Metaphysically Speaking

When I was a young boy, my Grandma Boyd passed away and my father became very sad. I asked him why she had died and he told me everybody has to die, which frightened me. I asked him what happens to us after death and he told me after death everything just stops and we are no more. A black abyss of nothingness. The mere conceptualization of it made me shudder. I spent hours trying to understand what it would be like.
My father wasn’t religious.
Pessimistic view aside, the very nature of life is the will to survive, or as Charles Darwin called it, the survival of the fittest. It’s genetically built into our DNA. No one wants to die.

Seeking Rationality

No one, of course, except those that choose to die either by self or medically assisted suicide. Those exceptions excluded, even an insect tries to avoid death. Go and swat a fly and it wants to buzz away. Survival is what it’s all about. It’s what drives both evolution and religion.
So let’s take a rational look at death, scientifically and metaphysically.
At the dog park. My dog has jumped out of the car, charged through the gates and is happily running around in a big field. She’s enjoying life! It’s cold out, freezing cold. I live in the North Texas Panhandle where it sometimes snows. But the dog and I are enjoying the park.
Except for me and Brandi the dog, I’m alone out here. Of course I have a loving wife, a brother who checks in with me from time to time, and some casual friends at work. I have hundreds of Facebook friends. I’m sure they’ll all come to my funeral! We all have our support groups. We surround ourselves with friends and family. Nobody wants to feel alone. But we die alone.
I have no disease I know about looming overhead to kill me except my age. There might be. I dunno. Yet I’m scared of dying because I know death is inevitable and my age keeps advancing.
I really don’t want death to be the cessation of consciousness, of being, of existence itself. I’d rather be born again, or reincarnated, or go to heaven, or something along those lines. Nobody’s ever sent me a message from the other side to tell me what it’s like. So honestly, I don’t know.
And that’s where faith comes to play. Fear. If you don’t accept Jesus you’re going to hell. If you’re a Hare Krishna you’re going to go to a hellish planet somewhere and be tortured without limits. If you’re a Jehova’s Witness, you won’t get resurrected and remain forever in the grave, kinda like my father’s idea. But if you do good you’re going to have eternal life somewhere, either in heaven, or heaven on Earth, or reincarnated, or in nirvana, or some other such idea.
We choose religion or some kind of faith because we want to live. We want to survive.
People say they have had religious experiences, but could it just be chemicals in the brain, sort of like when someone takes a hallucinogenic drug? In my line of work I happen to know many mentally ill people who see and hear things no one else sees. Could it be like that? Just imagination or delusion or chemical reactions?
Probably not. Schizophrenia is a disease. There’re lots of perfectly healthy religious people out there who don’t suffer from it. Besides coffee and prescriptions, most these folks are pretty much drug free. They don’t take LSD. They collectively sit in their church, synagogue, temple or mosque and pray or talk among themselves or listen to a wise man give a sermon from a holy book like the Bible, Torah, Qur’an, or Bhagavad Gita.
People want to believe.
Science doesn’t claim to have all the answers. They never did. There’s even lots of weird stuff in the universe like dark matter and dark energy that are things they don’t know anything about except they keep the galaxies and universe from flying apart or collapsing in on itself. Evidence of a greater power, of God?
Just don’t be blinded by your faith. Use your own head. Think for yourself. Know what’s really alright to believe and what is not.

Trying to Stay Healthy 

Today I did 200 squats at work. Not all at once, but in sets of 20 or 25 at a time.
Yesterday I managed to do 125 squats, and when I got home my legs felt sore. Heaven knows what my legs will feel like tomorrow morning, but I feel if I keep exercising in this way it will help in my yearly Physical Agility Test which I have to pass to keep my job.
There is also the additional benefit that it actually makes my job easier. These days when I come to a flight of stairs at work I can jog up them or jog down them with no difficulty. A year ago I could not have done that. Just walking up the stairs was an effort. Now I look forward to running up and down the stairs at every opportunity.
I even have a smartwatch which tells me how many steps I take and how much my heart has been active in a day. This is a good infants from me two exercise more.

So is it Really a Ban or Not?

Sean Spicer, Donald Trump’s press secretary, previously said it was a ban. Trump said even today it was a ban, but oh wait… Today Sean Spicer says it isn’t a ban.
If anything it’s embarrassing and looks of incompetence. 
When members of the press tried to ask why both he and the President had both repeatedly used the word “ban” and now deny that it’s a ban, Mr. Spicer walked out of the room and took no further questions. 
So is it a ban or not?
And the answer is yes and no. 
Clearly it is not a ban on all Muslims entering the country since the countries with the largest Muslim population were not included. Countries like Saudi Arabia, India.
According to Wikipedia:

“The largest Muslim population in a country is in Indonesia, a nation home to 12.7% of the world’s Muslims, followed by Pakistan (11.0%), and India (10.9%). About 20% of Muslims live in Arab countries.”

None of these countries were included in the ban.
But the six countries that are included in the ban are places to were ISIS tends to flee. And you heard it here first. 
So yes it’s a ban, but strictly speaking not a ban just because someone is Muslim. 

Trump Excludes Third Branch of Government


On the left the White House website before Donald Trump. On the right the White House website after a federal judge put a stay on Trump’s executive order to ban people from seven countries to enter the United States.
If someone snubs Trump, Trump snubs back. Witness what happened on January 11, 2017 when:

“President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday shut down a CNN reporter who attempted to ask a question at Trump’s first press conference in months,”

according to Business Insider.

Is Evolution Fact or Fiction?

Some people believe God created the Earth 6,000 years ago and Adam and Eve along with it. They don’t accept the rather compelling, irrefutable evidence proving the Earth is about 4.543 billion years old. My father saw it. It bothered him so much he rejected religion and called himself an agnostic, which he defined as someone who wanted to believe but couldn’t. He believed in science.
But there are some problems scientifically figuring how aquatics crawled out of the water or how amino acids chemically evolved to produce DNA. All the pieces have not fallen in place. There are also some archeological anomalies here and there that seem to conflict with accepted time frames.
Nonetheless, evolution happened. Or so it appears rationally.
My dog offers pretty good evidence. Dogs evolved from wolves with human help. Even today people create different breeds of dog. Look how many varieties of dog breeds exist today. All descended from wolves due to human intervention and selective breeding. It’s what happens naturally over millions of years in the wild but accelerated in dogs because humans made the decisions rather than natural survival of the fittest.

How and Why he was Elected

Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) is an avid tweeter, published author and successful American. This morning he had these things to say.
Trump never wanted the presidency.
He wanted to win the popular vote & be respected by the media.
He got neither.
@MorganL_2011 added to that.
It gave me a bit of joy to see that President Obama has 60 million more followers than Trump. I wonder if he knows…

It seems Mr. Trump doesn’t like to be second best at anything and his followers are okay with this quirk.
And I think Democrats and liberals are keen to focus on his too-many-to-count flaws but are missing the whole point about how and why he was elected and why very reasonable men and women of all ethnic backgrounds remain his strong supporters.
Unless we focus on understanding why people actually voted for this self aggrandizing alt-right character in the first place then the divide in the country will only increase.
Much to my surprise and dismay, President Trump’s political views exactly mirror what people all around here in Texas and middle America believe and think.
It’s not just that working class white people voted for Trump and others didn’t show up to vote. I know white, black, Hispanic, straight and gay people who voted for Trump, too. In fact, around here, most people of all walks of life.
I recently put this question to the test on my Facebook page: Do you believe that the Earth is 4.8 billion years old according to science, or 6000 years old according to the Bible?
Well, any rational person’s gonna answer that with the obvious, right? 4.8 billion years. There’s plenty of science to back that up. It’s not a theory anymore. It’s just a fact. But 95% of my coworkers here in Amarillo, Texas answered Bible.
It’s astonishing to me that people could believe the Earth is only 6000 years old, when even from a religious point of view there is no clear concensus. But they do. They don’t care about fossil records or GPS actually measuring the drift speed of continental drift. In some places ground is moving 5 centimeters a year. Or how they completely support fracking with no clue that gas and oil came from rotting ancient life millions of years ago. Yet that is the real America.
American people are religious if not ignorant, the two of which do not always go together but often do, and they like Trump.
As a liberal I like to delude myself that the tide is turning against Trump because of the things he said and has done since taking office, often contradicting himself, or just not accepting that he both lost the popular vote and had a smaller inauguration crowd than Obama. In reality however the divide is only widening and people on both sides are digging in. If the election were held again today, Trump would win.

Is Fracking Good or Bad?

Light your water on fire from fracking
I’m not an expert, but it seems to me fracking is really a bad thing. At least judging by all the evidence I can find. Both anecdotally and scientifically there are a lot of bad things that seem to happen as a result of fracking.
Bill Nye the science guy on fracking.
As you can see I’m interspersing my paragraphs here with various links to indicate the nature of fracking.
There are of course more than one side to this argument. Otherwise the Republicans and especially Donald wouldn’t be all gung-ho about it. Oh wait, they might be anyway. Another discussion perhaps.
In any case, I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re screwing up the Earth with fracking and we’d better look for other alternatives.
Oh wait, President Trump removed any mention of alternative and clean energy from the White House website. Wonder why?