ALL OPINIONS ARE NOT EQUAL is not meant to be a permanent project.
It is an exercise in thought. The point of this project is to question that which you currently believe to be true. The goal is to create a community of people who are able to think critically and objectively. Not for the sake of thinking, but for the sake of action. If our goal here is to become smarter than everybody else - to be able to think at a higher level than everyone else - we're missing the point.
The goal here is to learn how to think so that we can think about what needs to be done and the best ways to see that happen.
Are we on the same page?
April 27, 2007
We're going to end our Civil War discussion with a topic that will assuredly make people angry at me. And while the Civil War was a vitriolic part of American History, this only seems fitting.
I don't believe that you can hate George W. Bush and still like Abraham Lincoln.
Let me explain. For example, Lincoln completely ignored habeas corpus laws as President in order to imprison his opposition unjustifiably.
When, I told this to my friend, not a Bush fan, his rational was, "Well, Lincoln was involved in a war at the time."
I guess he contends that we are not. And therefore the Patriot Act and other executive power-wielding by this administration is unjustified.
Or, is it because of the fact that Lincoln won, whereby we give him the benefit of the doubt? If Bush had won this war two years ago, would we ignore his executive slightings of civil liberties because of the greater good that was accomplished?
We shouldn't. But, it seems like, in history, the end justifies the means.
Because slavery was eventually abolished, Lincoln is a hero.
Not because the confederacy had the constitutional right to secede from the Union. Not because he used a militia force to attack his own people. Not because he used tyrannical power to ignore civil liberties and achieve his goals. Not because the Emancipation Proclamation didn't free all slaves, but only slaves in confederate states.
But, because a result of the Civil War was the abolition of slavery, Lincoln is widely deemed our greatest President.
April 26, 2007
So, as I learn more and more about the tactical mistakes of the Civil War on both sides, it seems like besides Robert E. Lee, pretty much all of the generals were fairly incompetent, strategically speaking. This rings fairly close to our prior discussion of the seemingly small presidential pool from which we have to choose our next leader every election. Why is it so hard to get the best man for the job? I have to believe that there were much more capable generals in waiting, fighting in the battlefields, following the ridiculous orders of men they should be leading.
April 25, 2007
So, there were two sides to the abolitionist movement. One side believed that the best way to abolish slavery was through reasoning and progressive legislation. The other side believed that slavery was SUCH a ridiculous hypocrisy against the liberty that the United States claimed to espouse, that violence against current slaveowners was a legitimate response.
Looking back, both sides seem to have merit. A violent fight for the rights of a person, who at the time was censused at 3/5 of a person and treated like a mere animal, seemed worthy.
Today, you have people fighting for the rights of a person, who is currently censused at 0/5 of a person. And if they blow up an uninhabited medical facility, it seems wrong for them to go around the law like that, even if they don't hurt anybody.
Is it simply the legitimacy of the argument that causes our differing responses? Will time change our response? Or like we discussed yesterday, will something only be "wrong" when the law says it is?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 8:33 AM
April 24, 2007
The following is a continuation of my 'why did people who thought slavery was bad continue to own slaves?' posing from yesterday.
Well, why do WE continue to do things that we know are wrong? Do we really need to create laws and punishments to simply enforce universal behavior ethics and prevent ourselves from doing things that we know we shouldn't? It looks like the answer is, yes.
April 23, 2007
Upon realizing that I didn't learn anything in high school, I am recapping with the help of Kenneth C. Davis, and his "Don't Know Much About..." series. This includes short and thorough revisits through history, the universe, etc. My audiobook for this week is "Don't Know Much About the Civil War." The first chapter talked about how the author, when writing the book, was informed by a person that "their fascination with the Civil War started from watching the film, Gone With the Wind." After hearing this statement several times, and realizing that most people's history of the Civil War is based upon a 60-year old, fictional film, he was reassured that this project was necessary.
I think this book is going to open up a lot of questions this week about this topic, so let's start it off.
Why did people who voiced the err of slavery (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, included) keep slaves themselves?
And is there any similarity here between the cry against open borders and the constant hiring of illegal immigrants?
Or, perhaps more similarly, the business owner who wants to ban smoking in his bar, but only if every other business agrees to it to, in order to stay competitive?
April 20, 2007
April 19, 2007
Yesterday, our highest court voted in a 5-4 majority that partial-birth abortions, a procedure that involves partially removing the fetus intact from a women's uterus, then crushing or cutting its skull to complete the abortion, are unconstitutional. Quickly, future presidential contenders on both sides voiced their opinions. Every Republican candidate rejoiced that this restriction on abortion had passed. Every Democratic candidate thought it was a horrible day for women's rights.
Ok, but I don't really care what you think about the moral implications of what the decision means? I only care if you think that the Supreme Court correctly interpreted the Constitution. If you think they acted within their means, even though you disagree with the moral sentiment of the outcome, shouldn't you be content with the Court's ruling? Similarly, if you think that the Court ignored countless precedents and interpreted the law incorrectly, shouldn't that be your argument? Not just, "I believe in women's rights" or "I believe in the rights of every unborn child".
Posted by Eric Olsen at 9:35 AM
April 18, 2007
Doesn't the democratic victory of Hamas in Palestine show us that a majority rule democracy does not work? Especially in a democracy where the different parties seek to create different theocratic states where certain classes are defined as the righteous, and the others, the subservient.
Or do we get around this problem by creating constitutional laws that ensure certain freedoms, rights and liberties to all citizens, and only let the majority ruling party tinker with certain economic and social practices?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 8:39 AM
April 17, 2007
So, in a discussion yesterday, I stumbled across a very intriguing conclusion.
One of us believed that "Man is inherently good." And that man will typically do the right thing because they know it's the right thing to do.
The other believed that "Man is inherently fallen." And that man will only do the right thing when there is a strong enough incentive in which to do so.
These differing viewpoints may be the true backbone from which opposing worldview and political schemas stem from. This also led me to wonder that perhaps Christians don't tend to be conservative simply because they're scared of gay people (even though this may be true, too), but because to become a Christian, at one time, you came to the realization that your heart was corrupt and you needed to be redeemed.
But for the man who believes man is naturally good (because they believe THEY are naturally good, and there probably isn't a heaven, but if there is, I'm good enough to get in), then a socialistic economy can work, because most people will try to work for the good of everybody.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 8:58 AM
April 16, 2007
So, I went and saw Body Worlds 2 at the Museum of Science and Industry this weekend. Very cool stuff. Along with the muscular skinless, they also showed plastinates (real, preserved human specimens) of the fetus at different stages as well throughout the first 8 weeks of its life. By week 8, as small as it was, it looked like a real person. You could make out all the features, including fingers and toes, etc. My first reaction was, "If people knew that a fetus looked like this at 8 weeks, then there probably wouldn't be a green light on abortion through the 13th week (1st trimester)."
But, then I realized that I don't really know if that's the reason why abortion is legal through the 1st trimester. Is it if she's not showing, it's not real? Is it a safer procedure for the mother? What was the thought behind this legislation? Anyone?
April 13, 2007
April 12, 2007
So, everyone remembers hearing this story growing up. There's thousands of sick men sticking razor blades in apples and pouring cyanide on halloween candy. Seemed believable enough. Why? Because it's shocking and memorable. Those types of stories tend to "stick." Just like conspiracy theories, old wive's tales, etc. They're simple and they get passed around.
So, let's make up some "sticky" lies to subconsciously regulate our children's behavior. For example:
There was a 12-year old boy who wanted to try smoking for the first time. Well, when you're a kid, your saliva has an excess amount of a particular growth hormone chemical in it that happens to be flammable. The child put the cigarette in his mouth, and he instantly erupted into flames.
It'll make your kid think twice before lighting up. Looks like lying is the answer after all.
April 11, 2007
I received a form letter in the mail from Howard Dean yesterday, courtesy of the DNC. They obtained my information last year when I e-mailed them to suggest they use Ben Harper's song, "Better Way" for their elections last year. They must have assumed I was a registered Democrat. I just really dug the song.
Here's an excerpt taken verbatum from the letter.
"I'm asking for your financial help today because we Democrats must join together to get America back on track... to fix the mess created by George W. Bush and his Republican cronies in Congress."
Maybe it's statements like this that cause the funding to come pouring in, but it's these very statements that make me hate the political game we're playing in this country.
Cronie-ism is bi-partisan. Man is fallen. Sell me on your ideas, not the fact that the current guy sucks.
April 10, 2007
So, I had never seen the newer three Star Wars movies until the last few weeks. Those were some of the most thought-provoking, political films I have ever seen. I thought they were absolutely brilliant. Describing the downsides of a democracy, the unquestioned motives of peace, and the consequences of attachment were absolutely insightful.
So, now, my question I pose to you is: If you had to recast the main groups of Star Wars today using real people, groups, politicians and religious leaders of today, how would you cast the film?
I am convinced that depending on one's personal political outlook, and current culture, that different people will see different groups as the "good" and "evil" of today.
April 08, 2007
My new Oedipan-based theory stems from two events that occurred this past weekend. One, I was in a sporting goods store where I saw those little stress-relief balls. The next ten seconds of squishing that little red ball around in my hand were the best 10-seconds of my day. Combine that incident with Friday afternoon when I was visiting my wife at work and saw a little two-year old boy's eyes widen with delight at seeing a large rack of medicine and training balls that he could bounce around.
So, here's the thought. Why are men obsessed with spheres? And the concluding thought, is there a correlation between boys who are breastfed and their athletic prowess later in life?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 8:27 PM
April 05, 2007
Politicians can't stand for 20 things, or for 3 things. It gets too confusing for the populace, and also gives the populace additional reasons to find something they don't like about the candidate. That's why when Bill Clinton was running for President, his campaign advisor, James Carville, made him focus on the economy. He had opinions on other issues, and you could find those out if you wanted. But, whenever Bill wanted to highlight those, Carville made him stay focused on one thing - the economy.
Republicans typically run on one of two things, lower taxes or moral higher ground. I don't think the second one's going to work too much any more - for either party in fact. I think our politicians have done a pretty good job reminding us that the human condition rests the same on all men, regardless of party line. Hilary's running on national health care. Al Gore would be running on global warming. Bush was re-elected based on national defense.
And now it's Obama's turn to choose. Right now, he's running on eloquence. It's not that he's a John Kerry and doesn't really know what to say. He has a lot of ideas, and says them often. But, he's going to have to pick one or else the populace will do it for him.
April 04, 2007
So, I'm at the Walgreens this morning by my work and there's a guy inside working on the ATM machine. He's got a nice van, possibly armored, outside in the parking lot. As I'm about to leave, I see that he's kneeling on the ground trying to fix some tray in the machine, and there are thousands of dollars in petty cash lying on the ground right in front of the exit door. Now, he's an old man, kneeling on the ground, not noticeably armed.
I don't have much of a propensity for theft, but my goodness, I've never witnessed an easier opportunity in my life.
This is why even the best of men should not be given absolute power. Thank you John Adams.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 10:02 AM
April 03, 2007
Last time I was on a flight, a child sitting in front of me kept asking his mother questions about how the plane worked. What are those things? The wings. What do they do? etc. And his mother was much more patient than I would have been, being very kind and trying to oblige his questions as much his possible. In fact, I learned some interesting things about aviation from that boy's mother, who knows if she was making it up or not. But, eventually, she grew tired of humoring his queries, and eventually said, "Don't worry honey. Nothing bad will happen to you."
What happens to the curiosity of children? Many of us have stopped asking questions, even to things it's essential we have answers to. Is it because we grew tired of not getting real answers? Or do we simply answer questions to make us feel better like our mothers often resorted to.
What happens when I die?
"Don't worry honey. Nothing bad will happen to you."
April 02, 2007
"I went out on Friday night with some guys and we went through like 2 fun-packs of Elmers, and then Saturday night, like 3 of them. It was crazy. You mix some gatorade with it, you can't even smell it."
So, what if I brought this story to the typical workplace Monday morning conversation? For some reason, it's socially acceptable to talk about how trashed you got over the weekend, including specifics on what you drank and how much of it. But, if I were to bring up how I stopped by the craft store on Friday night in order to get my glue on, people would think I had a problem, and rightly so. But, if it's causing the same relative effect, cognitive drowning, then why is this so different?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 8:23 AM