There’s Morality – And Then There’s Morality

If you don’t believe in God, where do you think you get your morals?
They say that there are no stupid questions.  In your case, I’ll make an exception.

If you’re right, and God exists, then I get my morals installed by Him, whether I believe in Him or not.
If I’m right, and no God exists, then I get my morals from evolution-guided empathy.

Do you think that God forgot to install my morality, and the reason that I’m an Atheist is His fault?  😯

Faith is believing in something without any evidence.
Integrity is admitting it.

Faith is the excuse people give when they believe in something without a good reason.  If they had a good reason, they would give that.

In addition to above:
Here’s a terrible and extreme example. Imagine there is another 9-11 style terror attack. You, as a commander in the US Air Force, suddenly find yourself with two F19’s tailing a full Boeing 777 which is heading towards Manhattan. On board, the terrorists have stated their intention to recreate the horrific events of that previous tragedy. Also on board are over 460 passengers and crew members. Looking at the manifest – you have families on board. What do you do?

Well, if the moral action is dictated solely by empathy, you are going to be in a pickle. You will feel for all the thousands of people and fire crews working in Manhattan. But you will also feel for all the innocent people on board the plane! So, on empathy alone, are you going to make the tough and tragic call to shoot down the plane? You’ll probably be left stumbling over the right thing to do. And surely waiting too long will result in bad consequences that could have been avoided. Surely an immoral choice?
(What is the immoral choice?  To shoot it down?  To not shoot it down?  Or merely to be faced with such a dilemma?)

If your morality is grounded in God, how would your choice in the 777 scenario be any easier – or better – or faster??
Make the painful and hard choice now – trust that ultimately, justice will be done by Him in the future.
This doesn’t answer any of the questions.  It merely starts the big game of ‘Pass The Buck.’  Satan gets blamed for all the evil stuff – God cleans up the mess and (maybe) punishes the bad guys posthumously – and this morally-conflicted clown doesn’t have to accept any responsibility or blame for any action or decision.
  Mr. Miyagi say, Best way to avoid sin – not be there.

The above argument may look good on a Christian Apologist’s blog site, but the answer isn’t religious, it’s secular/military.  Does the writer think (probably not 😛 ) that young men are put into the sky with machines of mass destruction, without every conceivable alternative being considered BEFORE they take off?

The decision wouldn’t even be left to the pilot.  It would be a group discussion, and bucked up to Generals, Defense Secretaries, and ultimately, the President – and it wouldn’t even be left to the discretion of one pilot to refuse.  That’s why there are two F19s.

There would be figurative Hell to pay if it becomes necessary to shoot the airliner down, but the ultimate choice would come from an Atheist standpoint, even if a ‘Good Christian’ made it.  “The greatest good for the greatest number”  While it would be a heartbreaking decision to make, and not one made quickly, or easily, 460 dead in the sky is better than the same 460 dead in a crash, and thousands dead on the ground, along with them.

I’ve stopped wondering if maybe God has installed faith and morals in Apologists, and begun wondering why He, so often, seems to forget to install intelligence or logic.

’20 A To Z Challenge – M

I don’t exactly hate poetry, I just hate what sometimes passes for, and pretends to be, poetry.  I have written some poetry, and had some poetry written about me.  I am going to introduce you to the word for the letter M Challenge this year.

Musophobist

A person who regards poetry with suspicious dislike.  From the Greek words meaning “Muse” and “fear.”
A person who doesn’t like poetry and is suspicious of it.

This word was used (and probably coined) by the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), who quite possibly inspired more than a few musophobes, with poetry that was as dark and disturbing as Edgar Allen Poe’s works.

Some of the best contemporary poets are song writers.  If you listen to, or read the lyrics to their songs without the music, you find that they reference social situations, with intricate, repeating, progressing word play.  We’ll ignore Justin Bieber, who actually doesn’t write poetry much better than I do.  Justin Timberlake has some good stuff, and I like Ed Sheeran who, like Billy Joel, writes poetry/lyrics about his life.

I’m stuck in the past, liking writers such as Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, and (another) Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues.  THE BOSS, Bruce Springsteen, made a name for himself writing intricately-rhyming songs for other singers, before he began performing them himself.  Sadly, in the song Blinded By The Light which was released by the group Manfred Mann, a young singer with a speech defect turned a 1932 “Deuce” hot-rod into a douche.  😳

On a couple of Moody Blues albums, between some beautiful songs, John Lodge does a spoken-word recitation of poems that didn’t turn into songs.  I’ve published them before, but for those who may have missed them, here they are again.

MOODY BLUE

Breathe deep the gathering gloom.
Watch light fade from every room.
Pensitive people look back and lament,
Another day, uselessly spent.

Impassioned lovers wrestle as one.
Lonely man cries for love, and has none.
Senior citizens wish they had some.
New mother picks up and suckles her son.

Cold-hearted orb, that rules the night.
Removes the colors from our sight.
Red is grey, and yellow, white,
But we decide which is right.

And which, is an illusion….

 

MOODY CONTEMPLATION

Between the eyes and ears there lie
The sounds of color
And the light of a sigh
With thoughts of within
To exclude the without
The ghost of a thought
Will exclude all doubt
And to name this thought
Is important to some
So they gave it a word
And the word is ‘OM’

 

WOW #63

Someone is always trying to control you.  It has been going on for millennia.  I recently came upon an even-rarer-than-usual word which proves it.

ATHANATICS

The use of the word is so uncommon, that it is almost impossible to find in a dictionary or search engine.  The concept has been around for as long as there have been alpha-males who want to inflict their views on others.  The term seems to have arisen about 400 AD, based on Athanasius of Alexandria.

As the Bishop of Alexandria, he used social, political, and religious power to eliminate heresy, and enforce his beliefs about Christian Orthodoxy.  The definitional value is to create an ideal world, although your definition of “ideal” probably greatly differs from whoever seizes the right to impose theirs.  Athanasius’ idea of ideal, was blind obedience, uniformity and conformity – no free thinking allowed.

In Poul Anderson’s World Without Stars, the antithantic prevents age and disease but memories must be artificially edited. In Anderson’s The Boat Of A Million Years, eight mutant immortals survive through history until the athanatics are developed.

In Larry Niven’s Known Space future history, ‘Boosterspice’ extends life indefinitely, and protectors, who have eaten “tree of life,” live until killed.

1970Nigel CalderTechnopolis: Social Control of the Uses of ScienceSimon and Schuster

If only a minority of the athanatic technologies summarized in this book comes to practical fruition in humans — and some of them are mutually contradictory — there will be plenty of moral, legal and political issues to perplex us.

England is perhaps the most athanatic country in the world.  “The Wild” has almost completely been eliminated.  There are still stands of (hardwood) forests, but they are open and welcoming, with paths, trails, tiny roads, and bridges over streams.  It is almost impossible to get lost, in any dangerous sense.

In the developed world, science and technology have done much to make life ideal, but the more we are protected from harm, the more freedom and control of our lives, we lose.  When motorized vehicles were new, they were cumbersome things that required training and knowledge, care and control, to safely operate.  Many attained all of these, but quick and handy transportation meant that far more did not.

In 1906, there were only 8 motor-cars in the entire city of Cincinnati, yet somehow, two of them managed to crash, head-on, into each other.  Soon came control – the requirement for driving licenses, speed limits, stop signs and traffic lights.

Early cars had manual transmissions.  Drivers had to understand gears and clutches.  I very much liked the feel of controlling a ‘standard’.  I did so until cars with gearshifts became so rare that buyers had to pay a premium for them.  All of my motorcycles had gearshifts.  Now, even many motorcycles are equipped with automatic transmissions.  It just takes away the fun, the thrill, of doing it yourself.  I was recently passed by a large motorcycle with its radio blaring, so that the rider could hear it over the wind noise.  I was almost surprised that the rider didn’t have Wi-Fi direct to built-in earphones in his helmet.

The flying cars that we have been promised for almost a century have failed to emerge, because technology has not advanced far enough.  We’ve seen what destruction and chaos inattentive fools can create in two dimensions.  I hate to imagine what they might accomplish in three dimensions.

AI, and self-driving cars are almost perfected.  When that is accomplished, we might move on to individual, self-flying cars.  They might satisfy the general population, who just want to get from place to place.  For archaic fools like me, who still want the feel of doing something, AI is a smothering pillow.  I want to control what my vehicle is doing.  With self-drivers, I can’t start, stop or steer.  I can’t drive 10 MPH over the speed limit if I’m foolishly late.  Even if I could override the controls, the manufacturer put in a black box that will tell Big Brother, and my insurance company, if I did.

The world continues to be safer, tamer, more ‘ideal,’ but, more and more, we end up swaddled in Amazon bubble wrap, protected, but divorced from reality and any chance of adventure.  This may be acceptable to a large percentage of the population, but we still need some who dare, who search, who triumph.  The New World was not discovered or conquered by a boatload of chartered accountants.

Smitty’s Loose Change #13

I just won the jackpot – and I don’t even gamble.

I notice things.  I find money, because I look where people will lose money.  The $100 bill that I picked up from a grocery store checkout line floor, had been stepped on by the two customers in front of me.  I check the overflow chutes of the coin-counting machines found in many grocery stores.  I found 40 pennies in one, before Canada stopped minting them.  I still find the occasional few, because the machines have been set to reject them.

I recently left my neighborhood store, and glanced at the chute as I passed.  There were coins in it.  Not just a couple of pennies, or a bent dime, or a foreign coin that I could add to my collection.  The chute was full.  I bent over to see what they were…. and they were Loonies and Toonies – Canada’s, one and two dollar coins.

I quickly looked around, to see if there was someone cashing in a machine receipt – someone who would yell, “Get away from there!  That’s my money!”  No-one was paying me the least attention.  I took a large handful and dumped it into my shirt packet – and another large handful – and another large handful.  I scraped the last of it together and poured it into my pocket, affecting an off-the-shoulder look as I scuttled out.

I hoped to beat my $100 dollar record.  When I got home, I sorted it out.  21 Toonies = $42, 33 Loonies = $33, and 4 quarters, totaling $76.  Not a bad reward for just paying attention.  The next day, I only found two dimes.

***

Newspaper article headline
Should Kitchener aim to end all traffic injuries?

Nah!  Let’s maintain the ‘Run Em Down’ protocol we’ve always had!

Duh.  While that headline may seem rather silly, what the article was (delicately) asking, was, how much tax revenue can we afford to spend, for how much reduction in injuries.

***

How can you tell when a Christian Apologist blogger is lying?
That’s a trick question.  They’re always lying!
The liars are the majority, who won’t enable comments.  They make strawman claim after special pleading claim, but won’t engage in debate, or allow Atheists to offer counter-arguments.

The ones who are even worse than this, are the ones who edit out comments they don’t like.  I found a Christian trivia post which asked, “Who did Paul say should not be allowed to continue to Cyrene, because he had left the group?”

Knowing what would happen, I gave two answers.  Howard Stern?  Ray Comfort, because he went out for more bananas?  (If you don’t get the Ray Comfort joke, Google it.)  Sure enough, when I returned the next day, I had been excised.

***

I heard a TV weather forecast during the cold snap around Christmas.  The announcer warned not to travel to Canada’s Prairie Provinces, because the temperatures could go down to Negative 35.  I’ve never heard that expression used before.  It sounds like we owe somebody some weather.  Technically, it’s correct.  Plus and Minus are mathematical terms which indicate actions.  Five, minus (take away) three, equals two.  Have any of you ever heard a weather forecast which included the term “negative” temperatures.  My new online friend from Kenya is exempted.

***

After claiming victory over an infestation of rats, Oh Rats!, they came back for a second round.  I tried to turn the central air-conditioner on, and found that they had chewed their way in through the tiny hole that carries the tubes to the outdoor unit…. and the control wire.  😯  😦  After that repair, I sprayed the hole full of expanding, hardening plastic foam.

I had replaced the flexible dryer hose with another plastic one, because the path the tube takes from the machine to the outside vent is quite twisty, and complex.  To prevent another attack from that direction, I hired Dryer Vent Wizard to install solid, aluminum tubing.

The installation tech was, indeed, a wizard.  When he moved the dryer, leaving a hole in the floor, to the basement, Mica, my Fred Astaire-dancer, Bengal cat showed up to supervise.  Workers like this now all take pictures with their smart-phones, as proof of work done.  We didn’t even know that Mica was there.  He leaned up, took a photo, showed it to us when he finished, and sent it to us by email.

The Art Of Divorce

An attorney representing a wealthy art collector calls his client and says to him, “I have some good news, and I have some bad news.” The art collector replies, “I’d better hear the good news first.” The attorney say, “Well, I met with your wife today, and she informed me that she invested $5,000 in two pictures that she thinks will bring a minimum of $15-20 million. I think she could be right.”

The client says enthusiastically, “That’s fantastic!  I can’t believe my wife made such a great investment. You’ve just made my day. Now I know I can handle the bad news. What is it?” The attorney replies, “The pictures are of you with your secretary.”

***

“The COVID-19 situation has been especially stressful for the Flat Earth Society.
They fear that the social distancing measures could push people over the edge.”

***

The wife and I recently went on a Sunday road trip, and stopped at a lovely roadside restaurant for lunch.  We finished our meal and resumed our trip.  The wife unknowingly left her glasses on the table, and didn’t miss them until we were 40 minutes down the road.

By then, to add to the aggravation, we had to drive quite a distance before I could find a place to turn around, in order to return to the restaurant to retrieve her glasses.  All the way back, I was my classic Grumpy Old Dude.

I fussed and complained, and scolded her.  The more I chided her, the more agitated I became.  I just wouldn’t let it go for a single second.  To her relief, we finally arrived back at the restaurant.

She got out of the car, leaving the door open.  As she hurried across the driveway to retrieve her glasses, I leaned over and yelled at her, “While you’re in there, you might as well get my hat, and the credit card.”

***

We were attending church services.  About halfway through, I leaned over to the wife and whispered, “I just let a silent fart.  What do you think I should do?”  She replied, “Put new batteries in your hearing aids.”

***

A father is in church with three of his young children, including his five year old daughter.

As was customary, he sat in the very front row so that the children could properly witness the service.

During this particular service, the minister was performing the baptism of a tiny infant. The little five year old girl was taken by this, observing that he was saying something and pouring water over the infant’s head.

With a quizzical look on her face, the little girl turned to her father and asked: “Daddy, why is he brainwashing that baby??”

***

A woman walks up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch.
“I couldn’t help noticing how happy you look,” she says. “What’s your secret for a long, happy life?”
“I smoke three packs a day, drink a case of whiskey a week, eat fatty foods and never, ever exercise.”
“Wow, that’s amazing,” says the woman. “How old are you?”
“Twenty-six.”

***

A man and his pet giraffe walk into a bar and start drinking. As the night goes on, they get drunk, and the giraffe finally passes out. The man decides to go home.

As he’s leaving, the man is approached by the barkeeper who says, “Hey, you’re not gonna leave that lyin’ here, are ya?”

“Hmph,” says the man. “That’s not a lion — it’s a giraffe.”

***

Mother’s Standards

Congratulating a friend after her son and daughter got married within a month of each other, a woman asked, “What kind of boy did your daughter marry?”

“Oh, he’s wonderful,” gushed the mother. “He lets her sleep late, wants her to get her nails done regularly, and insists on taking her out to dinner every night.”

“That’s sounds lovely,” said the woman. “What about your son?”

“I’m not so happy about that,” the mother sighed. “His wife sleeps late, spends all her time getting her nails done, and makes them eat take-out meals!”

Court Is Back In Session

Usual Suspect

While prosecuting a robbery case, I conducted an interview with the arresting officer. My first question: “Did you see the defendant at the scene?”
“Yes, from a block away,” the officer answered.
“Was the area well lit?”
“No. It was pretty dark.”
“Then how could you identify the defendant?” I asked, concerned.
Looking at me as if I were nuts, he answered, “I’d recognize my cousin anywhere.”

***

Guilty as Charged

In Fort Worth, Texas, I was hauled before the judge for driving with expired license plates. The judge listened attentively while I gave him a long, plausible explanation.

Then he said with great courtesy, “My dear sir, we are not blaming you—we’re just fining you.”

***

No Lawsuits

Sidewalks were treacherous after a heavy snowstorm blanketed the University of Idaho campus. Watching people slip and slide, I gingerly made my way to class.

Suddenly I found myself on a clean, snow-free section of walkway. This is weird, I thought—until I noticed that it was directly in front of the College of Law building.

***

Waiting for the Fine

The judge had not yet put in an appearance in the San Diego traffic court. When the bailiff entered the courtroom, he sensed the nervousness of the traffic offenders awaiting their ordeal.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “Welcome to ‘What’s My Fine?’”

***

Bad Job

As a judge, I was sentencing criminal defendants when I saw a vaguely familiar face. I reviewed his record and found that the man was a career criminal, except for a five-year period in which there were no convictions.

“Milton,” I asked, puzzled, “how is it you were able to stay out of trouble for those five years?”

“I was in prison,” he answered. “You should know that—you were the one who sent me there.”

“That’s not possible,” I said. “I wasn’t even a judge then.”

“No, you weren’t the judge,” the defendant countered, smiling mischievously. “You were my lawyer.”

***

Not So Humble

I was once a legal secretary to a young law clerk who passed the bar exam on his third try. This fledgling attorney worked hard on his initial pleading, which should have read “Attorney at Law” at the top of the first page.

After I submitted the finished document for his review and signature, I was embarrassed when he pointed out a critical typing error. “Must you rub it in?” he asked.

I had typed: “Attorney at Last.”

***

Tough Punishment

I was a brand-new attorney in practice alone, and I had a likewise inexperienced secretary fresh out of high school. The importance of proofreading the results of my dictation was highlighted one day when a reminder to a client’s tenant to pay her rent or suffer eviction was transcribed as follows: “You are hereby notified that if payment is not received within five business days, I will have no choice but to commence execution proceedings.”

 

The Wordless Wonder Of Instrumentals

In my Rise And Fall Of Rock And Roll post, I ignored an important chunk of modern music, because it didn’t fit the Singer/Songwriter motif that I had going.  In the early/mid 1960s, there were a surprising number of songs that did well on the Hit Parade, with no words at all.  It was the tiny little era of the instrumental.

There were the guitar-driven rock-type songs like

Wipeout – The Ventures

Pipeline – The Chantays

Telstar – The Tornadoes

Walk Don’t Run – The Ventures
This was the first record that I ever owned.

Apache – The Shadows

While there were guitars in back-up, this was a percussion tour de force.
Let There be Drums – Sandy Nelson

A sort of cross between folk, and surf-rock.
Miserlou – Dick Dale

Let’s Go Tripping – Dick Dale

Something more in a Country flavor
Rebel Rouser – Duane Eddy

Country/Pop with steel guitars
Sleepwalk – Santo & Johnny

Teardrop – Santo & Johnny

A Country/Rock version of an old folk song
Beatnik Fly – Johnny & the Hurricanes

There were more orchestral, and less-Rock songs
Classical Gas – Mason Williams

Rinky-Dink – Dave baby Cortez

Last Date – Floyd Cramer

Soulful Strut – Young-Holt Unlimited

Stranger on the Shore – Aker Bilk

Peter Gunn Theme – Henry Mancini

Grazing in the Grass – Hugh Masekela

The Lonely Bull – Herb Alpert

Soul Twist – King Curtis

A Taste of Honey – Herb Alpert

Tracey’s Theme – Billy Vaughan

Click on any of the titles for individual YouTube concerts.  These are perhaps most of the good ones.  If you’d like to take a stroll back through the ‘Good Old Days’ of music, click below.

1960’s Instrumental Hits – https://www.google.ca/search?sxsrf=ACYBGNR2ivX8mPkk94pXbkt6B8GG-PAfNg%3A1581038839884&source=hp&ei=97w8Xr_YM8Gk_QbPtIOgCw&q=1960s+instrumental+hits&oq=1960s+instrumen&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0l7j0i22i30l3.13150.26396..32723…5.0..0.1241.3882.11j3j5-1j1j1……0….1..gws-wiz…..10..35i362i39j0i131j0i13j0i13i30.BOxbDJax408

’20 A To Z Challenge – L


What else do I need to say??! I’m not usually tongue-tied, although some people have suggested that it should be put in handcuffs…. Tongue-cuffs??…. I’ll check with the ‘Adult Store.’ They may have something really, fucking kinky.

LALOCHEZIA everyone! Shed the stress. 😈 If you make bail on the public profanity charge, stop back in a couple of days.
***

Adventures In Non-Sequitur Land

This is a framed copy of a reproduction of a Saturday Evening Post cover. It, and a mug with his name, –CYRIL – were all I got back from the nursing home, after my Father died. I don’t know where, or when, or how, he obtained it. I never saw it hanging in my parents’ little house.

Those who know me, know that I am Psmith. Dad was always a little distant, and self-centered. It pleases me to believe that the why that he obtained it, was because of me.

A year ago, when I wanted to attach it to my ‘I’ve Never Herd Of Smith’ post, I kept getting a message from WordPress – Error. Unable to upload image. There are two copies of this image, one taken with a camera, and the other with the scanner/printer. WordPress would accept neither. Recently – JUST BECAUSE – I tried again, and it slid smoothly into the Media file.   😳

Flash Fiction #236

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

FAIR TRADE

How do you get down off an elephant?
You don’t!  You get down off a duck.

I got a dog for my wife.
Seems like a good swap.

I saw a sign that said, Watch For Children.
I thought, that’s a fair trade.

Maybe I could get the Traders to exchange some new jokes for these old ones.  I would trade two weeks of COVID isolation for a fortnight visit to Wilmington, NC, to see how it took 75 years for Southerners to trade their insecure, racist bigotry, for acceptance, and peaceful coexistence.  It’s still not perfect, but it’s better.

***

Join the merry band of Friday Fictioneers.  Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple https://rochellewisoff.com/ site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

30 Day Challenge – Twofer

9: Your Last Kiss
11: Your current relationship, if single, discuss how single life is

I put these two together, because I’m not really going to write about either, yet they kinda go together.

The wife and I are now closing in on 53 years of marriage, but I’m sure that there are readers who would be surprised to find that there is not an abundance of “Love.”  For much of history, and much of the world, marriage was a socio-commercial undertaking.  Even today, ‘arranged marriages’ are common, and their divorce rates are lower than the ‘marriage for love’ ones.  They are based on mutual respect and adaptation.

I’m assuming that the author meant a passionate, ‘love-induced’ kiss, not the How Are You peck on the cheek from a sister-in-law.  At the three-quarters of a century mark, there’s not a lot of passion left.  The son says that he gets strange looks from co-workers when he tells them that we are each just hanging on until the other dies – dark humor, that boy.

Hoggimus-Higgimus
Man is polygamous
Higgimus-Hoggimus
Woman’s monogamous
It is said that a man will trade love for sex, and a woman will trade sex for love.  The wife and I have learned to respect each other, and there certainly has been a great deal of adaptation over the years.  There was a certain degree of love to get the marriage started, but…. 

A man chases a woman – until she catches him.  I came home one day from work, to find that the coffee klatch at my house had not disbanded.  I heard the wife telling the neighborhood women that she picked me, because she felt that I was very intelligent, and she thought that smart men made more money.  Oh, you sexy minx!  You had me at ‘Credit Check.’  I am the victim of an arranged marriage.  It was just my wife who arranged it.

I am not displeased or disappointed with my married life.  Only occasionally do I wonder how things would have gone in other circumstances.  One of my online friends has been divorced and living alone for 30 years.  I don’t have the self-sufficiency to live alone.  I need a zoo-keeper to care for and feed me.  As a mild sociopath, I could probably handle the isolation, but I still value the social and intellectual stimulation from my children, and now grandson and granddaughter-in-law.

There have been few periods in our marriage that could be described as brilliant fireworks.  That’s probably a good thing.  Slow and steady wins the race.  I have seen those whose lives, including their marriage, have been roller-coaster ups and downs.  Eventually the downs seem to be such a contrast, that they decide to give up and change them.  Divorce is survivable.  Suicide is not.

Our marriage has not been boring.  We have been able to travel a bit, and see and experience some interesting places and things.  Now that we are (much) older, and the bodies and the bank account are weak and creaky, we are learning to use our electronics for entertainment and social connections – like this.

Thanx for stopping by to read this unexciting description of Same Old – Same Older.  I’ll haul out more interesting info for next time.  Wanna hear about the neighbor who’s a drug dealer?

***

I’m still (reluctantly) getting used to this damned Block Editor. I’ve figured out most of it but, can someone tell me where to find the control for color of text??