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The Political and Religious Views of a Not Quite Normal Citizen of the Greatest Country in the World

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How to Lose an Argument

Recently I've been thinking about the discourse, or lack there of, regarding many things. Whether it's politics, religion, geek fandom, or whatever you discuss with someone, there are two ways to do it. You can either be civil and respectful, calmly discussing differences of opinions, or you can act like a child. Unfortunately, it seems like most people today want to act like children, either throwing a tantrum when they don't get their way, or rubbing their victory in the faces of their opponents. So, I'm hear to tell you, in no uncertain terms, how you can immediately make yourself lose an argument.

It's really a lot simpler than you might think. When you boil it all down, it turns out that the one true and certain way to lose is start name calling. Once you get to that point, you obviously have no further valid points to make, so you have to start attacking your opponent, and not their viewpoint.

Let's break it down, just in case that wasn't obvious enough. Once you accuse the person you're disagreeing with/about of being one of the following, you can just walk away, because you've lost.

1. Hitler/Nazi - This is an oldy but a goody. It seems like every time someone in power does something people don't like, they're suddenly Hitler and those that agree with them are Nazis. Let's get this right out there, there was one Hitler and he was, and this is what I have told my daughter, the single most evil person in history. So let's not be so free in comparing people to him, alright? Now, as for "Nazi", unless someone specifically says that they are a Nazi, or were a member of the National Socialist Party in Germany in the 1930's & 1940's, then they aren't a Nazi. You calling them that does not make it so, and just shows how low YOU are willing to go.

2. Communist - Just like in #1, unless someone tells you that they are a communist, they aren't. You remember Senator McCarthy, right? Don't be like him.

3. Racist - I'm not going to tell you that there isn't racism in the world. Heck, I'm not even going to tell you that you might be valid in calling someone a racist, under certain circumstances. However, if someone disagrees with your point, and you happen to have different ethnicities, they probably aren't racist for disagreeing with you. Just like anyone who was white that disagreed with President Obama wasn't being racist, those in that are not white who disagree with President Trump aren't being racist. Let's stop throwing that word around without justification, OK?

4. Sexist - Yup, just like racist. Disagreeing with/about someone of the opposite gender from you doesn't make you sexist. Do you want to know what does make you sexist? Making gender the primary reasoning for anything where gender doesn't matter. Here's an example: "She's the best person for the job because she has these qualifications" is not a sexist statement, but "She's the best person for the job because we need more women in that position" is sexist.

5. Uneducated - This one really gets me. Calling someone uneducated, stupid, what-have-you, because they don't agree with you is the ultimate in pomposity. "If you were smarter, you'd agree with me" is probably the single most annoying thing that I hear. So, what's the minimum level of education where you're allowed to have an opinion? In my mind, everyone is entitled to their opinion. If you think they need more education about a topic, then EDUCATE THEM, don't insult them. Layout your facts and let them draw their own conclusions. Of course, they might just educate you right back, which isn't a problem, in my opinion.

There are many more examples, but these seem to be the top five that I hear constantly. Here's a simple rule, if your opponent can do the old "Sticks and Stones..." bit from grade school to what you just said, you've lost.

I hope this helps everyone out there to start being a bit more civil in their discourse.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Voting Decisions

The other day we were having a family discussion on voting, which I've written about before, and my 7 year old daughter asked me if there was ever a time it that I wouldn't vote. I explained to her that no, I would always vote. Not only is it my right, but it's my obligation as a citizen. Sitting home and letting any voting day go by without going to my polling place just doesn't make sense to me.

Then she asked what if I didn't have anyone I wanted to vote for? You see, I've already explained to her that I need to find the candidate that's most closely aligned with my world view. I don't care what the letter is after their name, if they align with me then that's who I'm voting for. That being said, I've already told her that I'm not voting for either of the two presumptive nominees for the Big Two, since I don't think either of them will do a good job.*

So, to answer the question, if I don't find anyone who I feel that I can vote for in a given position, then I'll write in my own name. At least then I know that I've cast a vote for someone that I can agree with. The conversation then got into the mechanics of the voting booth, so I won't bore you with that, but I'm very happy that a girl of 7 is asking about this stuff.

* And don't give me any of that "throwing your vote away" crap. People blindly voting for a party rather than a person is what's got us into this mess. At least I'll be able to sleep at night.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Unified Theory of Santa Claus

I figured that I'd write up something that I told my daughter this past holiday season. You never know, this might just be useful to some of you parents out there. It concerns Santa and how he operates. I freely admit that some of this is stolen borrowed for the great comic series Fables, mainly how Santa makes it to each house.

Here's how it goes:

Santa is magical and doesn't need to stop at each individual house one after the other. He actually creates duplicates of himself and they are what travels to each house. Each house has it's own Santa, and that one is customized for the household.

So, if you have a house in the United States, Santa is dressed in the familiar red with white trim (thank you Coca Cola). If the house in in the United Kingdom, then Santa looks like Father Christmas. Along these same lines, if the house has a white family, then the Santa is white. If it's a black family, then Santa is black, and so on.

No, the guys in the malls, town halls, museums, or where-ever you go to meet Santa aren't really him, but they are, in fact, his helpers. These men (and women, where Mrs. Claus is around) have a direct line to Santa and they tell him what each child said to them. So, while the child is not really talking to Santa, Santa will know what was said.

Even though he doesn't require a chimney to enter a house (remember, he's magic), Santa does need permission. This permission can come in several forms. The one our family uses is something called a "Santa Key" that we leave outside on the door knob. Santa uses this to enter the house and he then hangs it on the tree.

So, there you have it. My unified theory of Santa Claus that, I think, helps explain some of the "unexplainable" things about him. Feel free to adopt or adapt this for your own use, and please let me know how it works for you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Comfort Zone

Yeah, I know I haven't posted anything in awhile, and that's primarily because I haven't had anything to say, of substance, on politics or religion recently. Today, however, I want to talk about something that came up recently. You see, because I'm not a Christian, people tend to think that I get uncomfortable when something Christian comes up. This couldn't be further from the truth.

You see, I was raised as a Roman Catholic, going to CCD, etc, so I know a lot about Christianity. When I was in High School, everything that I had learned about the religion and my world view had a disconnect, so I left that faith. I eventually found my own path, but that was due to a large amount of research on my part. Consequently, I probably know more about the bible than most Christians do, although I can't quote it chapter and verse.

Due to this journey that I went on, I'm perfectly happy talking to people about religion, Christianity or some other, as long as it's a reasoned discourse and not, "You're going to Hell!" (My typical response to this is "Yes, but it only has one "L", which tends to get me odd looks.) So, if you want to discuss religion, please feel free to. I might just jump in and tell you something you didn't know, so be warned.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Yuletide Greetings

I would like to wish everyone that reads this blog a Glad Yule. I know it's been rather quite around here this year. I can't guarantee that will change in 2015, but I know I'm going to try and post more over here, specifically continuing the "My Worldview" stuff.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Worthy Cause

Event LogoMy buddy, Paul Spataro, is raising money for Pancreatic Cancer Research. If you have a few bucks to drop in the jar, please consider donating here. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Solar Roadways

Alright everyone, I've been seeing a lot of people posting the video (see below) for Solar Roadways and I have a few things to say on the subject.

First of all, I fully support this idea and the technology behind it. To the point that I have donated, even if it's only $5, to see it completed. I would love to investigate this for my own driveway when I need to get it redone.

That being said, I do have some concerns about how the design will hold up to heavy/highway punishment. Ask another in the Oakland part of Pittsburgh how the bus lane on 5th Avenue looks and you will understand by the current design might need to be beefed up. I do think that the current design looks like it would work for the average small road, though. Just not anything that sees a lot of truck/bus traffic, or heavy commuter traffic.

Then there is the existing infrastructure to think about. I love how they have trenches on either side of the road to connect all the piping, electrical conduit, etc, but any of these services that are already there are under the current roadway. Moving them will be a HUGE expanse for the various municipal departments and utilities, not to mention the inconvenience to the standard homeowner. Remember, your water, gas and sanitary sewer would have to be SHUT OFF in order to move these things out from under the roadway and off to the side.

Lastly, if you think that any politician would even think of implementing untried technology on the public's dime, forget it. All the vast majority of politicians care about is keeping their job, and that means not rocking the boat. If you want to see this technology get out there and grow, private citizens and small business owners have to get it going. Yes, it will be expensive at first, but so is any new technology. The more demand there is, the more the investors will see that they can make money and mass production will start.

Is this the wave of the future? I believe it is. Can we wait for our public figures to do this for us? No, we can't. Private citizens, as with most innovations, have to push this kind of thing through and then the public sector will catch up.