“Roy, wake up. A plane has hit the World Trade Center”

“Roy, wake up. A plane has hit the World Trade Center”

Rep Joe Wilson, Illustrating the real problem with the U.S.
Calmly calling the President a liar.

I was sleeping when I heard those words.  I don’t remember what my dream was that day, as I lay all comfy in my bed.

I had recently left a job in Colorado and was planning on moving to New York City to continue life and see if a long distance relationship could turn into a viable short distance one (it didnt’).   During the move I was staying with my folks in Dallas on that fateful morning, eight years ago.

Quickly rising from my slumber, I moved immediately to the television and watched in horror as the rest of the days events unfolded.

I had planned today to write a bit more about the current health care reform agenda and how those opposed to it aren’t really interested in anything resembling an honest debate.  Instead, you can read about that here [1], as I’m going to tell the other half of my 9/11 experience.

Most of the rest of that morning was spent frantically calling on the phone to my girlfriend, and her family and friends, trying to find out if she was all right.  She lived in an apartment on Ave A and 3rd street, and I remembered the calm moments of climbing to the rooftop of her building and marveling at the views of the Twin Towers, and the amazing accomplishtments of modern man, as I would enjoy the simple comfort of a cigarette, basking in the glow and energy of the City.

Ultimately a call finally got through, and some semblance of peace returned to my heart.  Over the new few weeks the stench of burning bodies and debris became too much for her, and a long bus ride brought her back to my arms, ending the first half of this story.

Fast forward to three years later, and I am living in New York, single, and wandering the town around the time of the Repbuclian National Convention in 2004.   Our country had since surrendered its sanity to fear after the events of that September day three years previous, and was currently conducting a war against a country that had no involvement in the attacks.  I had marched against the war a number of times, pointing out, again and again (sometimes loudly, sometimes softly) that the war and 9/11 had little connection outside of a tenuous religious and skin tone one.

Vast conspiracy theories about the attacks and the war had been created, and cynicism and skepticism about our government and its aim was rampant.   While I never felt that even someone as evil as Dick Cheney could allow such an attack to occur, I was, and am, more than willing to say that politicians are often willing to use the fear they create to accomplish their own agendas.

I am was lamenting this fact in a random bar after a couple of Dewars and waters and having struck up a conversation with the bartender and a couple of patrons about whatever and whatever.

It was then that the other side of the 9/11 hit me.

“I lost seven friends on that day,” the bartender said.

And so the convesation came to a screetching halt.  What had been a general lament became a personal attack, and I crossed a line from which it was impossible to pull back.

Now we are seeing the same distrust and conspiracy theories come up around an overhaul of a health care system, and economy, that is eating away at our future prosperity.

It is this level is distrust in one another, and working from vastly different sets of facts and evidence that make the conversation about how to go forward from here so frustrating.   In this sense, the attacks on 9/11 pale in comparison to the response to those attacks.   As we give into the fear and terror that a collapse of our economic way of life engender, our ability to rationally address the problems diminish.  They way forward becomes lost in a cloud of conspiracy and distrust.

This, to me, is the saddest legacy of those attacks.  We still haven’t recovered, we have simply transferred the fear of the other, to the fear of the self.

And so it goes, eight years on.

[1] : Most Republicans made clear during the day that Obama’s speech had done nothing to lessen their opposition.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio stuck to Republican positions that the Democratic health-care proposals would give illegal immigrants health care, pay for abortions, and establish panels that make life-and-death decisions. Obama said they would not.

PolitiFact.com, a truth squad run by the St. Petersburg Times, found that there was no subsidy for illegal immigrants in the legislation, no “death panels,” and no public money for abortion.

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Morality and the Health Care Debate

Last week, after it became apparent that the GOP campaign of disinformation regarding the health care legislation was working wonderfully [1] President Obama shifted gears a bit to talk about *why* this change is necessary.

WASHINGTON — President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.

“I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” Mr. Obama told a multidenominational group of pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders who support his goal to remake the nation’s health care system.

To be sure, I’m no multi-denominational preacher.   In fact, my spiritual beliefs and the foundation of my moral system is largely outside of those of the ancient religions.  But more on that in a moment.  Let’s look at the problem here from a slightly larger perspective.

As has been widely reported, there are 47,000,000 red-blooded American citizens that don’t have health insurance.  As we are a compassionate country (in some ways) when any of these 47,000,000 living, breathing, humans show up at an emergency room, they will get treated for what is likely to make them dead humans.

The problem with this “final solution” is that treating illness when it becomes life threatening is extremely expensive and that cost is then paid completely by those not currently receiving life saving treatment.

Every single other large industrialized country on our planet has determined that providing preventative and diagnostic health care for emerging problems has proved far more economical than just ignoring the fact that forty-seven-million Americans don’t get any health care until they are at, or near, their death beds.

For those of us with morals, this situation is untenable.

As mentioned previously, my moral foundation is grounded not in faith in the supernatural, but in the preponderous amount of qualified information we now have regarding the natural world and it’s wondrous creations [2].  In this formulation, based on understanding as much verified information as possible and providing the best possible explanation (aka “theory”), the question of morality and health care is even simpler.

And the theory is also getting stronger, as more information becomes available.  Which brings up to Operation Stardust, and the latest bit of verified information.

For the first time, a building block of proteins — and hence of life as we know it — has been found in a comet.

That adds to the prevailing notion that many of the ingredients for the origin of life showered down on the early Earth when asteroids (interplanetary rocks orbiting the inner solar system) and comets (dirty ice balls that generally congregate in the outer solar system beyond Neptune) made impact with the planet.

In the new research, scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., detected the amino acid glycine in comet bits brought back in 2006 by the NASA space probe Stardust.

So what does finding an amino acid in a comet’s tail have to do with providing healthcare for all Americans?

Good question, and I’ll be honest, we’re doing a bit of misdirection here [3].  You see, my moral foundation comes from the idea that simple elements combined over time is vast explosions in space created more complex elements.   The more complex elements, attracted to each other by the natural bending of space known as gravity, came together to form larger, more stable structures (like the glycine mentioned above, verifying this step of theory).

Once the stable building of blocks of life existed, all that was needed was a wet warm place to grow, which brings us (literally) to Planet Earth.

Mix in a few billions years, and tendency of more efficient organisms (in terms of survival and propagation) to gain in complexity and the ability to alter and effect reality, and you get life as we know it.  Mix in a few more million years, and you get life that we would call human.

Mix in another 10,000 years and you get human life that we would call civilized.

Mix in another 100 years and you get industrialized human life, where machines do most of the work, and human’s biggest health problem in now one that we ourselves create.

We now know so much about ourselves and our world most health problems and horrible diseases can be treated, and these amazing things we have become can life happy and healthy lives…when given the amazing medical care now available to prevent and treat disease before they can become life-threatening and chronic.

Which is why I support a health care system reform that places profits over people.  In the industrialized world, there is but one country that places profit in the marketplace above and beyond the amazing thing we call life.  That country is the United States of America, and it is time for that country to change.

It is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

——-

[1] “THE POLL: 45 percent said it’s likely the government will decide when to stop care for the elderly; 50 percent said it’s not likely.

THE FACTS: Nothing being debated in Washington would give the government such authority.

THE POLL: 55 percent expect the overhaul will give coverage to illegal immigrants; 34 percent don’t.

THE FACTS: The proposals being negotiated do not provide coverage for illegal immigrants.

THE POLL: 54 percent said the overhaul will lead to a government takeover of health care; 39 percent disagree.

THE FACTS: Obama is not proposing a single-payer system in which the government covers everyone, like in Canada or some European countries.

THE POLL: 50 percent expect taxpayer dollars will be used to pay for abortions; 37 percent don’t.

THE FACTS: The House version of legislation would allow coverage for abortion, but the bill says a beneficiary’s own money — not taxpayer funds — must be used to pay for the procedure.

[source]

[2] For those with a moral foundation in the supernatural religions, the question of whether or not health care should be provided to all fellow citizens was decided long ago.  The question now is only how to make it more efficient.

[3] The necessity for the misdirection is explained by the results of this study.

“In fact,” he says, “for the most part people completely ignore contrary information.

“The study demonstrates voters’ ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information,” he explains.

While numerous scholars have blamed a campaign of false information and innuendo from the Bush administration, this study argues that the primary cause of misperception in the 9/11-Saddam Hussein case was not the presence or absence of accurate data but a respondent’s desire to believe in particular kinds of information.

“The argument here is that people get deeply attached to their beliefs,” Hoffman says.

I can’t just go at the issue for those that have already decided, and become emotionally enamoured with the idea that Obama is an evil socialist/Muslim bent on taking away their guns.  You have to go with the science, and attack from the flank.

The World This Week, March 22, 2009

[videos forthcoming]

US NEWS

People thieving the electrons.

Obama: Economy hurts.  Duh.

Obama Budget Strategy raises questions.

New home construction gets a lift (month-to-month).

Small business help on the way.

Fed prints money like mad.

A couple economists agree that printing money is a good idea…today.

China wants a new global currency standard.

Palin to preach to choir.

McCain Twitterview a joke, a stilted lagging joke.

Feel the outrage….

….oh wait, we did that?

Probe into AIG bonuses launched.

Gassley suggest suicide for AIG execs, then back off to resignation and public flogging.

Laid off worked parades in front of AIG mansion.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Pakistan moves closer to rule of law.

Iraqi government wants heads to roll.

Dead Sea Scrolls authors existence questioned.

Georgia v. stem cells.

Pope v. witchcraft and tribalism.

Everyone of the Book (Christian, Muslim, Jew) vs teh Gays.

Stop-Loss phasing out.

Obama talks to Iran.

Iran wants more than talk.

SCIENCE/TECH

The Frogopalypse.

Veggie garden makes a return to White House lawn.

Obama gets schooled on Special Olympics and bowling.  NOTE: Bowling not a particularly intellectual pursuit.

The Great Unkowns and the Unknowables.

Initial reactions to My First Book

So I’ve had enough people read some of my book to realize a couple things.

First, pretty much everyone who reads it says that I’m a quote “good writer.”  Thanks, everyone.  Really.  It’s hard to tell sometimes and get honest feedback.  I had ONE professor in college (a Vietnam vet who taught a class on media interpretations of war) who told me the same thing.   That was really the only encouragement I needed.  Yea, sure, it still took me ten years to actually write a book, but I made it.  And it’s a good read.

The OTHER thing that happens when people read the book is that they stop looking at me the same way they did before they read it.  It’s weird…really weird…my mind is an interesting place.  And I’m not afraid to play with the words a bit.  Which is to say…my book is a mind fuck, and after I’ve mindfucked you…our relationship will most likely change.

No ONE…yet…has read the book in full and asked me honest questions about what it means.  No one.  You might be the first.

The first two people to read it in full had me committed to a mental hospital.  Everyone who has read my “conversation with the Turtle” gets this weird…”my brain just melted”…look on their face.  They look…and I mean this sincerely…dazed and confused after reading it.

Like I said…i’m a good writer…and I write *REAL* philosophy.  You probably haven’t ever read a real philosophy book.  Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote the last one, IMHO, and it mindfucked the world for nearly a hundred years.

The first time I read it…I started doing corrections.

In Defense of Love : Summation

You can begin to catch up here.

I would HIGHLY recommend you catch up before joining in, this is a conversation that had been going on for a while, and it would behoove one to read up before joining in.

Thanks.

I’m Still Trying to Come Up With a Title for My Book

I just thought of another good one, “Philosophy is an Action.”

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.  I’ve already written down some predictions of what people will think of it, and I want to check my work.

Joel, you first.  🙂

In Defense of Love

or as some people call it “Gay Marriage.”

Just a quick follow up to a conversation I’ve been having.  I don’t think this is going to make the first version of the book (although it might, because I like the phrasing). The setup is this post over here (yes, I’ve been engaging in various theological debates lately, why do you ask?).

This is a bit of my linguistic ju-jitsu, at its (IMHO) best.

The set up….

Can someone here quote me on what Jesus said, explicitly, about gay marriage?

And telecom laws, and wireless networks, and nuclear weapons, and stem cells, and evolution?

Thanks, and please make sure those words are in his, please keep the interpretations to yourself.

Yea, Joel, we probably aren’t going to agree on this one. 🙂

The Response…

You are most likely, right, Roy. I don’t believe that He actually addressed the issue directly; however, I do believe that His mission was not to address each and every issue, but to free us from sin.

I like this, because we had already agreed on a rather poignant point regarding the life of Jesus, which I ran into following up my false prophets post earlier (wordpress shares tags and its easy to find people interesting in talking about the same stuff you are).

I had read the bio over at that site for the proprietor and I felt him to be an honest believer, and a capable opponent.  It’s no fun beating up on people who don’t study this stuff, and can make good references and understand others.  He also seems to be a good man, which is important for this kind of stuff.  I found his handling of some “trolls” to be exemplary (check the about and bio pages for a good lesson on how to deal with such blog annoyances.  I usually don’t have that much patience (and I’m a patient man), and go for the virtual throat immediately.)

The Setup….it’s always good to be clear on terms….

Do you consider being gay a sin?

[serious question]

And maybe a bit on why?

Simple, to the point.  Give them enough room to draw the playing field…

I do (as I do corporate greed, among other things). It is against God’s order, His image for Christ and the Church. It is roundly condemned in the Old Testament (and the New – albeit I understand that some will differ with me concerning interpretive issues.) One of the commands in Eden was to multiply. It is impossible for two members of the same sex to multiply naturally.

To be sure, unless you have read the rest of my blog, I do not consider the Christian moral system that I hold to be a political system in any way and would not attempt to push my morality on others – as I also hold to the holiness tradition of the Wesleyans, some Pentecostals, etc…

And then bring in the nuclear weapons (well, recall that I already set us up the bomb, now one can set it off, like in Megaton)

Corporate greed is very well covered in the concept of the “the love of money” thing.

I would counter that “God’s Order” is now understood to be quite a bit more complex than Jesus could ever have understand [sp]. This was my point in bringing up other topics upon which no sermon was ever given. We have a knowledge of the workings of the Universe that far surpasses those of two-thousand years ago. Jesus gave no sermons on quantum mechanics, nor plate tectonics, not did he ever reference such modern and accurate conceptions of how the Universe functions.

I would also counter that the order to “replenish the Earth” has been accomplished and there are now humans everywhere from pole to pole and meridian to meridian. I would further counter that because of our zeal to “replenish” we now have enough humans living such a lifestyle as to put our own planet in peril (at least as a worthwhile ecosystem for our species).

In that context, how can it be a sin to live by one’s nature? In that context, would it not make sense in God’s infinite wisdom to have a class of human that would not add additional pressure to a “replenished” Earth?

There are many other factors that would make it impossible for a couple to multiply, including that disease of “life out of control” called cancer (which can destroy both ovary and teste).

Should they, too, be denied the right of marriage?

I appreciate your understanding of the difference between faith and politics, and am glad to hear it. However, it seems there is quite a bit of interpretation of “God’s Order” being done here that is not backed up by direct statements.

And Deb, if one’s body is a temple, obesity and gluttony are probably the worst and most common sins of the modern world. Yet I don’t see anyone keeping people who have no respect for their own bodies in that regard being considered “sinful.” Nor do I see people using this “sin” to deny them the rights of all other citizens(I realize you aren’t of that slant, polycarp).

And no, Deb, I don’t consider being gay to being in any way similar with being a killer or a thief. I would also ask how many gay people have told you, personally, they chose to be gay [ed. other than in the sense of finally accepting it]  In my experience, that percentage is exactly 0.

I’ve seen love in many forms and that includes the love of a man for a man and woman for a woman.

Do you not see that love, or do you consider it to be false?

I also think we both agree on how using the Old Testament in a discussion of Christ’s teachings is a bit of a non-starter. 🙂

Always end with a smilie.

Maybe a winkie.  Particularly if what you just said might go down sideways.

Question marks are used to trigger the automatic “query” response.  The data is provided and the argument begins to process before one *really* knows what one is reading.

Joel, I eagerly await your response.  As you are thinking, so am I.  Anticipating your next move, and readying my fusion weapons.  😉