Archive for the ‘Human Nature’ Category

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My Quote on Creationism

May 23, 2014
de-evolution

Creationism, the art of de-evolution

Lately, I have been misquoted regarding creationism.  My words have been cherry-picked to make it appear I support the theory.  I can assure you I do not.  To clear the matter up, here is a quote for ya that accurately reflects my views:

“Calling creationism a science is like calling horse shit a gourmet meal. You can certainly digest either and there is nutritional value of sorts, they’re just not very palatable nor what humans need to thrive.  Horse shit, be it actual or symbolic, is better suited to sustain flies.”

Feel free to quote me.

 

 

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Ice Storm

January 6, 2014

WP_20140103_001 (3)

As 2014 gets settled in, winter is slapping it in the face pretty good around here. First was the snow, lots of snow. Now it is the freezing rain on top of the snow. It should be a fun commute this morning. I have to admit, the backyard looks wonderfully eerie in the glow of the outside floodlights. It occurred to me, we have much to learn from ice storm. Of course, the lessons we learn often depends on where you are in life.

When we are young, the lesson is direct, “be careful as ice is slippery.” We learn that mostly by ignoring our mothers and playing on the ice. Hopefully, the only proof of such a lesson is a bruised knee or fanny. While the direct lesson is useful, a secondary lesson begins to take root, the advice of others has value.

When somewhat older, we no long see ice storm as forms of amusement. At some point, our parents stop warning us of the danger of slipping and limiting our exposure to it. Instead, they send us out to chip away the danger from sidewalks and driveways. Of course, while still warning us of the danger of slipping. This too has its lessons. We learn that we must deal with our problems with and, from time to time, not on our schedule. Chances are we relearn the original lesson that ice is slippery too during this process. While we learn to deal with problems, this time, the secondary lesson is we have responsibilities in life that go beyond ourselves. How we learn the latter will define our character.

Now, as a fully functional adult, I suit up in long johns, layers of shirts, insulated boots, two pair of gloves, earmuffs, hat and a coat worthy of Nanook of the North. I head out and chip ice without direction. I chip and shovel and sweep away the danger to sidewalk and drive. I no longer have lessons to learn from ice storms. I know them, I know that we live our lives and we learn. We learn from others, Mother Nature and ourselves. So, as I head out to do my chore, having learned all the lessons an ice storm can possibly teach, I step out onto the landing, slip, land on my ass and start the learning process all over again.

 

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On why I pay attention to what so-called “nuts” have to say

January 5, 2014

CopernicSystem[1]Just because we believe something true, does not  make it so.  Even a deeply held belief can  be found to be false.  Copernicus, Keller and Galileo (among others) dared to question the truth of the earth being the center of the universe.  They did not change what was true, they simply uncovered it.   Keep this in mind when you so quickly dismiss questions from some nut about what you “know” to be true.

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Happy Veteran’s Day

November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran’s Day to all my bothers and sisters that served. We are more than some group or club, we are a family. It is a family I am very proud to be a part of. It is a happy day for us but also a day to reflect on all that it takes to become a veteran. Only 7% of citizens are part of our family. Like all families, we do have our share of dysfunction, but in the end all that fades away and leaves me thankful to call all veterans family.

If nothing else, take today and reflect on just one small point that never fails to make your service special to you, here is mine:

 

I woke up this morning thinking about my father. I miss him greatly. He always made it a point to wish me a happy Veteran’s Day. I remember well the only time he visited me while aboard ship. It was my first submarine, the USS Birmingham. That was one tour I was happy to give. He was fascinated and full of wonder, as if a kid. He asked a million questions. I had never seen him like that. For the first time, I was the teacher and he the student. I think that moment was very special for us both.

When we were walking down the pier to leave, he stopped me, put his hands on my shoulders and said, “I cannot tell you how proud I am, I could never do what you do.” That meant so much to me. You see, in my mind, my dad could do just about anything.

 

Again, Happy Veteran’s Day! May it be fair winds and following seas for all in my veteran family!

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A New Year’s Manifesto

January 1, 2013

 dharmachakra-200I woke up this morning thinking I needed to make a resolution for the New Year.  The more I thought about it, I began to understand I needed much more than that.   No in years past, resolutions were made and resolutions were put aside, often before the end of the day’s football games.  It’s not that resolutions are necessarily hard to keep, more the opposite really.   The problem is they required nothing much off me, they were too small.  I need something requiring commitment and dedication.  I need a manifesto to challenge me to not take on the mundane conventions of life.  Accepting, as true, Emerson’s quote, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.[i]Now, I am not talking about writing something mind-numbing and rambling that Ted Kaczynski would be proud of, or something to give Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto a run for its money.  In the first, I am simply not that crazy; in the second, making some brash rhetorical political statement serves no one, especially me.  My manifesto needs to be a hard kick to my rear and knock some common sense back into my head.  It needs to be something I can read, over and over, to serve as a reminder to make life what I want it to be rather than what I assume is expected of me.

Our brains are often compared to computers.  While a simplistic comparison, I do see the point.  Still, we have a complexity of understanding computer scientists only dream of designing into their next Cray or IBM Big Blue offering. I think it is that ability to understand complex ideas and concepts that drove Emerson to his conclusions on self-reliance.  I mean, why leave to others to figure out what is best for us, as individuals, when we have a brain of our own?  We simply must use our brains and have confidence in our conclusions.

That is the tricky part though, making sure they are “our conclusions” and not some tailored and perverted idea pushed upon us by some media outlet.  An outlet, by the way, that has an agenda having nothing to do with the free exchange of ideas, quite the opposite.  Here is how I will make sure I am making up my own mind:

  1. Question everything.  Especially things I accept as true.
  2. Find out who “they” is.  Any idea worth accepting as true is worth knowing whose idea it is.  Anytime someone presents me with a statement whose source is “They said”, “Many believe” or “I heard” suspect it from the get-go. Know whose ideas I accept as true before I accept it as true.
  3. Look for ideas that differ from my own.  Even if I know my ideas are sound, I will seek out the ideas of others.  Remember the axiom “no one of us is as smart as all of us.”   I just may find my ideas where not all that sound after all.  At the very least, any sound idea will stand the scrutiny of others.
  4. Accept as true what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, or even today.  Life is dynamic; life’s answers are dynamic too.  I will not hold an old idea that worked as the best idea now by default.  Again, question everything, especially what I accept as true.
  5. Nobody likes a know-it-all.  Just because I may be right on a point and someone else may be wrong does not obligate me to point it out.  I can, of course, but often there is no point as many people have minds of steel.  Hard and rigid.  I will judge what is gained against what is lost.
  6. In all things I do I will have passion and compassion.  If I cannot muster up these two items, I will not do the thing in the first place.
  7. Lastly, never be afraid to tell the emperor he has on no clothes.   Even emperors can be wrong from time to time.

 Ok, so there is my manifesto for the New Year.  Pretty simple stuff really, just need to be consistent in performing it.  See, consistency is the tricky part and consistency does not negate nonconformity.  Emerson never said consistency is a bad thing, he said foolish consistency is bad.  To quote again, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”[ii] 

I will keep an open mind.  I will not accept things at their face value. In a great sense, I have suffered from the little mind Emerson wrote.  My mind has been little for far too long.  Now, this year, this very day, that ends.

 


[i] Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essays [1st and 2d Ser.], Self-Reliance. [Reading, Pa.]: Spencer, 1936.  Print.

[ii] Ibid.

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Time-shared Brain

April 11, 2012

yin yang

Sometimes I think I have two separate minds.  A mind centered about technical things and one for the purely creative.  Sometimes, the technical is in-charge of things while other times it is most certainly the creative.  My problem with this is the two minds have very little in common and makes me seem as if I suffer from multiple personalities.

It is the classic yin and yang equation, but in my case they seldom influence each other.  As a Piscean, I am prone to a segmented mind.  Hell, even our symbol illustrates that point.  It was not until recently I started wondering if the yin and yang concept is exactly what they had in mind when the symbol was selected all those years ago.  My engineering mind points out that is impossible to know while my poetic one has faith and is quick to jump on that train.

I guess this explains my being an engineer and a poet.  The do seem somewhat removed in influences but I did have the benefit of a liberal education, I’m sure that had something to do with it.  At the very least it exposed me to both fields and I found interest in them.  It is said you cannot serve two masters, but I think you can – just not at the same time.

When I have my engineering hat on, I am serious, focused and very task oriented.  I can plow through a stack of old crusty reports gleaning from them relevant information and decide on the best course to move a project forward.  When in this mode, ask someone who just met me, and they will say I am a single-minded and driven man.

At other times, when my poetic mind takes control, I take in what I see and read, mull it over and metaphorically reduce a complex world to

Pisces Symbol

couplets, quatrains and stanzas.  I am open and approachable and seamlessly flow from one topic to another.  If that same person were to meet me with this mind, they would describe an aloof sage-like person that lives in a  nuanced world built upon rhyme and meter.

While it is nice to have both abilities, calling one or the other to the forefront is not possible.  You could say my two minds have minds of their own.  When one is in control, he fights to retain it.  Unchecked, it would be a fight to the death.  Thankfully, that checking takes place deep within my core.  It is as if each mind knows it cannot survive without the other so they both refuse to deliver the coup de grâce.

Perhaps this all comes from my inability to choose one path over the other while growing up.  Most of us tend to migrate to a single interest.  After all, in is hard to devote time to being in the high school band and playing on the football team at the same time, one must choose.  This I could not do and choose instead to pursue my one interests in my own way.  I chose to develop a compartmentalized mind.

So now I am switched back and forth between my two minds, and yes, it is like throwing a switch.  I can stay in one mind for a long period or switch several times a day but I do not have control over the trigger; knowing just what the trigger is has escaped me.  It only becomes a problem when I need one mind for a task but have the other mind in control.  It is sort of like the student suffering through math when all they wish is to be in history – they can do the math, it’s just their mind is some other place.

All-in-all, I am happy with my two minds.  I just wish I could find a way to get them to play well with each other.  As it stands, they fight like children over a toy, shouting “Mine! Mine!” over and over.  When I was younger, the engineering mind won more often than not.  Now, it is the poetic mind that has the lion’s share.  Still, I do not wish to change or meld my two minds.  I am afraid both would be diminished by the process.  I’ll keep my time-shared brain the way it is and be happy with people thinking I’m just some sort of eccentric nut.

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To My Friends From the Island Nation of Mauritius

March 22, 2012

Mauritius Coat of Arms

To My Friends From the Island Nation of Mauritius:

One of the interesting features of the software used to manage my blog is seeing where the people who view my blog are from, not exactly where, but the country.  So far, people from over 40 counties have read it.  One of the more surprising is the island nation of Mauritius.  Not that there is any reason they should not read it, more surprising that they found it in the first place. So, this blog is for my new friends from Mauritius.

I did not know much about your home until I looked it up.  The only real thing I knew – it was the home of the now extinct dodo bird.  For those out there, like me, unfamiliar with Mauritius, here are some interesting, albeit basic facts:

  • Mauritius lies about 540 miles east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
  • The island nation is part of the Mascarenhas Archipelago.
  • The major islands are Mauritius, Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands.
  • The entire land mass measures less than 800 square miles, which is about 11 times the size of Washington DC.
  • About 1.3 million people lives on the various islands.
  • Port Louis is the capital and largest city with about 150,000 residents.
  • The nation’s highest point is Mont Piton at 2,716 feet.
  • The lowest point is the Indian Ocean, of course.
  • The islands are volcanic in nature and surrounded by reefs, making it a good scuba diving location.  As a diver, that peaks my interest for sure.

So, there are just a few points about Mauritius.  I look forward to learning more about this interesting place.  As I do, you know I will pass it along.  This is now the number one place I want to visit.

If you happen to be one of the people from Mauritius, I would love to hear from you.  Well, I like hearing from everyone that reads my blog, just in this case I am very interested to get to know Mauritius better.  If you have interest in learning more about Mauritius, simply click on the coat of arms, it will take you to their website.

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Village Voice Empowering Pimps!

March 18, 2012

Everyone should read this NY Times article. I think a general boycott of the Village Voice is in order and I like reading the Village Voice. I for one will not read it again until they stop this deplorable practice.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/kristof-where-pimps-peddle-their-goods.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

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Jack Kerouac is a Friend of Mine

March 14, 2012

I made reference the other day to Jack Kerouac being important to me,  it did not take long for curious readers to inquire as to why.  I’ve dusted off some old thoughts on it and post them in response.

Jack Kerouac was a friend of mine.  OK, OK so I never knew the guy, we are kindred spirits nonetheless.   Hell, we even share the same birthday.  I have been told I am the last of the true bohemians.  That may or may nor be true.  If I am a bohemian, it would be out of character for me to say, either way.

So many people think it romantic in some fashion to live a life of reckless abandon.  Other’s feel it is just plain stupid.  I don’t accept that I am doing that.  I live true to my own self and make no apologies for it.  I am a poet at heart; it defines the very core of me. I take life in, allow it to affect me, to change me, and then write about it.  Not all poets change the world, as Jack did, but we do start the quiver in the snow that leads to the avalanche of change.  That is enough for me.

Jack and I differ on one point, being self-destructive.  I am not sure he understood that his life was self-destructive.  Moreover, I am not sure he would have cared – it simply was who he was.  As for me, my only vice is coffee (flirting with women is not a vice).  I drink it by the gallon.  Black is best but I will take some cream if I have to drink the swill from Starbucks.  Unlike Jack, my influences from the world take time, his happened in a thunder-clap. Being self-destructive seemed to be part of that; it just goes against my nature.

Jack shook the world with mighty jolts, his time called for that.  His writings challenge us to look at things with a different prospective.  How boring would life be if we were all stuck in “Ward and June Cleaver” mode?  We have Jack, and all the bohemians of his day, to thank for it not being so.  They opened the door that would lead to free-spirited sixties.

As a poet, I seek the smaller patches of snow to turn loose, the ones that live high on the mountain, the ones that take time and great effort to reach.  You see, my mind is more singular in nature; my poetry is about the smaller things in life.   For me, it’s about seeing the world in a single flake of snow.  Jack saw a world full of complexities and railed against it.  We both see the need for change.

It is for certain the world needs change, to always change.  That is what bohemians understand.  I don’t want to change the entire world in a day; I just want change to start.  I am grateful to Jack for all he did. I’m not sure without him; I could live the life I do.  Even if you disagree with the choices he made, you have to admit he did change how we see the world – in this way; he will always be a kindred spirit and a mentor. This is I say Jack is a friend.

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On My Day

March 12, 2012

I was born fifty years ago today.  While my mom might see this as one of the more important days for that reason, the rest of the world may need a bit more to truly appreciate March 12th as a special day.  Of course, many may point out their own birthday with its special events too, but that is for them to do.  Besides, it’s my birthday after all so just go with it.

Today, March 12, 2012, is the 72nd day of the year.  Normally, it is the 71st but with leap year and all, it moved down one space.  Even so, regardless of leap year, there are 294 days until the end of the year.  You know, thinking about leap year, one has to wonder why we did not just expand the length of a second a bit to make up the difference so there would be no need for leap year.  Oh well, we are sort of in it now and it would be more trouble than it’s worth to change.  Today, the moon is waning gibbous, which means it is less than full and more than half-lighted, but getting smaller as it moves to a New Moon.  While the exact duration changes depending upon your location, in North America, today has between 11 and 12 hours of sunlight.

The weather on March 12th is somewhat unpredictable as these days in March precede the season changing from winter to spring.  For instance, on St. Simons Island, GA (where I grew up) the record low temperature is 33°F from 1969 and a record high of 90°F just two years earlier.  So some years you can work on your tan while other years you feel more like character from Nanook of the North.

OK, so as interesting as all that may be, it does not make March 12th all that special.  Here are a few more interesting points about it:

  • In 1912 in Savannah, Georgia, Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Guides, later known as Girl Scouts.  FYI – that’s 100 years ago today!  Just think of all those wonderful cookies!  That in itself makes today special.
  • In 1911 Capitan Albert Berry performed the first documented parachute jump from an airplane.  His account says he fell over 500 feet before shoot opened.  That must have been a heart-stopper.  It is scary to jump out of a plane today, imagine being the first to do it.
  • The House and Senate vote to accept Hawaii as the 50th state.  It was not officially admitted until August 21st, after residents voted on statehood but the day House and Senate agree on something must be special.
  •  In 1789, the US Post Office was founded, special thanks to Ben Franklin.  Who does not like getting a letter?  They are much better than email.  Why not celebrate today and write a friend a letter?  I bet it makes you feel as special as it does them to receive it.
  •  In 1970, the voting age is lowered from 21 to 18.  Again, it is the House and Senate thing but this time we throw in ¾ of the states too!
  • In a strange coincidence, two figures from two of the greatest rock and roll bands got married two years apart.  Paul McCartney (The Beatles) married Linda Eastman in 1969 and Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones) married Bianca Morena in 1971.
  • In 1945, Britain celebrates the first Empire Day.  Not sure what to make of this one but sharing my birthday with Empire Day does sound special.
  • In 1933, FDR gives his first “fireside chat.”  Just think how nice it would be today if one of our leaders would simply explain what is going on without all the rhetoric.  How special would that be?
  • In 1903, the New York Highlanders become members of the American League.  You may know them better as the New York Yankees.  Lou Gehrig is one of my childhood heroes.  It is nice for me to share a point in common with his team.

The list of famous people born on March 12th is pretty impressive too:

  • 1962, Darryl Strawberry, born in Los Angeles, California.  He played right field for the Mets, Dodgers, and Yankees.
  • 1960, Courtney B. Vance, born in Detroit, Michigan, actor, Hamburger Hill, Law and Order CI
  • 1956, Dale Murphy, born in Portland, Oregon, slugger, Atlanta Braves, 2 time NL MVP
  • 1948, James Taylor, born in Boston, Massachusetts, vocalist and guitarist, Up on the Roof
  • 1947, Mitt Romney, American Politician
  • 1946, Liza Minnelli, born in Hollywood, California, singer and actress, Sterile Cuckoo, Cabaret
  • 1940, Al Jarreau, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, jazz singer, Moonlighting
  • 1939. Barbara Feldon, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, actress, Agent 99-Get Smart
  • 1932, Andrew Young, U.S. ambassador to United Nations, 1977 – 1979, Mayor-D-Atlanta
  • 1931, William “Buckwheat” Thomas, actor, Little Rascals
  • 1922, Jack Kerouac, Beat writer, On the Road, Mexico Blues
  • 1921, Giovanni Agnelli, CEO, Fiat Automakers.  This has to be special, Fiat owns Ferrari!  Without question, my favorite car.
  • 1831, Clement Studebaker, automobile pioneer.  We do not hear much about Studebaker today.  The stopped making cars in the 60s, still there is one small slice of the old company left – AM General.  If you do not recognize the name, you sure will the product they make, the Humvee.  Another notable vehicle from them is the Jeep of WWII.   Another point, go Google “Studebaker trees,” it will show you something really neat.

Of course, this is just a small sample of the many, many famous people and events that are tied to March 12.  If I had to pick one that reflects me most it is being born on the same day of the year as Jack Kerouac.  That explains a lot actually.

So, there is it – my special day; my gift to you.  Go out and enjoy it and embrace the wonderful world out there.  I only ask that you take a moment and look around to see it.  Better still, perhaps this will inspire you to find out about your special day and its wonderful ties to you.

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