The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Madness, It's Madness


I am still having a spot of trouble with my chosen browser so bear with me, please.

As I was watching the TV the other night, I came across some "talking heads" (pundits, they call them) fretting about the War On Terror, ISIS (or ISIL, whichever you prefer), and Bashir Assad. The crux of the worry was how we might find ourselves allied with Assad in order to deal with ISIS.

They actually worried about this. I presume that is because they've forgotten some fairly recent history... You see, back in 1941, Great Britain allied with the Soviets, specifically with Josef Stalin, (and we joined that alliance once we got into that war) which had not long before signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany and happily engaged in dividing up Poland in 1939.

In simple terms... it's been done before; this allying with those you do not like in order to defeat a greater threat.

So why fret about it now?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life Is Full Of Potholes


I am still having problems with my browser. It could be a virus or just some screwup I somehow created. But it is affecting my ability to post and that means they will be iffy.


 I have been thinking about death lately, wondering mostly about what happens after. Being atheist, I do not buy into any of the stories about an afterlife but I realize I am definitely in the minority on this. Personally, I believe that death is one of the reasons that religions exist. No one wants to think that this is it... that when someone dies, it's all over, that we just cease to exist. We do not want life to be final. So, we (according to me) invent gods and heavens and hells or we invent reincarnation. Anything but life just being over.

I could be wrong. The problem is that I won't know until after I am dead and I don't believe I would know then because the "me" that exists now simply won't anymore. So I would be unaware of anything. Just gone.  Some think that's a bleak future. To that, I say isn't that the point? We cannot know what happens after we die though religions offer us hope and we all want hope, don't we?

Woody Allen once offered the theory that when we die our souls go to a garage in New Jersey. That is even more bleak than my vision.

But what about you? What do you think happens after death?


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Err, Therefore I Am Human


This was supposed to post yesterday but the Blogger editor would not load so I had to set it up for today


It turns out, according to this article that the errors we make help us. Well, DUH!  Once again, a heap of research has shown what we already know... or should know... that we learn from mistakes and learn faster from those mistakes than we otherwise would.

Of course, that doesn't explain the people who make the same mistakes repeatedly... that's covered under Einstein's definition of insanity... "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

I wonder about that. Criminals fall under that definition, especially the ones we call "career criminals." They commit a crime, get arrested, and go to jail. And when they get out, they do it again. Perhaps they thought the mistake was in getting caught?

I have made repeated mistakes in my life. But I believe that was because I didn't recognize the mistake, I thought the mistake was something else... like the career criminal does.  The article was talking about learning "motor skills" (often referred to as "muscle memory"). Anyone who ever watched a toddler learning to walk knows mistakes he makes help him learn. It continues as the child learns to do other things: throw a ball, climb a ladder, talk, etc. But that learning never stops. Ask any golfer about mistakes. Most of us know immediately that we goofed in some small way but we often don't know just how and when the goof occurred. This makes it difficult to overcome.

Children are constantly learning (I call it "human programming") and have fewer mistakes to look back on, to file away, to categorize. They are more resilient; they recover more quickly than adults. They also make more mistakes because they are learning many new skills. Personally, I think it is vitally important that we teach them essential morality before they turn five.

But why concentrate on motor skills? Why not apply this knowledge to every new thing to learn?  It seems that these scientists have uncovered that also:

The surprise finding in the new study, published in Science Express, is that not only do errors train the brain to better perform a specific task, but they also teach it how to learn faster from errors, even when those errors are encountered in a completely different task.

“In this way, the brain generalizes from one task to another by keeping a memory of the errors,” the researchers said.


In other words, we learn how to learn.


Maybe being a klutz is helpful.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dystopia


Let's talk about Ferguson, Missouri. First, let's go over what we know to be fact...

Nothing

What we have is reporting and rumor. Mostly, we have reporting of rumor. We have lots of video showing riots and looting along with a bunch of policemen in camo and riding on (or in) armored vehicles. We have scenes of flash-bang grenades and tear gas clouds.

The camo and armored vehicles have given rise to concerns about the "militarization" of the local police. We have forgotten about the use of these armored vehicles by Chief Gates in Los Angeles in the 1980's to break into crack houses which were heavily armored with steel doors and such and full of men with guns. We have forgotten that we (the collective "we") clamored for the police to have these weapons and these armored cars after 9/11/2001. Now we are concerned that the police are too powerful. This fretting about police power will continue until there is a domestic terror attack. Then we will forget all about that concern we have now.

I rail against police state possibilities a lot here. I whine about people who seemingly want a single party government. Why? Because the police will be very militarized in that kind of system.

I have no idea what is actually the truth about events in Ferguson and I don't think I would have any more insight if I lived there. The first thing that happens is the truth is lost. People hear rumors and believe them to be true. Michael Brown was an "innocent, unarmed, child" except we learn that he may not be such an innocent (see the video of him shoving and intimidating a convenience store clerk half his size).  We are told he had his hands up when the cop shot him. But maybe that isn't true either. We are not getting the entire picture and we may never get it.

Because, as I always say:

People hear what they want to hear,
see what they want to see,
and believe what they want to believe.


What do you believe?



Friday, August 15, 2014

Madness


I am trying to understand the mindset of these radical Islamists. I am talking about ISIS (or ISIL, as some call it/them). I cannot understand even what little I know about the group. The linked story from the BBC  shortens it to "IS"... which doesn't help me at all.

From what I gather, they want to establish a caliphate, which is (according to Wiki)...

"(in Arabic: خلافة‎ khilāfa, meaning "succession") is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph – i.e. "successor" – to Muhammad."

I read that as "We want a dictator!" I don't know how else to describe it.  I had a conversation many years ago with a member of the Nation Of Islam. He told me that "strong-man" rule is a good thing. And I have to agree that, at times, it would seem so. Almost all government, at one time, was of that design. America broke the mold when it established a republic. Rome was, at first, a republic but it was still ruled by the privileged (the wealthy) who essentially owned the Senate, as were all the initial republics. Citizens could vote for others to represent them but the game was rigged, as they say.

I cannot grasp the mentality that screams "I don't want freedom!" But that is what these people demand. When we were in the midst of the Cold War, I once heard communism being described as "freedom" from want. That is, that it was freer than capitalism because it promised that the needs of the least would be met. It didn't make sense to me because, possibly, I had been raised in a capitalist society. To me, having all my needs met was not freedom. Especially if it meant that a police state would be the way it was done.

I fear that there are just too many willing to give up individual freedom.