Monday, October 31, 2011

Asimov, Atheists, Faith, Deluison and Religion

When I was a child I loved Isaac Asimov. There was no better author in the known universe in my eyes as I became a teenager. In high school I discovered that others had put away the faith of their parents to become atheists or agnostics. I drifted to the faith of my favorite author, Atheism. Talking about agnosticism or atheism in high school it was obvious to us that agnosticism was the only religious choice based purely on reason. Atheism and religion both take a leap of faith that some of us were unable to take.

I carried a Bible in my car because I promised my Grandmother that I would but it was not something I thought much about. I had read the entire thing although I doubt if I had paid much attention to it as I read.

Asimov wrote about a religious robot in one of the short stories in "I, Robot". It was an awesome story and some of us discussed it. One passage in particular I really enjoyed where Asimov wrote about the process of reason.

The two primary characters, Donovan and Powell, discuss the process of reason. Powell makes the point that deductions made through the process of reason are based on postulates or assumptions.

For example, there is the “prove you do not have a weasel in your pocket” argument where a person will empty their pocket to show that there is no weasel in their pocket. How do we know that the weasel is not invisible or did not teleport from the pocket during the emptying process?

Theoretically we know that invisibility and teleportation are possible. We assume that weasels do not have these capabilities and so we assume that reason allows us to prove that there is not a weasel in our pockets.

Are these reasonable assumptions?

In science there are no reasonable assumptions. Everything must be proved in double blind, repeatable experimentation.

Then there is the analysis of results.

The results of properly defined, properly conducted experiments will be “consistent” within a range. Is that range acceptable? That depends on the requirements of the process and requirements are always changing.

A scientific result will always be defined with at least a mean result and a standard deviation. There are four numbers that define the consistency of the result, the mode, the mean, the median and the standard deviation. Without all four of these numbers the consistency of the results cannot be objectively evaluated.

Sometimes results will be published with a mean and a “range”. A standard deviation can be reverse engineered by dividing the range by six, assuming the range is defined by a plus or minus three standard deviations.

Some readers are probably going WTF does this have to do with reason?

The problem with logical deductions will always be the assumptions. Asimov tells us in his short story that any conclusion can be logically derived through the use of reason depending on the assumptions made.

True or False, On or Off, simple change of state is easy. Analysis of results that are less obvious than On or Off requires an understanding of the statistical data.

For this paper let us assume that there are three possible positions, atheist, agnostic or religious.

If we make an assumption we can conduct an experimentation to test that assumption.

For example, if we assume that a loving God will always present themselves to large groups of people on demand in such a way that the presentation can be recorded using currently available instrumentation. If we assemble a large group of people and God does not present themselves in a way that can be recorded we have either proved God does not exist or that the assumption is inaccurate.

If God does appear in such a way that the presentation is recordable we have proved God does exist.

So we have three possible outcomes for an experiment, our assumption is incorrect, God does not exist, God does exist. The fourth possibility is that we can argue the legitimacy of the results claiming delusion.

For any experiment we conduct there are three possible negative outcomes and one possible positive outcome. For the purposes of experimentations of the existence of God you may choose either the results providing proof of God's existence or the lack of appearance as the positive result.

One result provides evidence for atheism. One result provides evidence for religious beliefs. Two results provide evidence for agnosticism, the assumption is questionable or the results are questionable.

Reason tells us that if the assumptions are questionable the experiment is invalid. Reason tells us that if the results are questionable the experiment is invalid.

I parted with Asimov in my mid twenties because I realized that there is a repeatable experiment that can prove to the experimenter that God does exist.

Someone can give their heart to God through their religion. Typically this will result in a profound and permanent change in their thought process and their activities.

Again, there are three possible results. One, God does not reveal themselves to the experimenter. Two, God does reveal themselves to the experimenter. Three, God does not reveal themselves to the experimenter BUT the experimenter claims that God has.

Three possible results, no change, permanent change, temporary change.

Can we judge a change? Maybe. If the experimenter claims a specific change and then claims a reversion to a previous behavior it is fairly easy to observe a temporary change.

Can we make a judgment just by watching someone? Christ tells us not to judge and I believe this is because we cannot effectively judge the change that occurs in a person's heart.

God could also tell us. Christ tells us that God communicates to us through the Holy Spirit so claiming the Holy Spirit has given a specific instruction or bit of knowledge when that has not occurred may be the one unforgivable sin. I would be very careful running around saying that the Holy Spirit told me anything, unless I didn't really believe in Christ OR the Holy Spirit did actually show me or tell me something.

Pure reason without resorting to assumptions tells us we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God to a group. Agnosticism.

By making some assumptions on what we believe God should or should not do we can use reason to prove God does not exist. We can also claim the assumption that everyone who believes in God and has experienced some form of religious transcendence is deluded. Atheism becomes a leap of faith in our assumptions.

Using a simple experiment a person can prove to themselves and only to themselves that God does exist.

Three possible choices. One requires no faith in either ourselves or our assumptions. One requires a leap of faith in our assumptions. One requires a basic confidence in our own observations.

I can trust no one (agnosticism). I can trust the assumptions of others and place no confidence in my own observations (atheism). I can reject assumptions and accept that my observations are valid (religious).

Every experimenter must accept that their observations are valid. Galileo could not record his experiments. Galileo could only observe and write down his observations. Those who reproduced Galileo's results proved to themselves that Galileo's observations were accurate. Of course many closed minded people rejected Galileo as delusional.

Until we find a way to record the experiment of a person giving their heart to God we can only depend on the reproducible nature of the experiment and the billions of experimenters who have claimed to have successfully reproduced the experiment.

Or, we could become as the inquisitors who claimed Galileo was delusional.

Monday, October 24, 2011

People take themselves too seriously

I laugh at the wrong time a lot. My wife tells me I am being mean when I laugh. I can't help it, people are stupid and they do really funny things.

That means I'm judgmental in some peoples eyes, mostly intolerant people in my opinion.

In my opinion the idea that I'm judgmental assumes that I don't laugh at my own stupidity or ignorance. News flash for intolerant morons, I'm around myself the most and I laugh at myself more often than I laugh at any one else.

Expressing anger and frustration are more socially acceptable than laughing at the "wrong" time. Isn't that dumb?

It is very frustrating watching people do, write and say stupid things and not laugh outside.

In my life there are very few places I have felt comfortable laughing

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gold Rush Ignorance of Ignorance.

Flipping through channels on the idiot box I came across some “reality” show called “Gold Rush: Alaska”. The 2 half episodes I watched were hilariously stupid.

When I first tuned it in some guy with a beard who was apparently in charge of the mess was talking about how he was removing the guy who knew most about a piece of equipment and was going to change the equipment set-up.

I watched them totally destroy the set-up of the equipment, blame the guy who knew the most and was (according to the distributor) getting it to work correctly and then toss the equipment aside because it didn't work. Then they beat the knowledgeable guy up and kicked him off the show.

Pure idiocy.

So here these guys are, three quarters of the way through the time frame they have to accomplish their goals and they are blaming everyone else for their problems.

Someone must have clued in the guy in charge because he invested in a consultant to come and tell them what they were doing wrong. According to the distributor of the “wave table” equipment they also came out and showed the guys how to work the equipment properly.

Essentially a bunch of guys who didn't know what they were doing went out figuring they could do something and they failed to learn from their mistakes. They selected a scape goat to blame instead of learning and when that failed to produce results they decided to actually try and figure out what they were doing wrong.


Mechanically they almost, but not quite, had a clue.

Separation of material from water is a pretty simple process in concept and all the current systems work about the same. The process I am most familiar with is with industrial water clarification.

In all systems dirty water flows over an angled surface. Heavy stuff drops to the bottom. Floating stuff goes to the top. The clearest water is pulled out from between the two. How clear the output water is depends on water velocity and the weight of the material being separated out and the angle of the separation system.

From reviewing the instructions on gold separating systems on the web the angle is quite variable and depends on the type of dirt being separated out from the gold. There is no universally correct angle for all kinds of dirt and gold.

In working with industrial water clarification systems I know that what we want is a consistent material flowing through the clarifier. This is the most important part of the process. Changes to the material coming in influence the results dramatically.

These guys figured this out apparently. The consultant they hired came in and told them to change the angle of the primary sluice set-up and install some different geometry in the clarifier based on the material they were clearing out and to use some pre-screening on the incoming material to make it more consistent.

If these guys had not been so arrogant and ridiculous it might have been sad to watch themselves humiliate each other. Instead it was hilarious.

Couple of rules.

1: The machine didn't screw up. The machine worked the way it was designed, built, set-up, maintained and operated to. It ain't the machines fault.

2: The machine works within defined parameter ranges. If the machine has ever produced the desired results and does not produce those results consistently there are uncontrolled variables influencing the outcome.

In the case of the guys on “Gold Rush” it was all about the quality of the incoming material, the system set-up and the inexperience of the operators. This applies to both the “wave table” and the primary sluice system. The variables in the system were not properly controlled. Period.

3: It is managements fault. It is not the fault of the operator, the designer, the builder, the set-up person, the maintainer or the operator. In “Gold Rush” the guy in charge said “we are going to run this the way I want to” and made the fact that failure was the responsibility of management obviously clear. In most situations it isn't quite that obvious, but, as Demming said “It's management's fault”. Period.

Machines do not run the way people "want" them to run and computers have taught us this more than anything else in history. Machines run the way they are designed, built, set-up, maintained and operated to run. Some guy believing he can make a machine he is clueless about run "his way" by force of will is just plain stupid.

Management controls variables. Primarily people variables and also any other variables in the system like incoming material, proper selection of equipment, etc, etc. Management manages variables.

When the system fails it is because variables were improperly controlled. People variables. Material variables. Equipment variables.

Earlier in our marriage my wife overdrew my checking account. Not just once, but several times. How did she do that? Because I did not effectively control her access to it. Why not? On my part it was a process of training. She really didn't think over drawing a checking account was a problem. Eventually she did and she changed her behavior. I eventually succeeded in helping her manage money better. At this point she manages money about as well as I do and this is typical.

The student becomes as good as the teacher and no better.

Did my wife think of herself as a student? No. She thought she was managing money and knew there were some problems but nothing important.

I mention this because it is a perfect example.

There are two ways to learn. Either someone tackles a situation with an “I can learn to do this” attitude or someone tackles a situation with an “I can do this attitude”.

My wife tackled money with an “I can do this attitude” and it took a lot of problems before she realized she was screwing up and leaned how to manage money.

The guys on “Gold Rush” did the same thing. They tackled the situation with an “I can do this” attitude and it took a lot of problems, even beating up and kicking a scape goat off the project, before they stepped back and decided to actually learn how to do the job.

Often situations like this result in Aesop's “fox and the sour grapes” mentality and people just quit. They decide they are not capable of correctly managing the situation as it exists and it isn't worth the trouble. Divorce. Business failure.

In my experience women typically tackle industrial jobs with an “I can learn how to do this” attitude. Men typically tackle things with an “I can do this attitude”. Huge difference.

People, like me, who often succeed at things other people believe are impossible always tackle jobs with an “I can learn how to do this” attitude. I become my own teacher and nothing is impossible given the resources. I am infinitely capable of learning from my mistakes WHEN I identify those mistakes correctly.

Bad managers always expect that a job that has never been done before can be done. Good managers know that a job that has never been done before can be done when we take the time to learn how to do it.

Identifying mistakes is key.

I worked with a guy who had a masters degree in engineering and supposedly knew something about statistical analysis. He read in a book that “all distributions are normal distributions”. Not true. All natural distributions are normal distributions.

There are skewed distributions and multi-modal distributions that occur because uncontrolled external variables are influencing the distribution. These are unnatural and abnormal distributions. The multi-modality of the income distribution in the United States is a great example of an unnatural and abnormal distribution.

Uncontrolled variables. I think we talked about that earlier.

This is how you identify the existence of uncontrolled variables. The distribution is abnormal, non-Gaussian.

This is how you identify bad management. Uncontrolled variables. Abnormal, unnatural distributions.

In other words, if you are not getting what you expect stop and figure out why. Fix it or fail.

If the distribution is unnatural, abnormal, fix it or fail.

Typically the problem will be an improperly defined or uncontrolled variable and once located it can either be properly controlled or properly defined.

That is how you learn how to do the job.

Simple in theory. Impossible to achieve with clueless people who think they know what they are doing OR stupidly believe that an unnatural, abnormal, process can be maintained.

Bottom line. Know how ignorant you are and you will always be aware you don't know what you are doing.

If you are open to believing that you can make mistakes you can identify them. learn from them and correct them earlier in the process.

If you know you don't understand exactly what you are doing you will always be learning and always improving. People stop learning when they think they have a clue.

Ignorance is not a bad thing.

Ignorance of ignorance always causes failure.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

aliens, evolution and "infinite monkeys"

Some idiot who did not understand calculating odds came up with the theory that an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of keyboards will eventually type out all of Shakespeare's plays.

Some other idiot who did not understand the concepts created a computer program that "emulated" (not really, but whatever) monkeys baning on a computer at random. I won't explain why his program was dumb. I will just break down the dumb "infinite monkey" theory.

I will go one better than that.

Assume there are an infinite number of monkeys. Assume each monkey takes up X cubic meters of space with themselves, their computers and the fancy binding printer with an infinite amount of paper in the printer. We shall assume that each printer is a Tardis like system where the infinite space required for the printer paper is contained inside of a normal printer loading tray. Assume each monkey presses one key per second.

It will take 2 days for all of shakepeare's plays to be produced, all bound and ready floating around this infinite space bumping into monkeys, computers and printers.

Done, right?

Not exactly. The odds of punching out one of the plays is 1/Y^Z. Y is equal to the number of keys on a keyboard. Z is equal to the number of characters in a play. If the play is "A Comedy of Errors", Shakespeare's shortest play, and the keyboard has 101 keys the odds are about 1 in 1.74808391628e-160368.

Why do the odds matter? We have an infinite number of monkeys!

The odds are used to calculate distance. In other words 1 out of every 1.74808391628e-160368 monkeys has produced a play so the plays are 1.74808391628e-160368 times X (the distance between monkeys) apart.

If we replace monkeys with planetary systems and we replace Shakespeare's plays with intelligent life and we replace X with the average distance between star systems we get an idea of the minimum distance between intelligent life forms in the universe.

Assuming of course that the odds of producing a monkey producing a Shakespearian play and the random formation of intelligent life are the same and I am not willing to admit that. I think the odds of producing intelligent life are much higher than the odds of a monkey producing a play. For the sake of argument we can assume they are equal.

Lets say there are an average of 10 light years between planets.

That means the next intelligent life form is only 1.7*10^160369 light years away.

Only1.7 with 160,369 ZEROS behind it light years away.

Forget about faster than light travel, "fold space" or wormholes are the only way to travel that far. But wait! Suppose we could fold space. There are 1.74808391628e-160368 different star systems that we have to explore before we find one with intelligent life.

Imagine that number. That number is so big I can't even write it down. 17 with 160,367 zeros behind it. The US national debt is not even that big. That number is in light years. There are about 6 trillion miles in a light year. Even more zeros. These numbers go beyond astronomical distances.

The odds of winning the lottery are 1 in about 15,890,700. You, all by yourself, will win the lottery 1 with 160,361 zeros behind it times before you will meet an alien.

People ask me if finding alien life would shake my faith in God. I tell them Norfolk and Wayman.

Finding intelligent life on another planet would confirm my faith in God way beyond anything else that could happen because the odds of that happening without divine interference are, literally, beyond astronomical.

Beyond. These odds of two alien species coming into contact are so high the numbers are literally impossible to comprehend.

There is this really stupid movie called "Paul" about an alien on Earth and his existence is supposed to disprove the existence of God.

Suppose we did contact an alien species. Using the "infinite monkey" odds that isn't likely to happen. If it did would that make the existence of God more or less likely?

In my opinion defeating odds like that makes the existence of God much more likely. Beating odds along the line of the "infinite monkey" theory is miraculous.

Issac Asimov believed that the likelihood of the development of intelligent life was very, very low. Right around the same odds as the "infinite monkey" odds I would imagine. In Asimov's created universe only humans existed. Frank Herbert felt the same way. These authors had humans run into life on other worlds, but, that life was not intelligent.

Asimov had a doctorate in biochemistry and an atheist. Frank Herbert was a college dropout who educated himself so all the arrogant intellectual elitists out there can discount his ideas.

Suppose just about any life form develops intelligence?

Darwinian evolutionary theory tells us that the strongest survive and adapt. Strength is in adaptability, not necessarily in physical strength.

What is the strongest animal on Earth? Probably the whale. So why do humans "rule" (or control all the resources and means of production)? Anthropological theory tells us that animals which developed the intelligence to solve survival related problems through the use of teamwork and tools have the best opportunity to survive.

Supposing this is true multiple forms of intelligent life should have developed here on Earth. There is some potential for identifying dolphins as intelligent life. Other species have various levels of intelligence and utilize tools, teamwork and/or both and yet they have not developed the intelligence necessary to adapt their environment to their own needs as humans have.

Suppose people don't buy that premise, then the odds of the development of intelligent life capable of adapting their environment to their needs begin to climb again.

There are other theories entering the realm of science fiction, dolphins as intergalactic travelers who use telepathy to open worm holes to other worlds filled with water. Does intelligent life have to adapt the environment to their needs or can it just seek out environments that meet its needs?

Maybe dolphins and whales just don't care if they live or die in this physical life, maybe their life energy just enters another physical existence when a physical existence ends. Kind of a whale reincarnation.

Lots of theories. In the end the "infinite monkey" theory of evolution or alien life disproving God is just ridiculous and nothing makes me laugh more than when a moron starts talking about it and relating it to evolution and alien life forms.

That idea goes beyond ignorance, it is just plain dumb.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Ignorance

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has no goal and the protests are built on a foundation of ignorance. At the core, protesting Greed, is reasonable and I find nothing wrong with it

I am goal oriented and there is no goal to Occupy Wall Street. That bugs me. It tells me a lot about people though, OWS people are "aversion oriented" and move away from something rather than towards something.

With the current pro-Greed administration it is very doubtful that any actual change will occur. I believe people need to be specific in their goals and at the end I outline 5 goals I think we need to achieve.

Lets address some of the ignorance in the beliefs of the Occupy Wall Street movement. You can find them in the link below.

1: Bankers are responsible for the mortgage crash.

Ultimately management is always responsible for problems. What management in the case?

Here is how the mortgage crash occurred. In the late 90's a Republican congress and President Clinton deregulated mortgages so that more people could purchase homes.

As housing demand increased commission based real estate agents pushed housing prices up as far as they could go. Real Estate offices are typically small franchise businesses. Realtors typically make more money brokering a mortgage than they do selling a house. The higher the interest rate the more money the realtor made.

Mortgage brokers are also typically small businesses and the higher the interest rate the more money the mortgage broker made.

Here are two small businesses operating within the law and being as profitable as they could be.

The mortgage brokers sold the mortgages into pools which were offered as investments. Investment organizations such as those on wall street.

So who really screwed up? Appraisers. Why?

As realtors and mortgage brokers were looking to increase housing prices privately contracted appraisers were pressured to appraise homes at inflated values. Those appraisers who did not submit to the pressure were not contracted and went out of business.

Even local governments hated appraisers who submitted realistic appraisals because the real appraisal reduced the local tax base.

Appraisers either supplied the Greed demand or were out of work.

The small business process and failure to monitor real estate appraisals is what caused the crash.

Want to prevent another crash? Make all real estate appraisers employees of the federal government. No regulation on wall street can fix this problem.

This problem was caused by local Greed.

2: The Wall Street crash directly caused the gravest unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.

Not really, although it didn't help. The biggest problem is businesses exporting their manufacturing overseas. 70% of people in the United States do not have a bachelors degree. Most of them are employed in small businesses. The first employment crash occurred when the internet bubble burst. When the mortgage bubble burst construction declined. These both set off chain reactions. A similar thing happened in the 70's when the primary employment for the 70% of people without degrees was in manufacturing. Within about 5 years two economic bubbles burst in the United States creating huge employment issues.

We need balanced and diversified national employment which means government regulation. Sorry folks, this problem is also caused by local greed.

3: Wall Street profited from the bailouts and remains unaccountable:

Can't argue this one, it is absolutely true.

4: The super-rich are getting richer:

Can't argue this one, it is absolutely true.

5: The super-rich are paying lower and lower taxes:

Not from my research, but, I'd be willing to review the research others have done and there is no link or reference to that research. I have reviewed the tax code and the only real issue I see is that the capital gains is fixed at 15% no matter what the income is.

The Democrats in congress are pushing a "millionaire" tax increase, which is a laugh. Look up how many people make over 1 million a year. Most millionaires declare between 150K and 250K a year in income. A millionaire is someone with over one million dollars in assets, not an income of over one million dollars a year. The Senate Democrats are FOS.

Not buying this, but, willing to listen.

6: Financial elites pay lower taxes than their secretaries:

Wording is wrong, some people pay a lower tax rate than others. Correct the wording and I agree.

Capital gains interest rate should increase with income. Under 100K, 15% is fine. After that 100K the normal tax rate applies so about 35% of everything over the first 100K would work for me and the vast majority of retired people living on investments.

This reason has an incorrect basis. the 15% capital gains rate was originally for retirees. The "carried interest" should not be taxed at capital gains rate. That is just lame.

7: None of those who caused the crash have been prosecuted.

True, because it was a bunch of your next door neighbors doing their best to make a profit in their small businesses and none of them broke the law.

8: Wall Street is much too big and its salaries are much too high:

I do not believe "Wall Street" is too big. I'm not sure what "too high" means. For the most part I agree that the amount of money that can be made by Wall Street Brokers is obscene and I think that money needs to be taxed at 35% of everything over 100K up to 1 million. 50% of everything 1 million and above.

The more people make, the more they spend and the more they should be taxed. Period.

9: Wall Street still owns the regulators.

Can't argue this one, it is absolutely true. Wall Street owns Washington, especially the Senate Democrats.

10: Financial innovation is a joke.

Disagree, the mortgage de-regulation in the 90's increased the potential for home ownership. It should have been tempered by making all real estate appraisers Federal Government employees so they only had to answer to the government when they appraised real estate.

There have been many innovations in finance over the years. Back in the 20's mortgages were interest only and balloon payments were common which is why so many family farms were wiped out. Changing mortgages was a financial innovation.

I could write a long time about things like this, but, it would take multiple economic text books to explain t all. This statement is just ignorant.

There they are, 10 reasons to protest without any kind of goal, 3 reasons make sense, 1 could be reasonable. Maybe 40%, the rest is ignorance.

Does that mean people shouldn't protest? No. People should protest.

The Federal government is not going to establish any real estate appraisal regulation because they like the record increases and don't really care about the record crashes. Maybe 1% of people have researched the mortgage crash well enough to know that it was caused by appraisals at maximum possible value. Greed caused the mortgage bubble, greed in the heartland.

Microsoft caused the Internet bubble crash by making their software not work with other companies software. The world is naturally moving away from microshit and into Linux. Advertising driven business models have always succeeded. If Microsoft had played fair instead of being a greedy corporate monster the world would be better off now. Microsoft should be split up the way Ma Bell was.

We need Copyright reform, software should not be covered by copyright, it should be covered by patent law and all code should be open source. Open source and software patents will increase the pace of innovation creating jobs and increasing the national GDP.

The one thing that I agree with is that our financial problems have been caused by Greed and that Greed is bad.

The government should take some action, but, they won't because congress is owned by people with money who make the decisions.

I'd like to see five things accomplished by these protests.

1: Split up Microsoft.

2: All software should be open source and covered only by patents.

3: All Real estate appraisals should be done by employees of the Federal Government.

4: Tax all capital gains over 100K at 35% up to 1 million and then at 50%.

5: Impose a tariff on Chinese imports based on currency exchange rates.

I am really tired of people rejecting each other over ideas. Reject ideas. Do not reject people.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Being the "best" schooled person

The “Best” myth

One day I told my wife I was the best. She said “says who?”. I had just solved a complicated problem at work that had defied solution. It had become something “impossible” and, as usual, I did the “impossible.”

Her answer made me think though, what is “best”, who decides what is “best”?

The answer is that everyone decides what is “best”.

Best is an opinion, it is not a fact. Someone can be “fastest”, someone can be the “top point scorer”, someone can be the “most accurate shot” and we say things like; “that person is the best runner”, “that person is the best player” or “that person is the best shot”.

Sometimes we say “best of the best”.

At the root of the issue is the belief that “best” can be a fact. “Best” can never be a fact, “best” can only be an opinion based on individual criteria.

So who is “the best”, well, everyone can be the best based on their own criteria or different groups of people can decide on a common criteria for “best”. Not everyone in the world will agree on the criteria or even the words used to describe the criteria.

Pretty wacked out.

The Olympic committee does a pretty good job determining the “best” at a specific sporting competition. Even then not everyone agrees and there are plenty of challenges to the “best” decisions.

Back when Israel was first declared a country by the United Nations the military commissioned all of their officers at a place called Masada.

Back in about 70 A.D. (not C.E.) the Romans destroyed the country of Israel. The last hold outs went to Masada and waited out a Roman siege. The Romans built something called a siege ramp. Essentially a bunch of soldiers walk up to the wall of the city carrying sandbags filled with dirt and drop the dirt. They keep this up 24 hours a day until the pile of dirt has become a ramp leading up to the top of the walls of the city. Once the siege ramp is completed the Romans just walk up and kill everyone who fights and enslave everyone who doesn't.

Just before the siege ramp was completed the people at Masada decided they would rather die than be enslaved. Some of the Israeli soldiers killed everyone, then they killed each other until only one was left and he either fell on his sword or fought with the Romans and died. One of the soldiers hid his family and they told the story of Masada after they were enslaved.

Fast forward to 1948. The new Israeli military decided that they would never again be enslaved the way they were during the Holocaust and that they would all die fighting rather than ever be subjugated or enslaved again. As a result the Israeli military officers were commissioned at Masada so they would know what was expected of them. This was the “best” idea.

Later the Israeli military decided it was a bad idea to keep up this new “best” tradition of Masada, after all the people at Masada did not fight to the death, they killed each other.

The Israeli military came up with a new “best” idea.

This is actually pretty normal. Every twenty years or so people come up with a new “best” idea on how to educate people on healthy eating. Food groups, food pyramids, whatever is “best” or “better”.

The criteria for “best” changes.

In the United States it changes every time there is an election. One administration does what it thinks is “best” and the next administration decides that “best” was crap and they have another idea of “best”. No one in the international community knows what is going to be “best” in the United States next and truthfully, that scares the crap out of people.

Back in 1980 I believed it was “best” to invade Iran and rip that nation apart, then walk out and let them rebuild themselves. No help. I still think a scorched earth policy for Iran would be “best”.

The problem is fear. Other nations are already scared to death that the United States will decide to destroy them. If we implement a scorched Earth policy on Iran it will create an international animosity that will be difficult to overcome. It may be necessary to take over the entire word.

I believe that will eventually happen, but, by then the United States will no longer be a true Republican Democracy, it will be an Elitist Empire similar to what Rome became.

As the United States declines in the international economic community the power structure in Washington D.C. Will hate losing their political power and authority. The “Beltway Power” will implement policies that are designed to maintain their political authority.

Or the United States will eventually become a 2nd (or 3rd) world nation behind China and India.


Because people in the United States have really screwed up ideas of “best”. A lot of people, about 35% of the adults in the United States, think traditional academic education is “best” and have gotten a bachelors degree or better. Another 65% don't and even when they say education is important they have not made a traditional academic education a priority. This is especially true in lower income economic classes where slang language like “schooled” has developed.

One group of people in the United States think “schooling” is great. Another group of people in the United States used “schooled” as a synonym for humiliation If someone wins a basketball game by a large margin they have “schooled” their opponent. The loser has been “schooled” or humiliated.

An online urban dictionary defines “schooled” as: “Taught a lesson (the hard way), to lose humiliating”.

Some politically correct people try and twist the word “schooled” into something that isn't so bad. Yeah, well, try using that “nicey-nice” definition with some gang bangers and see how they school you on the definition. An experience like that can teach anyone a new “best” way to use a word.