Category Archives: Philosophy

Time: The Relentless Pursuer that Kills us All (eventually)

 

Wait for it.

Time
Mon, 25 Mar 2013 00:00:00 GMT

Fearless

I watched this for the second time I think tonight.  I really like this film.  I think it leads you to great insights about life.  Maybe the main one is we mostly let our lives be ruled by fear.

The first few minutes are fantastic.  Max Klein (Jeff Bridges) leads a handful of survivors away from a horrific crash of an airliner in a corn field.  He then leaves to find a hotel room forgoing any opportunity to be ministered to by first responders, interviewed by reporters, or consult with an attorney.

Ectasy

Instead he rents a car drives from the crash near Bakersfield to Los Angeles planning to visit an old girl friend, listening to the radio cranked up, feeling the wind in his face with his head out the car window, pausing to to just sit by the car drink in a stunning purple desert landscape. 

Desert View

Knowing now more than ever that life with all its pain and suffering is at least punctuated with moments of intense maybe even painful beauty, he lets it be and takes in the landscape.

Old Lover

Listening to the former lover, he takes in her story that her life is a “disaster”:  disappointing children, a husband denied promotion who sleeps with a student.  Knowing more than ever what a real disaster is, he knows and tells her and I think most us of that:  our lives are not disasters.

Crash!

Finally, a representative of the airline catches up with him and offers him train travel back to his home in San Francisco.  Fearing liability and to speak the truth,She euphemistically speaks of the “emergency landing”.   Not fearing speaking directly and truthfully, he directly corrects her to speak as he does, of the crash.

Having faced death and having felt able to accept its apparent imminence, the liberated Max asks to fly back to San Francisco, and does.  He teeters between a sense of invulnerability and indifference toward death.

Having faced death and having felt able to accept its apparent imminence, he is unshackled in many ways from the conventions most of live by:  fear of offending by speaking too directly; fear of drinking in the experience of the moment because what may be around the corner; fear of what people may think when maybe it doesn’t matter what they think; finally fearing to recognize that everything is our choice – living is a choice we don’t have to make and whining we “have” to do this or that is mostly a cop out.

Most of the rest of the film deals with his difficult path to reconcile these revelations to the life he had when left on the flight.  His honesty often becomes cruel.  His acceptance of his mortality becomes recklessness.  Having learned so much, he forgets one crucial fact.  Much of the meaning of life is in your few deepest relationships, and cruelty and recklessness endangers his marriage and family.  Alienated from his family, he bonds with a fellow crash survivor, who he guides to acceptance of death of a child in the crash.

So what do I take away from all this?  Don’t confuse inconvenience with disaster.  Don’t miss the joy from the ability to live in the moment.  Any moment could be your last.  Don’t confuse making a choice to avoid bad consequences with “having” to do anything.  Don’t be afraid to tell the truth, but don’t be cruel.

Aside

From Megan McCardle (http://http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/tragedy-in-arizona/69264/) Blame is a way of simulating control: if we can just identify who was at fault, we can stop it. The problem is, when we can’t identify any very plausible target, we too readily go after … Continue reading

Can a Tragedy be left to be a Tragedy?

A sad day once again.  There have been so many.  Columbine high,the Ft. Hood shooter, the killing of Dr. George Tiller, 9/11 and too many to remember.  That itself says a lot.

Each one now often almost immediately becomes a political football.  Bloggers scramble to find the proof of affiliation of the killer with their opponents.  Then use it attack their opposition and to use a phrase from the post civil war era:  "Wave the Bloody Shirt”.

Today we’re certainly seeing that.  I’ve been reading comments at Politico.  It seems like the push and pull is:  “he read Mein Kampf and sounds like he was motivated by the Tea Party” vs “he read the Communist Manifesto and was a lefty”  The major media is no different.

It’s all unseemly.  Can’t we maintain at least for a day a respectful silence for the victims?  Can’t we determine fault and who did what later, when claims can be based on facts not a swirl of not al all vetted rumors?  Can’t we recognize that people with this kind of troubled mind are likely going to find a movement to affiliate with and lash out in the name of:  Whether its of the right or left is irrelevant?  No we can’t and we won’t.

A sad day once again.

Slippery Slope to Death Panels?

Fear of Death Panels continues. This is an example:

Just about everyone is talking about how the Dems and the Obama administration snuck the death panels back into Obamacare, and snuck really is the operative word:

“We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ — e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”

The e-mail from Rep. Blumenauer’s office continued: “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response.  The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

Transparency!

Some folks are mostly bothered by the sneaking around, and some are more worried about where these end-of-life consultations will take us.  You know:  euthanasia, assisted-suicide, pulling-the-plug-on-Granny, or however you phrase it.

As the author continues, this is quite a personal issue.  The main issue is the process to to arrive at end of life consultation, where will this lead.  I just want to comment on the latter.

I’ve lived in Oregon for 16 years, and went through the death of my mother in 2004.  In 1994, Oregon passed its Death with Dignity initiative.

At the time there was a great deal of fear about the slippery slope.  Would troublesome relative: “be put out of their misery”?  Would Dr. Kevorkian take advantage of our state?

So have the fears been justified?  Mostly no.  The use of the death with dignity options has been very limited.  Less than 500 people have used it for the period 1998 to 2009, and that is much less than half of a percent of all deaths.  The details are here, with a summary:

Death with Dignity

I think fear regarding this issue reflects that as a nation we don’t deal with death very well.  After all the debate about death panels has to in light of that we all will die, and the so called death panels may at worst mean people who will die will do so sooner.  That seems to be missed.

Unintended Consequences: The utilitarianism of industrial slaughterhouses vs animal rights activists

From  Modeled Behavior:

Conservatives like to focus on the gap in good intentions and results.  I think this might be an example of that.

You might assume that animal-rights activists would be better at animal welfare than industrial slaughterhouses. I’ve recently seen two pieces of evidence this is not always the case.

First, are animal lovers that have it wrong. Officials in Valley Forge park outside of Philadelphia are planning on culling the deer population from 1,277 to under 200. Sharpshooters will kill 500 this winter and next,  and 300 to 250 in the winters after that. Animal rights activists “Friends of Animals” are arguing, however, that the deer population should be culled naturally by encouraging the number of coyotes to grow. Officials are objecting because it would take a long time to bring the herd population down and require a large number of coyotes. But from an welfare perspective it’s a little strange of an argument. Surely being chased down and killed by a pack of coyotes must cause much more suffering than being picked off by a sharp shooter.

Next is the industrial slaughterhouses that have it right. Two U.S. chicken producers have begun knocking chickens out with carbon dioxide before they kill them, resulting in a lower stress and lower suffering death. One problem they are havingis that it is difficult to advertise, since buyers don’t like to be reminded that the animals are slaughtered in the first place. This is not encouraging, because it suggests that the current state of advertising is an equilibrium where all firms are hiding information about the actual slaughter. If you can’t brag that you’re being more humane because consumers want to be uninformed, then the market incentives to be more humane aren’t there.

via The utilitarianism of industrial slaughterhouses vs animal rights activists.

The First Amendment and Christine

Much has been made of what things shockingly Christine O’Donnell doesn’t know, or believes. At the least she doesn’t express herself very well. But I do think the media, yes the MSM, isn’t really doing her justice or distinguishing themselves.

I’ve listened to where she seem incredulous as she’s told that the First Amendment separates church and state. The story has become that she doesn’t understand that the relation between church and state is delineated in the first amendment. Gasp!!

But, her supporters pitch the story as that the language of the first amendment does no such thing. It clearly precludes at least the federal government from establishing a church. But per critics like Mark Levine, the idea that there was a dividing wall between church and state is a product of court rulings of the 20th century. Is this just covering for her ignorance?

In the debate she seemed stunned by claims of wall between church and state from her opponent. So the question you have to answer from listening to her debate performance is: does she not understand the subject of the first amendment, the relation of church and state, or is she just incredulous of the 20th interpretation she was being presented with? Is she ignorant, or just holds an atypical interpretation of the Constitution?

What do I think? Having listened to the segment, I think she isn’t ignorant, but is outside of a mainstream interpretation of the Constitution. The media doesn’t really understand her take on the Constitution, and unfortunately she can’t comprehend that they don’t. As a result instead of explaining her view, she just acts slack jawed at being presented with the church and state wall concept that she doesn’t accept.

Her reaction was: OMG you think that the establishment clause means that…

The media heard: OMG you mean there’s an establishment clause…

Overall its a massive failure to communicate.