Friday, May 27, 2005

The “spin” stops here.

Ever watch Bill O’Reilly on Fox News? “The No Spin Zone?” What does that mean? Only Bill O’Reilly has a “right thinking” opinion? Don't worry if you haven't, you don't have to.

“Spin” means articulating an idea or reporting an occurrence using terminology that communicates the issue in a method consistent with the viewpoint of the person communicating the idea or occurrence.

In simple terminology “Spin” is the way you communicate. If someone agrees with the way you communicate then it isn’t “spin”. If someone does not agree with the way you communicate then it is “spin”.

I’m an engineer and I often work with Computer Aided Design software, CAD for short. There have been a lot of different CAD software packages and I have used and become familiar with a lot of them. When a CAD user becomes familiar with the way a particular CAD package processes a command and then that same user works on another CAD package that processes data differently that user will tell something like “Brand X can’t do Y, but there is a work around”. In other words Brand X and Brand Y can do the same thing in different ways. Which one is the “right way” and which one is the “work around” depends on whom you talk to.

That is “spin”, an Opinionated method of expressing a viewpoint. The more opinionated the more “spin”.

To me “the no spin zone” is all about “spin”. Like any business person Bill O’Reilly would like to enhance his reputation and increase his marketability and as a result he will continue to change what he is doing, how he treats people and how he expresses ideas, to achieve optimum results. In other words everyone “spins”.

I like opinionated people even when their opinions do not agree with mine, sometimes because their opinions do not agree with mine. I can’t learn anything from discussions I have with people of the same opinion. I do learn during discussions with people of different opinions.

When I have a discussion about President Bush (2) with someone who disagrees with the Presidents ideology quite often I will hear a comment such as “Oh, he’s an idiot”. Since the President has a masters degree and I value education and since the President is a fighter pilot and I think of pilots as requiring a minimum of average intelligence I have to disagree with people who call the President an idiot. If I ask why people will often tell me it is because the President has a different opinion, although they usually do not express it quite like that. Once I realize I am talking to someone who thinks people with different opinions then they have are idiots I try to stay away from them.

I enjoy being around open-minded people and in my opinion people who think those with opinions divergent from their own are idiots are closed-minded. The open and free exchange of ideas is what makes the world a wonderful place. Calling people idiots because they have a different opinion does not encourage the free exchange of ideas.

That is why this article is about “spin”.
In my opinion:
To reject “spin” is to reject someone else’s viewpoint.
To reject those of different opinions because they are “idiots” is closed-minded.
Both of these share a common thread, the idea that one person is absolutely right and others are absolutely wrong.

Absolute right and wrong is true in religion, but, God is the only one who can judge what is right and what is wrong. If Man were always right and could judge what is right and wrong man’s laws would not change with time and location.

Where does “spin” stop? When someone forces you to accept their ideology through some kind of extortion. Extortion is the use of or threat of force to achieve a goal. Once someone threatens force they are no longer expressing an opinion they are extorting an action. The extortion can be physical or mental although physical force is much easier to identify then mental force. If the conversation resorts to extortion, either mental (you are an idiot) or physical (I’m going to beat you up, or, you‘ll have to beat me up) then it is no longer a discussion of viewpoints but an enforcement of viewpoint.

The "spin" stops when people enforce their viewpoints on others and in my opinion that is wrong.

Be open minded, exchange ideas with those of other ideologies accepting their right to have an opinion even when it disagrees with your own.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ever just shake your head at ignorance?

I am often amazed at the ignorance of a reporter when I read a news article. There are times when I am speaking to my friends, neighbors, co-workers or just people that I meet when you could knock me over with a feather. I will never understand how people come to believe some things that are beyond reality.

Take gun control, why would anyone expect a law against guns to work any better than a law against alcohol, prostitution or drugs? Look at the people who work in manufacturing, how hard can it be to shape a piece of steel into a gun if a high school drop-out can do it?

Take Christians and abortion. Every Christian will tell you that God gave people free will and the right to choose good and evil. Some Christians will tell you it is their job to force you to choose what they believe is "good". Anyone ever notice the passages in the bible about people picketing around the tree of knowledge?

In fact some people regardless of religion think everyone should be forced to do what is "right". Some people want to outlaw "fast food". How hard is it to grind beef into hamburgers? Do we really want "black market hamburgers"?

Where do people come up with these dumb ideas? Take the second law of thermodynamics, that is the one that tells you that in a closed system you can't get more out then what you put in. Some people think that applies to the entire universe, duh! If the universe were closed where did the matter come from in the first place? The universe has to be either intermittently or constantly opened. How else could matter exist?

Sushi! How many people out there hear the word "sushi" and think "raw fish". Sushi describes a wide range of foods some of which have raw fish, some of which don't. Ask someone what sushi is and they will tell you with authority, "sushi is raw fish!"

Take Social Security. Any financial manager will tell you that you should never put all your eggs in one basket. That same financial manager will probably tell you that having SSI "100% invested" in T-Bills is a good idea. Invested in T-Bills? Congress spends the excess SSI money and then writes a check called a T-Bill. The check is put into the "assets" of the nation and it offsets the real deficit. Write a check to yourself and call it an asset? Take a debt you have to pay off and call it an asset? How dumb is that? Who thinks these things up?

What really kills me is that people will defend obviously dumb ideas to the death. Ask a Christian outside an abortion clinic how many protesters God put around the tree of knowledge and you might get hit with a sign. Tell someone that Sushi is not a synonym for raw fish and I bet you get a blank look. Tell someone that a law against guns will cause a black market in guns and watch them get angry and explain how guns can't be manufactured without "geniuses" and "special chemicals", never mind most of them are manufactured right now by high school graduates or below and gunpowder has been around for thousands of years.

Don't talk about SSI unless you want to fight.

How weird is that? What causes a normal person to disregard common sense and believe "whatever"?

Hey, did you know that cats will suck the life out of newborn babies?

Oh yeah, and Mr. Ed was really a zebra.