imposing. The shiny black-and-white vehicle with its bar of lights atop seemed equally imposing. I'd seen many police shows on TV and had come to hold officers in fearful respect.

Then my eyes moved to a quote on the back quarter panel of the officer's car: "To Serve and to Protect."

It was an epiphany. To serve?! Officers had to serve us?! I never looked at officers the same after that moment. I realized in some youthful understanding that officers were not just our protectors, but also our servants, rightfully speaking -- that they got their right to protect from my parents and eventually from me.

In America, the motto was first used by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1955 after it ran a contest for the best motto for its police to use. It was adopted nationally by PDs soon afterward.

It should be the motto on the walls of Congress and the front door of the White House. It should be touched each day by legislators and the president. It should replace the ugly motto "in god we trust."

Officials are our servants, our protectors of individual rights. We are not the servants of police or government officials. It's high time the American public understands this fully and puts these jackals in their proper place.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

When a song evokes different memories than it used to

Willie Nelson's song "You are always on my mind" used to remind me of a girl I liked a lot in high school. She and I never hooked up, but I thought about her a lot.

Then, after my mom and dad got divorced in 1978, I was visiting my dad in north Texas. Willie's song came on the radio and dad got pensive and a little emotional. He said quietly, "Boy, I love that song."

My dad was not a sentimental fellow, so the moment was poignant. I could see that the song seemed to mean more to him than it did even to me. Ever since that moment, I think of him at that moment instead of the girl I liked a lot.

Funny thing is that it is a love song. Yeah, I guess it is, in a way I hadn't thought of.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

When sickness visits, I now raise the white flag

I've been stupid for 50 years. When I got a serious sickness such as the flu, I would continue to go on runs, work out with weights, do chores, handle business, play with my daughter, etc.

Yeah, I know!

And then I would be sick for a week or two, instead of two or three days, like most people -- which confounded me, since I was in such good physical shape.

Not anymore. I officially surrender. Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to bed I go. Time to purge this irrationality from my life.

I got the flu officially Thursday night and woke up yesterday morning after a green-and-yellow poltergeist had invaded my body during the night and slammed my muscles to the mat for the count. I hacked and sneezed my way through a couple of absolutely necessary phone calls and emails for my business before lunch.

Then, I trudged off to bed -- with a full glass of water, Tylenol antihistamines, cough medicine, a nutritional drink and the entire third season of Veronica Mars on my portable DVD player. Every hour or two, I got up and cleaned my sinuses with warm salt water, and I refilled my water glass. I moaned, chilled, sweat, hacked and sneezed all day. Not a pretty site, that! Not fit for public viewing.

I told myself that I must surrender a day or more of my life, in order to not have to surrender more days, as I've done in the past. It wasn't easy, but I kept my chilly, sweaty ass in bed. I let my body have the full, unabridged rest it has always demanded on such occasions.

I felt like a couch potato, as if time had stood still, as if the whole world were doing something, and I was not.

Around midnight, I suddenly felt a break in the throbbing head, less drainage from the Poltergeist, less rapid beating of the heart. Dry hacking turned to productive hacking -- always a good sign. (TMI?)

This morning I woke up feeling nearly human. I have to remind myself that I must carry through on my promise to take it easy for one more day and not give in to the desire to jog in the beautiful sunshine, which tempts me as I write this.

One more day, and then I can perhaps take down the white flag and get my life back.

Until we meet again, Sickness.

Eloquent video on how kids must be free

This unschooling video is professionally done, with eloquent and committed parents speaking to the necessity of liberty in childhood.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Objectivism: The tool in the mental garage

I'm not really that interested in philosophy. Thought I was once, but then I found Objectivism, got things figured out, and I realized the reason I was interested in philosophy was I hadn't figured everything out and I HAD to do so.

Now that I'm at a good objective place, I simply use Objectivism as the tool it's meant to be for happy living. It no longer interests me, for the most part, to engage in long conversations about it or, especially, to get into heated arguments about it. Been there, done that. Got things to do. That's what life's about: doing.

Objectivism has become the tool I hardly notice in my garage. Yes, I notice it when I need to, momentarily. I use that mental tool effectively and consciously, but I don't dwell on the tool. I put it down again after usage. I may pick it up (honesty, independence, integrity, discovery) many times in a day, but each time, it's not about the tool. It's about doing something, and the tool helps me get it done.

Those first acolyte years of Objectivist learning were tough, exciting, enervating, exhausting and fulfilling. But I'm sure glad that's over. While I was having to do all that necessary learning, I couldn't be DOING the other things I love so much.

But if I hadn't stopped to do the learning, my "doing" right now would be sorely compromised, and life wouldn't be as joyful and carefree.

Glad to have the tools. Glad they're finally just tools.

The principled life -- It ain't easy for kids OR adults to be oak trees

As a visiting professor for a semester at a North Carolina college in 1994, I stood before my writing class of 20 students and offered them the following question: "If you could steal $1 million from a business or person and there would be absolutely no way anyone would ever find out and you would definitely never get caught, would you steal the money?"

The classroom erupted, with laughing and high-fiving and jumping out of chairs and hooting and hollering and exclamations of "Hell yeah!" by young men and women alike.

They looked at me as if I were somehow offering them a trick question, as if I were insane to even ask such a question. Of course, you would steal a cool million that someone else had earned if you could get away with it. Why not!?

They are not alone, of course. Probably more than half of Americans would have the same reaction. Most of the other half would say "no" only because their gods tell them not to steal -- but they would really WANT to steal the money; they would have to remind themselves constantly of their commandments to resist the temptation.

The missing link in the above immorality is humanity -- and the singular tool that keeps us humane: rationality.

We humans live in a mental world, unlike the lower animals, and we either remain connected concretely to the outer world or we do not. Our mental lives are only as real as our concepts are real. We are honest only to the degree that we pursue honesty in our concept-formation. We have only as much integrity as we have integrated our concepts correctly according to the real world and to our values. We value our money only as much as we value ourselves (for the above) and our work. We value others' rights to their lives and money only as much as we value ourselves and, therefore, our rights.

When people make of the universe a mystical and unknowable place, and when they disassociate their thoughts from the real, then the only thing left to guide them is momentary and immoral emotions. When they hear that they can get a million dollars of someone else's money, their hearts beat at the thought of all the things the money will buy, instead of morally and principlely thinking: "That person/company earned that money with the sweat of their brow and thoughts connected rationally to the world, and they deserve that money -- not me. I could not live with myself for stealing their time and labor and living from them. Each time I spent the money, it would be a reproach to my own self-esteem and efficacy. I have no interest in taking from them, and I hope they have none in stealing from me."

That last sentence takes an enormous amount of mental work to get to: the building up of concepts of concretes, of self-examination, of morality, of the nature of humans as rational animals, of the ramifications of that, etc. That's why even the most rational of young children find it difficult to act morally all the time. They have a lot of learning to do to get to the utterly principled state of mind that prevents immoral action all the time -- to get to that state where a moral principle is just as hard as an oak tree, and where it must be abided in equal measure all the time.

And that is one of the primary places the rational parent steps in: to guide and inform and help be the watchdog until all those proper concepts and principles are mentally in place. It's an exciting adventure being a parent. It's daunting, yes. But it's thrilling when you know you've got the mental tools and resolution to help -- and you eagerly anticipate the day when your progeny become fully principled and happy individuals.

When they become happy oak trees.