Tag Archives: education

On sovereignty:

Sovereignty is defined as absolute or supreme power (of self-direction). It’s used contemporarily as a state’s ability to self-determine. Recently there has been a push in the north of Spain (Catalonia region) for sovereignty, a push that have been called illegal by Spain, and most EU countries have said they will not recognize an independent Catalonia. It begs the question: What should the criteria be for self-determination of a “people” or county? Currently it’s clearly might makes right, in essence only groups that can martial the economic and martial forces to cast off others are “sovereign nations”, but is that ideal?

Why would a people saying they have a right to self-determination prompt a large show of force and condemnation form the most liberal, pro-democracy part of the world? Like most things it mostly boils down to who gets what… Currently the region is a major economic powerhouse, and Spain is the 3rd largest economy in the EU; losing that would be a major hit to Spain, and may even compromise the finical solvency of the country, so it’s seen as self-preservation. For the other countries, most have regions themselves that like Catalonia are economically strong and stand to gain from secession. None want a precedent set.

So leadership, by and large wants to keep countries big and people (by and large) want self-determination… Historically disagreements between the two have resulted in horrific, bloody affairs (Think Kosovo). What is the ideal?

I think the answer is contingent on the answer to a basic question, are we our brother’s keeper? I’ve address that one here, but setting those thoughts on the matter aside; if we are our brother’s keeper than there is really no sovereignty – he is beholden to us, and conversely, we to him. The most basic interpretation of sovereignty is “I’ll do what I like, you have no say”. It is truly as anti-social as ideas come, that one (individual or nation or anything in between) is not beholden to anything else, and free to act as it sees fit. Looking at sovereignty in this matter there is a basic truth to it; as individuals we are free at all times to do as we like; at least for now if I wish to start tossing out haymakers in the market I very well can but that kind of freedom is as dangerous as it is natural. The ideal is likely the same for individuals as it is for nations, humanity at large is not served by my market punches nor would it be served by the national equivalent (war). The other extreme is as (if not more) frightening- not having that freedom…

Imagine that each though we had, as we had it was evaluated by a 3rd party. If that system also had the ability to alter or arrest such thoughts, it could be used to ensure all actions by all people met a standard. But would the people of that system be free or sovereign? (we are already working hard to understand how to connect thoughts to computers, hardware-wetware interface is in the pipes… so this may be a topic with very real consequences soon enough…) regardless, I see that as the extremes- absolute freedom/ sovereignty, absolutely no freedom/ sovereignty. So again; where is the idea?

It should hinge on consent! Once humanity is technologically advanced to the point where any one of us can fudge things up for the rest (more so than currently at least) it will be incumbent on society to offer at least 2 (likely more) levels of involvement/ awareness: for those who reject the notions of cooperation little to no involvement (or access to knowledge that would enable them to be dangerous). For those who do, a mental monitor and unlimited access. The first group would have their sovereignty, but lack capability to do harm and the 2nd would have capability to do harm, but not the sovereignty to use it unilaterality. The system would be best as a dynamic, real time affair: as moods and opinions change one could move to the group that suits them best. It would maximize both freedom and safety.

Ultimately as individuals we have a level of sovereignty that will always be at odds with others, however protecting that freedom ( to a degree) is in the interest of all; it is at or close to the heart of human experience, and losing it would represent a form of oppression humanity as we know could not co-exist with. As for Spain, it may be better to show love for their sister state and courage to face the fallout than leveraging power to deny a (or any) people the freedom they deserve.

On Abortion:

EDIT: Updated 2019 ( was bad… really bad. (still is, but not as bad))

Going to weigh in on a divisive one today, killing little pre-people. I think of abortion as more of a symptom that points to a social cause, rather than a problem in and of its self. I also think that there is a lot to be said about tabling the issue of abortions in practice and focusing efforts on work that would regulate them to a dark time in humanity’s past. What follows is why, and how.

Why: Killing is never; NEVER a desirable outcome. Hopefully we are all in agreement at this point that eliminating abortions is really a common goal for society, the real meat and potatoes of this issue is how to go about doing that.

Now it is MOST unrealistic to assume everyone will be convinced to stop fornicating.   Here is where the work is, the most effective way to prevent abortions is sex education, accesses to contraception, and to take things a step further income/education equality. There is no magic here, no need to invoke gods or collect outside clinics, the most practical way to prevent abortions is to create a climate where it is easier for young people (or really anyone) to indulge their desire to fornicate in a responsible manner than it is to do so in a manner that will produce a pregnancy, simple as that. Now as to what that would look like: as stated before, education as a first step, it is incumbent on a society that does not want abortions to educate it’s people about sex no later than when they reach puberty, IE at the point they are capable of making a baby. Any argument that such an age is too young simply adds to the probability of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Next (and more tricky) is to make “responsible fornication” easier than non- responsible fornication.

So if you or anyone you know really wants to stop abortions, that is how. All other actions are merely treating a symptom. Making them illegal simply puts them underground, same with hassling clinics. All involved know it’s an all around bad practice, but stopping it is possible and desirable, as long as we all believe the focus should be on the work, not the rhetoric. (or who’s god has a big dick https://acetheguy.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/on-hopes-for-science/ )

On the importance of education:

Although my relationship with the modern education system has been…  trying I can not stress enough the importance of not only direct education, but also valuing education.  I no longer recall were I heard it and I care not to look it up, but there was a statement made to the effect of “not everybody belongs in college” I have taken an almost visceral offense to that statement, literally I still cringe when I hear it.  Now I’m perfectly willing to admit that if mired down in semantics there may be individuals whom traditional college would not be a beneficial experience, however the notion that postsecondary level education is not for every person on the planet is ludicrous to me.

I will start with one of my favorite anecdotes, black body radiation.  Before the info web was wildly popular I saw in a news story “thermal vision”, technology that allowed viewing heat.  Now I’m sure most of us today are familiar with thermal vision, but the principle on which it operates is usually not addressed in primary education or secondary education.  It was not intuitive for me to think that all matter above absolute zero is radiating waves, and it was not until I took freshman university physics that the connection was made.  The practical side of this, and one of the reasons why a college education is necessary, is it gives you a far greater understanding and appreciation for: what you do not know, and what others know.  We have in this country and on this planet millions (probably billions) of individuals who do not understand the basic natural processes as we currently understand them, and while this will in no way affect your ability to drive a car, work for someone else, or even run a business.  It will, or at least it can make you entirely unable to make rational comparisons between competing viewpoints.  Or know when you’re been flat out lied to.

The larger idea here is breath of perspective, to someone who was never had freshman level physics an idea like black body radiation falls into the same realm as an idea like dark energy, and distinctions and comparisons between the two are difficult if not impossible to make.  As we live in a democratic society every individual ideally influences the governance of all individuals, sadly in 2013 here the United States there was approximately $130,000,000,000 spent on advertising, and this is about as much as the government spent on research.  We (the U.S. and humanity as a whole) have real problems, but there is no amount that we can spend on advertising, marketing, political campaigns and the like that will solve them.  We have a wonderful historical record of incredibly useful information being garnered through research, I like to hope that any sufficiently educated individual would see this as a problem.  I understand all too well that in a competition one is well served catering to the majority, but if we’re going to hold true for democratic ideas and let every individual have a say in how all individuals are governed we have a responsibility to make sure all individuals have the tools necessary to shoulder that responsibility.  Otherwise we end up with elected officials that are for lack of a better term immature, and without mature competent leadership less scrupulous individuals have free rein to exploit, misinform, deceive, and in some cases inflect violence of upon us all.  I will close with a saying I picked up in boy scouts “the pace of the group is dictated by the slowest hiker” I think something similar to this is true in a democratic system, but we need to pick up pace! Most optimistic estimates have us running out of energy in 40 years (coal-petro), realistically we probably have much less time than that.  As I said real problems, and it is going to be very difficult to address them when terms like black body radiation get the same confused luck as a term like luminiferous aether…