Monday, October 26, 2009

It is not about life after death. It is about the funeral.

Does proselytizing commodify human beings? - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community:
It’s not about your death. It’s about the lives of your grandchildren and their grandchildren.

And much more important the lives of those that showed up at the funeral or memorial service (or should have.) For most people only the children and grandchildren have any real interaction with the live parent. After that the genetic and memetic legacy is important in the progeny, but the folks at the funeral carry most of the social and loving legacy of the deceased. This is a fact for all, religious or not. Christians may get pie in the sky after they die, and Muslims their attendants, but that is myth. Those at the funeral are truth, whether they are there or not."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two Careers, two children '70s

Ontological Inferiority of Women in Paul and the OT - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community:
Men want to take a more active role in caring for their children, but two out of five admit they do not spend enough time with their sons or daughters.

As an early adopter of the concept of a two high level career household with children, I found many social norms to be totally incompatible with the concept, in two cases costing me my job and career prospects due to role issues for males and females. I chose to take the hit as I had the social (male ease of job movement) and educational resources, to be able to. The fact that my wife was not paid a head of household salary in spite of having a head of household job made the choice harder, but we both knew what we were up against in both large and small social issues. Just being the only adult male in a preschool area of a park was frequently an interesting experience. I would occasionally have to call my kids to justify my presence there, a few times to cops. Not complaining, mind you, we both chose the road with clear knowledge of the ruts and potholes. And believe me, the gender ruts were obvious and unavoidable.

It started when we were admitted to a big name U for Grad school, she in medicine me for an MBA. We went to financial aid and said "We are broke, how do we do this?" The aid guy said its easy she gets a job and puts you through the MBA then you get the big bucks from the MBA and put her through med school. We said we are both starting in the fall, what part of that don't you understand? To their credit they found a way, a grant for her tuition and a crippling loan for tuition and expenses for me. Abject poverty is good for the soul and for concentrating on studies, a movie was off the budget even if we smuggled in our own popcorn.

Tenure track medical education was no walk in the park in those days or now for women, which is why I had to use the MBA connections many times involuntarily. Like the time the boss said your wife must be at this party for the sake of your career. Guess what? He was right. She wasn't there (professional obligations) and I had to find another opportunity. I suppose if the promotion had been more important to me I could have arranged it, but I was pissed. It wouldn't have worked anyway as the company culture was wife as help mate in company politics.
The idea of social structures without a sexual division of labour is an interesting one...

It can be done. It just takes a major commitment on both sides. Mom was in her lab 'till lunch time in prep for a planned 2:00 induction for our second. In return I had to handle the middle of the night feeding. That is get up, get the kid, hang him on the teat, wait till he pooped, change the diaper and put him back in the crib.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Determinism, Randomness, and Free Will --Randomness

Determinism, Randomness, and Free Will - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community: "I am quite comfortable with the randomness of living. Unlike some of the hard theists here, I think causality is the exception rather than the rule. If God is watching over anybody Hesh is doing a lousy job. In my view free will is expressed by how we react to the random events that color our lives including that huge one of our inevitable death. Our lives began with the random meeting of gametes, and random events like finding and losing friends, and lovers define how we choose to live. I live my life intentionally, in that I choose which random events I wish to react to and how I do so. Free will is not even an issue, there is no compulsion to do anything I choose not to do. Although things may happen that I must choose to react to. But there is always a choice. When the green car came flying over the center barrier into my lane, I could choose to do nothing and experience the fun of a high speed head on, or I could choose to steer as close to the barrier as I could. One might say the choice was forced, but it was still a choice. Making good choices is the essence of living in a random world."

Determinism, Randomness, and Free Will ---Solipcism

Determinism, Randomness, and Free Will - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community

I need the axiom to get rid of solipsism &c.

What is wrong with solipsism? It needs to be recognized, understood and controlled, but even your axioms are fundamentally solipsistic. They are what you believe and what make you comfortable with your relationship with the material world. Pretending otherwise may cater to your materialism, but does not get rid of the solipsism.

I have no problem with solipsism. As a wonderful quote from Heinlein notes, 'Sometimes she goes away, but I am always here.' That is how I know the relationship of self with the rest of the world. I do not doubt the reality of the rest of the world, even when it 'goes away' but I do know the difference between self and other."

Determinism, Randomness, and Free Will

Determinism, Randomness, and Free Will - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community:
Forgetting 'random' for the time being -- if the brain's random we might as well pack up and go home --

What everyone is forgetting is that random is not an either/or condition. In fact rationality might be defined as reasonable responses to random events that occur both internally to the brain and externally as in spilled cumin in the curry. (Should I eat it or spit it out?) The brain has sophisticated feedback that evaluates odd inputs either internal or external to see if it is important to current events in the mind. That random linear flash of reflected sunlight might be nothing. In the vicinity of a passing car the brain will ignore it. But in a crowd of people the brain might decide to direct the full attention of the mind to look for danger associated with such linear flashes. Many millions of years of separating out dangerous random signals from similar random signals that are normal patterns in the environment make dealing with the randomness of the environment a critical survival trait.

The brain's internal random juxtapositions of thought patterns is the essence of human creativity and free will. A vaguely remembered dream of a snake biting its tail juxtaposed to a vexing structural chemical problem may be responsible for modern organic chemistry. One can play the determinism game all night long and say August Kekulé had the dream because of a logical train of subconscious thought on his problem, but the waking correlation of the dream to the problem at hand seems to be deterministically improbable to the point of ridiculousness. The mind might be envisioned as a laser cavity of random thought processes that reinforce to produce meaningful waves or flow past each other without hooking up at that time. Sooner or later less important thought processes are relegated to the memory for future use as needed, (don't ask me how the mind knows they are needed, or how it retrieves them from the memory, I am not that smart.) But I do know that the mind is extremely versatile in processing that endless stream of data.

Determinism, Randomness, and Free Will -- Peek-a-boo

Determinism, Randomness, and Free Will - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community:
As I said, the only non-arbitrary starting point for knowledge to begin, which is implicit in all knowledge, is the distinction between something which is observed and ourselves as observers of it. Before we can know anything about anything, we must first observe something which we subsequently attempt to know (ie determine the nature of).

A recent AI article in Scientific American noted that peek-a-boo is the AI holy grail. I have been thinking about that a lot recently, not only because peek-a-boo is fun to play with kids, but because an infant in the cradle can play peek-a-boo with a relative stranger and still tell the difference between self and other no matter which of them is doing the hiding. I would agree that the distinction between the observed and ourselves as observers and interpreters of what is observed is fundamental.

I think Blü is entitled to his axioms:
There is a world external to the self. The senses are capable of perceiving this world. Reason is a valid tool.
They describe the reality that he observes, just as the theist is entitled to the axiom that all observations are manifestations of the will of God, and Descartes is entitled to his view that observations are manifestations of his will. I agree that Blü's axioms are probably the best description of our interactions with what we observe, but he has no greater claim to TRUTH than the bible thumpers.

I have no problem with a separate material external reality that we can discover and manipulate with science and technology. I also have no problem with a separate internal reality in other people by which they view the world. If it includes a God that watches over them and will take care of them if they pray hard enough
how hard, hard enough to make water flow uphill. Lazarus Long
that is as much their privilege as it is Blü's and mine to depend on materialistic science and technology. I find the God that many pray to is worthless, but it is still their free choice to do so. Sometimes I would like to warn them that God and Herm followers are subject to evolution just like all the other animals out there, but it would do no good, and probably annoy them in the process.

Friday, October 9, 2009

How are people created?

Let's play a science game - Origins of Life - Beliefnet Community:
If 'Yes' did you cause yourself to exist?
If 'No' then something else was by NECESSITY responsible for your existence

I did not cause myself to exist I exist because of the random meeting of gametes, which were generated by meiosis a random division of germ cells which creates a random mix of the characteristics of my parents (and their ancestors) to create maximum diversity in my genetic makeup.

I was fortunate (that is the product of a series of favorable random events) to inherit an intelligent reasoning ability to evaluate my society and fit myself into the reasoning and intelligent portion of it. I was also fortunate to have a deficiency in the ability to kowtow to arrogant preachers and apologists who think they have all the answers to all questions. In fact it is more than a deficiency it is an active rejection of all such individuals and their BS."

Speed Dating

Head Lines: Men Are Choosy, Too: Scientific American: "Ladies must be picky because they invest more in their offspring, according to the oft-repeated evolutionary theory. But when researchers made the simple switch of having women do the table hopping while men stayed seated, the two sexes suddenly became equally choosy,"

So much for evolutionary explanations for a dumb experiment.