Monday, February 28, 2005


Most people only want to worry about whether they're doing their job well, not how much money they're going to make. To put it another way: People want to focus on providing or creating value, not what reward they will get for it. Let them. Institute systems which reward hard work, dedication and value, not grubbing for money or jockeying for position. The greatest reward should go to those who provide the greatest value. Although it is every person's job to look out for themselves, and no papa-knows-best system should presume to usurp that duty, nevertheless a person should not have to think much about it; they should just receive what they've earned. In other words, the honest man should not have to worry about unjust treatment. He should be on his guard and be able to protect himself, of course, since no system with any freedom in it can be perfect in that way, but when the upstanding members of a society (without whom there would be no society) band together to create the rules which govern them, they should be intelligent enough to achieve their goals, while being flexible enough to change them if they are incomplete or wrong, but only then. Our present systems fall somewhat short of this mark.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:10:00 PM

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Four Factors II

• To continue on the Four Factors: Moreover, in the context of a single battle, the Four main Factors can overcome any subfactors.
• I'm considering adding a fifth: Mobility. For if your enemy can move and you cannot, you are dead and none of the other Four Factors can help you. I'm considering a separate category because mobility is not solely dependent on equipment.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:09:00 PM

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


With history, it is not always so important to ascertain what did happen so much as what could have happened; what fits in with all the evidence and makes sense. After all, that is the prime purpose of history: to learn from the achievements and mistakes of the past and to see how we got to where we are.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:08:00 PM

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Four Factors

Sun-tzu has five factors; I have four. (In no particular order…yet): Training (including motivation & discipline), Equipment (including mobility & supply), Tactics (including intelligence & communications), and men (sheer combat power: numbers, strength & readiness; i.e. condition).
        These are the four factors a leader must concern himself with; ignoring any one of these can cost him the battle. No three of these factors can completely make up for a lack in the fourth.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:07:00 PM

Friday, February 11, 2005

Five Pillars

These are the five pillars: Deep thinking, slow living, exposure to new things and experiences, understanding your emotions, and keeping your surroundings understandable (i.e. calm) and stimulating (i.e. interesting and beautiful).

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:06:00 PM

Atheism: The Case Against God II

• P. 29: "What is the theist attempting to establish the existence of?" He isn't. He's not. He won't. It is not the conclusion of the theist that God exists, it is his premise. It's a given. It's the basis of all he believes, put there by non-rational means. He is not searching for truth, he is not willing to accept any contradictions to his beliefs, unless the emotional contradictions become to overwhelming to ignore.
• P. 30: "Even if it is demanded that the existence of god be accepted on faith, we must still know what it is that we are required to have faith in." Not true. You must have faith now, in whatever I tell you, now or later.
• P. 31: "…to state that 'god exists' is to communicate nothing at all; it is as if nothing has been said." Dammit, stop talking as if the religionists were rational. They're not, almost by definition. You will understand nothing about religion until you accept this. You believe what you're told to believe, because you have been told to believe it, because you're evil if you don't. This works because man, while capable of rationality, is not inherently rational. Pure rationality is often not as good a survival tactic as doing what you're told. Religion is there to ensure that a person's rational, selfish tendencies are quashed in favor of behavior that benefits the community as a whole.
• P. 32: Have there been any wars between theists and non-theists before the communists? More to the point, did there exist a group of atheists large enough to wage war? Until the advent of science, atheism, in my view, was not a tenable stance.
• I'm beginning to regard this guy as either an idiot or as blindly attached to his beliefs as the religionists are to theirs. Obviously, someone who believes in the deity of Earth or Nature believes these things to be living, intelligent entities capable of deliberately affecting the world we live in and the lives of believers and/or nonbelievers. I'm sorry, but that qualifies as a god for me.
• P. 36-7: Look: Probably the best overall definition of a god is a being of such transcendent power that we as humans cannot touch that power, and they can dispose of us as they will, with only the interference of other gods to stop them. The ancients, when they created these gods, had no inkling that they were violating physical laws—would probably not have created gods that could do the impossible. Godhood is about power levels and creation—that's all.
        And at that I stop reading, at least for now. For if he doesn't realize the truth of what I've said above, I don't see what value the rest of his work can have.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:05:00 PM

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Desire comes from inside. The specific manifestation of these desires is molded by experience, but the basic desires themselves are inborn. This is the starting point of all human activity.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:04:00 PM

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


–Accuracy, always accuracy; what else is important?

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:03:00 PM


–As long as there are people that know things worth knowing that you don't know; as long as there are creations you are not tired of that you could not easily better; as long as there are ideas which have not occurred to you that you can discover; as long as there is beauty in the world that you do not fully comprehend, the person of wonder has fuel to continue, and to remain innocent.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:02:00 PM

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Atheism: The Case Against God

[This Book Note refers to] Atheism: The Case Against God [by George H. Smith.]
[God, I love Delicious Library!]

(I got sick of Art of War)
• P. 10: I disagree strongly with his presumption that agnosticism necessarily indicates that god or the existence of God is unknowable. I think that many agnostics (myself included, in the past) would disagree with this presumption, and say that it can only mean that it is unknown—by anyone, or merely by them. His definition of atheism as including most agnostics is good, but there is no reason for everyone to accept it. I see no reason why three divisions work any less well than two.
• P. 11: How odd—I understand completely what Huxley is saying. he believes that the truth in this matter is unknown, not unknowable, but that the problem may just be beyond human capacity to solve. But this does not equate to the truth being theoretically unknowable; merely that we may not have the ability, as humans, to find and understand it. The concept focuses on the limitations of humans, not of the Universe.
        In fact, I cannot argue with Huxley's position. Do I, can I, know for sure that there is no god or God? no. Neither can I know with certainty that fairies do not exist, or that alien abductions do not regularly take place, or that white mice don't secretly run the world. I merely know that there is insufficient evidence to indicate that these things are real, and that there is significant evidence against these ideas. In fact, the only real evidence for Christianity is that so many people believe in it. If not for that, it could easily be dismissed as foolishness.
• He is (p. 11, e.g.) being 'way too pedantic and repetitive. I've got it already. This is a trap I could easily fall into in my writing, as I do in my speaking. Be careful! Have others read it to make sure.
• Rule: Don't fuck with other people's definitions unless you have a damned good reason. On page 13, he divides atheism into implicit and explicit. Implicit atheism is identical to traditional agnosticism! He'd better have a damned good reason for changing the splits around like this.
• P. 14: I'm really not sure I agree with all this. These are all definitions, and therefore arbitrary, but 1) it could be equally argued that atheism requires knowledge of theism to have something to not believe in. Lack of knowledge about theism would make you an agnostic, one who "doesn't know." By the same logic, lack of knowledge about gnosis, or lack of knowledge about knowledge, would create a fourth category, "None of the above," which would include rocks, trees, stars and babies, which I would think appropriate, as it seems silly to call a rock an atheist, which you would have to by his definition. And 2) you can't get away with calling all babies atheists—that is entirely the point of baptism right after birth—to bring these unthinking creatures into the arms of God and to make them theists, not atheists, by default.
• P. 21: "From the mere fact that a person is an atheist, one cannot infer that this person subscribes to any particular positive beliefs." This, in my view, is the major inherent flaw of atheism. It takes away beliefs, but offers nothing to fill the void. It is simple negation. This is a horrible thing to do to a person: to remove their beliefs and then to leave them empty, with no purpose or meaning or direction. I've been there; it's not fun. I had to go through it, being the philosopher himself. Most people don't need it, nor would they be likely to find their own way out. Theism, by itself, does imply a set of morals and values and reasons and answers, which vary according to which branch or sect you subscribe to. There is no such thing as simple theism. Atheism isn't even an "-ism"—it's the negation of others' beliefs. Simple negation is not enough. Atheism must be only one facet of a new belief system.
• Can we honestly analyze atheism without a deep analysis of why people believe in God? And yet he seems unwilling to do so, instead focusing on the reasons why they're wrong. P. 24-25: Let us all now cry at the unfairness of the world. Bah. Let's ask why, with an uncritical eye, these people behave this way. We know they're wrong; let's discover why they insist on this wrongness. "…these are the issues to which a theist must address himself if he wishes to confront the challenge of atheism." And yet this is not true! These are the questions that the theist knows must not be raised, or confronted directly, for he fears the answers. This sentence of his presumes that his opponents are rational, and yet "…the average believer…was persuaded to believe for emotional, not intellectual reasons," and "is impervious to arguments against the existence of a supernatural being, regardless of how meticulous and carefully reasoned these arguments may be." Not the picture of a rational person who would respond to a challenge of this nature.
• P. 26: He seems to believe that the simple absence of religion—the absence of any beliefs at all, in fact—would be better than the existence of theistic religion; that theism is inherently almost completely evil. [I say that] it is not enough to merely deny God; one must consider why theism exists, how it is used, how it is useful, and what its good as well as bad points are. To deny that religion has any good points is to call humanity as a whole incredibly stupid. I'm sorry, but we've lasted too long and done too well to be so stupid. There must be reasons.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/28/1997 12:01:00 PM

Thursday, February 03, 2005


        Quintessential question: How to get the most value out of the information I take in? Certainty: There is too much information, too many books, to ever dream of being able to read it all, or even some significant portion. Therefore, if you wish to take in all it is important for you to know, what you actually read or absorb must be distilled and of high value and quality. How to accomplish this? How even to determine what extant books are of worthy quality, let alone how to compile and condense what exists into more meaningful format?

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/27/1997 12:03:00 PM

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

1/27/05 Letter to Nightlife

The following letter was published in the January 27, 2005 edition of the Carbondale Nightlife.

Communism has gone—not quite a distant memory, but even now there are high school graduates and college students who have no clear memory of the time when the Earth lived under the constant threat of global thermonuclear war.
Communism is finished—oh, it still lives on in places like China and Korea, but China is opening up to free markets more and more each year, and North Korea is starving.
The Soviet Union is history—and yet we are less free than we were 15 years ago.
The Cold War is over—but Americans are being held in military brig indefinitely without trial.
Twenty years ago a push of a button could have started a nuclear war that would have destroyed our civilization—but today, you cannot check out a library book without fear that the FBI won't secretly demand your library records.
Today our biggest threat is terrorists who might blow up a building or two—whereas twenty years ago we faced a nation with the will and firepower to raze our entire country to the ground. And yet now we have "airport security" and "no-fly" lists; now we have warrantless searches and secret courts; now we have "Total Information Awareness" and mass arrest and deportation of foreigners.

The Cold War was won. Democracy and capitalism were definitively shown to be superior to absolutism and communism. Victory over the Soviets was supposed to bring us a new era of peace, prosperity and freedom. So why do I miss the "good old days" when I could fly in an airplane without being treated like a criminal? Because of a few barbarians with boxcutters?
If, as our President says, the terrorists attacked us because they "hate freedom," then they are winning. Let me say that again: The terrorists are winning. Not through any military superiority, but by our own hands, through the actions we have allowed our government to take to make us more "secure." We are less free today than we were on September 10, 2001. To the extent that that is true, to that exact degree, we are losing this war, and will continue to lose it.

Right now, at this very moment, there is an American citizen sitting in prison who has been there for more than two years. He has not been brought to trial. He has not been given access to counsel. He has not even been formally charged with any crime.
Think about this for a moment. Forget about airport security checks, no-fly lists, TIA, TIPS, PATRIOT Acts and all the rest, and consider the fact that an American citizen is being imprisoned indefinitely without trial on the sole basis of the signature of the President. The right of habeas corpus—to have the charges against you read in open court, in order to protect against false or malicious imprisonment—is one of the oldest and most sacred of our rights. It is the only individual right written into the original, unamended Constitution. And our President has wiped it away with the stroke of a pen.
What does this mean? It means that any President, now or in the future, can declare any American an enemy combatant and have that person locked up indefinitely without any jury having to hear that person's case. Yes, this means you. And you. And you. And me. There is no legal barrier any longer to the President doing this whenever he chooses. Except, of course, that useless, unenforced, old-fashioned document called the Constitution of the United States. But that document doesn't seem to have much effect nowadays.
This sort of power is completely inappropriate to the President of a free, democratic Republic. It is far more appropriate to a dictator.
Does that frighten you? Do you fear the consequences of calling our President a dictator in public? Your very fear is a measure of how far we have fallen in this supposedly free country. This is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. If we don't become brave—and soon—we will not remain free for much longer.

Jim Syler
Vice President
Students for a Libertarian Society

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Current Thoughts at 2/01/2005 10:06:00 PM