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Since I Never Get the Last Word

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I’ll say I’m going to use this in a story so that will provide me some semblance of an excuse for what follows.

In the beginning, when there was nothing and no one, a time came when the vast emptiness felt a core of unease, some niggling something scratching someplace deep. The vast emptiness attempted to ignore the scratching but the feeling persisted causing the emptiness to realize its own existence. The emptiness felt surprise to recognize that it was the entity experiencing the Itch.

Now in the vast emptiness, two beings were: What Had Been the Vast Emptiness and the Itch although WHBtVE found itself not nearly so vast nor nearly so empty. It was there, the opposite of emptiness, and the Itch was there.

The new being decided to refer to itself as Opp so as to distinguish itself from the emptiness around it and from the Itch.

Opp pondered these events and concluded that the Itch and itself were unique in the emptiness. If itself and the Itch were unique and individual, then, Opp decided, the emptiness must be the framework in which they were located. Oppnamed this emptiness/framework space. Since the Itch pulsed and subsided, Opp decided the sequences needed a framework for defining when and for how long the Itch lasted; Oppnamed this framework time.

With a location in space and time to pinpoint the Itch,Opp scratched the Itch.

If Opp could have jumped, it would have leaped from one side of the emptiness to the other because when it scratched, the Itch multiplied. No matter how often or how many Itches Opp scratched, new Itches always resulted. After a while, there were too many Itches for Opp to scratch so Opp thought of having help, beings like itself that could assist in this scratching. Thinking of help brought the help into existence. Soon, Opp and its many thoughts were scratching the Itches, each and every Opp and Itch filling the emptiness with more and more of themselves. In time, the vast emptiness wasn't.

Today, all agree this is the origin of male and female but male and female still debatewhich was Opp and which was Itch.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-23 09:26:19

Sunday, August 21, 2005
The Numbers

Contemplating the coming showdown, I became interested in numbers. The folks at http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html are kind enough to display some figures that I find useful. Christianity: 2.1 billion; Islam: 1.3 billion; Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion; Hinduism: 900 million; Chinese traditional religion: 394 million; Buddhism: 376 million; primal-indigenous: 300 million; African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million; Sikhism: 23 million; Juche: 19 million; Spiritism: 15 million; Judaism: 14 million; Baha'i: 7 million; Jainism: 4.2 million; Shinto: 4 million; Cao Dai: 4 million; Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million; Tenrikyo: 2 million; Neo-Paganism: 1 million; Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand; Rastafarianism: 600 thousand; Scientology: 500 thousand

If it comes down to the Christians versus the lions, then the lions have 2/3 of the world’s population and you’d have to bet on the lions. If it isthe Christians versus Islam in the Last Crusades, then the 2:1 majority looks good for the Christians but the figures may be misleading. Since many Christians refuse to speak to other Christians, their combined solidarity is suspect. The number of Christians actually willing to band together in a crusade [Groups which self-identify as part of Christianity include (but are not limited to): African Independent Churches (AICs), the Aglipayan Church, Amish, Anglicans, Armenian Apostolic, Assemblies of God; Baptists, Calvary Chapel, Catholics, Christadelphians, Christian Science, the Community of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Coptic Christians, Eastern Orthodox churches, Ethiopian Orthodox, Evangelicals, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Local Church, Lutherans, Methodists, Monophysites, Nestorians, the New Apostolic Church, Pentecostals, Plymouth Brethren, Presbyterians, the Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventists, Shakers, Stone-Campbell churches (Disciples of Christ; Churches of Christ; the "Christian Church and Churches of Christ"; the International Church of Christ); Uniate churches, United Church of Christ/Congregationalists, the Unity Church, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Vineyard churches and others] might reduce to a 1:1 ratio and then Las Vegas is going to have a terrible time laying odds on which god is stronger.

If it’s a guerilla war coming, the minorities, those with congregations under a million, have the best chance as they are spread across the globe and their fewer numbers can blend in better with the rest of the population.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-21 10:14:47

Saturday, August 20, 2005
Virtue in Goverment, Part II

Still wondering about a virtuous person to run for office. Owen tells me: “A person who is able to judge each event in it's entire framework based on the pro/cons for the country/body of office and not by any personal preconceptions or ideologies other than those proposed on their election bill. Common sense is common sense however high up the ivory tower you climb.” This may be a more succinct express of the direction I was headed on my own but my gut tells me it lacks a thing or two.

Having already concluded no is without sin among us, then what I am looking for is a person who has made mistakes and knows that he or she will make mistakes again. The person is neither proud nor ashamed of this fact; just recognizes its validity and promises to work their ass off to correct any mistakes made in office.

Isaac Asimov pointed out in the introduction to his “View From a Height” that it is impossible for anyone to an be an expert on everything; that the fields in which expert knowledge is possible keep shrinking into smaller and smaller subsets of general fields. So, my virtuous person does not know everything but knows how to discover people who can contribute knowledge to a discussion – they won’t know everything either - and learns how to listen to them in precisely the manner Owen describes. Then, when the person makes the decision, it isn’t cast in stone never to be re-visited. If it doesn’t work as advertised, the person takes that failure as a new data point and re-solves the problem.

No one starts out to build a bad reputation. Some go to great lengths to avoid a bad reputation; some define the group they want to stand well with and screw everybody else. The virtuous person heeds Kipling and let’s all men count with her or him but none too much.

That's thekind of person I want but is that all I need from the person in order to run the Executive Branch? Shouldn't there be someminimum quals or can any competent manager manage anything? Well, there you go, I seem to be looking for a competent manager. Of what?

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-20 09:03:13

Friday, August 19, 2005
Virtue in Government

What kind of person do I wish to be in charge – besides myself , of course? It’s the kind of question that mostly comes up around specific elections but it ought to be considered regularly. If I cannot define what kind of person I want, then how can I expect to find one when the election does rear its ugly face? Say, for example, I want a virtuous person to hold office. Since there is no such thing as a perfect person, how will I recognize a virtuous person when I see one?

Proposition: a virtuous person can be identified by that person’s commitment to a religion. It doesn’t matter which religion; it only matters that the person is apparently steadfast in following its tenets, each and every one.

From that, we can derive that every decision the person will face while in office will be made in light of and according to the person’s faith. Carrying this to its logical conclusion:

(1) When the person must decide who will hold the offices in the person’s administration, the person will be guided by their faith so that like-minded persons are appointed to the office. This will be fair because I elected the person on the basis of their steadfast adherence to their faith. It can be deduced that I have no problem with their religion and therefore have no problem if the person appoints only those who believe as my candidate does.

(2) I now have an administration of like-minded persons who judge every issue on the basis of their faith.

Errr….umh….I now have an administration whose major attribute is tunnel vision.

Proposition: If I postulate that a virtuous person is one who holds a philosophy of wrong and right and adheres to it steadfastly, doesthe personlook any different than the religious person? It doesn’t matter whether the philosophy is Republican or Democrat, Tory or Labor, Stoic or Epicurean; it only matters that the person holds steadfastly to that philosophy.

I detect no difference between candidates who hold steadfast to a religion or candidates who hold steadfast to a philosophy. Since I do not want an administration whose major attribute is tunnel vision, what do I want? What constitutes a virtuous person? Established thus far, in my definition, a virtuous person is not a person who holds steadfast to a specific religion or a specific philosophy. What, then, is a virtuous person?

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-19 09:52:47

Thursday, August 18, 2005
Using More of Our Brains

Very interesting to me is the report by Charles Q. Choi in this month’s Scientific American that nerve cells may communicate in other than synapse-to-synapse fashion. He desribes how folk at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered that 90% of the neurochemicals released in a transfer are released and reacted to by neurochemicals outside the synapse. This corresponds to another report I saw but don’t remember where I saw it that all the space between synapses was more important to consciousness than previously suggested.

Which means to me that current theories of consciousness based on synapse-to-synapse communication require re-thinking. The idea that one synapse firing can mean a specific recall of information now seems a little shakier than it was before..

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-18 09:46:17

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