Thursday, January 26, 2006

Responce to goodness

I got this from a freind of mine.  You may have seen it, but just in case.....
One day a florist goes to a barber for a haircut.  After the cut he asked
about his bill and the barber replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money
from you; I'm doing community service this week" The florist is pleased and
leaves the shop.

Next morning when the barber goes to open there is a thank you card and a
dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the
barber again replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I'm doing
community service this week." The cop is happy and leaves the shop.

Next morning when the barber goes to open up there is a thank you card and
a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Later a Republican comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill
the barber again replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I'm
doing community service this week." The Republican is very happy and leaves
the shop.

Next morning when the barber goes to open, there is a thank you card and a
dozen different books such as "How to Improve Your Business" and "Becoming
More Successful."

Then a Democrat comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill
the barber again replies: "I'm sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I'm doing
community service this week." The Democrat is very happy and leaves the

The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen
Democrats lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the
left and the right

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Facts Versus Truth

Years ago there was a program on NPR called Mr. Science.

He would propound some strange theory and then questioned he would say, “"Because I know more than you do, I have a degree in Science". It was funny. Kinda.

Last night I was listening to the last hour of an overnight program which is rerun in our market from 11-12 midnite. The conversation was about psychic phenomena and/or the paranormal at any level.

Dr Mark Schermer who writes Scientific American and Publishes the Skeptic Magazine was the main part of the discussion was incensed that anyone could believe any of this. He was dismissive, arrogant, defensive and pejorative of anyone who could or might believe any of the theory brought by the other sides of the argument. I have no dog in the hunt but I was amused by the vigor with which Schermer rejected any arguments. It was very familiar sounding.

The man in favor of the argument for psychic phenomena asked a simple question. What if certain psychic phenomena were factually demonstrated and proven beyond any reasonable doubt. Would you believe then? Schermer said no. “The facts would not disprove the truth”. HUH?

On Extension 720 radio with Milt Rosenberg two weeks ago Dr Leonard Susskind who has written a new book about string theory (The Cosmic Landscape : String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design: by Leonard Susskind). Susskind gave an intense rationale as to why string theory can not support intelligent design. The problem he was dealing in his book was a trend deep inside the research community where thousands of scientists are beginning to say that the nature of matter illustrates how intelligent design is actually the only valid thesis of all material existence. Many of them have begun to explore the Christian faith. Some have even become committed to it. Hawking and Einstein both postulated that an argument can be made for a creator God when you consider the basic nature of matter.

For the first hour he went merrily along propounding and demeaning faith in God as proven by his “truthiness”. Then in the second hour he had to take calls from listeners. To his dismay local scientists who have come to grips with the "“God created the universe”" concept in Chicagoland
began to call him (we have Fermi Lab and Argonne Labs in town with about 5000 quantum physicists in house). They debated scientist to scientist with an equal authority of scientific depth. His arguments began to whither. His frustration became palpable. Halfway thru the hour he refused to take any more calls. They had gutted his arguments regarding string theory's ability to discount intelligent design whatsoever. Never let the facts get in the way of the truth. He wasn't convinced. I guess when Dale Carnegie said, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still"
It's still true!

I have been in a political, cultural and religious discussion for a few months now with some wonderful intelligent people who are proving this pattern perfectly.

They don'’t let the facts get in the way of their “"truth"”.

If you are solidified in your thinking and someone comes along with a contrary opinion, the capacity to consider the other side is limited by how it might disturb your matrix of life theory in which you live. Like the professor on Milt Rosenberg'’s program, the facts must never interfere with the truth matrix we have all developed for our lives.

This goes both ways. I have come out recently for re-examining the socio-economic fabric of our lower and lower paid work force and it'’s long-term implications politically for the USA. My thesis is that the wide division economically (middle class disappearing) with a permanent underclass who is allowed to vote will ultimately result in a demagogue taking power in the USA. Chile, Venezuela, and other elections demonstrate that potential. We are living in Germany 1927.

I have been pilloried by my right wing friends for this view.
They have called me every name including the one most vile, Liberal.

I have made public statements about
why Wal-Mart is not good for America. My conservative friends have smiled knowingly and considered me just a bit wacky. Liberal friends have considered this a coup. Nope. I try not to let the truth I live by mess with the facts I plainly see. I am trying to see thru the Matrix of my own life. Fortunately other conservative thinkers are coming to this conclusion. Matt Drudge, and today, Kathleen Parker who is no liberal at any level are speaking out on this issue. I think the facts are starting to modify certain conservative "“Truths"”.

In an interesting article it was demonstrated by some researchers that political viewpoints were not processed by the reasoning portion of your brain. That in fact what you believe you believe in spite of the facts, your truth, is unmolested by reality. That by the way is true for me too. I am trying to wrestle against this incursion of bias in favor of reason.

I have discovered that when confronted with facts that counter their truth there are predictable responses from the right or left:

  • Denial
  • Ridicule
  • Anger
  • Refusal to continue any debate
  • Arrogance (we'’re smarter than you are, The Mr Science Defense)
  • Trumping by superior education
  • I donĂ‚’t care what that proves, I still don'’t believe
  • Discounting the person who said it as ignorant
  • Parsing (this happens a great deal with people who struggle with the Bible, take a verse out of context and try to prove this or that)
  • Changing the subject to deflect the power of the argument.
  • Trying to pigeonhole the person. I am a charismatic Christian. Many mainline friends will couch anything I say within my prescibed (by them) Charismatic framework. That somehow sufficiently discounts the opinion I express. Never let facts get in the way of truth.
  • Engaging in intellectual dishonesty to maintain a position you have become aware is destroyed by the facts

Sadly, this kind of attitude exists in families (that'’s why you feel so much like a child when you go see your Mom and Dad even when you have grandkids of your own). The facts have no bearing on the truth in your brain.

In the Matrix (the movie). Cypher has decided to rat out his fellows including Morpheus, Neo and Trinity. There is a scene within the Matrix where he and Mr. Smith (an agent) are in a fine restaurant. Cypher is eating a steak and drinking fine wine. He says, "“I know that none of this is real. I know the fact is this steak doesn'’t exist. When I taste it, that it's not real. That this wine is all a program. But I don'’t care. I'’m sick of being in that smelly dirty place"”. So he makes a deal with agent Smith in exchange for living in wealth, fine food and lots of women. Exchanging a "truth" for a lie the reality he knows to be correct is swaped for a new reality that is counter to the facts. "Truth" trumping facts.

Of course none of it happens. He dies. That'’s the way movies are.

But, to a person who has a mindset of emotional truth which cannot be challenged with facts will ultimately find themselves like Cypher deciding to live a lie. Oh they'’ll be happy, they'’ll think things are as they should be. They will even find others to reinforce their "“truth"”. That'’s why talk radio (conservative or liberal) is so successful. That'’s why the blogosphere is so explosive. We can build our own worlds in our own little truth matrix.

I can, you can, find truth from others that lines up with your truth. And you can live in your Matrix. I'll live in mine. We will be amazed that other people can possibly be so confused and deluded.

Just don'’t let the facts get in the way of the truth you have chosen.

As Neo said at the end of The Matrix, "“Now that you know, what are you going to do now?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

[W + (D-d)] x TQ) ÷ (M x NA ( I wish someone would have told me)

Now I know. 
Yesterday January 23, the one with all my catastrophe, was the worst day of the year. 
They knew over in Scotland ahead of time.
And they're 6 hours ahead of us. 
So why didn't they tell me? 
Maybe I didn't listen.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Chronicle of Narnia

Last night when the Narnia movie finally moved to the old person discount matinee-pricing ($4) Peggy and I went to see it.  I’m cheap.  But I did buy popcorn and a coke (diet).  She snuck in her own drink.  CHEAPO.  So the movie tickets were $8.  The coke and popcorn was $8.50.


We went to a theater in Aurora.  Mostly Hispanics and their kids in the theater.  I like Hispanics.  I work with them.  Find them good folks.  But, 18 month old babies shouldn’t go to movies with lots of crash and bang in them.  I digress.


The movie was astoundingly beautiful. 


How they made the animals talk and act so real I’ll never know.  I guess it’s all with computers but the animals looked as real as any you would see, maybe better.  Not cartoon like at all.


The little girl Lucy was darling. 


The beings were so real.  I saw Lord of the Rings (all of them) and these were more real and more in some cases terrifying. 


The story of redemption was there but not in anyone’s face.  In fact, if you didn’t know the nuances of the redemption story you would never know that’s what it’s about.  C S Lewis was brilliant at maintaining integrity without sacrificing the story.


If you haven’t seen it, try to see it on the big screen.  It’s huge in it’s spectacle.


The white witch was more evil than I could have thought and without any redeeming quality at all.  Lewis really got the character of Satan right.


And I didn’t cry at the death of Aslan as I didn’t cry at the scourging of Jesus in the passion. 


There were other scenes of bravery and valor that choked me up.  I’m a sucker for a hero.  I love it when the good guys win.





Being Omniscient is Hard sometimes.

It’s Monday again.  Let’s see.


Yesterday I pushed the button in the car for the door opener and started to back up.  Before the door began to open.  Fortunately the door and I saw each other before impact.


Then I was off to Church.


I was teaching from Rev Chap 5 and leading to 6 on the duality of the Godhead and it’s Trinitarian implications.  Teaching people who have no clue what I’m talking about, I’m doing what no theologian ever tries to do:  Explain the concept of the Trinity in 40 minutes or less. 


Afterward in total despair I said to Peggy, “The bus didn’t get there today”.  My wonderful wife said, “Well you gave everyone a great deal to think about”.  That means the bus didn’t get there. (Terminology which in preacher terms means you tried as hard as you might and no one figured out where you were going or were able to ride along.  The bus didn’t get there). 


So, today, I’m feeling rather dismal.  I’ve got the Monday morning preacher blues.  Happens often.  I’m sure Dylan wrote about this.


Then, to top it off: 


I’m off this morning to see if there are any big checks at the post office.  Nothing.  Leaving the post office I look to the right, a minivan ahead of me.  I look to the left, nothing coming.  So I go.  The minivan didn’t.  Crunch.  1 mile per hour.  I’m sure that between our automobiles it will be $4000.  And Ford is going broke.


Idiot.  Not her.  ME.  So after a half hour on the line with a really nice lady from Liberty Mutual, my victim and I departed. 


I did a couple other errands.


Then, feeling very sorry for myself.  I decided on some comfort food.


I’ll bet as a German you would have prescribed sauerkraut.  Most of the time that wouldn’t be a bad bet.  But, comfort food for me is SUSHI.  I love sushi.  And the rolls.  The really hot mayo.  lots of wasabi.  Burn out the guts.  Now that’s real comfort.  No chocolate for me.  Noserii.


I could use some pity here.  I’m feeling kind of old and stupid.  I know I have friends who know that feeling sometimes.  You might be amused to know that on my business cards it says “Gene Redlin, Horticultural Q”.  I am almost never asked what that means.  If you are a Star Trek Next Gen fan it will be clear.


I hope to return to my omniscient self soon.


Then I will have all the answers for all the world.  But not on Mondays.