Monday, October 31, 2005


Perceptions of Good and Evil-- II

Human Universals

A far more penetrating analysis of the human traits that are the likely basis of our moral codes was conducted by anthropologist Donald E. Brown (Human Universals), and by Michael Shermer (The Science of Good and Evil).

Of the 373 human universals identified by Brown, a total of 202 were selected by Shermer as being directly related to religious and moral behavior. It would be too laborious to list here all 202 of these universals, so the following sampling of them is meant to be representative of the whole, and to have some correspondence with the earlier listing above of “the good and moral.” Notes in parentheses are from Michael Shermer's book, The Science of Good and Evil:

Age status (vital element in social status)
Anthropomorphization (sic) (attribution of human traits to God)
Anticipation (assessing future consequences of actions)
Attachment (bonding, pro-social behavior)
Belief in Supernatural/Religion (basis of the codification of morality)
Beliefs about death (basis for belief in an afterlife)
Classification of behavioral trends ( basis of judging moral traits)
Coalitions (foundation for group and social morality)
Conflict (foundation of much moral behavior)
Conjectural reasoning (necessary for moral judgment)
Decision-making (foundation for moral judgment and resolution)
Distinguishing right from wrong (foundation for all moral judgment and ethical systems)
Economic inequalities ( status and hierarchy disputes)
Emotions (necessary for moral sense)
Empathy (necessary for moral sense)
Envy (moral trait)
Facial expressions (communication of moral judgments)
Fairness (foundation of social/moral justice)
Family (the most basic moral unit)
Fear of death (foundation for many religions)
Fears (generates much moral behaviors)
Figurative Speech (necessary for moral reasoning)
Future predictions (necessary for moral judgment)
Good and Bad distinguished (necessary for moral judgment)
Hope (higher moral reasoning)
Identity, collective (necessary for group moral relations)
Imagery (necessary for symbolic moral reasoning and judgment)
Institutions (organized co-activities/religions)
Intention (part of moral reasoning and judgment)
Judging others (foundation for moral approval/disapproval)
Kin (foundation of kin selection and basic moral groups)
Language (communication of moral approval/disapproval; symbolic moral reasoning)
Law (foundation of social harmony)
Likes and Dislikes (foundation of moral judgment)
Logical notions ( basis for expression of symbolic moral reasoning)
Magic (religion and superstitious behavior)
Male and Female roles and behavior ( differences in moral behavior)
Marriage (moral rules of foundatio0nal relationship)
Moral sentiments (the foundation of all moral morality)
Past, Present and Future (necessary for symbolic moral reasoning)
Person, concept of (foundation for moral judgment)
Property (foundation of moral reasoning and judgment)
Reciprocity (positive or negative reenforcement of altruism)
Redress of wrongs (moral conflict resolution)
Sanctions (social moral control)
Self-image (awareness of what others think. Foundation for moral reasoning)
Sex and Sexuality (foundation of major moral relations and tensions)
Socialization (foundation of morality in humans)
Statuses and roles (foundation of morality in humans)
Succession (foundation of social hierarchy)
Symbolic Speech (foundation of moral reasoning and communication)
Symbolism (foundation of moral reasoning)
Taboos (moral and social control)
Time sense (religion, moral reasoning)
True and False (necessary for moral assessment and judgment)
Weapons and forms of Violence (conflict resolution and control)
World view (foundation of all religion and morality)

Oh, what a complex web we weave! So, one might test one's moral code against such a list to see whether it goes with the grain or counter to it. Better yet, one might try to construct a personal code that accounts for the impact on each of these Universals! Especially if one uses the main list of 373 universals! Truly a nightmare semantic network, but of what use are these human universal building blocks if they cannot be employed to analyze the moral dilemmas or moral questions that humans find themselves ensnared in? Parenthetically, it is somewhat amazing that a list of only 373 Universals can be reasonably complete in describing human traits and concepts.

Perhaps this very complexity accounts for the proven need to teach and re- enforce the teaching of morals and ethics of our society throughout one's lifetime. The weaker the programs of teaching morals in homes, family, schools and churches, the less likely the students and adults are to grasp the full import of the moral lessons they are being exposed to, and hence, the less likely they are to make these morals their own. Then too, for adults it is difficult to see where they will be exposed to the full panoply of morality, moral reasoning, and moral judgment short of a strong religious affiliation, university courses in morality, or at least a thorough self-education program.

(to be continued)

Friday, October 28, 2005


Bad Weeks in Washington

A few of the messes for the past weeks:

The war in Iraq continues, with now over 2,000 US troops killed.
Iraq has a Constitution, but the Sunnis don't buy into it.
Three hurricanes pummel the South, and FEMA boots their role.
Harriet Miers withdraws her bid for the Supreme Court.
Bush may still not put up a true Constitutionalist this time, since he is weaker.
Scooter is indicted on five counts, and will be ruined financially, even if he is exonerated.
Karl Rove may still feel the heat, perhaps Monday.
Social Security reform is trashed by the Left, to their everlasting shame.
Iillegal immigrants still flood the Southwest, despite words from the President, and little else.
North Korea and Iran are still defiant in continuing to build nuclear weapons.
Syria is not reining in its support for the Islamic Jihad, nor is Iran or Saudi Arabia.
The Europeans are continuing to be snooty and snotty, despite their Islamic and financial perils.
The MSM is its old self, posting biased stories.
We still don't get a full picture of the progress in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The deficit and the government grow apace.
Gas at the pump is still $3.00 a gallon, and the oil companies are posting record profits.

I'd say it's business as usual, almost as bad as if the Democrats were in power!

But not quite! At least we don't have to learn French or Hillaryspeak. Not yet, anyway.

Are we having fun yet?


Good and Evil

Perceptions of Good and Evil -- I

For me it is rather simple. There are good things, ideas, actions, and people in the world. There are also evil things, ideas, actions and people, and they are always with us. I was taught a morality or moral code from birth, and I hold to it even now as best I can as a human being. Today, so many of us take a relativistic view of good and evil: According to some, it depends on your point of view, the circumstances, or the time, whether an act or an idea is moral or not. In other words, to them, good and evil are relative, and there is no such thing as an absolute good or an absolute evil. Christians find that the teachings of Jesus reflect moral absolutes, as do the Ten Commandments and other related commands from god. These moral principles are taken on faith as being absolute, and are therefore an integral part of the Christian religion.

One's moral choices are exercised in the here and now and in the society in which we find ourselves. In fact, if one holds to a moral code, one practices it everywhere, with but few exceptions if any at all.

From whence do our morals and ethics come? They are embedded in our Constitution and our laws at every level; they are taught to us by our parents, relations, acquaintances and teachers as being the norms for our society almost from the first time we can understand sentences; they are taught to us by our business and social relations day-to-day; and they are taught to us by our religious faith and training, for example The Ten Commandments. Many find moral principles to abide by in their reading of literature, or in movies or television shows. (That they also witness and read about the depraved shenanigans of the amoral or immoral is also true.). The ideas of truth, honesty, justice, freedom, and liberty, are all familiar as moral concepts we hold to be good for all.

But there are hundreds more words or phrases that embody the essence of moral principles that we either honor or not. One can say that to honor and live by a moral code is good, and to live without a moral code, or to live a moral code that is opposed to the norm of one's society is evil. Evil will be punished by that society.
It is true that moral codes differ from place to place around the world, for the obvious reason that such codes are largely self-evolved by a given society, religion and culture.

Even moral principles that we in the West hold very sacred are not constant worldwide. Murder is evil to us, but to some societies, it is just fine to murder someone who has dishonored your family; an unthinkable act for most of us.

Good Moral Concepts

Honesty-- Your word is your bond.
Respect for, and Obedience of the Constitution and the Law.
Charity -- at Home and Abroad
Religious Precepts –Christian Morals; The Ten Commandments
Especially: Thou Shalt Not Murder (as opposed to thou shalt not kill.)
Being Pro-Life (not to murder babies in the womb!)
Just War – which allows for killing in the line of duty, or in dire necessity for survival.
Respect for Other Religions (that do not harm us, or threaten us)
Freedoms – speech, association, movement, ownership, against search and seizure.
Equality Before the Law
Respect for Individuals (without regard for their race, color, creed, sex, or whatever)
Respect for Opinions of Others (whether you agree with them or not!)(not easy to do!)
Ability to sort out the Good from the Evil
Respect for Property Rights-- Ownership
Respect for Marriage as an Institution
Respect for Family and Family History, Ancestors (but not ancestor worship!)
To Provide for Family
Respect the Rights of Man (as is said: the “unalienable rights”)
Belief in Community, American Style; Neighborliness
Belief in City, County, State, Nation (as they are, and as they evolve)
Community of Nations (that are peaceful, friendly, and nonthreatening)
Allegiances to: home and family, community, city, county, state, nation, organizations
The Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”
The Survival Rule -- If absolutely necessary: “Do unto others before they do unto you!”
Taste, Manners and Etiquette
To Defend the Constitution
To Enjoy Life's Pleasures
Happiness in Outlook and Disposition
To Satisfy Incurred Obligations
Common Sense
Knowledge ( especially of the good, yet to be able to recognize the evil too.)
Experiences and Lessons of Life, Broadening of Outlook
Advancement of Science
Proper Education ( not easy to achieve today, it seems!)
Moderation in All Things (not easy, either)
Ability to Earn (and keep most of what you earn!)
Things that Give Pleasure: Books, Movies, TV, Sports Gear, Dancing, and so on...
Actions that Give Pleasure (but not vices, sins or illegal or hurtful to others)
Small Government
Low Taxes

The Bad and the Evil

Every one of these concepts of what is good and moral has its diametric opposite which is most certainly either unfortunate, bad, if not actually evil to man, in the sense that its opposite does great harm.
Instead of making it easy for others to see the opposites, I will leave it as a simple challenge to readers to define them from the opposites above.

Neutral Ideas and Things

Are there concepts, actions, relations or things that are neutral, in that they are neither good nor bad, but simply ARE? Of course there are such! To list a few things:
The Universe: galaxies, stars, planets, dark matter, comets, asteroids, black holes, space, time, physics and physical laws (as yet discovered by man or not), and the microcosm as well; concepts we have named molecules, atoms, particles, waves, forces, transformations, membranes, and so on, and the apparent laws these things follow.

(To be continued)

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Intuitive Engineering

Sensitivity, Openness, Spiritual Awareness, Communion With a Higher Order

There are moments in life when one feels transported to a higher order of being, thinking, and feeling. These ecstatic moments do not occur often without considerable aid from one's own mindset. One must set the stage in one of several ways: go to a top-rated museum and study the paintings there; go to a symphony by one of the B's or Mozart; or try meditation in the quiet of your own room. The latter is the most convenient, of course, and can be done whenever an opportunity presents itself.

The first benefit of meditation is relaxation of your tense body muscles, and calming of your mind, which is a wonderful way to recoup energy and poise for the rest of the day. The second benefit comes from the communion you may achieve after a bit of practice with your subconscious mind, and with what some practitioners have called the “Universal Mind.”

Not to disagree with those people, I believe the thought-stream one reaches though meditation is most likely coming from the subconscious “recorder” in your mind, where everything you have seen, thought about, read, dreamed, or heard is stored away in brain circuits in case of need. It is indeed a powerful memory, but it is definitely not easy to access for most of us.

The third benefit is problem solving. Once you commit the facts of a problem to the subconscious mind, best done before going to bed at night, and ask the mind to solve it, it is amazing how many times you wake up the next morning with a solution ready in your mind. This appears to work for all manner of problems, and whether you have all the facts or not. The solution you receive may be simply the idea of a textbook you must consult, or a key fact you left out.

The fourth benefit is harder to articulate, but it is free association with the mind-stream you discover and letting ideas and and dream-like sequences happen without any direction on your part. What you will come away with is very dependent on how well you practice meditation, and how well you can control your own reactions to what is being presented to you. I cannot defend such communication in any way. I can't vouch for it's authenticity, nor its source, except that it might be your subconscious mind sending you solutions to your unspoken thoughts and problems. Who knows? Not being a psychiatrist or a psychologist, I am not able to treat these phenomena with any exactness.

But, being somewhat of an “operationalist” I believe in using the faculties I have been given, have discovered and then developed far-enough to be reasonably reliable. And then I believe in verifying what I have been “told” by my subconscious in the light of reality. This method works particularly well in the realm of physics and mathematics as applied to engineering problems. Amazingly well, I must say.

It is almost as if one already had a solution in mind and merely had to open some door to reach it mentally. I would saturate my mind with the facts that I knew, read up on the subject for an hour or two, and then ask for a solution in my meditation session. I called this “intuitive engineering,” but never really explained this somewhat specious method to my fellow engineers, or engineering managers, for fear of being laughed out of the building! But they didn't laugh at the solutions I found somehow! I simply said: “It occurred to me that....” and then gave the solution.

Lately, I have found that it works well over a wide range of problems and subjects. But you must feed that inner mind well first, to give it the basis for its efforts. A good reading program is absolutely essential, in my opinion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005



Dissent is what we do every day!

In simple terms, dissent is a difference of opinion, and it is as natural as waves crashing on the rocks for men to differ in their opinions on most subjects of any real importance. Our Constitution, in allowing free speech, asserts that all citizens have the right and duty to dissent if they believe the government is wrong in its approaches. So, there is no argument that dissent is a proper thing to do in this republican democracy.

The forms of dissent vary from letter-writing, blogging and phone calls, to demonstrations and marches in the streets; and, worse, violence, rioting, and insurrections. The last and most potent form of dissent is revolution to overthrow the government.

I categorically reject the violence, rioting, insurrection and revolutionary actions of misguided souls. There are avenues for dissent built into our system of governance, and those avenues must be used to effect changes. Personally, I believe in the Sedition Act and its application to any man who plots to overthrow the government by force. I believe in application of the treason statute as well, especially during times of war and conflict, whether declared or not.

Those who are impatient with the procedures established to correct the course of government or to change the leaders should rein in their need for speed and let our processes work. The President can be voted down after his allotted four-year term. Senators can be voted out of office after their six years in office, and Representatives can be voted out after two years.

There are impeachment procedures that can be used if the sins of the man in office are recognized by a large majority of Congress as being grave enough to warrant such action. In our system, it is very difficult to impeach a President, convict him, and force him out of office. This is as it should be.

It would be edifying to have the opposition to the current administration draw up an Article of Impeachment against George W. Bush. I can think of few more hypocritical steps than that, since, by their votes, most in Congress have accepted the major tenets of his controversial policies – especially on Iraq. They are therefore equally culpable for any catastrophe that follows, as are the American people, of course, for their support in the first instance. Such a proceeding would not reach the floor of the Congress.

Many on the Left seem to ignore this simple fact: George Bush has the support of a majority of the people if it came to a question of Impeachment, and a majority in Congress as well. This is why I believe such a proceeding would be edifying. It would define in writing just what the charges are, just who is bringing the charges, and what the evidence supporting the charges is. That would be a truly wonderful document to print and use against every signer of the Articles for the next election! But, as I have said, it would be quashed.

This leaves the professional dissenting Bush Haters in the relative limbo of scheming for the next election cycles, springing false conspiracy theories on an unsuspecting public from time to time, with the full help of the Media, and praying for the next hurricane or bomb in Iraq, bless their evil little pointed heads. What a sorry lot!

Friday, October 14, 2005


Here It Is Friday Already!

Yes, Family Does Come First!

My oldest daughter is visiting home from Europe, and plans to stay for another couple of weeks. This does mean I will spend more time away from this PC and Blog for the while. My next serious post will be on Good versus Evil as I see them. Once I got into this subject, it turned out to be quite a bit more complicated than I thought it would be! Why, everyone knows what Good and Evil is, right? We shall see!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Lesson From The Military

The artillery battalions and batteries are constantly on the move to keep up with infantry and armored units on the line of battle. Consequently, they must displace rather often, which means they have to tear down their emplacements, hitch up the howitzers to transport vehicles and race to their newly designated positions, and then dig in and survey their new locations. This is quite a hassle, as you might imagine, and is not particularly welcome, especially when the HQ changes its mind just after a displacement has been effected, and the guns redug into their revetments.

The usual practice, then, that battalion and battery commanders adopt to minimize the pain of displacing often, is not to displace on the first order they receive from HQ. So their rule is clearly: "Don't displace on the first order!" If the move is truly wanted, a confirming order will be forthcoming within several minutes, or a cancellation will come. This saves many a battery from excessive and arduous physical work.

Something like this should be practiced by readers of the MSM. The first breaking stories are most often highly inaccurate and prone to be seriously in error. If we adopt the artillery method, we "don't displace on the first order." A few minutes or hours later, reporting with far greater accuracy will be forthcoming, which often results in massive but subtle corrections of the first reportorial screams of nonsense by field personnel that are dying to be the first to say something important, even if very inaccurately at that moment. This behavior is regularly observed during catastrophes, where the bigger the devastation that can be stated, the more likely the stories are to be placed on the air and the front pages of the MSM.

For example, in the Katrina hurricane situation, we had extreme drownings (some said up to 10,000), riots, killings, rapes and other fantastic stories put on the air which turned out to be sheer vapor. These stories falsely amplified the reportage around the world, and convinced those who did "displace" on the first reporting that we had total chaos there in New Orleans. Which was later shown to be completely untrue, but the images had been set in the minds of many people. Of course, the MSM downplayed their role! Now it is a "given" that Katrina was an absolute mess caused by the government, which is total nonsense!

Take the advice of the artillerymen and don't displace on the first reporting!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


The Supreme Court Nominee

I Suspect She Will be Confirmed Anyway!

Selection by the President and confirmation by the Senate of Harriet Miers is taking place in the rare atmosphere of the White House and the Senate. Other than sending emails all over the place with my opinion on this appointment, there is nothing else I can do. I suppose I am just as unhappy as most conservative commentators have been in their columns lately about Miers. We are told to trust the President. But we little folk have no choice anyway. I am upset for the following reasons:

(1) Bush has missed an opportunity to appoint a justice who reflects strong conservative credentials that are readily apparent, thus sparking the Senatorial fight we have needed for 40 or more years on judicial fiats instead of legislation of laws.

(2) A showdown at this time would cement the Supreme Court into a conservative approach, I believe, because the majority of citizens are behind the idea of judicial restraint and not legislation from the bench. Hence the Senate battle would be won by the Republicans.

This would be a signal victory for the conservative movement, and its effects would last for most of the 21st century, thus burying the liberalism of the SCOTUS for the nonce.

If Harriet Miers turns out to be a strong conservative justice, we will have won anyway, but without the direct confrontation most conservatives wanted to have, simply to set the liberals further back in their shoes, and down in their esteem. This is because of their arrogant approach to getting their agenda foisted onto a majority public that doesn't want their meddling in legislative affairs directly. Then, too, conservatives have been upset by the liberalism of Court opinions in general that have made a mush out of the Constitution.

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Illegal Immigration Revisited

Some Further Thoughts on Illegal Immigration

Principles at the heart of our problem with illegal immigrants include:

(1) There should be no illegal immigrants in the US: that is the law. All law enforcement organizations should proceed to round up illegal immigrants for deportation.

(2) We have the means to enforce the law on our borders and to make it physically far harder to enter the country illegally. The law should be enforced.

(3) Illegal Immigrants should not be hired to work in the US. We have US citizens and corporations flaunting the law by sponsoring illegal immigrants. These people should be fined heavily and imprisoned.

(4) Illegal immigrants should have no local, state, or federal assistance whatsoever. There should be no education benefits, no medical benefits, and no social security benefits for Illegals, nor should they have driver's licenses. Mexican paperwork must not be used.

(5) A person born to Illegals in the US should not automatically receive US citizenship.

(6) There should be a workable Guest-Worker program organized that permits workers and their immediate family to come into the US for a stated period to work. This program should receive strict supervision from local, state, and federal authorities, and should be placed out of the hands of the State Department.

(7) Those who violate their work permission by staying beyond the limit set should be found and deported by any law enforcement officer, and they should be barred from the US forever.

(8) All of our law enforcement officers should have arrest authority for illegal immigrants, and local authorities should have deportation responsibilities.

(9) Those who traffic in bringing illegal immigrants into the US should receive heavy fines and jail terms. A term of 15 years for the first offense, and 25 years for any subsequent offense should be imposed.

(10) Any illegal immigrant apprehended a second time for entry illegally should be barred from ever returning to the US and should be deported forthwith after being thoroughly identified.
A third violation should be cause for imprisonment for 20 years without the possibility of parole.

(11) All guest workers must have proper identification on them at all times. Failure to do so is cause for deportation. Those found to have false or forged identification and visa papers will be imprisoned for not less than 20 years.

(12) This strict program should be implemented in several stages to allow the various parties concerned to make new arrangements for work. The final implementation should be within 3 years. Stage 1 should be the Guest worker Program.

Coming to work in the US is a privelege, not a right. Hiring workers that are easily found to be illegal should be considered not only shameful, but also cause for huge penalties. If the hiring companies were to be prosecuted to the hilt and fined enormous sums, they would quickly cease their lawbreaking activities, and the illegal workers themselves would have to head home for the lack of a job. This would massively reduce the problem of finding and deporting the 11 million illegals now in the US.

Monday, October 03, 2005


The Tank and the Hummer

On Getting Back at the Road Idiots

Have you ever wished for a tank when you were being harassed in traffic, sideswiped, or rear-ended? Have you ever been the victim of road rage, blatant and disgusting? My answer is that many times in the traffic of Washington, New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles I have shouted: "if only I had my tank!" One guy's engine compartment would have been squashed flat. Another guy's front end would have accordioned into my tank's rear. And sideswipers would have had their fenders ripped off and left on the road. My Tank! My Tank! My kingdom for a Tank!

It was just a dream! Something to keep me from losing my cool when these road idiots were in full sway, which was most mornings before coffee had taken effect and I was still on autopilot. I can still see the man who jumped out of his car to plaster his face on my right window out of rage that I had fairly beaten him into the middle lane by at least ten feet. I was so surprised that I let him jump back into his car and veer into my lane ahead of me! He would never have thought of that if I were in my tank!

The dream has persisted, but in reality, I recognized that tanks are not economical on gas; I believe they get about 1 mile to ten gallons. And the Army doesn't sell M1A2s to civilians at any price. Besides, their tracks can really tear up the roadway if you turn them too sharply or brake too fast. And who needs a 120mm cannon anyway? I don't want to commit wholesale road-slaughter even if I could afford the rounds of ammunition. Howsomever, there is a glimmer on the horizon! A Hummer of a Glimmer!

What you do is go down to your local Hummer dealer and buy an H3 model! It is small enough, and it is supposed to get 20 miles to the gallon. Then you take the H3 to your local armorer (you do have one, don't you?), and have him lay on some panels of this Cobham stuff, or Kevlar, or all of it together, around in important places on the H3. While this may decrease your mileage some (significantly, I think!), you are now the proud possessor of a genuine armored car, which is better on-road than a tank, and still more like an old Model T for strength. Just to make sure, have them weld some high-grade steel to your frame to stiffen it up a bit fore and aft. And sideways too, of course, to guard against being T-ed. Make sure also that you have those puncture-proof tires mounted. They do cost a bit more (about $400 each), but you are then good to go for many a collision, and you can drive away virtually unscathed.

My first trial run with the H3 in traffic is tomorrow, but it may turn out to be a milk run! The wife wants to come along, and she frowns mightily at my aggressive ideas against the road ragers. As Commander, she will sit in the right seat, and I can't let her be harmed, now can I? Oh well, there's always the next day, and the ragers will be there again for sure!

I'm counting on it!

(Update: the milk run was successful today.)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?