Hair of the Dog

Apparently “Angry Atheist” Authors are Hot Property right now. They’ve simply had it with religious fundamentalists of all stripes and want to “fight back.” They think it’s time for thinking, reasonable atheists to “take back” society from “superstition” and they’re willing to go to cultural battle to do so. Atheism has been around forever but what’s new is the strident and, dare I say it, evangelical tone they are taking.

Does anyone else see the irony here? Their increasingly confrontational rhetoric they are embracing is the essence of the very thing they are fighting against.

Christopher Hitchens famously says that “Religion Kills.” I say ego-driven, self-righteous outrage kills.

Apparently it sells well too. Religious fundamentalists of all stripes have known this forever. And now the Atheists get a cut of the action as well…. Good for them?

Dirty Little Secret

Slate has published a very good response to the recent craze over the glorified infomercial called The Secret. Like everything evil, The Secret is wrapped around a core truth — having a vision of a positive future can help you achieve your goals.

Absolutely. I am a big believer in vision. But the absurdity of letting the Law of Attraction short-circuit your ability to plan critically is dangerous. Have a positive vision, yes, but be clear-eyed about the potential negatives that may happen and incorporate them into your plan.

Here’s how it should work — positive vision guides and motivates your actions, and each positive action puts you ever closer into the vicintiy of your dreams. But at least some of those positive actions need to be concerned with anticipating and addressing risks from potential negatives that may bite you. Balanced planning, people! Critical thinking!

You need a healthy dose of “Stinkin thinkin” to make your dreams come true. No amount of positive thinking can overcome the realities of life, the world, and the systems that comprise them.

So, if you are going to comprise a cockamamie life philosophy around a TV show, you’d be a lot better off with Earl Hickey’s Karma List System.

Let’s get this straight: Whether it’s Morality or Near Death Experiences, just because there’s a physical explanation doesn’t mean that it’s not a spiritual reality. In fact, for those of us who really believe God was our creator, the evidence of physical basis for religious and moral behavior serves as confirmation of our faith.

I think the problem comes from the mistaken belief, from believers and non-believers alike, that the spiritual world and the physical world are somehow basically separate with a few rare intersections that appear to us as “miracles.”

A quote from the article on NDEs: “People say that because there’s a common thread running through them all there must be a spiritual element… I look at that common thread and I see a biological process.”

Why can’t it be both, pray tell? There is no separating spiritual reality and physical reality.

Boom or Bust

I’ve been reading some pretty interesting, yet kind of scary, futures scenarios lately. There’s been a sharp uptick in stories recently depicting various scenarios of economic collapse/decline. A few:

After the Oil Is Gone
Countdown to a Meltdown

These are not exactly the “Long Boom” we were promised by Peter Schwartz and his compadres back at the turn of the century.

I think it’s too early to say which way things will break, but I think both views need to be considered in futures planning. I can definitely see how our current arrangements depend on complex infrastructures — energy, monetary policy — that are appearing increasingly fragile. Our high comsumin’ high debt ways will come to an end eventually, but will the techno-optimists’ silver bullet of reforms and technology hit before the crisis hits us between the eyes? Am I willing to bank on it?

Either way, I still maintain that the optimum strategy, boom or bust, is to simplify our lifestyles, build community and support networks, deepen our spiritual lives, develop interests and hobbies that do not depend on complex infrastructures, support local culture.

Waking Up from the Telework Blahs

Granted it’s a mind-numbing service process, not some cutting-edge technological vision. Yes, I’m working on a — yawn — process control plan. Writing P Charts, U Charts, and C Charts by hand in Excel for a client. Not what I want, but a gift nonetheless.

My folly is that I am not seeing it as it Is. Here in my house, drinking fresh coffee of my own making, about to go take a walk with my dog and think about a sampling strategy, I am pretty damned priviledged. Undeservedly so, I guess. Ungratefully so, all too often. My commute is 20 feet and a login for a job that uses my training and supports my family, so what’s not to be thankful for?

I’m still waiting for some real futures work to come my way. Not giving up yet. Next meeting in Japan is May 14th and maybe after that I’ll know if I get to write weird technology scenarios again. Until then, statistical process control is my friend.