Monday, February 17, 2014

12 Great Questions to think about

An oldie but a goldie.... 1. Why is there something as opposed to nothing? 2. What are the limits of science? Has Cartesian Reductionism neared its level of usefulness? How do we incorporate the whole into our thinking? 3. How does complexity arise? Why is the sum of the parts so often less than the whole? 4. Is Randomness an illusion? 5. How are the Laws of Physics carried? 6. What is the relationship between consciousness, free will and the Anthropic Principle? 7. To what extent are we boxed in by our definitions of scientific terms? Discrete versus Continuous understanding of nature. 8. Why and how are we bound by perceived linearity? 9. The Subjective versus the Objective….Will Objectivism disappear altogether? 10. Why do systems become stable? How is this stability rocked? Is there an overall march toward a new zone? Is stability real or imaginary? 11. Why is our Mathematics limited? 12. What is an event? What comes together to make an event?

Quick Comment of the Day 2

There is no knowledge so powerful that an incompetent teacher can’t ruin it for their students.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Words from a Maverick

I live in a milieu, as an educator, where I am exclusively surrounded by individuals who hold views to the left of me. This is hardly surprising as modern liberalism has shifted in a direction that makes it more akin to social-democracy than anything else and most teachers are modern liberals by self-imposed definition.I have maintained my course even as the centrist paradigm has gravitated leftward. Detractors would say that I sam a slave to inertia but I choose to reject this categorization.I identify as a Classic liberal as it balances, with the required skepticism, both the excesses of each wing of the political spectrum. It is a philosophy rooted in reason, true to the enlightenment but scornful of the anarchism of the Romantics. It champions measured change and flies roughshod over unproven radicalism. Classic liberalism is not a flavor of the day philosophy, it has a proud history that originates from English liberalism and at its very core is the cherished concepts of freedom of speech, thought and action. Modern liberalism, in contrast, dances with dialectic materialism and is therefore corrupted by the veil of socialist groupthink. It has lost the essence of what it is to be liberal by exchanging the primacy of the individual for that of the collective. It is not a philosophy of tolerance, as is evidenced by the hysteria that is all too often directed against those who deviate from its dogma. Maybe one can see Modern Liberalism as a cacophony of nanny state voices, but what cannot be denied is the success of this idealism in broad swiping opposition, to establish its almost universal acceptance in education. This is a tragedy as it has blighted the diversity of opinion that should be a source of our intellectual strength. Sadly there are a few who see it this way. Perhaps it's the suffocation of the medium that has done it to them, or maybe it's the comfort of accepting the 'IS'.......I am not sure. Whatever the cause I am grateful the light has not been snuffed out so myself, like a few others, can with our hearts and deeds still resist the predominant orthodoxy.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

FDR - Going beyond the myth

Why is FDR so lionized as a President? He subverted democracy by loading SCOTUS with his cronies, forced through the New Deal which actually delayed the economic recovery (many New Deal type programs were also the brainchild of the previous Hoover administration), interned Japanese Americans, clamped down on giving refuge to Holocaust victims and refused to bomb railways to the death camps. In addition he underestimated the both the brutality of Stalin and Uncle Joe’s ambitions, thereby dooming most of Eastern Europe to brutal Soviet domination. Yes, he did go to war to save the West but in reality he didn’t have much of a choice after Pearl Harbour. Hitler also made is easy for FDR by declaring war on the US only four days after this (arguably one of the biggest follies of the war). I will give FDR credit for Cash-and-Carry and Lend Lease but I think his status has been blown out of proportion by apologists such as Arthur Schlesinger. I believe that Harry Truman was a far superior president.

The US needs to let the Arab World solve their own problems

While there are some holding out for a long term improvement in Middle-East politics as a result of the Arab Spring, what is most evident is that the gains that have accrued to date have have come at too high a price. One could very easily argue that the Middle East is in fact worse now than it has been with both Syria and Egypt emeshed in Civil War. With his Cairo speech and his cheerleading of the Anti-Mubarak drivers, Obama must take on some responsibility for the debacle (his lack of common sense and political street knowledge were abysmal)and the arena is worse now for his ill-conceived interference.

Quick Comment of the Day 1 - Topic Obamacare

Obamacare is so convoluted that it makes the Byzantines seem like a bunch of Anarchists. It is the political equivalent of trench warfare. In WWI hordes of soldiers with much casualties were used to overwhelm a position with brute force alone. In Obamacare the public is beaten into a punch drunk acceptance by a level of bureaucracy that no sane human can be expected to figure out.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Star Wars is Evil....There I said it

I grew up in the generation that Star Wars was custom made for. At the age of eight I remember sitting with my jaw at ground level, mouth drooling, fixated on a universe that was simply unbelievable. If I had been moved to a utopia, this was it. That was then. My enthusiasm continued as I submerged myself in the somewhat duller Empire Strikes Back and the trilogy’s concluding episode Return of the Jedi. Years later when Lucas released these three with a few modifications I sat through them again with a healthy nostalgia. Jedi had taken over from a New Hope as my personal favourite and Empire seemed a slightly less disjoined than the time that I saw it as a kid. However the series had dropped remarkably in my overall esteem, the magic was tarnished and I couldn’t believe how insipid both the plot lines and acting were. Of course I was of an older age – one cannot dismiss that variable – but compared to the Science Fiction of the British Comic World – Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper – not to mention the alternative Blade Runner or Dystrophic films, Star Wars looked remarkably inferior - at least by a parsec or two. In fact it was downright awful. I watched the prequels (hoping for a broader salvation) but loathed all three. The second was particularly bad and I cursed the fact that I had been duped, even at a young age by Lucas’ space odyssey of junk. Alec Guinness, who played Obi-Wan, was dismissive of Star Wars in his personal writing and rightfully so. The series was a gigantic con job, that used the brilliance of special effects to hide its glaring flaws. Nothing of substance emerges from the Star Wars – it is a massive cliché but worse than that is morally questionable something the masses who bathe in its sub-culture almost never admit. In A New Hope, Darth Vader carries out an unspeakable genocide, the destruction of the planet Alderaan. I remember even as a kid being shocked by that. Lets put this in context for a second – History is replete with its evil despots – Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot – all of them carried out massive genocides but none of them destroyed a planet and all of its inhabitants….not even close. Yet Vader does this in a matter of minutes… and we are exposed to it as a matter-of-fact. Of course its part of the story but get this …once Vader comes clean and has the dark side’s hold over him broken (in Jedi)..we are now supposed to cheer for this villain, sympathize with him as he takes his place alongside Obi-Wan and Yoda in the pantheon of Jedi. In fact Luke Skywalker ceremonially honours this genocidal lunatic in a funeral ceremony…Talk about turning your back on evil….What about all his victims? Was this monster not responsible for destruction in the billions (a likely estimate range for planetary populations)? But Lucas wants us to forget this because he (Vader) did the honourable ‘thing’ and saved his son. Frikkin Hell…story or no story!…fiction or not!…Does this not show how morally decrepit Lucas’ universe is? Now one could argue that I am wasting too much bytes on this line of thought (ink is so 20th century) …but unfortunately the Star Wars super meme has infected our collective conscious in a manner that is extremely pervasive… Kids know more about such asinine lines… as ‘I am your father Luke’ and ‘Use the force’ than the words of Churchill, Schweitzer or King. Adults dress up in Vader costumes…and when questioned about this will retort with a line such as Vader is the ‘ultimate bad ass’….which begs the next question where does that leave Genghis Khan who ‘only’ redrew the face of Eurasia?…A third-tier bad ass perhaps. Ideas drive action and Lucas has a twisted calculus that he has sold to the rest of us. Disney and Lego will of course further entrench this nonsense in the next generation’s mind set. It’s a further statement on the sad reality of a truism that we overlook as we amuse ourselves to oblivion. Now where did I put my son’s double headed light sabre that his grandparents got him.