Monday, November 20, 2006

My Opinion on Religion

Religion is a behavioral control mechanism that allows human beings to function in groups larger than about 150 (Dunbar's number) by exerting pressure on members of a particular culture to behave in a manner that reduces internal conflict, increases altruism within the group, embraces practices found to increase the survivability of the culture (and often status quo, and form the basis of ethical practices to keep anti-social or "cheating" behavior in check. In oral religions, interpretation of religious beliefs and practices are subject to change over the course of time and therefore allow the religion to adapt to new knowledge, environmental changes, or sociocultural change.

Written religious texts limit this ability and often form the basis of internal and extracultural strife because of an inability to adapt to change over time and the divine source of moral guidance.

As a behavioral control mechanism, religion requires three primary things: a behavioral code, a belief in judgement at some later date, and a deity that knows or can find out everything a person does. This promotes adherence to the behavioral code even when there is reason to believe no human can be watching or when there is no reason to believe any other human can hold the person responsible for their actions.

There is a belief that there is a genetic component to religious belief which makes sense in a population of humans who live almost exclusively in populations larger than 150. It also helps explain the small percentage of humans that may be considered "cheaters", natural born killers, or practitioners of Machiavellianism in human populations and potential genetic or epigenetic proximate causes for them.

As individual religions, I consider them individually and look at the differences based on their costs, tendencies, and trends. In general, as a global concept, I view religion in a cynical way and primarily as a necessary evil in many cases. I also ponder the differences in religion, spiritualism, and animism...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pissed Off at the World


Since we are officially madder than hell and refuse to be a receptor of garbage any longer, don?t look in my columns for much political insight for some time. Or for the time being, maybe. Whichever comes first.
If you read this page last week, you discovered, much to your eternal amazement, that this correspondent is not happy with our American political culture right now. That much hasn?t changed. And probably won?t for many a year unless early onset senility hits me before the age of twenty or so.
I intend to remain fed up, sick and tired, pissed off, and disgruntled. If you ever see that I am ever ?gruntled? about something, you?d better watch out. Haven?t gotten truly gruntled deep within the outback of my most fevered imagination in a long, long time.
So here Luke remains pissed off at Democrats, pissed off at Republicans, pissed off at politicians of every odor and description, of every bog produced and toad spawned, wart-bearing ilk. Don?t expect me to write about the current contest, the race for the golden apple of discord that marks the long road to 1600 Pennsylvania.
But, having said that, I can?t help offering a couple of observations about the current state of the campaign, a quick and some sort of a ?keen insight into the obvious? thing, one of my Pop?s favorite expressions, sadly all too often directed me-wards.
First, The press is has been suggesting for weeks that Howie Dean withdraw, which he mercifully did today. Why the hell hasn?t some 24/7 pundit or news bimbo however meekly hinted that Al Sharpton, who does woefully in the balloting week after week, pull out and go back to Harlem? Is there a bit of built in P.C. bias inside the gutless, sensationalizing press corps that says we shouldn?t speak ill of a black politician? Hey, sic Mr. Jayson Blair on it. He?ll know what to do. Blair had enough guts to tell lies right there on the pages of the once venerated NEW YORK TYMES, where all the news that fits gets printed.
So, we say will say right here in plain (and Standard) English (no ebonics or ghettospeak for this website): AL, GO HOME) TAKE YOUR BLACK ASS BACK TO THE BIG APPLE. And while we are on the subject, let us repeat our oft-mentioned plea to Ms Nancy Pelosi, ?ADVICE FROM ONE GUINEA TO ANOTHER: Nancy, baby, quit congress and get your Italian ass back in the kitchen where it belongs.?
And then there is the sudden resurgence of John Edwards, soft spoken trial liar turned Senator. Is it for real? Hell. No. Edward?s sudden popularity is a fiction, pure and simple. His poll numbers are higher only because there is less competition. The DNC and Terry ?We Don?t Need No Stinkin? Southern Strategy? MacAuliffe are manufacturing a faux horse race to keep Kerry?s name in the forefront. The Fourth Estate, lapdogs of the left as always, goes along for the ride. This sham of a campaign will most likely continue until March 2nd, the so-called ?Super Tuesday?, so called because our pigskin junkies are still in withdrawal following the end of the football season. Following that, we can look forward to several months of Elitist Kerry Speak, while he lamely attempts to be one of the guys. ?Try Earth Tones, John. That?s what Donna ?Cha-Cha-Cha? Brazille came up with late in the 2000 Gore campaign. Count on myriad attacks upon the sitting president, much waving of some magic wand and the pulling half-truths and faceless rumor out of a magician?s top hat. Then, late in the summer, the Senator will be crowned at the Beantown Convention, deified as the second coming of former president Kennedy. Sources report that the Pope himself will be on hand to consecrate the solemn occasion. AVE MARIA, IN NOMINE PATRIS, and JESU BAMBINO, muthah!!!
SO IF WE DON?T TALK POLITICS, what should we talk about? Arianna Huff ?n? Puffington? Haven?t heard a word from here since she quit the California Gubernatorial race. Is she preparing to go to bed with Al Franken during the conventions as once she did on Comedy Central? Martha Stewart? Not now. We want her to win and keep those recipes coming.
How about kids? You, know, children, little people, the tads and tadettes who might someday take their rightful place as citizens of the rotting realm.
Basically, I don?t like children very much. Or, ?I love children, Bar-B-Cued,? another of my Pop?s sayings, except he means it I sometimes think. I wouldn?t want to socialize with children, or entertain them, or have them over for supper and a movie. They are cute as babies, I suppose, cute from a distance of several feet. But then they develop a nasty tendency to start talking and moving around. Besides, they smell funny. With babies you know the smell stems from body waste deposited within the folds of plastic diapers. But older children also have their own peculiar odor, not unlike that of a wet dog. I try to stay as far away from them as possible. Not always easy to do.
But the other day, during the ball-less February break known as ?President?s Day?, I had a few minutes to watch a six-year-old boy playing by himself with toys costing less than fifty cents, a few pieces of scrap lumber, and more imagination than you will find on all the display shelves of TOYS ?R? US.
But first, some background. Many of you know my Pop is old, real old. He turns sixty-five in a few days and he has a tendency to talk. Talk all the time. A couple of times a day, since he believes in sitting down to meals together, I become his captive audience. It?s not that he lectures daily, but with some regularity he launches upon some remembered shard of his own childhood when he was growing up in the 40?s or 50?s.
Sometimes he talks about how different it was being a kid then and now. How a bunch of youngsters in a neighborhood could play the long summer days away, rarely seeing an adult authority figure, indulging in a variety of activities some wholesome, some pretty despicable. The point being here is that the modern parent tends to micromanage his child and the child?s time and activities, for that child?s own good, of course, ?We want her to be ready to enter Miss Poopants pre-school when she turns three. That?s a sure-fire stepping stone to Princeton.?
He makes those primitive times sound Idyllic, even when he includes details about how he almost died once of polio and one of a burst appendix. Children in those days were given a solid amount of freedom that few enjoy in the twenty-first century. I even took the liberty of writing about this fact of life at http://expage.com/lukester316.
So one day last week, I was nursing a sorely macerated left hand (news at 11:00) and strolling one afternoon with Pop who was walking the dog. We stopped at a neighbor?s house. Said neighbor is refinishing a basement apartment and was hard at work putting the final touches on a hand-poured cement floor. He and Pop got to ?discussion? something or another. The man is a baptist preacher and as far to the right as Dad is to the left in maters of religion. The clash of fundamentalism and atheism is always interesting.
I got distracted by the Preacher?s six-year-old son. He was playing with a couple of small, toy cars. The kind that can be bought at the local Dollar Store four for a buck. For at least twenty minutes, the little boy, paying absolutely no attention to the larger folk around him, patiently made and remade inclines for these miniscule vehicles. He seemed to be experimenting with concepts like angle of incline, speed, friction, maneuverability, and safety, none of which he could have articulated. The little fellow was just playing, having fun, learning painlessly. Won?t bore you with details, but during this time the kid must have tried, all by trial and error, with no interference whatsoever from his father, no ?let me show you how?, no admonition or suggestion, twenty different combination of ramps and speed. He did all this happily, lost totally in the project, his project, his and his alone.
What an ideal way to learn!! They way my Pop and his friends learned about sports and sportsmanship, making friends, entertaining themselves in the days before television. We have lost something, I think, and gained nothing that can really take its place.
Promised I would get this off to Ian before the start of the current business day. That man is a stern taskmaster, let me tell you. Have added some stuff at http://members.aol.com/luciusson/contents.html the table of contents to our own site. You might want to check out the photo album at http://www.photoisland.com where the I.D. is ?Luciusson? and the password, ?bubbadog?.
See you next week. Taking Pop to an out of town gun show on Saturday to celebrate his sixty-fifth. He can now get a free lifetime hunting and fishing license and enjoy the benefits of Medicare. He wants to get five-year-old Kenzie her first rifle. No problem with my hunting brother, but her mamma is having a moose.