Saturday, August 4, 2012

So there has been a lot of chatter recently about Chick-fil-A and it was disheartening, because of people that were incapable of rational thought or being open minded. And there were a lot of things in the discussion that I thought were going on. That I want to enumerate without making a narrative about it. Because these are just simple things that people don't or wouldn't get. 

- There are differences between boycotting something personally and discreetly, boycotting something and announcing it, and calling for a boycott on something. The first you do when you just disagree with something. The second when you disagree and think that other may share the opinion and wish to do the same. The third when you think that something is or should be unbearable to all. 

- There is a difference between conducting a business transaction with someone and someone making a profit. In a business transaction you think you both get something. It is not a gift of value it is an exchange of value, ideally both parties leave the transaction with the same value that they entered it with, just in a different form.

- The biblical rules against homosexuality in the bible come from the old testament, but the new covenant, replaces the old and those rules no longer apply. (That's why Christians don't have to keep kosher).

- Many Chick-Fil-A locations are operated by franchisees, who have beliefs and positions distinct from those of the the Chick-Fil-A corporation and are staffed by employees that may have beliefs that differ both the operators and corporation. These people are more directly impacted by boycotts and maybe disproportionately affected by them. 

- Morality is not absolute, and that's never been humanity's position on it. There has always been the allowance for amorality ( like the actions of animals ). Morality has always required knowledge / belief. That is why isolated societies are not condemned ahead of contact and exchange.

- If you believe that causing someone to be tortured is evil, people may be fundamentally influenced by others, there is a God that is strict, and there is hell being condemned to which results in a eternity of torture, then influencing others towards a violation of God's rules is an act that will lead to their condemnation to hell and that is really evil.

- Denying to let a corporation conduct business in a city because of their beliefs or what they say is a violation of their first amendment rights. Banning them because of their supposed behavior with enumerating the behavior or giving legal recourse is a violation of their 5th amendment rights.

- Denying some potential employees a full range of benefits, reduces your ability to recruit those potential employees and is a potential competitive dis-advantage.

- Charging more then a fair value for your services so that you might have extra to syphon away from your business to a cause that you believe in is a potential competitive dis-advantage.

- Closing one day a week, on a day when many people are out and about is a potential competitive dis-advantage.

- A publicly traded company exists in obligation to it's shareholders and can only take positions on the belief that they are financially sound. Since most systems of morality require for deeds to be good that they be done without concern for the deeds financial soundness or in the belief that the act is a sacrifice,  both of which publicly traded companies are not allowed to do, so in many systems of morality they are at best amoral. 

- The Catholic church beliefs that homosexual activity is a sin and that supporting it is the same, and they support gay inequality. If you Participate and contribute to the Catholic Church but you believe and support in gay equality and believe that fighting it is sinful. Then by the standards of the Catholic church you are sinful and by your standards you are sinful, for for contributing to the Church. 

- The world is not fair, and the protections of freedom of speech and freedom of religion ARE used to make the world a place where there is ever less oppression, and people can increasingly co-exist as equals. Despite the fact that many see them as having done their job.  

- If two opposed parties are both close minded then neither will win. One must be open-minded enough to accept the ideas of their opponents, or open-minded enough to understand their opponents in order to effect change in their close-mindedness.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A New kind of Religion.

I want to introduce a new concept. That of the existential religion. Most of the classic religions that we think about Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, etc, have to do with creation. So I'd like to categorize them as creationist Religions. From there what I'd like to introduce is existential religions. That is to say a collections of beliefs that have to do with the current stat of things as they exist right now. As I see the world progressing, I see more and more people acting in accordance with beliefs that don't directly correlate with any clear historical basis.

Some examples of this are, that wind energy is green, that climate change is bad and that extinction is bad. What we know about wind energy is that the law of conservation of energy, says that that energy is coming from somewhere, and we're not sophisticated enough to accurately know what the impact of diverting it is. Why do we think that is good or green. As wind energy as risen on the U.S. west coast, so has the problem of weather systems stalling in the middle of the continental U.S.. Wind energy is not green it's probably our next environmental sin waiting to be identified. (Or not we don't know and we know that we don't know. So why is it great?) What we know about climate change is that for most of the existence of the earth the climate was warmer then it is now. So the climate we have now is just the result of climate change. More over, astro-physicists believe that all of the elements we have on earth other then hydrogen are the result of stars exploding and spreading their material throughout the universe. So if other star systems didn't suffer catastrophic climate change then we could't be hear. But most of the people who claim that climate change is bad don't account for the billions of years of it that led to where we are, they just take the position that change is bad. (There are reasons why climate change can be very bad for us, but any beliefs to that effect should be based on actual reasons, so that an actual intelligent discussion can be had. And from my last example that extinction is bad, well, without extinction there would be no humans. There would not have been environmental niches for our ancestors to fill, and we wouldn't be here. I've heard that something like 99.999% of all the species that have ever been have gone extinct. Extinction isn't the rare exception, it's the norm. There are arguments  for preserving the biological diversity of earth. But far more pragmatic approaches then fighting ALL extinction at all cost, seems to fall short of the pragmatically best approach. By trying to save all the species, even those in direct competition or potentially so for the same ecological niche, we may lose both. So a more pragmatic approach would be to allow for or encourage the trimming of some genetic trees to preserve a much broader collection of trees, rather then endangering whole families of animals to allow a few to survive, and that should be argued on a case by case basis, based on the relative merits of the specific cases.

I mention this new class of religion, because it occurred to me that Eco-catholicism was upon us. That we were already pretty much at the point of declaring people whose views differ from the mainstream to be outcast heretics, and beyond that we are already at the point where carbon indulgences are being sold. Not sure when the eco-martin luther is going to come along and nail a manifesto to some church but it's probably coming too. More over Pepco has found religion around here too, and even volunteered to upgrade whole apartment building including mine.

There are a few things I fundamentally disagree with with the upgrade of my building. The first is the replacement of normal incandescent bulbs with CFLs. When I asked the upgraders about them, they said, don't worry about the CFLs, they contain as much mercury as a can of Tuna fish. Then as they left they handed me a folder which included the half page of instructions (from the EPA) of what to do if a CFL broke. After seeing that I am never eating tuna again. Also I'm going to call in a hazmat team any time I see two can's opened at the same place at the same time. I particularly think that CFL's in a bathroom are dumb. These are light that take a minute or two to warm up, but are used for a minute or two at a time. All that does is encourage me to leave them on all the time, which will use more energy then an incandescent bulb. probably more over the course of my apartment then is saved by the whole cfl upgrade. Additionally they put a reate limiter on my kitchen sink. one of the main uses of my kitchen sink is to fill things. What good is it to make that take longer? It's just more likely that a related fridge open will be left longer or that it takes so long that it will be abandoned and overflowed. So again that is backwards. The last is low flow shower heads. Not only should the Jerry Seinfeld PSA about these should have warned us, I have recently discovered that they are defective by design, that is that be diverting some of the water out the faucet a high pressure flow can be established, at about the normal flow of water, so not only am I not saving anything in my showers, I waste a bunch of time trying to get the just right water flow. Why do hippies want everyone else to be dirty too.

The big problem with these beliefs that people hold religiously is that people who believe will refuse to enter into legitimate discussion that those beliefs. That's the real disappointing thing. These beliefs exist with out labels to use to identify themselves, and exist in a limbo. So that there is no reform possible because there are no well defined dogma to reform. And because when people impose these beliefs upon you, there is no redress in the form of the courts and freedom of religion to save you, because religion is never flamed for these beliefs.