Monthly Archives: October 2012

Obama Is More Pro-Life Than Romney

This weekend, I’m going to do something I have never done before. I will travel to the neighboring “battleground state” of New Hampshire and knock on doors to get out the vote for President Obama.

My main reason is that I view him as more pro-life than Governor Romney.

To many people, being pro-life is synonymous with being against abortion. Those people are are fighting a battle that was lost years ago. If presidents Reagan and Bush could not overturn Roe vs. Wade during their 16 years in office, I’m ready to conclude that abortion will remain legal in the United States for the the next 8, regardless of who is President.

The real battle for life is the battle for accessible healthcare.

If people in my extended family had not had good preventive care, several of them would probably be dead by now. For example, thanks to regular check-ups, at least 2 cases of cancer  were caught in time to save lives. If those family members had had to wait until it was time to go to the emergency room, as many poor people do, they would have died. Being pro-life means saving those lives as well as saving the unborn.

Thanks to the Massachusetts system of universal insurance on which Obamacare is modeled (and from which Romney now distances himself), my immediate family was able to obtain much-needed help when I had no income — not because I was one of the 47% who would never take responsibility for their lives, but because I was an entrepreneur starting a business. Being pro-life means caring for people who have no income as well as those who are well-off.

In her early days, America was a land of small towns where people knew and cared for each other and where medical care was primitive and inexpensive. We have grown, and there are now large sections of our cities and rural areas where virtually everyone is poor. They simply don’t have the wherewithal to help each other, especially in light of the tremendous cost of modern medicine.

Thankfully, we have grown richer as well as larger. As a society, we can now afford to take care of each other on a larger scale. Private charities and churches can help, but a church will never be an intensive-care unit. To care for each other, we need everyone to pitch in. That’s one thing that modern government is uniquely equipped to organize, however imperfectly.

President Obama understands this. Now that Mr. Romney is no longer governor of Massachusetts, he seems to have forgotten it.

Those are the reasons I think President Obama is more pro-life than Governor Romney, and those are the reasons I will travel to New Hampshire this weekend.

I hope you will consider casting your vote to re-elect the President.

What Would It Take?

I just heard this in a documentary about UFOs:

If it could be shown that any UFOs were extra-terrestrial in origin, people’s entire belief system would fundamentally change.

…and it got me to thinking: what would it take to change my “belief system”? Certainly not UFOs, since I already suspect they’re real.

My belief system these days involves submitting to evidence, wherever it leads. Doesn’t it follow, then, that there’s no evidence that could change my belief system? My beliefs, maybe, but not my belief system.

Does that mean my belief system is sound, or blind?

Do you think that insisting on evidence will avoid life-wasting untruths, or cause me to miss something important?

How about you? What could change your beliefs? Your belief system?

Simple Explanations

About a week ago, I had a dream that was unusual because it centered around a philosophical thought: complicated things often have simple explanations.

The dream was doubtless brought on by a conversation I had had concerning the Myers-Briggs personality types. In my own experience and in the experience of several people I know well who have taken the Myers-Briggs test, it yields an uncanny description of one’s personality. Yet, it does so by asking just a few dozen yes/no questions by which it measures where you fall on just four scales: extroversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perception. (You can take the test for free in about 3 minutes here. Once you do, click on the Self-Awareness and Personal Growth link to see your personality profile. See if you don’t agree it’s amazingly accurate.)

The day after my dream, I thought about the spiral of the chambered nautilus. You may have heard that it follows the pattern of a golden rectangle — said to be the most pleasing rectangle to the human eye. What makes it “golden” is that the sides are in a special proportion: if you remove a square whose side is the short side of the rectangle, then the rectangle that remains will have the same proportions as the original. In this figure, the outer rectangle’s proportions appear again in the pink rectangle, once the blue square is removed.

Golden Rectangle

You could repeat the process on the pink rectangle, removing a square whose sides are length b, and leaving a smaller rectangle whose sides are again in the original proportion.

Keep doing that, and connect the corners of the squares with a spiral, and you get the so-called golden spiral.

Golden Spiral

Enter the chambered nautilus. Here’s an actual specimen, showing how well its shell really does fit a golden spiral.

Nautilus Spiral

Now for the point.We see this and it seems miraculous. We jump to a million-horsepower explanation like “There must be an omniscient God who designed it!” However, a much simpler explanation does just as well.

To see it, reverse the process by which we pared the golden rectangle down into smaller and smaller golden rectangles. Instead of paring down, build it up by adding successive squares. At each stage, we have the same overall shape as we did in the previous stage. Likewise for the proportional layout of the inner “chambers” (except now we have one more of them). You can now imagine that if there were a creature who made himself a spiral shell, and whose body maintained the same proportions as it grew, then a golden spiral would be the inevitable result. It seems miraculous, but it’s really simple.

I have a feeling that there are simple explanations of many seemingly complex or surprising phenomena, if we’ll just tune ourselves to look for them.

The One Life I Know I Have

August’s 31 Days of Wonder were an experiment to see how I would feel about refocusing this blog (and my life) on the beautiful and true, spending less time railing against the lies that drive me nuts. That’s hard for me because it’s often the willful manipulation of gullible citizenry that gets me riled up enough to spend an hour or two writing a post. However, as far as I know, I have only one life.  I want to enjoy it, and being peeved is not as much fun as looking at the Mandelbrot set or marveling at the ribosome.

So, for the most part I’m going to hold my tongue. I do plan to write one post about why I left evangelical Christianity, but that will be my last one about religion for a while. As for politics, it will be difficult to rely on others to expose all the lies that will be told between now and election day, but I’m going to try.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the focus on “the beautiful, the true and the wondrous.”