Posts

The Afterlife As a Dream

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I was raised with the mainstream christian belief that there is an afterlife and it consists of heaven and hell. You go to heaven if you are a good, faithful christian, to hell if you are bad. Hell is usually envisioned as a fiery place, where souls burn for all of eternity. Heaven is described as a place where the streets are paved with gold. That doesn't really sound all that appealing to me. It sounds like Trump's ridiculous gold-plated penthouse in New York: cold and ostentatious. My heaven would be a place of physical comfort but also beautiful scenery, endless miles of trail, waterfalls, placid beaches, but also changeable weather. Basically it would be like natural earth but without the illness and back pain. Over time my ideas about the possibility of an afterlife have changed. For the most part, a rational world view seems inconsistent with religion, and an afterlife requires a religious universe 1 . But as I have written elsewhere , this is superficial. Religion does

Book Review: American Tabloid, by James Ellroy

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  My copy of American Tabloid with minor cat damage. James Ellroy paints a grimy view of mid-twentieth century America in his novel American Tabloid . Every cop is a crook and a thug. Every FBI agent is a thief, a liar, and violent. Every man has at least one mistress. The only man portrayed as honest in the entire novel is Robert F. Kennedy, but the rest of the family are crooks, cheaters, and womanizers. Women are portrayed mostly as sexual partners for the corrupt men of the world. The mafia are central to the story, and everyone does business with them, from the CIA to Raul Castro, to J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Ellroy writes in heavy period slang. Stupe. Dig. Zorched (apparently means drunk). Every profane phrase ever known to humanity is uttered, many forgotten to time and not listed in the Urban Dictionary. Every nickname for every street drug you can think of is included. Every racial slur is spoken or embedded into the narration. The cast is an ensemble, there is no central

The Ethics of Meat

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Plant vs. animal. I'm an omnivore and enjoy it. That said, I'm convinced that it's healthy to be a vegetarian. I'm also doubtful of claims that people who eat meat have advantages in sports. At least I think this is true of most sports. Maybe not powerlifting? I think being a vegan is a little trickier. Vegans tend to have difficulties being completely healthy, and are especially prone to deficiencies of Vitamin B12 and iron, especially if they are an active athlete. I have worked around at vegetarianism for a couple of days at a time, usually to control my weight or improve biometrics, but always end up feeling famished. I also love eating beefsteak, roast chicken, and many other meat dishes. I don't want to give up those things. As for the philosophical or ethical concerns surrounding the eating of meat, I disregard vegan ethics. I don't think "ethical veganism" properly accounts for the necessity of taking life to eat. You have to kill plants too, a

The Necessity of Precision

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Binary addition. Source: Wikipedia. One of my faults as a programmer is not being precise enough at all times, yet I find I am still more precise than most people. It's a fundamental trait of people who are good with computers. Since I work in healthcare, and I do not work for a software development company, my workplace is an interdisciplinary environment. I get the opportunity to work with subject matter experts in many areas of healthcare, everyone from nurses to insurance experts. This provides a diverse work experience and prevents monotony, but it also drives me crazy sometimes. People who do not work with discrete data do not understand the need to be precise with information at all times. If you are talking about sports, weather, or your children, you can be as casual and conversational as you like. Use slang, abbreviations, and incomplete sentences if you like. If you are typing in free text notes about a patient, feel free to use common English or shorthand. If you are co

The Transfer Portal Was A Bad Idea

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"Every player in college basketball has entered the transfer portal."  NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. Just look at the damn thing! $$$$$$$$$$  By Momoneymoproblemz - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51361666 Yes, I'm still on the subject of basketball, as the college basketball season comes to an end. The NCAA has implemented what they call the "transfer portal," which allows student athletes to switch schools between seasons without penalty. Previously they had to sit out a year. This was to discourage corruption. I suppose the transfer portal has given college athletes the same options that non-athlete students have, to simply transfer to a different school if you feel like it and can get accepted, but it has also brought free agency into college sports, as well as all new ways of unethical recruiting. I have a feeling that any amount of corruption is already occurring and bribes probably flow freely. Maybe it's t

Defund the NBA

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By User:Austin Bjornholt - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2562480 I grew up in Indiana until right around my 16th birthday, and basketball is the "national sport" of the State of Indiana. Having lived in the boring part of the state, there wasn't much else to do except play basketball for most kids. Unfortunately I didn't have regular access to a hoop with a good surface, so I never became very good at anything other than shooting free throws. Nor was I athletic in most respects anyway. At some point, my family put up a backboard, but the gravel was so deep and soft that dribbling was futile. Not being good enough to play, I learned to keep statistics for the junior high and freshman teams. Being present at practices, and having been privy to the charts and documentation, really taught me how a lot about how organized basketball is played and coached. In that era, everybody in Indiana watched basketball, and the high school gam

The Market

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The flag of the former Soviet Union. Source: Wikipedia, not subject to copyright. Why do marxists think that humans in their natural, tribal state were communists? Granted, historiography wasn't as advanced in the 19th century as what we have now, and Marx died in the 1800s, but it still defies all belief, considering the context. During Marx's lifetime, there must have been millions of people still living Stone Age or similar lifestyles. Here in North America, the native Americans were still living traditional lives on much of the continent. They obviously engaged in market behaviors. Trade routes spanned the continent, even before the arrival of white Europeans. Native tribes traded even with other tribes that might occasionally have been enemies. Marx lived in the same era. Don't modern (contemporary) marxists study the context? It's a reminder though, that Marx was a child of wealth and privilege. He was every bit as out of touch with the average person as Ivanka Tr