Friday, November 11, 2005


George Will in a recent "Last Word" in NEWSWEEK came as close to agreeing with me and I with him in the paragraph below:

"Politics is a distinctively human activity, but it arises from something not distinctively human—from anxiety about security, and fear of violent death. On the firm foundation of this brute fact, Thomas Hobbes erected a political philosophy that last week reacquired urgent pertinence.

"In 1651 in 'Leviathan', Hobbes said that in 'the state of nature,' meaning in absence of a civil society sustained by government, mankind's natural sociability, if any, is so tenuous that life is 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.' Thoughtful conservatives—meaning those whose conservatism arises from reflections deeper than an aversion to high marginal tax rates—are conservative because they understand how thin and perishable is the crust of civilization, and hence how always near society's surface are the molten passions that must be checked by force when they cannot be tamed by socialization." (NEWSWEEK, Sept. 12)

Steven Pinker, the excellent biologist, in his book, THE BLANK SLATE, also espouses similar views to Will's, noting that liberals' "utopian ideals" are not as realistic as conservatives' "tragic views" of humankind. He goes on to support his views with tons of evidence from the hard sciences which study human beings and animals and conclusively demonstrate that humans are selfish to the quick by nature.

If anything, liberals and conservatives ought to be able to meet at some juncture here. If we need government in order to restrain human excesses and "brutishness", then we both agree that government is necessary to the health and welfare of human beings. So, we shouldn't be about shrinking government. There's an inconsistency here in the attempts by conservatives to attack big government when they ought to see the necessity of it.

The only difference between our views is that conservatives tend to think we ought to use government to regulate and control humans while liberals want to use government to make life better for human beings. And when I say "better" I don't mean by the imposition of religious moral values on each other, but by aiding all citizens through educational and economic policies to do the very best they can. Punishment and control by government ought to be the last concern, after other investments have failed. This is at root, the difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives wish to change society through control/punishment and liberals through coercion/reward.

(PS: Guys like Bush aren't conservatives; they're really anarchists; they want small government so that the strongest among us can dominate the weaker among us. Bush is too stupid to know what he really is.)


The following is another example of how science works as compared to how religion has worked in the past. Though the conclusion about an impact on the Moon is not confirmed, notice how Sagan sifts the evidence and note that Sagan does not claim anymore for his finding than is called for: "may" is all Sagan claims is possible. Note also that the monk, Gervase, reports "fire, hot coals and sparks" as described by the five monks while the historical record reports "burned at the stake" for the visionary Roman Catholic scholar, Giordano Bruno."

[Open quote] The actual impact ot a small comet or asteroid with the Moon might make a momentary explosion sufficiently bright to be visible from the Earth. ...there is an historical account which may in fact describe an impact on the Moon seen from Earth with the naked eye: On the evening of June 25, 1178, five British monks reported something extraordinary which was later recorded in the chronicle of Gervase of Canterbury, generally considered a reliable reporter on the political and cultural events of his time, after he had interviewed the witnesses who asserted, under oath, the truth of their story. The chronicle reads:

'There was a bright New Moon, and as usual in that phase its horns were tilted towards the east. Suddenly, the upper horn split in two. From the midpoint of the division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out fire, hot coals, and sparks.'

The astronomers Derral Mulholland and Odile Calame have calculated that a lunar impact would produce a dust cloud rising off the surface of the Moon with an appearance corresponding rather closely to the report of the Canterbury monks.

If such an impact were made only 800 years ago, the crater should still be visible. Erosion on the Moon is so inefficient, because of the absence of air and water, that even small craters a few billion years old are still comparatively well preserved. From the description recorded by Gervase, it is possible to pinpoint the sector of the Moon to which the observations refer. Impacts produce rays, linear trails of fine powder spewed out during the explosion. Such rays are associated with the very youngest craters on the Moon—for example, those named after Aristarchus and Copernicus and Kepler. But while the craters may withstand erosion on the Moon, the rays, being exceptionally thin, do not. As time goes on, even the arrival of micrometeorites—fine dust from space—stirs up and covers over the rays, and they gradually disappear. Thus rays are a signature of a recent impact.

The meteoriticist Jack Hartung has pointed out that a very recent, very fresh-looking small crater with a prominent ray system lies exactly in the region of the Moon referred to by the Canterbury monks. It is called Giordano Bruno after the sixteenth century Roman Catholic scholar who held that there are an infinity of worlds and that many are inhabited. For this and other crimes he was burned at the stake in the year 1600. [Close quote] (Sagan's COSMOS, pp. 85-86)

"It's okay to laugh in the bedroom so long as you don't point." —Will Durst

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