Rebuild

The sanctity of life is a belief that sentient life is the most valuable force on earth. When the sanctity of lifde is questioned then society has a tendency to fall apart.

I watched the 2014 movie Dawn of Planet of the Apes (spoiler alert). In the movie the Apes have been genetically modified and can speak. The apes form a human like society and make rules like the Code of Hammurabi. The major rule is “Ape no kill Ape”. THere is an ape named Koba is is totally anti social and killing other living beings. The movie has a pivotal fight scene between the protagonist Caesar and Koba. Koba is hanging on for dear life and looks up at Ceaser and repeats the number one rule. “Ape no Kill Ape”. Ceaser tells Koba he is not an ape and lets him fall

When he allowed Koba to die Ceaser choose to rationalize his behavior by stripping away Kobas ape status. In Ceasers mind Kobas life was not as valuable as an apes life because Koba was acting in an un ape like manner.

Six people in Goshen California were brutally murdered. Among the murder victims was a 10 month old baby. Because of the heinous nature of the crime’s law enforcement in Goshen is asking that the death penalty be used. The last time the death penalty has been used in California was to kill the prisoner Charles Ray Allen. It is unclear if the death penalty will be used in California but the brutality of the killings of the six souls in Goshen definitely strip away the status of human being from the people who killed them. Right now two people are in custody for the murders and will son face trial. The trial will decide the accepted guilt or innocence not really actual guilt or innocence. The only people who know what happened are those who have experienced and or observed the action. Observation can be an issue because of a bunch of reasons. Eyewitness testimony is very unreliable. The elusive nature of guilt makes most people object to the use of the death penalty. What if we got it wrong? In 2022 more than 260 people were exonerated in the United States. an average of 3.94 people on death row are exonerated per year. A wrongful conviction can be overturned and someone can be let out of prison but no one can be brought back from the dead. The argument for mistakes is there for a case against the death penalty and then there is the morality of taking sentintent life. A very good rule for life is that, it is never ok to kill a sentient life.

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.

Albert Einstein
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When society tries to apply value to lives in an effort to justify taking them society is experiencing a moral failing.

On February 26 2012 George Zimmerman followed a 17 year old boy through a neighbourhood. Zimmerman confronted the unarmed minor and murdered him. A court case commenced to decide if the death of an unarmed 17 year old boy byu an armed adult was justified. This court case was a moral failing. There is truly no justification for killing an unarmed child.

Some historians argue that there are tipping points or critical points in the narrative of history that determine what the era will be like. It has been ten years since the death of Trayvon Martin and the justification for killing an unarmed boy was made by society and it has been ten years of violence and destrutcion of life in the United States. It feels like Trayvon Martins death was a tipping point for the destruction of the moral fabricate in the United States. SAome activist started the Black lives matter movement to counter the tipping point and I am hopeful that this will work but as long as society finds ways to justify murder I am skeptical that much will change.

Started with a red paper clip

If you are ever in Saskatchewan Canada visit the Paperclip Cottage Cafe . If the food is half as good as the story concerning the cafes origin you are in for a real treat.

#trade
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Kyle Macdonald look at a red paperclip on his desk and thought about the game he played in school called, “Bigger and Better”. In the game you would trade up for items that were bigger and better. Kyle put the red paper clip onCraigslist in an effort to trade up and in one year and fourteen trades later Kyle had a house. You probably guessed it but that house is now teh Paper Clip Cafe in Saskatchewan Canada.

I am not going to spend this blog retelling the trades, however you should watch the Ted Talk with Kyle in it. He retells the trades in great detail and during the talk he has pictures of people from each trade. I like two things about this story most first is the humble beginnings and second is the pictures.

It all started with a tiny paper clip but Kyle knew it would be big and was big. I assume he knew because he took pictures. As a kid we are often taught about consequentialism. The idea that no effort or actions are wasted and they all have consequence. This can be easy to forget especially when we fall into routines and do the same things everyday. The tasks become route and seem inconsequential but they are not. We would do well to consider the consequences of our mundane and route tasks. If a task is routine and consequential at work many efficient managers would find ways to automate and supervise the task. Supervision and not performance of the task should free up time for the employee to engage in tasks that are more complex and not quite routine. The tasks though never go away.

Realizing that every choice we make in life has consequences can seem pretty scary however a better way to handle this responsibility is to take a picture of each thing we do and celebrate our choices (as long as they are moral).

Every trade Kyle made was a chance to meet new people take pictures and celebrate. If you haven’t watch his Ted Talk it’s really good! Kyles enthusiasm is contagious. today at work home or play realize and celebrate the actions you are part of and have fun with it! Take pictures and enjoy the ride!!

Nuances and Novelties

“Let’s try to do this a different way”. The coaches reaches down and grabs the hockey stick from the player as they speak. The coach isn’t yelling or demanding they are simply suggesting and nudging the player to do something in way that they believe is more efficient, quicker and more powerful.

Our brains are incredible machines that compute, calculate and control complex systems all day long. Research into the brain has taken some major steps and is still being done everyday. So far it seems like the brain works through a series of connections and when we learn something new you create a new connection. More research shows that creating new connections makes for a happier and healthier brain. Lack of new connections may even cause the brain to slow down and bring on brain diseases.

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Learning comes from doing. It is practice that is one of our best teachers. You learn to ride a bike better by riding the bike as opposed to reading the theory about riding a bike. What new thing did you do yesterday? What new things will you do today? Finding something new to do can become a little bit of a chore especially when we are in our routines. The best way to accomplish doing something new everyday then might be through adding the novelty to our routines.

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn, and you will.

Vernon Howard

The world is a vast and amazing place and I am convinced that if a human spent everyday exploring the world they would run out of days before they ran out of places and things to explore. Now if someone lives long enough and was ambitious enough and did explore every place on earth I would challenge them to look up (especially at night), astronomers have discovered more than 3 200 stars with planets orbiting around them in our galaxy. There are probably 2 trillion galaxies in our observable universe.

My wife has told my eight year old niece on multiple occasions that “only boring people can become bored”. There is much truth to this adage.

To not be bored takes a person of action There is a pretty great Ted Talk about avoiding and dealing with boredom. Approaching everyday as a day to get new things done will help us be better more healthy people. Also imagine how much more exciting society will be if everyone is doing something new everyday.

Again and again and again but….

Today is Feb 2nd 2023. Today is Feb 2nd 2023, and it is Groundhog day. The Groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil will be brought out of his den and if he sees his shadow he will retreat back into his den and we the people will experience 6 more weeks of winter. It’s all true this tradition has been going on in the United States for 136 years. The first groundhog day was Feb 2 1887.

There was a movie in 1993 called “Groundhog day” in the movie the meteorologist is cursed by his ex girlfriend to relive groundhog day until he can find true love. Groundhog day has been repeated for 136 years and will continue to be repeated. In computer programming there is a technique called recursion. Recursion is when you repeat a process and break that porcess down each time you repeat it. As you repeat the process the process becomes bigger or smaller until you have accomplished your task. An example would be, a program that takes the phonebook in a user phone and goes though and calls everyone until it has called all phone numbers in that users phonebook.

When I was 9 years old a school teacher told me that there were simple machines and complex machines and that complex machines were simple machines grouped together to perform a task. To my fathers chagrin I became obsessed with machines and took apart anything I could get my hands on. My grandmother understood me and bought me encyclopedias. I enjoyed the encyclopedias with the illustrations the most. I loved to learn how things worked and didn’t work. Everything in life was a simple machine connected to another simple machine it was great.

Recursion is a technique that can help when solving some complex issues but it has to be done right. We have to repeat all but a few things every time or we could find ourselves stuck in an infinite loop.

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Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Vince Lombardi

When faced with complex tasks that we must repeat we would do well to learn and grow by evaluating each iteration and improving on how we perform the iteration. The wash rinse repeat and reform is how we grow.

This Month

Since 1976 every US president has officially designated the month of February as Black History month. In 1865 the United State abolished slavery by amending the US Constitution. After abolishing slavery, racism persisted within the United States. So much racism persisted that laws needed to be changed again. The laws needed to be changed because the racism was entrenched and written into the laws and part of the culture of the United States. The law was changed in the United States in 1964, the change in the laws was known as the “Civil Rights Act of 1964“. The Civil Rights act explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Even with this new law racism has persisted within the United States in a systematic manner. One major system that has promoted racism, through exclusion, is the public and private education system in the United States. Black citizens contributions to the United States throughout history are excluded from the history books and curriculum within the school system.

Human beings become the stories they are told and tell. If we exclude a race of people from the collective stories what we become is less diverse and racist.

Right now in different parts of the United States of America there is an effort underway by racists to prevent curriculum changes to the public school systems that would include black folks and indigenous people.

As a society it is important to stand against racism like the efforts to stop teaching our children about black history and racism that exists and did exist.

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One way to make a difference is by letting your voice be known at the ballot box by not voting for these racists. Another way to make a change is through teaching your children the truth and telling the stories that are diverse. There is no better time to resolve our will to fight racism within the United States than Black history month!

This or that some all none

Almost every study program at an American University includes a course on applied ethics. Peter Singer has literally written the book on Practical Ethics and his book has ben the course text for applied ethics in many courses. Most of the book has an Utilitarian slant to it in that Actions are right or wrong depending on the extent to which they promote happiness and prevent pain.

Ethics matter because it can often become hard to know what the right thing to do is. Ethics guide us in our relationships and life. Adherence to ethics makes the search less prone to error’s. Lying in ones research is simply unethical and causes issues with research built on the lies. Ethics matters in business as well as research it is unethical for a business to cause pain to another person until it isn’t think of all the military contractors in the world and the militaries themselves causing pain is a big business but who and when and how you cause the pain becomes ethical quagmires. Deontological ethics would state that causing pain is wrong and should not be done however Utilitarian would say that fi we harmed few people to save hundreds it is not unethical to do so. This is where ethics becomes a little “sticky”

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few

Captain Spock Wrath of Khan

It is best practice to not paint a person or place into a situation where they would ever feel that harming someone is their best option.

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I consider eating animal based protein and ethics. Is it ethical to eat animal based protein? I don’t think it is. Not on a utilitarian level “the joy I receive when I eat a burger or fried chicken cannot be greater than the death of a sentient being.. Eating animal based protein cannot be ethical on a deontological level either. It is not acceptable to kill a living sentient being.

Why then did I go to the grocery store and pick up a pound and a half of chicken to cook tonight? Am I an immoral killer? I don’t think so but I will be eating chicken tonight that I will cook. I think for me there are a few reasons that I committed this perversion. Please bear in mind that none of the reasons stand for proper justification for my diet. What follows is just my thought process

  • It was convenient I know it is awful and harsh but the truth often is. I buy animal based protein and eat it because it is convenient. The world to include the United States is a food centric culture and the mains staple of our food is animal based protein there are millions of recipes and restaurants for animal based protein but plant based protein options while they are growing are in short supply
  • It was cheap Animal based protein is highly subsidized and therefore at the point of purchase average 10 – 20 percent less than plant based protein
  • It is cultural I was taught in the church that animals do not have a soul! Crazy right? The elephant that cries for a baby until a group of people rescue doesn’t have a soul? What in the world.. Rene Descrates said that animals cannot feel pain. This is incorrect animals can and do feel pain. There was a study done that proved that mice can feel empathy. All the facts about animals and their place in this world fly in the face of our culture. Animals are sentient beings no matter what or how grandma cooked

I am morally inclined to become a vegetarian but it will be difficult to beat the barriers of entry. What then should I do?

Start slowly and do at least one night a week when I do not eat animal based protein (this will not be tonight as I have already bought the chicken).

My hope is that one meal will become two and so on. Give myself encouragement and rope in others.Roping in others can be hard to do without coming across as judgemental on them and that s the last thing I want to do to family however I cook most of the meals at the house and I think if I can cook tasty filling vegetarian options I can find some cheerleaders among my brood. I have already tried with black bean burgers and they are a family favorite.

Be deliberate, I cooked the black bean burgers on whim not for a moral reason but now I am charged with a moral reason and will be deliberate with at the very least on meatless day a week.

Remember my why. Every time I consider eating meat on my meatless days I will watch the video of the elephant crying for help of people when its baby is trapped I think this will work to steel my resolution.

We can’t even agree on this

In elementary school I was taught that, Polio was a deadly disease, that killed many and if you survived you usually ended up with a deformity. Then I was taught hat Jonas Salk discovered and deployed the world’s first Polio vaccination. I was taught that a vaccination delivered a vaccine and a vaccine was a “blueprint” of a disease and with that blueprint my bodies cells could learn and fight the disease.

I was in elementary school a long time ago, about 30 years ago. 30 Years passed and another pandemic faced the world. Covid 19. A vaccine was discovered and deployed, and there was a pocket of the United States that would not get vaccinated. 22% of the United States are unvaccinated from Covid 19.

There were 3 strains of polio and of the three 2 are eradicated and 1 is only present in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan both face pockets of vaccine hesitancy. Currently there are three known strains of Covid 19 and they are all active. Polio vaccination rate in the United states is 92.5% right now. Polio vaccinations began in 1955 in the United States and the country was a little different then. Many believe that the reason Polio vaccines were more accepted than the Covid 19 vaccine was because the country as a whole had a deep respect for science.

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It is terrifying that the United States cannot agree on what should be basic science in an effort to save humanity. I am terrified because Covid 19 is one crisis of many that society will face and is facing. Humans are cooperative species and humans must cooperate with other humans in order to survive and thrive. If humans cannot cooperate enough to come to a 90%vaccination rate against Covid 19 what else will our species disagree on? Climate change, gun violence, the human rights of LGBTQ+, the human rights of people displaced from their country? Humans have to come together and form shared truths one of which is that vaccines are good for everyone and should be taken.

I see a bigger want and desire to come together in my childrens generation than mine so there is some hope for the future but I do not want to be part of the generation that could not even agree on the science of vaccination.

Infinite time

What books do you want to read?

The book, like dozens of others that sit on my shelves and stare at me was bought on the heels of a podcast suggesting that everyone read it. I have not read the book yet. The book sits there and mocks me.

When will you pick me up John? Why did you buy me if you didnt intend to read me? Crack my spine, bend my pages dive in.

I want to I really do the reviews for the book are high for the book. Some say that reading the book will enrich you as a person. Others call it a treat and a book for lovers of language. One reviewer calls the book mind altering and I truly want to read the book. I really do but this book was purchased and placed on my book shelf five years ago and hasn’t moved yet.

Right now I am on page 279 of the 326 page book titled “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals” by Hal herzog.I enjoy reading books while getting in my elliptical workout at the gym. I am enjoying my stroll through the Hal Herzog book. I have always been intrigued by the way humans and animals interact and now I can read about studies conducted regarding that interaction. I should finish this book before the end of January then I will grab another book from the shelf and start reading. Will I grab the book that has been sitting on my shelf for five years though? I don’t know. “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals” by Hal herzog, was an ideal size book to read while doing an elliptical workout. The book that looks at me and mocks me is 1100 pages long so not the ideal size to read while on the elliptical but it could be done. The book also deals with some pretty heavy issues like addiction, and depression but it is satire and dark comedy which I enjoy.

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In case you haven’t guessed, the book that I want to read and right now, it is book, not books. Is “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace. I know I am like three decades late to the trend of reading this book but I really want to read it now especially. I believe that if you see me next month at my local gym I will be the one awkwardly flipping through the 1100 page novel on the elliptical.

The book is 27 years old and is still getting rave reviews. The book has also gotten some awful reviews and I think part of wanting to read the book now is just to make my own informed opinion. Honestly five years ago I was put off reading the book because of the sheer size of the tome but now.. I think I am ready to climb the mountain one page at a time.

I will let you know, probably sometime later this year, what I think of the book. I am really looking forward to reading this one.

Why did we teach that

There is new software available it is called chatGPT and it is making some noise in the academic world. Some students are successfully using ChatGPT to write their essays. Teachers are upset and calling this cheating (which it is). There have been bans and some IT departments for school have worked to disable the use of ChatGPT on the schools WIFI (this works until the students go home).

Cheating is nothing new and the fight against cheating will continue to take place at schools all over the world. A university student at Princeton spent his spring break writing an application that spots essays written by ChatGPT as well as any other AI technology. This is a cat and mouse game the cheaters find a new way to cheat and the teachers catch on and stop one way then two new ways open up. The major difference about this new cheating, using the AI to write an essay, and the older cheating paying the nerd to do it is that AI is that the new AI is almost indistinguishable from human writing. ChatGPT has gotten that good yes.

Thinking about cheating and essay writing got me questioning AI technology and essay writing altogether. I began to wonder why teachers use essay writing at all? What is the purpose for having a student write an essay?

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When a student writes the essay they engage in critical thinking, they conduct research. Critical thinking is crucial in our daily lives and research is unavoidable. The better you are at both of these techniques the easier life will be for you. The debate rages on concerning whether or not essay writing is the best delivery method for teaching these techniques to students.

The reasons for teaching essay writing Critical thinking and research are important no doubt but is essay writing as important as it was once thought to be? Maybe teachers should write essays defending essay writing assignments. I love to ask what if? So if not an essay what should be used to teach critical thinking and research? Can the new delivery system be cheated as well? No doubt yes and cheaters will get better at cheating so I guess the real question is whta do teachers and professors prefer as a delivery system?

I am not good at writing and a slow reader however I love to do both, I imagine if I where a professor I would continue to assign essays and use the applications to check for cheating and plagiarism. Maybe as pennace for cheating I would assign a new task to the cheater. The cheater needs to write an essay explaining how the AI technology works and how they were caught. The paper will require research of the technology and critical thinking for answering the question.

Writing teaches critical thinking and is a way of engaging in what feels like intimate communication. For now most of the communication is with humans but maybe in the future our AI will engage us just a intimately as the humans do. If we cannot tell it is AI has the AI passed the Turing test?

Leisure Time

List five things you do for fun.

In 1998 Matthew Perry and Chris Farley starred in a film titled “Almost Heroes”. Matthew Perry plays Leslie Edwards an officer in the US Army who wants to beat Lewis and Clark to the Pacific coast. Leslie elicits the help of Bartholomew Hunt, a bumbling trapper, played by Chris Farley. The movie is a comedy and was blast to watch. There is a scene in the movie where Leslie Edwards asks the team, while sitting around a campfire what they do fin their leisure time. The team answers the leader and their answers are foolish and hilarious. The first thing I thought of when I read List five things you do for fun, was that scene from “Almost Heroes”, lets see what are five things I do for fun?

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  • I enjoy visiting new places with my wife “You two are always going somewhere new. That’s why we love seeing your facebook feed.” That was the comment made by my wife’s aunt at a family function. When my wife and I were dating we would go to a movie theater and buy tickets for the movie that was showing at the time we arrived. I love spending time with my wife and I love doing new and different things with her. There was recently an article published that gave the secret to slowing down our perception of time. The secret was to do new things. Who better to slow down time with than my best friend?
  • I enjoy walking my dog My dog is my second best friend and when I grab his harness and leash I can see and sense the excitement he has. I have had to use the words down boy while holding his leash more times than I can count. His joy becomes my joy and I fell the endorphins. While walking he gets to smell our neighbourhood and lall the other wildlife and I can chat with the dog listen to tunes and just relax after a day of work. Walking is also a great way to improve and maintain good health.
  • I enjoy reading Good or bad books, newspaper or magazines, Comic books or blog posts. I love reading every medium. Reading is an almost intimate act between the writer and the reader. The writer has spent time effort and thought in their writing and now I get to get a glimpse into this person or team of people’s psyche. How cool is that? It is very cool and if the story or story and art (comic book) is compelling than, I am in heaven. Reading is also very good for brain health.
  • I enjoy the theater with my wife or by myself Live theater is pretty awesome. It can be Broadway in Manhattan or the community theater at my local theater. I love seeing people perform something that they practices together> With theater you get to hear the writers voice and see the actors emotions. The movie theater is alos a favorite of mine. The movies are sanitized version of live theter though and I kind of enjoy the chaos and unpredictibality of the live shows a little more than the movies, don’t get me wrong though I will watch a movie in aecond of course.
  • Learn and do new things A project is a lot of fun. Creating something new can be thrilling. I love to learn and build new things. By things I mean every and anything. One year I built a boat out of lumber in the garage. I have written software applications for my website, computer and phone. I wrote a book. the art of creation gives you a sense of accomplishment and lets you learn new things about the world you live in and how you navigate it. Creation is fun and exciting and it also improves your health.

So there are five things I do for fun. I try to find fun in all life but if I get the chance to seek out and engage in fun in my own way on my own terms this is what I would do.