Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Diversity

With the decline of organized religion, moral guideposts that were based on the Bible are disappearing, and new age ideas are replacing them.  One of these new ideas is diversity.  The Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself, but it doesn't say that that you should live among other people who are different from yourself.  Most of the Bible tells Jews that they should stick together and not mingle with the other peoples that they lived among.

There is no Beatitude that says, "Blessed are the diverse...."

Diversity is a new virtue which has not been espoused by moralists and philosophers over the millennia since Plato and the Jewish prophets thought about such issues.  It's arguable that increased diversity in the Roman empire as it grew larger and larger was one of the factors that led to the "decline and fall" of the Roman empire.  It's also arguable that one of the most diverse countries recently was the Soviet Union which spanned eleven time zones.  Political turmoil has reduced the Soviet Union to a more homogeneous Russia, spinning off Georgia, Kazakhstan, and other "stans" as separate countries.  The same thing happened to the old Yugoslavia under Tito, which degenerated into several countries after a vicious civil war.  It may also be the case in the animosity between Sunnies and Shiites in the Middle East today.  It's not clear that history shows that diversity is a virtue.





Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Solar Energy

I have begun to realize that almost all energy is solar energy.  People and animals do work; their fuel is food.  Food grows because of sunlight.  Plants take the solar energy and convert it into food.  Meat just requires an extra step; the animals eat plants and convert them into meat.  So, animals and men run on solar energy. The plants themselves can produce energy, for example by burning wood. 

Hydrocarbons are also solar energy.  Coal, oil and gas are simply old plants that have been under pressure underground for millions of years, but the energy they contain also came from the sun.  Other sources of energy from chemical reactions, e.g., rocket fuel made from hydrogen and oxygen, usually require energy input from traditional (solar) sources to create the chemicals that create energy when they combine.  Hydrogen and oxygen have to be separated using energy before they can be combined later. 


Nuclear energy is about the only type of energy that does not come from the sun.  There are some relatively unimportant sources of energy that are not based on solar, for example geothermal energy that comes from volcanic heat underground.  Ocean tides rising a falling similarly could produce a small amount of energy.  However, wind and even wave energy is basically solar, caused by uneven heating of the earth by sunlight.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Fareed Zakaria on the Value of a Liberal Arts Education

Fareed Zakaria has a new book on the value of a liberal arts education, and has been promoting his book and his ideas.



http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/fareed-zakaria-defends-liberal-arts-education-29990282


Easter in Indiana

It’s odd that the political fight between the Christians and the gays in Indiana happened on Easter weekend.  The gays are the new Jews, opposed to the Christians.  The gays pretty much have to reject the Bible, since there is so much in the Bible rejecting gay sex, starting with Sodom and Gomorrah.  Some gay sex even gets its name from the Bible story of Sodom.  This view pretty much puts Indiana Gov. Pence in the position of Pilate, and he has pretty much played that tole.  His first response was like Pilate’s, “I don’t find anything wrong here.”  But under pressure, Pence yielded to the gays (Jews), “Okay, if you think this is so bad, I’ll let you do what you want.”  Happy Easter.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

We Need Liberal Arts

The decline of a liberal arts college education is a bad sign for America.  People not only need jobs; they need to think about political, social, and cultural issues using the background of thousands of years of history -- ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, Christianity, the Renaissance, the British Empire -- of art and literature -- Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Tolstoy, Plato, Faulkner -- of science -- Euclid, Einstein, Galelio.  We need to be able to put today's issues into context.  Those who don't know history may be doomed to repeat it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Are Five Senses Enough?

The furor over the Higgs boson and the Higgs field make me wonder if there is a lot out there in the universe which we don't know about and don't understand because we can't easily perceive it with the five senses that we have.  Of those, the one sense we rely on most heavily for physics study is sight, perhaps assisted by touch.  Hearing, smell and taste don't contribute much to our understanding of the universe, although they are useful in our daily lives.  It took a long time to discover radio waves, although they are the same physical phenomenon as light, just at a different wavelength.  Similarly, everybody has experienced gravity all of their lives since the beginning of time, but only in the last few hundred years was it identified as a force that serves as the glue of the universe.  The odd behavior of matter in quantum mechanics might be less odd if we discovered some underlying force or principle that governs it.  Some quantum phenomena, such as entanglement, might promise instantaneous communication across the universe.  Why would advanced beings communicate by electromagnetic waves that can only travel at the speed of light if there is another means that is instantaneous.  These advanced beings could be communicating right now, but we would not know it, because we don't understand that medium of communication.  It may be far removed from the electromagnetic waves that we see or receive by radio.  We don't even understand gravity well, because it works through means other than those that we easily perceive with the five senses.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Why Wasn't Gay Marriage Invented Thousands of Years Ago?

It seems true that people have always been gay, but I'm not aware of any society that has recognized that as a good thing that needs to be encouraged and protected until recently.  If you look at ideas like evolution and the survival of the fittest, homosexuality does not look like a good think in animals or humans, since it leads to the elimination of the race rather than its improvement.

The best article I have found on how homosexuality might fit with modern scientific theories of evolution and genetics is the following: "New Ideas about the Evolution of Homosexuality."  But I don't find even this article convincing from a scientific point of view.  Furthermore, it doesn't address the moral and social aspect of homosexuality, i.e., if it is good for society, society should protect and promote it, as society protects and promotes traditional marriage.  You would think that anthropologists would have found some tribe in New Guinea or Brazil that does so, or some ancient civilization that did so.  On the contrary, homosexuality seems to be almost universally reviled, although all modern and ancient societies seem to be aware that it exists, e.g., Sodom and Gomorrah in Jewish biblical history.

One exception might be ancient Greece, where relations between males were common, but Wikipedia says the most common relationship was between older men and young boys, a relationship that would not be encouraged in present day America.  This type of relationship is not uncommon in America today, although it tends not to be discussed in the current gay-loving environment.  Furthermore, older male-young boy relationships may be more common among permissive, dominant bisexuals than homosexuals who want to get married.  But because it is an unappealing element of homosexuality that does not get discussed, it is hard to know how prevalent it is, and under what circumstances.  There is some indication that Bangkok is a favorite travel destination of gay men because of the availability of young boys.

I think at a minimum there should be more discussion of the social implications of encouraging gay marriage.

Legally, the main emphasis has been on the economic consequences of not allowing gay partners to marry.  But by making marriage the test for the economic benefits, the law basically says you have to have homosexual sex, because otherwise you would not have to get married.  I think a better solution would be to allow a single person to select someone to be his "best friend," who would be entitled to the economic benefits, would be able to visit him the hospital, etc., without declaring that they want to get married so that they can have sex.  Up until recently, homosexuals often portrayed themselves as friends, rather than lovers.  I would like that to continue to be an option.  It's said that today, if you see two people of the same sex living together, they are assumed to be gay and having sex.  I think we need to restore the ability of men to be friends with men and women with women.  Separating marriage from the economic benefits would help with this.

Of course this highlights the fact that most of the economic benefits were meant to encourage traditional families and the raising of children.  Taking children out of the equation is a very big change.  There is not much discussion of the fact that traditional marriage is dying out, with more single women having children outside of traditional families, while gay marriage is increasing exponentially.