Including Religion, since most anything one likes can be subsumed under the rubric of 'Philosophy'

Compassion: a rambling conversation of Communism, Ayn Rand, Harper Lee and other cabbages and kings

A dialogue on compassion between a friend and I. Edited to make me look better. And him worse. 


1988 was the year I quit the Republican Party.


1962 GLB with William F Buckley

On a nice spring/summer day, we walked to the Rockville City Hall and I changed my registration from Republican to Independent. (And the rest, as they say, is history.)
P.S. Attached is a photo of yours truly meeting William F. Buckley Jr. at Gonzaga University in 1962.  Notice the priest is watching me suspiciously  -- even though I was a good conservative then, maybe the priest smelled a whiff of heresy?  (Priests seem to be good a finding heretics.)



You should have stayed, and fixed the GOP


If-- by Rudyard Kipling cvining Wed, 07/20/2016 - 03:03

Dear Friend,

This poem comes as close to religion for me as anything I know. It is written to a boy but applies equally to a woman. Perhaps you may find it some help, as I have, when facing life's sometimes difficult choices.



If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, 
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, 
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: 
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken 
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, 
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, 
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: 
If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, 
And lose, and start again at your beginnings 
    And never breathe a word about your loss; 
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, 
    If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
The Morals of Chess by Ben Franklin cvining Wed, 03/26/2014 - 03:35

The Morals of Chess
by Benjamin Franklin
originally appeared in The Columbian Magazine in December 1786​


See the Wikipedia article for image credits


On the origin of 'Nature is perverse' cvining Thu, 06/28/2012 - 16:32

origins diverse
from throughout the universe
there is no better verse
than 'nature is perverse'

Singularity & The Unltraintelligent Machine cvining Wed, 01/12/2011 - 20:40

NPR had a piece yesterday on the idea that machines may one day be so intelligent as to become capable of designing and building even more intellingent machines, triggering a exponential growth of intelligence, an intelligence sigularity, such that human intelligence becomes negligible by comparison.  Some consider this intelligence sigularity a existential threat.  

Here is a link to the NPR Story:  


Assange/Marxist Duty cvining Tue, 12/21/2010 - 22:53

The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, in an interview with BBC while out on bail pending possible extradition to Sweden concerning sexual assault without a condom charges, had this to say concerning his persumably unrelated mission with Wikileaks:


Bill Joy and the dangers of modern technology

The attached file is an article by Bill Joy on his concerns about modern technology. Read the article, but the main point seems to me that modern technology is too complex to manage and very likely presents threats to man which exceed the benefits. Possibly we can learn to manage the technology, possibly not.

I lean toward Mr. Joy's views, perhaps more so. Even if you don't share his concern you might benefit by being aware of them.


Freewill and Choice: You Can't Choose What To Like

Conceding that 'Freewill' is a poorly defined concept, there is still some sense that we are free to make some choices and not so free to make others. Most would agree that we are free to choose vanilla vs. chocolate ice cream, while we are not free to choose to be invisible. Which is to say that some things appear to be impossilbe, regardless of what we wish them to be. While in other cases we are in some sense 'free' to make a choice.

But consider the apparent choice of ice cream flavor. Walk into a shop and look at all the options. What actually happens in your head when you make a choice? WIth various degress of concious calculation, we run through what we want. I've had vanilla before and I like it. Butter pecan I hate, and while I like chocolate I get a reaction. I've never had toffee, but people tell me it is good and I'm a bit bored so perhaps I'll try that.


Why Believers Can't Be Altruistic

Charity from those who believe in afterlife rewards must be greeted with some suspicion because such persons can never be entirely free of the idea that they will be rewarded for their actions, if not in life then in death. No one can be sure, least of all the believers themselves, if their actions, no matter how charitable, are in fact selfishly designed to improve their own lot in the afterlife.

The genuine athiest, however, at least has the possibility of performing an act they believe can do themselves no good at all.

To be sure, athiests are pefectly capable of selfishness. But unlike their believer breathren, they might from time to time do something genuinely altruistic.