Friday, March 16, 2018

Re: The Passing of Dr. Stephen Hawking

This idea matters. Why? Because believing this life is only a prelude to some greater existence guarantees the believer will make decisions based upon an incorrect set of assumptions. Rather than promoting a sense of community and cooperation among the other sentient beings, these beliefs bend toward narcissism and tribalism. It logically follows that believers will most highly prize their own ticket to heaven and will tend to cooperate only with others of similar mind. Naturally believers will strive for a better relationship with the invisible/otherworldly deity who holds the keys to their imagined future paradise. The result is people communing with their invisible friend in the sky and failing preserve the only planet they will ever inhabit and failing to attend to their fellow sentient beings in the only life they will ever know.

Evolution of Morals

Okay, so the video goes a bit quickly and one might need to rewind or watch multiple times but I would say it is totally worth doing.  Or read the article.

The fields of evolutionary biology, cultural evolution, evolutionary psychology are things with which to acquaint ourselves and keep our eyes on. One way of looking at this is to acknowledge our inability to apply rigorous gathering of evidence/data points during the long history of human questioning into the nature of our own behavior and moral/ethical structures. In short, despite having some of the finest minds of our species applying their considerable talents to the questions, we were largely consigned to brute force logic (minus hard evidence), supposition, and superstition. To our great good fortune, scientific advancements to our understanding of our own biology along with microscopy, statistics, imaging, etc. have lead us to a place where we can ask the big questions and begin to receive reliable answers. 

I will resist the urge to prattle on and summarize by suggesting a book called, The Moral Landscape as a good starting place.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

To the March for Our Lives protesters

I, along with millions of other adults, could not be more proud of you. You stood up when many would have caved under the pressure.

Link to advice from the professionals:
Advice from the ACLU

My personal advice,

1- know your rights and responsibilities before protesting. Be prepared to accept consequences for breaking rules/laws.
2- You will want to “cuss people out” and there are many who certainly deserve it. However, in order to most effectively protest and engage officials, resist the temptation. I suggest taking Michelle Obama’s advice: when they go low, you go high. Keep it civil. Do not resort to name calling. Do not say anything that could be reasonably construed as a threat to a specific person or persons.
3:Realize that no matter how thoughtfully or respectfully you couch your message, the haters will hate.  It is not your job to stop them. Your job is to broadcast the message and leave them no room to righteously malign you or your message. They will attempt to divide you by attacking the way you dress, your gender identity, your color, your perceived social status, etc. Call them out for such behavior but do not respond in kind. Don’t own their fear, anger, and hatred. Stick to your message.
4: Say what is wrong with the current situation but devote most of your commentary to offering/demanding thoughtful solutions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I do not know all the answers”. It can be enough to know what is wrong and say so.
5: If you are of legal age or will be at the next election cycle, Let the elected leaders know you intend to vote for candidates who have displayed by their actions that they consider your lives and safety more valuable than the abstract concept of second amendment rights. If you are not yet of age, make it a personal mission to vote in every single election, local or national, when you are able. It really is the least a person can do for the incredible good fortune of being a citizen of this country.
6: Make it clear that “thoughts and prayers”, are accepted but they are not enough. Thoughtful policy based on evidence is the key to changing the world for the better.
7: Own your dignity, your fears, your anger, and your power but remember to accept help from adults who are subject matter experts and have more experience.

Remember, those who own almost everything and control almost everything don’t fear us individually. Not you or me or anyone you know. However, they instinctively understand the math. There are few of them and many of us. You can be certain they will lie awake at night thinking about millions unified- especially if they have a reasonable expectation of those millions voting.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Warning. Danger. Peligro adelante.

I can not state this more clearly or emphatically. The Executive Branch of our government is run by an incompetent, willfully ignorant, narcissist. He cannot be pinned down on policy because he does not truly believe in anything. Hint: read the previous sentence again for good measure. It is the key to this mess. The unpredictability and, ultimately, the danger of this man, comes into sharp focus when one starts with this premise. When the President encounters a question or situation that does not further inflate his ego or fatten his wallet, he is utterly lost. He needs to please the person in front of him as a way of thanking that person for bolstering his outsized, though ever-faltering ego. The only important thing is the next shiny bauble on which he can fixate in a given moment as he stumbles from one moment of immediate gratification to the next. People like this, surround themselves with sycophants because they are the only people who can work for (or survive working for) a narcissist. Also, sycophants are the only people a narcissist can abide for any length of time. The disposable nature of sycophants also comes in quite handy. If necessary, one discards them as casually as yesterday's newspaper. The ideologues and sycophants are so focused on their proximity to power and the pursuit of their own barely-veiled goals, they often misperceive the bright light in the tunnel as sunlight. This is not a drill. This is not a joke. The main thing the people in this White House know how to do is broadcast their accomplishments (no matter how small or insignificant) while shouting down those who see the Emperor Has No Clothes. PS, For those who think the whole business has been a nightmarish clusterfuck up until now, I have some really bad news. The one thing that could make a government run by an ignoramus and a few extremist ideologues even worse, is the same government in shut down mode.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


On the subject of building ones home in a mudslide prone area and other dubious choices:
According to news reports, one man said of his friend, who had been tragically swept away by the California mudslides: "Roy's life has been in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God,".
In other words, by his own definition, his beloved friend (after a lifetime of service to others in the name of his god) was killed by "an act of God".
For the moment let's set aside the fact that the grieving gentleman was apparently nonplussed by the incongruity of these circumstances. Arguably his grief had muddied his thinking.
On the other hand, I feel it is reasonable to infer his unnecessarily/prematurely/horrifyingly deceased friend spent his final moments rueing his choice of an invisible champion in the sky.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Backyard Buddies

Backyard Buddies

"Good morning Mr. Squirrel", I said over the top of my coffee cup.
"Oh, hey, good buddy", said he, while munching the last of his breakfast. "Sorry I am a bit too twitchy for chatting at the moment. If you don't mind, I'll just go ahead and pee on your patio furniture, chase my brother around the yard for the sheer fun of it, and head on up to my nest for a nap."
He stopped hopping about half way to his tree, looked over his shoulder and squeaked a final thought in my direction.
"You know, I don't care what the other fellows say. Sure, you're a hideous, over-sized, lumbering, beast who couldn't climb my tree if the leaves were hundred dollar bills. Still, that's some tasty corn you leave out."
Yep, you have a good day now," I shouted with as much good cheer as I could summon.
When he was out of earshot, I mumbled, "and you be careful up there in that very tall, icy, tree, you smart-ass-lil-sumbitch"

Monday, December 11, 2017


The article at the link above is short. However, if you are bewildered by technical things,
at minimum, read the information below.

If the NSA can not protect themselves it is reasonable to assume the government is not going to protect our online information.

So, this is for anyone who uses a computer. And, yes, that includes the little handheld computer in your pocket. I know it was advertised as a phone but it is really a pocket computer with a phone app. FYI, it connects to the internet all the time.

If you do nothing else to protect yourself, do these two things. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts! Download and use a password manager. This allows the user to remember only one master password for everything. One account will manage all your devices. There are multiple highly rated password managers available. Some have free versions that should handle most people. The service I use constantly monitors for major hacks and alerts me to change my passwords and makes it easy to do so. Also, the password management company can not see your passwords as they are always encrypted.

When your passwords are managed, google VPN. Read the Wiki or VPN for dummies or whatever. Then get one and use it. There are free ones but they are generally significantly slower. A high quality one like I use is fast, allows unlimited data, covers all my family’s devices and costs me about forty dollars per year. Message me if you need to be pointed in the right direction.