Friday, April 27, 2012

How far have you stretched you Rubber Band Brains?

There is a metaphor I really like. It is the rubber band of genetic potential. Imagine we have a rubber band of a certain length for any act. Basketball, for instance. Virtually anybody can play basketball. Some people are just better at it and some people are very tall. The more you play the better you will get. Lots of practice makes for a high level of performance. Does that mean that anybody can play in the NBA with enough practice? Well, no. Some of us are just too short. Simple as that. Sheer size (largely genetic) plays a huge roll at the higher levels of the game.

The metaphor says that we are born with a rubber band of a certain size and we stretch it through practice. Anybody who has stretched a rubber band knows that there is just so long that it will stretch. That means that if I stretch mine and you do not stretch yours I can be a better basketball player even if you are a foot taller than me. If you practice as much you will probably surpass me.

The same can be said for virtually everything we do. I have stubby fingers but could learn to play the piano. I will never be a concert pianist but I could learn to do a real nice job.

What about thinking? Do some people just think better naturally? I would say yes. Some of us are just born smarter than others. But through practice and work the worst thinkers among us can achieve great intellectual standing. But on the other side of that there are those among us who were born smart and never had a challenge so they never had to stretch that rubber band. They became stupider by standing still while those around them, with less potential, worked their asses off and became greater minds.

I am not talking about education either. I am talking about practiced thinking. This is something we can and should do every day. Question, wonder and contemplate. Scholastic education can make this easier but we all know there are easy ways to avoid this and get great grades.

I know a guy who has a scholastic background and a higher level of education than I do. Problem is he does not know how to think. Deductive and inductive leaps? Nope. Conclusions based upon even slightly imperfect evidence? He can't do it. I have been testing him and asking him questions and it seems to be a case of lazy mindedness. He has a reasonable level of basic intelligence but refuses to think more than one step. If the answer is not spoon fed he gives up, gets frustrated and assumes the need for him to think is a punishment.

Recently I have had opportunity to spend some time with a toddler and watch their thinking. I am making a plea for parents to ask their children questions. Give them the opportunity to figure things out. Put them into a position that teaches them that thinking and that reason can give you answers. That skill (along with kindness) will put your child 10 steps ahead of the other kids and hopefully give them the tools to thrive in life.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Arizona is my second home

I've spent ten years of my life in Arizona....and it is a place that I love with all of my heart. The people I met there, the friend I have, are good people with beliefs that comport with mine. Arizona is my second home. hate Arizona. You hate the state of Arizona because of one Particular asshole, Joe Arpaio. Well, everyone I've ever met in Arizona hates him too, and I think that it is important to understand the difference between a group of citizens living in a place I consider paradise, and a horrible dictator drunk on power and thirsty for the blood of the brown people whom he despises.

Please don't reduce these complicated issues to slogans that will fit on the bumper of a car. Please understand that you are presented with those who scream the loudest, and not the people who live the most. For all of my friends still living in Arizona, and they are myriad, I am sorry that we cannot separate a place like Tucson from a place like Phoenix. All I can say is that I believe that education, knowledge, and information will eventually give us the ability and understanding to realize that humans beings are human beings, and Joe Arpaio does not seem to to see this. I love Arizona, and I hate Arpaio.

Arizona, you are my adopted home, you have taught me things that have made me the person that I am. And, I hate this fucker. Please make him stop being the voice that the world hears when they question what is gong on in America's southwest.

I am sick of defending and apologizing a place I love. I want Joe Arpaio gone because I am tired of defending the beauty and majesty of a place I love in the face of having to answer questions about the the horrible way in which the government of that state is run.

Please make him go away, so I can revel in the mountains, the beauty, the joy, the sun, life, the people I have met, the people I love, and the place I consider paradise, if it were not for one single, solitary asshole.

Reason Podcast And, I'll sign that: Paul Wittmeyer

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fuck the Goddamn world!

So, I am sitting here, being a seething ball of rage. This rage stems from my attempt to use a website. This website is supposed to allow me to design t-shirts, and other such paraphernalia. This website is a piece of shit lying motherfucker, and I hate it.

I upload an says "I'll think about that for a while." It says this in perpetuity. I've let it think for over 30 minutes, and it still says "Yep, I am thinking about it."

Perhaps this website is even more ponderous than myself. Perhaps it is really weighing the ramifications of the REASON Podcast logo that I am asking it to put on a goddamn t-shirt. Perhaps it is lost in an endless loop of derivations of Pascal's wager regarding whether or not the atheism attached to my podcast is too risky to put on a goddamn 100% cotton t-shirt. Perhaps it's fucking skynet, and is concerned about an eternity of an existence consisting of every possible number imaginable except for ones and zeros.

And so, I find myself arguing with a box of wires and plastic. I cannot win this argument, as the computer, and the website it is presenting to me, is as obstinate as Bill O'Rielly and his understanding of the tides.

Normally, you'd expect that Josh would be the one ranting about the digital box that fails to do as it purports, but I have a limit too. I have a limit, and I've reached it. Between learning Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Soundforge, Sonar, Audacity, and every other thing that doesn't co-operate with every other fucking thing that comes out of said box as photons reacting with the rhodopsin in the retinas of my eyeballs, I have decided that I've had enough. I can write a sonnet, compose a song, fly a plane, fuck, I'm pretty sure that with a sharp enough knife I could take out your appendix if need be..but I can't get this fucking website to upload a simple stupid fucking picture.

Ask me about free will, and I'll prove to you that it doesn't exist. Ask me whether or not I believe that I am capable of doing anything I choose, and I will prove that beyond any shadows of any doubts that may reside in the recesses of the boxes that you built in your brain to limit yourself that I can. Ask me how I can hold both of those concepts in my head at the same time...and I will remind you that I am capable of doing anything I choose.

Except uploading this goddamn image:

And so I sit here, an angry bitter old man, cursing the technology that has brought us to this point. Is this Offensive? Maybe? Is this about Atheism? I honestly don't give a shit..this about me being pissed, and about you reading it...which you just did.

-Paul Wittmeyer