Friday, January 30, 2015

Unreasonable Right Reservations

"I reserve the right..." has to be one of the most irrational phrases currently in use. If something is indeed a legal right it doesn't need to be reserved. If something isn't a legal right to begin with, it can't be reserved.

I was reminded of this problem recently while listening to a radio program while traveling through New Mexico. The hosts were interviewing some sort of "expert" on business or legal issues when it comes to discrimination in the workplace. This guest was actually openly telling people that religious discrimination against Muslims was okay as long as it was done professionally (she used the term professionally over and over), meaning that people at a company doing the illegal discrimination just need to lie about it in a way that they don't get caught.

When asked by the radio hosts for an example of what someone should say in place of the truth, she included the spurious "I reserve the right" phrase along with several examples of lies to tell. While I was upset at openly advocating for people to break the law by lying about what they're doing, I was also flabbergasted that someone who is supposedly a legal expert would tell people that saying "I reserve the right" is valid. If something is a valid legal right, there is no need to reserve it because it already exists without any action on anyone's part. If the action in question doesn't exist as a legal right--such as religious discrimination--then it can't be created by declaring it into existence with a reservation.

Anyone who understands the law would know this. So would someone who isn't looking for an excuse to justify prejudice.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What Might We Learn From Looking At Microcultures More Closely?

I've recently become interested in what is known as microculture. There are varying definitions, but it generally means the shared behavior and values of a small group of people. Most of the references I've read, however, are noting groups that are larger than what interests me, groups such as Native Americans and those who follow minority religious beliefs. What interests me are even smaller groups, those that contain something like 50 members or less.

I have a feeling that by looking closely at microcultures we can discover valuable information about ourselves that can't be obtained otherwise. What we learn will also likely correct or improve invalid information we think we know about our social behaviors and attitudes.

Examples of these groups include our closest 3-5 friends, those who do the same job at the same company, those who play the same position on a sports team, people who are energetic about a little-known hobby, individuals with a shared fetish, and family members who have a shared enemy within the family. In short, I'm thinking about any small group with a commonality that is cohesive enough to hold them together, even if it's temporary.

I don't have anything substantial to share yet, but some recent observations and experiences makes me think that we tend to be influenced more by microcultures than larger cultural groups--or at least more than we realize. I also think we tend to be members of multiple microcultures, and each person's unique combination of microculture memberships constitute that individual's personal culture. If we think of a person's behavior and attitudes with microculture and personal culture models in mind, I think we'll discover things about ourselves not previously revealed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Erectile Denial

We readily accept multiple causes for physical responses that include tears, crying, laughter, and sweat, but generally fail to do so for erections.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

White Riot Restraint

Story: Goal post torn down, 89 fires set after Ohio State's national title win

When white people riot...

"Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said officers tried to use as little force as possible to control those celebrating."


The Limits Of Conservative Reponsibility Claims

This Rupert Murdoch-J.K. Rowling exchange is getting a lot of exposure, but the initial Murdoch tweet made me wonder why conservatives don't say the same thing about the police.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Search For Consistency

One of the many thoughts that have been bouncing around inside my brain for quite a while has to do with what seems to be an innate human desire to flush out inconsistencies. I haven't yet been able to work out something fully coherent on this, but it keeps popping up for me so I wanted to share my initial thoughts.

I usually notice this during a disagreement or argument when one party is trying to discredit another. They dig until they find some point of inconsistency (perceived or real) they hope will be an unraveling of the other's entire idea or position. If an inconsistency is declared, it is usually also hoped that their own position will then be seen victorious by default.

In these cases this desire for some sort of consistent truth is not truly genuine; it's merely an attempt to discredit something with which one personally disagrees. It's not really a search for something universally consistent as an independent goal. These arguments are almost always inane exercises producing nothing of value.

Interestingly--at least to me--is that this goal, usually twisted when pursued in a social, political or religious setting, is also in play in science. What is often considered to be the ultimate scientific prize is the discovery of a Theory of Everything, a single explanation of how the universe works. This ultimate explanation would never have exceptions and would explain every possible scenario that could exist in our universe.

For me it is frustrating to see this pursuit of consistency happening with little acknowledgment of the incomprehensively massive number of variables in play. When it comes to the unending silly political and religious arguments based on this notion, there will always be inconsistencies to be discovered. There are simply too many variables. No explanation of anything can take them all into account. Science has a better chance of doing so, but I think that's only a theoretical possibility. Nailing it all down may not be a practical possibility.

To make matters even worse, we have to consider the issue of change. Even if we could somehow create a list of every possible variable that needs to be considered, the conditions under which those variables exist is always changing. What makes sense under one set of circumstances will not necessarily be true under differing sets of circumstances. The issues of quantity and variability create an incomprehensibly gargantuan matrix of possibilities.

This idea is also a part of any legal system. Because each act in which a human engages is unique, there is no way to write laws that cover every scenario, meaning they are inevitably applied to circumstances with no exact match. Laws can't be written to cover every circumstance--there are simply too many circumstances to take into account. This means that every law is necessarily misapplied in every case. It simply can't be any other way.

As I wrote at the beginning, I'm still flushing this out so I don't have much more to offer yet. I guess all I can share at this point is the hope that these problems will one day be acknowledged. But I don't have high hopes.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Bias Of Ignorant Bliss

Among the basic tenets we should continually acknowledge about the human condition are the troublesome problems of ignorance and bias, with bias becoming more dominant as we age. We need to openly acknowledge them because each is a dominant cause behind a large percentage of the problem we either cause outright or fail to address properly.

Taking steps to mitigate the problems caused by these conditions is obviously difficult. Ignorance includes the absence of the knowledge necessary to know the problem exists; bias includes a rejection that the problem exists. But imagine the improved societies we would be able to create for ourselves if a serious attempt at mitigating these tendencies were to be undertaken. It's hard to imagine the reward not being worth the effort.