Archive for the 'Ignorance' Category

29
Jul
08

The Battle of Good and Evil…

Today I read (watched actually) the 666th post on the blog (or yolog) on the Blog of the Angry Aussie. For his 666th post, he decided to talk about the concepts of good and evil. Well worth listening to what he said if you have a few minutes, because he makes some excellent points.

If I understand what he is saying correctly, he feels that the ideas of Good and Evil are abstractions that have no real definable meaning, and that because of that, there is no such thing as absolute good, or absolute Evil. He raised some good points, with some compelling examples, such as the Nazis, and how none of them thought they were evil, and how evil actions are really a matter of perspective rather than any concrete idea.

But while I agree with a lot of what he said, I do disagree on some of the fundamental implications of his position. Hence this post. I do believe there is a universal definition of Good and a universal definition of Evil. And no, I’m not talking about universal good/evil in relation to, (for Instance) God, and the forces of good fighting against the devil and the forces of evil. I’m talking about how we define the basic earthbound humans daily battle with the moral and ethical questions that drive our actions.

There are a lot of things that are universal in this world. Laws of energy, nature, physics, etc. are inviolate. When we break one of those laws, it isn’t because we really broke it, but rather because we didn’t truly understand it to begin with. I think that universally applicable concepts of good and evil exist in the same way.

I believe that there must be some universally acceptable idea of good and evil, otherwise we would not be able to recognize the individual instances of one from the other, regardless of our individual beliefs. I think that this is a very important point. I think our problem is that we really do not understand the idea of what “Good” or “Evil” truly means at a universal level.

What this means to me, is that the biggest mistake people make with respect to defining good and evil is that they apply too specific a filter on what they consider good and what they consider evil. It is often a function of their cultural or religious belief system, or their cultural morals, or social normalcy, or any random thing they were brought up to believe.

None of these, from my perspective, are good ways to determine the benevolence or malevolence of a person or action, because they are all rooted in a human way of thinking that assumes the thinker understands the difference, or is the good guy. I believe that in order to truly define good and evil as universal concepts, we must learn to think outside of our petty differences, and in terms of a much, much broader picture, otherwise our definition of Good and Evil will, by definition, not be universal in any way, shape or form.

But then the question becomes, is it possible for a human to think in such broad terms? Well, I think so. After all, there are social laws that are universal. Laws that do exist, in one form or another, regardless of religion creed or belief system. A typical example is “The Golden Rule”. Do unto others and all that jazz.

Lets take Mr. A and the example of the Nazi’s. Sure, Nazi’s Germans never woke up every moring and said, “Today would be a great day to be evil.” No, they justified what they did using some altruistic sounding, though heinously misguided, rationalization.

Clearly, your average German walking the streets of Germany today would consider what the Nazis did evil. But why did the Germans of the time not think so? Was it because of a different perspective? And if it was, was that a reasonable perspective?

My answer to the first question is: because they were lying to themselves. And to the last two: No. No way in hell. Why? Because they violated the golden rule. Unless it makes sense to you that if another culture considers yours inferior, that they ought to take the initiative to wipe yours off the face of the earth, nobody can argue that it was a “good” thing.

It’s amazing how quickly peoples perspectives become irrelevant if you correctly apply the Golden Rule to the scenario. Things that people say makes sense suddenly contradict themselves under that paradigm, and the theoretical complications brought about by “differences in perspective” suddenly don’t mean much.

My point here is this. If a concept as simple, as straightforward and easy to apply (if you aren’t lying to yourself) as the Golden Rule, can be applied so universally, regardless of culture, creed and/or belief, then there must be some universal way to define actions that fall in line with the golden rule, and actions that violate it.

And if that exists, then, to my thinking, it follows that there must be some concrete definition to universal Good, and universal Evil… I think that most of us are usually just too egocentric to properly define it…

666-The nature of evil – [Angry Aussie]

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19
Dec
07

You’d think God would have a better sense of humor…

Christian groups are up in arms here over a new children’s film starring Nicole Kidman and based on an award-winning novel by British author Philip Pullman, accusing it of being anti-religious.

Evil in Pullman’s books is represented by the church, called the Magisterium, whose acolytes kidnap orphans across England to subject them to horrible experiments in the frozen northern wastelands. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Seriously, why would anyone who believes in an all-powerful, almighty God, even trouble themselves with things like this? It’s not as if anyone is going to take the movie literally, and decide that the church is evil. Not to mention that there are a lot of other worse things to be complaining about besides a freakin’ movie.

I could point out that, historically, much treachery, killing and death has occurred in the name of Christianity, and religion in general. Numerous crusaders, jihadi, conquerers, terrorists, etc. and wars have often been perpetuated in “Gods” name, or with “Gods” support. But this shouldn’t worry any honest Christians because we are different, and people don’t do that anymore… Right? Oh… Wait… Nevermind.

But as I was saying, does anyone really think God honestly, really cares about this movie? How could it possibly offend Him? It’s a fairy tale for crying out loud! A work of fiction. Why, in the name of all that is holy, would the Almighty be offended by this? Seriously, given how the world works, you’d think God would have, at the very least, an epic sense of humor…

Christian groups slam new Kidman children’s movie – [Yahoo/AFP]

17
Nov
07

More handgun mayhem.

A recent case regarding whether an Oregon school teacher could bring her handgun to school has been decided:

Shirley Katz, who has a legal permit to carry a concealed handgun, argued she needed the Glock semi-automatic pistol to protect herself from her ex-husband. She sued the school district when it told her carrying a gun was against a district policy prohibiting guns.

Circuit Judge G. Philip Arnold agreed with the district, saying “The District has a right to enforce this policy.” he noted that employees “accept their jobs subject to, and knowing, the policy.” – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Well now. That’s too bad. I can sympathize with the need for the district to remain in control. But this ruling won’t prevent any disgruntled students, irate ex-husbands, explosive bearing gang members or crazed faculty from bringing firearms on campus either.

Unless the district installs metal detectors. And hires some really burly security guards. But of course they’d have to arm the security guards, ’cause they would be useless against an armed assailant if they didn’t have a projectile weapon of some sort. Like a taser. Or a firearm. Except your average taser has an average range of about 15 feet. And is single shot. Not much help against a firearm wielding opponent. Unless they are less than 15 feet in front of you, and you are a crack shot.

It seems to me that while the district seems to be ignoring the basic fact that these rules do not protect the ones who follow them. Only the ones who break them. They do not prevent anyone from bringing a firearm into the school, unless the rule is supplemented by active security measures, such as metal detectors and random spot checks that physically prevent them from being broken. And that just breeds an atmosphere of oppression. Not to mention that even those measures can be circumvented.

So what exactly is the point of such a restriction? At the end of the day, it seems entirely easier to just arm the teachers. It would be much, much cheaper, and orders of magnitude more effective. If not with firearms, then at least with tasers. Sticking ones head in the sand in a gunfight only guarantees that ones hind quarters will get shot off…

Teacher loses fight to take gun to class – [Yahoo/Reuters]

07
Nov
07

Laaaaaaaw, is a many splendored thiiiiiing… Not.

OK, forgive my musical refrain. I ran across an article today that kinda illustrated how important it is that the laws be objective, not morally motivated, and constantly revised to stay current with the changing times:

Dying in parliament is an offence and is also by far the most absurd law in Britain, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 people by a television channel showing a legal drama series.

And though the lords were clad in their red and white ermine cloaks and ambassadors from around the world wore colourful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armour. Illegal. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Obviously many of these laws probably had some practical logic to them when they were made, and merely suffered from being too broad or too specific in scope. However the same is true of many of the laws on the books today. They are based on historical or social standards that are either obsolete or irrelevant today.

On the other side of the coin, there are laws placed on the books, that are simply poorly thought out. Most often emotional the result of knee-jerk reactions by over zealous lawmakers. For instance banning baggy pants? No tag in school? No hugs?!? Seriously, how is banning baggy pants supposed to reduce the crime rate of a city? (see <Dumb Laws.com> for a big list of really wacky laws… Fair warning, you may laugh yourself into oblivion 🙂 )

But on a more serious note, the law has become a means for activists to push their own agendas, as opposed to protecting the society at large, and no, the two are not the same thing. An equitable legal system does not discriminate against anyone on the bases of race, color, creed, beliefs, etc, so it is absolutely ludicrous that any one should have to face prosecution simply because of their choice of clothes. What we are seeing is an abuse of the legal system. And it really needs to stop.

Die and you’re under arrest! Britain’s most stupid laws – [Yahoo/AFP]

18
Oct
07

Squatting Burglars…

I mentioned a couple of posts ago the recent trend of burglars making themselves at home in the homes they are burgling. Well it appears that a few burglars have taken the next logical (?) obvious step:

Kim Ledford returned to her home after an extended absence and found a strange man in her bed and a woman wearing her clothes. Then another man walked up to question why she was in his house. – [Yahoo/AP]

Well pluck my hair and call me a mole rat! I do declare them burglers have cohones of titanium!! Now I could be wrong, but I think ’tis rare to have a burglar move into someones home, and then have the brass to grill the owner when they return home!

I mean, come on people. If you’re squatting in a home that you had to break into, you’ve gotta know it isn’t yours, and if the homeowner comes home, arguing with them isn’t exactly going to help your case. If fact in some cases it might get you shot.

In the cave I call home it would probably get them mauled to death by a bear. Or killed by a squad of highly trained, cybernetically augmented combat gophers. Ya know, I think I need more laid back friends. It’s all that freaking combat training. Gets them all wired…

Burglars move into Alabama woman’s home – [Yahoo/AP]

06
Oct
07

The RIAA Strikes Again!

In an interesting first, the RIAA has actually won an honest-to-goodness trial against a suspected file sharer:

 The Recording Industry Association of America won its first trial this week when a jury ordered Jammie Thomas of Duluth, Minnesota to pay $220,000 to six separate record companies — Sony BMG, Arista Records, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, and Warner Bros. Records. The amount covers 24 copyrighted songs illegally downloaded on her computer. – [Yahoo/TechWeb]

Now given the inconsistencies in her testimony, if I were a betting man, I’d say she was in fact guilty. However the damages were absolutely outrageous. And regardless of what anyone says, this win does not legitimize the tactics the RIAA has been using to hunt down suspect file sharers over the past 4 years. The moment they started suing people regardless of whether they were actually engaged in file sharing or not, the RIAA started committing extortion.

It is clear to me that the actions of the RIAA is no longer about managing copyrights. They are about income, plain and simple. And the damages are entirely out of control. Throw a bunch of people, half of whom might as well have been luddites, into a jury, and the RIAA can get away with anything.

RIAA Victory Sends Message But Won’t Stop File-Sharing – [Yahoo/TechWeb]

02
Oct
07

The sky is falling!! (No its not. It’s just a TV…)

I just read an interesting article today about a man who had a disagreement with a TV which was, unfortunately, contract-bound to follow the laws of gravity… and not that of butter-fingered Best Buy employees:

Texas Best Buy customer Sam Fisher recently found himself at the center of a slightly more perilous problem than a dubious intranet site, when an employee at the store accidentally dropped a 27-inch from the top shelf straight onto his head.

Ouch… That’s gonna leave a mark…

…the man… …is now suing Best Buy for gross negligence, although not the individual employee, who he says was simply following the store’s policies. – [Engadget/TG Daily]

OK, look. As much as I can sympathize with the man for having to bear a blow upside the head from an wayward 27in. television set, this case brings to mind a similar incident with a not-too-bright lady and a hot cup of coffee…

Look, if you go to a store and see a heavy item on the top shelf, when you finally get a person to bring it down for you, do you:

  1. Get out of the employees way, and stand where nobody will get hurt if it falls, so they can retrieve the item safely.
  2. Stand behind, beside or under the employees ladder, as they attempt to retrieve the item.
  3. Stand directly under the item as the employee pulls it down from the top shelf.

Now me personally, I’d choose option #1. Generally because I’d like for my noggin to remain in one piece, thank you very much. Apparently this guy didn’t think that far ahead. And now he wants to sue Best Buy for his lack of foresight. And I don’t mean the clairvoyant type either. I mean the “Let- me- give- this- area- some- room- just- in- case- this- large- object- should- happen- to- slip- and- fall” kind of foresight. But that could just be me.

And then there is the idea that “people” are no longer at fault. Or can’t make mistakes. It’s always the “business” or the “company” who is to blame. Given the comments of Best Buy employees that weighed in on the article, it sounds as if fingering Best Buy for this is illogical. Is he trying to say that an employee couldn’t possibly have violated company policy? Or that the employee couldn’t have accidentally dropped the TV? The employee was superhuman, and was therefore in no way to blame?

Hogwash! IMHO The real reason people in this situation don’t want to hold other individuals accountable for their mistakes are twofold:

  1. If they hold others personally accountable for their mistakes, then others must hold them personally accountable for theirs. And we can’t have that because… *ahem*… We are all “perfect”.
  2. Businesses are wealthier than individuals. And that’s the “bottom line”™. He couldn’t have gotten much out of that poor Best Buy employee, but the business, well, now that’s a horse of a different color… Green.

It seems we live in an age where common sense must now be dispensed, vending machine style, at every turn, because people don’t seem to carry any around with them anymore. It amazes me that we seem to have blithely accepted the constant barrage of signs, images, warning labels and so on telling us things, (in high visibility yellow and red), that any person with an adequately functioning brain should be able to figure out on their own.

How many of you are unaware that plastic bags are a suffocation hazard? Or that the cables for your blinds are a strangulation risk? Or that you are not supposed to eat the toner from a printer cartridge? Or that hot beverages can scald you? Or that fingers and moving lawnmower blades do not mix?

Do you really need to be told these things? Are you really OK with the fact that it is necessary for anyone to have to be told these things? Or are we simply allowing the non-thinkers of our society to dictate how socially acceptable common sense should be, for fear of having to own up to our individual mistakes?

Ok, fine. I’ll stop asking stupid questions and dismount my soapbox…

Best Buy customer sues after being clobbered by falling TV – [Engadget/TG Daily]




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