Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How our legislators are earning their paychecks

New seat belt law now in effect draws mixed reaction from Utah motorists

I haven't driven, or ridden, in a car without wearing a seat belt in years, so it seems like this law should be a non-issue for me, but, well, it isn't.  So, let me start at the beginning.

When this law first came into effect, I was actually unaware that it had passed.  I had heard something about it a  while back, but it didn't make much of an impression on me at the time.  So, I was a bit confused when I saw an informational sign along the highway saying that the "Primary seat belt law" was in effect.  I didn't know what that meant, and I wondered just what the secondary law was, and why the primary law was now in effect.

Of course, that was just my own ignorance, and eventually, I found that it meant that you could be pulled over for not wearing your seat belt.  I thought it was a bit silly because the police could probably pull about 90 percent (or more) of the drivers over for some other, more obvious offense.  For example, I counted 3 cars with burned out headlights in the space of a few miles, and while I was driving at the speed limit during that time, I was passed by at least 10 cars, all of which must have been speeding.  There were two occurrences of what I would call reckless driving, and one person who drove for miles with their turn signal on.  Personally, I don't care much about any of those things as long as they don't involve me in some way.  But the point is, there are plenty of reasons to pull drivers over already, and this law just seems to be an excuse to pull just about anyone over.

So, when I read the above linked headline, I really couldn't understand how there could be "mixed reactions" to a needless, and easily abused law.  Unfortunately, that's because I pretty consistently underestimate the stupidity of people.  So, here are some quotes from the story.
“I think the seat belt law is great. I think it promotes safety and unfortunately I wasn’t wearing mine, so kind of stupidity on my part. I think seat belts save lives.”
Huh?  You think seat belts save lives, but you weren't wearing yours?  It was already the law, and you weren't wearing your seat belt, but this new law is great because it will promote safety?  Why didn't the old law promote safety?  And really, if you're not concerned about your own safety, why should I be?  This traffic stop didn't even generate revenue for the state; it just cost money because the first offense is simply a warning.  And I'm willing to bet that plenty of people will soon revert to not wearing a seat belt after getting their warning.
“I think it’s just big government trying to be a nanny.” 
I suppose it could be that, but I actually think the government has no real interest in being a nanny.  I think it's more about being able to pull people over at will, and that's what bothers me about the law.  I don't think it's really possible to tell from a distance whether I'm wearing my seat belt or not.  And I suspect that even if I am, and I'm pulled over because the officer thought I wasn't, but then sees that I am wearing it, then I'll still have to produce a driver license, registration, and proof of insurance, all of which I have, but should I have to produce it because someone thought something?
Palmer argues the law won’t change his driving habits.
And I'm sure there are plenty of "Palmers" out there.  One thing's for sure: the new law won't change my driving habits, except for keeping my license, registration, and proof of insurance readily available.  Well, either that or my phone so I can make the awesome "Am I being detained?" video for YouTube.
The first time someone is stopped for violated [sic] the new law, they get a warning. The second time, motorists could face a $45 fine, which can be waived by taking a 30-minute online safety course.
As I said earlier in this post, this law will just be a drain on state revenues.  I wonder how much that online safety course costs us so that second time offenders can have a real opportunity to learn that "seat belts save lives."

I dunno, maybe the legislators here graduated from school after the schools around here started with the "two warning" rule.  When a kid acted up in school, he or she was given two warnings before any action would actually be taken.  The unfortunate, and not unexpected, result was that kids knew they could do whatever they wanted twice, and get caught twice, before there would be any real repercussions.  And the expectation of two warnings doesn't just disappear when a kid turns 18.

Perhaps, the worst thing of all is that this is just one of 389 awesome new laws that either have, or shortly will, go into effect in Utah,  Yay!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Nah, it's greed

Okay, so I admit being sucked into the abyss by some progressive click-bait headlines, and this time is no exception.  And usually, I just laugh at the foolishness and move on, but sometimes, I just can't, and this is one of those times.  It's not just the progressive foolishness that has me going this time; it's the entire argument.  Both sides are idiots, and do nothing but fan the flames of racism.

TEXAS REPUBLICAN PLAYS THE VICTIM CARD WHEN HE POSTS RACIST FACEBOOK POST

First of all, let me say that I didn't see anything racist about the Facebook posts, but then, I'm reading them from a position of "white privilege" at least according to most progressives, cuz, you know, I'm white and stuff.  At the same time, though, that post also shows what I think the real problem is, and how it is that the argument over racism does nothing more than fan the flames of racism.

It's true that having a "white pride" parade or "white history" month would be seen as racist, while "black pride" parades or "black history" month are not seen the same way, at least not by most people.  I have a problem, though, with any "race pride" parade, or for that matter, any "gay pride" parade, or when it comes down to it, a "white pride" parade.  All these things do is create a division between people, when what most people appear to want is to be inclusive and included.  And when it comes to things to take pride in, couldn't we find something else to take pride in?  I mean, race is something to be proud about?  Why?  Being gay is something to be proud of?  Why?  I'm not saying people should be ashamed of these things.  I'm saying they are an improper source of pride.  Gay people have made a significant argument saying they didn't choose to be gay, that they were born that way, and I don't think anyone has ever argued that black people (or any other race) made the choice to be that race.  So, I don't see how these things can be the source of pride.

And, it's my contention that they shouldn't be the source of pride, nor should they be the source of shame.  We are what we are, at least when it comes to race, and if you believe the gay argument, sexual preference.  I'm not sure about the gay argument, but it isn't really relevant to this, other than to raise the question, "Why do people insist on being proud of something they have no control over?"

Maybe this phenomenon has gotten to be such a big deal recently because people don't have anything else about themselves to take pride in.  I mean, awards and praise are handed out so often that they lose any real meaning.  Most people are too hung up on finding the easy way, and if there isn't an easy way, it's too hard.  Nobody wants to work hard to make a real achievement.

But, as usual, I'm digressing a bit.  In the above linked article, the author states that she "counter to each and every one of his points."  So, here are her counters to his arguments, and my counters to her arguments:
"There are also Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans but only one type of American was brought here en masse and by force. The rest came voluntarily."
This may be a true statement, but, what's the relevance?  The people brought here by force are not the ones living today, and I fail to see how the enslavement of someone's ancestors makes for a great source of pride.  As a white person, I take no pride in being white, and at the same time, I'm not ashamed of it either.  Any pride or shame I feel is the result of my own actions, as it should be.
"Poverty leads to crime. White poor people commit crimes as well. Of course, the biggest crimes are perpetrated by white men wearing suits. A poor black man might take a car or a TV but rich white men take homes, jobs and entire livelihoods."
I'm good with the first two statements here.  And yes, this actually was a response to a question that was asked in the original Facebook post: "Why are the ghettos are the most dangerous places to live?"  Any rational person could actually answer that question.  Poverty, duh.  But then, the author goes off the rails with the rest of that comment.  Apparently, the author thinks that it's a crime to repossess a house that is mortgaged when the owner doesn't pay for it.  And, apparently, she thinks firing, or laying workers off because business is bad, is also a crime.  And, apparently, she thinks that all white collar crime is committed by white people.  No, the people aren't all white, just the collars.  Besides, it's really debatable whether any of what she's referring to was, or is, an actual crime.  But, yeah, rich white people do those things, and so do rich black people.  It almost makes me want to get a mortgage from a black banker, and then default just to see if he will foreclose on my home.  Not really, because I know he would.  And if I have that part all wrong, then maybe someone can explain how it is that "rich white men take homes, jobs and entire livelihoods," but not rich black men.
"As for the this day this organization, every day throughout history has been for white people. Almost all the history taught in school is white history. Nearly every organization throughout America’s history has been white. It’s relatively recent that black people have been allowed to go to college or enter Miss America pageants."
I suppose the above statement depends on where you live.  I'll bet Japanese history isn't White history, for example.  Even so, if the majority of people in a given country are a certain race, then it shouldn't really be surprising that the majority of historic figures are of the same race.  The main problem with history, though, is that it is extremely subjective and open to interpretation.  And a lot of the interpretation has probably been done by white people.  So, if black people are concerned about it, then black people should write their own interpretations of history.  I, for one, would be interested, and it seems to me that this would accomplish much more than having a whole month to celebrate your own special history, of which, no one is much aware, apparently.  I can say, unequivocally, that I haven't become more aware of black history because someone decided that we should have a whole month devoted to it.  And finally, we need to talk about the specific meaning of "relatively recent."  It was more than 40 years ago that the first black woman made it to the Miss America pageant.  And all I can really say about that is that it's an indication of how far we've come, in a relatively short time.  The first black person to graduate from an American college, though, was nearly 200 years ago.  That is hardly "relatively recent" in terms of the age of our republic, but in terms of the history of the world, I guess it is.  For further research, I suggest checking out this list of African-American Firsts.

Finally, the author offers a list of black men who died at the hands of police officers in 2014.  It is tragic, to be sure.  But, the list ignores everyone else who died at the hands of police officers.  This isn't something that only happens to black men.  It happens too often to too many different people.

So, everyone, listen up.  Take control of your own destinies, do some hard work, accomplish something difficult, and don't put too much weight on what other people think.  Take pride in your accomplishments, not your race.  And, perhaps most importantly, pay no heed to the left and right wing alarmists out there.  If we do that, we may find that race relations here in America are a whole lot better than those people would like us to think.  After all, stirring up hatred and outrage generates clicks, which in turn generates ad revenue, so we can rest assured that those type of headlines will never stop, cuz, you know, greed.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

We're saved!


So, it looks as if Elon Musk has yet another plan to save us, while, of course, enriching himself.  He wants to sell us batteries that, coupled with solar panels, will provide round the clock electrical power for our homes.  He says that solar panels could provide enough energy, but of course, we would need to store the excess power that's produced during the day, and that's where his batteries come in.  Sounds good, right?

Not so fast.  First of all, the batteries themselves will cost as much as 3 years of electrical usage, at least for me.  Then, there's the cost of the solar panels, which I'm not going to look up.  I don't know how long this stuff is supposed to last, and I don't really care.  Let's just assume that this system can produce as much electricity as we currently use, and that the cost over time is the same as if we just continued buying from the electric company, making the economics on a personal level equal, even though I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be.

Next, let's forget about what happens to all those old batteries and solar panels when they need to be replaced.  We'll just go ahead and assume that they are 100 percent recyclable; again, something I'm pretty sure wouldn't be true.

Now it sounds super-duper good, right?  Not really, and here's why.

The chart below shows total electricity usage in the U.S. since 1949.  Not surprisingly, it's been a pretty steady upward trend over the years, even during those years when technology was creating more and more efficient electrical devices.


There were a couple of short periods wherein electrical usage actually decreased, but those don't actually represent a solution to the problem of increasing usage; those are most likely due to recessions.  Still, recently, it looks as if usage has flattened out some, and this while the number of end-users has increased.  The assumption, though, that this is the result of technological advances is, well, a bit of a stretch, and in fact, I think has little at all to do with technology or energy efficiency.  Because, what I haven't mentioned yet is the cost to electricity consumers.  As it turns out, between 2003 and 2013, the average price of electricity has risen about 35 percent, which I believe has had the greatest impact on constraining electricity consumption over the last few years.

It's not like there aren't other examples of this phenomenon.  When gasoline prices plummeted over the last months, there was a lot of speculation about what people would spend their extra cash on.  Not terribly surprising is that a fair amount of the savings was spent on, you guessed it, more gasoline.  Price does indeed affect consumption, just like they teach in Economics 101.  So, yeah, even if this new solar/battery home electrical system were to drop the price of electricity to nothing for your current usage, the likelihood is that you'll just use more electricity, until the cost gets to around about what you're already used to spending.

Of course, this system won't drop the price of electricity to nothing.  You'll need to install the solar panels and batteries, a significant up front cost, and then hope that it all lasts long enough to recover the cost before you need to replace the stuff.  And, you'll have to keep reminding yourself that you only have so much electricity that you can use, otherwise you'll either have to purchase more electricity from the utility company (which, if everyone were to convert to this new system might not actually exist any more), or you'll have to purchase more panels and batteries.  And that cost is "chunky" meaning that you can't just spend a few extra dollars a month to plug in that new big screen television; instead, you'll need to invest a considerable amount up front to cover your future increased need.  It makes that new television a significantly larger investment.

Not to fear, though, because I'm sure someone (like possibly our government) will find a way to hide the true cost of converting, likely through tax credits, because people forget that that tax money came from, well, them.  And some of those tax credits, you can bet on this, will end up in Elon Musk's pocket, and unless you read the annual reports for his companies, you'll never hear much about it.

And then, perhaps my biggest concern, even though I said "forget about it" earlier is, what happens to all those old batteries?  I don't believe that they will be 100 percent recyclable, and even if they are, what happens when some new technology makes those old batteries obsolete?  I guess we will find something to use them for, or if not, there's always the bottom of the ocean.  That's always a good place to store stuff you don't want anymore.

So, generalizing here, technological "advances" have nearly always, if not always, resulted in increased consumption, not less.  And anytime someone makes the claim that THIS technology will really, really, save us, it just isn't true.  Anybody out there remember the "paperless office?"  And yet, global paper usage has increased by about half over the last 30 or so years.

Now, some of you may be thinking that I'm just jealous, and, I am jealous.  I wish I had come up with the idea of scamming the taxpayers in order to enrich myself all the while making it look as if I'm doing them a favor, and having the masses sing my praises while I'm doing it.  But, I didn't.  Elon Musk did.

Incidentally, the data I used in this article came from the EIA website, which I'm assuming is relatively reliable, although I can't say for sure, being that it is the government.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Minimum wage revisited

A while back, I wrote a post wherein I said that, despite being against a federal minimum wage, I supported the federal government raising the minimum wage.  I still say that, at the time, it was what needed to be done.  However, as time passes, circumstances change, and, sometimes, people need to see what needs to be done now, rather than think that what may have been a good idea in the past will forever be a good idea.  This is, I think, one of those times.

First, let me go back a bit.  When I wrote earlier, I complained that places like Walmart and McDonald's were benefiting from government subsidization of the low wages they were paying.  Of course, in the end, that government money has to come from somewhere, so the result is higher taxes and nobody is better off.  But businesses (and rational people) tend to be risk-averse, and the idea of changing the low pay philosophy to one in which businesses compete for better workers, in part by paying more, may have seemed too risky.  The status quo appeared to be working.  I can't say for sure whether that was the thought process, but it seems logical.  In the meantime, these companies experience high turnover rates, which costs them more, even if the job isn't rocket science and therefore doesn't require a lot of training, as some people have said.  And paying higher wages is money out of pocket now, in the hope that things work out better in the future, a risky proposition.

Well, over the months since I wrote that, I started looking around at people, and it became clear that a lot of people who have jobs aren't actually doing work that is worth $7.50 an hour, and I began to question my original idea that raising the minimum wage was a good idea.  Still, from an economic perspective, I did feel like it might help boost the economy in the short term, but it would also depend on the government cutting welfare spending and subsequently cutting taxes, which, sadly, doesn't really happen much in real life.

But then, a surprising thing happened.  These companies gradually started upping their pay scales, despite not actually being required to by law.  To me, this is a sign that these companies are beginning to realize that they may need to compete in the labor market.  Of course, it may also be that there is some public pressure on these companies to raise wages for the workers, even if it means having to pay slightly higher prices.  Whatever the reason, I think it's a good sign, and perhaps the government doesn't need to raise the minimum wage now.  However, I do think the government still needs to look at welfare reform, as that is part of the total equation.

One area of our welfare system that deserves a closer look is Social Security Disability.  Since 1986, the population of the U.S. has increased by approximately 30 percent, while the number of people on current pay status for disability has more than tripled.  At the same time, the average benefit amount also tripled.  (For some context on that benefit increase, the CPI a little more than doubled over the same period.)  I think that's significant, and an unsustainable trend.  But what do I know, right?

I guess the final straw for me, though, was seeing the response of at least some of the workers affected by the wage increases offered by these companies.  Apparently, they don't feel like it's enough.  And all I can say to, not all, but many of them is, "Earn more."  Take your bigger paycheck and get the skills to get a better job.  But don't just think that anyone owes you more for flipping burgers. It isn't rocket science, and someone else that can do it just as well as you will walk in the door, and maybe they'll do it for less than you.

And another thing to those workers that think that they deserve more.  I know that I can live on $7.50 an hour.  In fact, I can live on less than that, but fortunately, I work hard and my employer thinks I'm worth more than that.  I developed skills over my life.  I've also been in the position where I didn't have a choice but to work for minimum wage.  But, I worked to get out of that situation, and thankfully, now I'm in a better place.  So, here's some advice.  If you are working for minimum wage, don't have that baby that you really, really want to have.  Don't spend your money on booze or drugs, or big screen televisions, or iPhones.  Spend your time improving yourself.  Get some skills.  You can pretty much get a college degree without paying a penny out of pocket, so do it.  It's really up to you, and it really isn't up to your employer to make life good for you.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Do atheists believe in free will?

So, I'm having a tough time keeping up with the volume of stupid thinking in the world today, which is why I haven't posted here in quite a while.  By the time I have time to write about any foolishness in the world, a whole new batch of idiocy is making headlines.  Still, part of the rampant "stupid problem" is that so many people are in a rush to move on to the next big thing, allowing just enough time to demonstrate their ignorance first, apparently in an effort to move on before their ignorance becomes plain even to themselves.  So, with that said, here are a few observations from the last few months.

Obama apparently thinks that apologizing amounts to accepting full responsibility for killing innocent people.  Not surprisingly, though, that thinking only applies to him.  Most of us regular folk could expect to be put to death.

On the day that Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for President, there was a spike in searches for Tom Cruise on Google.  Do I need to say more?

After the U.S. government announced a deal with Iran, Iran made the statement that there was no deal, only a framework for a deal.  And apparently, while making a speech, the Ayatollah responded to chants of "Death to Americans" with something like "Yes, yes, of course, death to Americans."  Well, perhaps I'm just taking this all out of context, or maybe, something got lost in the translation.

I seem to be seeing a growing number of people that think that a declining birth rate is something to be worried about, and yet, I don't really see any good reasons why that's a bad thing.  So, I'm asking you.  What is bad about a declining birth rate?  Honestly, I can't think of one major problem that reducing the population of the world wouldn't at least help fix.

And while I'm asking questions, here's one for the atheists out there.  I know you're out there.  And don't get me wrong, I'm not attacking your disbelief, I'm just trying to understand it.  I probably wouldn't even care except that I recently read "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins , in which he apparently labeled me as an atheist.  Of course, not me specifically by name, but by the way in which I think about God.  At any rate, the question is pretty straight forward: Do atheists believe we have free will?

I truly don't see how they can, other than the way that most people end up believing they have free will, which is by the appearance that we exercise free will all the time.  Some would say that as I write this, I'm clearly exercising free will, but of course, it isn't really clear that I could have done anything other than write this, since this is what I'm doing, and I can't go back and see if I could have done anything else.

So, the dilemma arises from the idea that we are nothing more than a mass of chemicals all reacting with each other.  In order for me to exercise free will, I would need to be able to control the outcome of those chemical reactions, but as yet, I've never found that I actually have that kind of control of chemical reactions.  They happen, or they don't, and my will has nothing to do with the outcome.

Of course, the previous paragraph is referring to chemical reactions outside myself, which might be a totally different thing.  But, when I think about chemical reactions inside myself, it gets worse.  Because, if I'm just a mass of chemical activity, then, what exactly is my will?  Where does it come from?  Is it really possible that a chemical reaction has a will of its own?  This doesn't seem to be the case since I can create a situation in which certain chemicals always react in a particular way, whether or not those chemicals want that reaction to happen.

In short, I'm just having a problem understanding how a chain of chemical reactions can be controlled by my will, and further, how a chain of chemical reactions can, in fact, have a will.  I'm sure there is an simple answer to the question, and I just haven't happened on it yet.  So, if you don't want to comment here, drop me an email at quasisane@comcast.net.  I know, I really shouldn't put that here, but I already get so much spam that I don't think it matters much.

Speaking of spam,  a while back I started to sign up for Obamacare, because, you know, it's all awesome and stuff, and besides, it's yet another thing the government says I have to do.  Anyway, for a while there, that action was the source of the majority of spam I as getting.  It was nonstop.  The truly funny thing about it was that I had forgotten my password, and tried several times to use the "I forgot my password" option on the website.  Each time, I was informed that I would receive an email, but I never got one.  I did, however, get other emails from healthcare.gov including one to remind me to file my income taxes.  I still don't know what my password is, but luckily, I got insurance elsewhere.  And before Obama gets overly excited, it actually had nothing to do with Obamacare, so no, Barrack, you cannot take credit for saving me.

Okay!  That's about all I have time for.  I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment (I think I have an antispam thing activated so you'll have to do the annoying "type the characters in the picture" thing), follow @quasisane on Twitter, find me on Facebook, or email me at the previously mentioned address.  It's all good.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Kelly Effect

Scientists Have Discovered Why You Can't Remember Being a Baby

This kind of headline nearly always gets my attention.  Perhaps it's strange, but one of my hobbies is to try to learn something new every day, so new discoveries are particularly interesting to me.  Besides, whenever anyone says that science has discovered anything at all, I can't help thinking science hasn't really ever discovered much of anything.  In fact, the only thing more entertaining than scientific discovery is scientific proof.

Unfortunately, this isn't a really new "discovery" at all.  It might be a new hypothesis, but it doesn't even really seem to be that.  I read through the abstract of the original paper, and while it was full of all kinds of really big words that made it sound all technical and stuff, here's what it said, in my kind of words:
New brain cells are continuously formed throughout life, and this action tends causes the normal pathways in our brains to change, making some of our memories fade.  We tested the effect of increasing brain cell generation in mice after they had a memory and found that mice forgot things faster when we did that.  Alternatively, we slowed the process down after the mice had a memory, and found they remembered stuff longer.
Yeah, I dunno... That doesn't sound so smart in plain English but I suppose it might make sense.  If memories are stored in groups of adjacent brain cells, and some new cells appear amongst those cells, then some of the connections that make the memory may be lost, resulting in a lost memory.  It might make sense, but then again, what seems to make sense is not always true.

At any rate, I'm somewhat skeptical of the results of this study, mostly because I'm not sure how the scientists determined that the mice had any memories to remember, nor am I sure how they determined that the mice forgot things faster or slower.  But I'm not really going to get that far into the actual study; I'm too cheap to pay to read the thing.  Besides, I think that true "scientific knowledge" belongs in the public domain, and not behind some pay wall.  I'm more interested in what the above-linked article had to say about it.  Here is the author's summation:
"So the reason you remember your best friend's wedding day but can't seem to recall the time you decorated your hair with mashed potatoes is because making new memories destroys the older snapshots."
Yeah, I'm not so sure how that interpretation even came about, but okay, we'll go with it.  Apparently, according to this interpretation of the study results, forgetting stuff comes about because we have limited space in our brains, and so new stuff we experience, or learn, crowds out the old stuff, something that I've chosen to dub "The Kelly Effect."

For those of you who haven't yet figured it out, Kelly was Christina Applegate's  character in the sitcom Married With Children.  In one particularly memorable episode, we find that Kelly is actually a kind of genius: she can remember things as if she has a photographic memory, but if she learns something new, she forgets something else, because of the limited space in her brain, being that it's a finite space and all.  I won't relate the whole thing, but the series is available from Amazon.com here:

Married... with Children: The Complete Series.

So, it turns out that this interpretation of the study isn't really new.  This phenomenon was "discovered" by some sitcom writers years ago.  Perhaps the person that once said to me that "It isn't really worth thinking too much about stuff, because pretty much everything has already been thought of" was right, well, if you want to put your faith in sitcom writers.  I won't divulge the source of that bit of brilliance.

What I really don't like about this particular interpretation is that it gives people an excuse to not learn more.  I mean, if I think I already know a lot of important stuff, then if I learn something new, I might forget some other important stuff that I already know.  That kind of thing.  To be a little trite here, I think we should never stop learning, and that somehow, even though the space in our brains is finite, we'll somehow find some space to put a little more stuff in.

I also have another problem with the Kelly Effect: why does it selectively choose only the older memories to destroy?  I mean, there's some pretty unimportant stuff from yesterday that I could easily just forget.  Of course, it may be a statistical thing.  The older memories have more time to be erased by new stuff, and thus are more likely just by virtue of repeated chance to be eliminated, but, no, I think there's something more to this, and here's my theory.

First: Even though we can't consciously remember things from our infancy, I think the memories are in there somewhere; we just can't figure out where they're hidden, at least not consciously.  Even if we could find them, they may seem nonsensical to us, since these are things that we experienced before we understood what we were experiencing.  When you're born, you don't magically know that these people are your parents, or who the doctors and nurses are.  You likely don't even know what they are.  I would say it's extremely likely you don't even know what you are.  You learn that stuff from experience, of which you have none at the time of birth, and don't really get a lot of since you can't really do much of anything.

Second: Think about how your perception of time has changed over your life.  As you get older, time seems to go by faster even though it really is moving along at the same speed as always.  Now, I'm no expert, except for the fact that I've experienced this myself.  When I was young, say five or so, time crawled by.  Five minutes seemed like forever.  Now that I'm approaching sixty years old, it feels like the sum total of my spare time is five minutes in a day.  So, when I look back to when I was very young, memories seem to be like a movie that's running at a faster than normal pace.  And I imagine that looking back to the time when I was a baby, the effect is magnified to the point where it is mostly nonsensical.  I believe this effect comes about because a minute after you're born, that minute is your entire conscious life, and so at the time, seems like forever.

Third: Take a look at some babies sometime, and pay particular attention to what they do.  Not much.  So, there isn't really all that much to remember anyway.  I mean, out of all the dumps you've taken over the course of your life, how many do you remember the details of?  I going to guess not many.  But as a baby, those are pretty major happenings in your life.

Fourth:  I'm going to bet that while people may know that they've done some pretty embarrassing things in their lives they don't necessarily remember all those things.  Why?  Because it's normal to want to forget unpleasant things.  We have built-in biases.  We like to look in the mirror and believe that we are not foolish, and never were.  I think that those memories are still there, because we want to avoid making the same mistakes, but those memories are stuffed into our subconscious memory, where we're unlikely to relive the embarrassment of the past, and still use the lesson to avoid the same embarrassment in the future.

So again we see that the world is not anywhere nearly as factual as it appears.  Science doesn't "prove" much, nor does it really "discover" much.  Still, that isn't a reason to not pursue greater understanding of ourselves and the world we live in, even at the risk that we might find that what we once thought to be true is, in fact, not true at all.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Proof

So, here's an interesting comment:
Common knowledge doesn't need "proof".
Um, yes it does, at least when that "common knowledge" is anything but common knowledge.  Unfortunately, too many people think that the things they believe are common knowledge, and so, common knowledge does require proof.  Whomever made that comment probably had no business going to college.  I say this because in college, or even high school for that matter, one is not required to provide sources for common knowledge.  For example, I might say that according to Einstein, E=MC^2.  I don't need to provide a source for that, as it is considered common knowledge that this is Einstein's Theory of Relativity.  However, if I were to simply state that E=MC^2, it actually would be okay for someone to ask for proof.  And, no, in this case, saying that Einstein said so isn't sufficient proof.  It's not even a good argument.

And yes, I take this as at least additional evidence that some people don't belong in college, although I have to admit, it isn't proof.