Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Pascal’s wager

Yesterday morning my body was in church while my brain was wondering what the ski conditions were like at Indianhead Mountain. This is very familiar territory for me going all the way back to my childhood.

My wife had volunteered to give the sermon and had agonized most of the week over the text. The topic for Lent was “Gods Love or why do we pray”. Taken on its face this topic is incomprehensible to the point that describing the perimeter of the universe might be less daunting. Never the less she soldiered on narrowing the scope down to a much more manageable level. She did this by asking the parishioners to each give a short description of why they prayed. They prayed for forgiveness, for enlightenment, for the salvation of others, etc. The list was long and predictable.

When my turn came I cited Pascal’s wager as my reason. The great French mathematician argued that, “it is in one’s own best interest to behave as if God exists, since the possibility of eternal punishment in hell outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise”. Pascal’s argument is purely logical and does not dwell on the method one might use to become a “believer”.

To help the reader understand my cynicism it’s probably enough to say that I was raised Catholic in small community where as a child I was exposed to a healthy, or some might say unhealthy fear of going to hell and by extension a fear of God who might send me there for something as simple as missing church on Sunday morning. So there I sat in church daydreaming about life beyond the church walls sometimes wondering if daydreaming in church might also send me to hell.


Critical Thinking

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Two days ago I was having dinner with some friends and family.  Predictably politics crept into the conversation.  At that time it was revealed to me that President Obama has no less than 80 aliases and as many social security numbers.  I thought at first it was a joke.  But no, it was declared to be true by several people at the table.  When I asked where this information came from, just as predictably I found out it was “on the internet”.

Consider this.  If I send an email to everyone declaring that a new elementary sub-atomic particle exists it would be very difficult, probably impossible for the recipients to prove that it “does not” exist.  Never the less it is not sufficient for me to declare the “possibility” that such a particle exists just because it cannot be disproved.  To be taken seriously I have to provide some evidence that this particles exists.

In the Wild West free-for-all world of the internet this is not always the case.  It seems that anyone, no matter their political party affiliation, can make a declarative statement with no evidence to support it and when it is read and passed on by like minded people it just takes on a life of its own.  Very soon you find yourself seated at a table with a group of very smart people, some with post-graduate educations repeating what they read like it was chipped in stone.

Please, keep your minds open.  Think critically.  The world we live in depends on it.


Just Say No


sylvar / Foter / CC BY

Just the other day I read a very disturbing statistic.  Deaths from prescription drug abuse have exceeded deaths from cocaine and heroin combined.   This has been called an epidemic by the Center for Disease Control.

Call me naive, but in order to die from prescription drugs doesn’t somebody have to prescribe them for you or for the “pusher” who sold them to you.  And doesn’t the person doing the prescribing need to have a license to practice medicine.  What happened to “do no harm”.   Now I know that there are legitimate reasons to prescribe narcotics for pain, but maybe when someone comes to the ER with a sprain some Ibuprofen would do the job instead of getting out the big guns.

Another thought that occurs to me is maybe the medical practitioners can be trained better to identify drug seekers and deal with them rather than prescribing a months worth of loritabs and send them on there way.

Maybe the catch phrase we used to influence our school age children, “Just Say No” can apply equally well to our medical community.  I’m just saying.

Is the Computer mightier than the pen


Recently I’ve been hearing people lament the loss of some USPS services while at the same time using their computers to send and receive emails.  While contemplating this paradox a very simple truth hit me.  If you get communications in whatever form from someone close to you the method shouldn’t matter.  To me, if someone I love takes the time to compose and send a text message it means just as much as if they sat down and wrote it with pen and paper.  It just gets to me a lot faster.  I know most of us would not give up air travel in favor of covered wagons just because that’s the way we used to travel.  Sure, eliminating some USPS services is going to be an inconvenience for some people but over time when finally we have to look at a Norman Rockwell painting to remember what a postman looked like and we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.  Meanwhile we have to be tolerant of everybody whose fear is causing them to cling to their pens and pencils.  We have to help them overcome their fear of the new technology and usher them into the brave new world.  Remember, telling someone you love them and are thinking about them transcends the communication medium.  Texting and emails are hear to stay, at least until the next technology outdates them.

Happy Holidays

Here’s todays conundrum   Are we saving too…

Here’s todays conundrum.  Are we saving too much or spending too much?  Depending on which talking head you listen to the answer could go either way.  One head says we should save like our grandparents and pay cash for everything.  Another head says that we are now saving to much and smothering the economy.  After all 70% of our economy is driven by consumer spending.  In the halcyon days of the early 2000’s we were racking up mortgage and credit card debt, spending money we didn’t have like we would never have to pay it all back.  Oops, we were wrong.  I don’t have to rehash the mortgage meltdown or the upcoming credit card and student loan fiasco.  It’s sufficient to say that as a society we have lost our financial way.  It’s popular to blame big banks, but we were the ones buying the houses we could not afford and we knew we couldn’t.  We were the ones swiping our credit cards for our morning cappuccino.  It’s time to take responsibility for our own behavior.  Remember, there would have been no mortgage meltdown if we would have all behaved responsibly.  Let’s all think twice before we buy the next dodad or trinket we really don’t need. 


Getting old but looking young. Really!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This morning I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, one of my favorite shows.  They featured an aging actress who had obviously undergone cosmetic surgery in an attempt to stave off the relentless march of time.  Have the people who undergo this type of surgery never seen one of their peers and said, “what the hell happened to them”.  I guess we are all vain to some extent and the astonishing sales rate of cosmetics is evidence of that.  But something to keep in mind is that applying cosmetics is reversible process while cosmetic surgery is usually not.  You just can’t fool mother nature.


Great Fall Day

Martha and I headed for Presque Isle, WI in search of a bike trail.  Although not well marked we were able to find one that started at the public library and using county roads as well as some back roads was paved all the way to Presque Isle Park.  The round trip was about 9 miles and had several very exciting hills.  The park is beautiful.