Category Archives: Philosophy & Religion

The Chinese Won’t Hesitate

Aphid-giving-birthThe good news is that when the press tells us to fear actions taken by our own government, by our own military or by our own corporations, we can be pretty sure they are also giving us a heads up to the bad news that the Chinese have already been taking these exact same actions minus any moral constraint for years.

So, should we try to restrain American research, experiments or social interventions because we know they are potentially dangerous or outright wrong, or should we instead beef up these actions to counter the possible unpredictable actions of others like the Chinese?

Sounds like the arms race debate that filled the newspapers of my childhood.  Should we forsake nuclear proliferation or arm ourselves to avoid defeat and intimidate others to give up their weapons.

The above paragraph was inspired by this NYT science article telling us the the US military is researching having millions of insects carrying viruses descend upon crops and then genetically modify them to withstand droughts, floods and foreign attacks, ensuring a permanently secure food supply.  This NYT article is about Chinese country-wide genetic screening of pregnant women.  This wiki article is about the Chinese social credit system — grading your value to society — to be fully implemented by 2020.

Can you imagine the benefits? Can you imagine the weapons? Can you imagine the unintended consequences?  When an action is morally ambiguous, but other countries or corporations are unhesitantly ignoring moral restraints in order to focus on prosperity over the individual, what should we do?


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Facts are tough

Morning thought

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09/18/2018 · 7:02 pm

Consciousness & Infanticide

A wisely anonymous author recently published article in a medicine-gender blog which caught my eye entitled: “On Infanticide and Reluctant Maternity: Between Personal Testimony and Historical Sensitivity“. Below are two paragraphs from the article:

Then an unexpected thought manifested clearly in my mind. (When relating the events, I still do not say that I “had” the thought, because it seemed to come from another place entirely. It did not come from me, I told myself and tell myself still. This was not my self talking): “You could kill the baby.” I remember the thought (voice?) was smooth and masculine, like a documentary narrator. The words were excessively drawn out, and I contemplated the syllables as they arrived in my mind, each more surprising than the last.

My first reaction was a sense of calm confusion. I thought, “Her name isn’t ‘the baby,’ and I don’t call her that. I always use her name when I think of her and talk about her. This must mean that I am not the author of this thought.” I drew comfort from the idea that the murderous intent was not my own, and that it had arrived from elsewhere entirely. I am not religious, so I had no reason to believe that this was divine intervention or some kind of devil on my shoulder. Nor did I worry that I was having a schizophrenic episode (although now I believe that I may have experienced a stress-induced dissociative episode).

These paragraphs, if I may take liberties (for the author may disagree), thoughts I have written in these posts and others:

  1. The Problem with You:  This is part of my Many-Selves-No-Self posts which discusses our how brains operate (usually at unconscious levels) with many different parts feeding us choices and thoughts.
  2. The Will to Say “No”:  This post contains my “Mind as a Blender” metaphor and like the first post can illustrate how we can hear voices that we feel can not be ourselves.
  3. Shaking My Child:  From my poetry blog, here is a surreal fictionalized poem I wrote around a true event of mine.  You will see how it fits the story above.

What do you think?


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Election Interference vs Assassination


This post is addressed to Americans, but anyone may jump in, of course. How should we feel about Russian interference in US elections?  (and please read before responding). First, unbelievably, many Americans lack the information that follows.  After reviewing it, at the end of the post, I will ask again.

The Background

The CIA has a long history of attempted assassinations other country’s leaders around the world.

US intelligence agency has since 1945 succeeded in deposing or killing a string of leaders, but was forced to cut back after a Senate investigation in the 1970s.
May 2017 Guardian article

Here is a list of just some of the attempted assassinations, failed and succesful by the US government. In brackets I have placed the US president at that time, and their party:

1960-2000 Cuba, Fidel Castro [Eisenhower (R), Kennedy(D) and many more]
1960 Congo, Patrice Lumumba [Eisenhower (R)]
1961 Dominica, Rafael Trujillo [Kennedy (D)]
1960s Indonesia, Sukarno [Kennedy (D), Johnson (D) ?]
1963 South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem [Kennedy (D)]
1973 Chile, Salvador Allende [Richard Nixon (R)]

1976 — President Gerald Ford signed in 1976 an executive order stating: “No employee of the United States government shall engage in, or conspire in, political assassination.”

1981 – President Reagan writes executive order against assassination, but in 1986 himself challenges the order to attack Gaddafi for obvious reasons.

Thus, Realpolitik has continued, of course and here are more cases of leaders the US has targeted — they are actual criminals of course:

1986 Libya, Muammar Gaddafi  [Ronald Reagan, R]
1999 Serbia, Slobodan Milsevic [Bill Clinton, D]
2003, Iraq, Saddam Hussein [George Bush, R]
Conclusion and Questions

In addition to assassination attempts, the USA has interfered in many countries elections also. See histories of US and other countries mutual interference attempts here.

All this must be kept in mind when we hear others speak scandalously about Russian attempts at interfering in US elections. But what should our response be? Here are just some ways of taking in all this info. What is your way?

  1. Those are all lies about the USA, we are a righteous country
  2. Well, shit, we all do it, I don’t care
  3. Well, we best be involved too because others do it.
  4. This is horrible, nobody should do it. We must strive to live without any violence. The US should lead with and adherence to non-interference.
  5. God, I hate the world and welcome Armageddon, The purging by Kalki or whatever your favorite apocalypse is called.
  6. Every country lies — I don’t believe US propaganda any more than any other but I still feel there is better and worse ways to live that are worth protecting and if breaking the rules is needed, well …
  7. many more…. but what is your view?

While it is deplorable for a US presidential candidate to conspire with a foreign government to interfere with US elections to get him or her in power, we don’t want to use that as an excuse to forget how deeply nasty world governments are in general, the American government included.


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Iceland’s Unnatural Beauty

Number_of_tourists_in_Iceland_and_population.svgAs I wrote in my last post, my sweetheart and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Iceland. If I had known Iceland was a faddish tourist attraction I may not have gone but both of us, had a great time anyway because of all the conversations we had and the amazing geography and well, being together.

The number of tourist amazed me — as it does the Icelanders as you can imagine by this graph from Wiki. Probably what attracts the huge waves of tourists are the dramatic landscapes on this volcanic island. Below I have made a graphic of just some of the expansive, beautiful views to be seen in Iceland.

Deforested Iceland

However, Iceland’s natural beauty is not natural at all. Instead, it was the Vikings that started terraforming Iceland to become what many feel today to be natural awe-inspiring beauty. For depending where you read, Iceland’s green areas were once composed of 40% forests when the Vikings arrived. Over the centuries that followed, with unrestrained wood harvesting and creation of grazing land for sheep, horses and cows, the land now can barely support trees and we indeed we saw precious few trees on the trip.

Icelanders and foreigners alike boast of the natural beauty of Iceland, but there is nothing natural about this beauty. Once again, human standards of beauty prove themselves to be unsustainable.

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Who Voted for Trump?

Voting Strategies

My sweetheart and I recently returned from a vacation in Iceland where both of us, being outgoing people, had the pleasure of talking with many people: airbnb hosts, hitchhikers, store keepers and fellow pub denizens. Most of these people, learning we were American, eventually wanted to talk about Trump, and all of them wanted to be sure we too would shake our heads in disbelief of not only our President but of the stupid Americans who voted for him. But instead of joining into this predictable, generic, back-slapping conversation (one of my least favorite), I steered the non-Americans’ discussion in one about how American’s vote — not who they voted for.

Above is a diagram to illustrate the blow approximation of those conversations:

Lots of different types of people voted for Donald Trump and they voted for very different reasons:

1) Party: There are obviously a large number who just vote to support their party because they view the opposite as worse.

2) Issue Oriented: This is a large group of people who do not vote by looking at the big picture but have some personal issue that is very important to them. For that issue, they will often overlook many other downsides.

3) Change: And then there were those who simply wanted change.

4) Stability: As opposed to change, there are those who feared the other candidate would bring a change they did not want.

5) Demographics: Lots of folks just like their own kind. For instance, I met many women who were unabashed about voting for Hilary Clinton because they felt it was time for a woman in the white house.

6) Personality: Some folks are drawn to the charisma, flare or style of the candidate.

The diagram should make all this clear. And if my listeners still could not see how such different strategies could have still have captured about 50% of America, I pointed out how their own country has voted for less than desirable leaders in their past or present also, using the same strategies.

Finally, I pointed out one of my biggest criticism of those ranting against Trump or against their own populist candidates, I pointed out that with such a wide base, even if the candidate loses or is impeached, their base with all that dissatisfaction still thrives in their country and my country, begging to be further addressed.

Question for readers:  Your thoughts?


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Congratulations to My College Freshman

My 18-year-old son will start his first year at University tomorrow! He has been a joy to raise, a hilarious pleasure to befriend, and an honor to learn from. I will miss him immensely but hope that my pride in his amazing transition and new freedom will console my loss.

Besides this salute to my son, this post is also my cheers to the rest of you students moving on and my congrats to the parents, guardians and teachers who helped them get there.


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