Thursday, August 31, 2006

He's got a point . . .

"Religion, which should most distinguish us from the beasts, and ought
most particularly elevate us, as rational creatures, above brutes, is
that wherein men often appear most irrational, and more senseless than
beasts." -- John Locke

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cub Scouts

So tonight we took the whole family over to the park next to the elementary school when the local cub scout group was signing kids up. We wanted my 2nd grader to check it out to see if he was interested. I came away with an impression I didn't expect. As we were listening to the leaders give their schpeel (I'm sure that's a word in some language) I was deeply impressed with how committed they were and how they seemed genuinely interested in helping the boys. I see and hear lots of negative stereotypes about men . . . many of which might have some basis. But these guys flew in the face of that. Totally selfless, not too busy for their kids, even not too busy for someone else's kids, very impressive . . . I see a world that steers boys in lots of different directions, too bad more of us aren't more willing to give back a little bit more.

Fear Factor - Update 2

So I watched a new 2-hour special on CNN about Osama Bin Laden the other night. It was pretty interesting and made for good TV. And I got thinking . . . If the guy is sitting in his cave watching CNN (pretty likely), I just watched his favorite TV show!! How victorious he must feel that Americans think about him so much that we made a 2 hour special, and hyped it relentlously, about pretty much everything that we know about this guy's life. That's gotta be pretty satisfying for him . . .

Fear Factor - Update 1

Check out this article about the "Fear Multiplier." Good stuff from (only the summary is shown):

Airline Incidents: Fear as Force Multiplier

By Fred Burton

During the past month, since British authorities announced the disruption of a bomb plot involving airliners, there has been a worldwide increase in security awareness, airline security measures -- and fear among air passengers. At least 17 public incidents involving airline security have been reported in the United States and parts of Europe since Aug. 10. Most of these were innocuous, but many resulted in airliners making emergency landings off their scheduled routes, sometimes escorted by fighter aircraft.

The spate of incidents -- each of which rings up significant financial costs to the airline company and governments involved and causes inconvenience and delays for travelers -- is a reminder that terrorism, philosophically, is not confined to the goal of filling body bags or destroying buildings. At a deeper level, it is about psychology and the "propaganda of the deed." And as far as al Qaeda is concerned, it is also about economic warfare: Osama bin Laden personally has stated that one of the group's strategic objectives is to "bleed America to the point of bankruptcy."

To say that the governments and industries targeted by terrorism face difficult choices is a gross understatement. The problem lies in the fact that decision-makers not only must protect the public against specific groups using known tactics (in al Qaeda's case, bombs and liquid explosives) but also must protect themselves in the face of public opinion and potential political blowback. Officials naturally want to be perceived as doing everything possible to prevent future acts of violence; therefore, every threat -- no matter how seemingly ridiculous -- is treated seriously. Overreaction becomes mandatory. Politicians and executives cannot afford to be perceived as doing nothing.

This powerful mandate on the defensive side is met, asymmetrically, on the offensive side by a force whose only requirements are to survive, issue threats and, occasionally, strike -- chiefly as a means of perpetuating its credibility.

Again, what amazing power we've chosen to give these people . . .

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Fear Factor

Over the last several years it's hard to ignore all the things we're told to be scared of. And I don't just mean scared, but we're told we should be petrified and totally rearrange our lives because of these things. I don't mean to say that these things aren't a huge deal for those directly impacted by them, but the mass media has had great success in getting us all hyped up and keeping us glued to the various screens in our lives. Some of these are massive problems impacting millions, others are things that we're not sure have impacted anyone . . . yet . . . , but nonetheless, we're obsessed with some of these topics and living in fear in some way or another. Here are just a few that come to mind (as you read these, just think back to some of the news covered these things have garnered):

- Bird Flu
- Global Warming
- Terrorism
- Politicians
- Shark attacks
- Hurricanes
- Terror (not sure how that different from Terrorism, but the President says it so often I thought it deserved it's own category)
- War
- Famine
- Health empidemics
- Sky rocketing Oil Prices
- Asteriods/Comets destroying the planet
- Earthquakes
- Chickens and/or baseball players on steriods
- Random crime
- Identity theft
- Irradiated produce
- Tweezers on airplanes (along with snakes on airplanes, apparently)

I could keep going, but my point is that I hope we don't really let this stuff dominate our thoughts/actions. I know people who do obsess about all these topics. Politicians use these things to push our panic buttons pretty effectively - neither major party is close to innocent on that one. Osama must just love it when we crank up the "Terror Threat Level" to purple or something when he simply says we should be scared. That's a lot of power. I'm pretty certain if the media (but not the military) ignored the guy a bit, we'd suddenly feel quite a bit safer . . . and we'd be no less threatened.

Our hightened sense of fear makes us really overreact when there is a bit of news. For instance, how does it make sense that North Korea shoots some missiles into the Sea of Japan and world oil prices soar . . .

We gotta put things in perspective, but it's difficult to do that when these negative, forbodding topics are all we see or hear about. We should do what we can about these things, but we should do other things too!! There's lots of good out there, and people living pretty content lives. I wish it were just as easy to write a list of that kind of stuff based on what I see on the news . . .

Little absence

It's been well over a year since I posted on this blog, I'm determined to get started again. I just figured out how to post quickly from my mobile phone too, so given how much I use that thing, you should be seeing more posts for that reason alone. I hope u enjoy . . .

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