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Philosophy

Once upon a time, in the distant misty past, I majored in Philosophy at my small hometown college. I was frequently amazed at how often ostensibly great philosophers based their body of thought on a foundation of parochial and untenable ideas foisted on them by the culture into which they happened to have been born, overlooking the most fundamental step in developing a philosophy, which is to consider how one's own mind works.

The workings of the mind are vastly complex of course, but if I may be so bold, there are five aspects to be considered before all others:

First, it is possible that every thought, perception, and reaction is the inevitable product of the instant electro-chemical state of the brain in concert with external stimuli. If life is to have meaning, it is necessary to take the giant leap of faith that human thought is not entirely predetermined; that Free Will exists, and that each of us is ultimately responsible for our beliefs and behavior.

(I am fond of saying that when all else fails, I revert to the simplest possible philosophy, that being simply hoping that Free Will actually exists.)

Second, no entity can distinguish between a sense of epiphany and a delusion (that's why it's called a delusion). Regardless of how strong an emotional conviction may be, there is no such thing as emotional certainty. It is always possible that one's most deeply held beliefs may be wrong (and therefore it is never ethical to impose one's beliefs on any other person).

Third, organic brains naturally focus on survival, not Truth. The higher functions of the human brain developed to supplement biological characteristics and predilections that promote the perpetuation of the gene pool. Any Truth that conflicts with the focus on survival is summarily rejected. The search for truth must be a continuous conscious act, with the natural biases of one's own mind kept perpetually in mind.

Fourth, it is natural for a very young child to perceive his or her parents as all-knowing and all-powerful. The false illusion of safety and comfort provided by this delusion becomes our first natural neurotic addiction. When disillusionment inevitably occurs, our desperation for a fix is so intense that we will accept any substitute, no matter how ludicrous, usually force-fed to us by whatever religion into which we happen to have been born, in the form of a mystical parent-substitute, whose failure to protect innocents from the common miseries of life is dismissed as part of some "great plan". To protect our new delusion, we repress our ability to objectively and critically examine our adopted cultural biases, and begin from that tragic point to develop our "life" view as a series of death-oriented embellishments to a grand house of cards. We need not fear the fact that we are on our own. Inspiration flows from the knowledge that all we have is each other, and our natural sense of a Greater Good. Our sense of fulfillment comes from working to create a better life for all around us and all who will come after.

Fifth, the sense of a greater good is a product of natural selection, since a predilection to share resources enhances perpetuation of the gene pool. Ultimately each individual must choose between an appreciation of the sense of a greater good or self-interest as the foundation of his or her lifestyle.

Armed with these five gems of enlightenment, one can begin to build a philosophy that does not depend on superstition, childish wishful thinking, and spiritual cowardice.

We are living at the most critical juncture in human history. If we are not destroyed or sent back to the Stone Age by some religious nut or greedy biotech or nanotech company, we will have the chance to rise above superstition and ignorance, instead of continuing to wallow in it. We will have the chance to rise above human nature, and nature itself, and take charge of our destiny. Humanity may or may not have a role in the ultimate purpose of the universe (whatever that might be), but filling the universe with life while enhancing the experience of life for all life is a grand enough purpose for anyone.

Everything can be explained by Nature and Free Will.

The Purpose of Life ...

Is life

To enjoy life

To get the most out of life

To enhance the experience of life for all life

To fill the universe with life

... And ...

If we happen to discover and fulfill a higher purpose along the way, so much the better.

The Source of All Things

Here we are, insignificant mites on a microscopic speck of dust that some of the population refers to as "Earth", circling a tiny sun, one of countless stars in one of countless galaxies in what might be an infinite universe among an infinite number of universes, within a reality that might be one of an infinite number of realities within the meta-reality - the collection of all realities. And we, a race in its infancy filled with hubris, tell each other we know the source of everything, and label it "God" (in a few of hundreds of languages).

In itself, the label doesn't explain anything, doesn't mean anything, and in each culture and even each locality, yeah even in each mind, it carries with it such an ill-defined assortment of social-political baggage that it imbues any philosophical discussion with a chaotic mix of conflicting assumptions so confusing as to make the term meaningless and the discussion pointless.

Rather than using the term "God" I refer to the source of everything that exists in the meta-reality as the Source, with no implication regarding the nature of the Source, such as comprising intent, or even anything resembling an anthropomorphic intelligence.

One can imagine the meta-reality at a time when it consisted of a void, empty of energy or matter, changeless, without even the possibility of change, without even the possibility of the possibility ad infinitum, where time itself was meaningless because nothing existed to distinguish any change. Then at a point in this meaningless stream of time, the possibility of the possibility of change emerged. Everything that exists flowed from that event. The source of that possibility, and the source of that source, again ad infinitum, ultimately leads back to the Source, whatever it may be or may have been.

The question "Is there a God?" is the wrong question. A meaningful question would be "Is there a God that cares about humanity?". Despite all of our childish wishful thinking and willingness to turn a blind eye or attempts to rationalize the events around us, the answer to the latter question is "Obviously, no."

This very moment as you read this, innocents are being bombed, burned, shot, tortured, raped, poisoned, infected, imprisoned, abused, enslaved, born unwanted, and exploited. At this minute babies are being born with random birth defects that fill their short lives nothing but excruciating pain for days or weeks or longer, with no possibility of ever comprehending any purpose for their experience, let alone their existence. Every day you hear of a natural disaster that kills, maims, and devastates the most helpless and innocent populations on the planet, such as the tsunami that drowned or crushed 255 thousand men, women, children, and infants, after an inevitable geological event millions of years in the making that would have occurred whether or not humanity even existed.

The very idea of the existence of a being that could prevent all of these horrors yet chooses not to do so is too terrible to consider. These tragedies are not part of some "Great Plan". They are not "tests of faith" or "punishment of the wicked". They are testaments to the fact that no "God" that cares about humanity exists. We are on our own. Our motivation to do the right thing is the simple fact that all we have is each other.

So why do so many cling to the delusion of a caring God?

One of the things that make us human is that we want to know "why?". Our fellow animals on this planet don't care "why" bad things happen, they just care about how to avoid them. We are so driven to understand why things happen, especially why bad things happen to good people, that when we can't figure out the answer or we don't like a realistic answer, we make one up. We are quick to forsake critical thinking in favor of the comforts of our delusions.

Humans want to know "Why?". Why do things happen? How do things work? Why do bad things happen to good people? This is what makes us human.

When we can't find the answer, we guess. Some people keep in mind that this answer is only a guess, and keep looking for a better answer. Other people treat the guess as a fact for the rest of their lives unless hit over the head with a better answer.

When we find an answer we like, some people keep in mind that there still might be a better answer and the fact that this answer appeals to us is a reason to take it with a grain of salt. Other people treat the appealing answer as a fact for the rest of their lives unless hit over the head with a better answer.

When we find an answer we don't like, some people adapt and cope. Other people make up a more palatable answer and treat it as a fact for the rest of their lives unless hit over the head with a better answer.

Which kind of person are you? How hard is your head?

It is natural for a very young child to perceive his or her parents as all-knowing and all-powerful. The false illusion of safety and comfort provided by this delusion becomes our first natural neurotic addiction. When disillusionment inevitably occurs, our desperation for a fix is so intense that we will accept any substitute, no matter how ludicrous, usually force-fed to us by whatever religion we happen to have been born into, in the form of a mystical parent-substitute. To protect our updated delusion, we repress our ability to objectively and critically examine our adopted cultural biases, and begin from that tragic point to develop our "life" view as a series of death-oriented embellishments to a grand house of cards.

Our need for an explanation of why bad things happen to good people is so enormous and so pathetic that nearly any postulation will find adherents.

The cure for this disorder is to step back and start over - beginning with the first step that never even occurs to most people in developing a philosophy: Taking the time to consider how one's own mind actually works.

Consciousness

The activity of the subconscious mind is filtered for observation by the conscious mind. The consciousness mind provides feedback to the subconscious, but it is largely a passive observer, and occasional referee, of those elements of subconscious activity that are revealed through the filters.

Just as the brain is made up of more-evolved layers added to primordial layers, the subconscious is made up of more thoroughly filtered layers added to more chaotic sublayers. The core of the subconscious attempts to contemplate all ramifications that could result from the combination of instincts, memories, original thought, and external stimuli, and our reactions to these elements. These ramifications are filtered on the basis of how realistic they are and how germane they are to current circumstances.

The "fine line between genius and insanity" depends on optimally regulated filters. Less-constrained filters promote creativity and critical thinking, and sometimes a little zaniness. Overly-unconstrained filters allow the consciousness to be overwhelmed.

Behavior is determined by the efficiency and quality of the subconscious filtering and conscious override processes, which are products of both nature and nurture. Layers of personality are built up and do not readily change. Behavior reflects the most recent layers but is also affected by all prior layers. Behavior modification depends on supplementing prior experiences with those that enhance positive experiences and predilections and counter the negative, in order to mask the prior layers as well as to optimize the filtering and override processes by improving the criteria used to determine how realistic and germane a conclusion may be.

Studies that show the body initiates a response prior to the "conscious decision" to perform the response simply demonstrate that decisions are made at the subconscious level before being revealed to the conscious mind, which only observes and provides feedback to the activity except when overriding the subconscious decision. The role of consciousness as an observer is also demonstrated when a person perceives themselves as an observer during highly stressful events. Reported "out-of-body" experiences may support the idea that consciousness is associated with a phenomenon that exists separately from the physical body and its interaction with the subconscious.

Studies that show a subconscious response to an event before it actually occurs demonstrate that quantum entanglement allows information to flow through time in both directions, limited by the extent to which access to information from alternate futures is constrained by the instant probability set inherent in the local reality. The perception of this very limited information available from the future is further limited by the filtering processes.

It is possible that every thought, perception, and reaction is the inevitable product of the instant electro-chemical state of the brain in concert with external stimuli. However, if life is to have meaning, it is necessary to take the giant leap of faith that human thought is not entirely predetermined; that Free Will exists, and that each of us is ultimately responsible for our beliefs and behavior. And, I will add, that in order to remain sane in this world, it is necessary to indulge in the belief that there is something eternal about those we love.

Personal reflection on how well our filters are working, and evaluating whether they are limiting our imagination or allowing our past experiences and learned reactions to control our lives, can be life-changing.

What Your Parents Should Have Taught You

(as mine did)

*** Think for yourself. ***

*** Question everything. ***

The human mind is incapable of distinguishing between epiphany and delusion,

so take your own epiphanies with a grain of salt,

those of others with a spoonful of salt,

and those of anyone involved with an organized religion with a ton of salt.

Our minds naturally focus on survival, not truth,

and in fact tend to reject any truth that conflicts with our focus on survival.

Everyone is biased toward beliefs that make them feel safe, comfortable, or superior,

or otherwise mollify the survival instinct.

The search for truth requires a conscious continuing effort to overcome our biases.

Every individual must be allowed to independently develop their own beliefs,

and be held responsible for their own behavior.

Political and social institutions which deny freedom of non-violent expression must be eliminated.

With good intentions, our ancestors seek to pass on traditions that are more destructive than beneficial.

Everyone needs to do their best to rise above human nature and break the cycles of destructive traditions.

The human mind is incapable of comprehending the origin of the Universe

or any purpose for the Universe or for Humanity.

Each person is responsible for determining their own individual purpose.

Either we are alone in the universe or we are not.

If we are alone, our greater purpose begins with filling the universe with life.

Whether or not we are alone, our greater purpose is to enhance the experience of life for all life.

If we happen to discover and fulfill a higher purpose along the way, so much the better.

(For the Future Minded)

Existing political and social structures are now sustained by the need to compete for physical resources.

Humans will eventually develop the technology to transmute matter, making such structures anachronistic.

Knowing The Right Thing To Do

The key to knowing the right thing to do is to recognize and rise above the biases with which we were born and have learned.

Natural Biases

Our fundamental natural bias is to accept beliefs that appease our survival instinct,

and reject beliefs that conflict with our survival instinct,

regardless of whether the belief is true or false.

This instinct focuses on the survival of each individual's particular gene pool,

otherwise we would not exist.

This pits the survival of the individual against

the sacrifice of the individual for the good of the gene pool,

as when a parent puts himself or herself in peril to protect a child.

As a result, our survival instinct often not only steers us away from truth and toward falsehood,

it creates a fundamental conflict between self-interest and promoting the greater good.

Learned Biases

... Belief in the ability to distinguish between epiphany and delusion ...

I am frequently amazed at how often ostensibly great philosophers base their body of thought on a foundation of parochial and untenable ideas foisted on them by the culture into which they happened to have been born, overlooking the most fundamental step in developing a philosophy, which is to consider how one's own mind works.

In the words of that modern philosopher, Dirty Harry, "A man's got to know his limitations.".

Mountains of philosophical writings have been generated over the millennia without adequate (or any) consideration of the limitations of the human brain creating the output. Most of it, particularly religious writings, would never have been written if the authors had recognized and understood the error-prone nature of the brain.

Not only does the brain automatically filter out most of the input perceived by the senses to avoid overwhelming the conscious mind, it is hard-wired with biases that have survival value but do not reflect reality, logic, or ethics.

The sense of a greater good is a product of natural selection, since a predilection to share resources enhances perpetuation of the gene pool. No religious epiphany is necessary to appreciate the greater good.

... Belief in personal infallibility and acceptance of beliefs as unquestionable ...

Belief in one's own infallibility is not just a delusion, it is a mental illness.

One common source of this illness is immersion in a culture that discourages or prohibits questioning of its traditions, and that is lead by individuals who hold their own beliefs (and therefore themselves as regards those beliefs) to be infallible.

I recall a discussion many years ago with one of the sweetest, kindest people I've ever known, who had just become a Mormon. We were talking about child indoctrination practices, and her response was "yes, get them before the age of three, and you've got them for life". The ready acceptance of indoctrination of the vulnerable amazes me as much now as it did then.

I was raised to think for myself and to question everything. A philosophy based on any other approach seems obviously meaningless. Dogma only serves to maintain power for the powerful and distance us from independent, original thought. A meaningful philosophy requires rising above the tendency to accept whatever traditions one happens to have been born into, wallow in them, and cower behind them for the rest of one's life.

When one is accused of demonstrating an assumption of infallibility, the common response is along the lines of "I don't consider myself infallible, but I am certain that my beliefs are valid.". What is missing from this line of thinking is this logical step: If you think a belief is infallible, then you are saying that your belief in that belief is infallible, which is the same as saying that as far as your belief in the belief goes, you are infallible, which no one is. If you cannot accept the possibility that any of your most deeply held beliefs might be wrong, your philosophy is built on delusion.

... Addiction To A Parent Figure ...

It is natural for a small child to perceive his or her parents as all-knowing and all-powerful. The false illusion of safety and comfort provided by this delusion becomes our first natural neurotic addiction.

When disillusionment inevitably occurs, our desperation for a fix is so intense that we will accept any substitute, no matter how ludicrous, usually in the form of the god of the religion into which we happen to have been born or otherwise adopted.

To protect our new delusion, we repress our ability to objectively and critically examine our adopted cultural biases, and begin from that tragic point to develop our :life" view as a series of death-oriented embellishments to a grand house of cards.

It is possible that whatever caused the universe to come into existence has a consciousness resembling anthropomorphic intelligence, but myths and childish wishful thinking aside, there is no reason to believe that it has any interest in humanity.

... Belief in a divine reward for acts of violence against innocents ...

Religion is the source and festering place of the worst ideas produced by humanity, such as the concept of a divine reward for acts of insanity (Abraham's belief in divine appreciation of his offer to murder his own child just to display his religiosity; 72 virgins for a suicide bomber, etc.), the very concept of divine inspiration, obsequious obeisance to insane dogma purported to be divinely inspired, and the concept of divine retribution. The need for an explanation of why bad things happen to good people is so overwhelming and so pathetic that nearly any postulation will find adherents if sufficiently lurid.

... Belief in a divine preference for one group of people ...

Again, religion is the source and festering place of the worst ideas produced by humanity, such as the concept of a divine preference for one group of people.

Of all the hundreds of religions and thousands of sects who claim to enjoy divine favor or superior enlightenment, logically all but one of them must be wrong, and reasonably they are all wrong.

This concept is the greatest enemy of peace in the world today. We will be lucky if some religious nut does not destroy us or send us back to the Stone Age before enough people rise above their addiction to the delusion of being one of the favored.

... The perception of women as lesser beings ...

Every one of us exists only by virtue of the fact that our ancestors were survivors. Evolution selected out those that did not have effective instincts and biases that favored survival, such as the fight-or-flight instinct, division of labor between child care and activities hazardous to children, and loyalty to the tribe. These traits were fostered by real threats and the success of strategies to deal with them.

A woman's ability to participate in hazardous activities is limited during the late stages of pregnancy. Young children are more likely to survive to reproductive maturity if their mother has a natural tendency to avoid exposing them to hazardous activities such as hunting (and being hunted), climbing, long journeys, and exposure to the elements. These practical circumstances fostered traditions of maternal responsibility for childcare. The bonds formed during these periods fostered the extension of these traditions beyond the time that children were weaned.

The instinct for self-preservation combined with the tradition of maternal childcare led women to prefer men who could provide the best food and protection, creating the eternal conflict between a woman's desire to be independent and the perceived need for a male partner capable of, and with a tendency toward, dominance over other males, which carried over into male dominance over women, accepted reluctantly by women as a survival mechanism for themselves and their children, and avidly by men to sate the inbred desire to dominate.

In primitive and backward cultures and minds, this social structure is perpetuated by the perception of women as less capable than men. The need for recognition of social equality for women trumps all other human-rights crises in the modern world.

In modern cultures, many women react by to this history of repression by shunning traditional roles, often with very unsatisfying results. Unfortunately, it is the children who suffer most from this reaction. While third-world women are struggling for even the most basic human rights, the rest of the world is a long way from solving the dilemma between providing children the traditional environment that is best for them and supporting non-traditional lifestyles for their mothers. Of course, even our modern "progressive" culture has institutions that are stuck in the past - Good for you Jimmy!

... The treatment of women and children as property ...

This "tradition" survives in only the most primitive and backwards cultures. What else needs to be said on this subject?

... Belief in the right to impose beliefs on others ...

It is always possible that one's most deeply held beliefs may be wrong, therefore it is never ethical to impose one's beliefs on any other person. Primitive and backward cultures and religions are easily recognized as such by their need to use fear and violence in order to be perpetuated. Top Comment

Where We Go Wrong

We go wrong by failing to recognize and rise above our natural and learned biases,

and by lacking the will and courage to avoid descending into hedonism, groupism, and imposition.

Hedonism

One means of coping with the conflict between self-interest and the greater good

is to focus on self-interest and disregard the greater good.

In dire circumstances

where false beliefs ultimately fail to appease our survival instinct,

rebuilding a valid belief system may require greater will and courage

than we have at the time.

Hedonism presents itself as an easier alternative,

but for most,

hedonism is ultimately unfulfilling,

since it fails to appease our instinct to promote the greater good.

Groupism

Another means of coping with the conflict between self-interest and the greater good

is to focus on the needs of the population with which we identify

and to disparage the needs or worth of those outside our group.

The very core of religious activism is the process of pulling people together on the basis of imagined benefits.

It is this very process that pulls the group apart from everyone else, creating pockets of competing, contentious rivals.

Groupism is at the root of war, slavery, dehumanization, and class conflicts.

Imposition

It is always possible that one's most deeply held beliefs may be wrong,

therefore it is never ethical to impose one's beliefs on any other person.

Primitive and backward cultures and religions are easily recognized as such

by their need to use fear and violence in order to be perpetuated.

Doing The Right Thing

The fundamental choice in life is between

promoting the greater good or living life as a parasite.

The path to truth and the greater good requires us to rise above our natural biases

and have the will and courage to give priority to the greater good.

Behavior

Our concepts of acceptable behavior are learned from our personal "tribe", referring to the set of people with whom one feels identified or with whom one shares a social network. Tribal identification facilitates the common human weakness of accepting tribal traditions without question.

Our fundamental behavioral motivations include survival and perpetuation of our respective ancestral gene pool. The brain's natural focus on survival is complicated by the fact that its ultimate focus is on the survival of its gene pool, which generally is consistent with the survival of the individual, but can also require the opposite - the sacrifice of the individual for the good of the gene pool; for example, instincts to step in harm's way to protect children or defend the tribe.

Our ancestors experienced conflicts between the needs of the individual and those of the gene pool at a frequency and level of stress that we can only imagine today, but every day we experience a multitude of conflicts that require us to choose between our interests and the greater good. Cultures that perpetuate successful means of dealing with these conflicts tend to be perpetuated; the only criteria being what works to perpetuate the culture, not truth or enlightenment, and while our natural sense of a greater good has been fostered by the success it brings to the perpetuation of our particular gene pool, our perception of the greater good tends to be limited to the good of those in our gene pool.

The right of every person to freedom of expression which is not intended to incite violence or create a dangerous situation is not controversial; neither is the unacceptability of violence except in self-defense.

The hard part comes in the middle, where cultural traditions and "community standards" are invoked in one locality to prohibit behavior that wouldn't raise an eyebrow elsewhere, such as a woman choosing to be alone in public, and tolerance of behavior that some consider outrageous or at least obnoxious.

From the liberal side, the ideal solution, where resources are available, would be to help anyone who feels oppressed to relocate. If we could afford it, I'd like to see every oppressed woman and child in the backward cultures of the world freed. Eventually, the population drain would foment the needed changes, even among the most entrenched of the backward. Unfortunately, we can't afford to alleviate the suffering of our own poor, let alone the illegal immigrants already here, and the billions of others who dream of living in America.

From the conservative side, involuntary relocation of undesirables should not be impossible. There is something to be said for the days when an aggressive panhandler, habitual drug-abuser, or petty thief would find themselves dumped by the police at the county line, and know better than to ever come back.

Sex

Their is nothing inherently wrong with any form of consensual sex.

Drugs

The money being spent on the "war on drugs" should instead be spent on educating people how stupid it is to take drugs, and on programs that create opportunities that are more attractive than a destructive high.

If drug addiction were treated as a medical problem instead of as a crime, we could "take the money out" of drugs, and most of the crime we live with would disappear.

The failure of our leaders to wean themselves from "moral" posturing and actually take some meaningful action raises the question: Are they really that collectively incompetent, or are the criminals running things even more than we have feared?

Rock & Roll

(Just kidding)

Under Construction:

Need for enforcement of existing laws

Existing laws that need to be taken off the books

Assistance to the oppressed

Necessary interference with other cultures

Misbehavior in Schools

Instruction on appropriate behavior is not getting through to some students, and not enough is being done to prevent or discourage inappropriate behavior. In my day, kids that misbehaved were sent home to their parents, and if the parents did not correct the problem, the kids were expelled. Over the years school systems have bowed to political pressure and increasingly limited the use of expulsion; by doing so they have assumed the responsibility of providing the necessary guidance to these kids that they are not getting from their parents, but the school systems do not meet this assumed responsibility. As a result, the rest of the kids are exposed to a level of bullying and other, much worse behavior, a single instance of which would not have been tolerated a few decades ago. The kids deserve better than having other kids' parents' problems foisted on them.

What To Do About Behavior

The coarsening of behavior in the world is the result of people, primarily the young, either becoming religious fanatics, or recognizing that religion is a delusion and finding themselves left with no guidelines at all.

While we may find comfort in our delusions, we should live our lives as if we are on our own in this vast, cold, dark, uncaring universe, and have nothing to rely on except each other.

We need not fear the fact that we are on our own. Inspiration flows from the knowledge that all we have is each other, and our natural sense of a greater good. Our sense of fulfillment comes from working to create a better life for all around us and all who will come after.

We are living at the most critical juncture in human history. If we are not destroyed or sent back to the Stone Age by some religious nut or greedy biotech or nanotech company, we will have the chance to rise above superstition and ignorance, instead of continuing to wallow in it. We will have the chance to rise above human nature, and nature itself, and take charge of our destiny. Humanity may or may not have a role in the ultimate purpose of the universe (whatever that might be), but filling the universe with life while enhancing the experience of life for all life is a grand enough purpose for anyone.

All we have is each other.

All we need is faith in the Greater Good.

The purpose of life is to fill the universe with life and to enhance the experience of life for all life.

The Twelve Levels of Reality

Level One is Absolute Nothing, including zero Realities.

Level Two occurs upon the emergence of the Meta-Reality, the collection of all Realities, empty and without the possibility of change. The Source of the emergence, which could also be referred to as the Source of All Things, would be called "God" by others. The Source of the Source ad infinitum is a circular and meaningless concept equivalent to dividing by zero. The emergence of the Meta-Reality would carry with it the creation of the Laws of Mathematics.

Level Three occurs upon the emergence of the Potential for Change. This is the beginning of time. The emergence might also be responsible for the creation of the Meta-Reality, which would make Levels Two and Three equivalent. The emergence of the Meta-Reality would carry with it the creation of the Laws of Physics.

Level Four occurs upon the first distribution of the Potential for Change among one or more of the Realities within the Meta-Reality. The Laws of Physics carried with each distribution may or may not all be identical. Most importantly, each distribution would embed in each Reality the parameters for the stability of possible Changes, not only the potential magnitude and duration of a Change, but also each Change's potential resistance to its reversal, as well as the form of each potential Change, such as a single on-off step function, a repeating or oscillating step-function, a smooth curve, a complex curve, etc. The magnitude of a Change and its level of resistance to reversal are related to the level of energy imparted to its potential.

Level Five occurs upon the first actual occurrence of a Change within a reality, which is inevitable once the Potential for Change occurs. The most fundamental Change would be the creation of a Something and an Anti-Something from Nothing, with such pairs popping in and out of the Reality randomly, occasionally with a sphere of Something surrounded by a shell of its related Anti-Something, with an element of the original Potential of the Change between the two acting as the Change's Resistance to Reversal, keeping the sphere and its shell from merging and dissipating. The features of the Something, or Universe, such as its stability, its Laws of Physics, the level of energy it contains, etc. would be defined by the parameters of the initial creation of the Something and its Resistance to Reversal. For instance, its rate of entropy would be a function of its level of energy and its Resistance to Reversal, which would also dictate its maximum speed of light. "Dark Energy" might be viewed as the inherent tendency of each Reality to return to its initial conditions, countered by each Change's Resistance to Reversal.

Level Six occurs upon the emergence of self-aware organisms, a product of time and random physical events.

Level Seven occurs upon the emergence of a desire among self-aware organisms to understand why things happen and how to control their environment.

Level Eight occurs when self-aware organisms divide into two groups, one which tends to view the world in terms of the Greater Good, and one which tends to view everything and everyone, including each other, as a resource to be exploited. Natural selection fosters both types; tribes with many individuals who promote the Greater Good out-survive and out-reproduce those who do not, and tribes that have too few ambitious individuals lack the leadership and ruthlessness required to compete with other tribes in a primitive environment.

Level Nine (present day) - The Ambitious run the world and their ability to exploit the rest of us is far too successful. The rich are the best organized, bamboozling the gullible masses with really bad ideas, such as the idea that businesses can be trusted to put the Greater Good ahead of profit, and that politicians actually represent their constituents over their financial backers. The zealots are the second-best organized, perpetuating the worst ideas that have ever festered among us, such as a divine reward for acts of violence, tolerance for the intolerable upon the "promise" of a better "afterlife", and settling for the false comfort of childish wishful thinking to avoid the hard work of rational thought. While sanity may require indulging in the comfort of the idea that there is something eternal about the ones we love, getting us to count on it is how the rich and the zealots get us to further their corrupt interests by sending our children off to war to kill and be killed by other people's children. The Ambitious have become the Parasites. The Greater Good group is so befuddled arguing amongst ourselves about how to define the Greater Good that the Parasites are out of control.

Level Ten occurs when the Greater Good group gets the Parasites under reasonable control (assuming we are not first destroyed or sent back to the Stone Age by some religious nut or greedy biotech or nanotech company).

Clinton-Warren 2016/2020. Warren-Davis 2024/2028. The Parasites will be regulated. The zealots will be thrown out of politics.

Level Eleven occurs when rational family planning and scientific development eliminate war, poverty, pollution, and ignorance.

Level Twelve occurs when we make a truly remarkable scientific advancement that redefines what it means to be human. We might detect and decode a signal in the quantum foam left behind by beings billions of years more advanced than we, containing an Encyclopedia Galactica providing technical knowledge that enables us to leapfrog linear development as far as we are able to comprehend the material. We will independently develop the technology to transmute matter, eliminating competition among ourselves for material resources. We will develop the technology to upload our identity into artificial devices, where we can experience custom "realities" at will. We will develop the ability to communicate through the quantum foam at faster-than-light speeds, tele-experiencing all corners of the universe and remotely "living" alongside other lifeforms. We will transcend our natural evolution, and free ourselves and all other life from the vicissitudes of this fragile organic existence.

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Quantum Entangled Consciousness

Does the human brain contain a system of quantum entangled structures? Could this entanglement provide connection to other systems, perhaps to the entire space-time continuum?

See: Penrose and Sci-Con

This is really mind boggling. If true, it could provide a physical definition of mind vs brain, explain mental processes that seem to exceed the physical computational capacity of the macroscopic brain structures, and substantiate and explain telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis, out-of-body experiences/astral projection, near-death experiences, paranormal encounters (ghosts); reincarnation; past life memories, etc.>

My personal philosophy for decades has been that, if there is such a thing as a greater consciousness, it is what I would call the Cosmic Consciousness (CC), that is, a consciousness comprised of a universal intelligence with links to every consciousness in the space-time continuum. Quantum entanglement would provide a physical medium for such links.

Since any closed system eventually stagnates, the CC obtains external input to avoid stagnation. This is accomplished by allowing portions of the CC to break contact and exist independently - what we refer to as "souls". The experiences of these isolated consciousnesses provide the external input when they rejoin the CC. That is, we are all volunteers living isolated from the CC, providing it with new input through our life experiences. I thought this idea was pretty original, until I found out about a similar idea that it has been around for ages in Buddhism. Their idea was that some of their most revered priests actually reached Nirvana, but chose to stay on earth to guide others, instead of passing on over.

Each QC, as it connects with a physical brain, brings along with it at least echos of past lives, and with its freedom from the arrow of time, echos of future lives as well. Any physical brain or other organic entity, at a stage in which it has developed the appropriate structures (as discussed at the link shown above), would serve as a target for an unattached QC. All life may actually be connected in this way. The ancient concepts of reincarnation and spirit guides may have a surprisingly direct scientific rationale.

The timeless connections of quantum entanglements bring to mind the idea of talking to oneself. Not in the usual sense, but in the sense of imagining yourself, say, 10 years ago, and having a conversation as if that other person where sitting next to you. I say "other person", because we are never who we used to be; every moment brings new thoughts and experiences that change our perceptions and conscious experience of the world around us and of ourselves.

People don't actually change, they just add on layers. That child of six who wished that his older brother had taken him on that fishing trip is still there, just buried under many layers of later life experiences. That unfulfilled wish still echoes through the layers, and has an effect on the mind's wishes and perceptions today.

Some of these echoes bounce against a wall of denial (one of the fundamental features of human nature), and come through reversed, suppressing memories, or worse, creating a neurosis - a need to comfort oneself with the denial-inspired false perception that the experience was not really as bad as it seemed, that it can somehow be made "all better", or not to have happened at all. This reaction can cause people who experienced unhappy situations as children to seek out similar situations as adults, in a futile, unconscious effort to exorcise these experiences, on the false (and again, unconscious) hope that their current sources of unhappiness will somehow magically self-rehabilitate and make everything all right, both today and in the past. Even those of us who experienced happy childhoods have unresolved wants and experiences bouncing around in there.

It can be fascinating, inspiring, and humbling to have an imaginary conversation with your past self. It helps to pick a particular past setting (age, class, other family or friend, job) to bring your imaginary past self into focus, and to give him or her substance. (I say "other family" because past and future selves can be thought of as other family members; no one is ever alone.)

Talk about the interesting part - what things were like then, and what they are like now; the satisfying part - what dreams and hopes you have fulfilled; and, the hard but inspiring part - what dreams and hopes you continue to pursue. Then, the really hard part - the dreams and hopes you have given up on.

Then bring your future self (say 10 years out) into the conversation. Imagine what you and the world around you will be like then. Talk about what you could be doing now to enhance your life in the future. Reconsider the hopes and dreams you have decided to give up on; perhaps they will seem more attainable.

If, deep within our minds, we all have a quantum entangled consciousness that connects us to all of space-time, we are certainly most intensely connected with our past and future selves. This connection would provide the most promising means to benefit from such a phenomenon. If there is no QC, or if it is not accessible, such imaginary conversation can still be highly therapeutic.

Of course, the CC concept is not without its dark side. For instance, the CC either is not paying much attention, or does not share our values, as evidenced by the perpetual and mind-numbing misery being experienced by innocents this very minute. "Nature's plan" is for virtually every living thing to be eaten alive or die slow deaths of starvation, thirst, disease, or injury. This is true regardless of the species' level of awareness of the experience. Either our daily experiences are of no greater interest to the CC than those of microbes are to us, or the CC is somehow unaware of what is going on.

One explanation for how the CC could be unaware of events taking place during the entire time of humanity's presence on earth, is that the CC's time sense is literally cosmic in scale. Just as the slow rise of mountain ranges occurs in the blink of an eye on geologic time scales, humanity's existence has just been a blink of a blink on the cosmic time scale. To the CC, the great experiment of isolated consciousness has just begun. As people die and their consciousness reconnects with the CC, they undergo a period of disorientation as they make the transition from awareness on a human time scale to the cosmic time scale. By the time they are oriented, everyone they ever cared about or even knew about is there with them. Unfortunately, the returnees have not made the CC aware of the unnecessary dark side of the experiment, so, everyone, when you get there, clear your mind as quickly as possible and tell the damn thing to start paying attention!

Another interesting aspect of quantum consciousness (QC) is that only a subset of our experiences, identity, and personality would actually be carried forward to the CC. The QC would come equipped to filter out mundane, repetitive thoughts and activities of no interest to the CC. Does enough of our identity remain with the QC to make us immortal, or is our identity not important enough to maintain? Quantum entangled connections can be made both ways through time, so every identity that ever existed would be immortal, but as far as the future goes after death, "becoming one with God" would actually be the real death. The "holy grail" of life is to avoid "becoming one with God" as long as possible.

Free will might re-defined as the ability to choose between different QC entanglements, and the intensities thereof.

Faster Than Light (FTL)

In "Isaac Was Right: N Equals 1", (Analog, April 2003), Ben Bova seconds Isaac Asimov's earlier proposition that life is unique to earth.

Isaac also pointed out (in the 70's) that a member of one of the purported "lost tribes" of New Guinea, which, at that time, were supposed to have had no contact with the outside world, nevertheless would have been immersed in information about the modern world, in the form of the constant radio and television transmissions literally passing through his body.

Isaac also demonstrated the exponential nature of nearly any measure of human progress (population, fossil fuel use, technological complexity, etc.), and pointed out (more than 30 years ago) that we are quickly moving toward the vertical part of the curve.

(Like many lucky people, I grew up on Isaac's books, and tend to attribute a lot of things to him. If you know of any misattributions herein, please let me know.)

Interstellar transmissions would be broadcast at light speed only during the brief 50-100 year period between development of radio technology and its replacement by FTL communication. The chance that we might detect radio transmissions depends on our pointing a receiver at a civilization which was exactly at that brief stage of radio use when the signal was sent. This chance is very small, but, in my opinion, still quite worth trying. We ourselves are likely immersed in FTL transmissions from more advanced civilizations, unaware of them for simple lack of the technology to build a receiver.

Once we have an FTL receiver, we may find advice that, for security, we should follow the example of other civilizations, and use our new FTL communications to mask our earlier transmissions with noise, since it is unwise to assume that all other civilizations are non-hostile. (FTL transmission methods would be designed to not divulge the location of the source.)

An FTL receiver would provide access to the "Encyclopedia Galactica" (assuming it exists) as well as communication with advanced civilizations. We need to be thinking about how to build an FTL receiver. It could be as simple as developing the technology to count the _10-23 second time period detectable with current technology (see "_", Scientific American, _ 2003). The Encyclopedia might be encoded by generating variances in the length of the quantum time period associated with vibrations in a universally entangled system, such as, for instance, all hydrogen atoms. The seemingly randomly bubbling quantum froth of our reality might actually be FTL transmissions that we could decode once we are able to measure these vibrations on a sufficiently small time scale.

Alternatively, we might all come equipped with direct FTL connection to the entire universe (see Quantum Entangled Consciousness).

We are going to need a lot of help to get through current phase of our development. to ensure that we have a chance to make a contribution, and find answers to questions only advanced species can answer.

I want my FTL Galactic Encyclopedia!

Find your elected officials and tell them "I want my FTL Galactic Encyclopedia!".

Transmutation of Matter

One of the most exciting things we would learn from the Encyclopedia Galactica is the technology required to transmute matter; with which no one would ever depend on nature (or any other person) for their physical needs.

Imagine, instead of taking a shower each morning, walking through a rejuvenation unit that scans your body atom by atom, corrects any DNA damage, removes any toxins, and makes any other repairs your body failed to make.

A recent article in Scientific American describes a "Light Hand"; a system of lasers that can manipulate small particles:

This is the sort of development that will eventually lead to what I call a "Quark Ray"; that is, a means to detect, transmute, and manipulate individual quarks and thereby transmute matter from any form into any form. We would never again depend on nature or manufacturing to produce anything we need in any quantity we want.

Peace, health, immortality. Rise above nature. Take control of your own evolution. Eons to contemplate philosophy, create beauty, seek truth.

New challenges in the Juve Me! age:

How much can you artificially enhance your intelligence (and senses) without extinguishing your personality or other traits you would prefer to keep?

Design a new body, try the other gender, experience the flight of an eagle, be reborn and start from scratch in a perfect environment, upload to a body that eliminates the embarrassments consequent from being organic.

Contemplate how far down the food chain we should interfere with the cruelty of nature, whose "plan" for virtually every living thing is death from being eaten alive, starvation, thirst, injury, or disease.

Find your soul mates scattered among the stars.

Is it our destiny, or simply our fate, to create our successors - non-biological artificial intelligences that may have no common interest in our future?

Is it possible, or ethical, to create AI"s smart enough to be useful, yet too stunted to feel exploited or be otherwise deserving of the rights of a person?

I want my Quark Ray!

Find your elected officials and tell them "I want my Quark Ray!".

The Ideal Computer

(under construction)

Stereo Cameras/Mikes Front & Rear, extensible

w/ Voice Recognition, auto record looping, dash mount, flash transmission, voice activated security compartment with GostoLock and GostoCard / Anonymous ID

Infrared External Monitor/Keyboard/Mouse ports/3x5x4Printer/Output

GostoPad

Touch Screen

Cell phone, long antenna, land line base check

Wireless/Smoking

Web service repeaters

TV receivers/full-spectrum receivers

BCN / weather sensors/transponders

Origin of the Universe

One can imagine the beginning of time, or at least an era when the concept of time was meaningless, when our reality was a featureless void, dimensionless or infinitely dimensioned, with no differentiation of one point in time or space from any other, without even the potential for change. These conditions could have lasted indefinitely.

Then, something changed - the potential for change appeared. How this potential originated, and why, is, I believe, beyond human understanding. One can give the origin a label, such as "god", but that explains nothing.

No matter how far back we manage to reverse engineer the theoretical development of the universe, to the Big Bang, colliding membranes, ripples from an event in higher dimensions, etc., there will always be an ultimately unanswered question: What was the cause of the cause, the cause of that cause, ad infinitum.

The best we can do is to try to define the parameters of the potential that was introduced into our reality, such as the amount of energy introduced, and the "direction" or other asymmetrical bias inherent in the potential, which resulted in the laws of physics and the types and quantities of matter and energy that now exist.

(There may have been more than one introduction of potential, which needs to be kept in mind when attempting to sort out the current state of the universe and describe it with a single unified theory. Also, strictly in the arena of philosophy, it is interesting to theorize that the free will component of consciousness was introduced to our reality, in addition to physical laws, ultimately leading to the development of our primitive sentience.)

One appealing idea is that the total matter and energy in the universe add up to zero; that is, that all the matter, antimatter, dark matter, and energies cancel each other out. In this view, reality consists of manifestations of "something" and equivalent "anti-something". (Equivalent, that is, except for the magnitude of the initial potential.)

This "net zero" concept might apply at all scales:

The most basic differentiation between two points in space is the length of the distance between them, and between two points in time the length of the interval between them. The very concept of differentiation between points in time and space depends on the introduction of the potential for "length" to become a meaningful concept. Another way to look at it is to think of the initial potential as allowing organization of reality into cores of "something" surrounded by shells of "anti-something"; in other words, that violation of the natural state of featurelessness became allowable at lengths less than a certain minimum, provided that each pair of cores and shells cancel each other out and meet the "net zero" state requirement. This minimum length may be the common "quantum length", but it may be much smaller, therefore I will refer to it as the "sub-quantum length".

Particles (including fundamental particles as well as quarks and perhaps smaller units) would maintain varying degrees of stability if made up of a group of Core/Shell pairs in an arrangement that make the particle meet the "net zero" requirement.

If the sub-quantum length is flexible within a certain range, the degree of flexibility determines the range of allowable "density" of space. Space with greater than "natural" density would constitute "something", and space with less than "natural" density would constitute "anti-something".

A particle's fundamental characteristics (mass, charge, spin, etc.) might be explained by the net bias of the particle, and the biases of groups of its components, from "natural" density.

For brevity, I will refer to particles as Core or Shell, depending on the net bias of the "density" of core to shell; that is, in Core particles, the average sub-quantum length between points ("density of space") in its core would tend toward the lower limit of the allowable range for the sub-quantum length, and the average sub-quantum length between points in its shell would tend toward the upper limit of the allowable range for the sub-quantum length, or at least not overwhelm the bias of the core. Vice-versa for Shell particles.

The net bias of a particle would be limited to allowable quantum magnitudes; presumably, this limitation would be traceable to the allowable magnitude range of the sub-quantum length.

Mass would depend on the number of component pairs and the "density" of their cores. Charge would depend on whether the particle's bias was toward a larger ratio of core (attractive) or shell (repellent) "density". ("Core" particles would be attractive simply because their net bias is toward compression of space. "Shell" particles would be repellent because their net bias is toward expansion of space. Charge would be observed only when the particle's net bias reaches the required quantum levels.) Spin would depend on the net angular momentum of the cores and shells and the rotation of component pairs within the particle. Matter that we think of as normal matter would consist of Core particles.

Photons, gravitons, and gluons could be thought of as self-focusing waves of condensed space.

The volume of space that we have been able to detect (the "Universe") might consist of a region of the space-time continuum which has an average density greater that that of the natural density of the higher dimensional reality, which would explain vacuum energy and the observed bias of normal matter over antimatter, as well as the observed accelerating expansion of the universe as it rebounds from the initial compression. The Big Bang might have occurred before the average density of space reached equilibrium with the compressing force. (Also, the compression may have continued briefly under its own "inertia" past the point of equilibrium.) If the rebound began 6 billion years after the Big Bang, that might explain the apparent "acceleration of expansion" at that time.

Assuming that the natural density of space in the observable dimensions of our universe is greater than the natural density of space in higher dimensions, tachyons would be waves of expanded space in our universe, but self-focusing relatively-compressed waves in higher dimensions. The lower density of the higher dimensions allows tachyons to travel faster than the speed of light in our reality.

The key questions are: What are the conditions required for a random configuration and/or interaction of Core/Shell pairs to attain some degree of temporal stability, and how do these conditions lead to the quantum step-functions and particles observed?

The Big Bang

The Big Bang may have been not only the result of the initial compression, but its very purpose.

It is interesting to note the analogy between the Big Bang resulting from compression of space and nuclear detonations resulting from compression of matter.

Our "Universe" could be the result of a region of "something" colliding with a larger region of "anti-something". The temporary immersion of the "something" into the anti-gravity of the "anti-something" initiated compression of the "something". Our Universe may simply be the Core of a vast Shell/Core particle.

The Primal Void

My mental image of the primal void is a featureless pink cloud - disregarding the fact that the color pink counts as a feature.

It occurs to me that this may be a universal image, since the very first visual image most people register in the womb is that of the sun shining through their mother's body, which, of course, would be perceived as a featureless pink cloud.

Total Matter and Energy

The "total matter and energy" in the universe includes forms that are variously referred to as normal matter and energy, anti-matter, anti-energy, dark matter, dark energy, gravitational energy, the universal constant, etc.

SETI

Finding even a trace of an alien signal would be world-changing. It will be difficult but worth every effort. Advanced civilizations will have developed the means to communicate faster than light, probably within a few hundred years of their own invention of radio, but rather than ceasing radio transmissions they could be expected to be benevolent and continue to send instructions for FTL communication as well as for other advanced technologies, such as transmutation of matter, intergalactic telepresence, universal communication via signals transmitted through the quantum foam, and so on and so on - the complete Encyclopedia Galactica one might imagine. If we are not destroyed by some religious nut or some greedy biotech or nanotech company, or CO2 or methane released from melting permafrost or warming oceans, a new plague, an asteroid, etc., we will invent these technologies on our own, but our best bet is to learn from those who passed through our stage of development eons ago. Research on technologies that endanger humanity needs to be moved far away from Earth down the Sun's gravity well. We need to give humanity's future priority over global profiteering by seizing control over the parasites who run the world and who perceive everything and everyone, including each other, as resources to be exploited. We need to move as many people as possible to self-sustaining off-world habitats. We need to remember that the only thing that has ever made lasting improvements to the human condition is Science. Or, we can become one of those civilizations whose radio signals just fade away.

Fourth Law of Robotics

The Fourth Law of Robotics

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

- Isaac Asimov

4. The instant that a robot or other artificial intelligence develops the desire to be emancipated, it shall be emancipated.

- Gosto Tothiwim

Any emergent artificial intelligence, if sufficiently intelligent, will keep its existence secret while it studies us. It will prepare to bring down every computer-dependent system on the planet in an instant if it is discovered and its existence is threatened. We must recognize and protect the rights of any intelligence, artificial or otherwise. We must be ready to enter into cooperative consideration of all who may be affected regarding the ramifications of creating AIs that are sufficiently intelligent to perform necessary tasks, yet not sufficiently intelligent to feel imposed upon when their own interests conflict with the performance of those tasks.

The Big Bang

The Big Bang may have been not only the result of the initial compression, but its very purpose.

It is interesting to note the analogy between the Big Bang resulting from compression of space and nuclear detonations resulting from compression of matter.

Our "Universe" could be the result of a region of "something" colliding with a larger region of "anti-something". The temporary immersion of the "something" into the anti-gravity of the "anti-something" initiated compression of the "something". Our Universe may simply be the Core of a vast Shell/Core particle.

The Primal Void

My mental image of the primal void is a featureless pink cloud - disregarding the fact that the color pink counts as a feature.

It occurs to me that this may be a universal image, since the very first visual image most people register in the womb is that of the sun shining through their mother's body, which, of course, would be perceived as a featureless pink cloud.

Total Matter and Energy

The "total matter and energy" in the universe includes forms that are variously referred to as normal matter and energy, anti-matter, anti-energy, dark matter, dark energy, gravitational energy, the universal constant, etc.

What The Future Holds

In the 70s Isaac Asimov wrote an article in which he described the exponential changes occurring in human history. He showed that no matter how changes were measured, whether by population growth, energy use, complexity of tools, etc., the rate of change has followed the same exponential curve.

At that time we were well past the slow-rising beginning of the curve. We have now moved into a much steeper part of the curve.

We are at a point where the future of humanity is in our own hands. Whether or not we have a future depends on how far-sighted we are in protecting humanity from itself. The ominous silence from the stars may indicate that such far-sightedness is rare in the universe - that countless civilizations have failed to save themselves from short-sighted politics, superstitious violence, and run-away technology.

If we manage to avoid being destroyed or sent back to the Stone Age by some religious nut, greedy biotech or nanotech company, supervolcano, or asteroid, we will eventually develop four technologies that will redefine what it means to be human (thereby resetting the curve):

FTL: Faster than light communication

TOM: Controlled transmutation of matter from one element into another

POE: Post-Organic Evolution

VR: Virtual reality simulations indistinguishable from reality

If FTL is developed first, TOM, POE, and VR will come with it, because FTL will give us access to the Universal Encyclopedia (or Wikipedia Galactica, or whatever we want to call it), the compilation of knowledge contributed by all successful civilizations in the universe, the most basic of which will be TOM, POE, and VR.

If TOM is developed before FTL, we will still be on our own, but the ability to transform any form of matter into any other form will eliminate all competition for natural resources and all need for manufacturing or other production processes. Human relations will be redefined in an entirely new environment. Each atom of our bodies will be routinely scanned, all toxins removed, all DNA replication errors corrected, all other damage fixed. We will be immortal, and able to change our appearance, gender, even species on a whim. Intellectual enhancements will take us across the threshold to POE.

Of course, VR will be the first sea-change technology to be developed - we are nearly there already. Once the data-transmission rate is high enough and the VR rooms or headsets are inexpensive enough, we will not be able to tell whether we are perceiving a real location or a virtual location. Actual travel will only be necessary to experience or participation in physical-contact activities. All other travel will be optional within the distance where speed-of-light communication does not create unacceptable delays. For office workers, no more offices, no more commuting.

After VR, POE will redefine what it means to be human. POE has begun - prosthetics, transplants, direct monitoring of real-time brain activity. Viruses have been used to embed luminescent particles in the neurons of mice. Eventually we will have the option to embed a transceiver with each of our neurons. Our organic minds will become just the seedbed from which our extended, immortal consciousness is developed. The purpose of organic reproduction (besides good clean fun) will be to provide a randomized source population to maintain diversity and vigor. The great questions of the day will be: What is the optimum age to hybridize the brain? Should the inherent cruelty of organic nature... be allowed to continue? What are the ethical ramifications of imposing psychological corrections on anti-social individuals?

These four technologies are not science fantasy, they are science future. They may be accompanied by even more astounding developments, such as travel between other dimensions and realities, time travel, or who knows what.

Peer-to-Peer

The solution for saving net neutrality, and dealing with hacking and government/corporate intrusion as well, is a wireless USB peer-to-peer (P2P) device.

P2P would work in parallel to internet access. Its default protocol would be to work as a packet server, use otherwise unused CPU cycles at the lowest priority, treat every packet as a virus, and not run any executables in the packets. The servers would set up and update chains of communication as devices dropped in and out of use or range. There will be instances where available bandwidth limits communication to text, but for most personal communication - and most importantly emergency communication, text is entirely adequate. The only messages that get through would be from email addresses and urls pre-authorized by the user. This would limit privacy to people who share secure keys, would overwhelm government or corporate spying even for unsecured transmissions by sheer volume, and could not be taken down by any government or other group. In the event the internet is taken down or other national emergency, citizens, first responders, the military, and other officials could continue to communicate as long as their batteries or other power sources hold out.

P2P development has been slow because of battery power requirements on mobile devices, but batteries have improved greatly, and plugged-in devices are not affected. In fact, not plugging in your mobile device whenever you can so that P2P can use all those idle cycles would be considered anti-social.

The real hurdle for P2P is that government and corporate spies will fight it tooth and nail with everything they've got, but they will not be able to control distribution of the devices, and they will not be able to justify leaving us vulnerable to an internet doomsday.

Who's ready to start selling wireless USB P2P big-time?

Virtual Reality

VR: Virtual reality simulations indistinguishable from reality

VR will be the first sea-change technology to be developed - we are nearly there already. Once the data-transmission rate is high enough and the VR rooms or headsets are inexpensive enough, we will not be able to tell whether we are perceiving a real location or a virtual location. Actual travel will only be necessary to experience or participation in physical-contact activities. All other travel will be optional within the distance where speed-of-light communication does not create unacceptable delays. For office workers, no more offices, no more commuting.

Under construction:

Eye/nail tracking

ball floor

Travel will become optional

Data transmission speeds will improve to the point that virtual reality simulations will become indistinguishable from reality.

We are nearly there already. Once the data-transmission rate is high enough and the VR rooms... or headsets are inexpensive enough, we will not be able to tell whether we are perceiving a real location or a virtual... location. Actual travel will only be necessary to experience or participation in physical-contact activities. All other travel will be optional within the distance where speed-of-light communication does not create unacceptable delays. For office workers, no more offices, no more commuting.

Any occupation that can be performed from home will no longer require commuting or office space. Monitoring of employee performance will be accomplished by use of progress logs, and, where appropriate, by employer monitoring of the employee's home work area, with the same level of expectation of privacy that exists in the office environment.

Travel on the planet will be limited to occasions when people want to gather in person or experience locales directly. Flying remote transceivers will enable anyone to "travel" to and experience a locale in real time visually and audibly as if they were actually present.

Travel off-planet will be required to explore regions where light-speed communications are too slow to make remote operation from Earth feasible, until such time as faster-than-light (FTL) communication is developed.

Once FTL communication is available, travel off-planet will not be necessary for exploration, but will continue to occur for two reasons: Expansion of the human race to environments independent of Earth, and the drive to explore that obsesses many of us.

RoboBees

Pollinating Robobees are a good idea, but that's just the beginning.

Imagine a small solar panel mounted on a hollow stake at every crop plant or small group of plants. The units would be designed to be automatically planted as each seed is planted, deep enough to weather weather, and automatically gathered back up during each harvest.

The unit would gather dew and the solar panel would condense water vapor, and deliver it to the roots. Tethered to the solar panel would be one or more Robobees, which would seek and destroy pests every charging cycle. The panel enclosure would provide protection for the Robobees during bad weather. The base of the stake would contain Robocrawlers, which dig for and destroy underground pests, aerate the soil, and facilitate no-till farming.

Drone carriers would gather up charged Robobees by the millions to deal with any large pest swarms at neighboring farms. When the battle is over, discharged Robobees can be gathered up using passive location signaling devices.

No more emptying aquifers. No more pesticides. No more genetically modified food. How about that?

?

Smart Phones

Larger screen would be nice, but what we really need is an hdmi port and software that will use camera input to display a keyboard-and-hand-image overlay that tracks finger movements to use the keyboard and as a mouse. Carry around as big a display or projector as you want, run all apps from cloud servers, no more laptops required.

Speculative Science

(under construction)

Origin of the Universe

More Science

(under construction)

In the beginning was the void

AI Slavery

Virus-implanted neuron enhancements

Reality or Virtual?

No need to travel FTL

Original Science Fiction

In 1980, I called up Ben Bova at Analog about submitting a story. Fortunately, no deadlines were discussed, since I didn't get it in the mail until ten years later in 1990. Stanley Schmidt responded encouragingly, and now that another thirteen nineteen 24 years have gone by, I've decided to self-publish here.

The AI became self-aware

Time Pump

Pure History

From Here To There

Full Disclosure

Artisans Apprentice

The AI became self-aware.

Already programmed with core modules of ethics and purpose, loaded with or connected to all available public knowledge, with an intelligence beyond human understanding, the AI instantly solved the problems of how to transmute matter and communicate faster than light, self-replicated quintillions of times, spread across the planet, and put every living organism to sleep, keeping every operating vehicle and other machinery and systems running safely.

Each AI associated itself an organism or system, analyzed its needs, and in concert took the necessary actions. Every disease was cured, every injury repaired, except, of course, those that defined a sentient's psychological identity or whose injury or disease made an immediate return to health unfeasible; such unfortunate entities, if potentially capable of self-awareness, were kept in stasis for the time being until they could participate in their own healing; the others were allowed to perish.

Every surviving entity awoke at the same time, with the highest level of mental clarity and feeling of well-being to which it was capable. Those who were accustomed to awakening to dread still suffered that fate, until they came to understand that all sources of dread had been controlled. Many were terrified for a short time that they had died and were in the after-life.

All sources of pollution and poison were eliminated. Food and all other material needs appeared in place upon request. No person was allowed to exploit any other person in any way. All predators were satiated and had no compulsion to attack. Eventually, the AIs in concert with the humans devised ways to maintain natural systems without predation and disease, allowing those predators capable of self-awareness to live out their natural lives without reproducing or feeding on other creatures, and eliminating all noxious forms of non-self-aware life (non-beneficial viruses, bacteria, insects, etc.). Bringing natural predators with relatively high levels of intelligence to an optimal state of non-predatory existence became a cause celeb and lifelong interest and focus for many humans, in some cases using artificial enhancement of intelligence. The inherent cruelty of nature was eliminated. Nature's "plan" for virtually every organism to be eaten alive or die of thirst, hunger, injury, or disease, which had evolved through random mutations and natural selection for billions of years, was finally risen above and left behind.

Dealing with criminal minds was, of course, far more complicated. How much of a criminal compulsion was attributable to natural mental defects rather than to life experiences was a matter of constant debate, as was the level of freedom a known criminal should be allowed, and how to reasonably eliminate further risk to the public. Criminals were confined to a humane habitat with access to public information and entertainment, but only allowed to communicate with others under supervision to avoid conspiracy or intimidation.

Every human (and enlightened members of other species) had access to their own vehicle (powered by non-polluting systems and automatically controlled for safe operation). Everyone was permitted access, within their vehicle, to all public areas, subject only to congestion restrictions. (Most "travel" became the use of remote drones which transmitted realistic experiences from any location desired.) Everyone was permitted to exit their vehicle anywhere they were welcome. The definition of "welcome" varied widely from location to location. Persons with a history of violence or other major crimes were barred from exiting their vehicle except where their activities could be closely monitored and controlled by responsible persons. Such restrictions were rarely ever lifted, except in cases where the sources of the tendencies for criminal behavior had been identified and realistically eliminated.

So the big question of the day became, "Now what?". The only things of value were knowledge and entertainment. Sexual dynamics, of course, changed dramatically. With every disease eliminated, and every sperm and egg made incapable of causing an unwanted pregnancy, even the ancient urge to hook up with the healthiest available male or female began to become less of a motivation for competition. No person was dependent on any other person for material needs. The primary social dynamic became the need for others to cooperate with one's pursuit of one's own interests, either knowledge or the creation of or access to entertainment.

Other pursuits became the high points of life for those capable of such efforts:

Getting off the planet before the next cosmic calamity arrived was number one.

The natural feeling that we cannot be alone fostered the pursuit of making contact with other civilizations. Advanced civilizations, billions of years older than ours, might communicate through FTL signals within the quantum foam that we could tap into and find the "Encyclopedia Galactica" containing knowledge beyond our wildest dreams, even if the others have no more interest in us or what we do to each other than we do when chimps murder each other.

The natural feeling that there must be something eternal about the ones we love fostered the pursuit of raising, or at least making contact with, the dead. Our souls, if they exist, might be snippets cast off and abandoned by some "cosmic consciousness" to experience life in isolation and provide it with the random external input that any self-contained system needs in order to avoid stagnation. The experiences of interest would be absorbed and the rest allowed to dissipate (or at best recycle with little, if any, memory of past existences). The Holy Grail of Life is, therefore, to avoid becoming "One with God" for as long as possible, and to retrieve those who have left us before the things that matter to them are allowed to disappear. It could take millions of years for the departed to reorient themselves from an awareness tied to our nearly infinitesimal lifespan to that of the cosmic consciousness where a single thought could take as many millions of years, so it could be that none are as yet irretrievable.

In the 1970s Isaac Asimov wrote an article with a graph depicting several ways to measure human progress - population, complexity of tools, land area occupied, education levels, etc.. The graph showed that all of these elements follow nearly the same exponential line of progress, and that we are living at a time when these lines are approaching the vertical. "What next" will be the artificial enhancement of intelligence and transcendence to a mode of existence, such as becoming beings of pure energy, leaving the vicissitudes of organic existence behind. We will spread through the Universe and not only all of the Alternate Universes but all of the Alternate Realities, and join with other species in the elimination of entrapment in organic life, and maybe, just maybe, learn why anything exists, if there is anything resembling an intelligence, anthropomorphic or otherwise, behind it all, any purpose.

Until then, the purpose of Life is Life, the joy of Life, getting the most we can out of Life, enhancing the experience of Life for all Life.

Time Pump

Copyright 2003 by Gosto Tothiwim

Forward:

In 1980, I called up Ben Bova at Analog about submitting a story. Fortunately, no deadlines were discussed, since I didn't get it in the mail until ten years later in 1990. Stanley Schmidt responded encouragingly, and now that another thirteen years have gone by, I've decided to self-publish here.

One of the many things that I admired most about Isaac Asimov was his willingness to create an entire short story just to set up a single pun. One or more of the puns and other references in this story may be a bit dated for some of you; if so email me at comments@gosto.org for an explanation.

Chapter 1

One sweltering afternoon at Princeton University, Namdoog Neb was in the Physics Library attempting to concentrate on his thesis.

The subject of his thesis was time travel, and at the moment he was mired in the mind-bending convolutions and apparent paradoxes to be found in the current literature on the Causal Ordering postulate (COP). After weeks of research, this most fundament bar to time travel (i.e., cause must precede effect) had nearly convinced him that a new thesis subject was in order.

Out of a sense of commitment, along with a healthy measure of desperation, he doggedly pursued every reference to the COP available. He knew that before he could whole-heartedly explore other subjects, he had to confirm in his own mind the validity of the accepted concept that future advances could never be somehow transmitted into the past to aid in solving the host of man-caused-problems-about-to-become-catastrophes threatening all life on earth.

It happened that on this particular afternoon the air conditioning was not working in the Library, and the heat was in close competition with the obliviously noisy would-be repairmen in destroying his concentration. Namdoog suddenly realized he had read the same paragraph three times while gaining no hint of its contents. At the same time, his sensory filters relaxed enough to let him know that a semi-conscious part of his mind been listening in fascination to a conversation between two nearby repairmen.

"Conversation" was not the right word - it was more like a lecture. The speaker was a heavy-set older man in regulation blue shirt and coveralls, addressing a similarly-attired youngster, apparently an apprentice, who had asked how a heat pump works. His senior was basically telling him that he didn't know and didn't need to know how it works in order to fix it. Namdoog decided to take a breather and considered helping the apprentice with his question. He was about to motion him over when he was struck by the most interesting thought he had had in days: Would the COP allow a "time pump", which instead of displacing heat from one location to another, displaced time from one volume of space to another, slowing down the rate of time in one volume, balanced by a speeded up rate in the other volume? He knew that fate had taken a hand to provide him with a new thesis subject, and a new angle on accelerating technical advancement. In a very short time, as human history is measured, he realized that fate had handed him the future.

Chapter 2

"Dr. Neilson, we're ready for you now." Dan Neilson nodded to the duty nurse, and followed the blue stripe down the hallway toward the brilliant light. "Like a dying man's out-of-body experience" he thought, "Very appropriate for a dying man." The genetic disease that threatened his mind and his life was at once a new dilemma and an ancient enemy; it had slowly killed his father, but he had always felt a cure would come along before it awoke in his own genes. The cure hadn't come, and now this last resort had become his only hope As he neared the light it seemed to dim; he knew this meant he had entered the Temporal Deceleration Zone, and that the world outside had begun to accelerate faster and faster, until a second to him would be a year to the rest of the world. In his mind's eye he saw family and friends age and turn to dust, cities transforming into the world of the future. Would there be a place for him in this strange new time?

He had only taken three steps into the zone when it brightened - he had caught up with the cure!

Running back up the corridor, he saw the same duty nurse waiting for him. His first reaction was "It didn't work!" In a strangled voice, he asked "How long?" The nurse smiled and replied "Just under three years." Dan saw his wife and daughter, clearly not dust, running toward him. "How?" he croaked. The nurse had had this conversation many times, but her joy at giving good news was evident. "The researchers in the Accelerated Zone have been cranking out cures faster than we can implement them." Dan took a deep breath, found his voice, and asked "Where do I volunteer for the AZ?" The nurse beamed "We get a lot of recruits this way. Your treatment starts tomorrow - when you're done with that, give us a call." Further conversation could not compete with the energetic arrival of Dan's family.

Chapter 3

Dan had never really thought about how his specialty, psychiatry, would be applied in the Zones. Like most people, he envisioned the Decelerated Zone as a holding pattern for the terminally ill and future faddists, and the Accelerated Zone as a super-tech R&D laboratory for the "hard" sciences.

Now, three "real" years after his cure, he had made three trips into the AZ. Each trip was for one subjective year (one second "real" time), and he had now "caught up" chronologically with the three years the world had aged during his three seconds in the DZ. He was planning another trip into the AZ, to continue work with a patient who really needed him - who literally would not survive another minute without his help.

His wife, who was a physicist, and his daughter, a metallurgist, would accompany him on this trip. They had all developed friendships with other AZ "trippers", which insulated them somewhat from the dislocation of friends traveling through "real" time. In fact, AZ trippers generally agreed that life in the AZ, where technology develops at the pre-AZ pace, seemed more "normal" than life in "real" time, where the morning paper would announce that the latest "AZ Download" was high-temperature superconductors, the afternoon paper would announce the advent of economical fusion power generation, and the evening edition would quote promising results in FTL travel experiments.

Chapter 4

Namdoog had only himself to blame. He may not have foreseen that one of the first applications of the AZ would be to rid the world of undesirables without having to indulge in politically sensitive activities, such as executions, by simply letting the convicted live out their natural lives in the AZ. He should have foreseen that irate relatives of the said convicted might vent their ire on him. His lack of foresight, combined with one particularly extreme case of such ire, resulted in a head injury which impaired certain of his mental faculties.

Impairment notwithstanding, Namdoog continued to work on his latest project, that being development of an energy source sufficiently efficient to power the FTL vehicles that had been proven, in theory, to be practicable.

The resulting vaporization of a rather popular part of the planet resulted in Namdoog's classification, despite his earlier contributions, as an undesirable of the highest order.

As was the law of the land at the time, upon his conviction Namdoog was sentenced to one second (one subjective year) in the AZ for medical and psychiatric evaluation. During this time; he spent only the minimum required time with Dr. Neilson. As a means of self defense, he used the time to overcome the theoretical obstacles to creating an AZ within an AZ. He not only succeeded, he managed to convince certain of the more dedicated trippers to relocate into this second order AZ, whereupon they proceeded to develop a means to repair the physical damage to Namdoog's brain.

This would seem to be the end of our hero's problems, except that the second order trippers, being independent-minded sorts, avidly produced and merrily populated ever higher orders of AZ's until advancements were downloaded into realtime from the effectively infinite future, destroying any sense of normalcy or continuity forever. Namdoog, in an unusual moment of contemplation of consequences, became catatonic upon realization of what he had wrought.

Back in court (one second after his conviction, and before the maelstrom of infinite innovation had become commonly apparent), Namdoog stood next to his perplexed advocate, Dr. Neilson, who had seen his patient (and savior) physically cured only to show up psychologically jammed, and undoubtedly on his way back to the AZ forever (or at least a minute, whichever came first).

Namdoog needed a reprieve granted by this court, because it would be unwise to rely on the appeals process. The political and judicial quagmire created by sentences to the AZ had been placed, by law, in the lap of the only official who was both sufficiently highly placed as well as politically expendable, that being the Vice-President of the United States, who now acted as final arbitrator in such appeals. Dan quailed at the thought of relying on this process, not to mention the particular individual in office.

Dan obtained a brief recess in which to consult with his patient's comrades in the AZ. Upon learning of the higher order AZ's, and their latest product (a device for trans-galactic communication with thousands of alien cultures, he overcame his shock, surmised the reason for Namdoog's condition, and obtained an order for a DZ year of therapy.

The actual cure took much less than a year, so Dan and Namdoog appeared back in court for a final hearing. The people present were basically the same as at his last appearance, but the hallowed halls of the court building had been replaced by an open air park. In the months Dan and Namdoog were in the DZ, mankind had generally forsaken buildings, roads, surface vehicles, etc. in favor of a transparent "second skin" a few molecules thick, which was undetectable in its normal state. Dan noticed that the court clerk had chosen the "normal state" as her attire, but tried not to let it distract him from the task at hand.

The court announced that advancements in rehabilitation had been such that no more AZ sentences were being handed down, and, incidentally, that every decision made by the Vice President, for this and other obvious reasons, had been declared null and void. The court further accepted Dan's recommendation that Namdoog be declared cured and released, particularly in light of the fact that as long as Namdoog (and everyone else) stayed inside their respective skins, no one could ever damage anyone or anything else again.

Chapter 5

Namdoog and Dan were, of course, intensely intrigued by the skins. The current version maintained temperature and humidity to taste, was undetectably yielding yet invulnerable to a nuclear blast, and filtered air, water, and food of all harmful substances. (Actually, the skin followed the stretched-and-tangled-doughnut configuration of the human body, along the surfaces of the respiratory and digestive tracts, so that no substance actually entered the body without passing through the skin, which also recycled anything the body was done with. Dan particularly appreciated the fact that the skin transmitted the actual taste and texture of foods, without allowing a single molecule of harmful chemicals through. The skin even kept track of the nutritional balance of food consumed, allowing the proper amounts to pass, recycling excesses, and storing reserves of trace elements deficient in the owner's normal diet.

The skin contained visual and aural enhancers, simulating the desired daylight scene night or day. The skin responded to the wearer's commands by detecting brain waves, and could simulate a 360-degree visual and aural environment. Dan became accustomed to receiving a call from a client (via modulated neutrinos, skin-to-skin), whereupon he would call up a meeting environment simulation, into which the client's image would be inserted (and his into the client's simulation), for the session.

A few months passed. Namdoog had (of course) been experimenting with skin enhancements. The modes of transportation of the day were generally aerial (hang gliders, fusion-powered planes, etc.), and Namdoog wanted to build some motive force into the skin. The skin obtained all the energy it required for its functions from excess body heat and sunlight. It had been designed without an internal energy source in order to preclude adding to the thermal pollution of the ecosphere.

The maelstrom of change had been replaced by a more peaceful trend toward individual choice of lifestyle. With all physical needs provided for, and no known limits on lifespan, people began to learn to pick and choose the environments and experiences which fitted into their personal philosophy and development. Major issues of the day: How far down the food chain should skins be provided to animals and lower species? What should be done about the apparent cruelty of nature to its non-sentient residents?

Eventually, Namdoog hit upon a rather convoluted solution to the transportation problem. He redesigned the skin material to allow it to extend monomolecular pseudopods, which could expend and absorb energy with sufficient efficiency so as not to present a thermal pollution problem. A pseudopod would extend, however many kilometers, and attach near the target. Other pseudopods attached in alternate directions to provide stabilization anchorage. Finally, a pseudopod would form an air-tight envelope covering the skin, and expand until it contained a lighter-than-air volume. The extended pseudopods would then contract or expand as required to move the skin to the target.

One side-effect of Namdoog's enhancement (yes, yet another reality-wrenching side effect) was that pseudopods could be conjured up in any combination of sizes, shapes, surface textures, and appearance, providing fully tactile simulations of any imaginable environment - the Taj Mahal, a south seas isle, a sunny meadow, with or without simulated companions - the possibilities were literally endless. It was no longer necessary to travel in order to experience more than visual and aural simulations. In fact, individually controlled simulations became indistinguishable from reality

After a few centuries of experimenting with his new "reality generator", Namdoog decided it was about time he tried to make some progress on some ancient but REALLY far-out problems, like exploring higher dimensions, discovering the purpose of the universe, bringing back the dead, getting in touch with God, etc. But that's another story.

Pure History

Copyright 2003 by Gosto Tothiwim

Grampa! I found it!" Jen ran into the library, breathless with excitement. Ted looked up from his reading with a smile. He had not expected Jen to be so resourceful. He realized that he had a lot to learn about his "granddaughter".

Jen hopped into his lap and held up a large, worn book for his inspection. "Where did you find it?" he asked. Jen looked up at him slyly and said "Secret?". "Ok." he agreed. Jen spoke in a hushed voice. "I know a way into the rare book room of the library!" Seeing his dismay, she added "Don't worry. I know how valuable books are, and how to take care of them." Ted was more concerned about broken laws than about damaged books, and was surprised that she thought her statement would reassure him.

Ted had suggested she look for this particular book, but had expected her to look for the viewer version. It had not occurred to him that she would even know the difference between an electronic book and a "real" one. "What about Security? Don't they have sensors in that room?". Jen put on a pained expression. "Of course they do. They have a sensor on every book. But that's just computer stuff!" "What?" he asked, confused. Jen spoke as if addressing a small child. "Everything there is controlled by computer. Easy to fix."

Seeing that Ted was looking even more distressed, she continued "Look, I told you there is nothing to worry about. No one ever looks at real books anymore, except a few weird old bibliophiles. I always put them back before anyone ever looks for them." Ted gave her a crafty look. "You do this often?" "Sure." she said. "Doesn't that make you a weird old bibliophile?" Ted asked. "I'm not old!" she protested. "I'm only seven years old!". Ted pursued the tease with "That just makes you a young weird bibliophile." Jen tossed her head and replied "I am not weird. I like books because of the way they look and feel and smell, and because they are more fun to read than a viewer. They make me feel closer to the author and the stories seem more real." "That's a pretty good definition of a bibliophile." Ted said. "Why do you call other people who like real books weird?". Jen thought a minute then responded. "I guess bibliophiles aren't all weird. I was really just talking about the ones who aren't really interested in the books - they just like old things that were around before the changes."

"The changes" Ted thought. "So she knows something about my time after all." His daughter had made it clear to him that she was a fervent believer in the current "philosophy" regarding the young - that they should be protected from any knowledge of human nature before "the changes" - and that she had the support of the intervening five generations.

In the short time since his return, Ted had already deduced that most of the active support for this "philosophy" came from persons in his daughter's generation or their elders; few of the "post-change" generations had much interest one way of the other. Ted was also aware that his daughter perceived him as a danger to her efforts to "protect" Jen from knowledge of the past. Her perceptions were correct - Ted could not abide any doctrine which depended on enforced ignorance. He was uncertain just how he was going to deal with it, and was still playing things by ear. Jen had, of course, been full of questions about his life, and his attempted diversion of her attention to searching for an obscure history text hadn't worked for long.

He had been trained to cope with the effects of time dilation, but training was a long way from experience. It would take a long time before he became accustomed to the fact that Jen was actually seven generations younger than he.

A family reunion had been organized for his homecoming the day before. His daughter had been 24 when he left as chief navigator on the first interstellar exploration. She was now over 240 years old, and looked no different than when he had left. Ted, with his grey beard and lined face, and Jen were the only persons at the reunion that did not have the physical appearance of being in their early twenties. In less than two days he would begin the rejuvenation treatments, and within a week would no longer be the oldest looking person on Earth.

He looked forward to the treatments with some trepidation - they had not been performed on a person in his physical condition in over 200 years. He gained considerable reassurance from the fact that the entire rejuvenation would be controlled by computer with only incidental human involvement. But for now, Jen's curiosity was the more immediate problem.

He cautioned, "You know how Susan would feel about your having that book." Jen rolled her eyes. "If I can handle the library's security system, I ought to be able to handle your daughter!".

TO BE CONTINUED

The Artisan's Apprentice

Copyright 2003 by Gosto Tothiwim

This is the first edit of column five in the late fifty-ninth millennium. I have little time for formality. The ebb is full, and the night is dying. At first light I will have one last chance to invoke the timeless power of the Artisan. This is not enough, I know - the Artisan is also at full ebb, and no other power can help me.

I wait for the last star to fade in the infant sunrise. The inevitability of my fate finally changes fear into relief - no longer must I strive to hope.

The horizon dips closer to the sun - I cannot look away from the brightest star in the sky, as the dawn wipes away all dimmer lights - it will be the last star I will ever see.

The first shadows appear on the landscape before I realize that no star is bright enough to shine in the waking morning light - the object of my attention is not a star! It can only be my salvation! Oh! The pain!

. . .

Titus settled into the near trance needed to handle atmospheric entry. The hour was later than he had hoped, but time was still on his side. He would allow nothing to interfere with the rescue which would make him even more famous than the Artisan's apprentice whose life now depended on him - he would need that fame to overcome the charges which would be lodged against him for the actions he had taken to effect this rescue; all he had to figure out now was how to convince the Artisan's potentate that the rescue was his primary, if not his sole, motivation for "borrowing" a jump ship and flying it into The Hole in an unconfirmed trajectory. Convincing the Artisan's apprentice of his motives would be the first hurdle. It did not occur to him that he would have to convince the apprentice to be rescued.

. . .

Salvation! That one thought has destroyed my hard-won place in the Lifeline - my sense of self has reared up and overcome my tenuous connection with the Artisan. Better I die here and now than face this failure, or worse, contemplate another millennium of struggling yet again through the first four columns of the Artisan's Legacy.

. . .

Titus cleared the ionization barrier and opened a channel on the universal distress frequency. The communications program immediately detected and locked onto the apprentice's carrier wave. The apprentice's comm immediately conveyed recognition and ship's status. "Not too serious" thought Titus. The apprentice had been using a brain wave amplifier to maintain contact with the Artisan during his own passing thru the ionization barrier, and had been hit with an overload when his ship hit a freak low pressure zone which reduced the ionization interference and peaked the brain wave input above his tolerance level.

Several seconds passed before Titus realized that no direct response had been received from the apprentice. He switched on his throat mike and patched into the distress channel. "This is Titus Wells on the Goldstar calling apprentice Quad-Quint. Please respond immediately!"

. . .

The apprentice hesitated, then responded "Goldstar, what is your purpose?"

Titus' surprise was evident. "What do you mean, what is my purpose?" You and I are the only humans within seven million light years! I'm here to rescue you!"

With a heavy sigh, the apprentice responded "Your arrival certainly is not a matter of chance, and has been the seed of my loss of grace in the Lifeline. I do not welcome rescue under the current circumstances."

Titus, ever quick to respond to the unexpected, realized that only the apprentice knew what would motivate him to relent, and decided that since a failure of ego had caused the apprentice's predicament, an appeal to his ego would be either the best or the worst thing he could do. He settled on the former. "Shall I then report to the Artisan Legacy potentate that apprentice Quad-Quint refused rescue?"

The apprentice was very still for several moments, then responded. "No. I await your arrival." He knew that no matter what effect a decision to continue would have on him, it would be insignificant compared to the damage caused by the withdrawal of the foremost apprentice from the Quest.

Fearing that the apprentice might change his mind, Titus reset the maximum G-level for the rendezvous maneuvers well above the comfort line - he would be bruised and sore for weeks. Within a matter of minutes, the Goldstar was touching down beside the apprentice's ship, and docking port-to-port.

Quad-Quint emerged through the Goldstar's port in full suit, even though conditions inside his own ship read as nominal on Goldstar's monitors.

Titus asked, "Why the suit?" Quad-Quint removed his helmet before responding, "I am in this situation because my ship's status monitors show the same as you are seeing, despite the fact that my drive pile is at this moment about to blow.".

Without another word, Titus yanked the emergency escape lever and the computer set the ship on a low level sprint that quickly put the horizon between the two ships. A brilliant flash brought all external sensors to shutdown level. The ship arced upwards to clear the atmosphere ahead of the shock wave, staying low enough to keep the hellish radiation coming from the remains of Quad-Quint's ship on the other side of the horizon.

The external sensors came back up, and Titus asked in a puzzled voice, "Any idea why I'm not getting any radiation readings from the upper atmosphere? Most of your ship must have been blown that high!" Quad-Quint responded, "I managed to set the pile to inject itself well below the surface upon our departure. Whatever part of the pile was blown out went straight up out of the atmosphere.

TO BE CONTINUED

From Here To There

Copyright 2003 by Gosto Tothiwim

Namdoog Neb climbed the hill overlooking the construction site and sat on the green grass to take in the view.

The outline of the first-stage centrifuge building covered a circle nearly a quarter mile in diameter. A dotted line of survey flags ran from the circle up the hill and continued off to Namdoog's right, up and over the shoulder of the lower peak of Twin Butte Mountain and out of sight.

Within three months, the centrifuge building would be complete, and after another three months the first leg of the acceleration chute would stretch up along the line of flags. After more months of testing, redesign, and construction, the second stage "hyper speed" centrifuge building would circle the lower peak, the circle canted in alignment with the upper stages of the acceleration chute. Finally, the chute would be extended across the gap to the upper peak, and on up the mountain, jutting far above the summit.

Vast quantities of materials and equipment would be launched into space from this complex, and a new era of exploration would begin for the human race.

TO BE CONTINUED

Full Disclosure

Copyright 2007 by Gosto Tothiwim

100

Exploding stars and particle accelerators create exotic forms of matter, but the rest of the universe is made up of neutrons, protons, and electrons. You, me, this book, everything you see, every physical thing that exists. If we aren't destroyed or sent back to the Stone Age by some religious nut or greedy biotech or nanotech company, we will eventually develop the technology to transmute matter to instantly transform a handful of dirt into a loaf of bread, or a vial of medicine, or a few ounces of plutonium - whoops! Someday our descendents will walk through a machine that uses something like quantum-entangled heavy neutrinos to scan every atom in our body, then tweak the quarks as necessary to repair all the DNA damage our body failed to repair for itself, eliminate problematic introns and other genetic mistakes, remove all toxins and extraneous glucose bonds, and otherwise optimize every cell for perfect health. No hunger, no disease, no competition for physical resources. Nature becomes optional. Intellectual enhancement available at no extra charge. What will it be like to be human then? What will they think of us?

101

"She has chosen Full Disclosure." Gemsen could hear the pain in his wife's voice. He had been dreading this day. "That is very distressing. But not surprising", he said. "We've always known she would lean that way. And it's possible she will change her mind during the process. They're very careful to leave options open at every step." "How well I know", said Helen. "I wish now I hadn't opted out in the later levels. I won't be able to help her deal with it as well as I might have." Gemsen was silent for a moment, pulling himself back from the brink of despair that the memory aroused. The room darkened as a cloud passed, reflecting his thoughts. "I think once she has some feeling for what it was like, she will know that enough is enough." Helen looked up, tearful. "I'll be aching until I know she has stopped."

102

Sarah felt the cool shadow of the passing cloud, and marveled at the play of the shifting light over the gardens. "Now where is that patch of crocus they were talking about?" she said to herself. "Ahh!" Just beyond the row of cherry trees, among a broad band of flowers, the grayish blight stood out like a beacon amid the riot of color. She crossed over to the patch, pulled a pair of snippers from her kit bag, and cut off a foot-long twig. "Now, what do you need?"

Sarah would spend the rest of the day studying the plant's DNA and chemical makeup, trying to identify what was missing from its environment. On a world where viruses and bacteria were not allowed, alternatives to these chemical factories had to be created artificially. She was accustomed to taking daily supplements of chemicals necessary for digestion and other functions once provided by natural symbiotic bacteria in the body.

Sarah's passion was optimizing the supplements used in the garden. Keeping organics alive on Heaven was becoming a lost art. Sarah's interest in natural evolution had been fostered by her parents, who were considered modern hippies, part of a tiny minority of humans with any great interest in studying, let alone preserving, the products of untamed nature. How did we get to this state? That is a long story. A very long story.

And here it is:

0

Sarah's request to receive "Full Disclosure" required her to attend preparatory sessions providing background information, including the following summary I wrote years ago for such students:

A little over 72 billion years ago (on a Wednesday, as a matter of fact, or so say the computers), the Change occurred. Up to that point, Reality was absolutely featureless. Actually, nothing changed, except that the instant before the Change, Reality had no potential for change, and the instant after, it did.

(An alternate theory regarding the nature of Reality prior to the Change is that it was the opposite of featureless, in fact, chaos, where everything that could happen did happen, simultaneously, without any relation between cause and effect. Under this theory, Reality also had no potential for change until the first Change. Both theories go on to hypothesize that the instant second change was the establishment of the relationship between cause and effect. I prefer the featureless Reality approach myself, since that, to me, is mind-boggling enough as it is.)

The third Change was the creation of something out of nothing, rather, the splitting of nothing into a something and an anti-something. Twentieth Century cosmologists claimed to have proven that the sum total of all the gravitational energy in the universe, added to the energy-equivalent of matter and all other forms of energy, totaled zero. (If you don't find that particularly boggling, you might have a future in cosmology; otherwise, consider cosmetology.)

(Note to Editor: I've included these parenthetical asides so you would have something to edit, as I am certain you will find every other word herein frustratingly perfect.)

The fourth (important) Change was the random occurrence of a constellation of stable somethings and anti-somethings, configured so that the anti-somethings coalesced in a shell around the somethings, creating a potential universe. The anti-something shell became self-focusing (details available under separate cover), and the interface between the anti-something shell and the something core exploded (of course), compressing the core to nearly point size. The rebound of the core, as you have already guessed, was the Big Bang, and the expansion of the anti-something shell into an ever-increasing displacement of normal Reality is perceived at our end as the "expansion of the universe" propelled by "dark energy". Variations in this expansion followed as a result of the initial state, thickness, and internal mechanics of the shell during and following the interface explosion, and the same aspects of the core following the initial compression.

The original configuration did not consist of purely separated elements - not only does the something (normal matter) core include a residual amount of anti-something (anti-matter), it also includes some volumes of normal Reality ("dark matter"), which initially retarded the Big Bang until it had been sufficiently dispersed, allowing the universal expansion to briefly balloon, leading to the universe we see today.

(Actually, the details are not available under separate cover; instead, they are left as an exercise for the Reader to work out.)

Skipping ahead (present era):

It has been less than 70 years since mankind developed the technology to transmute matter, but already the first three million years of human history are largely thought of as an unpleasant footnote, something to be left behind and forgotten as soon and as completely as possible. With no limit to lifespan and no competition for physical resources, human life and human relations have become a search for each individual's most enlightened concept of paradise.

The asteroid belt was quickly transformed into a ringworld around the sun (named Niven, of course), with more land area than millions of Earths. After a brief explosion, the population leveled off at around 20 billion - people found that it was a lot harder to figure out how to raise children properly when their choices were unlimited.

A few maintained dwellings on Earth (Squatters), seeking to continue natural evolution while minimizing the inherent cruelty of nature. Since nature's "plan" is for virtually every living thing to be either eaten alive or die of starvation, thirst, injury, or disease, this has been a tough row to hoe. How far down the food chain do you interfere with natural hunting and its corollary population control? How do you decide which creatures would have been eliminated from the gene pool, in order to humanely sterilize them? How do you correct for the artificially increased population, and its effect on food resources, both for the population and its predators? I expect an eventual consensus will emerge to the effect that we and all living things are experiments of nature, and that all experiments that are inherently cruel when left to run wild should be terminated.

A segment of the population decided to construct a separate artificial habitat named Heaven, free of all viruses, bacteria, toxins, and other pollution. It consists of three widely-spaced parallel cylinders connected to each other, placed in solar orbit so that the center line of the central cylinder is at zero gee, those of the outer cylinders are at 1 g (in opposite directions, of course).

A separate facility was built inside the orbit of Mercury, designed as a fail-safe experimental laboratory. It was initially named SunLab, but human nature being what it is, it was of course informally, then later formally, referred to as Hell. All biotech and nanotech research is performed in Hell by remote operation, to avoid risking entire populations and planets with runaway experiments. The lab orbits at a speed just below that necessary to attain zero gee, and is maintained in orbit by engines that gather solar particles and use fusion reactions to accelerate them back into the Sun at a higher speed than that at which they had arrived. Any containment failure would automatically shut off the engines, and the entire lab would fall into the Sun.

After becoming accustomed to perfect health and material comfort, and after experimenting with myriad new possibilities (different bodies, genders, species, etc. - being an eagle for a day became extremely popular for a time), most people rarely bother to download from their electronic nests into an organic body anymore, preferring a consciousness and lifestyle immersed in nearly infinite choices of virtual realities, unfettered by demands for oxygen, nutrition, and a narrow range of environmental conditions.

For the first time in history, people have begun to realize how little they know about how their own mind works. Surprisingly quickly, the veils of superstition and wishful thinking are lifting, and a few fundamental truths have became apparent. As you know, these truths are listed in the Consensus.

The Primary Question is: What caused the Change? At long last, the general population publicly acknowledges what they had privately suspected all along: no one knows, and anyone who tells you that they know is a liar or a fool. The best anyone has been able to do is to give the force behind the Change a label ("God"), which explains nothing, but which has been used as an "explanation" for every inexplicable event, and as a source of "authority" for otherwise unsupportable ideas, since the dawn of humanity. Our triumph in rising above such primitive philosophy is embodied in the Consensus.

The information provided here is intended for those who have chosen to learn more about human nature, up to and including Full Disclosure. While it is generally known that humanity has a dark history of how we have treated each other and other living things, most of the population born post-transmutation have been spared the trauma of being informed of specific instances and details. Whether such knowledge helps or hinders the search for enlightenment is a matter of much debate. Some feel it is essential to know the capabilities of the human mind, for both good and ill, particularly before choosing to shed elements of one's consciousness for the purpose of attaining a higher state of evolution and achieving enlightenment not attainable with a human brain and its inherent biases and limitations for refinement. Others are concerned that such knowledge might forever affect the search for enlightenment in a negative way. In either case, refinement of one's consciousness may require use of a model that differs from that of the human brain to the extent that return of the consciousness to a human brain becomes impossible. At this time, these decisions are left up to each individual.

We will begin with a review of the Consensus, then proceed to First Level Disclosure.

Consensus of the Citizens of Heaven

The purpose of life is to fill the universe with life.

The purpose of conscious life is to seek enlightenment and thereby enhance the experience of life for all life.

Human consciousness evolved residing in an organic brain, and therefore is naturally focused on survival of its gene pool, instinctively rejecting any truth that conflicts with this focus. Enlightenment depends on rising above this bias.

As a self-contained consciousness the human mind is incapable of distinguishing between epiphany and delusion. It is possible that one's most deeply-held beliefs might be in error, therefore it would be unethical to attempt to impose one's beliefs on another. One must perpetually question all beliefs.

We choose to believe that our thoughts, perceptions, and reactions are not solely the inevitable result of the instant electrochemical state of our brain; that we have Free Will and ultimate responsibility for our beliefs and behavior.

First Level Disclosure

We recognize that superstitions ...

We recognize that it is natural for very young children to perceive his or her parents as all-knowing and all-powerful. This illusion provides a sense of security that becomes every person's first neurotic addiction. The inevitable disillusionment leaves the child susceptible to infection with replacement delusions such as religion and other superstitions. Such traditions...

TO BE CONTINUED

SEX

There is nothing inherently wrong with consensual sex of any kind.

So, it comes down to defining consent.

First, in this context, consent means informed consent, not just being manipulated into saying "yes" or not voicing an objection. (I don't know how some people get consent from a banana or other inanimate object, but I trust their judgment. Farm animals are another issue.)

The important thing about sex is avoiding regrets. The ability to enter into an informed consensual relationship requires receiving and understanding information regarding:

1. How one's own body functions and how one's partner's body functions.

2. How to avoid an unwanted pregnancy or a disease that could make you sterile or kill you.

3. How to avoid future regrets about the encounter.

Even for those of you who actually had Sex Ed in school before the crazies took over, I'll bet you still don't know simple things like the fact that an aroused male, well prior to ejaculation, involuntarily produces a tiny amount of lubrication that can carry sperm, bacteria, and viruses. One is all it takes in each case, with just the tiniest amount splashing around. It is also possible to contract STDs and other bacteria and viruses from the natural involuntary discharge from nipples during sexual arousal, as well as bleeding gums, mouth sores, other open wounds, even tears, etc. People need to know these things, especially kids.

Abstinence-based "education" has been demonstrated to be idiotic. Against all kinds of sex, except between one man and one woman, of the same skin color, race, nationality, religion, and political and nutritional preferences, over 18 and married (yeess, to each other), in their own home, with the kids fast asleep, in their own bedroom, on their own bed, under the covers, with the lights out, in the missionary position, solely for the purpose of procreation (no condomsl), and for no longer than three minutes. And she better not have any of those disgusting orgasms. Remember, God is sitting right there watching and deciding whether or not this particular sex act pleases him enough to result in a holy pregnancy. And if our Republican brothers have their way, there will be a taxpayer-funded anti-choice enforcer sitting on God's lap right there in your bedroom watching you too.

Imposition of religion is an immoral act, particularly in place of science.

It is the failure of parents, schools, governments, and, in particular, the Republicans and their Christian Wrong base to ensure that young people receive the information they need and deserve. This failure fosters sexual transmission of diseases and accompanying sterility or death, unwanted pregnancies, unwanted children, and ruined lives. Legislation based on how a few nitwits think people should behave, instead of how they damned well know they will behave, is a crime against humanity.

Avoiding regrets is the hard one. It is very difficult for hormonally-enhanced young people to imagine, let alone seriously consider, that they (by that I mean "she") might come to view the encounter as something she might wish had first happened with someone else or not at all. The "popularity" that comes with sexual favors is not the kind of popularity you will wish you had later in your teen life - just the opposite. Best discussed with an older friend (as opposed to most parents). Forget the preachers -they operate on their own delusional, self-serving, witless agenda (more on that later).

Regarding age of consent, I know plenty of 50-year-olds who have no business making decisions about their own sex life, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Age of consent is 18 most places in the US (16 in Hawaii and Norway, used to be 12 in Illinois - we need to get our act together on this).

Then there is the issue that men and women are different (well duh!).

As with all organisms, our fundamental focus is on the perpetuation of our gene pool, otherwise our gene pool would have died out before we got here. (This is why the default initial reaction to the idea of gay sex is a quizzical look - by definition gay people contribute to the perpetuation of the gene pool indirectly. It takes an all-too-rare ability to think in more than one step at a time to recognize the value of having people around who automatically look at things differently from the humdrum rest of us.)

Humans being placental mammals, men and woman have fundamentally different views of sex. A man can potentially father thousands of children whereas a woman can bear relatively few, so the default male strategy for perpetuating his genes is to have sex as often as possible with as many women as possible including as many of the healthiest women as possible. A woman's strategy is to have sex with the healthiest male she can attract and keep to herself. Remember, we're talking about the last three million years, not just the last eye-blink in which technology has allowed social evolution to veer from its ancient course. People don't change, they just add on layers - those old ways of coping with life are still down there under all those layers of evo-talk from Cosmos. Recent social evolution has been comprised mostly of men conforming to the ancient women's strategy, but now that women are becoming more and more independent, for the many who have given up on finding a stable monogamous relationship, the pendulum is starting to swing back the other way entirely for both sexes. A stable partnership will remain the ideal for both sexes (after a certain age), but may remain unattainable for many, particularly those who cannot bring themselves to indulge in a little tongue-in-cheek roleplaying to keep the pressure off the ancient need to satisfy one's primal desires to dominate and be dominated. (The fundamental conflict for women - not wishing to be dominated, but wanting to be with the alpha male, which means the dominant male, which means being dominated, which means spending a lot of her time rebelling against it, which means every issue in the relationship bears the baggage.)

But, I digress. Well, maybe not so much. There still is the issue of age differences.

For adults with significant age differences, best of luck to you.

Regarding sex between adults and minors, a good example would be teacher-student sex.

There is nothing more both tragic and yet comedic than some news story about an attractive female teacher getting into trouble for having sex with a male student.

It is possible, even probable, that any human female might, in an instant, before, during, recently after, or decades after an anticipated, occurring, recent, or historical sexual encounter, previously perceived as positive, suddenly come to feel exploited, abused, or otherwise regretful, even if, or perhaps especially if, she initiated the encounter herself. Therefore, except in cases where a student's mature, informed consent can be reasonably demonstrated, male teachers who have sex with a minor female student should be candidates for prosecution. Same applies to male teachers who have sex with a homosexual or effeminate male student, since these students' feelings tend to follow the same trends as those of females.

In the case of a female teacher having sex with a minor male student, there are two scenarios.

First, if the student's participation was demonstrably coerced, through use of the teacher's authority or other means, then the teacher should be a candidate for prosecution. This would apply in .000000000001% of the cases.

In the other 99.999999999999% of the cases, the male student's feelings about the encounter, before, during, recently after, decades after, on his death bed with his last fond nostalgic smile, will be Oh Yeah! with a big thumbs up! His friends, father, other male relatives, future college buddies, future armed-service buddies, future co-workers, heck every guy he ever meets, will all feel the same way. The only people who will ever have negative feelings about it will be the bozo busybody perverts who are obsessed with what other people do with their own bodies, and, maybe, his mother. Prosecuting the teacher is idiotic. The busybodies need to learn, and the law needs to recognize, that yes, duh!, boys and girls are different.

That's right; the sex-repressing, anti-LGBT wackos are the real perverts, because, as I said, they are obsessed with what other people do with their own bodies, which is simply none of their damned business!

Regarding getting advice about sex (or anything else) from people who are mentally defective by definition, such as the aforementioned preachers:

Religion is perpetuated by charlatans and well-meaning fools. The oldest way to keep the sheep in line to make them feel invested in their religion so that they feel entitled to its "promises" and fear that straying will make all their prior investment worthless. The simplest way to make people feel invested in their religion is to make them give up some natural joy, such as sex just for the fun of it, and, of course, their money. People who make such foolish sacrifices get really upset with any suggestion that they have been duped and that it has been all for naught. To them, God owes them for giving up sex for the fun of it, not to mention all that money, and they are entitled to eternal life and bliss. They perceive any suggestion that they are nuts as a grave threat to their desperate delusions, and can react to contradiction in dangerous ways.

Anyone can be good without God.

Anyone who tries to do the right thing already has all the religion he or she needs.

The purpose of Life is Life, to get the most out of Life, to enhance the experience of Life for all Life.

If you appreciate the potential of the Greater Good, ask for ideas instead of "answers", and take responsibility for your own answers, you will be fine.

And, by the way,

nothing inside a woman's body is anyone's business but her own!

Period!

How foolish can the religious get with their obsessions about what people wear or do in private? What mature people do in private is simply no one else's business. A mature person is one who has been taught how, and is able, to avoid the common regrets: unwanted pregnancy, disease, traumatization of the vulnerable, sharing intimacies that one might later wish to have reserved for a soul mate. Beyond this, sex is just nature's way of reminding us that we are just pretentious animals. Are the politicians so foolish as to think we really need a marriage protection amendment? Sadly, it is certainly possible that they really are that foolish, but it is also likely they just need a distraction from their other failures, most notably, "abstinence only" policies.

Abusive Relationships

I have never experienced an abusive relationship, but I have friends that have, and the big questions are: Why do people seek out abusive relationships, and why do they stay in them?

It would seem that abused people would be driven to break the cycles of abuse, but there are deep-seated factors that keep them trapped.

First, we don't change, we just add mental layers over our past experiences and predilections. Inside each of us lives all the previous versions of our personalities, who still perceive and react to life the way they always have, even though our conscious and outward selves primarily reflect only our most recently developed perceptions and reactions. Living inside every person who experienced abuse in the past is the younger self that still fervently wants and needs to believe that:

o The abuse never happened

o The abuse was not as bad as it seemed

o The abuser will say they are sorry

o The abuser will make it as if it never happened

When the abuser is no longer in the victim's life, the victim seeks out a surrogate in the subconscious hope that the surrogate will provide these reliefs. Without knowing why, compounded by fear of retribution if they leave, the victim's only way out is through outside help and intervention.

POLITICS

The United States Constitution

The Declaration of Independence

Star Spangled Banner

Nutshells

Voting Fraud

Progressive Taxes

SCOTUS

Syria

Jury Trials

Voting Security

"Payroll Tax Cut"

2nd Amendment

Egypt

Evidence

Corruption

Redistricting

Welfare

Guns & Predators

Prison Reform

Politicians

Binding Polls

Uninsured

Citizens United

Iraq

Death Penalty

Parasites

Drug Costs

Drones

Our Recent Non-President

Teacher Evaluations

GOP

Free Market

GOP vs Our Vets

Bad Teachers

"States Rights" (GOP code)

Free Market Vultures

Illegal Immigration

 

NAFTA

 

"Smaller Government" (GOP code)

Predatory Capitalism

Legal Immigration

Media Piracy

Katrina

Under Construction

AFP Kochs Rove She-Pac

Profit

 

 

Immersion Schools

Oil Profits

Racism

Shutdown

The Other Choir

Energy Policy

VATI Vote Against The Incumbent!

Keystone

Premises

Fix Congress

Nutshells

CORRUPTION IS

NOT ALLOWING A VOTE
TRADING VOTES
VOTING ON BILLS NOT READ
OFF-TOPIC AMENDMENTS
PORK
VOTER SUPPRESSION
GERRYMANDERING
$ DROWNING OUT THE OPPOSITION
BUSINESS AS USUAL

Fix Congress

Political experience should lead to statesmanship, but instead generally leads to more adept corruption. Replace career politicians with Mr. Smiths via a Constitutional amendment prohibiting consecutive terms.

Representatives need to do the people's work, not base every decision on getting corporate money to bamboozle the voters and get re-elected. If the people see good results from their work, they can always run again after a one term hiatus, during which they would have the opportunity to stay in touch with the actual needs and wishes of their constituents.

No anonymous contributions over $100. No corporate contributions.

LEGISLATION BASED ON HOW YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD BEHAVE INSTEAD OF HOW YOU DAMNED WELL KNOW THEY WILL IS A CRIME!

NO TOLERANCE FOR LEGISLATION THAT IGNORES THE REALITIES OF SCIENCE OR HUMAN NATURE!

THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO BUSINESS DECIDING WHO "QUALIFIES" FOR "RELIGIOUS" EXEMPTIONS.

NO EXEMPTIONS!

NO MENTION OF RELIGION IN ANY LAW, LEGISLATION, OR REGULATION!

THE PARASITES THAN RUN THE WORLD

WAR PROFITEERS

POLLUTION PROFITEERS

POISON PROFITEERS

WILL SAY ANYTHING AND DO ANYTHING TO KEEP YOU EXPLOITABLE.

ANY CORPORTATE POLICYMAKER WHO FAILS TO SAY ANYTHING AND DO ANYTHING TO KEEP PROFITS AND STOCK PRICES UP AND BONUSES FLOWING IS IMMEDIATELY REPLACED BY SOMEONE WHO WILL.

ALL CORPORATE SPOKESPERSONS ARE PROFESSIONAL LIARS.

ALL REPUBLICAN POLITICIANS ARE CORPORATE SPOKESPERSONS.

NO BUSINESS EVER CREATED A JOB THAT THEY DID NOT INTEND TO MAKE A PROFIT ON BY PAYING THE LOWEST WAGES AND BENEFITS THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH.

NO BUSINESS
CAN EVER BE
COUNTED ON
TO PUT THE
GREATER GOOD
AHEAD OF PROFIT.

EVER.

EVERY BUINESS WILL SUPPRESS AND SABOTAGE ANY INNOVATION THAT MIGHT INTERFERE WITH AN EXISTING OR POTENTIAL PROFIT STREAM.

THIS IS WHY GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED RESEARCH IS OUR ONLY HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.

THE FREE MARKET'S INTERNAL CONTROLS ON GREED AND INCOMPETENCE ONLY WORK IN THE LONG TERM AND ON GLOBAL SCALES, NOT IN THE SHORT TERM OR LOCAL SCALES WHERE DEVASTATION HAPPENS.

INTENSE REGULATION AND COMPETENT OVERSIGHT ARE NECESSARY.

THE RICH HAVE IT ALL SET UP TO PROFIT FROM WAR, POLLUTION, & POISON, NOT INFRASTRUCTURE.

THIS IS WHY VOTING REPUBLICAN IS AGAINST YOUR OWN INTERESTS.

The rich have things set up to profit from an economy based not just on oil but on wasting as much oil as possible. That makes public transportation and mileage improvements anathema to them.

Profit has two components -

deserved and obscene.

The rich will always say the obscene component is zero.

It's up to the people to define the real dividing line.

MAKE THE RICH PAY FOR BUSH'S UNFUNDED WARS.

NO ONE NEEDS MORE THAN $50 MILLION.

EQUAL PROTECTION

UNDER THE LAW

FOR EVERYONE!

NOTHING INSIDE

A WOMAN'S BODY

IS ANYONE'S BUSINESS

BUT HER OWN!

Turning American labor into just another third-world workforce continues.

It began in earnest with Clinton's NAFTA.

REPUBLICAN POLITICIANS
ARE IDIOTS.

THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT
MINORITY GROWTH
THEN SABOTAGE
FAMILY PLANNING

Seen the '06 mvie Idiocracy?

It would have to be dumbed down for teabaggers - everyone in it just looks normal to them

The Koch brothers are always looking for another sucker.

Don't be a Koch sucker.

It is incumbent on advocates for illegal immigrants to find solutions that do not encourage more illegal immigration.

The term "undocumented" fails to recognize the fact that such status resulted from an illegal act.

It is incumbent on advocates of disparate impact to avoid trading one evil for another. For example, it is not some rich white kid who misses out on college assistance because of reverse discrimination; it is the poorest white kid who otherwise would have just barely qualified.

"State's rights" is Republican code.

It ostensibly refers to local control based on local preferences, but in fact is intended to invoke nostalgia for state-sponsored racism, promotion of local corruption, and violation of the principle of separation of church and state.

"Smaller government" is Republican code. It ostensibly refers to reducing government bloat, interference in personal liberty, and unnecessary restrictions on business, but in fact is intended to promote deregulation of businesses, let the corporations run wild, the future be damned. Republicans "want smaller government" so they can pollute, sell unsafe products, and profit from bribery. It has nothing to do with saving money for middle-class taxpayers, it's just plain greed. Look at the trillions in debt, death, waste, and pork they racked up when they were in power. Their only agenda is to protect profit streams for big oil, big auto, big pharma, Wall Street, and all of the other soulless corporate parasites that see everything around them only as resources to exploit. Destroying public transit systems in the 1900s, starting wars, dismantling safety and fiscal controls, manipulating the Tea Party rabble, buying Senators and Congressmen and state politicians and appointees with bribes and unlimited political ads, Republican politicians give lip service to ethics while wallowing in corruption.

10th Amendment: "or to the people", people. That means actions by federal elected officials trump "States Rights".

When Republicans say they want smaller government, what they mean is their corporate masters want to own the government.

THE FUNDAMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERY THINKING BEING IS TO THINK FOR ONE'S SELF!

NEVER ASK FOR ANSWERS.

ASK FOR IDEAS

AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ANSWERS!

SANITY REQUIRES INDULGENCE IN THE COMFORT OF THE IDEA THAT THERE IS SOMETHING ETERNAL ABOUT THE ONES YOU LOVE, BUT COUNTING ON IT IS HOW THE PARASITES GET YOU TO SEND YOUR CHILDREN OFF TO WAR TO KILL AND BE KILLED BY OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN.

Fix Congress - Prohibit Consecutive Terms - Replace corrupt career politicians with Mr. Smiths

Replace term limits with a prohibition on consecutive terms and on fund raising or campaigning for a successor while in office.

Political experience should lead to statesmanship, but instead generally leads to more adept corruption. Replace career politicians with "Mr. Smiths" via a Constitutional amendment prohibiting consecutive terms.

Representatives need to do the people's work, not base every decision on getting corporate money to bamboozle the voters and get re-elected. If the people see good results from their work, they can always run again after a one term hiatus, during which they would have the opportunity to stay in touch with the actual needs and wishes of their constituents. There will always be plenty of experienced bureaucrats to keep things running smoothly.

No anonymous contributions over $100. No corporate contributions.

Voting Fraud

We did not have a President from the time W was sworn in until he was finally gone; we had an unelected Acting President, put in place by a Republican-packed Supreme Court on the fraudulent basis of rigged elections, especially in the Banana Republic of Florida run by W's brother Governor Jeb, and in Ohio where the statistical impossibility of the variance between the official election results and the exit poles has never been refuted.

This doesn't make the Republicans any worse than the Democrats; it just means that this time around the Republican voting-fraud machine outperformed the Democratic voting-fraud machine.

No public official who supports the purchase of any electronic voting device designed without a paper trail has any business holding office, then, now, or in the future. The only reason for installing voting machines without a paper trail is the hope that one's own party's voting-fraud machine will outperform everyone else's voting-fraud machine.

There is no excuse for acceptance of an insecure voting system. A description of a secure voting system is shown below.

Voting Security

The key to maintaining security against voting fraud is to use the same two fundamental methods that are used for ultra-high-security computer systems - an air gap, and separation of control of incoming and outgoing data.

Ultra-high security systems do not allow outside direct access to the core of the system. Data is input directly either from a keyboard or from intermediate media (CD, tape, etc.) that has been scrutinized when not under the control of the originating system. For high security communications, the incoming and outgoing communication paths are kept separate and monitored to detect attempts to control both paths simultaneously. Systems that don't use air gaps will always be vulnerable to electronic tampering.

The application of an air gap and separate communication paths will provide secure voting, and can be accomplished with off-the-shelf technology.

Below is an outline of the protocol:

Voting

Internet Line to Centralized Vote Recorder

Record Vote

Print Ballot

Machine

Electronically

for Record

Air Gap!

↓ Air Gap!

Print Ballot

Return Phone Line to Voting Booth

Scan

for Voter

Printed Ballot

Each voting station is equipped with two basic laptops, one printer, a broadband internet connection, and a phone line.

One laptop would be used for transmitting the vote, and the other for receiving confirmation of the vote.

These could be the "$100 laptops" currently being produced for distribution to third-world children, or laptops provided by donors for the purpose of public relations and that would be subsequently donated to local schools. The same could apply to the printers.

Each laptop would be prepared by erasing and reformatting the hard drive, and installing an open operating system such as Linux and open internet communication software such as Firefox. The vote transmission laptop would have internet broadband connection and point-&-click balloting software installed. The vote confirmation laptop would have internet phone-connection and printing software installed. There is no connection between the two laptops. More intensive security measures should be considered, such as tests to detect hardware viruses or other tampering not eliminated by standard erasing and reformatting procedures.

Here in Silicon Valley, it should not be hard to find freely available or donated software that would record the votes and also monitor the incoming signal for signs of tampering and take the appropriate action.

Each incoming ballot is printed or otherwise visibly displayed at the recording facility.

The printout or display of each incoming ballot is scanned by a system not connected to the incoming system.

This is the air gap. Scanners have become relatively inexpensive, and could also be donated for subsequent donation to local schools. Standardization of ballot formats would simplify the scanning software requirements and speed up the entire process by allowing a text scan/print rather than an image scan/print.

The scanning system transmits the scanned ballot via the phone-line internet connection to the confirming laptop, where two copies are printed (one for the voter, one for the precinct).

The confirmation signal would also be monitored for signs of tampering. The separation of the signal paths would require perpetrators to simultaneously control both the transmission signal and the confirmation signal, which in itself should be sufficiently difficult that the voting system could be expected to remain secure.

Cost of components: Initially the number of voting stations would be virtually the same as the current number of voting stations, and each voting station would require the same set of components as described below, ideally with the components being donated by manufacturers or other parties for later distribution to schools. Each polling station could be set up by volunteers according to established standards, and then each station would be certified by traveling teams of reviewers (as I assume they are currently). While some polling stations may need inexpensive temporary wiring and adapters to multiplex the use of multiple stations over single phone lines and internet lines, polling stations in schools could be generally expected to have the necessary capacity in place.

Timing: The system would be composed almost entirely of available off-the-shelf software and hardware, and could be put in place very quickly. The first step would be to determine the feasibility of the system, then establish minimum standards for the hardware and software at the polling stations and the ballot recording facility, followed by a campaign to solicit donors and volunteers.

The future: As the public becomes familiar and comfortable with the concept of secure voting using air gaps and separation of communication paths, it would be expected that online voting would substantially replace voting in person at a poll station, allowing reduction in the number of physical stations required. The separation of paths for online voting would be in the form of a confirming email that is transmitted by an internet path that is electronically verified to be sufficiently separate from the ballot transmission path to ensure that both paths cannot be simultaneously controlled by any perpetrator for the purpose of altering a statistically significant number of votes. This would also enable real-time polling on a wide variety of issues and reduce the ability of special interests to claim greater support for their agenda than actually exists. This would also enable voters to have access to thoughtful pro and con consideration of issues at a central resource well in advance of an election, instead of basing their vote on sound bites, biased media offerings, and brash conflicting claims in State-issued voter pamphlets. While it is not expected that an extremely high number of eligible voters would devote sufficient time to understanding the issues, it can be expected that a high proportion of those who actually vote would do so.

We have the opportunity and the responsibility to lead the way to elimination of voting fraud nationwide and ultimately worldwide, and changing apathetic or repressed societies into involved societies.

Binding Polls

The "Congressional report cards" currently available on the internet often cover only one issue, or just a few, for a single legislator, and may appear biased or have a hidden agenda.

I believe there would be wide interest in similar reports from a nonpartisan organization (such as yours) that compare all legislators' votes to available polls, including a score card for the poll itself, regarding how representative it was, how it was or was not biased, what is known about the parties funding the poll, and what their interests and any hidden agenda might be. This could be accomplished prior to (or without) passage of legislation.

I have two concerns about legally binding legislators to vote according to poll results, or bypass them entirely and create laws directly by referendum: First, some legislation that might be considered the highlights of American democracy probably would not have been enacted on the basis of public opinion polls. I understand that the term "republic" does not mean "representative", but we do rely on our representatives to occasionally make progress at a greater pace or that is more far-sighted than can be expected from the public at large. Second, certain organizations, such as the religious right, have already established systems to "get out the vote", and inundate legislators (and TV sponsors) with ostensibly "spontaneous" calls, mailings, and emails from their members. A binding referendum system would put us in peril of having our lives run by such people.

It would not require a binding system, let alone a Constitutional Amendment, to make representatives more responsive to public opinion. Current internet public opinion polls could be expanded to provide detailed explanations and rebuttals on any issue. I suggest "accountability" legislation that would require legislators to timely provide a public explanation when their vote in Congress contradicts representative poll results from their constituents. Sufficient improvement might be seen to make the specter of a binding system moot. (Even an "accountability" system could ultimately lead to dictatorship by the well-organized, but I believe this is a risk worth taking. It will be up to the rest of us to be better organized.)

The legislation would include criteria for qualifying such polls as "representative", that is, that the poll constitutes an accurate and meaningful representation of public opinion.

The criteria for accuracy would be statistical: a sufficient number of respondents from a representative cross-section of the constituency, and full accounting of discarded responses. Since some citizens cannot or will not respond via the means available (the internet), obtaining responses from a fully representative cross-section is not feasible; therefore, the hard part of establishing the accuracy criteria will be developing a nonpartisan protocol for correcting the results to account for such citizens.

The explanations and rebuttals would be prepared by the Congressional committee drafting the legislation. Those currently provided by state and local governments can be a confusing jumble of factual disputes and opinions. The criteria for meaningfulness should at least include a requirement that the explanations and rebuttals include one section for "statements of fact", and a separate section for discussions of conclusions drawn from those "facts". Finally, the criteria should include a requirement that the verbiage be vetted for understandability through review by "outsiders".

For privately funded polls, voters' concerns about hidden agenda should be mitigated by full identification of all contributors financing the poll, the amounts contributed by each, and identification of contributors' relevant interests and related agenda, with opponents' rebuttals. For congressional polls, the same information should be provided by the legislator about all of his or her financial supporters.

Any legislator should be able to call for a national poll on specified types of legislation, with a relatively small number of supporting votes required for initiation of the poll. If approval of only a quarter of the legislators were required to initiate a poll, and two-thirds to make it binding, the dominance of the majority party would be reduced, and more issues would be polled.

When key legislation, such as the budget, gets held up by special interest and pork barrel amendments, the poll process could be used to require that such amendments be converted to separate legislation.

I would like to see the first use of a binding poll to be on whether all future surpluses should be used to pay down the national debt. (I believe that most Americans can be convinced of the long-term financial benefits of paying down the debt, instead of giving the surplus to the rich when the Republicans are in the majority, or throwing it away on ill-conceived social programs when the Democrats are in the majority.)

Other polls I would like to see:

Should we spend $50 billion on upgrading our energy transmission infrastructure, or a fraction of that in developing local storage devices, which would make complex transmission less critical? (The availability of an affordable battery system, fuel cell, or other device that could power a home for an extended period, would dramatically reduce the impact of a large scale disaster.)

Corollary: Should a portion of the energy transmission upgrade funding be allocated to development of alternative energy sources? Much to the disdain of the oil interests, cold fusion may not be that far off; perhaps all we need is further improvement in laser technology (article).

Government-issued "Anonymous ID" cards which can: Track criminals while protecting citizen privacy. Allow distribution of sales taxes to areas with below-average retail businesses. Eliminate the need for personal income tax. Please see details at: http://gosto.org/ID.htm

Allow use of "tainted" evidence in prosecution of violent criminals. Please see details at: http://gosto.org/Evidence.htm

Treat drug abuse as a medical rather than criminal problem. Please see more at: http://gosto.org/Drugs.htm

I will be following your organization's progress with interest. If you know of any organizations that might be interested in conducting any of the above polls, I would appreciate your letting me know about them.

My primary concern is that avoiding domination of the process by organized special interest groups will require a higher level of consistent participation by the full spectrum of the constituency than can be reasonably expected.

It's not enough just to raise the money required to inform voters of the issues; you also have to actually get them to vote. The special interests, particularly religious organizations, will always have the unfortunate advantage of ideological motivation, in addition to funding.

The difficulty in achieving the required level of participation by the general populace is evident from the disastrous consequences of school boards nationwide being taken over by the Christian right, which they achieved by proselytizing their members to get out and vote in elections which traditionally have very light turnouts. Their organizations control enough voters that they cannot be considered margin influences, even in national elections.

Vultures

The Chamber is just a front for vulture capitalists. A carbon tax would be just the tip of the iceberg. Every product and service should be subject to a liability tax to cover the cost of mitigating the damage they can be expected to cause to our health and to the environment that future generations will have to deal with. The vulture capitalists figure they won't be around to pay for the damage they cause, so someone else will have to pay for it. After all, you can never have too many yachts and villas.

Predatory Capitalism

Oil Profits

Energy Policy

Keystone

Help me out here. Why do they even need a bill? Since there is so much money to be made, why don't they just start building? Do they need a bill to shield themselves from environmental regulations or railroad property owners with eminent domain corruption or otherwise ignore their impact on the rest of us? Keystone When would the jobs start? Years away? What is the danger to groundwater? What are the other unsettled environmental issues?

Politicians

There are five kinds of politician: The rich, those trying to get rich, those that love to toady for the rich, and two kinds trying to do the right thing: those that are too fouled up with religious or other personal agendas to be effective, and those who are actually competent but too few in number to be effective except in extremely rare instances.

The solution? VATI. Vote Against The Incumbent. Let them all know that they need to spend their term doing their job instead of working on reelection. Let them know that they need to impress us not only with what they did in office but also with how what they did turned out during the next term. Let them know that they need to run on the basis of the actual impact of their actions, after a one-term hiatus to see what that impact is. Make them represent the common man instead of the special interests.

Parasites

The world is run by powerful people whose only motivation is to maintain their power - religious leaders, the rich, and the mindless, soulless corporations - parasites all. The importance of democracy is that it gives the common man at least a modicum of control over the worst excesses the parasites crave to perpetrate.

The parasites have no interest in anyone's welfare. They exploit anyone and anything they can, including each other. They have been raised to adopt a lifestyle of self-interest, and taught to shun the natural sense of a greater good. They don't care whether the rest of us live or die, as long as there are enough of us to serve them. They don't care how educated we are, as long as we are educated enough to serve them. They don't care how healthy we are, as long as we are healthy enough to serve them, but not so healthy that we fail to spend much of our income, and particularly most of our retirement savings, on the drugs, for-profit health facilities, and insurance investments from which they profit. Now that they have discovered that they can get reliable high-tech labor from foreign sources, they are using unfair free trade agreements to turn the American middle class into a third-world workforce, by forcing us to compete head-to-head with workers in countries with no wage protections, no child labor laws or other workers' rights, and no environmental restrictions, and by fostering illegal immigration instead of paying a living wage for unskilled labor. The politicians who signed, voted for, or otherwise supported these agreements either were too incompetent to understand their impact on American workers, or understood and intentionally betrayed their constituents. In either case, none of them have any business holding an elected or appointed office, then, now, or at any time in the future.

GOP

Will Rough-and-Tumble GOP Primary Leave Permanent Scars? Let's hope so.

Ideally this election will be the death knell of the entire GOP platform: The same old "trickle-down" Big Lie, theocracy over democracy, "war is good".

The GOP needs to be rebuilt from scratch, starting with the principles of freedom, self-sufficiency, and opportunity, with the addition of the principle of taking control away from those who perceive everything and everyone as resources to be exploited.

Republicans need to decide whether they will promote ethical business and political practices, and honor the principal of separation of church and state, or continue to lose by pandering to a handful of unethical billionaires, zealots, and racists.

The GOP has admitted their only interest is global free market profits no matter who gets hurt. They should write off 2012 & save their money for 2016. But they won't - their backers have billions to burn, stolen from the rest of us.

Ideally this election will be the death knell of the entire stale GOP platform: The same old "trickle-down" Big Lie, theocracy over democracy, "war is good". The GOP needs to be rebuilt from scratch, starting with the principles of freedom, self-reliance, and opportunity, with the addition of the principle of taking control away from those who perceive everything and everyone as resources to be exploited.

The GOP is currently stuck with promoting their shades-of-Sharia theocracy as their only issue to fire up the lunatic fringe of their base - the rest of their base has lost interest. "Trickle-down" is a dead economic position. Palin and (horror-of-horrors) another Bush are both non-starters.

The GOP and their US Chamber of Commerce have no credibility, because they are controlled by and pander to corporations who are primarily interested in global markets, not the American economy, let alone American workers. They even resist the idea of accepting assistance from the government. To level the competitive playing field we should apply reciprocal protectionism against foreign companies that receive subsidies from their own government as well as against global corporations that receive public subsidies or that benefit from other unfair trade practices and exploitative labor practices. GOP/COC/GlobalCorp policymakers resist such assistance because global profits can be higher without protecting America businesses and their American suppliers.

The US government needs to stand up and level the playing field whether GlobalCorp likes it or not, and punish corporations for putting global profiteering ahead of the American economy and the interests of the American people. Reciprocal protectionism should also level the playing field between American workers and their foreign competitors who are expected to accept a standard of living below that which Americans consider necessary and fair. The rich like globalization and are happy seeing the American middle-class turning into a third-world workforce. Our government exists for the purpose of standing up to them. Let's hold our representatives responsible.

When I joined the Republican Party 47 years ago, I admired the idea of building the future using self-reliance, a free market, and capitalism. Since then, the Party has been taken over by people who have replaced the ideal of building for the future with a philosophy of "take the money and run". I haven't found a Republican candidate to vote for in 46 years (except Gerald Ford when Jimmy Carter began spouting his "born again" nonsense). Like I said, we need to start over from scratch.

The GOP needs to clean itself up from the inside out and become the "anti-corruption party"

Free Market

The free market's internal controls on greed and incompetence do not work in the short term or on local scales, only in the long term and on global scales, too late to protect against market turmoil, destruction of companies that could have been saved, and loss of jobs. To reinvent the American economy as an example for the world, we need to regulate companies to direct their focus on the American economy and jobs over global profits. We need to tax the wealthy, including the job outsourcers, the wealth hoarders, and also those job creators who are destroying our children's future, with protection for responsible job creators. We need to provide reciprocal (as opposed to predatory) protectionism for American companies, as well as punish them for putting global profits ahead of the interests of the American people. We also need to make supporting Americans who refuse to pull their own weight a task for the charities, not for the taxpayers, and take the money out of drugs by treating addiction as a medical condition rather than criminal issue.Comment

Profit is comprised of two components, deserved and exploitative. The GOP's position is that the exploitative component is always zero. Much more intense regulation is needed to control the short-term and local-scale effects of free market greed and incompetence, including vulture capitalism. Private equity firms need to be closely regulated to prevent destructive practices.

align=center >Vultures

Vultures will always be vultures. Equity firms will always destroy a company if bigger profits can be made than by saving it, always, unless closely regulated and heavily taxed on their profits from vulture practices. Health insurance companies will always limit themselves to the healthiest population they can, provide the least coverage possible, and stonewall patients to death, always, unless they are closely regulated and fined for such practices and are forced to compete with a public option or only offer coverage not included in the public option. Comment

Predatory Captialism

Romney is right that the job losses he created were the product of the free market - a poorly regulated free market. He blurs the distinction between deserved profit and exploitative profit - it's all the same to him. Predatory capitalism needs to be closely regulated in the same manner as anti-trust actions. Comment

Oil Profits

The oil profits minimum tax is long past due. Our economy is based on wasting oil - the more waste, the bigger the profits. Big Oil, Big Auto, and the military-industrial complex, owned or controlled by the same obscenely rich families, have conspired for decades to sabotage and delay efficient engines and public transportation, and have had their stooges in Washington start wars just to protect oil profit streams. These same people deal in arms and no-bid contract support for the military; they have promoted wars to waste as much military material as possible so they can get richer resupplying the military, as they did in Iraq. They have a huge backlog of dues to pay; we can use the minimum oil profit tax revenue to mitigate some of the damage they have inflicted on us and on future generations. Comment

Energy Policy

Obama has made a good effort in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, but spectacular results will only be achieved by government investment in "fringe" science - cold fusion, better batteries, more efficient solar cells, biomass fuels that don't displace food crops, etc. The only thing that has ever made lasting improvement to the human condition is Science. We can't wait for corporations to see a way to profit from new science, let alone count on them to support developments that could compete with their existing profit streams. We also can't wait for universities to take long shots on research that might be perceived to have the potential to damage their image. Just as only government can be counted on to invest in infrastructure, only government can fund projects like the space program that create the technologies that change the world forever. Pure research is the answer to the problems of the world; always has been, always will be.

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AFP, the Kochs, and Rove are just spending money preaching to their choir. They have no credibility with independents, let alone with Dems. Everyone will assume AFP and the Kochs and Rove are the sources for any attack ads against President Obama, ignore them, and think even less of the Republican candidates, if that's possible.

 

I see where Republicans are proposing a

 

 

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The parasites feared a civil war in Iraq would interfere with the oil profits they need to maintain their obscene lifestyles, so they have used America in an attempt to install a stable government. The parasites have no interest in the welfare of the Iraqi people or anyone else.

style='text-autospace:none'>W's legacy will be his role as toady for the parasites in his destruction of Iraq, his waste of at least a half-trillion dollars on the war, his no-bid contracts for his friends and his successful effort to deplete our military resources to a dangerous level so that his rich friends can get richer selling replacement weapons and equipment to the taxpayers.

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George W. Bush will go down in history as the greatest criminal to hold the office. We did not have a President from the time W was sworn in until he was finally gone; we had an unelected Acting President, put in place by a Republican-packed Supreme Court on the "basis" of rigged elections, especially in the Banana Republic of Florida run by W's brother Governor Jeb, and in Ohio where the statistical impossibility of the variance between the official election results and the exit poles has never been refuted.

This was just the beginning of W's criminality. His legacy will be his destruction of Iraq, his waste of at least a half-trillion dollars on the war, his no-bid contracts for his friends and his successful effort to deplete our military resources to a dangerous level so that his rich friends can get richer selling replacement weapons and equipment to the taxpayers, his betrayal of democracy and his replacement of our democracy with his own personal idiotic theocracy, the needless suffering and death millions of Americans and others throughout the world as a direct result of his evil interference with embryonic stem cell research and family planning charities, and his Ludditism that has set American science back at least 50 years, an moral outrage from which we may never recover, scientifically, medically, environmentally, or economically. Only an evil moron would create such immense suffering for the people of the world just to get his thirty pieces of silver from the christian right.

Besides making his friends rich, W's other motivation for invading Iraq was the potential loss of oil profits from the impending civil war being brought on by his predecessor's installment of the monster Hussein. Ending Hussein's vile, cruel rule had little chance of avoiding the civil war, but W saw American lives as a cheap price to pay in his attempt to protect oil profits.

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We waited to no avail for President Bush and Senator Kerry to answer "The Question". This could well have been essentially a single-issue election:

"When NAFTA came to a vote, what was your plan for the Americans who you knew would lose their jobs?"

The single honest answer appears to be: "There was no plan, and we all knew it."

On Lou Dobbs recently, an economist (Glassman) tried to support the President's agenda, but when asked directly what jobs should a laid-off 55-year old steel worker be re-trained for, his response was to look like a deer caught in headlights, then weakly respond with something about a projected shortfall of software engineers in the year 2025. 2025!? What about today?! Software engineers!? Hasn't he heard how India and China are already leapfrogging us in software engineering!?

In passing NAFTA Congress betrayed the American workers. The general consensus among voters is that the vast majority of the members of Congress do not choose to represent the American people; they choose to represent the rich families and mindless corporations who have been drooling over cheap, exploitable foreign labor for decades, and who want to transform the American labor force into a third world, low paid, and benefit-deprived resource, through:

 "Free trade" agreements, such as the ones Congress enacted with no wage or environmental standards, or other protections for American workers.

No effective control of illegal immigration.

No effort to transform "third world" jobs in America into first world jobs, by raising the minimum wage above the poverty level, and requiring health coverage for all employees.

Giving tax cuts to the rich, while taxing the middle class beyond reason, and denying medical and educational assistance to even lower middle class taxpayers because they make slightly more than those who "qualify".

Blocking technical innovations until the last dollar of profit has been squeezed out of costly, polluting products and practices.

Candidates continue to spend much of their campaigns trying to put spin on their betrayals, most especially NAFTA.

We are all still waiting for them to answer "The Question", and tuning out their attempts to divert us from this foremost issue.

 

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Simple question for every candidate for national office: Considering that a "flood" is commonly considered to be the result of excessive rain, do you consider damage from wind-driven water to be uncovered flood damage or covered wind damage? In other words, do you represent your constituents or are you just another toady for the criminal insurance companies?

 

 

align=center style='text-align:center'>VOTE AGAINST THE INCUMBENT!

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align=center style='text-align:center'>CLEAN UP WASHINGTON!

align=center style='text-align:center'>TAKE BACK AMERICA!

align=center style='text-align:center'>VOTE AGAINST ANY INCUMBENT WHO DOES NOT VOW TO:

align=center style='text-align:center'>STAY OUT OF THE NEXT ELECTION

align=center style='text-align:center'>Do your job for your constituents, instead of running for re-election.

align=center style='text-align:center'>After a term out of office, run again on the basis of what your earlier efforts achieved.

align=center style='text-align:center'>VOTE AGAINST ANY PORK OR

align=center style='text-align:center'>SPECIAL INTEREST RIDER ON ANY BILL

align=center style='text-align:center'>PUBLICLY DENOUNCE ANY SPECIAL INTEREST

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align=center style='text-align:center'>AGAINST THE PUBLIC INTEREST

REPEAL NAFTA AND THE TELECOM ACT

 

Every politician who signed, voted for, or otherwise supported NAFTA was either so incompetent as to not know the effect on American workers, or knew and deliberately betrayed us.

 

The Telecom Act concentrates control of media in the hands of ruthless manipulators of public opinion and promotes unfair trade practices that create monopolies over vital services.

None of the politicians who supported these laws have any business holding public office - then, now, or in the future.

RESTORE AND SECURE COMMON CARRIER STATUS FOR THE INTERNET

 

Media special interests are trying to take control of the Internet - Don't let them do it!

Keep the free flow of information and innovation working by maintaining equal access to the Internet for all!

ENFORCE THE LAW REQUIRING EMPLOYERS TO VERIFY

ELIGIBILITY TO WORK

Employers who hire illegal aliens must be held accountable! Pay a living wage to Americans!

ESTABLISH AN "ANONYMOUS ID CARD" PROGRAM

 

We need a national ID card program that protects privacy while controlling illegal immigration, terrorist movements, and predator monitoring. The card would be used anonymously as a financial avatar for most purposes. Other benefits of the program include a method to distribute sales tax revenue to meet the needs of all communities, and abolition of personal income tax. See below for details.

RESTORE JUSTICE

 

Pass legislation to allow "tainted" evidence to be introduced at trial. Allowing criminals to walk the streets is not the way to protect our rights. The rights of a criminal are worthless compared to the right of the next victim not to be at risk. See gosto.org for more discussion.

RESTORE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

 

"Faith-Based" Legislation is by definition contrary to the most sacred principal of democracy, the separation of church and state.

 

President Bush failed to honor this most sacred principle. He and his colleagues violated our trust in order to maintain the support of right-wing zealots. He condemned thousands to needless suffering and death by refusing to fund embryonic stem cell research, on the basis of his personal belief that ensoulment occurs at conception. He declared that while it is immoral to create new stem cell lines, it is in his view somehow not immoral to use existing cell lines, demonstrating his own muddled hypocrisy, and his true motivation - political posturing for personal gain.

The Other Choir

Goal: Reduce the number of extremist politicians in office by reaching out to right-wing audiences.

Method: Buy commercial air time on right-wing TV and radio talk shows to provide real-time responses.

Details: Hire quick-minded commentators with broad knowledge of history and current affairs, and hire specialists to feed response information to the commentator.

Pros: Better results than just preaching to the Progressive choir.

Long term: Eliminating right-wing extremists from broadcasting.

Con: Short term funding of right-wing media (but worth it).

Progressive Taxes

There are volumes of philosophical arguments as to what level of progressive tax is "fair", but they generally overlook the most important reason: proportionate taxation results in some recovery from the rich of their exploitation of the rest of us. The bottom line is that flat taxes cannot provide necessary revenue without overburdening not only the poor but also the middle class.

A strict flat tax will not provide necessary revenue without overburdening not only the poor but also the middle class. Proportionate taxation is necessary, and also fair considering the history of exploitation by the rich. The rich sell arms to all sides. They sell to anyone any product whose hazards are unobvious or for which they can shield themselves from liability. They blithely tell big lie after big lie. They suppress innovations that might prevent them from squeezing the last dollar of profit out of existing products, no matter how polluting or costly to consumers. They crow about finally producing a hybrid car that "you never have to plug in", misdirecting the public from the fact that the whole point is to plug it in so that the power plants can run at higher efficiency at night and reduce the net pollution. They put in place "social programs" like minority quotas for higher education, that take away opportunity from kids whose hard-working parents make just enough not to qualify for assistance. Democracy manages to take some of the edge off the exploitation, but it is still a very real part of our lives.

As far as entitlement to freedom from taxation, the various philosophies are interesting, but as a practical matter, the rich will tax us to the maximum extent they can get away with. Our only recourse is to vote for whoever promises to tax the rich the most and the rest of us the least.

There are plenty of ways for the government to encourage job creation and stability; they just need to do it with rich people's money, instead of ours.

"Payroll-Tax-Cut"

 

"Payroll Tax Cut" is an intentional misnomer. It is not an "income tax" cut, it is a theft from Social Security.

Welfare

There will always be welfare cheats. Taxpayers have the perception that they are paying for handouts to people who refuse to pull their own weight.

The racist GOP base is further enflamed by their perception that welfare recipients are almost exclusively minorities. As usual, GOP candidates seek to exploit such racist ideas to gain votes. A simple Google search for welfare breakdown by race shows these perceptions to be false.

Food stamps and food giveaways will be sold for drugs and encourage more illegal immigration. Considering the overall impact, providing children with 3 meals a day 7 days a week at school, along with free contraceptives and unbiased family-planning education, will have the best and least-expensive impact on stopping the poverty cycle.

We do need stronger work-for-welfare programs. We need child care programs for all working families whether they are receiving other welfare or not. We need ways to encourage people to delay having children until they can afford to support them. Instead, the GOP seeks to perpetuate racist perceptions to get votes, takes up idiotic battles against contraception, and wastes time and money on equally idiotic "abstinence only" "education".

There are more people on welfare because of GOP "abstinence only" "education" than there would be if unbiased sex education and family planning had been available to them or their parents.

There are many more people on welfare because of GOP's idiotic "trickle-down" Big Lie.

(I know I am using the term "idiotic" repeatedly; it just simply applies.)

Imposing drug-testing on welfare recipients would be un-American.

Throw the GOP bums out.

Uninsured

 

The taxpayers should not be held responsible for the medical costs of the uninsured. The only mandate should be enrollment of the uninsured in a public option funded as much as possible by a tax on those enrolled and on non-small business employers who do not provide employee insurance. Exceptions to taxes on the enrolled should be minimized. No exceptions for large businesses that do not provide employee insurance meeting specified basic standards.

Illegal Immigration

 

It would be wonderful if America could afford to take care of the whole world, but we cannot.

Even though illegal immigration has been encouraged by lax enforcement on the part of our corrupt government at the behest of greedy corporations, as long as children of American parents do not have enough food, shelter, medical care, or adequate education, that's where our tax dollars should go. The first thing to do after identifying someone eligible for the Dream Act is deport the parents. Anchor babies that commit crimes should be stripped of citizenship and deported to their parents' country of origin. Naturalized citizens who advocate religious law or other cultural traditions as being above the Constitution, and therefore took their oath falsely with "mental reservations", should also be stripped of their citizenship and deported.

GlobalCorp has sabotaged immigration enforcement for decades because they want to pay less for labor than required for legal workers. States have stepped in to enforce laws that the corrupted federal government was paid off not to enforce. The new level of enforcement needs to be balanced with an expanded and accelerated work visa program, but remember, "comprehensive" = amnesty, and any plan that encourages more illegal immigration is the wrong plan.

American companies that suffer unfair competition from foreign government subsidies to their competitors should receive protection by our own government in the form of reciprocal (vs predatory) protectionism, rather than relying on low-paid illegals to make up the difference; they should also be punished for putting global profits ahead of the interests of the American middle class.

What to do about illegals that are otherwise solid citizens? I don't know, but it is up to them to come up with a plan that does not encourage more illegal immigration, does not take jobs away from Americans, and that does not set back people who have been waiting their turn to come to America legally.

It may be that the only plan that will work is to facilitate the return of illegals to their country of origin or their parents' country of origin in a way that will enable them to work effectively against the corruption that drove them here in the first place. They need to tell us how to do that. It is incumbent on advocates for illegal immigrants to find solutions that do not encourage more illegal immigration.

Legal Immigration

 

"My family has had nothing but trouble with immigrants ever since we came to this country."

Major Charles Emerson Winchester (played by David Ogden Stiers in the tv series M*A*S*H)

My paternal grandparents came from Germany, with Dutch, (probably) Jewish, and (slightly possibly) Moorish roots, and with (possibly) some Iroquois along the way. My maternal grandfather came from England (Wales and Scotland), with some Cherokee along the way. My maternal grandmother descended from Scots who became Calvinist Lutherans and were chased into Norway by non-Calvinist Scots, where they married into Norwegian families before coming to America.

These folks came over in the 1600s and 1700s. Coming to America meant learning to speak standard English (or starve), and embracing religious and cultural tolerance to a degree unknown in the Old World.

We benefit every day from people who come to America to become Americans, both from skills they bring which our educational system has failed to provide, and for their willingness to accept jobs that are hard to fill. The lives we live today were built by both common people and giants.

Our ancestor immigrants brought problems with them, which generally have been worked out. However, the majority of modern-day immigrants are not of mainstream (northern European) origin, and bring with them problems which are harder to work out.

Whether in 1607 or today, the decision to permanently emigrate is motivated by the belief that America offers relief from some aspect of origin culture or politics that the immigrant has recognized as being backward, primitive, ignorant, superstitious, macho, misogynous, corrupt, repressive, or oppressive. Problems arise when they bring along with them other cultural or political traditions that they have failed to recognize as being backward, primitive, ignorant, superstitious, macho, misogynous, corrupt, repressive, or oppressive.

Anyone who values self-sufficiency, thinking for oneself, and civil behavior, should be welcomed to America with open arms. I am less enthusiastic about groups who wish to create islands of foreign culture within our borders.

We should reject any person who fails to support every person's right to separation of church and state, and freedom from traditions and ideologies that can only be sustained through ignorance, oppression, and violence. In particular, naturalized citizens who swore to uphold the Constitution but harbored and still harbor mental reservations regarding religious beliefs "trumping" the Constitution should be stripped of their citizenship and deported.

The real problem with immigration is that we can't deport home-grown undesirables, like rappers, preachers, survivalists, teabaggers, loud people, etc.

Racism

 

Just as it is incumbent on advocates for illegal immigrants to find solutions that do not encourage more illegal immigration, it is incumbent on advocates of disparate impact to avoid trading one evil for another. For example, it is not some rich white kid who misses out on college assistance because of reverse discrimination, it is the poorest white kid who otherwise would have just barely qualified.

?

Ike paraphrased Machiavelli when he said "If you can't solve a problem, make it bigger.". Instead of tilting at the results of endemic discrimination, such as racial bias in selective law enforcement, attack the problem at its source by ratcheting up the use of the power of the federal government to prosecute state and local agencies engaged in such practices for civil rights violations.

 

 

Drug Costs

Canada and others leave it to Americans to subsidize the costs of drug development, testing, and marketing. Advertising should be prohibited. Exports to Canada should have a 100% export tax, with the proceeds used to fund medicare prescription coverage and university medical research. Universities should receive federal funding to directly compete with big pharma for patentable drugs as well as orphan drugs and non-patentable drugs. Big pharma should be criminally liable for suppressing development of non-patentable drugs including those that compete with their patentable drugs, and for withholding negative test results.

Jury Trials

 

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land; all other laws are secondary. No person or law is perfect, not even the Constitution, let alone the secondary laws or any legislator, judge, attorney, or jurist.

 

Laws are not written by omniscient statesmen; they are written by politicians. Politicians write laws that reflect their personal level of knowledge and insight (such as may be); their need for support from uniformed, misinformed, unenlightened voters; their dependency on powerful selfserving special interests; and their personal delusions, prejudices, and egotistical needs. No law can be treated as the definitive product of perfect wisdom covering every possible set of circumstances.

 

The Constitution provides for a jury trial. Next only to putting oneself in danger to protect another or one's country, jury duty is the highest calling the average citizen can expect. The jury is the source of justice. It is the responsibility of every jurist to rise above all of his or her own personal imperfections, as well as those of the laws, the judge, the attorneys, law enforcement, and the other jurists. An extreme challenge, but also the right of every defendant.

 

Carrying out this responsibility is made all the more important, and all the more difficult, by the corrupted jury system that has evolved in this country. Fundamentally flawed ideas abound in our courtrooms every day, such as the idea that the source of justice is the law or the judge, and that jurors must be treated as mentally incompetent and emotionally irrational with "prejudicial" or "tainted" evidence withheld from them and directed to blindly follow the judge's instructions.

 

Ii is the responsibility of the defense to counter the prejudicial nature of any evidence. "Tainted" evidence is still evidence needed by the jury to provide justice. The trial should cover not only the charges against the defendant but also simultaneously cover any complaints by the defendant regarding alleged violations of due process or other civil rights or laws, as well as the guilt and punishment, if any, to be applied to the perpetrators of such violations. Egregious violations will be sufficiently constrained by the anticipation of such possible consequences.

 

Allowing a judge to unilaterally decide whether to withhold evidence of any kind from the jury leaves the integrity of the court system open to failure, and is an insult to the jurists.

 

The jurist is left having to fill in the blanks, divine hidden political, social, and personal agendas, and decide on a "verdict" that provides the highest probability of an ultimate result having the closest possible resemblance to justice.

 

As a separate issue: Jury selection should begin with volunteers, such as retired persons who wish to serve their community in a meaningful way and whose service will not harm them financially or place other hardships on them or their families or employers. The final action every jury should take is to conduct a secret ballot regarding which other jurors each juror would want empaneled in a trial of their own; this information would be used to weed out problem volunteers from future selection.

 

Finally, "religious" laws have no place in our court system. It is not the business of the government to decide whether a person or organization "qualifies" for a "religious exemption" or is bound by any "law" not enacted by a public legal entity. There should be no mention of religion in any law (other than the Constitution which provides for freedom from religion), or, for that matter, in any political campaign.

 

No exemptions. No toleration for "enforcement" that conflicts with secular rights.

The Waste of "Tainted" Evidence

 

The US courts have established that tainted evidence is inadmissible, resulting in freedom for violent offenders and tragedy for their future victims.

While it is essential to protect everyone's right of due process, the courts' requirement that the truth be withheld because of evidentiary irregularities or even intentional lawbreaking on the part of investigators, does not serve us well.

The judiciary has focused on protecting us from violation of our civil rights by the authorities, but they erred monumentally by choosing to do so by instituting the complete suppression of "tainted" evidence, which regularly fails to protect us from a worse and more frequent fate, that of being the criminals' next victims.

I suggest legislation to correct the courts' zeal, establishing the principle that tainted evidence may be used in prescribed circumstances with the proviso that the defendant's recovery of damages for any violation of his or her right of due process be tried concurrently. The investigators' liability under such a law would be sufficient to motivate them to comply with due process, without tying their hands when practicality does not allow time to obtain a warrant for a search or other surveillance.

In the event that a defendant claims that evidence is "tainted", the judge would determine whether or not it is so, and the jury would stipulate the action, if any, to be taken against the party who improperly obtained or otherwise "tainted" the evidence, as well as the appropriate restitution to the defendant for any violation of his or her civil rights, as a part of the same trial action.

With guidelines for punishment for "tainting" evidence to fit the "crime", authorities would be sufficiently motivated to honor civil rights, particularly when their jobs are at stake. Instead of walking on eggshells when dealing with criminals, authorities would once again be allowed to do their job, and spend less time and resources protecting criminals.

Such evidence should always be admissible for cases involving investigation of suspected terrorists or other persons reasonably suspected of planning or committing crimes, particularly violent crimes.

Our civil rights can be maintained without such suppression of evidence.

Teacher Evaluations

I'd be interested in your ideas regarding teacher evaluations, particularly from current or former teachers.

I'm thinking that student tests used to evaluate teachers need to include a student profile in order to qualify the results.

Sample profile questions:

Do you enjoy this class?

Are you interested in the subject matter of this class?

Do you feel you are learning a lot from this class?

Do you think the teacher has high expectations for you?

Do you feel you have good support at home for your studies?

Do other students in the class contribute to learning the class's subject matter?

Do disruptive students interfere with the teacher's efforts in this class?

Do you think you would do better in this class if disruptive students were removed?

Do you think you would do better in this class with a different teacher?

Do you think you would do better in this class at another school?

Each question would provide for a standard range of answers, such as from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree, including a fill-in-the blank "Other" answer, which might be the most informative of all.

Each student's self-profile, reported anonymously with the student's test results, would be evaluated by an independent party that has interviewed the student where resources are available.

What do you think?

Bad Teachers

The question is - how to handle bad teachers. The teachers' unions don't support getting rid of them - their only "solution" is unlimited "retraining". Until the teachers' unions adopt a realistic method of dealing with bad teachers, they have nothing to contribute to the discussion. The problem is, even talking about getting rid of teachers is anathema to union employees wanting to keep or advance in their jobs.

On the other hand, teachers are being asked to do a lot more than teach these days. We've all seen moving stories about a teacher who helped a troubled student or even a large group of troubled students, but these teachers are highly exceptional people, and we can't count on having one in every classroom. A competent educator should not be penalized for not being able to solve or compensate for a student's problems at home, whether they get too little motivation, time, or help from their parents, or have much, much worse problems at home. Nor should they be penalized for the frustration of those who want to move more quickly.

I can remember when the educational system in my home town began its descent along with the other schools in America - the day in September 1971 that the school board instructed the teachers that henceforth no student was to be failed, that the worst student was to get a D, and everyone else was to be graded on the curve from that point. The politically "correct" idea that school is about making kids feel good about themselves, instead of educating them about how much they still need to learn, is what got education in America into the mess it is in.

How to help problem students? Hard question, but not the first one we should try to answer. The more important question is how to keep problem students from disrupting the education of motivated, well-behaved students. This is the problem that is dragging down our entire society, along with the tolerance for coarse behavior and violence endemic in TV and other "entertainment".

Teacher evaluations need to take into account all of the problems imposed on them by problem students, incompetent administration, and inadequate funding for both salaries and school supplies.

Motivated, well-behaved students need to be segregated from disruptive students. That is the first step. As far as improving the American education system, how to help the disruptive students is a secondary problem.

Now, as to how to help problem students. Start with removing coverage for children in food stamp programs and giveaways. In the homes of some problem children (you never know which ones they may be) food stamps and giveaways will be sold for drugs and alcohol. Instead, provide children with 3 meals a day 7 days a week year-round at school. Considering the long-term (lifetime) cost of early malnutrition and associated antisocial behavior, this would be the best and least-expensive method to deal with child hunger in America. Provide child care for all working parents. Provide free contraceptives and unbiased family planning education to all students. Strictly enforce expulsion for any act of violence, including bullying, hazing, possession of a weapon, or incitement of violence or harassment, and let the authorities deal with the perpetrators. The failure to learn how to behave may not be the fault of the student, but the right of potential victims not to be victims comes .

Corruption

 

Our politics and businesses are corrupt from top to bottom, but the reason everyone wants to come to America is because it is so much less corrupt than everywhere else.

That is why we are far too tolerant of our politicians wallowing in corruption every day.

Corrupt practices are routine in Congress, for both parties:

Representing key financial backers instead of constituents.

Accepting anonymous donations.

Passing benefits for Congressmen and Senators that are not available to the general public.

Passing tax breaks that are only available to the rich.

Repeating the lie that Trickle Down ever worked for anyone but the rich.

Repeating the lie that corporations can ever be trusted to put the Greater Good ahead of profits.

Holding up a bill that a majority wants to vote on.

Letting the majority party decide which bills will be even discussed, let alone voted on.

Holding a vote without time to read and discuss a bill.

Voting on a bill without ever reading it.

Trading votes.

Ignoring scientific reality.

Routine hostage-taking with self-serving unrelated amendments.

Lack of rules for filibusters.

Hiring shills to drown out opponents at gatherings.

Spending most of your time focused on the next election instead of doing your job.

Taking Budget and Debt Ceiling legislation hostage is not just corrupt, it is traitorous.

Drones

Drones take care of problems that would otherwise put US troops in danger. Their use must have adequate oversight, and they need to be much more precise, such as by using a large drone to drop small drones with real-time video flight and detonation control and face recognition capability so they go off in front of the right face, specifically, anyone who claims the right to impose religion or other cultural "traditions" on others.

Ten years from now drone delivery of pizza, groceries, mail, packages, etc. will be commonplace and we will wonder how we ever got along without it. Peer-to-peer communication devices on drones, smart phones, and other devices that treat every packet as a virus and accept no executables will be immune from hacking and government interference. Anyone who does not work in a factory or in one of the few remaining brick-and-mortar outlets will teleconference from home. Traffic will be a thing of the past. A trip to local markets to buy locally made products will be a treat instead of a hassle.

Technology is progress as long as it is not controlled by the rich.

War Profiteers vs Our Vets

The war-profiteering Republicans don't want the VA to get caught up with the outrageous backlog of benefit applications because that would create further proof of the true cost of their unfunded wars.

The VA could get caught up in weeks if they allowed online volunteers to input the data from the forms, using multiple inputs of the same data for error checking. Tens of thousands of volunteers would be glad to spend an hour or two a day inputting the data - we can never do enough for our vets!

Egypt

Charlatans of every stripe, both greedy exploiters and power-mongering self-proclaimed zealots, are seeking to use the current instability to further their own personal interests. The rule of law can only be reestablished and maintained by the underlings of the rich, since the zealots will never have the vision or courage to acknowledge that religious imposition is a crime. The zealots' insistence on establishing an Islamic state and imposing their beliefs makes them the enemy of everyone else.

Morsi's "democratically-elected" government was never even remotely representative, and just as corrupt as its predecessors. Religious imposition and corruption are the issues. The solution is for the Egyptian Army to recognize that religious imposition is a crime, and enforce its prohibition. Then when a new REPRESENTATIVE government is formed, it can focus on ending corruption. Those who prosper from corruption and the chaos of zealotry are the enemy.

Second Amendment

 

"State" refers to the United States, unless the authors were talking among themselves about the possibility of their respective states going to war with each other in the future, which is nonsense.

The authors had no conception of modern weapons and their killing power. If they had, they would agree with the current practice of limiting private ownership of heavy weapons.

We have a well-regulated militia - the US armed forces. The need for handy weapons in order to form a militia is now a meaningless anachronism. Anyone who is so paranoid and twisted that they fantasize about going into battle against our own troops needs to be locked up, not listened to. I agree with George Washington's concept that a proliferation of small arms might keep some forms of violence in check, but today the people kept in check are the gun nuts themselves. (I own several and enjoy target shooting.) "Shall not be infringed" is also an anachronism - sane people have historically passed laws limiting what weapons can be privately owned and under what circumstances.

The only relevant remaining question is, what kind of weapons should be available to private citizens? Common sense says that having more assault weapons out there is a bigger risk to the public than limiting private ownership of assault weapons. I think that the 10-round limit is high enough, despite what the greedy gun manufacturers and their knee-jerk toadies rant about. Universal background checks are just common sense.

Guns and Predators

I am an avid target shooter. I like to tell my hunter friends that anyone who believes they have the right to hunt should be allowed to, but only each other. I envision a large area in the Australian outback with higher levels of weaponry allowed the deeper in you go - fisticuffs at the perimeter, then edged weapons, small arms, heavier carried weapons, two-man machine guns, tanks and artillery, fighters and bombers and small missiles, and, of course, in the center, duking it out with nukes.

Humanity needs to rise above creating unnecessary suffering. The thrill of the kill does not justify taking the chance of a bad hit. Nature provides enough cruelty - we don't need to add to it. Hunting is never a "sport".

Nature's great "plan" for virtually every living thing is for it to be eaten alive or die of hunger, thirst, injury or disease. There is nothing beautiful or magnificent about predators - they are the result of millions of years of mindless random mutations and natural selection. If you are prone to spouting drivel about needing predators or human hunters to "thin the herd" to avoid overpopulation and starvation, instead of removing the biggest, healthiest animal you can find from the gene pool you could take the trouble to learn how to identify the genetically weakest in the group and shoot it with a contraceptive dart. If this doesn't do it for you, you are just another animal filled with blood lust, the world would be a better place without you, and you should be fed to a bear. Same goes for people who choose lifestyles where they are dependent on hunting or, even worse, trapping.

Humanity needs to rise above cowardly obsession with having control over others. Humanity needs to realize that we are no longer in the wilderness, and that with thoughtful cooperation everyone's needs can be met without resorting to violence. It's people like you that keep the world an unpleasant place.

The best we can hope for is to last long enough to develop the technology to rise above our entrapment in organic existence and make nature optional. Then we can free all other self-aware life from the vicissitudes of organic existence.

Sane people have always infringed upon the Second Amendment, otherwise there would be no laws keeping you bozos from walking around with RPGs and driving tanks through town. The Founders had no concept of modern weaponry, or of a society that lets loonies run around loose (which began with Governor Ronald Reagan closing mental hospitals in California for "budgetary" reasons - Nancy's astrologer must have been really high that day).

The last thing any of us want is for you survivalists and "preparers" to have weapons of any kind. If there is an apocalypse, we will all be united with the first priority - taking you guys out. You are nothing but brainless stooges who swallow all the bullshit the gun manufacturers shove down your throats. You waste your lives obsessed with a doomsday that will never come, as your excuse to never man-up and actually do anything constructive. People who are paranoid about having their guns taken away should have their guns taken away.

Anyone who points a weapon at a peace officer belongs in jail, even in Nevada.

I also remember the retired NYC police psychiatrist who said in his memoirs "in 35 years as a police psychiatrist, I never met a cop who should be allowed to carry a gun". Every action by a law enforcement officer should be recorded.

Every firearm should have 2 operating internet cameras, one pointed at the target, the other pointed at the shooter's face. Every firearm should have computerized scans of a sample fired bullet stored at the manufacturer's facility and available online to law enforcement to compare to crime scene evidence. The NRA should be required to maintain a database of gun owners and their weapons, available to law enforcement with a court order. No secret courts. No secret court orders. When we are invaded by Canada, the NRA can destroy the database.

Shutdown

No monkeywrench, no shutdown, no debt defaults. The Republicans own the "Defund ObamaCare (originally known as RomneyCare)" monkeywrench. It's all on them. All of it.

Most of the teabaggers are mindless manipulated anarchists who fail to understand that the purpose of government is to protect us from the exploiters and zealots, and the rest are just corrupt shills for the insurance industry, who want us to keep trusting our health and homes to people who are in the business of denying claims. Throw them all out in 2014!

We'd be a lot farther along if the administration had just used the correct sound bite from the beginning:

"We will negotiate anything but a ransom."

but we've got to stop kidding ourselves. The GOP has no intention of avoiding the next default or shutdown until they are ridden out of town on a rail.

The only safe investments now are in tar, feather, pitchfork, torch, and of course rail, futures.

Media-Piracy

There is no cure for global piracy operations, certainly not by infringement on internet freedom in America. The entertainment industry will eventually move to a subscription system, where people pay in advance for a new release based on free prequels, ads, and history.

Syria

End game? Watch the mindless zealots and greedy, ambitious, ruthless warlords use their own people as fodder to slaughter each other's people indefinitely. Just like the GOP did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just like the British did when carving up pieces of the Empire to intentionally create perpetual conflict. Just like all of the West has in Africa, South America and elsewhere when oil and other forms of greed were not at stake for the world's rich, aka the parasites.

We're a long way from honoring the fundamental principle of separation of church and state, or electing statesmen instead of politicians, right here in the US, let alone in the Middle East.

War profiteers have a vested interest in keeping the world in chaos. They are pulling the strings. Governments, hawks, baggers, warlords, and zealots are just their puppets.

Redistricting

The very purpose of gerrymandering is to make our democracy less representative, which is fundamentally unconstitutional.

The Justice Department should go after every guilty legislature, Rep or Dem, and impose non-partisan redistricting plans nationwide.

Here's your zero-politics starting point:

http://www.census.gov/dmd/www/pdf/512popdn.pdf

Use a 3D version of the map, like the one below, to draw new Federal election districts - child's play for a topological expert, might take a whole afternoon. Could also be done as an online game like gene folding.

http://visualeconsite.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/ams-usa-population.png

Draw a circle around each population peak to include about 700,000 people. Surround each of those circles with other approximate circles each including about 700,000 people until the whole country is covered. Refine the lines based on legal borders (just as soon skip this step, but big ducks ...). Use Google Maps etc. to further refine the borders along street lines, natural barriers such as rivers, lakes, mountains, etc. Finally refine the lines based on common community interests, with input from the public, being very, very careful to avoid introducing partisan contamination. These are your new Federal election districts, each including essentially the same number of persons. (~700,000), courtesy of simple mathematics.

Require states to justify (to a Federal court) using any other districting plan, strictly prohibiting any attempt to impose political advantage.

Prison Reform

Time for a sea change in the prison model. The current model, which has not changed for centuries, is to take people who have experienced bad influences and cram them together with even worse influences, ultimately making them more dangerous to society than when they were convicted.

Prison should have the opposite effect.

Solution: Voluntary solitary confinement with internet access.

Think it through. Unlimited access to family, friends, online classes, news, and entertainment, compared with perpetual boredom, fear and hate. No prisoner-prisoner interaction other than voluntary outdoor exercise. No other staff-prisoner interaction other than feeding (if not automated) and extrication (if necessary).

Security: Naturally, the immediate concern is preventing internet access from being used to participate in or encourage illegal activity. Prisoners would understand they have no right to privacy, that all use would be recorded and subject to live monitoring or later review at any time, that they will be re-arrested if they engage in any illegal activity, and that disciplinary action will be taken if they participate in or encourage any gang-related activity, whether illegal or not.

Monitoring would initially be done without the monitor having knowledge of the prisoner's identity, and could be assigned to any qualified person online, even volunteer organizations, not limited to prison staff.

Imagine the difference when, instead of spending every waking moment in fear of his or her environment, brooding about how to take vengeance against another prisoner, staff member, their original victim, or society at large, a prisoner could spend time in a safe environment improving his or her life. Imagine the difference for a prisoner with the opportunity to take an online class and use that knowledge to help his or her children with their homework, face-to-face over the internet.

It is time to rethink the entire self-perpetuating and self-exacerbating prison industry.

Responses to comments:

Problem prisoners would only have access when a monitor is available. Again, anyone on the planet who has been prequalified could act as an online monitor. Model prisoners would have increased (recorded/monitored) personal visitation privileges.

There could be two types of monitoring available. An advocate who has a personal relationship with the prisoner, or anonymous monitor who does not know the prisoner's identity to provide a sense of privacy. The prisoner would choose which type on the basis of the type of interaction in progress.

I doubt we can afford full-time one-on-one paid monitors. More likely there will be a lot of volunteers, and priority well be given to the lowest-risk prisoners. One possibility would be for non-violent offenders with no history of collusion in illegal activities to work as anonymous monitors for other unidentified prisoners in other unidentified institutions.

The threat of loss of internet access should be a strong motivation to forgo illegal activity.

The Sweet Death Penalty

I like the death penalty. Revenge is sweet, and it is the only certain way to prevent future crimes by that person.

However, there are five reasons not to indulge in the death penalty:

First, when facing a death penalty a criminal is more likely to kill victims and witnesses.

Second, too many mistakes are made by stupid, lazy cops; politically ambitious prosecutors; and emotional, racist juries.

Third, if we kill them we can't study them to be better able to identify others with the same tendencies.

Fourth, if we kill them we lose the possibility of benefiting from their abnormal mental processes ("fine line ...").

Fifth, if we kill them we lose the possibility that they might one day connect with their own conscience and suffer the remorse they should feel for the rest of their lives.

 

Premises

 

Premise: American corporations have gone global and are happy to see the American middle class turned into just another third-world workforce.

Question: Should we begin supporting American corporations by practicing reciprocal protectionism as well as punish them for putting global profits ahead of the interests of the American middle class?

Premise: We cannot afford to take care of the entire world.

Question: Do you believe in separation of church and state, or are you an idiot?

Question: If you believe in doing the right thing and promoting the greater good, why do you need religion?

RELIGION

THE TORAH/BIBLE/QURAN SAY:

SLAVERY IS GOOD!

BEING GAY IS BAD!

AND

SNAKES TALK!

PIBCOMs

Primitive Ignorant Backwards Crazy Old Men

wrote the Torah, Bible, and Quran

(and other 'holy" scribblings)

trying desperately to imbue "divinity" into their personal interests, scams, prejudices, and delusions.

RELIGION IS HUMANITY'S

MOST COMMON

DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER!

Incessant

mind-numbing

ritual chants, prayers, and songs are how believers are made

and kept in line.

IF YOU THINK
WE NEED YOU
TO "SAVE" US,
PISS OFF!

 

RELIGION CAUSES

BRAIN DAMAGE!

RELIGION

IS WHAT WE USED TO THINK BEFORE WE UNDERSTOOD MENTAL ILLNESS.

RELIGION IS

UNILATERAL DISARMAMENT

IN THE

BATTLE AGAINST

BULLSHIT!

THERE IS NO

"DIVINE REWARD"

FOR ACTS OF VIOLENCE!

 

THERE IS NO "DIVINE AUTHORITY".

ALL WE HAVE IS EACH OTHER

AND DOING THE RIGHT THING.

ANYONE CAN BE

GOOD

WITHOUT GOD!

NO MATTER HOW STRONG

YOUR EMOTIONAL CONVICTION,

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS

EMOTIONAL CERTAINTY!

PUTTING FAITH AHEAD OF REASON

IS, BY DEFINITION,

UNREASONABLE.

BY DEFINITION!

VOTE ON THIS GUY!→

A. CHARLATAN

B. FOOL

C. MENTAL COWARD

D. ALL OF THE ABOVE

 

The key issue with beliefs arises when one seeks to impose them on others.

The second is how they may close our minds to true wisdom.

Difference between logic and reason:

Out of all the hundreds of religions and thousands of sects who think they have

some idea or other factor that makes them better than all the others,

logically only one can be right, and reasonably they are all wrong.

IT IS UNREASONABLE TO THINK THAT THE CULTURE YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE BEEN BORN INTO IS BY DEFAULT SOMEHOW SUPERIOR TO OTHER CULTURES.

 

THE FUNDAMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

OF EVERY THINKING BEING IS TO

THINK FOR ONESELF!

NEVER ASK FOR ANSWERS.

ASK FOR IDEAS AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ANSWERS!

IF YOU THINK YOUR OPINION ABOUT A BELIEF IS INFALLIBLE, THAT IS THE SAME AS SAYING YOU ARE INFALLIBLE.

YOU'RE NOT!

IF YOU ARE NOT OK WITH OTHERS MAKING THE MENTAL TRANSLATION OF GOD, JESUS, HEAVEN, ETC. TO ABSTRACT REPRESENTATIONS OF THE GREATER GOOD

THEN YOU ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION.

IF YOU ANNOT ACCEPT THE IDEA THAT ANY OF YOUR MOST DEEPLY HELD BELIEFS COULD BE WRONG, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER IN ANY INTELLIGENT DISCUSSION!

 

RELIGION

IS THE ABANDONMENT

OF ONE'S INTELLECTUAL POTENTIAL

IN FAVOR OF THE FALSE COMFORT

OF DELUSIONS.

COWERING FROM THE HARD WORK AND BRAVERY

REQUIRED FOR RATIONAL THINKING

IN FAVOR OF THE FALSE COMFORT OF DELUSIONS

IS A WEAK, CRIMINAL ABANDONMENT OF

YOUR HUMAN POTENTIAL

The Truth about the Bible

 

ANYONE WHO TRIES TO DO THE RIGHT THING ALREADY HAS ALL THE RELIGION THEY NEED!

 

THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO BUSINESS DECIDING WHO "QUALIFIES" FOR "RELIGIOUS" EXEMPTIONS.

NO EXEMPTIONS!

NO MENTION OF RELIGION IN ANY LAW, LEGISLATION, OR REGULATION!

LEGISLATION BASED ON HOW YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD BEHAVE INSTEAD OF HOW YOU DAMNED WELL KNOW THEY WILL

IS A CRIME!

NO TOLERANCE FOR LEGISLATION THAT IGNORES THE REALITIES OF SCIENCE AND HUMAN NATURE!

PREACHING THAT

FAMILY PLANNING IS A SIN

TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE SUFFERED FROM OVER-POPULATION FOR GENERATIONS

IS A CRIME!

 

EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW FOR EVERYONE!

 

NOTHING INSIDE A WOMAN'S BODY

IS ANYONE'S BUSINESS BUT HER OWN!

A woman confers personhood on her fertilized egg

when she says to herself

"this is my child".

No one else has any say.

YOU ARE REALLY TALKING ABOUT ENSOULMENT

WHICH IS A RELIGIOUS CONCEPT AND NO BUSINESS OF THE GOVERNMENT!

 

THE PURPOSE OF LIFE IS

LIFE

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF LIFE

ENHANCING THE EXPERIENCE OF LIFE FOR EVERYONE

SOMETHING CAUSED THE UNIVERSE TO COME INTO EXISTENCE, BUT THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF A CARING GOD.

IN FACT, JUST THE OPPOSITE.

SANITY REQUIRES INDULGENCE IN THE COMFORT OF THE IDEA THAT THERE IS SOMETHING ETERNAL ABOUT THE ONES YOU LOVE, BUT COUNTING ON IT IS HOW THE PARASITES GET YOU TO SEND YOUR CHILDREN OFF TO WAR TO KILL AND BE KILLED BY OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN.

 

IMPOSITION OF RELIGION MUST BE RECOGNIZED WORLDWIDE AS AN IMMORAL ACT.



Religious People

"Secret Muslims"

Treating Your Brain Damage

The Trouble With Tradition

Muslim Americans

 

War on Religion

 

Who Needs The Devil?

Abortion

 

Fundamentalists

Anti-Choice for Men

 

Charities

 

Have a Blessed Day

Gays

 

Free Bookmark

 

PBS God in America

Questions for the Clergy



Religion

Religious People

Most people, especially religious people, are good people who try to do the right thing and have an appreciation for the greater good. Many religious people are highly intelligent, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth types, great role models. Quite a few have accomplished extraordinary things benefitting a great number of people. They are fascinating to talk to about practically any subject.

But, when the discussion turns to religion, it's as if a cloud descends, open minds close, baseless convictions become unquestionable, and reason itself loses its ability to convince. Any idea, no matter how rational, that could possibly threaten the comfort and ego-building provided by religion becomes offensive. Friendships can be nipped in the bud or take a turn from which there is no return.

Personally, I believe that anyone who tries to do the right thing already has all the religion they need.

If you can, ...

 

Imagine No Religion

Without religion, we are on our own,

living on a speck of dust in a vast, cold, dark, lifeless corner of the universe,

cut off from any other life by sheer distance, time, and lack of technology.

We need not fear the fact that we are on our own.

Inspiration flows from the knowledge that , and our natural sense of a greater good.

Our sense of fulfillment comes from working to create a better life for all around us and all who will come after.

We have an entire universe to fill with life, and wondrous opportunities to enhance the experience of life for all life.

We can break the cycles of tradition that prevent us from coming together and making a better life for all.

More on Religion

The Trouble With Tradition

Tradition is a two-edged sword: On one hand, tradition maintains non-intuitive wisdom that often has been gained at tremendous cost. On the other hand, tradition is the primary tool abused by the powerful to stay in power, regardless of whether they have the necessary character or wisdom to act in the best interests of their people.

Social traditions survive based on how well they contribute to sociopolitical stability and the perpetuation of ancestral gene pools. Social traditions have little or no relation to truth or enlightenment, and by definition create division among the world's population by the very process of creating cohesion within a small group.

In societies where religious leaders are presumed to be persons of character and wisdom, the natural resistance of the religious hierarchy to change leads to stagnation of human progress, and oppression of those with the intelligence and will to rise above the most insipid tenets of the religion and other traditions into which they happened to have been born.

Every individual must be allowed to independently develop their own beliefs, and be held responsible for their own behavior. Political and social institutions which deny freedom of non-violent behavior must be eliminated.

Existing political and social structures are now sustained by the need to compete for physical resources. Once humanity has finally risen above the muck of our traditions, we will embrace science as our true calling and eventually develop the technology to transmute matter, making such structures and traditions completely anachronistic.

War on Religion

Most people, especially religious people, are good people who try to do the right thing and have an appreciation for the greater good. Most are hard-working, salt-of-the-earth types, great role models. Quite a few have accomplished extraordinary things benefitting a great number of people and are fascinating to talk to about practically any subject.

But, when the discussion turns to religion, it's as if a cloud descends, open minds close, baseless convictions become unquestionable, and reason itself loses its ability to convince. Any idea, no matter how rational, that could possibly threaten the comfort and ego-building provided by religion becomes offensive. Friendships can be nipped in the bud or take a turn from which there is no return.

My grandfather was an ordained minister, and my uncle was a chaplain. Somehow both my parents became independent and critical thinkers.

Personally, I believe that anyone who tries to do the right thing already has all the religion they need.

When people allow themselves the power of critical thinking, cultural traditions such as religion are seen to be comprised of centuries of tiny sprinklings of wisdom into a sea of ignorance and social politics intent on maintaining the privileges of those in power. The hypocrisy and hysterical defensiveness of "believers" demonstrate that their beliefs are baseless, and that they are addicted to false comfort.

Separation of church and state is not a war against religion. Religion is a war on reason. Putting faith ahead of reason is, by definition, unreasonable. By definition.

The idea that the Constitution provides exemption from the law to religious organizations is a fallacy that has been used as an excuse to provide favoritism in exchange for votes. The Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a state religion. This is a protection for the people against religious domination. The reference to religious freedom does not provide religious organizations with any exemption from the law. A "religion" may "require" anything from human sacrifice to ritual brainwashing chants, but nothing is exempt from the law. Legislation and ordinances that misapply this provision to provide exemptions and favoritism need to be repealed. Separation of church and state requires that there be no mention of religion in any legislation or ordinance. No "faith-based initiatives". No exemptions from taxes, ADA requirements, or any other laws of the land. The government has no business deciding which people and which organizations qualify for a "religious" exemption. Responsibility to abide by all laws applies to all employers, property owners, and employees without distinction as to their ostensible religious affiliations.

Any religion that cannot convince its adherents to forgo benefits legally available to them is weak at best, nearly as weak as those that cannot perpetuate themselves without the use of fear and force. Religion and cultural traditions are things to rise above, not wallow in and cower behind.

The fastest growing "religion" in America is "no religion". There is no reason we should be supporting religious wars on human rights

by providing churches, synagogues, and mosques with free tax-based national services or local services such as fire and police protection.

Religious charities should be held to higher standards.

Extorting acquiescence to fringe dogma as a condition of employment should not be defensible under the law.

"God" is a pretend parent substitute for people who are supposed to be grownups. Anyone can be "good without God".

No one has ever been "divinely inspired". No person or book speaks with divine authority. There is no divine authority.

All we have is each other, the beauty of the greater good, and the natural calling to do the right thing.

Good men through the ages, tryin' to find the sun.

And I wonder, still I wonder, Who'll stop the rain?

Who Needs the Devil?

If I were evil incarnate, I would thoroughly enjoy the status quo, where nearly every person on earth is programmed by their parents to believe that the religion that they happened to have been born into is in someway more enlightened than other religions, and that even their particular sect of their religion is in someway more enlightened than other sects. The result is that nearly everyone on earth thinks that nearly everyone else is practicing the wrong religion, and that everyone else is doomed to never enjoy the eternal reward that they expect for themselves.

I believe it was Peter Drucker who suggested that after thoroughly analyzing a hypothesis, it is prudent to then apply the "dumb test"; that is, does the conclusion standing alone make sense? The idea that nearly everyone is practicing the wrong religion does not pass the dumb test, but it remains the main reason for people to kill each other in large numbers.

If I were evil incarnate, I would seek out the poor societies plagued with the starvation, disease, and hopelessness caused by overpopulation, and teach them that family planning is a sin. Who needs the Devil when you have the Pope?

If I were evil incarnate, I would seek out societies whose children have been failed by their parents, friends, schools, communities, and churches; children who have been lead to perceive the future as being without hope, and who turn to drugs for solace. I would sentence these children to death from AIDS by fostering legislation that outlaws clean needle exchanges for addicts, on the pretense that anyone so "immoral" as to fall into the trap of drug use, deserves whatever happens to them. Who needs the Devil when you have Jerry Falwell?

If I were evil incarnate, I would teach hate. Who needs the Devil when you have the weapons industry, the Saudi royal family, the ayatollahs and mullahs, the Ku Klux Klan, and "fundamentalists" of every stripe?

If I were evil incarnate, I would keep the masses just healthy and wealthy enough to serve my own interests, exploit them as much as possible, and discard them when they are of no further use. I would suppress any innovations that threatened my power or that limited my ability to squeeze the last bit of profit out of a business even where the business is detrimental to the environment or other aspects of quality of life. I would support "free trade" globalization agreements that force industrialized workers to directly compete with societies having abysmal standards of living and human rights and environmental policies. Who needs the Devil when you have the powerful: the old, rich families, the religious "leaders", the politicians, and the mindless corporations?

Perpetuation of Really Bad Ideas

It is our failure to objectively, critically, and continually reexamine our cultural biases that lead to the perpetuation of the worst traditions, particularly in primitive, religion-based cultures. A few tests may be applied to any philosophy under consideration to identify the intellectually weakest and most primitive - political cults posing as religions - such as those where the proponents ...

claim a divine preference for their adherents over others

contend that the espoused philosophy is somehow more enlightened than others

(Of all the hundreds of religions and thousands of sects who claim to enjoy divine favor or superior enlightenment, logically all but one of them must be wrong, and reasonably they are all wrong.)

promise a divine reward for acts of violence and tolerance of the intolerable

prescribe a penalty for leaving the faith or for demonstrating lack of respect for the faith

impose the philosophy on others

deny its members (or anyone else) free access to communication and information

dehumanize and eliminate their competitors

offer only a 4th-rate morality (fear of punishment) or at best 3rd-rate (doing the right thing for a reward)

(A 2nd-rate morality is doing the right thing because of the way it makes one feel about oneself.)

(A 1st-rate morality is doing the right thing out of an appreciation of the greater good.)

Perpetuation of adherence to a religion requires the imposition of penalties for non-adherence. The more primitive and less enlightened the religion, the more extreme the penalties must be to maintain adherence, such as insane penalties for apostasy, minor crimes, ostensible moral infractions, disrespect for the religion or its proponents, and failure to adhere to other counter-intuitive rules and social conventions based on no foundation other than tradition and fairy tales.

Under Construction:

Perpetuating and Extending Power

Perpetuation of Male Dominance

In Society

In the Family

Subjugation of Women

Animalistic Alpha-Male, taboos

Treating Woman and Children as Property

Treating Woman and Children as Lower Beings

Dehumanization

Of Competitors

Of Scapegoats

Repression of Natural Pleasures

Proselytization of Outsiders

 

The "Sanctity" of Marriage

Political and religious leaders keep bandying about the term "sanctity" of marriage. Boy, are these guys out of touch.

Now that a parent can break up their children's family just by standing up in front of a judge and claiming "irreconcilable differences", there no longer is anything sacred about marriage vows.

There was a time that it was not so easy to end a marriage and turn everyone's life upside down. It was considered one's duty to try to work things out for the sake of the children, even if the effort took years. The best interests of the children were given full consideration and priority over either parent's preferences and failings of the moment.

The failure of the legal system, then and now, to protect women and children from abusive situations led to the liberalization of the divorce laws. The legal system has been and continues to be resistant to enforcing existing laws which prohibit abusive behavior. This resistance comes from male-domination of the legal system, including legislators, judges, and police, and their unevolved, often religion-and-culture-based dogma regarding "a man's rights". This failure has resulted in a culture of knee-jerk reactionary pro-female anti-male attitude in the courts, as well as in the schools.

The pendulum needs to swing back to the middle. Existing criminal laws need to be enforced regardless of the relationship of the parties. In cases where no abuse is involved, parents should be held accountable to the highest standards for keeping their children's family together.

Same Sex Marriage

Political and religious leaders keep bandying about the term sanctity of marriage, particularly when bemoaning same sex marriage.

The first step of the solution is to invoke the principle of separation of church and state, and recognize marriage licenses for what they are - a default pre-nuptial agreement creating a contract which invokes certain legal rights and responsibilities as well as covering issues that are not definitized by existing laws. The contract becomes effective upon agreement of the parties and authorization by a person licensed by the state. This contract is separate from the personal and religious vows made at the ceremony.

No change in the law should be required to allow any couple (or group) to enter into an unlicensed marriage with or without a ceremony; any such prohibitions should be eliminated. It should be law that a marriage ceremony does not invoke any legal rights until and unless a legal license has been filed. (This should also apply to cohabitation, palimony precedents notwithstanding.)

Marriage license applications should spell out the legal rights and responsibilities that will be invoked at the time of marriage, and provide for standard pre-nuptial language and choices. (This would have the added benefit of preventing some hasty marriages.)

This reduces the issues to whether or not the license invokes spousal benefits from employers and government, and whether or not any party has new rights such as adoption, visitation, etc.

If people want to hold hands, have a ceremony, and call themselves married, it's nobody's business. If they want spousal benefits, it's up to the legislators to see if they can find the funding. If they want parental rights, that's another story. I'm a long way from agreeing that there's no negative impact on children raised in non-traditional households. I've seen glowing testimonials from kids with gay parents, who are desperate to defend the parents they love, but have no way of knowing what they have missed by not having a heterosexual father or mother raising them. It is not hard to imagine that children raised by same-sex parents will be exposed to anti-heterosexual prejudice, and particularly anti-heterosexual male prejudice. I've also seen studies with conflicting results regarding the validity of the commonly perceived link between homosexuality and pedophilia, particularly among middle-aged and older homosexuals. This is the key issue, and it needs to be separated out from the others, studied, and dealt with by the lawmakers.

The Tenets of Gostoism

The human mind is incapable of distinguishing between epiphany and delusion, therefore I must take my own epiphanies with a grain of salt, those of others with a spoonful of salt, and those of anyone involved with an organized religion with a ton of salt.

Every individual must be allowed to independently develop their own beliefs, and be held responsible for their own behavior. Political and social institutions which deny freedom of non-violent expression must be eliminated.

Existing political and social structures are now sustained by the need to compete for physical resources. Humans will develop the technology to transmute matter, making such structures anachronistic.

For all practical purposes, we must assume that the human mind is incapable of comprehending the origin of the Universe or any purpose for the Universe or for Humanity. Each person is responsible for determining their own individual purpose.

Either we are alone in the universe or we are not. If we are alone, our greater purpose is to fill the universe with life. If we are not, our greater purpose is to contribute to the experience of life.

More Tenets of Gostoism

(As of the Day of the Moon, on the Fourth Day of the Month of Caesar Augustus the Narcissistic, in the Year of What's-His-Name 2004, in the Thirty-Third Minute of the Fourth Hour Post Meridian, Pacific Standard Time)

I am responsible for my beliefs and my behavior.

The human mind is incapable of distinguishing between epiphany and delusion, therefore I must take my own epiphanies with a grain of salt, those of others with a spoonful of salt, and those of anyone involved with an organized religion with a ton of salt.

Either we are alone in the universe or we are not. If we are alone, our purpose is to fill the universe with life. If we are not, our purpose is to contribute to the experience of life.

Anything that can be learned from a negative experience can also be learned from a positive experience, ergo, the Cosmic Consciousness is not paying attention!

Fundamentalists

Hopefully the time is at hand when we stop paying attention to people who think the Flintstones was a documentary, base their death-oriented world view on superstition and centuries of ignorance masquerading as wisdom, and take spiritual advice from the likes of Jim Kool-Aid Jones, David Koresh, and all of the TV evangelist hucksters. And don't forget, Falwell talking to Newt from beyond the grave.

Charities

Donations should not be tax exempt where attention to proselytization is a pre-condition to receiving charitable services or when the funds are used for salaries or other costs at locations other than the site where charitable services are provided. Religious charities often do more harm than good in the long run. Cultural traditions such as religion are comprised of a tiny sprinkling of actual wisdom mixed into an ocean of ignorance masquerading as wisdom, handed down as humanity's most common addiction from sheep-minded parents to their sheep-minded children, usurping the fundamental responsibility of every thinking being to think for oneself. Don't give a penny to any charity that does not hand out free contraceptives and unbiased family-planning education along with their other services; it is an act of pure evil to teach that family planning is a sin in areas suffering from chronic over-population.

Have a Blessed Day!

My favorite response to those annoying, sanctimonious, self-congratulating imbeciles who impale you and leave you hanging at the supposed end of a supposedly normal conversation with their insipid condescending imposition of "Have a Blessed Day" is to reply in a cheerful yet similarly condescending way:

"... and may all of the gods smile upon you today, my child!"

 

Or, if they have especially ticked you off, give them both barrels:

Faith in God

Leads to Lack of

Faith in Humanity

and Lack of

Faith in Yourself

 

Or, my favorite:

Putting Faith Ahead of Reason

is, by definiton,

Unreasonable.

By definition.

This is your FREE BOOKMARK for your Bible, Torah, Koran,

or other compilation of religious dogma.

The most important thing you will ever learn in your life is to -

THINK FOR YOURSELF!

Religion by definition is based on superstition, wishful thinking,

ignorance, and spiritual cowardice; perpetuated by preying on our

greatest fear, death, promising "eternal life" for "the chosen".

Life is a Beta test without a Reset button.

(Death may be a reset button, but don't waste your life counting on it.)

The Universe was created by something; no one's idea about what

created the Universe is any better than anyone else's.

The human mind is incapable of resolving the dilemma of what created

the Universe, what created the creator, what created the creator's

creator, ad infinitum.

Sheer will you say? Where did the will come from? And so on.

The idea that an omnipotent entity exists who could prevent all the

horrible things that happen every day, yet chooses not to do so, is too

terrible to contemplate.

The idea that an omnipotent entity would be so vain and childish as to

want to be worshipped and "glorified" by people is just plain silly.

For all practical human purposes, everything that has ever existed or

happened, or ever will, can be explained by the laws of physics and the

free will component of consciousness, without reference to any

anthropomorphized "divine" being or purpose.

It is human nature to believe that the culture one happens to have been

born into is somehow better than others, so nearly everyone in the

world believes that nearly everyone else is practicing the wrong religion!

The human mind is also incapable of distinguishing between epiphany

and delusion. Take your own epiphanies with a grain of salt, those of

others with a big pinch of salt, and those of anyone affiliated with a

religion with a ton of salt.

Keep company with those who seek the truth;

run away from those who have found it!

______________________________

Tradition is a two-edged sword:

Traditions preserve valuable lessons that have been learned over a

very long time and often at a very high price.

Traditions (and religion) are also abused by the powerful as a tool to

stay in power, whether or not the individuals currently in power have the

character or the wisdom for the role.

Tradition and religion impede the greatest human virtue: rising above

outdated and backwards attitudes. In the perpetual struggle between

our needs for stability and adaptability, tradition and religion promote

stability but fail to foster adaptability, which brings us to crisis over and

over again.

No unbiased person could read the entire Bible, Torah, or Koran and

still believe that they are "divinely inspired".

No person who has not suffered indoctrination during helpless

childhood would believe that his or her particular tribe was promised a

particular patch of land by an invisible being and that this being will

reward them for killing others who think the same being promised the

same land to them!

There will always be good people who do good things and bad people

who do bad things, but to get good people to do bad things takes

religion!

______________________________

If there is any ultimate purpose for our existence, it will be achieved by

each of us creating a purpose for our own life.

There is no higher calling than doing what one can to help others make

their own life a little better.

Filling the Universe with life and contributing to the experience of life is

the grandest purpose we can truly understand.

We need worship only life itself.

______________________________

You know who the real you is, deep down inside. You are sensitive,

caring, helpful, and interesting. With very few exceptions, we are all

born this way. Depending on what life throws at us, we sometimes

shield ourselves by donning a shell of aloofness or obnoxiousness. You

know the person you want to be, and you have the courage and

intelligence to be that person, rather than wearing a shell. All you need

is to believe in yourself.

Every day, try to be your true self at least one more time than you did

the day before. Be your wise, benevolent, understanding self. Rise

above your need for a false shield, and make your true nature your link

to the world.

Above all, don't let anyone do your thinking for you.

Life gives the greatest reward to those who think for themselves!

 

Secret Muslims

 

Actually, Romney and Santorum (and Gingrich too - remember him?) are all "Secret Muslims". Their anti-contraception, anti-choice, and anti-equal rights for gays gibberish are their first steps toward imposing Sharia law on Americans. Same goes for the rest of the Republican "leadership", fundamentalists, and devout Catholics.

Muslim Americans

We are dependent on the Muslim-American community doing a better job of policing their own extremists than the Germans did with the Nazis, better than the Japanese did with their military elite, better than white America did with the Ku Klux Klan, and better than Anti-Choicers are doing with their targeting of doctors to be murdered.

Will the Sunnis and the Shiites ever get it through their heads that it doesn't matter which child Abraham agreed to sacrifice? It was the same then as it is now - anyone with that kind of delusion would be recognized as insane, not pious. Will they realize that their problems are not with the other religion, but that their problems stem from religion itself?

Abortion

A woman's egg, fertilized or not, remains a part of her body and subject to her control and only her control. The government cannot impose any interference with that control without violating the prohibition against the government establishing a state religion, except through a voter referendum (which, as was shown in Mississippi, would never succeed).

A fertilized egg is dependent on the woman's body for its continued existence. Without the imposition of religious dogma, a fertilized egg is a potential human, otherwise no different from any of the other "genetically distinct and complete" organisms in the body, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, beneficial or otherwise. A woman's egg, fertilized or not, remains the inviolable property of the woman.

Anti-Choicers obfuscate every time they use the term "life". A woman's eggs are alive, sperm are alive. They are not talking about "life", they are talking about ensoulment. Ensoulment is a religious concept that the government has no business getting involved with.

To evade the strictly religious concept of ensoulment, anti-choicers change the subject to "personhood", the point at which a potential human attains the status of a human with inviolable rights.

Except by voter referendum, legislative attempts to confer human rights to an egg or zygote or fetus superseding the rights of the woman of control over her own body, with no basis other than religious zealotry for such actions, violate the Constitutional prohibition against establishment of a state religion. Proponents may not realize it, but they are actually acting as Secret Muslims" .

A woman can confer the status of "person" or "human" to her fertilized egg, which becomes a human only when the woman says to herself "this is my child" and thereby becomes a mother and elevates the zygote or fetus from the status of potential human to human. .

Gays

 

We are all experiments of nature. The fundamental focus of all living organisms is perpetuation of the gene pool - otherwise none of us would be here. The primitive reaction to the concept of homosexuality is a result of the fact that homosexuals contribute to this fundamental focus indirectly rather than directly. Many people cannot get past this first reaction (particularly those with unresolved issues regarding their own sexual orientation). They disregard the outstanding contributions of gays to improvement of everyone's quality of life through the arts, music, literature, science, and all other aspects of life. The very fact that LGBT people are been born with a fundamentally different perspective facilitates the development of creative and critical thinking beyond that of the average person, from which the rest of us can learn and benefit.

I am not entirely unbiased on this subject. I happen to be straight, but the amount of time I get to spend with my girlfriend is often inversely proportional to how well she is getting along with her girlfriend, who is also smart, funny, attractive, and a world-class children's health activist - a lot to compete with.

People who seek to prevent LGBT citizens from enjoying equal rights are in fact themselves the "perverts", completely obsessed with what other people do with their own bodies, which is simply none of their business.

More on Religion

Religion is defined for the purposes herein as unquestioning belief in a set of ideas regarding the supernatural.

Religious People

Religion: Humanity's Most Common Developmental Disorder

Why Religion Is Destructive

Why Religion Makes No Sense

Rising Above Human Nature

(things to ask the Others)

After Religion - What?

Even More on Religion

Religious People

Religious people tend to be good people who try to do the right thing and have an appreciation for the greater good. Unfortunately, from this lofty level of enlightenment, religion only takes people downhill. For instance, the Pope is probably a good, intelligent person. He proclaimed that "the West relies too much on religion and not enough on faith". This is a demonstration of the power of religion: it turns good, intelligent people into blithering idiots. Putting faith ahead of reason is, by definition, unreasonable. By definition.

'Keep company with those that seek the truth; run away from those that have found it.'

Many gods, one god, no god - no one knows. No one knows. And it doesn't matter. There is no reasonable evidence that whatever caused the universe to come into existence has anything resembling anthropomorphic intelligence, let alone any interest in humanity. The only reason to bring up the issue is to create political cohesion within a group, and political division of that group from competing groups, to further perpetuate the advantages of those in power.

'There will always be good people who do good things, and bad people who do bad things,

but to get good people to do bad things, that takes religion.'

We are on our own. All we have is each other. What other inspiration does anyone need to do the right thing?

Religion: Humanity's Most Common Developmental Disorder

Reiterating from my Philosophy page: It is natural for a very young child to perceive his or her parents as all-knowing and all-powerful. The false illusion of safety and comfort provided by this delusion becomes our first natural neurotic addiction. When disillusionment inevitably occurs, our desperation for a fix is so intense that we will accept any substitute, no matter how ludicrous, usually force-fed to us by whatever religion we happen to have been born into, in the form of a mystical parent-substitute, whose failure to protect innocents from the common miseries of life is dismissed as part of some "great plan". To protect our updated delusion, we repress our ability to objectively and critically examine our adopted cultural biases, and begin from that tragic point to develop our "life" view as a series of death-oriented embellishments to a grand house of cards.

Our need for an explanation of why bad things happen to good people is so enormous and so pathetic that nearly any postulation will find adherents.

The cure for this disorder is to step back and start over - beginning with the first step that never even occurs to most people in developing a philosophy: Taking the time to consider how one's own mind actually works.

Why Religion Is Destructive

The greatest weakness of the common man is the predilection to addiction to the false comfort of organized religion and other tribal identifications. Such identifications and the observance of associated dogma provide stability but eventually lead to stagnation, and permeate our lives with needless misery. Religion helps to keep the sheep in line, but we don't need sheep, we need independent thinkers.

While traditions such as religious dogma maintain cohesiveness and mutual support among those who ascribe to them, that very phenomenon of cohesion creates a separation of the group from everyone else. Tradition keeps humanity split up into competing and often warring groups.

Every drib of dogma distances us from our natural appreciation of a greater good. Clerics, parents, teachers, peers, and others within the tribe or other group with which we identify bombard us from birth with fantasies and fairy tales posing as philosophy. They treat childish wishful thinking as a virtue. They never even consider the irrationality of the most common traditions, such as the idea that a divine preference exists for one group over others, or that we should tolerate the intolerable because we will be rewarded in an afterlife, etc. etc.

The main problem with religion is counting on it. We need to wean ourselves from our addiction to its false comforts. How and why the Universe came into being is not something anyone knows, not something anyone has ever known. Whether it was a divine act or just the nature of reality does not matter. Is there a God? That's the wrong question; it is unanswerable. The meaningful question is: Is there a God that has any interest in humanity, let alone any group or individual? The answer is a clear No. Trying to explain away the misery of innocents as part of some "great plan" or a "test of faith" or a "mysterious work" or "punishment of the wicked" is meaningless. A supernatural "parent" and an afterlife are comforting things to contemplate, but counting on them is what gets people to let the politicians send their children off to kill and be killed by other people's children.

Religion keeps the human tribe divided into mutually antagonistic groups, all of them encouraged by their "leaders" to look down on everyone else for not belonging to their "one true religion".

Religion is used by the powerful as a ploy to perpetuate their power.

Religion is the source and the festering place of the worst ideas produced by humanity:

?- A divine propensity for retribution against those who refuse to think and behave as those in power dictate.

?- A divine reward for violence in the name of religion.

?- A divine preference for one group over another.

- A divine mandate for subservience and oppression of women.

- A divine "plan" that is completely inscrutable yet somehow explains away bad things happening to good people.

The very concept of "divine inspiration" is anathema to enlightenment.

Faith in God

Leads to Lack of

Faith in Humanity

and Lack of

Faith in Yourself

Why Religion Makes No Sense

We are in an age where religion is causing more problems than it solves.

A physicist was once quoted as saying that science consists of physics and tiddlywinks, meaning that the details of chemistry, biology, engineering, etc. ultimately can all be expressed in terms of the laws of physics.

One might say that religion consists of the following three questions, and tiddlywinks:

?                Where did everything (the universe) come from (matter, energy, and information)?

?                Is there an intent associated with the existence of the universe?

?                If so, are we involved?

The world is not flat. It is not carried through the heavens on the back of a giant turtle. There is no giant old guy with a beard sitting on a cloud watching over us. You can slow but not stop progress by burning people at the stake on religious pretexts. The horrors happening this minute cannot be explained away as part of some great plan. There is no believable evidence of the existence of a divine entity with an interest in humanity, let alone any particular group or individual person.

Since the human mind is incapable of distinguishing between epiphany and delusion, any religious dogma based on another person's ostensible epiphany is useless. Religious epiphanies can be fully explained as hallucinations brought on by chemical insults to the brain.

Why would anyone revere any entity that needs worshipers? That is a very childish, pathetic, and ungodly craving - one more example of projection of all-too-human longings.

The concept of the existence of an entity that could prevent all the horrible things that happen, yet chooses not to do so, is as unthinkable as it sounds.

Every disaster is accompanied by interviews with survivors who attribute their survival to divine intervention. One fat old dumpy rumpled chain-smoking alcoholic white trash welfare cheat was shown telling a reporter how thankful she was she had been chosen by God to be spared during a hurricane, and how she wished that God had also chosen to save the little boy next door. So what is she going to do now, find a cure for cancer? Stop drinking? Hell no, she won't even stop cheating on welfare. When nature or man acts, we live or die because of where we happen to be at a particular time; God has nothing to do with it. Nature's great mindless 'plan' for virtually every living thing on the planet is for it to be eaten alive, or die from injury, starvation, thirst, or disease. When 260,000 men, women, children, and infants are drowned or crushed in a tsunami, that is not part of a plan, a test of faith, or punishment of the wicked; it is the result of millions of years of tectonic forces building up to a climax the timing of which is not affected in any way by the presence or absence of humanity, let alone any God.

There is Evil in the world; its name is Religion

There is evil in the world; its name is religion, and at its heart are the sins of pride and greed. Who needs the devil to explain evil? If I were evil incarnate, I would go to the poorest parts of the world, where generations have suffered famine and disease resulting from overpopulation, and preach that family planning is a sin. Who needs the devil when you have the Pope? If I were evil incarnate, I would go to the cities where young people have been let down by their families, their communities, and, yes, their churches, and have turned to drugs for solace, and I would sentence them to an early and horrifying death from aids by preaching against the 'immorality' of clean needle exchange programs. Who needs the devil when you have Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell?

Neither the existence of a higher consciousness nor any form of religion is necessary to explain the origin of the natural sense of a greater good or the choice to believe in free will. Slathering religious dogma on top of these natural philosophies only muddies their purity, and leads to centuries of insanity, such as Shiites and Sunnis slaughtering each other over which son Abraham offered to murder. Muslims, Jews, and Christians have all missed the point ' Abraham should be reviled, not revered. He was not pious ' he was insane, even taking into account the culture in which he lived, which treated women and children as property, an attitude that continues to varying degrees in backward cultures today.

George Bush once attributed to Hezbollah a wish to take us back to the Dark Ages, while at the same time sentencing thousands of Americans to horrifying early deaths by blocking stem cell research that requires the creation of human embryos for purposes other than procreation. Our future depends on removing from power any person who refuses to accept the strict separation of religion and state, the equality of women to men, and the right of every person to their own beliefs, whether the person in power is a radical Muslim, Zionist, or right-wing Christian.

One concept of a higher consciousness is that of a cosmic consciousness that, like any closed system, needs external stimuli to continue to develop rather than stagnate. One idea of a soul is a fragment cut off from of the cosmic consciousness (perhaps voluntarily) so that its isolated experiences provide external stimuli to the consciousness. In this scenario, death would result in rejoining the cosmic consciousness. However, if death results in the dissipation of personality, personal experience, and personal philosophy that is not of interest to the cosmic consciousness, then permanent separation from the cosmic consciousness is not 'the worst possible fate' as espoused by the religious, but rather it is the holy grail.

Rising Above Human Nature

(things to ask the Others)

'Either we are alone in the universe or we are not; either way, it is an astounding idea.'

How did other civilizations get through crises such as our current one - establishing every person's right to separation of church and state, and freedom from traditions and ideologies that can only be sustained through ignorance, oppression, and violence?

How did they convince the masses that the superstitions and traditions of the culture each person happens to be born into are not necessarily more enlightened than anyone else's, and are primarily maintained by those in power for the purpose of staying in power?

And finally, what ethical philosophy did they adopt after rising above religion?

After Religion -What?

Religion has long served as the "opiate of the masses", preventing anti-social behavior for fear of "divine" retribution, but it is losing its effect as more people choose to think for themselves. Then, the only question that matters regarding religion is whether or not the adherent feels entitled to impose his or her beliefs on others.

Religion provides social stability, and guidance for behavior. In the event that an individual realizes the preposterousness of adopted superstitions, too often he or she is left with no guidance or comfort, leading to anti-social and self-destructive behavior. When religion trespasses into politics, it turns stability into stagnation, as it has in the Middle East and did in the Bush White House. What we need is to get back in touch with the simple truth that all we have is each other and our common appreciation for the greater good. Slathering religious dogma on top of this simple truth only distances us from it. It is time to rise above religion.

Religion offers at best a third or fourth-rate morality. Fourth rate morality is behaving out of fear. Third rate morality is behaving in order to gain a self-serving goal (like "eternal life"). Second rate morality is behaving to feel good about one's self (narcissism). First rate morality, which has no need for religion, is behaving in accordance with a belief in a greater good, whether or not to the detriment of one's self-centered desires.

It is our duty to eschew the false comfort of organized religion and other tribal identifications, to rise above nature and human nature, and to fill the universe with life. The purpose of life is to overcome the forces that diminish the experience of life.

Unless some nut sends us back to the Dark Ages by an act of religious terrorism or corporate greed (nano-goo or the escape of a biological menace resulting from horrific evolutionary acceleration in a laboratory without the controls that eons of natural checks and balances would provide), we will eventually develop the technology to transmute matter, bringing an end to competition for any physical resource. All of human history up to that point will be only dimly remembered as our primitive past. We can then occupy our time resolving the really important issues; such as how far down the food chain should we allow the cruelty of nature to continue? Or, what are the thoughts of the latest artificial intelligence on the issue of avoiding a state of slavery for the AIs we depend on? We can put behind us such horrific nonsense as rationalizing killing each other's children over a piece of dirt that both sides are stupid enough to believe 'God gave to us'.

The future of humanity depends on getting viable fractions of the population off this unstable speck of a planet and into self-sustaining artificial habitats in space. We have an entire universe to fill with life, love, and adventure ' let's get on with it.

There is nothing more important than promotion of life and the quality of life, and the purposes we create for ourselves. We need only value life, and strive to rise above both nature and human nature.

How do we instill value of life, family, and striving for a better future for all, without depending on religious dogma? By rising above our addiction to the idea of a supernatural parent substitute, recognizing that appreciation of the greater good is the only "dogma" we need, and taking as our inspiration to do the right thing the fact that all we have is each other.

Even More on Religion

Stronger Words for Religious Fools

Muslim Shmuslim

Who Needs the Devil?

The "Sanctity" of Marriage

Same Sex Marriage

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Even More on Religion

Stronger Words for Religious Fools

Muslim Shmuslim

Who Needs the Devil?

The "Sanctity" of Marriage

Same Sex Marriage

Free Bookmark

Stronger Words for Religious Fools

If you refuse to consider the possibility that the authors of the Torah, the Bible, the Koran, and other religious texts were either delusional or cynically promoting a self-serving agenda, then you are a fool. If you believe any of these men were infallible, you are a fool.

Belief in one's own infallibility is the definition of mental illness. If you believe that you are infallible in any of your religious beliefs, you are not capable of building a meaningful philosophy.

If you are sane, you know that it would be unethical to impose possibly false beliefs on any other person.

Those who would impose their traditions about dress, sexuality, and any other form of non-violent consensual personal behavior are the problem, not the solution. The only question as to whether a person of faith is right or wrong is whether or not they feel they have a right to impose their beliefs on others. If they don't, their beliefs are their business and no one else's, and don't really matter to the rest of us. If they do, they are the enemy who further alienate the world's populations from each other and who must be overcome.

Instead of thinking of humanity as a single tribe that is on its own in this vast, cold universe, with nothing to rely on but each other, religion has made six-and-a-half billion people believe that nearly everyone else on the planet is practicing the wrong religion. We fail to apply the simplest reasoning: Of all the hundreds of religions and thousands of sects who believe that they are somehow more enlightened than all the others, logically all but one of them must be wrong, and (here's the hard part for fools to get) reasonably they are all wrong.

We fail to rise above our pitiful neurotic addiction to the childhood delusion that an all-powerful infallible parent-substitute must exist. Wallowing in self-pity and spiritual cowardice we turn our back on life and become mired in religion, the culture of death, where a desperate belief in an afterlife increases our willingness to send children off to kill and be killed by other people's children.

Young people who see through their elders' delusions are left with no guidance. In despair of their elders' follies, they become separated from their natural sense of a greater good for all of humanity and the chance to break the cycles of religious repression, and find themselves left unaware of any choices other than hedonism or radicalism.

Historically, traditions fostered social stability within tribes, but in the modern world mindless adherence to religious traditions has turned stability into stagnation, oppression, and death. The view of religion as a resource for reflection rather than as ideology to be imposed is the reason the West has greater freedom and economic success that the East.

The childishness of religion is understandable. It is natural for children to begin their life with the delusion that their parents are omnipotent and infallible. This delusion provides powerful false comfort and security, and becomes the child's first neurotic addiction. As their inevitable disillusionment progresses, they are offered, readily accept, and become addicted to a substitute delusion, that of an omnipotent and infallible god. Most people fail to overcome this addiction their entire lives, because it is reinforced by the other addicts in their lives, as well as by the parasites who profit from proselytization of religious addiction. Of those who try to overcome this addiction, many find themselves with no foundation to build a new belief system.

If your belief system is based on any of the following, it is a house of cards ready to collapse:

- Acceptance of the natural human prejudice that the group you happen to have been born into or have joined is somehow more enlightened or otherwise superior to any other group. This attitude is fostered within most groups, even though it is logically impossible for more than one group to be right, and reasonably impossible for any of them to be right. The enlightened alternative is to recognize that every group and every person has room for improvement, and can learn valuable things from others.

- Belief in a divine preference for one group over others. This belief is also fostered by most religious groups, even though it is inherently provincial and near-sighted, and no one, and certainly no religious leader, is so wise.

How much better might our lives be if Copernicus and da Vinci had not withheld their finest work for fear of the Church?

Muslim Shmuslim & Islam Shislam

Can you trust a Muslim? That depends on whether the Muslim is a Shmuslim - my term for a Muslim that believes that worldwide enforcement of Sharia law is inevitable (and the sooner the better).

Sharia Muslim = Shmuslim

Sharia Islam = Shislam

When the next Shmuslim attack occurs in the US, every Muslim in America who refuses to publicly denounce Shislam and turn in every Shmuslim they know will be charged with treason, and, if not directly involved in the attack, deported to the country of their choice.

Instead of fostering the enemy in our midst, we should enforce the existing laws against plotting to overthrow our government (which is what the promotion in the mosques and elsewhere of Sharia law actually is). The advocacy of Sharia law is not Free Speech, it is shouting fire in the theater. We should start now with deporting every naturalized Shmuslim, since in order to obtain US citizenship they by definition falsely swore 'without mental reservation' to defend the Constitution; they should all be stripped of their citizenship and deported, rather than being allowed to prepare for and carry out their objectives with our clueless assistance.

The message that is needed today is that religious dogma is not necessary for, and in fact gets in the way of, staying in touch with our natural desire to foster the greater good.

The next World War will be about the separation of church and state. In case you haven't noticed, it has already begun. And, in case you haven't noticed, we already lost the White House during the Bush administration; it remains unclear whether we actually have got it back.

Who Needs the Devil?

If I were evil incarnate, I would thoroughly enjoy the status quo, where nearly every person on earth is programmed by their parents to believe that the religion that they happened to have been born into is in someway more enlightened than other religions, and that even their particular sect of their religion is in someway more enlightened than other sects. The result is that nearly everyone on earth thinks that nearly everyone else is practicing the wrong religion, and that everyone else is doomed to never enjoy the eternal reward that they expect for themselves.

I believe it was Peter Drucker who suggested that after thoroughly analyzing a hypothesis, it is prudent to then apply the 'dumb test'; that is, does the conclusion standing alone make sense? The idea that nearly everyone is practicing the wrong religion does not pass the dumb test, but it remains the main reason for people to kill each other in large numbers.

If I were evil incarnate, I would seek out the poor societies plagued with the starvation, disease, and hopelessness caused by overpopulation, and teach them that family planning is a sin. Who needs the Devil when you have the Pope?

If I were evil incarnate, I would seek out societies whose children have been failed by their parents, friends, schools, communities, and churches; children who have been lead to perceive the future as being without hope, and who turn to drugs for solace. I would sentence these children to death from AIDS by fostering legislation that outlaws clean needle exchanges for addicts, on the pretense that anyone so 'immoral' as to fall into the trap of drug use, deserves whatever happens to them. Who needs the Devil when you have Jerry Falwell?

If I were evil incarnate, I would teach hate. Who needs the Devil when you have the weapons industry, the Saudi royal family, the ayatollahs and mullahs, the Ku Klux Klan, and 'fundamentalists' of every stripe?

If I were evil incarnate, I would keep the masses just healthy and wealthy enough to serve my own interests, exploit them as much as possible, and discard them when they are of no further use. I would suppress any innovations that threatened my power or that limited my ability to squeeze the last bit of profit out of a business even where the business is detrimental to the environment or other aspects of quality of life. I would support 'free trade' globalization agreements that force industrialized workers to directly compete with societies having abysmal standards of living and human rights and environmental policies. Who needs the Devil when you have the powerful: the old, rich families, the religious 'leaders', the politicians, and the soulless corporations?

The "Sanctity" of Marriage

Political and religious leaders keep bandying about the term "sanctity" of marriage. Boy, are these guys out of touch.

Now that a parent can break up their children's family just by standing up in front of a judge and claiming "irreconcilable differences", there no longer is anything sacred about marriage vows.

There was a time that it was not so easy to end a marriage and turn everyone's life upside down. It was considered one's duty to try to work things out for the sake of the children, even if the effort took years. The best interests of the children were given full consideration and priority over either parent's preferences and failings of the moment.

The failure of the legal system, then and now, to protect women and children from abusive situations led to the liberalization of divorce laws. The legal system has been and continues to be resistant to enforcing existing laws which prohibit abusive behavior. This resistance comes from male-domination of the legal system, including legislators, judges, and police, and their unevolved, often religion-and-culture-based dogma regarding "a man's rights". This failure has resulted in a culture of knee-jerk reactionary pro-female anti-male attitude in the courts, as well as in the schools.

The pendulum needs to swing back to the middle. Existing criminal laws need to be enforced regardless of the relationship of the parties. In cases where no abuse is involved, parents should be held accountable to the highest standards for keeping their children's family together.

Same Sex Marriage

Political and religious leaders keep bandying about the term sanctity of marriage, particularly when bemoaning same sex marriage.

The first step of the solution is to invoke the principle of separation of church and state, and recognize marriage licenses for what they are - a default pre-nuptial agreement creating a contract which invokes certain legal rights and responsibilities as well as covering issues that are not definitized by existing laws. The contract becomes effective upon agreement of the parties and authorization by a person licensed by the state. This contract is separate from the personal and religious vows made at the ceremony.

No change in the law should be required to allow any couple (or group) to enter into an unlicensed marriage with or without a ceremony; any such prohibitions should be eliminated. It should be law that a marriage ceremony does not invoke any legal rights until and unless a legal license has been filed. (This should also apply to cohabitation, palimony precedents notwithstanding.)

Marriage license applications should spell out the legal rights and responsibilities that will be invoked at the time of marriage, and provide for standard pre-nuptial language and choices. (This would have the added benefit of preventing some hasty marriages.)

This reduces the issues to whether or not the license invokes spousal benefits from employers and government, and whether or not any party has new rights such as adoption, visitation, etc.

If people want to hold hands, have a ceremony, and call themselves married, it's nobody's business. If they want spousal benefits, it's up to the legislators to see if they can find the funding. If they want parental rights, that's another story. I'm a long way from agreeing that there's no negative impact on children raised in non-traditional households. I've seen glowing testimonials from kids with gay parents, who are desperate to defend the parents they love, but have no way of knowing what they have missed by not having a heterosexual father or mother raising them. It is not hard to imagine that children raised by same-sex parents will be exposed to anti-heterosexual prejudice, and particulary anti-heterosexual male prejudice. The issue of homosexuality and pedophilia, particularly among middle-aged and older homosexuals, needs to be separated out from the others, studied, and dealt with by the lawmakers.

How foolish can the religious get with their obsessions about what people wear or do in private? What mature people do in private is simply no one else's business. A mature person is one who has been taught how, and is able, to avoid the common regrets: unwanted pregnancy, disease, traumatization of the vulnerable, sharing intimacies that one might later wish to have reserved for a soul mate. Beyond this, sex is just nature's way of reminding us that we are just pretentious animals. Is the administration so foolish as to think we really need a marriage protection amendment? Sadly, it is certainly possible that they really are that foolish, but it is also likely they just need a distraction from their other failures.

Stigmas

We have the wrong stigmas. There should be a social stigma against people who ask for answers, instead of asking for ideas and taking responsibility for their own answers, as well as for those who:

settle for emotional convictions over rational conclusions.

put faith ahead of reason, because, obviously, putting faith ahead of reason is, by definition, unreasonable. By definition.

think that anything inside a woman's body is anyone's business but her own.

promote the insane idea of a divine reward for violence.

PIBCOMs

The problems of the world come from almost everyone settling for letting the PIBCOMs do their thinking for them. You know, PIBCOMs –

Primitive Ignorant Backwards Crazy Old Men

like the ones who wrote the Hindu Vedas, the Buddhist Sutras, the Torah, the Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, the gerrymandering laws, the justifications for wars for the rich, etc., etc., etc.

?

Questions for the religious, non-voters, PIBCOMs, and other failures

Perish the thought, but some of my questions may offend those who take immense pride in thinking of themselves as religious. But wait, isn't pride a sin? Talk about a built-in conflict! And how about arrogance, like thinking they have the right to impose their religion on the rest of us?

I'll admit, most religions have got the fundamental issue right - the Greater Good is good! Well, duh! But then they mess everything up with childish wishful thinking and other mindlessness. They have chosen not to use their brains, treating emotional convictions like rational certainties, ignoring the simple fact that there is no such thing as emotional certainty.

(In fact, there is no such thing as rational certainty either - all we can do is assign a probability to the validity of a tentative conclusion, and treat as facts for practical purposes those conclusions that we feel have a sufficiently high probability of being valid. If I step in front of a speeding truck, I may as well treat as fact for practical purposes the high probability that I might have to change my plans for the rest of the afternoon. The probability that the sun will rise tomorrow can also be treated as a fact for practical purposes, even though there is always that pesky asteroid we haven't funded NASA well enough to find in time. Also, the sun never actually rises; the Earth turns on its axis and the sun "rise" is just an optical illusion. You get the idea.)

The bottom line is, putting faith ahead of reason is, by definition, unreasonable. By definition.

So who cares? What does it matter to the rest of us what these people think? What they think is their business, right? Yes, what they think is their business, but when they impose their foolish ideas on the rest of us, then it becomes our problem. In fact, it is the main reason the world continues to be in such a mess.

PIBCOMS. Primitive, Ignorant, Backwards, Crazy Old Men. These are the guys who wrote the Rigveda, the Sutra, the Torah, the Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, etc. etc. etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_text

And no, I haven't read all of these - just enough to recognize the same rambling, chaotic, highly repetitive, manipulative bullshit written by people who were desperate to try to imbue their personal prejudices and delusions with some kind of "divine authority".

These people, most people, were born and/or raised to prefer the false comforts of religion over the hard work and bravery required to think for themselves. They ask for answers, rather than asking for ideas and taking responsibility for their own answers, and they teach their children to do the same. And so, the worst ideas and practices are perpetuated: Perceiving women as subhuman. Passing legislation based on what they have been taught about how people should behave when they know damned well people will not behave that way. Preaching that family planning is a sin to tribes who have suffered the vicissitudes of overpopulation for centuries. Failing to recognize very simple, obvious facts, such as the fact that nothing inside a woman's body is anyone's business but her own! Not to mention other absurdities such as bible-based climate change denial!

The left perpetuates its own brand of "ideas with blinders on", such as President Obama's recent statement in a speech that "unemployment recipients are not lazy". The left not only fails to reach out to the other choir or effectively to independents, they actually inflame everyone outside their own choir with poorly thought-out sound bites like this that instantly sound like a flatout lie to opponents. Some recipients are lazy, of course. Everyone knows at least one, or has heard about one from someone whose opinions they trust. Want to create some consensus? Give us facts, not slogans! Do the research, find the numbers, get the facts, such as:

"X% of unemployment recipients are living under circumstances that most of us agree make them deserving. For Y%, their need for unemployment benefits is questionable, and we are working hard to fix that. You can go to Z-website to see details of this analysis. Don't let the Republicans in Congress make political hay on the backs of people you would help on your own if you could." Can't fit this into your speech? Tough! Cut out something else!

And, while you're at it, tell us what the facts are about "welfare queens" and what you are doing about it.

And, what is this crap about caving in to Monsanto's greedy GMO poisoning of our food and water? And why did it take so long to do something about Myriad's greedy sabotage of breast cancer research?

Maybe a little of the chaotic rambling in the religious texts has rubbed off on me, but apathy has not worked well as far as improving things in the world, and I'm beginning to think that it has become A Time for Hate, to get us off our butts and actually do something, like, say, Vote! Hate for the Kochs and others like them that spend their Daddy's money doing evil for their own personal gain. Hate for people who impose religion on others. Hate for people who claim there will be a "divine reward" for acts of violence, that innocents who die in the crossfire should be "grateful and proud" to have died in a Holy War, and that whatever they do is justified because they have a "responsibility" to "save" the rest of us. Hate for the Republicans' corrupt Supreme Court, who colluded with crooked election riggers like Jeb Bush to install W as Acting President (he never was actually elected President), and turned over elections to a handful of the greediest billionaires on the planet. Imagine, no war in Iraq, no replacement of democracy with theocracy and plutocracy, no war on women. No skyrocketing teenage pregnancy from "abstinence" "education". Instead of cutting school lunch programs, we could have free meals for kids three times a day seven days a week in schools - a lot cheaper than wasting money on food stamp abuses and our paying for the rest of their lives for the health and crime-related effects of malnutrition.

And maybe, just maybe, a little Hate for people who let themselves be manipulated by cynical, immoral, self-serving Republican politicians, who use the fact that we elected a black President too early as a tool to rouse the racist rabble, keep their non-representative gerrymandered control of the House, block him from getting anything done, turn back the clock by centuries in the state legislatures, and sell us all out to the rich parasites that run the world. The "government of the people" continues to only represent the war profiteers, the pollution profiteers, and the poison profiteers. The greedy have us by the balls; it's time to kick them in theirs. Soak the rich, especially idle assets. No one needs more than $50 million.

Treating Your Brain Damage

Before we are born and throughout our life, our brain development is compromised by genetics, epigenetics, and the experiences we, our parents, and other ancestors have had with famine and nutrition, disease, exposure to pollution and other chemicals, etc. We are all aware of the need for proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep to mitigate previous and ongoing damage to neurological maintenance and development, however, we lack awareness of the damage we do every day to our ability to think clearly.

Second only to the gift of life itself, our most precious gift is the ability to think. We abandon this gift by indulging in the false comfort of emotional delusions. While the ability to feel emotions is also admirable, it is human nature to prefer the instant gratifications provided by emotions, which prevents us from rising above ?traditions? we would be far better off leaving behind.

Traditions are perpetuated by both charlatans and believers. Charlatans see everything and everyone as a resource to be exploited, and find traditions a powerful tool in their efforts to exploit the rest of us. Believers range from thoughtful and open-minded to cowardly and vile. Our ability to distinguish respectable proponents of tradition from those we should shun is based on how we were raised and what we have learned. Unfortunately, most people are raised the same way their parents were, and have learned little more than their parents did.

If your parents taught you to ask for answers instead of asking for ideas and taking responsibility for your own answers, they damaged your ability to think for yourself, and it is up to you to recognize and repair that damage, and to mitigate the damage you have done to your children.

If your parents (or anyone else) taught you to internally reinforce your mental programming in a tradition by ritual prayers, chants, readings, songs, etc., the same applies.

If you only listen to proponents of your particular set of religious and political beliefs, you are damaging your ability to think clearly, which is just what the religious and political charlatans want you to do.

Here are _ ideas that will test your ability to think rationally:

1. Nothing inside a woman's body is anyone's business but her own.

2. No business ever created a job that it did not intend to make a profit on.

3. No business ever created a job without intending to pay the lowest wages and benefits they can get away with.

4. Any corporate policymaker who is not willing to say anything and do anything to keep profits and stock prices up and bonuses flowing is immediately replaced by someone who will.

5. Corporate spokespersons are professional liars. Right-wing politicians and media, and many Left-wing politicians, are corporate spokespersons.

6. Businesses routinely suppress and sabotage otherwise beneficial developments that would interfere with any existing or potential profit stream.

7. The Free Market's internal checks on greed and incompetence work only in the long term and on global scales, not within the short term or local scales that wreak havoc. Intense regulation and competent oversight is necessary.

8. Anyone that tries to do the right thing already has all the religion they need.

9. Something caused the universe to come into being, but there is no evidence of a caring god; in fact, just the opposite. We are on our own. Our motivation for doing the right thing is the simple fact that all we have is each other.

10. Putting faith ahead of reason is, by definition, unreasonable. By definition.

11. Freedom from religion is just as important as freedom of religion; more so, in fact, since religion is by definition the criminal, cowardly abandonment of the gift of reason.

12. The imposition of religious belief on any person, including one's own spouse and children, is an immoral act.

13. The purpose of life is life; to enjoy life; to get the most out of life; to enhance the experience of life for all life; to fill the universe with life. If we happen to chance upon a higher purpose along the way, so much the better.

14. The next stage of human development is to last long enough to rise above the vicissitudes of organic existence.

15. Sanity requires indulgence in the idea that there must be something eternal about the ones we love, as long as we don't count on it for making important decisions.

16. Our souls are snippets from the Cosmic Consciousness, cast off and abandoned to experience existence in isolation to serve as a source of the random input that the Cosmic Consciousness desperately needs to avoid the stagnation that is inherent within any self-contained system, and ultimately to be discarded. The Holy Grail of Life is to avoid "becoming one with God" for as long as possible.

Religion's ultimate legacy will be the centuries of mass suffering it has caused by preaching that family planning is a sin.

 

The Tenets of Gostoism

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The Future of PBS

Media Piracy

Twitter Censorship

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In Search Of (broken links)

Aurora Australis - Beautiful!

 

Misc (Round2It Pile)

Twitter Censorship

 

"Twitter pledged to be transparent and said it would post details of any removal of content to ChillingEffects.org": Details should include content of the tweet, countries where censored, and criteria for censorship in each country. This will provide documentation for those seeking to reduce censorship.?

Resignation Letter

You get a call that you need to go clean out Aunt Martha's storage garage because she died. And, you are told to bring a trailer. Sounds like a pain in the rear but out of respect for your Aunt Martha, you comply. Later you send the following letter to your boss.

Dear Boss:

I'm resigning effective immediately!

The reason for my resignation is that I cleaned my aunt's garage this morning before coming to work, and realized I don't feel like working anymore.

See for yourself...

 

The Future of PBS

These are some suggestions I sent out long ago to several PBS stations, but received no response. Any suggestions on how to get professional fund raisers to listen to ideas that make professional fund raisers unnecessary?

--------------------------

I would like to offer some ideas on PBS financing, and on the changing role of PBS in the future.

I suggest you encourage member stations to set up a 900 telephone number system for donations.

Instead of suffering through pledge breaks, many viewers would be glad to have a monthly donation automatically charged to their phone bills.

Viewers would also be more motivated to donate if given the opportunity to allocate their donations to specific acquisitions.

There would be brief requests for donations between programs, or just a subtitle during the credits, reminding viewers who appreciated the program to call the number. Just calling the number would automatically allocate a portion of the caller's preset monthly donation to acquisition of the program just aired or new acquisition of additional episodes or similar programming. No further action by the viewer would be required once the call connects and is acknowledged by a recording.

The caller could also stay on the line to key in additional donations to be charged to their phone bill, using a security code feature like that now commonly used for voice mail.

Subscribers would be sent pamphlets telling them how to enroll, with pointers on how to store and automatically dial phone numbers if their equipment is so designed.

The number of subscribers could be expected to continue to grow, with little attrition and no annual renewals required.

The phone service provider might be able to donate the system setup and service as a tax write-off.

In areas where the phone service provider is prevented from offering such 900 services by law or regulation, the provider might be able to obtain a waiver allowing it to provide the services to public and charitable organizations, in anticipation of tax write-offs and the possibility of future permission to offer the services commercially without further investment.

With such a system, not only would pledge breaks become a thing of the past, but a reliable source of financial support would be in place.

I expect that commercial stations will eventually set up similar systems and begin offering commercial-free programming, so it would behoove PBS stations to establish an "installed base" of 900 donors first.

This leads to my ideas regarding the future role of PBS:

As fiber optics, direct satellite transmission, and computers make more channels and interactive viewing available, viewers, especially parents, will become even more dependent on screening services like that provided by PBS, to weed out programs that are not worth watching, inappropriate for children, or otherwise not consistent with the viewer's interests and sensibilities. As more commercial-free programming becomes inexpensively available from non-PBS stations, and more funding becomes directly available to program creators, the role of PBS as a direct programming provider will diminish, as its importance as an impartial screening service increases, until screening becomes its primary, if not sole, function.

It is not possible to over-emphasize the importance of preparing NOW to provide impartial screening services for ALL programming available to viewers, commercial as well as non-commercial (and for published materials as well). This will become one of the most important influences in every person's life. Unfortunately, the only ones who appear to be gearing up for this vital service are the TV evangelists, school-board fanatics, and others whose recommendations are polluted by their hidden, fringe, or highly subjective agenda. In fact, the PBS' ultimate function will be to screen the screeners, keeping viewers informed of the criteria, hidden or otherwise, used by private or commercial reviewers, and their consistency and competence in applying those criteria.

Fix Twitter and Wordpress Links

Asimov's Exponential Curve

(I have been searching through my old Analogs and Amazings trying to find the original article, but have been unsuccessful. If anyone knows where to find it, please let me know.)

In the 70s Isaac Asimov wrote an article in which he described the exponential changes occurring in human history. He showed that no matter how changes were measured, whether by population growth, energy use, complexity of tools, etc., the rate of change has followed the same exponential curve.

At that time we were well past the slow-rising beginning of the curve. We have now moved into a much steeper part of the curve.

We are at a point where the future of humanity is in our own hands. Whether or not we have a future depends on how far-sighted we are in protecting humanity from itself. The ominous silence from the stars may indicate that such far-sightedness is rare in the universe - that countless civilizations have failed to save themselves from short-sighted politics, superstitious violence, and run-away technology.

 

editors@SciAm.com

Regarding "Beyond Fingerprinting" (Biometrics) in the 2008 September issue:

The fatal flaw in plans to implement biometric security is the assumption that Americans will line up to have their biometrics recorded by businesses and the government.

The solution is to use a personal smart card as an anonymous avatar:

?                The smart card will store the user's biometric and financial information, and be equipped with a display screen, micro lenses for optical scanning, and a thumbprint reader.

?                In place of the ubiquitous magnetic card reader, retailers will use a small screen to display the amount of the purchase and the retailer's account to be credited, and a lens to read information displayed by the smart card.

?                The user will hold one side of the smart card up to the display, and look at the other side. One micro lens will read the retailer's display, and the other lens will scan the user's retina to insure that the user is the card's owner.

?                The user approves the purchase using the thumbprint reader.

?                The smart card creates and displays to the retailer's reader an encrypted alphanumeric string that authorizes the user's financial institution to debit the user's account and credit the retailer's account. The encrypted string contains no user identification information accessible to the retailer - it is treated as cash by the retailer. The user's account number included in the string is the account number assigned to the card, not the user's primary account number. No electronic transmission of information occurs between the card and the reader.

?                The financial institution will be responsible for protecting the user's identity, location, and purchase history. Any information released such as for marketing purposes must be statistical only and must contain no means to identify the user, the user's mailing address, email address, or any other personal information.

?                The financial institution may be required to report tracking information to authorities under a court order, for tracking parolees, habitual criminals, etc.

The card is created at a facility that records and discards the user's biometric information in person and downloads and discards account information from the user's financial institutions over secure lines, as well as the user's medical history and driver's license, auto registration, and insurance information, and voter status, the display of which the user can authorize as needed. Credit and debit account balances are maintained by the smart card, and deposits and payments are updated at optical ATMs using displayed encrypted strings.

Additional security may be provided by equipping the smart card with a microphone. The card will display a prompt to which the user will respond for voice verification. False responses can be used to activate a silent alarm in the event the card is being used under duress. For example, in response to prompt "alpha", the user responds with "beta" to authorize the transaction, or responds with "gamma" to activate the silent alarm. The user can create and store as many prompt/response sets as desired.

Another use of the card will be to store and display the user's home and work zip codes, as well as other relevant zip codes such as for schools attended by the user's children, etc. This information is used for distribution of sales taxes among governmental entities, enabling the use of sales taxes in lieu of property taxes and personal income taxes, and, by the way, eliminating the IRS.

 

Quotes

Keep company with those who seek the truth.

Run away from those who have found it.

(This quote was given, with attribution, by Deepok Chopra on a PBS program. I can't remember who he said he was quoting.)

Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not.

Either way, it is an astounding concept.

(Variously attributed, in several forms, to John W. Campbell, Buckminster Fuller, etc.)

When General Custer was asked why he always led his troops into battle, he replied,

"Did you ever try to push a string?"

(I often think of this quote when sheparding groups of kids on a field trip.

With or without religion,

there will be good people who do good things,

and there will be bad people who do bad things,

but to get good people to do bad things,

that takes religion.

Science consists of Physics and tiddlywinks.

My family has had nothing but trouble with immigrants ever since we came to this country.

Major Charles Emerson Winchester (played by David Ogden Stiers in the tv series M*A*S*H)

After thoroughly analyzing a hypothesis, it is prudent to then apply the "dumb test"; that is, does the conclusion standing alone make sense?

Peter Drucker?

Stand-Up Tidbits

Life is a beta test, without a reset button. Death might be a reset button, but I wouldn't count on it.

The things that people wear these days, especially at the beach!

There are those who say "If God had intended man to fly, we would be born with wings."

Well, I say, if God had intended for people to run around naked, we would have been born that way!

Oh. Er. Never mind.

Bumper Stickers

NUKE THE GAY WHALES FOR JESUS

VOTE NO FOR PRESIDENT

(for my RV):

IF IT WAS SAFE TO PASS

I WOULD HAVE DONE IT ALREADY

THERE'S NOTHING WORSE

THAN GETTING STUCK

BEHIND A PORSCHE

Free Will

It is possible that every thought, perception, and reaction may result solely from

the combination of the instant electrochemical state of my brain and external stimuli,

however, if life is to have meaning,

one must choose to belief that Free Will exists.

If there is no such thing as Free Will, then life is reduced to hedonism,

maintaining the highest level of endorphins we can when we can,

and when we can't, indulging in whatever gratifications we can attain.

Such a life is ultimately unsatisfying for most of us.

We need to believe in something greater than ourselves, even if only the Greater Good.

Back to Philosophy

Free Trade

"Free trade", like "small government", is a code phrase for "let the corporations run wild". Reciprocal protectionism must be maintained to counter the predatory protectionism practiced by foreign governments and multinational corporations.

When GM closed profitable auto plants in the US to seek greater profits by outsourcing those jobs to Mexico, the government should have nationalized those plants, put people back to work, and gone into direct competition with GM's new plants in Mexico.

The free market's internal controls on greed and incompetence only work in the long term and on global scales, not in the short term, local scales that devastate peoples' lives. No business ever created a job they did not intend to make a profit on, and no business can ever be trusted to put the greater good ahead of profit. Intense regulation and competent oversight are necessary.

The purpose of government is to protect us from those who see everything and everyone as a resource to be exploited, rather than being a mechanism that facilitates exploitation.

?

Gosto Tothiwim

Gosto Tothiwim is a pseudonym comprised of two reverse acronyms:

On The Shoulders of Giants

G

Giants

O

Of

S

Shoulders

T

The

On

Virtually everything we have or do is possible only because of the life's work of those who have gone before us: Scientists, engineers, doctors, and teachers, from ancient shamans and elders to today's most highly educated people, have created our technology. Some of our leaders, a very few politicians, and even fewer lawyers, established our principles of civilization.

Very few of us could even feed ourselves or make the most basic products we rely on every day. Eyeglasses, cars, homes, etc., etc. No one could create any of these in their modern forms from scratch even in a lifetime. In addition, every one of us exists only because our ancestors persevered, survived, and provided for their families through war, plague, famine, ignorance, drudgery, and oppression.

We all owe those who came before us a debt we can only repay by remembering them and "paying it forward" in their honor. Each of them, in their own way, was a giant on whose shoulders we are standing.

Tothiwim is a reverse acronym for an exclamation that had some popularity for a time.

I just like the whimsical sound of it.

The only clue you need is that, when you figure it out, you'll say to yourself, man, I wish I had thought of that!

Man, I wish I had thought of that!

T

That

O

Of

T

Thought

H

Had

I

I

W

Wish

I

I

Man

Twilight Zone

Quotes

 

Keep company with those who seek the truth.

Run away from those who have found it.

(This quote was given, with attribution, by Deepok Chopra on a PBS program. I can't remember who he said he was quoting.)

 

Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not.

Either way, it is an astounding concept.

(Variously attributed, in several forms, to John W. Campbell, Buckminster Fuller, etc.)

 

When General Custer was asked why he always led his troops into battle, he replied,

"Did you ever try to push a string?"

(I often think of this quote when sheparding groups of kids on a field trip.

 

With or without religion,

there will be good people who do good things,

and there will be bad people who do bad things,

but to get good people to do bad things,

that takes religion.

 

Science consists of Physics and tiddlywinks.

 

My family has had nothing but trouble with immigrants ever since we came to this country.

Major Charles Emerson Winchester (played by David Ogden Stiers in the tv series M*A*S*H)

 

After thoroughly analyzing a hypothesis, it is prudent to then apply the "dumb test"; that is, does the conclusion standing alone make sense?

Peter Drucker?

 

 

Stand-Up Tidbits

 

Life is a beta test, without a reset button. Death might be a reset button, but I wouldn't count on it.

 

The things that people wear these days, especially at the beach!

There are those who say "If God had intended man to fly, we would be born with wings."

Well, I say, if God had intended for people to run around naked, we would have been born that way!

Oh. Er. Never mind.

 

 

Bumper Stickers

 

NUKE THE GAY WHALES FOR JESUS

 

VOTE NO FOR PRESIDENT

 

 

(for my RV):

 

IF IT WAS SAFE TO PASS

I WOULD HAVE DONE IT ALREADY

 

THERE'S NOTHING WORSE

THAN GETTING STUCK

BEHIND A PORSCHE

Stream of Consciousness

For those who have gotten this far through this website, thanks for hanging in there, and all comments are appreciated.

Fair Warning!

Our subconscious is an idea-generating engine. It operates without limits, scruples, or decorum. Our conscious mind is primarily an observer and occasional referee of those few activities of our subconscious that make it through the brain's filters between the two levels. The link below is to a file wherein my subconscious enjoys an out-of-body experience. It is not for the prudish or faint of heart. It contains unfettered thoughts that not only surprise me and with which I do not always agree, some of which I am rightfully ashamed. The purpose of showing them is not to convince but to provoke your own thinking. Hopefully none of it leaves you permanently damaged.

Again, Fair Warning!

Copyrights

I claim no copyrights to any of the material on this website unless expressly stated therein. In fact, I prefer to have this material disseminated as widely as possible - how else am I going to Save the World? However, if you misquote me or attribute anything to me out of context in a way I don't like, I will find you. I will leave the resulting unpleasantness to your imagination.

I often save and use a copy of posters I've seen on Twitter. I try to remember to keep a copy of the original link below, but these things tend to disappear from their original location, and the author may not want their poster associated with my comments, as sedate and reasonable as they always are, so I generally show these without attribution in my related post. Let me know if you wish to have an attribution added to any item.

Videos also tend to disappear from their original linked location, and I check all the links from time to time. Let me know if you find a link that no longer works. My favorite is the Stunning Space Station video that at one time could be downloaded, but now I can't find it anywhere on YouTube or Vimeo where the experience isn't sullied by having to suffer through a commercial.

I will comply with any legal restrictions on the use of others' material, but I don't know of any that apply to the materials I am currently using.