The Rantings and Ravings of a Man...
Life, the Universe, and EverythingSome readers may recognize this as a quote from the old BBC series The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Those of you who attended college probably remember the late night discussion sessions in the dormitory, where lubed up with Budweiser you talked about all the heavy subjects: life, the universe, and everything (everything includes s-e-x). I remain committed to studying all sides of an issue before I draw conclusions and make an opinion, that is the engineer in me. I will even change a long standing opinion if the facts demand a reevaluation and subsequent investigation leads me to a different conclusion.
Life in the UniverseSpeaking of life in the universe, I believe the facts are self-evident that there is life elsewhere in the universe. Most probably teeming with life. So why have we not seen any visitors? Because the same rules of physics apply to them as well as us. Einstein postulated the absolute speed limit of matter is the speed of light, and in fact you can never reach the speed of light because you would have infinite mass and it would take infinite enery. So you can only approach the speed of light. (Recent experiments have successfully acclerated an atomic particle seemingly beyond the speed of light, totally violating this part of Einstein's theory. These experiments are very recent and the results are still being analyzed. This is an extremely interesting finding!) This means the warp drive on Star Trek must be bending space time rather than actually causing the Enterprise to travel faster than the speed of light. Since even the nearest inhabitable star is likely many lifetimes distant, even at the speed of light, it is impractical to travel such distances. Our earliest radio waves, which have been travelling for nearly a century at the speed of light, have only just reached the nearest stars, so how can we expect to travel such distances. Unless that cosmic speed limit is overcome, travel beyond our own near space is impossible. Of course, there is nothing to say that advanced civilizations have not found a way around that speed limit. Perhaps they have mastered space-time in ways we can only imagine.
FuneralsCurrent funeral practices are barbaric. Who the heck wants their dead corpse displayed for all to see. Remember me as I was living, not as a lifeless hunk of decaying meat. Closed casket or open, just skip the whole antediluvian process. Put me in a cardboard box and burn it up. No memorial service, nothing. If I haven't done anything in this life for people to remember me by, I sure don't need them gathering together to make up a bunch of lies about me.
Gun ControlI do not hunt for sport. Can't see the sport in it. If somebody wants to meet the animal on it's own terms, wrestling a grizzly bear to the ground like Davy Crocket, ok I may accept that. But there isn't an animal on earth that can stand up against a high-powered rifle. I am an engineer however, and I do appreciate the mechanics of firearms and other weapons and I therefore do like target shooting. I have killed many paper targets and tin cans. I appreciate the skill involved in accurate target shooting. Having had a relative mugged to near death, I can also appreciate the self-defense aspect of owning a handgun for that purpose. I am licensed by the state of Arizona to carry a concealed weapon, having been duly trained and tested by the state Department of Public Safety. I go to the range twice a month to practice, and have never actually had to use one in self-defense, but as an ex-boy scout, I am prepared. I am one of those who believes it is my right to be able to defend myself and my family with firearms. If I was a large buff dude like Steven Seagal, maybe I could rely on my Karate skills for defense. I am not big and buff, so I therefore use the equalizer--a Smith & Wesson 357. I do not believe it is simply the availability of guns that cause gun deaths, it is the mind of the shooter. Figure out what it is that causes a 13-year-old to pick off children like so many clay targets, or why a teenager is willing to shoot a Circle K clerk to death over a 20 dollar till. I simply do not understand why gun owners do not lock up their firearms if children might be present. That is irresponsibility. Do not put the blame on all gun owners.
I believe the lesson of the Columbine High School is being lost in the hysteria. There is lots of finger pointing going on. It's guns, it's movies, it's music, it's society, it's schools, it's this or it's that. Truth is it is probably a combination of all of the above. It is the synergistic effect of all those things working together to create a monster. But one of the common denominators of all the school shootings is the fact that the child was PICKED on and HARASSED constantly, usually by the elite elements of high school society--the jocks. Jocks have always picked on the weaker kids. This is not new. The difference today is how children react to the taunting. Kids in days past would just swallow the teasing and attempt to live with it, probably ending up in therapy later on, or becoming so dysfunctional they end up dead or dying. Kids today are not inclined to just "put up with it". Kids today see heroes standing up to their tormentors, not just simply "putting up with it". They follow suit and sometimes go over the edge. How can we stop it? The simplest thing is to END THE HARRASMENT OF STUDENTS BY OTHER STUDENTS, period, end of story. Any teacher who sees a student aggressively taunting another student should be SEVERELY dealt with. This taunting MUST STOP! Parents know if their kids are bullys, or should know. Parents must stop their children from bullying or taunting, both physically and verbally. Any incident of a child taunting another child must be dealt with swiftly and severely. It is the only way to stop the madness.
DrugsQuite simply marijuana should be legalized immediately. It is a naturally occurring substance that has been used therapeutically for thousands of years, and up until 1941 its use was legal in this country. It was removed from the US Pharmacopoeia and National Formulary for purely political and emotional, not scientific reasons. Just like the 14th century intellectuals who thought the black plague was caused by comets, the reasoning is just plain ignorant. It continues to amaze me that intelligent, and scientifically inclined people can go along with this criminalization. In the history of the world, not a single person has ever died from an overdose of marijuana, and yet the United States classifies marijuana as dangerous as heroin (Schedule I drug), and more dangerous than cocaine and morphine (Schedule II drugs). What a joke--more dangerous than cocaine and morphine? What moron came up with this judgement? What planet are these people from? Scientifically, the ratio of marijuana's lethal dose to its effective dose is around 40,000 to 1, whereas for aspirin it is 20 to 1, and for alcohol it is 10 to 1. I believe there is enough anecdotal evidence to conclude that Marijuana does help people cope with certain medical conditions. Who are "we" to deny these poor souls this assistance? The voters of the state of Arizona passed a referendum allowing medical use of Marijuana. However, our big Uncle Sam has declared that if any doctor tried to prescribe it there would be hell to pay. So the feds think the voters of Arizona are stupid and incapable of making their own decisions in these regards; so they put their big foot down and get out the hickory stick and punish us just like mommy did when we were children. Do you know how much tax money would be saved if the feds got out of the Marijuana control business? Billions. Do you know how much income the feds could collect if they were to tax Marijuana like cigarettes? Billions. Do you know how much wealth generating business (legitimate) would be generated if Marijuana were legalized? Billions. Come on people, you Republicans like to save taxpayer money (or so you say), and you're pro-business, so what's the problem? You Democrats are the party of the people--so let the people party, what's the problem?
CensorshipFree speech is one of our most basic principles. I do not believe in censorship of anything; not books, not movies, not television, not ideas, and especially not the Internet. I don't give a rat's ass about porno. But I will defend an individuals right to post it, or anything else he/she wants, no matter how personally disgusting to me. That's what free speech is all about.
If you must restrict access by your children, fine, you are free to do so. But I do not believe the population at large should be restricted for their benefit. You can't protect your children from the harsh realities of the world. You can only prepare them to handle it well. Fortunately for all righteous Americans the Supreme Court is in agreement with this position and has placed internet speech in the same category as the written press. Thank you supreme court.
The IRS and TaxesOk, so the government has the right to collect taxes. But the current income tax system is so broke, it ain't fixable. Simply dismantle the current IRS and start over. Get rid of the income tax system and replace it with either a national sales tax, or simple flat tax. Keep it simple enough and you won't need thousands of IRS agents, auditors, and storm troopers. The current IRS taxmen are every bit as overbearing, intrusive, and just plain nasty as King George's tax collectors were. And those practices helped spark a revolution. The IRS has no heart. No compassion. When government loses compassion for its citizens, revolution is fostered. Maybe it's time for the second revolution in America--a tax revolution. Recently, two elderly old ladies committed suicide in Montana. Herded their 3 dogs and 9 cats into the garage with them, started the car and asphyxiated the whole bunch. All because the IRS was about to evict them from their home. What an incredible, tragic waste. The IRS got their money, and two dead old ladies and a bunch of dead dogs and cats were left by the wayside. Sickening. The whole mess makes me ill, and also helps me in understanding why there are so many Americans disheartened with the government, why there are so many radical, patriotic elements running around. Government is failing the average American, it has become too hard, too mean--and most important, it has lost any heart that it once had.
My Metaphysical BeliefsI am an agnostic rationalist, the agnostic view being the only viable position for a rationalist.
I categorically do not believe in deities. Therefore, there is no god. No supreme being watching us, guiding us, talking to us (and I worry about those who do talk to god). I see no proof of any god existence. We were not created. The earth and it's life sustaining environment is an accident of cosmology, remarkable as it is; and humans are simply products of sponanteous creation of amino acids in the primordial goop, and then evolution. According to Stephen Hawking, we are in the third phase of our evolution. The first phase was Darwinian. The second phase was linguistic (language proved superior to genetics for passing knowledge on to future generations). The third phase, which we are just entering, is self-realized evolution where we will take an active part in the direction of human evolution by genetic manipulation. Fear it not, for it will happen.
I have deleted my more controversial opinions of religion and god as too many people become offended, and then find it necessary to email me with defenses of their particular religion. I don't mind the offending part, I do not like the emails with the futile justifications and rationalizations. Suffice to say, I find all religions a bunch of hooey. Believe what you want, just don't try to save me.
More on AnimalsI have raised pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, rabbits, ferrets, desert tortoises, iguanas, cats and dogs- all pets; not for food. Must be the Ellie Mae syndrome. There are those who will object if I attempt to humanize animals, but all these critters display unique personalities, exhibiting emotions, just like humans. Animal people will not scoff at this statement, but many people reading this will tell you it's bunk that animals can show emotions. Sigh. That kind of ignorance truly saddens me.
I submit for your reading the following poem written by the late actor Jimmy Stewart: