Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Ezra Klein Interviews Barney Frank (D-Mass)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 27, 2009 by Josh Wittner

This interview with Barney Frank, the democratic representative from¬†Massachusetts, presents more evidence that he is a total bad ass. If you haven’t seen this video yet, watch it now and you’ll understand more of what I mean:

More on will

Posted in Life, Philosophy, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by Josh Wittner

As I follow further the thoughts on will I realize that even the feeling of consciousness is incorporated by the brain in creating will. There is no part of me that is not of the brain. No part of me that is not used by my brain to create will. And along with this, the perception of being me.

The concept of ‘the freedom of the will’ has been refuted many times, but the ones that only touch the surface concern the perceiver’s freedom to manipulate or create will, and I wish to expunge also the other forms of which it could be thought that will comes about by some process which is in any way free.¬† I, being only a perception can exert no will, and my brain, being locked into the physical world, and by disallowing (should we?) actual randomness and not the perception of randomness, can follow only one course of willing. It would be more accurate to call it ‘the freedom from will’ and that freedom can exist only so long as the human brain does not understand itself well enough to predict precisely what it will next will.

Oh what a prison that would be, to know what the future holds for you, and that you are entirely the cause of it, and that you will forever be unable to change it. A safer question for ones sanity would be to ask: is it possible for the consciousness to understand itself well enough to truly know what it will next will? Or should we dare to run into the gaping jaws and hope that we are not swallowed?

It seems as if the best hope we have for any form of freedom concerning will is if there is somehow a true randomness buried in the heart of the universe.

Bishop finds education is to blame.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2008 by Josh Wittner

So this article from the UK news site Telegraph talks about the findings of the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue who has published a report on how to “renew Catholicism in Britain.”

What did he find? Education. Education is to blame.

From the reverend himself (my notes in bold):

“What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history – resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people’s lives. (Why yes, education is excellent)

“However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin (a religious idea with no actual merit) and concupiscence (sexual desire or lust, I have no idea how this fits into education). In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism (requiring evidence for belief, which, you know, doesn’t seem like such a bad thing), positivism(which is really just an idea that ignores non natural causes and suggests that ideas must be falisifiable to have value, and well, doesn’t seem that bad), utilitarianism(which states that the moral worth of an action depends on the outcome of that action and its contribution to the greatest good) and relativism (the stance that experiences can be relative to the person or culture from which they are experienced).”

“Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society (fragmented maybe for those within strict religious communities, but more united than ever in those communities that are secular friendly) that marginalizes God (is he really needed anymore?), with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him. (the reverend is clearly the mistaken one here, many millions of people are quite happy without god, and many millions more without his god. This seems to coincide with his inability to understand the merits of the relativistic philosophy, that people define happiness, and productive living on different metrics than himself. Atheists like myself tending not to include proliferation of ideas without merit.)”

As you can see, he hasn’t really pointed out any bad things about education, except for the relative (to him) harm of reducing the number of Mass attendees.

Of course education is bad for Christianity. People go to higher education institutions and they learn about the world. They learn about how it actually works. About how people actually are. They learn that other people believe different things as fervently as they do. They learn that they’ve been wrong about a lot of things. Of course education is bad for Christianity, which was designed to keep knowledge, i.e. original sin, away from its followers.

Mass education is the greatest enemy of all religions.

Words for the day

Posted in Uncategorized on November 11, 2008 by Josh Wittner

I must reiterate words that I’ve heard today, and I wish that I had the ability to fully express the gratitude I feel.

Thank you, veterans.

I think I smell weeeed.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4, 2008 by Josh Wittner

So the other night I smell some cigarette smoke come into my window, subtle but distinguishable. A couple seconds goes by and I hear this dude yell out his window, “Hey! Stop smoking out your fucking window!” My first thought was how absurd it was to be so upset over such a small thing. My second thought was that it seemed strange that I’ve smelled weed through my window many times, contributed to it even, and I’ve never heard anyone be or have been personally yelled at for it.

Nobody cares about weed man.

The other night I’m out on the rooftop garden that’s on top of the parking garage attached to my building, in a secret spot, getting high, when these two guys walk up and I glance at the second one’s belt and notice that he’s got all the attachments of a cop going on. “How are you guys tonight?” I slide my hands to hide the pipe I’m holding, “Fine, nice night huh.” Good luck has it though that also on the roof was a group of young kids maybe 18-19 hanging out and one of them had thrown a bottle of the roof to crash on the street below just before the cops got up to me. So the first says, “Ah, they’re throwing bottles.” “Yeah, those kids are trouble,” I try desperately not to laugh and get away with just a smile barely small enough to hide. And as awkwardly as they had arrived the security left to deal with the kids.

It seemed like the wiser move to me too, just dudes getting high over here, talking about everything they can think of, analyzing every part of their lives and emotions. Talking about the infinite and the infinitessimal and believing that we truly understand it all. Coming to the most self revealing realization of our lifetimes. Causing no harm and trying as hard as we can, at least that instant to try and come up with a solution for all of our problems. All of the worlds problems. Just dudes getting high over here. Livening up our worlds with discussions and understandings and attempts at understanding of things greater than us. Just dudes getting high. Over here.

I can find absolutely no evidence to make it reasonable to think that Marijuana should be illegal in this country or anywhere else. The cons do not outweigh the pros.

The biggest argument I hear is that Marijuana is a gateway drug. Well I know a lot of people that smoke weed or have smoked weed and deal with it just fine. I deal with it just fine. There are way more people out there smoking weed, without negative consequences than you might think and we should make this country a better place and legalize it, regulate it, and educate kids about it.

Just some dudes getting high over here.

Mixed minds

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2008 by Josh Wittner

I long, almost desperately, to truly understand the differences between us. I don’t believe that people of different ideologies than me are evil or stupid. I believe that thinking in such a way dehumanizes your opponents and shows a lack of understanding of the true nature of morals. I don’t want to judge with my emotions the ideological opinions of others, I want to really truly understand perspectives different than mine and then continue to build my ideology with my new understanding.

Lets get one thing straight, I’m talking about opinions here. I’m talking about ideologies. I don’t want to discuss things like homeopathy, acupuncture, or therapeutic touch. I don’t want to talk about things which evidence can show is one way or another. I want to discuss philosophies and opinions. I want to talk about the validity of claims of value and I want to understand, empathetically, the stances of people that differ than me in this arena of value claims. This brought me to the idea of The Meeting of Mixed Minds.

I want to get people together. Different people. Republicans and democratics. Conservatives and Progressives. Zealot and Heretic. Get them to together and talk, not about our obvious differences, but try and find the reasons why we are the way we are. Not ‘are you a beliver’ but ‘why are you a believer’, not ‘why not’, but ‘why why not’. I hope that this well help me and others really understand our differences and help us understand what similar motivations we have.

Lets get to details. I’m thinking a pub style environment where drinks are available to help relax the introductions and intense conversation. I’m thinking once every couple months at first to give time to recruit people and let people start to want to do it again. Then we can change the frequency to fit the desire. I think that in all this arguing, we don’t often enough try and really understand the other side before denouncing it or trying to shadow it in the strength of our own argument and I want some time and conversation where that isn’t the case.

It be wonderful if we found that the things that motivate us are the same and we tried to find either a compromise or a new way to solve the issue at hand to achieve that motivation. If we found a way through which we can work together to make things better. I think The Meeting of Mixed Minds could help us.

Who’s down?

Voting

Posted in Uncategorized on October 20, 2008 by Josh Wittner

So yesterday I filled out my absentee ballot and while I was doing so I realized something; choosing people for positions like Commissioner of Public Lands and Insurance Commissioner is way harder than picking who I want to be president.

I have no idea what these positions really entail, I have no idea how well the incumbent has done over his last n terms. And I only have readily available two small briefs written by the candidates themselves. Filling out the box for Obama may be more important, but filling out the box for these positions was harder because I don’t have any idea how the candidate I choose will do, or what it is exactly they’ll be trying to do. If I vote for the wrong person, how ‘wrong’ is it?

I think I chose the right candidates this time around, but shit man who knows?

That’s why I vow that before the next elections I will have learned what exactly these more obscure positions entail and to pay more attention to what our public servants are doing in their attempts to fullfil the requirements for the positions they were elected to.

And why the hell am I electing judges? We don’t know shit about these people! I just picked the top rated and most well endorsed judges I could. Oh wait, they didn’t have any competition! What the shit is going on here.

Other than President, Governor and the legislation I was totally unprepared for these elections.

Some of the candidates for state goverment made me wanna run for office. In one district (not mine) there was a retired nurse vs. a ‘classically’ trained pastry chef. Oh shit, which one of them is more qualified to understand the intricate nature of forming and passing legislation that governs the millions of people in Washington. Fuck dudes, that would be a hard choice. On the one hand the nurse has probably saved lives, but on the other the dude can bake me some delicious pastries. Classically! I grew up thinking you had have training for this shit, or like a PHD in something even remotely related. Apparently not, apparently ‘pastry chef’ is enough training to make it to the top two!

The even more amazing thing is that these people get re-elected! Which means that apparently the job really isn’t that hard to be acceptably sufficient at. Here I am thinking our state representatives are somehow well qualified…silly me.