Philostophy and the Philostophers

I know a lot of you won’t get the reference, but what the hell, I like it.  Where is Frank Zappa now that we need him?  Can you imagine his reaction to American Idol!  Anyway, I miss him and no one seems to have stepped up to take his place.  I guess no one could.  But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.  I like philosophy.  I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff and trying to put it all together.  I’ve developed a fairly complex cosmology that makes sense to me and I’m going to start posting some of it here.

This is harder than it might seem.  It feels like exposing myself in some weird way.  Our culture frowns upon discussing our religious beliefs and only the crazy street person seems to do it.  Oh well, maybe I qualify.  It also makes me feel a little vulnerable since most people reading this will think it’s silly and no one wants to be trivialized.  And it takes tremendous hubris (meaning balls) to publish your own version of the bible.  Well what the fuck.  Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.

One of the problems with writing about religion and philosophy is that all the good words are taken already.  In order to talk about this stuff you have to either make up your own words or use theirs in your own way.  I’ve decided to do the latter because it just seems easier.  So I use stuff you may have heard of it but I use it in new way.  For example I use the word Tao for the unifying spiritual force in the universe.  I chose to use it instead of God because it is less anthropomorpizable (wow, that’s a cool word).  Besides, I like the word Tao and it was as close as I could get to what I’m imagining.  But I’m not a Taoist.  That’s a specific series of religions in China.  The opposite of the Tao is The Man.  Okay, I’m an old hippy.  What can 

I say.  The Man is those things that are trying to keep you from being free and connecting to the Tao.  I hope you get the idea.

Do I know what I’m doing here?  Nope.  I’m just muddling through, making guesses, going with what feels right and discarding the rest.  As the builder jesse James says, if someone says they know what they’re doing they don’t know shit.  A true master knows they’re always guessing and in over their heads.  This makes sense because surety and concrete rightness is a sure sign of The Man and not the Tao.  The Tao is always undefined.  It’s undefined by definition.  So, being unsure is a better reflection of the Tao.

It is probably going to take me a few months to get the bulk of this philosophy stuff posted, especially because I know I’ll get distracted.  If it interests you please be patient and check the ‘philosophy’ category for any you might have missed.  If you don’t care than just go back to down loading porn!


Dogs and Other Thoughts

I love dogs.  I know some weird people like cats, but I’m a dog person.  I’ve never lived without one and don’t expect I ever will.  As I write this my loyal, ugly, dumb, and loving bulldog is sleeping on my leg and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Having a dog has given depth, joy and quality to my life.

There’s a wonderful blessing that goes “May you strive to be the man that your dog thinks you are”.  Dogs, and our relationships with them, embody some of our finest human traits.  My bulldog is terrified of the vacuum cleaner.  Just opening the closet door where the vacuum used to live is enough to send her into hysterics.  When the evil, dog-eating machine appears she retreats to the back of the bed and shivers, sure that the end is near.  However, if I’m present she’ll firmly plant herself between me and the vacuum, shaking but growling with teeth bared.  Would you be willing to face your greatest fear in order to protect someone else?  Would I?  She is.  She’s always loyal, protective, and loving and she’s not smart enough to figure out what to do with a cookie.  I’ll take that over most people I know.

Some people suggest that when we relate to dogs we’re just anthropomorphizing and projecting traits on to them.  I have 3 responses to this.  First, so what.  Even of that’s true then what a gift to have a creature that causes me to project some of my finer qualities.  Second, get a life.  Who cares why we relate to dogs as we do.  Just shut up and enjoy it.  Third, you’re wrong.  Just ask anyone with a deep relationship with a dog.

Dogs require honesty, discipline in training, love, and quiet time.  Who doesn’t need more of all of these things in their life?  And in return you’ll receive an honest, nonjudgmental love and loyalty.  So, if you want to do something to bring joy into life then do some research, find a breed that matches your personality, and GET A DOG!  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

-Archbishop Angus


I Like Girls

Thought of the day: “A man’s heart is like a sponge, just soaked with emotion and sentiment of which he can squeeze a little bit out for every pretty woman.” – Helen Rowland

I like pretty girls.  I’m a guy.  It’s my job and I refuse to apologize for it.  Just to be clear I believe in equality.  I know (not think) women should have political, economic and civil rights equal to any man.  They are just as smart, just as capable, and just as complicated.  I would even go so far as to say that any culture that represses women is clearly inferior and fucked up.  And I still like pretty girls.  I like the way they look.  I like they way they smell.  I like everything about them.  I can’t think of any situation that would not be improved by adding adding something cute in a bikini.  Of course I’m treating them as sex objects.  I said I’m a guy.  I don’t see the conflict in respecting the abilities of women and wanting to snuggle up next to a cute girl.  And did I mention that I have a very tolerant wife?

The following is a pledge from the Dirty Old Man Association.  I got a kick out of it.  And I agree,

I hereby promise: 1- Never to my willful knowledge let a beautiful girl pass without enjoying the sight.  2- Never to speak slightingly of or underestimate the importance of beauty and grace, and always support it in conversation when needed.  3-  To keep beauty near my heart and always be aware that it is what is keeping us happy and content, and much of what makes life worth living. 4- Never to let merely intellectual pursuits, important as they may be, distract me for any undue length of time.  5- To keep in mind that beauty is a spiritual thing, no more and no less.  6. To always keep a pure mind when seeing beauty, or, failing that, at least take pleasure thinking what I am thinking.  7- To remember that seeing is the only form of having that is actual. Thus, what you can see you can have. The reason for possessing anything is to prevent others from having it too, a pointless exercise.  8- To not be bothered when they go away. There will always be more.  9- To enjoy life and what it has given me, and in return to support life and be constructive. – Eolake Stobblehouse

“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old” – Franz Kafka


Musical Class Warfare

While I sit at the computer and write I’m usually listening to country music.  I have really eclectic musical taste, and much of it is bad.  I like country, disco, old R&B, rock and bagpipes.  I’m old enough so that I hate a lot of today’s music.  Oh well, it happens.   I’m frequently amazed at the negative response I get when people find out that I like county music.  I’ve had people say “but you’re so well read and educated”.  We’ve all heard someone say “I like any music except county”.  Yet there are more county station formats on radio than any other music.  Country music is an incredibly wide category.  No one could possibly love or hate all of it.  What’s going on here?

How about good old fashioned elitist classism?  People who listen to country music are assumed to be people who work with their hands.  Blue collar music for blue collar workers.  If you like Kenny Chesney (I love Kenny Chesney) you might be a mechanic.  Oh, the horrors.  Fuck you.

One of the things that has to change in this country is the divide between the white and blue collar classes.  People who work at a keyboard are no better than people who work with a wrench and vice versa.  As we’ve moved away from a manufacturing economy and towards an information based one we’ve lost our appreciation for the ability to make something.  Both skills should be appreciated and celebrated.  I used to watch Monster Garage on the Discovery Channel.  Jesse James, a really talented fabricator, would invite a team of builders to design a build some weird machine.  A sports car golf cart.  A cop car that made donuts.  You get the idea.  It was really a fun show.  On the final episode one of the regulars was being interviewed about the impact of the show.  He was one of the world’s best welders.  He said that for the first time his kids thought what he did was cool.  Before the show his kids looked down on him because he worked with his hands.  In tears, he thanked Jesse for making welders appreciated again.

I have a real reverence for people who can build stuff.  And I agree with Trace Atkins.  He has a song called “Songs about Me”.  In it he sings that country music is songs about love and loss and family and life.  If you don’t like that kind of music you need give that some thought.


An Education Proposal

I’m full of good ideas.  We all know that the public education system is fucked.  There are a lot of reasons for this, many of which I’ll discuss in future posts.  But right now I’d like to discuss the specific problem of parental involvement and private schools.  And I’d like to suggest a simple solution.

In most big cities the middle and upper middle class look at the public schools and recoil in horror.  The unfortunate irony is they probably believe in public schools and would like them to be better but they don’t want to sacrifice their kid just to try to save a school.  I empathize completely.  We faced that dilemma ourselves.  What we need is a whole lot of these people to commit to public schools at the same time.  Then the changes we need could begin to manifest.  But no one wants to be first.

There is another deep inequity that needs to addressed.  The kid that graduates at the top of their class from the tough inner city high schools can’t get in to the best state schools.  They haven’t had access to AP courses and extra curricular programs that private school kids have at their disposal.  Well, it turns out that the solution to this problem might lead to the solution of the other.

Under state law every child has the right to public education.  I don’t see why this right should not be forfeit if the family voluntarily leaves the system for private school.  And this should include both the State College and UC system. Only children who go to public high school should be eligible for UC Berkeley, UCLA, etc.  You have the inalienable right to send your kid to an expensive private school.  But it’s unfair for that child to come back into the system after 12th grade and compete against a kid who stayed in and excelled at every thing put in front of them.  I think this is totally fair even though it would screw up what my kid wants to do!

If this proposal passed I think a lot of people might rethink private school.  A whole bunch of them might decide to try public after all, and their efforts would benefit all the children in the system.  God, I’m a genius!


An Elegant Suggestion

 

Usually I use this space to rant, rave or opine.  Today I’m feeling a little more constructive.  I have a very simple, elegant suggestion for making our government work better at all levels.  I think it should be applied to every legislative body from the smallest town council to the state to the feds.  And yes, I’m serious.  And yes, it would work.

Each year every government passes more and more laws.  They never have to choose or prioritize because there is no limit to how many laws they can pass.  So I’m proposing a two tiered solution.  First, for the next twenty years every new law passed will require that 2 existing laws be taken off the books.  After this 20 year period it will be reduced to an even 1 for 1 ratio.  Think about it.  It solves a lot of problems.

We all know there’s a ton of crap in the law books.  The first couple years will be easy.  It’ll just amount to a good spring cleaning.  After that a bunch outdated stuff can be erased.  Then tough decisions will have to made.  How important are some of these laws when they have to compete with something else?  Would you rather have a seat belt law or immigration reform?  If you start fucking around with gay marriage you might not get to keep murder or kidnapping laws.  Our duly elected representatives would actually have to make tough choices and over time they’d have to begin to give us back some of our civil rights.  You could enact a whole lot of new bills just by eliminating the FCC alone.  And just think how many fewer lawyers we’ll need!

I love this idea.  Pass it on.  It’ll drive the squirrels crazy.


America’s Gift to the World

If you’ve read a sampling of my posts you might think that I don’t like this country.  You couldn’t be further from the truth.  I’m American through and through and I wouldn’t even consider living anyplace else.  Don’t mistake my frustration over issues or the slow pace of progress for disdain.  I wouldn’t get so pissed of if the country didn’t matter to me.  To provide some balance I’d like to talk about some of the things I think we do well.

First off, we have wonderful ideals.  Freedom of and from religion, freedom of speech, the right to own guns, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Awesome stuff.  It’s frustrating as hell when some squirrel tries to fuck them up and I can get pretty depressed when I see them pissed on.  But they are one hell of a starting point.  How amazing that we even try to live up to them.  Who else does?

This positive attitude is America’s greatest strength.  We think we can succeed at any damn thing we try.  They’ve been fighting for 3000 tears in the Middle East, but we’ll take a crack at bringing peace to the region.  Sure, Hitler has captured most of Europe and Japan sank our navy.  We’ll win anyway.  We can fly to the moon if we decide to.  We can end racism.  We’re like the world’s pitbull puppy, always positive and enthusiastic and occasionally we bite your ass if you’re not nice.  While the world pretends to hate us they desperately need us to fulfill this role.

I think the last 10 years took us away from this attitude.  BushCheneyRumsfeld sold us and the world a negative view.  But we aren’t negative people and the worldwide reaction to Obama’s election proves my point.  (Although he’s been pretty fucking disappointing as president.)  Their age old traditions and systems prevent them from seeing the world in the same way we do.  They need our confidence in the future and belief in ourselves.

One of the other things I love about this country is the belief that the individual matters.  The glory of the state is achieved by the glory of the one.  China and the East will never catch us because they don’t understand how much power there is in this simple idea.  This ideal is under constant attack form the squirrels and should be guarded at all costs.

The last thing I want to mention is how crazy and ornery we are.  These are great traits.  Ultimately we’re safe because the rest of the world knows we might do any fool thing.  Chaos is always good.  Someone once told me how he lost a wallet full of cash on the street in Japan.  He went back hours later and the wallet was still there, cash intact.  The point of his story was how wonderfully honest the country was.  That may be true.  In America there is a really good chance that somebody would have stolen the cash and charged something on the Visa.  But there’s also a good chance that somebody would have picked it up, tracked you down, and returned it.  No one in Japan did that.  I’ll take my chances here!  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

– Archbishop Angus


Global Warming??? Really?

All right.  I can’t resist it any longer.  Stop it.  Stop it right now.  The squirrels have sold you a tremendous pile of crap and you’re letting them get away with it. Global warming my ass.

First of all, I’m not a scientist.  I don’t even play one on TV.  But I have a brain and I can use it to think critically and make judgments.   Global warming isn’t about temperatures and polar bears.  It’s about power, money, guilt, and a two radical political agendas.  And if you buy into it, you’re handing the squirrels your nuts.

Believe it or not, I’m a staunch supporter of traditional ecological causes.  I’m all for saving species, protecting large spaces of wild lands, and preserving the Earth’s diversity and heritage.  I think corporate polluters should be beaten with clubs and rabid developers should be strapped to ant hills and covered in honey.  I’ll take nature over commerce every time.  But global warming isn’t about these things.  In fact it distracts us from the very real things we could be doing like connecting parks with wilderness corridors to protect predators and increase their hunting territory.

The earth might be getting warmer.  Then again it might not be.  The sample size is too small to tell.  In the last 10 years there have been 928 studies of global temperature and every one of them supported the theory of global warming.  This doesn’t mean it’s happening, it means that real science is no longer being done.  You can’t have 928 studies done on anything and get perfect unanimity.  Even Babe Ruth didn’t go into the Hall of Fame with a unanimous vote.  Ironically the hysteria probably keeps us from finding out if the planet is warming or not.

Even if the earth is getting warmer, it’s a really big step to assume it’s our fault.  The earth is a tad complicated as systems go.  To assign one cause seems a little naive.  And our understanding is far from sophisticated enough to make those judgments.  I think it’s the ultimate act of hubris to give our actions so much power and consequence.

None the less, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the Chicken Littles are right and global warming is real and caused by human activity.  This is a really big assumption, but I’m willing to stipulate it in order to make my points.  The people bringing you global warming concerns have other agendas, and they have nothing to do with temperature.  Here we go:

Point- I have something I like to call my golf course rule.  It goes like this.  Living in the West we read a lot about drought and water usage.  There are always lots of warnings about how serious this problem is.  Golf courses are the biggest waste of water on the planet.  Huge, inefficient green areas for rich white people to chase a little ball around while they act important.  They don’t grow food, cool manufacturing machines or quench thirst.  As long as golf courses are being watered I refuse to believe that water is a serious issue.  When the rich ruling class is told to stop watering every golf course, I’ll take this issue seriously.  Until then it is officially bullshit.

Let’s apply this rule here.  Many of the people most concerned about GW feel it’s necessary to fly around the world talking about it.  Airplanes, limos, mansions, and luxury hotels have huge carbon footprints.  They clearly aren’t worried enough yet to make any real changes to their life style so how serious do they really think the problem is?  When every member of the Senate and every industrialist and Al fucking Gore stop flying and stay the fuck home, I’ll start paying attention to what they’re saying.

Point- Al Gore and others try to excuse their behavior by purchasing ‘carbon offset credits’.  The theory is that if you use more than your share you can pay for it by investing in cleaner alternatives.  I can’t believe this scam is working.  Last year Al Gore spent a couple hundred thousand dollars in carbon credits.  I’ll give you one guess as to who owns the company he bought them from.  That’s right.  Al Gore.  I guess he learned about selling indulgences in divinity school.

Point- That brings me to my next point, guilt.  Americans and some Europeans carry around a lot of guilt over the amount of world resources they use.  The GW freaks have given them one convenient place to hang all that guilt.  They can now use it to manipulate you into scams like carbon credits and giving up your ability to think critically.

Point- There’s an interesting assumption behind the carbon credit scam that leads to a difficult bit of truth.  The assumption is that it’s all right for rich people to use more resources because they can afford it.  Meanwhile, poor people should just stop using so much stuff.  There are finite resources in the world.  And the people who use the most, mainly rich white people, are real damn concerned that all those brown and yellow poor people are starting to demand a bigger share.  They tried to control them by exporting religion and empire.  That no longer seems to be working.  So now we’ll us global warming to insure that China, India, and others are slowed down enough to keep Europeans as the dominate economic powers.  Good luck with that.  

Point- If GW is a problem, technology is the answer.  Our urban air is way cleaner than it was a hundred years ago.  We’ve stopped burning coal all over the place.  Cars are way more efficient now then they were 50 years ago.  If you’re serious about GW then you should be all for more technology.  But that isn’t usually the case.  The GW arguments are for fewer and less and going backwards.  Let’s use bicycles and live in small towns again.  Bullshit.  If you truly want me to stop driving, invent something cooler.  That’s how the real world works.

Point- Electric cars are not the answer.  California has the most cars.  California also can’t keep it’s lights on if it gets hot for three days in a row.  How are you going to recharge your car?  Where is the electricity going to come from?  Meanwhile, the same idiots preaching about global warming are also preaching against nuclear power (very small carbon footprint) or more hydroelectric plants.  Does this make sense to anybody?

I could go on for a while and I might in a later post.  But in the meantime know this- The people in charge are always trying to consolidate and expand their power.  Religion and tradition and fear of Commies aren’t working very well any more.  Global warming has been a really useful tool for them.  You’ve been warned.  Protect your nuts!


The Cost of Personal Liberty

I like to rant.  I like to get worked up and rage at the world.  I like the image of squirrels running around stealing our lives away.  But don’t mistake this for not being serious.  I’m deadly serious about these things.  Our personal liberty and freedom are at risk and no one seems to give a shit.

One of my big heroes was Indian Larry.  I have his symbol tattooed inside my right arm.  (If you don’t know who he was and what he stood for, look it up.)  He died a couple years ago when he fell off his bike.  He was riding it standing up without a helmet.  It was a sad and tragic thing.  The world lost a great light.  None the less, I’m still deeply offended by helmet laws, and I know he’d agree with me.

There are two valid points to be made here.  1) Helmets and other protective gear can and do save lives.  2) It is wrong to interfere with the right of a competent adult to make informed choices about what risks to accept, reject or manage.  If we conclude that #1 overrides #2 then where do you stop?  Do you legally require the use of helmets? Leathers? Armor?  Do you outlaw motorcycles?  Do you decide what that person will watch on TV?  What they will eat for breakfast?  Do you outlaw sex and fatty foods?  Once you have crossed the line of the individuals right to choose, there’s no stopping point. If you accept that a competent adult has no right to make one choice you open the door to removing their right to choose in all situations.  I’m hypersensitive to this shit because of the hundreds of legalized intrusions in this area over the past few years.

The left and right are equally fucked on this issue.  They’re both full of squirrels.  If you believe in the right to own a gun then you better let me have porn too.  If you’re pro-choice because women should have the right to choose, then why shouldn’t that same woman be able to choose to drive without a seat belt?  Let’s have a little consistency people.  Freedom means that the other side doesn’t get to choose either.

I miss Indian Larry.  But my loss doesn’t give me the right to make choices for him or any other competent adult. He made a choice, he bears the consequences.  Anything which removes the individuals choice or it’s consequences erodes the individuals responsibility for their choices. In the long run this will ruin us as free people. Overriding a competent adult’s right to choose achieves a short term benefit of questionable value at a terrible long term price.  So the next time some squirrel proposes a law that ‘protects’ you, grind his furry ass under your boot.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

– Archbishop Angus


Gay is the New Black

Prop 8 and the rise to prominence of Rick Warren has set me to thinking, and that’s never a good thing.  This country’s history of racism is well known.  We’ve hated Africans, Irish, Italians, Asians, Mexicans, and probably a whole lot more.  We also haven’t limited ourselves to heritage.  We also have hated women, Catholics, Muslims, commies, anarchists, and of course Jews.  This is of course not unique.  Human beings do this all over the world.  What is unique is that as a culture we decided to deal with it.  Something magical happened in the 60’s*.  Instead of accepting this necessary evil we called it out.  

We decided, as a people, to say stop it.  Enough hatred.  Enough discrimination.  We can be better than this.  I learned to read in Tennessee in the early to mid 60’s.  I remember reading ‘whites only’ and ‘coloreds only’ signs.  And in my lifetime this has changed enough to allow for a black skinned president.  Good for us.  This kind of wild optimism is Americas great gift to the world*.  I know there are still real problems with racism and hatred.  I know we still have a long way to go and some of our efforts have been stupid and clumsy.  But I think we’ve made amazing progress and that we will get there.  Except…

As a country we don’t allow racial and religious intolerance into the national narrative.  Nor should we.  But there are two notable exceptions.  You can openly hate homosexuals and atheists.  Why is this okay?  Rick Warren has openly said that gay people are unwelcome in his church.  If he had banned women or asians or hispanics would he be giving the invocation?  Do we invite members of the KKK?  How about NAMBLA?  Obama has justified his choice by citing inclusion and tolerance and opening a dialogue.  Is this how we ended racism?  No, we stopped tolerating the people who hated.  But since he only hates gays it’s okay?  Bullshit!

The same is true with atheists and agnostics.  Rick Warren has also said that we’re a christian country and atheists and agnostics should not be allowed to hold office.  The press has barely reported this little gem.  Really?  Is that  what the constitution says?

It is not okay to hate or discriminate against someone based on the color of their skin, their racial heritage, their sex, religion, or their political beliefs.  It is also not okay to do it based on how they use their genitals, who they live with, or a lack of religious beliefs.  Until we work this out we’re just spinning our wheels.

 

 

*specific posts to follow on this issue.