Member since: Thu Aug 12, 2004, 03:43 PM
Number of posts: 21,119
Number of posts: 21,119
Home town: Detroit, MI Current residence: Paris, MI. Manistee Nat\'l Forest.
I recently purchased a copy of the 1974 production of the PBS series The Ascent of Man which is a very personal account of humankind's (not to use the 1970's sexist vernacular) cultural and intellectual advancement. It is one of the best series ever broadcast on PBS hosted by mathematician and humanist Jacob Bronowski. I watched this when it was first broadcast and had never forgotten it.
The eleventh episode covers quantum theory, but Bronowski delves much deeper. Since he speaks as much about culture as he does science, he ends the episode with, in my opinion, one if the best lessons on the confluence of science and philosophy, and is a lesson that this country seemingly, and sadly, has not learned.
I post the ending monologue here with no further comment other than that I think there are lessons we could all learn. Your opinions, of course, are welcome.
There are two parts to the human dilemma: one is the belief that the ends justify the means, that push-button philosophy, that deliberate deafness to suffering that has become the monster in the war machine. The other is the betrayal of the human spirit, the ascertion of dogma that closes the mind and turns a nation into a regiment of ghosts, obedient ghosts, or tortured ghosts.
It's said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That's false -- tragically false!
Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance; it was done by dogma; it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.
Science is a very human form of knowledge. We're always at the brink of the known. We always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgement in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know, although we are fallible.
In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell, I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
I owe it as a scientist to my friend, Leo Szilard; I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died here, to stand here as a survivor and as a witness.
We have to cure ourselves of the itch of absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.
Jacob Bronowski, a mathematician, author, and humanist of some note.
I think that's it. We have to touch people.
Thank you, DU.
Posted by longship | Mon May 21, 2012, 10:37 PM (9 replies)
What a week! It is like a roller coaster ride.
*V1.2- item 13 corrected re senate activity
Earlier this week, when ABC broadcast their exclusive, I posted that this may turn out to be like a Rope-A-Dope for President Obama. Look what has happened.
0. Friday, 4 May. The likely trigger event. Richard Grenell, foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney resigns under blistering attacks by party-not-named Rmoney supporters for Grenell's gay lifestyle, as they often phrased it.
1. Sunday: Vice President Biden answers a question on MTP about gay marriage, affirming his support.
2. There are ripples in the press about this, some speculating whether this was a shift in policy by the Obama administration. But no hard news either way. Party not named goes ballistic. Republicans don't say much.
2.5. Monday: Secy of Education Arne Duncan supports Biden's position.
3. Tuesday: NC votes a state constitutional amendment basically outlawing any but heterosexual marriages, and simultaneously removing existing rights for other relationships.
4. Wednesday: President Obama comes out for equal marriage rights. It makes a huge splash.
5. Party not named doubles down. FOX calls it war on marriage. Mitt doubles down with party not named. Log Cabin Republicans double down.
6. Centrist Republicans and Shep Smith of FOX News back Obama position. Ornstein and Mann screed hits big. Danforth's also.
7. Thursday: WaPo publishes that Rmoney was an anti-gay high school bully, alleging that he assaulted a student because he was gay.
8. Rmoney equivocates. Says he can't remember the incident in spite of the fact that WaPo cites four witnesses, three on the record! Makes weak apology.
9. Party not named doubles down again, implying that Rmoney was right by cheering the bullying.
10. Rmoney exposed as having specifically opposing anti-bullying commission while he was governor of MA, a commission whose mandate was to specifically address gay bullying.
11. Log Cabin Republicans flip-flop and basically support the Obama position. FOX News flip-flops on war on marriage.
12. Major Jewish organizations make prominent announcements in support of Obama. This takes away the religious arguments of the party not named. Waiting for more of the same from others, like Episcopals, UCC, Methodists, UU, others?
13. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee announces the intention to bring the Employment Non Descrimination Act (ENDA) on June 12.
Majority Leader Reid intends to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Hoyer and Reed make statements in support of Obama position.
*Clarifications at responses #30, #41, thx Tx4obama
14. Pelosi supports Obama in the face of House Republicans and party not named attempting to strengthen DOMA, doubling down yet again.
And the hits are going to keep coming.
This is not going to go away. I think we will always remember this week. Cherish it. It could be very important.
Let's not waste it though. We can leverage this by all getting together and before the election and joining hands in DC and as people of reason and intelligence and of all faiths and no faith. We can show the Republicans and the party not named what politics are about. Even though we throw a lot of chairs at each other here at DU, we'll be together as one in DC.
I have no resources to make this happen. But many of you do. It would be an incredible thumbed nose to our ideologically pure opponents.
Thanks for your time.
Nota Bene: low bandwidth here. Please don't ding me for getting days wrong. This week's been fast moving. The take-away is the order of events and how fast the story is developing.
Thank you to everybody supporting this thread. I thought it might be useful in this hectic week. Substantive additions will be added to the chronology.
Love you all!
Gotta go for version numbers
Posted by longship | Thu May 10, 2012, 05:55 PM (80 replies)
Article VI of the Constitution is explicit on this.
However, it was not the Democratic party that did this to the country. It was the Republicans who made religion an issue. That is why they continually portray Obama as a Moslem. Now, with Rmoney the all but assured Repub nominee, the roosters may have come home to roost.
The lesson here is simple. We Dems did not do this to them. It is of their own making. The evangelicals wanted to turn a political party into a church. So be it. Now they can live with what they did.
My hope is that get a very deserving drubbing in November.
Posted by longship | Thu Apr 12, 2012, 04:12 PM (1 replies)
I didn't know where else to post this. But with the recent post of the pic of President Obama posing with Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura from TV's Star Trek, I have no choice but to post this to flesh out why Obama might have chosen Ms. Nichols, beyond the fact that the President just might be a geek at heart.
I cannot describe this interview as anything but exceptional. It is from the Star Talk radio program, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
You'll want to listen to this. It will forever change your mind about what this campaign is all about. After hearing this for the first time today, it's no wonder that Obama chose to publicize the picture with Nichelle. She's brilliant and passionate and eloquent. It's an interview about a time when blacks were portrayed differently in the media.
The interview brought tears to my eyes more than once. It's a stunner.
Star Talk - Nichelle Nichols
Highly recommended. I didn't know that Martin Luther King was a Star Trek fan.
On edit: OMG, the interview is a two parter. The second is about Nichelle's relationship to NASA. You have no idea what influence she has had on policy. Another unbelievable interview. Look up The Nichelle Nichols Youth Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Technology. She walks the walk!
So, the back story of that picture is so much more important than the mere photo opportunity.
Posted by longship | Mon Apr 9, 2012, 07:51 PM (0 replies)
This week's Point of Inquiry podcast features an interview with Ari Rabin-Havt, who co-authored, with David Brock, a new book, The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine.
You may know David Brock from Media Matters for America. Rabin-Havt is the Executive Vice President of MMA.
The interview is conducted by Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science, the regular host of this podcast.
I highly recommend that DUers take the time to download and listen to this. It really cuts to the core of what has been going on at Faux News.
It's a very compelling, highly informative interview. They discuss the history of Fox News and speculate about its future. The book is going on my must read list.
Oops! Here's the link:
POI: The Fox Effect
Posted by longship | Sun Mar 18, 2012, 11:52 AM (0 replies)
LynnParramore has written a history of which people should be educated. The lesson here is that "dirty tricks" are an integral part of politics. The big lesson here is that we should all --- meaning of all political persuasions --- should learn from these case studies. If you profess to support democracy and our country's heritage and the founding document, the US Constitution, you should read this essay.
This a well-researched accounting that paints the dismal past of what can only be called politics as usual. The following cases are cited:
Highly recommended, and informative, read.
On edit: My bad. Forgot the link to the essay. Here it is:
You're an Atheist Madam! 9 Unforgettable Moments in Politcal Mudslinging
Difficult to do on an iPhone.
Posted by longship | Thu Mar 1, 2012, 09:49 AM (4 replies)