Brian McKeever

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What is this?

Sometimes ideas just pop into your head. Other times, individual comments — or your own inner voice — create new neural paths in your brain, making you consider that which would have never crossed your mind otherwise. That's one of the big reasons for this page: to document (only some) of what my inner voice brings to my attention. This page will also be a dumping ground for things that I think are cool or interesting. Some might call it hubris.

Quotes

The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war, but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and less wasteful.

Wendell Berry Wendell Berry, Peaceableness Toward Enemies

Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.

Wendell Berry Wendell Berry, Economy and Pleasure

If you can control a people's economy, you don't need to worry about its politics; its politics have become irrelevant.

Wendell Berry Wendell Berry

I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.

Daniel J. Boorstin Daniel J. Boorstin

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.

Winston Churchill Winston Churchill (On not ending sentences with prepositions)

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.

John Kenneth Galbraith John Kenneth Galbraith (Econmist)

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

Galileo Galilei Galileo Galilei

When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt.

Henry J. Kaiser Henry J. Kaiser

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.

W. M. Lewis W. M. Lewis

But there seems no reason to suppose that the supernatural cannot be stupid; sometimes that is the only explanation. That God Himself might be stupid from time to time, or inattentive, seems an insufficiently examined hypothesis.

Lance Morrow Lance Morrow, Evil, An Investigation

Civilized man conceals from himself the extent of his subordination to nature. The grandeur of culture, the consolation of religion absorb his attention and win his faith. But let nature shrug, and all is in ruin.

Camille Paglia Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae

There is nothing more soul-sucking than forgiveness.

Mary Shannon Mary Shannon (Portrayed by Mary McCormack), In Plain Sight

A faithful friend is the medicine of life.

Ben Sira Ben Sira

Songs

The trust and self assurance that lead to happiness, they're the furry things, we kill I guess. Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms.

Don Henley, The Heart of the Matter

...we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key.

Eagles, Already Gone

You're still alive she said. Do I deserve to be? Is that the question? And if so, if so, who answers? Who answers?

Pearl Jam, Alive

The Really Random

What feels better than putting on an old pair of jeans that use to fit tight, but now fit loose!

Envision a hunter, complete with gun, camouflage apparel, sturdy boots, etc. Now imagine what they might be driving. Was it a little white scooter? I didn't think so. That was exactly what I saw tooling down the access road adjacent to I-70 during a trip to Kansas City. Nothing really wrong with it, it just is one of those things that make you say hmmmm.

I Rant, Therefore I Am

Content pending.

Ramblings

Creating God

A quick check of google.com -- the older I get the more I appreciate having google as my backup brain -- reminds me that it was Nietzsche c. 1885 that said famously, "God is dead." (Actually, "Gott ist tot!" He was German after all.) To this observer, it seems to me, 120 years later, that -- in society as a whole -- the rise of materialism and humanism has nailed a few more spikes in God's coffin lid.

A few years ago, I got a little tickle in the back of my mind while walking through one of the now ubiquitous sensors that stand sentinel at the exits of retail establishments. Lately, the tickle has become a yell. Beyond the annoying fact that, as U.S. citizens, despite what the Constitution says, we are now considered guilty until proven innocent, the thought came to mind that, due to God's untimely demise, we're trying to create Him.

I understand that the leap from Wal-Mart® trying to prevent me from stealing a DVD and creating God is a bit of a stretch, but bare with me for a moment. What does believing in God do for us? It gives us the feeling that someone is always watching. Think about it. Everyone has done something that, if our mothers' were there, we wouldn't have done. Once we cut the cord, religion takes over. We don't steal because God is watching. We don't cheat because it is something we have to confess not only to those we have cheated but to God before receiving absolution. Why do we need absolution? Because, otherwise, it will end up on our "permanent record". But this record decides where we spend eternity not if we go to bed without dessert. Whether you believe in God or not, the fact that someone may be watching our behavior is a powerful governor of our behavior.

Two millennia after Jesus, the amount of crime indicates to me that there is a decreasing number of people worried about divine retribution, and corporations agree. If it isn't illegal, what's the problem? Illegality, the State's laws, have become the religion, the only potential mitigating factors on our behavior. Even if it's illegal, if an individual believes they can perform a questionable act and not get caught,... you know the rest. But technology has reached a point where it can keep track of us, all of us, all the time. Personal liberties were fine when society could sustain them, controlled by the fear of divine judgment, but today, technology has progressed to the point where every action can, and often is, tracked. We're all potential criminals. God has been replaced by Bill Gates and a host of technologies allowed to be instantiated by benign reasoning such as, "if you have nothing to hide, what's the problem?" The implication being that you have something to hide if you don't support the newest technological invasion of privacy. Americans it seems, can't afford to trust anymore.

Anyway, this isn't a treatise on the pros and cons of technology tracking us from sunrise to sunset 365 days a year. The point is that -- to many individuals under way too many circumstances -- we have decided that God is dead and that as long as what we do is not illegal, or even if it is, if we don't think anyone is watching, we can do it. Since the historical and religious governors on our behavior hold little sway after God's wake, we created a new god; a technological god. We are always being watched. Whether it's surveillance cameras at the local convenience store or our latest credit-card purchase, we apparently need someone to watch over us, whether it be a supernatural being or mass of binary digits recording our image, our transactions and our transgressions.

I guess the question is, do humans need a god, literal or man-made? To me, the answer seems to be yes. For some reason, we seem to need to believe that there is someone watching and judging us. Otherwise, we don't act, well,...humane towards each other. Personally, I hope everyone will come to the realization that there are certain things we just do not do to each other whether we believe we can do it with impunity or not. Until humanity progresses to a point where we all understand that everything immoral is not necessarily illegal, we are in for a difficult time. Laws and electronic surveillance won't work. Making everything that is immoral also illegal is dangerous. We have to find in ourselves the strength to do the right thing when nobody is there to condemn us or, maybe more importantly, sing our praises.

Of course, there is always the possibility that I am full of, well,... you know.

hubris (hyoo'-bris)

  1. Exaggerated pride or self-confidence.
  2. (in Greek tragedy) Excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods.