The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle just disappeared from the blog. Sorry!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Marriage Of Like Kinds

I would like to open myself to attacks by the political left by posting about same-sex marriage. I realize this makes it possible to label me a homophobe but  don't care.

I have written about same-sex marriage before. I really do not have a problem with it nor do I have a problem with gay, or any other, lifestyle. Well, I do have a problem with socialists and progressives but that's not an issue... yet.

Let me refer you back to what I said in 2008. I wrote of the history, as I see it, of marriage... which I believe is the province of religion. Somewhere in history, it became a concern of government. Don't get me wrong, government has an interest in marriage. It has this mostly because a marriage is a financial partnership and it often produces new citizens.

But its primary interest is in the welfare of those new citizens and the financial partnership. It is brought in when a marriage is dissolved... just as it is when any financial partnership is dissolved. Unless there is a disagreement over assets,  the government deems it a private matter. As it should, I think. I consider children to be assets and, so, I put them in that category (some may disagree with that and view children as liabilities).

My proposal is that all current marriages be deemed "civil unions." I think that can be easily done in spite of the number of times the term "marriage" is mentioned in laws. A law stating that all marriages are now civil unions and all rights and responsibilities that fall under "marriage" now apply to "civil unions." So it doesn't dissolve marriages, just extends those rights and responsibilities associate with marriage to civil unions. As far as the law is concerned; a spouse (who would still be a "spouse") could still be the person who makes medical decisions, shares the assets and liabilities, and so on of the "marriage." Nothing would change.

What my proposal does is remove the government from marriage and force it to treat all partnerships, social or business, the same... which it should.

All a couple need do is apply for that "marriage" license and be approved (have it issued) and they become a partnership, or "civil union", in the eyes of the law. There would be no need of a ceremony at all. If a couple wanted a ceremony, they could have a civil ceremony or a church wedding, as they see fit, assuming they can find a church willing to perform it. But no church would ever be forced, under the law, to perform a ceremony.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Black And White

We're supposed to have a dialogue about race. That's what they say anyway. What they really mean is that we should talk to each other about racism. I have talked about racism and prejudice a number of times here on Boomer Musings.

My friend at "The View From Outside My Tiny Window" has done a better job of describing why racism exists than I ever could in his post #194. I urge you to read it. He is a very smart man and quite the accomplished one.

Essentially, I believe that racism is an offshoot (or "unintended consequence") of a genetic predisposition to trust those who look most like us. That is, it began when mankind was first emerging. We had needs: food, shelter, procreation. In order to satisfy those needs we needed to survive in a sometimes hostile world full of dangerous animals and, worse, other humans. We could easily learn which animals might do us harm and which weren't likely to but other humans? Not so easily. So we developed a kind of judgment based on looks. After all, that is/was our primary sense. We could see the fangs and claws of predators easily enough and, using our other senses, hear them growl and hiss and the like. But humans are stealthy and can pretend to be friendly.

In our clans, mostly made up of kinsmen, people were familiar so it is logical to extrapolate that into be trusting of those that look most like us. Any characteristic that was different made our distant ancestors wary.

As an aside and example of what I mean, a friend of mine once told me she felt fear around blue-eyed people with fair skin. This friend is African-American. She felt more comfortable around me because I had brown eyes and dark hair.

As we developed tribes, which later grew into communities, we allied with people who also looked like us.  We still do this, I think, in a number of ways. Look around your towns and cities... you will find enclaves of people who look alike and speak alike. Italian neighborhoods, Chinese neighborhoods, Korean neighborhoods, and so on. It's not just because these folks were kept out of other neighborhoods, though that certainly happened, but also because they felt more comfortable being among their "own kind."  We are "herd animals" and that means we like being among others and the others should look familiar.

Do we still need this predisposition? I do not think so but since it has become "hard-wired" into our DNA it will be near impossible to eradicate... much as we might like to get rid of it.

Can we overcome it? Yes, I believe so, on an individual basis. That is, each of us can, if we choose, not give in to it; suppress it in our interactions with others. But it takes effort and, above all, recognition that we all have it. That is the part that is difficult... not do a kneejerk denial of our own prejudice.

I wish you luck in disciplining yourselves to control your alleged instincts. We can, each of us, make this a better world.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What About AI?

That seems to be an important question. As in, "If we create robots that think, will that be the beginning of the end for humanity?"

I am one who is in favor of creating such and I don't fear it. First, because it will happen well after I am dead and, second, because I think the benefits outweigh the risks.

Much of our thinking, especially on this subject, seems to come from books and movies. And these tend to play up the fear of annihilation. Think the "Terminator" series and any number of others over the years. Intelligent robots have supplanted space aliens as the destroyers of Earth (humanity).

I doubt it. First because an old joke is that artificial intelligence already exists... the vast majority of humans qualify. And, second, because I think AI will enhance our lives, even though I believe it will cost a huge number of jobs in the long run. Think about it: you would no longer have to explain that weird noise your car makes to a mechanic who won't know how to fix it anyway (but will claim to have and charge you greatly). The car will probably tell you what's wrong (in simple terms) and the (robot) mechanic will have a complete encyclopedia of your car stored in his memory bank, you won't have to explain anything; the robot will analyze the car and determine just what is wrong with it (assuming anything would be... cars are getting "smarter" already).

I think we spend an inordinate amount of time explain what we mean to others. AI could end that waste of time. Will we humans be jealous of the robots? Probably. Still, I think AI is inevitable.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What's In A Flag?

Big fuss over the Confederate flag after that mass killing in Charleston, South Carolina. In fact, people appear to be fixated on it.

I can understand that. It is waved by racists all over this country, that's clear, and as a symbol it is quite potent.

But I was given some advice a long time ago that went: Don't give someone power over you by reacting they way he or she wants. I think that also applies to symbols. It offends, I get that. And maybe if I was black, I would be very offended... perhaps to the point of action. But I hope I wouldn't act out of emotion. Because that is what symbols do to us... arouse emotions.

And sometimes that's not good.

Monday, June 22, 2015

We're All Going To Die!

Eventually... But in the news today is an article about how we are in a "mass extinction", the sixth in earth's history, based on a Stanford study.

Let me quote from the article:
"Using fossil records and extinction counts from a range of records, the researchers compared a highly conservative estimate of current extinctions with a background rate estimate twice as high as those widely used in previous analyses. This way, they brought the two estimates, current extinction rate and average background or going-on-all-the-time extinction rate, as close to each other as possible."

Well, that scares the heck out of me. Which is its purpose, I assume.