Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just Don't Do It.

Obviously prior to contraceptives and STD preventative measures being commonly available this edict made considerable sense. With the ubiquitous availability if not use of these measures it would seem that the edict makes less sense than it used to. After all, the pair bonding efficacy of sex is a useful feature in a desire to form a pair bond against the vicissitudes of the big bad world out there. If that is the only intent of the pair bond, that is it does not include a desire or plan for parenting, I see no reason not to proceed. However when the pair bonding is for the eventual purpose of conception I have reconsidered the thought of contraceptive sex as a recreational or pair bonding activity.

Having been around the horn (pun intended) several times in several relationships with and without the intent for progeny, the decision to try for a child by a loving couple inevitably changes a relationship by changing the focus from each other as people and partners to the planned family with all the extra responsibilities and commitment that a family entails. With all of the other pair bonding activities available to a couple that are mutually gratifying and intimate there seems to be a case to be made for reserving that ultimate bonding act intended by nature for the welfare of the continuation of the species for the time when the couple is ready, willing and able to do so. Certainly "taking off the rubber" changes things, but in my opinion and experience not really enough.

Maybe all those religions know what they are talking about when they say "Just Don't Do It." Particularly for couples that commit early, and must defer family for educational or financial considerations, it would seem that the other pair bonding activities should be used to keep the pair bond intact and save the lets make a baby for the icing on the (wedding) cake, even if the wedding is off in the future. First gestations are notoriously short, but should never be an accident. If the couple has thought about it, talked about it, and decide parenting it right for them, the power of the first time "as one" seems to me to be worth the wait.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Me, Myself, and I?

Me, Myself, and I? :
So for both atheists and theists out there, is there an overarching definition of personal identity, or is the answer based on who you ask?
Furthermore, how do you define yourself in such a way if that is taken away, one cannot call themselves same person that they were when they had that?

"The differentiation between the mind and the sensory workings of the brain is what separates the concept of self from everything else, including the functioning of one's own body and brain. Whether this self concept is internal, that is supported by the activity of the brain, or imposed from some external source (God) will depend on who you ask.

Many who use Genesis as a source will aver that what God 'breathed' into Adam was the sense of self with the ability to reason about what one experienced, and not incidentally, the ability to separate a stimulus, that is hunger from the response, that is to decide what to eat. This ability to separate a stimulus from the appropriate response is what a theist will call a soul, and consider it to be separate from the body and ego and originating outside of either.

I find this a natural function of a brain of sufficient complexity. Right now I am training a puppy, and one of the things I am training him on is the appropriate responses to certain stimuli. And teaching him the concept of his space. This requires that I assume he has some ability to separate his actions from the stimulus that might lead him to leave his space. He has learned that his space is different from the space of others in his life. When someone leaves his rooms he must not follow as a dog normally would, he must stop at the edge of the rug which defines his space, and not pass the boundary.

My sense of self is much more complex of course, but includes the concept of my space, those things I can affect and respond to, and my ability to determine reliably and quickly appropriate responses to stimuli that affect my space. This includes of course other people who contact my space, and morality consists of how I respond to stimuli that they present. If someone smites me on the right cheek, I need to decide whether the natural response of a swift kick to the crotch is appropriate or not. But even the swift kick must be a reasoned response if I am to be comfortable with the self concept that separates me from all the others around me. The time a response is reactive to a stimulus is where I lose the sense of self and self control and become just another animal in the jungle."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jeff Danziger on Health Care Reform

Fairy Godmothers

Facebook | Home: "Meg Barnhouse from Nina and Dan: 'If I could I'd find a fairy godmother with a magical wand and combat boots so that she could grant your wishes and kick the crap outta anything that tried to get in the way of your happiness.' Thanks!"

One of the many reasons Meg Barnhouse is on my Google Alert list.

Mary Travers

From an email to members from Rosanne Zoccoli President of NYCS.

She has said everything I have been trying to get posted so much more eloquently than I ever could.

Dear members,

No doubt by now many of you have heard the sad news that longtime folk legend and friend of NYCS, Mary Travers, has passed away following a valiant battle with leukemia.

Along with fellow performers Peter Yarrow and Noel (Paul) Stookey, Mary was part of an enormously successful collaboration with NYCS. For 21 years, Peter Paul and Mary performed their pioneering brand of folk music with the NYCS on the stages of Carnegie and Avery Fisher Hall, on Broadway and on television. Throughout our collaboration with the trio, they had always donated their services free of charge to the NYCS - a gift for which we will forever be grateful. We will forever be thankful for the gift of music they gave to us and our audiences.

In all of these concerts, Mary was a central figure. She sang, smiled, and loved being a part of NYCS. Those of us who have been in NYCS for many years also remember fondly how Mary would bring home-made chopped liver to rehearsal ---a gift for all to enjoy.

Thank you very much.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mary Travers, Singer of Protest Anthems, Dies at 72 - Obituary (Obit) -

A giant who made the world a better place is a beloved memory now. The privilege of rehearsing with and performing with PP& especially Mary was a highlight of my many years with the New York Choral Society.

Mary Travers, Singer of Protest Anthems, Dies at 72 - Obituary (Obit) - "Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary Dies at 72

Published: September 16, 2009

Mary Travers, whose ringing, earnest vocals with the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary made songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” enduring anthems of the 1960s protest movement, died on Wednesday at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. She was 72 and lived in Redding, Conn.
Ms. Travers brought a powerful voice and an unfeigned urgency to music that resonated with mainstream listeners. With her straight blond hair and willowy figure and two bearded guitar players by her side, she looked exactly like what she was, a Greenwich Villager directly from the clubs and the coffeehouses that nourished the folk-music revival.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Moral Evolution

The evolution of morality : "The 2000 year old text is really two different and incompatible texts. In one a radical humanist preacher tried to update a morality suitable for desert marauders into one more suitable for a more cosmopolitan diverse society. He shifted moral responsibility from God and the priesthood to individuals. The other recaptured God centered morality ironically elevating the radical humanist to God.

I find many Christians are finding the humanistic preacher more applicable to a modern diverse society, and are rejecting the God Centered morality of the OT and non-synoptic NT. I can't count the number of times I hear the Two Great Commandments of Jesus as the essence of Christian morality. Fundies and Bibliolators may disagree, but for me and for Jefferson, the morality of the Synoptics is a reasonable basis for a cosmopolitan morality."

What is "Real"?

What is "real?" : "

What do you mean by 'real'?

"Since everybody else is playing dodge-ball with this issue, let me try. Real for the human mind or brain if you prefer, is a conception of an object external to the mind that can be described with sufficient precision to be identifiable to others as a similar conception in their mind of sufficient power and experience. Hence, rocks, rainbows, even virtual particles are real. A mythical entity such as Santa Claus can be considered to be real, as the conception is of an object that can be described and understood by others, even though certain properties may be differently conceived by different minds and the referent of the myth is fictional.

Please note that even the magical aspects of Santa Claus, the flying reindeer, the self replenishing present supply, can be considered real at the unsophisticated child level although the sophistication is not age related. An adult given no opportunity to understand the differences among magical, mythical, and material reality may not be able to conceive the difference.

Maturity of mind allows us to separate reality into categories like magical, mythical, material, and conceptual among others depending on the sophistication of the mind involved. The big bang, or inflation, is a conceptual reality for those able to deal with the concept of best explanation of reality to date but not necessarily a material reality. "

So for me, reality's (first) what's out there and (second) the reasoned inclusion of oneself in the resulting picture.

Which eliminates all of the interesting conceptual, fictional and mythical things that inform and amuse the mind, which of course does not exist in your material world. I find your material world orderly, understandable, and boring. I much prefer the messy, incomprehensible, wonder-filled world of the mind, where truth is not found by observation but by understanding.

You can borrow my Vintage Playboy collection if you get too bored.

Typical materialist. Just look at the pictures and you don't have to deal with the interesting conceptual, fictional and mythical complexities of a real woman.

I will go with the materialists that consciousness or mind is supported by neural activity of the brain. Where I differ from them is that consciousness is not dependent on input from the sensual processing areas of the brain, but uses selected data from those areas and creates a relationship between itself and the rest of the world as sensed, and in addition provides self referential feedback on how to manage that relationship.

Pain input from the senses, causes the reflex action to minimize the pain, but also triggers the consciousness to analyze the source of the pain, and the consciousness will analyze the cause of the pain and figure out ways to avoid it in the future, or perhaps decide that it is a necessary accessory to some other project the consciousness has in its in-box. The easiest way to avoid the pain of a hot stove is to stay away from hot stoves. But the consciousness says I'm hungry and some scrambled eggs would be good right now, and that means go near that dreadful hot stove. Be careful Y'all.

As noted I have no problem with the mind being supported by neural activity of the brain, but I would bet long odds against sombody with a fMRI being able to say "Here lies the mind"

Labels, Prayers and Wishes.

Antitheism? - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community:
"If wishes were prayers and all worth a penny we would all be rich. People cling to labels, and prayers and wishes because they cannot or will not deal with the reality of a changing world where wishes, prayers and labels are holdovers from a time where ones local social group membership was all important, and ignorance was rampant. Today we can choose our social group(s) ignorance is dispelled with a click on Google, and all who chose can find out anything they want on the net.

Those clinging to labels are desperately refusing to adapt to the modern human ecology. This is known as evolution in action. (Thanks Niven and Pournelle, if you haven't read Oath of Fealty it is worth the price.)"

Material or immaterial mind?

The mythical "non-fundamentalist atheist":

Isn't the mind and brain the same thing?

I would think that even a strict materialist would say no. Certainly an intricate series of neural firings supports what we think of as the mind, but the intricate feedback loop between the working of the mind and the neural actions which support and are affected by the working of the mind strongly suggest a separate conceptual entity. It certainly develops with the brain and ceases to exist when the brain ceases to function, no dualism here, but I find the mind to be a separate entity.

To an idealist, no - the brain (and all other matter) is an 'objectification' of mind which is non- material.

To a realist ****waves hand and says "Teacher call on me!"**** both the material and the immaterial exist in reality. A rainbow exists only in the mind, damn the pedants who draw ray diagrams to show it is merely (sic) an optical phenomenon. The rock I stubbed my toe on was real and material, the pain was real and immaterial. I didn't imagine the pain.

No, the pain was not immaterial.

Yeah, it was just the firing of neurons telling the mind "Hey dipshit, you just fuckedup. Don't do it again.

Now, was the mind's response to that firing of neurons material?

The Mind, making sense of chaos.

The mythical "non-fundamentalist atheist" - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community: "The conscious mind evolved or emerged if you wish, to make sense of the chaotic material input presented to the brain by the senses. To take a simple example, at a large cocktail party with many conversations going on with perhaps music and other random noises are presented to the brain by the auditory nerve complex. The mind needs to separate out the important noises, like the conversation one is engaged in. It can even sort out ones name mentioned in a conversation across the room. Visual stimuli are even more chaotic. Reality is much too messy to deal with in its unfiltered existence. Hence the mind to make sense of the data overload."

Tax, borrow or inflate.

Theism - anti-democratic? :

I think that democracy is terrible at self-correction, since democratic governments tend to increase taxes, borrow, or inflate the money supply 'unsustainably', and it is very difficult to reverse this process.

"As my Econ Prof said, so what? Governments have many ways to pay for the pork and wars and the pork and wars generate income so it all comes out even in the end. By the way this is true for all government types, democracy has no patent on tax, borrow or inflate."

Sexual morality

Another Question for Theists :
"Every atheist I know has extremely well developed and usually fairly strict moral standards with regard to sex. Without trying to speak for all atheists, I only know a few well enough to discuss sexual morality, the common thread seems to be radical respect for the feelings and integrity of the partner, and an absolute prohibition of non-consensual sex. Most heterosexual atheists consider sex with the intent to create children to be a commitment to the family to remain together at least until the children are old enough to understand any separation.

Note the differences with Christian morality. Serial monogamy is fine, screw any children, sometimes literally, as is diddling on the side with either sex, as long as man and wife show up in church occasionally. Non-consensual sex is fine if the couple is married in Church and indeed is expected to produce an unending stream of new Christians. Disgusting."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Trip home

1800 miles of wonderful driving in three days including Hells Canyon, Mt Lassen and the Feather River Canyon. A brown bear cub was posed for a photo op on the Hells Canyon road, but dummy had the camera in the glove box, and by the time it was ready the bear was headed toward the lake, to fish, maybe swim. I wasn't into photos, dammed lakes don't float my boat, even though it floats many others. The trip to Susanville was beautifully twisty with empty roads to enjoy it. Lassen was a worth while side trip on the way to the Feather River Canyon road. From there home, and I was ready. If wishes came true I would have been transported from Oroville home, but alas I had to drive. I had done it enough that autopilot with good music on the CD made it endurable.

Horse camping with Family.

Went with Kevin, Beth, Alex, Gabriel and friends to Troy, OR which is basically a permanent tent camp for hunters and horse-people for the labor day weekend. I spent most of my time with the Grand-kids, while the ones with calluses on their butts toured the surrounding area on horseback. Fair trade is no robbery I enjoyed the time with the kids including a beautiful trip to Joseph's OR, a delightful tourist trap. Campfires morning and night that I didn't have to build. I am still looking for the downside of the weekend.

Crater Lake

No pix, you have to be there. The scale into the crater and out to the surrounding land is mind boggling. A life long dream fulfilled. Worth every mile of the exhilarating drive.

Avenue of the Giants

The ultimate blue road. The Pix above is one of thousands of possible shots. I would love to go back and walk the Avenue of the Giants so I could take them all. But it was a long day and a few hours was all I could afford. I took them all. Very late to the motel as it was.

Point Reyes

Glad I went, but I am not much of a beach person, so I probably won't go again. They claim 417 miles of trails, but other than one spectacular stand of windblown cypress at the lighthouse, I am not sure how I would tell one mile from the next. I can appreciate the attraction for people into the bucolic, great inns and B&Bs, wildlife and tame life, but other than the T-Shirt not much for me. Made for a short day, not bad for the first day.

4000 miles of pure joy.

Well actually 3900 I had to go through Sacramento and Walnut Creek to get home.

But a BMW with free miles to the end of the lease, essentially empty roads with very few straight sections, what is not to like about that. I hated to see even the long days end.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Charles Fiterman on facing death.

Beliefnet Discussions - "I have bladder cancer and was given 6 to 18 months. I think I'm facing it fairly well. I ask daily what am I doing with my time that justifies the pain and expense and inconvenience to others of going on. When the answer becomes bad enough I will do the right thing." Written on 2/25/2005.

Charles died June 19, 2005 at The Palliative Care Center & Hospice of the North Shore, 2821 Central St., Evanston, IL 60201.

As a committed Libertarian, I am sure Charles would not support the public option, but if it had to be he would certainly argue for hospice care as a part of it. Hospice care is not a death panel, it is a death option. It should be a basic right for all people.