Alien Leaders Are Schmucks Too!

One of my favorite programs on TV is Ancient Aliens. For those who aren’t familiar with the program, it explores the hypothesis that extra-terrestrials have been visiting Earth and interfering in the affairs of humanity for thousands of years. They go through the evidence, examine the theories, and generally turn alien intrigue into entertainment.

Anyway, the other night I watched several episodes. According to the program, sometime in the 1950’s, an alien being named “Valiant Thor” landed on planet Earth and had a meeting with the President of the United States. Basically, the alien wanted to convey extra-terrestrial concern over the development of and use of nuclear weapons. Watching the program was the first I’ve ever heard of “Valiant Thor.”

Surprised?

One of the more common theories concerning aliens is that the U.S. government knows far more about aliens than they are letting on. Theories abound—and the occasional rebel official validates—about how the government has numerous contacts with multiple alien species. But they are keeping it secret from us. Because, well, they’re a bunch of jerks. Complete and utter schmucks.

If aliens are out there, and they’re visiting Earth, and our government knows about it; we, the population of the United States, have a right to know. We’re big boys and girls. We can handle it. There is no good reason for the government to keep such information from us.

Now what about the aliens?

Can’t they settle this mystery and just land a spaceship on the White House Lawn in broad daylight? I mean, all things considered, our tech is getting pretty advanced. We’re almost at the point of the commercial exploration of space. Well, maybe our super advanced fighter jets scare the alien spaceships away … but I’m not buying that, as their tech probably blows ours away in spades. Regardless, at the very least, don’t you think that the aliens could hijack a TV signal or something similar and announce their presence to our population? Why wouldn’t they?

The only reason I can think of is that the aliens, too, want their existence and identity to remain hidden from us. In which case, I am forced to conclude that the alien leaders, too, are schmucks.

I Have A Mathematical Mind

I have a mathematical mind. It is the curse of being a philosopher, or rather, having a philosophical bent. I studied mathematics and philosophy in college. Then, I went back and studied computer science. I’ve had more logic than I know what to do with. And sometimes that is a severe disadvantage. Because a mathematical mind is often an inflexible mind.

In my case, I look at things as either true or false. In mathematics, for example, most problems have definitive answers. If you do the work and follow it, you can establish the truthfulness or falsity of an assertion with certainty. When the answer to a mathematical question is found, it is established and irrefutable. Math is the only science like that; math is the only science in which the term “proof” has its truest meaning. Unfortunately, it is an open question whether or not the field of mathematics actually applies to the world. Back when I was studying philosophy, there were basically three (or was it five?) theories on what mathematics actual is. There was Plato’s view of mathematics; that is, it is about the eternal relationships between real properties (Plato’s Theory of Forms). There was Kant’s view of mathematics; that is, it is really the result of the structure of the human mind. And there were three other theories, I think, although I remember only one: that mathematics is just a game. In my view, the solution is either Kant or Plato. Either two plus two equals four because the property of twoness always leads to four when it is doubled (Plato), or because we can’t see the relationship any other way, because our minds are structured that way and limited. As far as math being a game … that never satisfied me. I’ve gone off on a tangent here; let me try to get back. The original point was: How does math apply to the world? If Plato is right, it is a part of the world. If Kant is right, it’s a part of our minds. If the game theory is right, it is an invention of our own making.

Once I was in a stock room trying to put together a shelf. The shelves didn’t quite fit right. I could tell by looking at the shelf that the angle was off slightly, and that geometrically, the shelves would never fit. Hence, it was no use trying to make them fit and I gave up the cause as hopeless. Whereupon, my boss and another individual promptly forced the shelf into place through brute force and completed the shelf. As rigid as metal is, it does bend; it is not as rigid as a perfect geometrical line. Metal can be distorted. Errors can be forced. So what was the geometry of the situation? It could describe the shelf effectively, but in a manner that led one to believe the problem had no solution. In such a situation, it doesn’t seem that the mathematics was “real.” Brute force could conquer it. The real world could resolve the problem where math indicated there was no solution. Upon reflection it appears that geometry, my Euclidean understanding of it, anyway, was derived from the real world; that pure math exists only in the  human mind. That said, if pushed, I can give you a few examples from Number Theory where the opposite is true; situations that absolutely can’t be forced, where a mathematical determination of “the solution is impossible” guarantees that the solution is, in fact, impossible. So, what is mathematics? I don’t know. All I know is that I tend to think along mathematical lines.

It’s great to have an analytical mathematical mind, but it also stinks like a rotten egg; I have the common sense of a stone. I’ve spent most of my life proving that last and it’s something I don’t think I can change.

Satan’s Play: Dreams and Visions

Satan’s Play: Dreams and Visions

Those readers of mine familiar with my delusion, if delusion it truly be, may find some of this entry familiar. I’ve written of it before elsewhere on this site and in other writings. However, let me recap some of the highlights of my “delusion.” I believe Satan and the Universe are one and the same thing (I also believe Barak Obama is Satan, or an appendage of Satan, if you will, but that’s not really relevant to this particular post). I believe all the religions in the world were inspired by Satan’s activities on this earth; he set them up according to his own desires to get us to “worship” him when we thought we were worshiping God. The God I believe in doesn’t really want worship. He wants love, and that is not the same thing. He’ll put up with the worship because he understands us and our needs.

But enough about God. Back to Satan.

Satan is evil and he is hell-bent (forgive the pun) on getting us to worship him, even when we don’t realize we are actually worshiping him. He doesn’t care if we know or not; he just wants us to pray to him. To that end, he can respond to prayers or take activities like sending dreams or visions to us.

Imagine, if you will, an Islamic terrorist has a vision telling him to blow something up and kill some people. How can we make sense of that? We can analyze the vision as A) God or some other benevolent supernatural entity told the terrorist to blow something up—but that hardly fits our notion of God as a loving Creator or the premise that it is a benevolent entity responsible for the vision. Or we can analyze the vision as B) no entity is responsible; it is just a product of the brain without any connection to a supernatural reality. Lastly, we can have C) some malevolent supernatural entity is responsible for providing the vision while working disguised as a benevolent entity. I suppose you could also have a neutral entity responsible, but I’ll just group that in A) as well. Regardless of what the source of the vision might be, removing the impetus it provides would be virtually impossible. A vision, presumably from God, which dovetailed with the so-called “teachings” of the religion, and the understanding of that religion, to a practitioner of that religion would simply reinforce the beliefs, even should they be terrible and heinous beliefs, of that practitioner. If all the world is telling you not to kill someone, and yet the God you are devoted to, to whom you pray every day, is contradicting that and telling you to go and kill … to whom will you listen? Devout individuals will listen to their God every single time.

It is my belief that ‘divinely inspired’ visions supporting acts of violence and murder would be evidence of a malevolent entity interfering in human affairs, and I would call that entity “Satan.” Surely, the visions do not come from God. They might be just some figments of the brain, or they could be the result of some other mysterious entity that thinks very little of us.

Anyway, that pretty much describes how I think Satan could use religion as a tool to wreak destruction. Or, perhaps I’m guilty of judging God. I believe I’m the antichrist, so treat everything I say as suspect.

Our Dystopian Future

I volunteer at a Food Shelf. Sometimes it’s slow and we are left to ourselves to amuse ourselves with myriad tasks and conversation. A recent conversation drifted into the darker possibilities of our future.

Basically, the possibilities of technology are getting scarier and scarier.

It started with my lamentations concerning the influence the government has on the Food Shelf; we get food from them, and that, of course, comes with some strings attached. Not my problem, because I’m not particularly high up in the organization. But we discussed that for a bit, and then we moved into stranger and more frightening territory.

Somehow we got onto the subject of humans being implanted with computer chips when they are born. One of my co-volunteers said that was likely in our future. She didn’t seem alarmed…. until I came up with a few disturbing possibilities. Remember Snowden? All the NSA secrets? No doubt that was made possible through the government calling some shots at the point of origin of computer manufacturing. I assume that there is some secret hardware or something in all the computers ever made (yeah, I’m a little paranoid—or am I?). Will they have similar programs for these computer chips inserted in our bodies? Yes, the chips can monitor blood cell counts, temperature, etc… But what’s to stop them from putting in other “stuff.” Like, perhaps, a minute, but deadly, toxin. Someone is causing problems, and the government activates the “kill switch” through a simple wireless command. And the person dies seemingly of natural causes.

The same woman mentioned flu shots. And me in my paranoia wondered aloud about what if they’re doing this now? What else could they put into a flu shot besides the flu shot? The development of nano-technology opens floodgates of abuse here. The shot isn’t manufactured by the hospital—we would probably trust the hospital. But if the government were so inclined, they could inject nano-chips into flu shots. And flu shots and other shots can become mandatory all too quickly (because the scientists demand it).

This is all kind of spooky. I have no evidence to think that such is actually happening, at least, not here in the U.S. But it could happen in a not-too-distant future, particularly in a totalitarian state. Like I implied earlier, just think Snowden at an even more perverse level.

Happy Halloween!

Safe Spaces In The Modern Age

Lately, I’ve heard a lot about “Safe Spaces” in the news. Universities are establishing Safe Spaces” for their students. Their students, apparently, think they have the right to be protected from all things that might impinge upon their views and make them feel uncomfortable. If anything makes them uncomfortable and violates their “Safe Space,” they say that they feel “triggered.” And being “triggered” is bad. Of course, it is usually the conservative viewpoint that is the source of this “triggering” and violation of a “Safe Space,” so their answer is to shut down the free speech of conservatives on their campus.

I used to think, with little reflection on my part, all the “Safe Space” stuff and talk of “triggers” was silly and stupid.

Then, recently, I ran across it in its proper place. As readers of this blog know, I’m … okay, I’m totally insane. I believe I’m the antichrist, etc… etc… As a result, I see a psychiatrist. I also recently started attending a group meeting for individuals suffering from mental illness: basically, group therapy, almost—lacking only the therapist. It was at the latter that I first heard people talking about “Safe Spaces” and “Triggers” in a venue that makes sense. A distinction must be made between a university and a therapy session. The therapy session (and the close approximation which I attend) is, and deserves to be, a Safe Space. Confidentiality is maintained. Deeply personal issues are discussed and dealt with. Emotional arguments are avoided. And that’s all great and fine … for a therapy session. Not a lecture, or a talk, or any kind of presentation, especially at a university which is supposed to be a bastion of free speech and the free exchange of ideas.

There are other “Safe Spaces” which I feel obliged to mention. First, there’s the psychiatrist appointment. I’ve had plenty of those. What gets discussed there, stays there. And I’m not going to confuse a psychiatric appointment with a college lecture.

Here’s another “Safe Space” which I think many people have forgotten about: The Confessional. This is a Catholic Sacrament (I don’t know if any other religions have this or anything like it). Here, the Christian can find absolution for their sins. They can talk about anything they are feeling guilty about under the Seal of the Confessional, so that confidentiality is maintained. Yes, Jesus of Nazareth instituted the first “Safe Space” two thousand years ago, in a proper venue long before any psychologist or psychiatrist existed, let alone thought it up. (Yeah, Jesus!)

And one of the hallmarks of Jesus’ “Safe Space” is privacy. What is discussed therein is between the priest, the sinner, and God. It is not regurgitated for everyone else. It is held separate and distinct from the rest of your life. You find forgiveness and move on. And you don’t expect others to barge in on your Confession; it doesn’t belong in the public sphere where the free exchange of ideas should reign.

Those are the only “Safe Spaces” I can think of: Therapy Sessions, Group Therapy, Psychiatric Appointments, and The Sacrament of Confession. There may be a few others, but probably not many. The point is, they are separate from the rest of your life, they are like escape valves for emotional pressure. They are beneficial and good, but it is unrealistic to expect the rest of your life to operate under the same rules as these.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for this post.

Sex and Safety (The Mathematics of Condom Use—to be Geeky)

Let me preface this entry by saying I was raised Catholic. I attended Catholic schools and I attended Catholic Mass for most, if not all, of my formative years. It is the position of the Catholic Church that sex outside of marriage is a sin. I believed that all the way up until my first day at college. Then, I pathetically crumbled under peer pressure.

Anyway, I just want to point out a few things that somebody should.

Is there such a thing as safe sex? I would say, no. There is only safer sex.

Let’s deal with condoms. Last time I checked the stat, condoms had a 10% failure rate. Or, a 90% success rate. Which seems like a good thing and an excellent precaution to take before having sex. However, let’s not kid ourselves: Alone, condoms hardly provide a silver bullet of protection. A 10% failure rate means that condoms will fail once every ten times they are used. The problem is that sex is not something you do just once and never again. The sexually active have sex repeatedly.

Assuming you are using condoms in your relationship, a reasonable estimate of the frequency of sex is probably about three times per week. If we allow one extra act of copulation over a three week period that means after three weeks a couple will have had sex 10 times and, with the failure rate of 1 in 10, that means the couple will have their first statistically guaranteed condom failure within that time period.  Now, how dangerous is this?

The average menstrual cycle is about 28 days. We’ll be generous and say 30 days. Now, a woman is—I’ve forgotten the correct word—capable of being impregnated for a (we’ll say) 3 day period over these thirty days. So, if a woman has sex on a random day, there is a 1 in 10 chance that she will be impregnated. So, if there is one condom failure every three weeks resulting in a single random impregnation attempt, there is a 1 in 10 chance that the woman will be impregnated after three weeks of a sexually active relationship. The math here is pretty simple: from here, it is apparent that after 30 weeks, the condom will fail 10 times. As the chance of impregnation is 1 in 10, the chance the woman is impregnated after 30 week is 10 in 10, or 100%.

Let me repeat that: if a couple only uses condoms and they have sex three times a week every week, by the time week thirty rolls around, the woman is statistically guaranteed to become pregnant. It’s possible my stats are off (I never took statistics, but this is pretty basic math … all 1 in 10’s and stuff), but I’ve gone over this a couple times. My math appears accurate to me.

That’s pregnancy. Thirty weeks (or approximately seven months).

As for disease, it all depends on the degree to which an exposure occurs with every failure. Perhaps a failed condom usage still provides better protection than no condom at all (for that one time—obviously, for the nine times it works, it is better protection). I don’t know. What I do know is that after three weeks there will be some, at least limited, exposure … statistically speaking.

So what does all this mean? Particularly with how we educate the young regarding sex?

I think an ABC approach is probably the best. Actually, I just looked it up: ABC is Abstinence, Be Faithful, and use a Condom. I originally thought the ‘B’ meant Birth Control, not Be Faithful. Anyhow, given the above, condoms alone aren’t good enough. You should probably throw in other birth control measures like the pill (I think they are actually assumed in the ABC approach, but I wanted stipulate that with certainty). Of course, some people have moral problems with that (as well as condoms, or even sex in general), but I’m not going to explore that topic here. I was only interested in discussing the “mathematics of condom usage.”

Somebody should. It’s not safe sex; it’s safer sex. And that is an important distinction to make, because over time your odds get progressively worse. Seven months. That’s how much time you buy.

50 Pieces of Truth

Knowledge is a tricky thing. Philosophers have been haranguing the issue for thousands of years trying to come up with a precise definition of the term. Knowledge is not the same as truth, but they are related. Philosophers are big on truth as well. That said, I’m not writing a piece on ontology, nor am I writing a piece on epistemology. I am assuming you understand the terms ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth,’ even though in some fashion I am almost using them interchangeably below.
We acquire knowledge through learning, which is a lifelong process. Although I use the term ‘we,’ knowledge is strictly an individual term. ‘We’ knows nothing when understood as a collective. Only individual’s know things. The knowledge of an individual consists of many truths. The types and number of truths change throughout a lifetime. The very young know the least; sometimes the very old suffer a dearth of knowledge as well. What does an individual do with his/her knowledge? He/she must share it.
Some known truths are complete on their own; others are partially complete requiring a missing kernel that one might not have. Still others are out-and-out falsehoods and are not properly called truths, but false beliefs instead.
I know a finite number of things—truths, if you will. Let us say that I have 50 pieces of truth, and you have 50 pieces as well. Or perhaps, you have 55 or maybe 45. The precise number doesn’t matter; it’s what we do with them that counts.
What do we do with them? As I said above, we share them. We must talk about them, examine them, and study them together. Perhaps you have a truth that I don’t have, but through our calm, civilized dialogue, I can acquire it. Likewise, with my input, perhaps one of your partial truths will become complete. So, we both gain. And the treasures we gain are really quite profound, because what is more valuable than truth? Through calm, peaceful dialogue we can increase our supply of truth, and purify the trove that is already there.
So, if I have 50 pieces of truth, I should long to get 51. And the same for you. Of course, conversation is a two-way street. It doesn’t work, if only one side wishes to talk.
Talking. So simple. Yet, so profound.