Archive for May, 2009

Stuff! Things!

Back on The Other Blog, I once wrote about how my company (Stater Bros.) could save millions a year by using an automated ordering system, and how it would also increase revenue at the same time. Now it appears that I will get my chance to inform my corporate masters employers about my idea. There are forms at work that they’ve distributed around declaring a “War on Waste” which basically is asking for ideas from anyone about how the company might cut wasteful spending. If you submit one you get a little pin and if your idea is selected, you basically get a pat on the back. But, it might help my visibility in the long run.

Also, I have decided that I am finally going to send off a short story somewhere. I don’t know where yet, but I’ve written one about scientists at SETI discovering intelligent life via radio technology (I know I wrote earlier how unlikely that is, but, hey, it’s just a story). Because aliens, if they do exist, will likely have been around for millions or billions of years, I figure they’ll likely be concerned about the “galactic ecology”, meaning keeping their own growth and energy consumption down, so they don’t quickly use up their resources and cause themselves to go extinct. Civilizations that last that long don’t get that way by ignoring environmental limits. But, they’ll also maybe not be total destroyers, believing that other alien species have the right to exist, just as they do. It’s a tricky situation, allowing new members in pool of limited resources. The message recieved by the SETI scientists, once deciphered, basically turns out to be a “Oh hey, welcome to the universe, we’re glad you’re here, but there are some rules you have to abide by, or else…”

Damn, I just gave away the ending. Oh well, it’s not like anyone actually reads my blog so no harm done. And if I do get readers by people reading my short story, they’ll already know the ending anyway.

WWFD

There are many times when I’m bewildered by political affairs. Sometimes when events happen, it’s difficult to know, especially with emotions running wild, just what the correct couse to take is. America has traditionally had a stance of isolationism. That, whatever’s going in Europe is their problem. Whatever’s going on in Asia is their problem. That, above all, it isn’t our problem. Of course, such thinking can appear incredibly cruel and sadistic when dealing with, say, government oppression, genocide, or war.

But, really, what business is it of ours? We may wish for all people to act civilized, for foreign governments to be more respectful of people’s rights, but it is our job to enforce such behavior? One such relatively recent event was, of course, the the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. First, we were led to believe he had weapons of mass destruction, even though he didn’t. We ended up invading his country and overthrew his government. Even though he wasn’t creating WMDs, many people still think that he still needed to be out of power.

I would agree. He was a tyrant. But I don’t think it was our place to go and do it. It’s curious that there’s a philosophy that describes this political and philosophical position. It is called the Prime Directive.

I have learned much from Star Trek. Sure it is a television program (actually five live-aciton programs, one animated program, eleven movies, and countless spin-off novels, comics, video games, etc.), but just because it is doesn’t necessarily make the Prime Directive irrelevant.

I quote Captain Jean-Luc Picard, from episode “Symbiosis”: “The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules. It is a philosophy, and a very correct one. History have proved again and again that whenever mankind interferes in a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably distastrous.” and from “Pen Pals”: “The Prime Directive has many functions, not the least is to protect us. To prevent us from allowing our emotions to overwhelm our judgement.”

I think the United States would do well to understand and assume this philosophy. To ask itself when viewing other countries with other problems:

WWFD

I’m Back For Some Reason

Wow, I just realized I haven’t updated my blog in over two weeks! It’s not that I’ve been busy (I haven’t really…) it’s just that I can’t really think of anything to write. Which is weird because I do have posts in mind. For example, I want to write a second part to my general overview on virtual space detailing how the world as a whole would benefit, but whenever I go to write it I just think “eh, I don’t feel like it”. I think the problem is that I need to be more disciplined in writing. I remember reading on Bad Astronomy that Phil Plait, after he quit his job to write his spectacularly awesome book Death from the Skies!, that it suddenly seemed to him now that he had to write. It was his “new job”. It didn’t matter if he didn’t want to, it was required. Presumably if I were to quit my job and just focus on writing I would find it much more important but I’m not insane enough (yet) to do that.

Oh well. I have been tinkering with Cretaceia, my novel about a group a people marooned back in the late Cretaceous period. I still think it’s  going to be a great book, full of conflict and intrigue, almost none of which is caused by cliched dinosaurs trying to eat people.

Oh yeah, saw Star Trek last night. Quick review: Wow!

Bizarre Beliefs

One of the things about being a skeptic and questioning your own beliefs is that it can lead to some pretty strange combinations. This is mainly because individual beliefs are often completely unrelated to one another. I have a sort of “General Rule” that I think most people would agree with: people should be able to do whatever they want, provided they do not harm anyone else while doing it (or, at least, engaging in activities that can easily and relatively likely harm someone else). Or, more formally, people have the fundamental right to choose their own lives, provided they don’t infringe on that same right of others.

For one, as I posted before, I support the total legalization of drugs. If you want to get stoned, shoot up, swallow acid tabs, etc. that’s your decision. It would be wrong of me to impose my choice on you to not do drugs. Whenever you get the government involved, you are doing exactly that: imposing your decisions on other people who may not share your values.

That belief is commonly associated far left side of the political spectrum. But I recently found that, if I am to be true to my beliefs, I must embrace a position which is typically associated with the far right.

I must support the choice of people to bear arms. A gun is completely inert, unless someone is there to operate it. A gun cannot choose to shoot someone of its own free will, because it doesn’t have free will. So, as long as someone is responsible and doesn’t go shooting the place up, they’re not harming anyone, so they must be allowed to own a gun.

I even extended this line of thought to the Assault Weapons Ban. An assault weapon is just a really big gun, and so should similarly protected. I was immediately bewildered at the fact that, logically, i should oppose both laws which ban assault weapons and drugs, even though they seem like complete opposite politically.

In fact, that not only did I support personal choice on both issues, I realized that they were really the same issue! They are two facets of the much broader issue: who gets to own what? And the answer, if it is to be in line with my General Rule above, is that everyone should be allowed to own both, if they so choose.

Well, not everyone. Like, you know, not children. And actually, I think of gun ownership much like driving. If you screw around and deliberately cause accidents and run people down, you should be barred from driving. Similarly, if you mow down a crowd of people with an AK-47, you should have it taken away from you. Perhaps it would be better to consider gun ownership, like driving, a privilege, but one that is by default available to all adults initially.

Strange.

I also designed a little image, because I like designing little images, to highlight my beliefs:

m16-cannabis

Swine Flu Quackery

As usual, whenever they’re some public scare, whether it’s about some illness, terrorism, the Earth passing through a comet’s tail which contains cyanogen, etc. it seems like there’s always some quacks out there trying to scam the public with fake cures.

Fortunately, some people are willing to inform and education rather than con. Some people are the Young Australian Skeptics. They’ve created a public notice warning the public about possible homeopathic cures about H1N1:

swine-flu-scam-alert

 

Remember:

1) Homeopathic medicine doesn’t work. Period.

2) Vaccines do not cause autism. Period. (This will be important once they develop a vaccine for H1N1).

3) Only medical science has any chance at finding a real cure. Period.

Believing 1 and/or 2 leaves you vulnerable, not just to swine flu, but to any and all other easily cured diseases. In short, believing these things can kill you. And your loved ones.