Saturday, January 17, 2015

Speech


Speech  has never been, and will never be, "free".

As a result of a terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, there has been a lot of wholly incomplete discussion about "freedom of speech". Often, the argument jumps back and forth endlessly between the notions that a) no one should be offended, and b) no one has the right to be protected from such offense. Sometimes the discussion involves people who have no history whatsoever of observing that idea, which would be funny at another time.

All of these arguments stop short of really meaning anything. It's sloganeering. If you can get someone to say something, then they think they have actually done something, when they have not.

I expect this sort of confusion, this sort of "spatter" to continue so long as the common mind does not recognize the difference between speech and action. Idealists apparently think that speech is all that is required– for instance, that the Founding Fathers simply argued the United States into existence. The next step - the commission of actual violence in support of the ideas derived in the practice of free speech - might as well be on another planet for them. So, of course speech becomes the new violence. What did you expect would result from raising a generation of bedwetters?

To change the subject by way of example, people were similarly flabbergasted by the idea of flying airplanes into skyscrapers. They called it "cowardice", not once recognizing that the fear calling that word into existence was their own, NOT that of the hijackers.
The public does hold gross conceptual errors close to its heart. These have just been two of them.

Don't forget: run your mouth, all you have done is run your mouth.
Mao said, "Power flows from the barrel of a gun." Never forget that this is the next step after speech.
To forget this - to think that arguing actually produces anything but argument - is to focus so intently on one's ego that one will be tragically surprised by those who eventually take action. An opportunist may appear who knows this:
"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

The USA has already decided to strip-search its own population for wanting to travel on an airplane, its schools already contain police and some state photo IDs are prohibited from use to enter Federal property. Hmm.

Speech, as enumerated as a right in the American Constitution, is actually paid for by the exercise of the commensurate responsibilities obliged of every citizen. A failure to monitor and control what public officials do in the wake of such events as the Charlie Hebdo attack can and will lead to public action which gets Americans restricted, regulated and even killed for no gain, pursuing ideas found tasty with chips and a Coke™ while sitting comfortably in front of a TV.

Change the channel.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Revealed: A Key Issue in Discipline and Training - For All Ages

You have never realized your emotions can block you from learning.

There is a comedy routine by Kevin Hart in which his mother is shouting at him - roughly, "You cannot be this stupid, Kevin! One plus one! Tell me, what is ONE PLUS ONE!"

Although Mr. Hart is storytelling, the reason his stories have an audience is that they are credible. I don't think he realizes just how credible this routine is.

In that skit, his younger self is paralyzed with fear of his mother. We can see the sweat on him as he desperately tries to please Mom with the answer to a simple problem in arithmetic.

Have you ever noticed that this level of stress can do the same thing to you today? If your spouse is screaming at you, or the truck horn is signalling your immediate and firy death, you can't do arithmetic. Damn, you can't even text and drive, much less do that arithmetic - not even "one plus one…". So…

Now for the big reveal: have you ever noticed that children have no experience with training and reason? Just how are you to penetrate the consciousness of a misbehaving child other than pain?

Most Americans struggle with manufactured questions about child discipline. Somehow, we are incapable of noting the difference between smacking a child as summary punishment and child abuse - the infliction of permanent injuries. Yet, that sentence in bold up there has always been true, and it is the reason that if little Susie or José is throwing a fit, reasoning always fails to bring them out of their internally manufactured acute outrage.

Politicians know that if they can engage your emotions, they can get you to do things you wouldn't let farm animals get away with in the light of reason, and you're an adult. Before you grew up, you didn't even have a chance at logic.

Calm down, and remember that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Difference Between Faith and Expectation

You Can Cripple Yourself Without Knowing It

Many times over the years, I have been asked about faith. Very rarely has the person asking intended to talk about anything but their own.
Yet a quick look at Adherents.com reveals that almost no one has the same idea about what constitutes faith. Most have no idea, even, what other people take for granted as “true”, and fewer still realize that this word, "TRUE", has a logical definition.

So, I find it necessary to distinguish between faith and expectation first - and then, between directed and non-directed faith. Yep, these things exist. Here’s how:

Expectation signifies a process by which cause and effect can be shown to produce generally repeatable results. For instance, when ordering a pizza, one can find a number in a phone book for a physical address you can actually visit; when calling the number, someone who actually handles pizza answers specific questions. You can find someone who has actually ordered pizza and gotten it. When you call, you have the expectation that the process will be successful in your case because it has been demonstrated, and conclusively. You are not surprised at success, AND you can obtain redress for poor service.
Faith has no such structure. A promise is made that a particular result will follow an action on the part of the person expressing faith, but the promise is not made by any person cited as responsible for results; actually, no one in sight of the supplication has ever seen effect follow cause. In short, pizza is promised by someone who has not only never seen the pizza delivered, he cannot say where it is coming from, or even what it looks like. Of course, there is always a ready answer if this figurative pizza does not arrive.

Faith has its own, extremely potent irony: it is not possible to have faith in something which can be shown to exist.

There is a difference between directed and non-directed faith.
In directed faith, a particular deity or agent has focus in the supplicant’s wishes for peace and success. The individual prays to God™, Jesus™, Allah™ or another entity in particular. A less-focused version of directed faith is often expressed that a governmental agency will "take care" of us. 
Non-directed faith - far more widely practiced, since everybody does this - is the expression of hope that the uncountable external forces which surround us do not interfere with our progress and/or health. This hope is actively coupled with denial that anything bad could happen in the near future.

This has nothing to do with the magnitude or value imagined by the faithful. Each of these above illustrate the utility of belief.
A belief is a sort of stepping stone, on which one can stand long enough to get on with life. Never dependent on logic or reason (be careful - do NOT use colloquialisms for "logic" or "reason"), a belief generally has as its major component an emotional commitment. This is due to its being a tool to counter fear of the unknown.

The price of awareness is discontent - a price many will simply refuse to pay in full. Yet it is necessary to take on part of that burden of awareness, and that depends on reason. Author J.M. Straczynski said it well: “Faith and Reason are like the two shoes on your feet: you can go farther with both than with either one.”
But you have to be careful about those definitions. Confusing faith for reason, and vice versa, will strand you as you build a false foundation for yourself, and leave you vulnerable to truly tragic disappointment.

You can still dream, but the plan for getting to the land of your dreams depends on reasoning.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Minimum Wage Debate: You Have Never Thought About "One Hour of Work"

If you think raising the minimum wage  - or even the existence of a minimum wage - is a good idea, think again.

Whenever a hike is mentioned, pundits actually ask a very good question:

Why not make it $20 an hour? $100 per hour?

Have you answered that? Because that's only a matter of degree. It's logical to ask that.
The fact of the matter is that there is an effect on cost that is invisible unless you know how the market for labor works. When you hike the minimum wage, you devalue the dollar immediately and for real. This is because there is no change in the amount of work obtained for more dollars!

Let me spell this out for you.

The DOLLAR is a marker, which people use for trade. Left to themselves, people decide how many dollars are appropriate to trade for a product or service. There is always a ratio of the number of dollars needed to obtain a product or service, and this ratio is established by the customers. It is known as "what the market will bear".
When speaking about a service, that is, labor, there is always a unit involved: One Hour Of Work.

Now, there is a fundamental quality to this which no one seems to realize. One Hour Of Work cannot be changed by anyone - not government, not an individual... and satisfactory work always has the same quality to it: the Hour Of Work produced the desired result.

Now, here comes a government agent, who or which has decided that the long-term effects of legislation are insignificant next to the good will and votes available by appealing to that mysterious demographic, "the poor", and people sympathetic to their plight. Somehow, it is impossible for an American to earn "a living wage" without government action (you MUST IGNORE the success of illegal immigrants for this case). The agent declares, by law, that One Hour Of Work must cost at least X dollars. Now, the ratio of the number of dollars needed to obtain a product or service is established by the government.

The law has just set a number of dollars as being worth One Hour Of Work. When that number is increased - by the SAME entity which establishes "full faith and credit" for those dollars - the actual value of each dollar is immediately decreased.

Remember - glue this to your forehead if you will forget it - legislation cannot change an hour of work. It can only change the number of dollars required to pay for it.

Maybe I should say that again for you, since a lot of people don't seem to get it:  legislation cannot change an hour of work. It can only change the number of dollars required to pay for it.

And have you noticed this? "Government", or the employer, is not paying the unskilled worker more - YOU ARE. It is always the customer who pays the cost of any business. You are not changing this, either.

Want a great example? Look at any Federal facility, like Savannah River Site. Workers there make quite a bit more than minimum wage, which you might grant because of the hazards of radioactive waste -- but will you get more work if you raise their pay? NO. The work is determined by the process, not by wage legislation. If they - I - were granted a raise, you, the taxpayer, would pay more for the exact same tasks.

How do you like that idea?

Remember asking when you would ever use algebra in the real world? Well, here you go: what happens when you add the same amount everywhere? Yes, when you hike everyone's pay, nobody is better off. They just feel that way momentarily because they see a bigger number on their paycheck.

Go look on the shelf at the supermarket, at the gas pump, in a jeweler's cabinet and see what you're supporting by way of price hikes. It's not "them" - it was you, supporting minimum wage. The entire reason illegal immigrants are here and textile jobs are overseas.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What Do You Really Know?

Especially now that Facebook has allowed the speedy delivery of idiocy and nonsense from all over pop culture, I thought it might help if we all had somewhere equally speedy to look to figure out if what is posted is "the real deal". So, in addition to Snopes.com, here are a few links to help you figure out if your buddy's ladder has a top step:

Engineering Issues:
Now and then, somebody will post something nuts about how human artifacts are built. Try The Engineering Toolbox
Few things online indicate the advanced state of the scientific arts better than this page from the National Institute of Science and Technology...
Keep in mind that technology is not a thing - it is the process that allows things to be made!

Aircraft:
You might have a problem with statements about air travel.
The ultimate crash data center is the Joint Air Crash Data Evaluation Center
A ridiculously complete photographic archive - of everything that flies! - is at Airliners.net
If you want a pilot's perspective of how the aircraft industry is run, including some observations about the current state of American airline security, you can Ask The Pilot

Religion:
Ahh, yes, the subject best not mentioned in polite company!
Here's a list of most of them, along with summaries of their tenets and popularity by sect.
Hope you picked the "right" one... not much in that list is logical, and what they claim is surprisingly limited if you don't realize how much real study goes on elsewhere.

Earth Studies:
There is a HUGE amount of material to study at Darwiniana . In case you have a problem with the title of that Web site, well, you can independently find many of the same things by going to:
If you'd like to see photo-detail of the Earth itself, few things are as fun as Google Earth. The Moon and Mars are also shown in detail there courtesy of the Lunar and Mars Reconaissance Orbiters. Also, you can actually get Google Street View to show you what the Martian landers are seeing!
There are a couple of other places to find amazing photos. Take a look at Mars and Saturn while you're browsing. Those Cassini probe people have a lot for you.

Public Issues:
You might be fond of a particular personality to get your news. That's not such a good thing. You should know the difference between such editorial content and the information source. Do you know where to find the actual content of legislative bills? Right here: The Library of Congress 
You might not know how many atom bombs the USA has tested, much less how many have been tested elsewhere; did you think that Iraq had no WMD program, because you forgot that the Israelis bombed it? Anyway, here's a fascinating report on those weapons: The Nuclear Weapons Archive

Discussion Tool:
A fallacy is a statement containing a flaw which immediately invalidates that statement. Here is a list of those fallacies. If you want to make a point and make it true, you don't have a choice - you MUST avoid these!

Check back now and then. I have more!