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."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle just disappeared from the blog. Sorry!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What Is Time?

If time were not a moving thing
And I could make it stay
This hour of love we share would always be

There'd be no coming day
To shine a morning light
To make us realize our night is over

["It's Over" - Jimmie Rogers]

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

["Time In A Bottle" - Jim Croce]

Time, to me, is a river down which we all float. Caught in the current, we are at the mercy of that river. I was young when I first began to think about time, about the age I first was told about our world (reality) being a three dimensional one. I decided, just about that time, that it wasn't, that it was a four dimensional one and time was that fourth dimension. Think about it: we have height, width, and depth but nothing exists unless it exists for some amount of time. That time might only be a nano-second (or even less) but time must pass for we mere humans to perceive it.

We don't think much about it, though. Collectively, that is. I am sure physicists and many others do but not so much the average person. We are aware of time, of course, especially when we seem to be running out of it. When we are running late, for example, or as we grow old. And, occasionally, we contemplate the vagaries of time. You get into a traffic accident. If you had arrived at that point on the road, a few seconds later or a few seconds earlier, you might have not been involved except as a witness. A couple of miles an hour slower or faster might have saved you a lot of grief, or just spending a little less (or more) time getting into your car. Stretch those seconds into minutes and who knows?

A fatalist might think it wouldn't matter, that circumstances would wait for your arrival or happen earlier depending on when you arrived at the scene. But I am no fatalist. I do not think our lives are predestined, I think we have some control (call it "free will" if you like) over what happens to us but we cannot predict the future so we may as will not have that control.

I wonder, how many of you have contemplated that paradox of time travel: If you traveled back in time, say 100 years, and killed your grandfather before your father was born... would you cease to exist immediately? If so, then you could not have traveled back in time and killed your grandfather and, therefore, would exist. It came to me when I first heard that one that it would be silly to even contemplate killing one's grandfather at all. Maybe by accident but certainly not with intent. But any change you made in the past would eventually alter the future in some way. The further back in time, the greater the impact on the future.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Situational Awareness

 I was driving home from running a few errands and observing the driving habits of a few people as I did so. I'm nosy, ok? It occurred to me that much of the driving experience has been taken away by gadgets and automation.

When I was younger and had received my first traffic citation (for running a stop sign... which I did not do), I ended up in something called Traffic School. I was told by the instructor (a Sheriff's Deputy) that the two worst inventions for cars were AC and the radio. The AC meant you could leave the windows closed (thereby cutting off outside noise) and the radio masked any noise that might have leaked in. I wonder what he would have thought of the gadgets available for modern cars?

As young drivers, my peers and I hated automatic transmissions; called `em "slushboxes" and worse. I thought they took much of the "feel" out of driving a car. Now, of course, I love the darn things... you get lazy in your later years.

But look at the array of options available these days, lane warnings, proximity alerts, and rear-view cameras. And, of course, we are moving toward driverless vehicles: just put in your destination and sit back. As I watched people pay no attention to the vehicles behind (and, sometimes, alongside) them, I wondered if the new gadgets would make things even worse. Perhaps not, perhaps they are needed because it is clear that drivers are not attentive.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Government Sucks... Obviously

A Saturday Special

I was reading this last Thursday morning and a thought came to mind. Some morning thoughts don't last or make much sense even at the time but this one seemed to. One of the things Stossel wrote was:

The Constitution's limits on government power helped create the most free and prosperous country on earth.

I must take issue with that. It could have helped but I think we could (probably would) have turned out just as powerful and prosperous if we had become a dictatorship. I know, not orthodoxy. But what's the point of having a brain if one cannot think "outside the box", as they say? In the past few millennia there have been many great and prosperous countries. Greece, Egypt, Persia, Rome, Russia (under the tsars), France, England, India, and many more. None of them were as as free but they still managed to become great and prosperous nations that built huge empires.

One thing that I think is important to remember as citizens is that government always tries to assume more power and that, I think, is what Stossel is really complaining about in this piece. That we have relatively greater freedom than most countries today, or pretty much any in the past, is not truly relevant to attaining greatness or prosperity. We were not all that powerful and prosperous until late in our history. We were pretty much ignored by the rest of the world. Understandably so, I think. We had to go through a period of expansion and consolidation of our own before we could expand beyond our own borders.

The issue I think is important today is: How much of our individual freedom are we willing to cede in order to remain great and, possibly, prosperous?

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Sometimes Think About Important Stuff

... in addition to the silliness that crops up in my brain. You might recall that I once described humans as parasites. Well, I haven't changed my mind about that. I did, however, run into this which doesn't confirm (or deny) my premise but which concentrates on our collective, let's call it, homocentricity. By that, I mean we place ourselves at the top of the evolutionary scale.

The author makes a compelling, and quite obvious, argument that the only reason to place us at the top is because we made the ladder in the first place. That is, we humans are the only ones who seemingly know or care about evolution. I called the author "Captain Obvious" for positing that. He is right that each species (extant or extinct) is pretty much unique in its approach to life and that this should tell us we are not unique among all fauna. We just think we are and we teach that to our children so that they, too, will believe it.

But what about my positing that we are simply another parasitical species? I think we are. And I also think we aren't anymore intentional in doing harm to our host than any other parasites. Yet, we do cause harm. One of the harms we have done is cause the extinction of a number of species. Nature has us beat on that, however, having wiped out huge numbers of species in various ways, sometimes relatively quickly and sometimes over huge spans of time. But never mercifully. In fact, humans might be the only species to actually care about the extinction of any animals.

Of course, that might just be because we seem to be the only animals to have a capacity to care about anything. Other animals might care about something beyond personal survival but how would we know?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just Some Thoughts

Let me start off by reminding you that I consider myself atheist. Many of you already know this about me. Many in my family (related by marriage or blood) do not know this about me. But let me straighten something out about my "brand" of atheism. I am not offended by religion and I do not fear it. I sometimes fear the intolerance of the religious fanatics... like the ISIS/ISIL wackos. I suspect that they and I would not get along well. I do not want "in God We Trust" taken off our currency nor do I have a problem with the Pledge of Allegiance (even though I learned it before the words "under God" were inserted into it). Well, other than having children mindlessly recite it, that is. Study that pledge, read the words, understand the promise inherent in it. It is an oath of fealty to a piece of cloth and the nation which it represents. It is, to me, indoctrination. Understand that I now, and have since I enlisted in the Navy in 1965, believe in that oath with all my heart. I also consider myself a conservative though I have, of late, wondered if libertarianism isn't more my style.

I have a few friends who are self-professed liberals. I find them to be, in many instances, hypocrites. They complain about African-Americans, about Jews, about Mexicans (and other Hispanics), and do not hesitate to use derogatory terms and the associated stereotypes. I have known many liberals who behaved in the same manner when I was young and thought liberal thoughts while living in California. I dismissed the non-orthodoxy for many years until I felt I couldn't any longer. My first wife began calling me conservative and meant it as an insult. She was also one of those hypocrite-liberals, having used a number of stereotypes over the years we were married so I pretty much ignored it. I had learned, some time before, that insults only hurt if you let them.

There are many things I do not understand. On the other hand, I also think I am pretty smart. This is not contradictory. I think it is pretty normal, in fact.

One more thing: It seems like nude photos of celebrities have been hacked and these photos are being posted on public websites. The celebrities are understandably upset. However, who posted such photos in the first place? Who took them or had them taken? I won't go into the contradiction involved in flaunting one's beauty for profit and then being upset over having it revealed...

So now you know more about me than perhaps you once knew. At least I hope so.