Random Thoughts    

     Death Penalty
     What Boys Like
     Other Life in the Universe
     New Year's Resolutions

Here a some random thoughts that don't seem to fit in anywhere else.


  • Computers - Easy List by Rick752
  • Cell phones
  • Cable TV
  • New, better

    The Death Penalty

    The Innocence Project has proven, through DNA evidence that upwards of 100 people that were scheduled to be executed, were actually innocent. Many others, having spent decades in jail, were also shown innocent through DNA evidence.

    The U.S. is one of the few developed countries in the world that still imposes the death penalty. China has it, and Saudia Arabia still cuts off peoples heads and hands of thieves, since it considers Koranic justice.

    The U.S. has the highest percentage of it's population jailed.

    When I was studying ethics at UNLV, we discussed the death penalty, but we remained in our ivory towers and never asked whether the people who were being put to death were guilty. At that time DNA evidence was only starting to be used.

    Criticial thinking means going back and questioning basic assumptions of what you read. When someone presents an argument to you, they expect you to argue about the material presented. Instead, you should look backwards and see what the material being presented was based on.

    Don't discuss the morality of the death penalty. Ask how we know the people are guilty.

    When a politician tells you we ought to lock more people up, don't debate that, debate whether locking up people reduces the crime rate. Look to Canada and Europe. Crime is less and fewer people are in jail.

    This is called framing the question. Don't accept the way other people frame the question. Decide on a different frame.

    When you start watching candidates for office debate, you'll see that politicians don't answer the question asked of them. Instead they use the question to answer the question they want to ask.


    About 2% of the population is gay. They are discriminated against. They can't legally marry each other in most states. They have a hard time adopting children. It's hard for me to believe anyone would choose to be gay. What's the advantage? Evidence indicates that being gay has a genetic component, but it's not 100% Sometimes one identical twin may be gay while his brother is not.

    If you're gay -- and I hope you're not -- it won't bother me. I'll feel sorry for you because it's not going to be easy life for you. However, I'll support you and your partner, and you don't need to be ashamed. I'll love you as I always have.


    Prejudice, means disliking someone even though you don't know anything about them, in the case of racism, it means you think bad things about them because of the color of the skin. Often it means bigotry, but a bigout can be someone who doesn't like you because you aren't from the country he's from, worship a different god.

    Under the Bush 2 administration, Colin Powell and Condolezza Rice were both black, and no one considered them dumb. The dumbest people in that administration were white.

    Discrimination means to prevent others from getting jobs, renting apartments, buying cars, because you don't like something about them, even though you just met them. SOmetimes it;s more subtle and they don't get the best deal for a mortgage on a house or financing on a car.

    Affirmative Action.

  • Race,
  • Age,
  • Sex,
  • Religion,
  • Handicap,
  • Gender preference


    The growing gap between rich and poor in the US is a worrisome trend. Gated communities, lack of insurance. A growing middle class is better for economic growth than an increase in small number of rich and rising percentage of poor [any data?] If this trend continues, a revolution may break out. Mass movements are more likely to arise in areas with rich and poor [need to check this out] MASS MOVEMENTS GREAT LEADERS Great leaders move masses but they take advantage of what many people feel


    As a general rule, the less meat you eat, the healthier you'll be, and the less impact you'll have on the environment. The more vegetables in your diet, the healthier you'll be. I consider myself an "IQ vegitarian" (my own invention) the higher the intelligence of the animal the more reluctant I am to eat it. I won't eat monkeys, whales or dolphins. I won't eat pork - even though I love the taste. I prefer not to eat beef, but will eat chicken and fish.


    The fastest and easiest way to loose money. You don't have to drive to Atlantic City or fly to Las Vegas anymore. Maryland allows anyone, 18 and over to buy lottery tickets at certain supermarket, gas stations, and liquor stores. The advertisements say they help pay for state funded programs, like education, but lottery tickets are "a tax on stupidity" because its mostly the poor who buy them, who can't afford it. Cigarettes are also bought by many people who can't afford them. It's like a regressive tax because the poor pay more than the rich as a percent of their income.

    I grew up in Las Vegas. My first fiancee had a step-father who brought them to Las Vegas because they liked to gamble. When they first came there, they bought a big house, but in just a few years, they ended up living in a car. When I met her, she was living in a small trailer, with her mom, dad, and brother.


    Early use of cosmetics, lipstick, eye shadow, mascara, rouge, sends the wrong signal. I have always hated the look of women who painted their faces, wore read lipstick. There are better ways to make yourself attractive. The biggest turn on to me was smart tall women with long black hair.


    Reading a newspaper I used to think that newspapers, news magazines, and journals were neutral. But they aren't. First the selection of stories to print is not neutral. There are thousands of stories one could write or print, but only a few are chosen. Some stories may be reflect negatively on the president, some positive, if the editor choses the positive, the slant of the paper is very different than one that chooses mostly negative stories.

    In addition the writer of a story has personal biases that consciously or unconciously influences his story. And reporters are pressed for time. It takes a lot more time to write an in depth story. But man on the street interviews are easy to write and take little time. And humans enjoy reading about other humans, a personal touch story with an actual person is more interesting than a statistical study of people in general, even though it is much more informative than an anecdote.

    "If it bleeds it leads." Stories emphasize unusual deaths. or an accident where many people are killed, But everyday on average 118 people die each day of traffic accidents. But are there stories about that? No, but if a plane crash kills 118 people, its headline news in the national papers. Therefore, most people believe that driving is safer than flying.

    Letters to the editor are often written by people who work at research institutes with a particular bias. THe American Enterprise Institute is well-known for pro-business articles. It gets its money from business. The Brookings instite is much less biased.

    Columnists always have a particular bias. Bush II paid columnists to write favorable articles about his government programs. The two columnists were fired. Bush II paid to have TV news stories produced then the stories were given to TV news stations. Many news stations played those stories without saying the government had paid for them and paid the reporters.

    If a plane crashes and kills 100 people, that's big news; but you won't be told that 115 people died that day in car crashes (about 43,000 die each year). People are much more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash, but you'd never know by listening to the news.

    The most important news stories are the hardest to report because they take time to research and write. They also don’t appeal to many people. People would rather read about who the stars are marrying or divorcing than about how U.S. tax rates compare with other countries.

    Journals. A study supports the use of ethanol. Written by professors at major universities. But stories appearing in science journals appear only if the professors received a grant or funding from the study. Who paid for the study. That often influences the outcome. It's especially true in medicine.


    If you want something I have and I won't give it to you, and you're bigger than me, you steal it (or in a society with laws, you use your lawyers to take it from me). If you are a king, you send your knights to kill the other king's knights, then you can take what he has -- that's war.

    Why is it that the boundaries carved in Europe have remained so stable without guerrila conflict. After WWI the lands were divided no guerillas, it took Hitler and the German army to redraw the borders. Then they were redrawn again. In Africa, wars are fought but not over the boundaries, they are fought between rival groups for control. Ethinc and religious conflicts predominate. Why do I not see any such conflicts before that. Most wars were fought with armies.

       Other Life in the Universe   

    From Washington Post Book Review of Carl Sagan The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

    Central to Sagan's personal search for the existence of God is the question of other life in the universe. For him, the requirements for proof of extraterrestrial intelligence are essentially the same requirements for proof of angels or demigods or a God. Sagan spends much of one lecture on the so-called Drake equation, which is a way of estimating the number of technologically advanced civilizations in the galaxy. The equation incorporates several values, including the rate of star formation, the fraction of stars with planets around them, the fraction likely to have evolved intelligent life and so forth.

    The confounding value is L, which stands for the average lifetime of a technologically advanced civilization. If you plug in an optimistic value, assuming such civilizations are long-lived, then the equation predicts that there are millions of intelligent societies out there, and likely one just a few hundred light years away. That's a long way by spaceship, but really right next door if you're going at the speed of light, which means that our radio telescopes should be able to pick up signals from other advanced beings who want to contact us.

    But what if the value of L is low? What if technologically advanced civilizations don't last very long on average? If highly intelligent races tend to perish quickly, then the Drake equation predicts not millions of such civilizations but one. Us. We are alone.

    In 1985, Sagan was especially concerned about the 55,000 nuclear warheads strategically placed around the globe, threatening to make Earth a cosmological loser. A recurring theme in these lectures is that our scientific prowess is double-edged, revealing the awesomeness of nature while landing us in great peril.


    Some of the most intense feelings I have of my parents (Have I told you yet that I thought I was adopted?) are of them being fooled by salesmen and women. My dad gave away my mom's beautiful 1954 Chevy - a collectors item, because he thought the man selling him the car was doing him a great favor and because he seemed to have thought they would become best friends. Why my mom agreed to this I don't know but she was angry at him. Then they bought a $500 Rainbow vaccuum cleaner about 1974. In today's dollars that's almost exactly $2,000 at today's 2006 prices. (If you know division, you can do the calculations yourself. The Consumer Price Index in 1974 was about 50. Today, in 2006, it's 202). Then there was the stock dealer that took my mom and several others money.


    Opinions are like assholes - everybody's got one. Some advice sounds useful but putting it into practice is the difficult part

    1. Just do your best.
    Your time is limited. If you have three papers to write, and you spend time doing your best on one paper, that means you won't have time do a good job on the other two.

    2. People shouldn't judge you on your looks.
    True. People should judge you based on your heart. But they can't see your heart, so they judge you on what they can see.

    3. "Look before you leap" and "He who hesitates is lost.
    Wait a minute! These two sayings contradict each other. Sometimes you should wait and think before you take an action; sometimes you shouldn't. Give me some advice so that I'll know when I should wait and when I shouldn't.

    4. "Do what you love and the money will follow"
    If that were true, the world would be filled with rich poets, famous authors, and happy screenwriters. People dedicate their lives to these jobs, but few make any money at it. Some want-to-be actors spend their lives waiting tables, some want-to-be athletes baseball players spend their lives in minor league baseball teams.

    To make money at something requires two things: 1) You are good at it (which takes a lot of practice. Many best-selling authors and best-selling books had to go through numerous rejections before they succeeded), 2) Other people must be willing to pay you to do it.

    Just because you enjoy doing something doesn't mean you'll be good at it, and just because you are good at something doesn't mean people will pay you for it.

    Fran Leibowitz might have a quote on this see: http://findquotations.com/quote/by/Fran_Leibowitz

    "Some people say, "Do what you love and the money will follow," but if that were true the world would be full of rich poets and artists. Actors wouldn't be waiting tables, hoping to be discovered." 4. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
    5. Don't cry over spilt milk.
    6. Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg
    7. Don't sweat the small stuff
    8. All that glitters is not gold
    9. Never swap horses while crossing a stream.Why not upset the apple cart? If you don't, the apples will rot anyway.
    10. There is never time to do it right, but there is always time to do it over.
    Carl W. Buechner 11. Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
    12. Fail to plan, plan to fail.
    13. Better to bend than to break

    "Familiar Quotations" by John Bartlett
    "The Whole Ball of Wax" by Laurence Urdang
    "Heavens to Betsy!" by Charles Earle Funk
    "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs"
    "The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations"
    "A World Treasury of Folk Wisdom" by Reynold Feldman and Cynthia A. Voelke"
    "Poor Richard's Almanac" by Benjamin Franklin
    "The Night Has Ears"by Ashley Bryan
    "Bee Lessons" by Howard Scott

    Google "Wise sayings"
    http://www.heartquotes.net/Wise.html - then click 'education'

    How I Wish the World were different

  • First, I'd make all weapons disappear -- POOF!
  • If anyone tried to use another object to hurt someone, the object would become too hot to hold.
  • If anyone hit or kicked someone, their hands would burn.
  • If someone tried to tell a lie, their tongue would burn.
  • No children would die of disease.
  • All the people that wanted children could have them.
  • Bad parents would be sterile.
  • People would live long enough to see their children graduate college, get married and have children.
  • Or people could live forever, but to maintain a stable population, a lottery would be held to determine who could have a child to replace those who died in accidents. (However, if Mars was colonized, more children could be born to replace those who left).

    Changes I'd like in the United States

  • A law that the highest paid executive of a company couldn't be paid more than 10 times what the lowest paid employee is paid.
  • National health insurance, so everyone would have health insurance - just like Europe and Canada.
  • Remove all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a tax on the amount of damage they cause, including a tax on CO2 emissions. Then let the market work.
  • Outlaw all professional sports. The money you pay for a ticket would be given to charity.
  • The president would be paid more than the top Fortune 500 executive.
  • Congressional leaders would be paid more than the bottom Fortune 500 executive.
  • Outlaw all lobbiests.
  • The U.S. would convert to the metric system.

    Changes to the Countries of the World

  • Men and women would have equal rights -- POOF! -- There goes Saudi Arabia.
  • All countries woul have elections -- POOF! -- Dictators disappear.
  • A Tax on Fossil Fuels would be used to pay for saving the rainforests
  • I'd cap Greenhouse gas emissions for all countries, especially China and India, but all countries would have the same cap - GHG emissions per capita. --- POOF! -- There go half the cars in the U.S.

    No one can answer why God created people to behave the way they do, but evolution can.

    New Year's Resolutions


    1. Make positive suggestions instead of negative comments. (“I'll take care of A. while you swim” vs. “you're getting fatter“).

    2. Ask, “If I die next year, what will I regret not having done?”

    3. Ask, “Am I doing something now that I will regret later if I don’t do it?”

    4. Ask, “Am I doing something now that I will be happy I did when tomorrow comes?”

    5. Wash hands after using bathroom, even if no one is watching.

    6. Drive more and bicycle less, when it’s dark, cold or rainy.

    7. Lock up potato chips, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, beef jerky, ice cream.

    8. Eat only one serving of junk food and only in the afternoon.

    9. Put on dirty clothes before working outside.

    10. Check out only 1 book each week.

    11. Be more proactive with caring for Annabelle.

    12. Spend less time brushing teeth.

    13. If I have a job and insurance, worry less about money.

    14. Read these resolutions every day.


    Twice Daily:
  • - Hug Helena & Annabelle

    Every Day:

  • - Unload/Start dishwasher before Helena and Annabelle get up.
  • - spend less time brushing teeth

    Every 2nd Day:

  • - Bicycle one-half hour
  • - Work on book 1 hour

    Each weekend:

  • - Vacuum
  • - Clean dining room table
  • - Clean stove
  • - Discard dirty Kleenex
  • - Clean humidifier
  • - Clean Desk

    Start of month:

  • - Check/Replace air filter
  • - Clean bathroom, shower chair, pee bottle
  • - Change fish water
  • - Check tire pressure

    Before a Trip:

  • - Make healthy lunch and snacks for Annabelle (with Helena)

    This year for car:

  • - Change spark plugs
  • - Two oil changes
  • - Keep car maintenance record updated

  • ---------------------------------------------------------

    1. Drive to work before 7:00 am (parking lot full).

    2. Wash hands after I arrive at work.

    3. Work for 25 minutes then get up and walk.

    4. Read papers and check e-mail only at lunchtime.

    5. Don't eat lunch until 11:30

    6. Only Economic or Environmental reading at work.

    7. Make positive suggestions instead of negative comments. (This isn't written well vs. Can we improve this by...?).

    8. Never make a joke about being superior.

    HomeLast updated: June 20, 2008