Saturday, April 30, 2005

Sci-Fi Humility

Science Fiction, at its best, is humbling. Being confronted by the unknown aways is.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Poly, sigh..

The GOP has gone completly off the deep end.
Many pundits predicted this would happen if Bush won, but, whoa! : o
Of course, Democrats might get the last laugh. Americans (for the most part) generally tend to be politically moderate and fearful of too much radicalism. Poll after pool shows that most Americans think the GOP (and the religious right especially) has gone too far.
The right in this country may very well find itself on the verge of a very rude awakening.
All fundamentalism, at its core, is against individual freedom. It doesn’t matter at all what form it takes, Be it Christian or Moslem, Hindu or Pagan. It doesn’t matter if its led by Bob Dobson, Louis Farrakan or Bin Louden.
Because what all Fundamentalists have in common is a fear of personal autonomy in all its forms, be it control over one’s sexuality, values or freedom of thought.
And those who fear freedom tend to fear the truth as well. (Its no wonder that Fundamentalists are against science, reason and skepticism)
A threat to freedom is a threat to freedom, regardless of how it is rationalized.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Democratic Greyness

Moral greyness is the essence of democracy. Absolutism is the antithesis of democratic thought. The laws in this country are flexible and generally open to interpretation. This is why our country has lasted so long. If the laws we wrote were all set in stone, they would not keep up with changes in society and changes in value systems.
Most people’s value system is not as stable or as consistent as we would like to think. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all moral situationlists to some extent. Picking up guns and shooting a lot of people is generally viewed as anti-social and destructive behavior. But, in a battle field, this is the kind of behavior which is actively encouraged, even required.
This is because moral distinctions require some kind of context. As the context changes, then so does the moral distinctions people make.
This is not to say "anything goes." Rather, our sense values and morality should have a sense of balance and preparation.
What is democracy, after all, but a compromise between totalitarism and anarchy?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The dangers of Absolutism

Every totalitarian state is based on absolutism. Either on it moral absolutism or absolute loyalty to the leader and/or state.
The Nazis believed themselves to be on the side of right and the Jews to be pure evil. Thus, it was their moral obligation to exterminate them.
The Communists viewed themselves as moral crusaders against the evils of Capitalism. In fact, the invasion of Afghanistan was justified as an act of "liberation".
Humas views itself on the side of God when it engages in the suicide bombing against innocent civilians.
The most recent instance of the dangers of absolutism is the attacks of 9/11. The terrorists in the attack believed themselves as taking on the "evil infidels" in the United States. Al Queda, in a nut shell, views itself as fighting against the forces of darkness in the name of God.
Absolutism, by its very nature, discourages decent, doubt, independent thinking and above all, compromise.
People who are willing to think in terms of nuance and greyness are far less likely to be fanatical or uncompromising.
This is not to say that people might sometimes come close to pure good or evil. But, this is the exception, not the rule.
There is a lesson in this for the United States. Our political situation has been more polarized and toxic as ever. And why, because both side of the isle have become more absolute in their thinking. And the biggest losers in this situation are the American people themselves.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


The truth far outstrips our ability to understand it. To realize this fact is the most humbling thing of all.

Friday, April 22, 2005

High Maintenance

The human species is fairly high maintenance. Aways so many needs to fill. There’s something to be said for not wanting too much at once.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Religion doesn't guarantee regard for human life.

There doesn’t seem to be much correlation between religion and respect for human life. Denmark is a very secular country and has a murder rate of less than a few a year. There are a lot of religous people in the middle east, yet, the people there kill each other like dogs.
There are many third world ountries which have a strong belief in god and family values, yet are embroled in poverty, corruption and civil war.
The 9/11 terrorists, after all, came mostly from Saudi Arabia, a country with strong faith in god and the value of family, not to mention strict moral laws.
One factor here is that instability and poverty might produce more religious longing, as well as the longing for order.
Europe might be secular for the very reason of a lower violent crime rate and an overall lower level of economic inequality. Other factors may be all the religious wars Europe has had and the fact that Europe is realitivly stable both politically and socially.
Societies which are more prosperous, stable and have a good safetly net have less need for religion than those who don’t.
Religions depend much on conflict, instability, personal neurosis and deviant behavior in order to justify there existence. If a person were to have a sense of community and fullfillment, have a responsive government, anda sense of self-discipline what do they really need religion for, exactly?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Judges Upholding the Law

The Judges in the Shrivro case were just up holding the law as it was written. If they had done what the far right wanted then, they would havee engaged in just the sort of "Judiscal Activism" as the right has long denounced...
The law, as it has been for centuries in this country, is that the husband has the final say if there is no living will for his spouse. If the right doesn’t like it, they have the right to elect representative to try to change it. They may claim to want an "independent judiciary", but what the really want is a court subserving to the right’s wishes.

Friday, April 01, 2005

"Compassion Facists" On the March

PJ O’Rourke once described left winger groups such as PETA as "compassion fascists". But, the Shrivro case recently illustrated, such a definition fits the Religious Right as well.
On the surface, this whole idea of "compassion fascists"may sound contradictory. But not really. Fascists, after all, are nothing if not crusaders, trying to impose their authority upon the world by force.
Zealots on both the left and right are trying to onerously impose their own personal sentiments and moral beliefs on the world, whether the world wants it or not.
What the animal rights and pro-life movements have in common is the underlying fear of death. But what is death, but an inevitable part of the cycle of exsistance?
Many indegious societies, and our distant ancestors seemed more accepting of this fact. But, in the modern world, we are bit removed from the realities of the natural world.
And in the end, human sentiment and belief may have little place in either nature or the universe.