I'm Marc Perkel, president and owner of a small software company in Springfield Missouri specializing in network utility software. I'm best described as a Propeller Head with a Hippy background for those of you who are into categorizations. I have a high school education (1973) and am a graduate of "The School of Hard Knocks". My grammer and spelling are not always perfect but so what.
I'm also the "genius" type. Why do I call myself that? Because I've always been considered smart ever since I can remember. I also do very well with logic problems. But most of all I figure I'm smart because people pay me to think. If people paid me to fix cars, then I would consider myself an auto mechanic. Since people pay me to think, I must be a genius. Does this make sense?
Since this magazine is about reality I guess I should talk about what reality is. You hear about "My" reality and "Your" reality and "Absolute" reality. I hope to deal with all of these issues but I tend to me most interested in absolute reality and the methods of correctly perceiving it and getting past all the illusions that get in the way of this perception. In fact, I might say that reality is a hobby of mine.
So what do I mean when I talk about correctly perceiving reality and the illusions that block this perception? Doesn't everyone see absolute reality the same way? NO! I find it amazing the illusions people buy into that are popular beliefs but obviously are not true.
As an example of illusion vs. reality, take for instance, today is Christmas. Christmas, I'm taught, celebrates the birth of Christ. So what does this mean? To me this says that Jesus was born on December 25, in the year 0000. Do I believe this? NO! But a serious percentage of the population does.
So who is right? Lets assume that the issue of the birth of Christ is covered by absolute reality and not personal reality. In other words, what ever the truth is, it is the same for truth everyone. Logically there are 4 possibilities.
So what do I base my opinion on? What make me right and millions of people wrong? Lets look at the facts and see how I came to the conclusion I did.
First of all there's the Bible. This is considered the leading source of information on the subject. What does it say? Well, and you can look for yourself, but I don't see any indication of a December 25th date in there. In fact, there is information in the old testament that indicates there was a holiday called "Yule" that involved decorating of trees and exchanging gifts and such that indicated that there was "Christmas" before Christ.
When I question experts on the subject, (preachers) the majority of them admit that they themselves do not believe that Christ was born on that specific date or even necessarily in the year 0000.
I therefore conclude that based on this information and a lack of any evidence whatsoever that Christ was born on that date that (#3) I am right and they are wrong.
So what does this mean? Does this absolutely prove it? NO! I may still be wrong. There may be information about the subject that I am not aware of that proves Christ was born on 12-25-0000. But in forming a conclusion, I have weighed the evidence at hand against the possibility of missing information and can say with "reasonable assuredness" that Christ was NOT born on 12-25-0000.
Lets assume for arguments sake that I am indeed right about this. So if this is so obvious to me, then why are there millions of people that believe that Christ WAS born on 12-25-0000? I think that the reason is that most people don't think. People sponge up information without doing any significant filtering to determine if the information they are exposed to is accurate or not.
And that is what I consider so frustrating and compels me to publish this magazine. Wake up people! Put your thinking caps on! Don't just believe it! THINK ABOUT IT! Don't take my word for anything either. I expect that you mull over every word I write and scrutinize it as if I were some Commie trying to lie to America. (Although it seems that Commies are getting kind of rare these days.)
I want to state also here that I consider myself "open minded". If anyone out there can send me evidence that Christ was indeed born on 12-25-0000 I will be more than happy to reexamine my conclusion. Response is invited.
Being Open Minded
So what does this phrase "Open Minded" really mean? Lets attempt to answer this question and understand the question itself. I see three possibilities here:
Looking at #2 which implies to me a person who's mind is so closed that they wouldn't consider changing their mind on anything regardless of the evidence. Although I've seen people close to this level I believe that there exists no one who is absolutely closed minded.
If we assume that I am correct in that there are the above 3 possibilities, (and I may be wrong about that) and assuming that I am correct in eliminating possibilities #1 and #2, then by process of elimination, possibility #3 must be correct.
Now this seems like a lot of talking just to tell you what you obviously know already. I'm not trying to be long winded and boring. What I'm trying to do here is establish intellectual discipline. I believe that this level of discipline is required as a tool to separate truth from illusion.
If you have a belief about something I think you should put it to the test of logic. If it fail the test of logic then you should ask yourself if there are any overriding factors that causes you to maintain your belief in spite of reason.
Having established for the most part that open mindedness is relative one has to ask is it desirable? Should I strive to become more or less open minded? That is up to you of course. This is a "free country" (in theory) and you have the right to choose to be as open minded or closed minded as you want.
I have chosen to pursue the path of the open mind and that is what this magazine is about. If you have chosen the opposite path then that is your right. But you might not appreciate this publication as much as you would if you were pursuing an open minded position.
Having said I have chosen the path of pursuing open mindedness, what does this really mean. If I were to ask all of you readers, "Do you consider yourself open minded?", I think the majority of you would answer, "Yes".
But how do I know that I really am open minded and not that I just believe that I am? How do I objectively measure this? Under what situations am I open minded? Under what situations am I not open minded? And to what degree am I open minded?
By definition, (my definition) open mindedness implies the ability to assimilate new information, test it's reliability, and use it to form new conclusions. I think it can be assumed that in the normal course of learning that one is exposed to a vast amount of information. Much of this information is wrong. One also forms conclusions about this information some of which is wrong. Often the wrong conclusion is formed from lack of complete information. Sometimes the wrong conclusion is formed because of personal emotional barriers that cause one to see reality in a way other than it is.
I assume that we all have the above factors to deal with and therefore have a certain percentage of our opinions that are in error. The pursuit of the "Truth" involves reexamining these conclusions based on new more accurate (hopefully) information and weeding out the errors. We also need to be assessing how accurate our perception is and what emotional factors are present that influence our perception.
Therefore let us count the times we have "jumped the fence" on basic beliefs as a way of measuring our commitment to the pursuit of truth. How often do we find ourselves changing our minds on issues we believe in. Do we vote for the Republican or the Democrat? Do we vote for the tax increase? How did we used to vote? Am I still the same denomination as I was raised as a kid? How do I relate to Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Drugs and how has that changed over the years? Is president Bush doing a good job? I'm I for or against Abortion? Nuclear Power? The Bomb? The Population Explosion? The Environment? Violence on TV? How do I fell about the role of Blacks in society? How about Welfare? What makes Steve Martin "funny"? Do I believe in Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, Jesus Christ, Reincarnation, Heaven and Hell, Life on other Planets, Buddha, Moses, the Bible? How many of these items have you changed your mind on in your lifetime?
If you answer that you have changed your mind a lot on these issues then we might conclude one or more of the following:
A friend of yours is in love with a lady. The relationship has lasted a while and your friend describes her as the most beautiful loving creature that has ever graced the face of the Earth.
Then one day he shows up downtrodden and announces that he has split up with her. He now explains that he has discovered the "real" her and that this woman is pure scum. She is the lowest snake that has ever slithered into his life. He explains "what happened" in graphic gory detail. Since by now you are friends with her to you call her up. She to has changed her perception of him and describes a series of events that barely sound at all like the same event he was describing.
So at this point you have to seriously question the accuracy of these individuals perceptions of reality. You can assume that both of them were wrong in their perception either before the event or after. And to a varying degree that one or both were wrong in how they perceived the event that caused the change. It is obvious from events like this that emotions can obscure ones perception of reality.
Now think back to the last relationship that you had that ended in a less than glorious manner. Remember how this angel transfigured herself into a devil and how your perception of that person changed. You may also recall, if it has been some years ago, that not she was not quite so bad as you once thought and you can now see where you could have done things differently.
Isn't it interesting to look back at how you perceived this person before and after the breakup? And isn't it interesting to compare that perception to how you see her now? Of course back then you can see that you were operating under emotional illusion which clouded your perception of reality. But now you have gotten past that and can see her for what she really is. Now you are past the emotional baggage. Now you have clear perception of the events. Right? HOW DO YOU KNOW?
The interesting point to understand here is that if you think that it is likely that your perception of this relationship will change over the next few years then you have to assume that part of your current perception is wrong. This is an interesting assumption to make. Likewise, if you have noticed in the past that just after breaking up with someone that your viewpoint always changes, is it not logical to assume that if you have just terminated a relationship that your perception of reality is wrong?
This is an interesting position to take where you realize that given all the facts you come to a conclusion, but you realize that your conclusion is going to be the wrong conclusion. What do you do? Often we are taught to "trust our feelings", but if we trust our feelings we would never be able to enjoy rides at carnivals because our feelings tell us we're going to die.
Thus, another point to remember in being open minded is to try to assess your conclusions in relation to how accurate your judgement is. It is not uncommon for me to come to a conclusion knowing that it is more likely I am wrong than that I am right.
The Diversity of Opinion
Someone once told me that opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one. I have found this to be true (about opinions that is). I would have thought that among intelligent people that given the same facts that the majority of these people would come to the same conclusion. In fact, it seems they don't. On just about any issue there are very smart people on both sides. I personally find this amazing.
Given that the facts of many of these issues are constant, we can only assume that even among intelligent people that we reach conclusions based on factors other that reason and logic. This means that we as humans are primarily emotional beings rather than reasonable beings and that the forces of illusion are greater than the forces of reason. I believe that if this were not true, that there would be more agreement among intelligent people about the controversial issues that we face.
Having made that statement, and realizing that I too am human, I can not assume that I am a logical person and that my reasoning is clouded with emotional limitations. In fact the evidence would suggest that unless I have some other reason to believe that my perception is more accurate than that of other intellectuals that my own accuracy of perception should be seriously questioned.
So how I know if I am right or am just fooling myself. I think the answer lies in learning the disciplines of logic and perception and developing methods of testing your conclusions against absolute reality. As I see it, unless one maintains an active mental discipline for testing ones conclusions, then one must assume ones own opinions are highly inaccurate.
So now that I have laid the groundwork here lets take on a real issue that is emotional and controversial and we'll just jump right in and see where it goes. This is one of my favorite subjects and the thing that I consider one of the most important issues facing humanity.
The Population Explosion
Lets just start out with a hot topic that everyone enjoys, Sex and Reproduction. I'm sure to generate a lot of hot controversy here. But as the name implies "Thinking Magazine" the goal is to get you thinking. So whether you agree with me or disagree, you are going to think about it. And, if we can find ways to test these theories against absolute reality, the perhaps we can come to some absolute conclusions.
Lets start by defining the problem. The population of the earth tends to increase logarithmically. Although various factors like birth control technology have slowed the "doubling rate", population still continues to climb.
I make the assumption that there is a limit as to how many people the earth can support. And, according to the rules of mathematics, if the population continues to increase, then eventually we will hit that number.
Now it doesn't really matter for this discussion what that number is. The point is that there is a number and if we don't come up with a solution before we get to that number then terrible things are going to happen.
So we therefor have to come up with a solution that gets us to 0 population growth or negative population growth. I personally think that a global population of 1 to 2 billion is right for this planet to have a high quality of life available for every individual. That way the whole world can "Live like Americans".
So how do we do this? I talked about this subject with a congressman I know who said, "If we could just get people to stop Fucking we could solve a lot of these problems. <grin>" Well realistically are we going to get people to stop fucking? I doubt it. So lets look at the list of other solutions.
1) We could do nothing and let "natural" population control kick in. What do I mean by "natural" population control. This is where nature sets the limits on population by means of famine, disease, and war. If we look at overpopulated places in the world today we can get a glimpse of what that might be like. All you have to do is look at Africa and Bengladesh to preview natural population control.
2) We can put a massive effort into birth control technology and distribution of this technology to where it is most needed. This would include education and cultural changes to get people to use it correctly.
3) We as a society could promote either voluntary or forced mass sterilization. This raises a number of ethical issues which we need to look at. China, who has solved their population growth problem, has used this method. In fact it is perhaps fortunate for them that they are a Communist country because such a plan wouldn't have worked in a democracy like India.
4) We can make abortion legal and available to all. The theory here being that if we are going to reduce reproduction, lets start with those who do not want to reproduce.
So some of these suggestions would actually limit population but have a few obstacles in the way. If we are to implement the solution then we have to address the obstacles and figure out a practical method to get it started.
The first obstacle that comes to mind is the Church. The theory is that sex is immoral and that birth control takes the fear and punishment factor out of sex.
I think the church is wrong. Citing absolute reality I have observed that every living being all the way down to plant life wants to screw something. Life itself flies in the face of church belief. We also see in nature what the effects of overpopulation is and we as intelligent beings have the opportunity to avoid this kind of natural disaster.
The church is motivated to propagate this illusion because between controlling sex, sin, guilt, fear, and death the church has a tool to get your money into their pockets. Thus there is a motivational factor that you have to apply to what they do what they do.
We in America have an interesting population problem. Our problem is about who is reproducing. Here we have responsible middle class working people who can't afford to have kids because they are taxed to death to support the lower class to breed like flies. So what can we do about this? Do we cut off the welfare and let the kids starve? Do we let them breed and wait for society to collapse as the number of dependent people exceed the capacity of producing people to take care of them?
One of the moral questions here is who gets to breed. I for one am tired of funding other peoples children at the expense of my own. The welfare system is such that it provides incentives for people who can't afford children to have them and forces me to pay for them. I think everyone should have the right to have children if they pay for them. But if I'm the one supporting them then I should have a say so.
One thing we can do is that we can offer a cash bonus to anyone who wants to be sterilized. The plan would be free to anyone who wishes sterilization and a $2000 cash incentive for a person with 2 kids and $1000 a kid after that. Thus someone with 6 kids can get $6000.
The idea here is that it will cost the government a whole lot more than $6000 if this person has even 1 more kid. A person with 6 kids is less likely to produce a quality upbringing that those with fewer kids. Thus we save money and produce fewer kids in better environments.
And since it is a voluntary method and is offered to everyone then it is fair and should be compatible with the goals of democratic society. But will the government do it? I doubt it. So here's an alternative plan.
I wonder if it would be possible to form a tax deductible not for profit organization that would be able to provide these incentives. This way money can be routed from tax dollars and channeled privately without the government having to deal with it politically. I'd be interested in contacting people who want to make this happen.
One example we could look at as far as population control goes is how and why we control the population of cats and dogs in cities. The basic concept here is that we as a society promote the neutering of animals because what we want is a few quality pets in good loving homes. We don't want homeless pets that are starving and forming packs and attacking people and spreading disease.
As a society we want people to have warm loving homes like we do for our pets. We do not have the option of destroying the homeless people or forcably hauling them to the doctor to be neutered. But in many ways I'd like to see the way we treat people elevated to at least the level we provide for our pets.
Lets jump right into the abortion question. I'll let you know up front that I am not only pro choice but pro abortion. I feel that if you don't want to be pregnant then get it terminated. I don't want to pay to raise your unwanted kid or have your unwanted kid go to school with my wanted kid. Lets raise the standard of society to be only wanted kids.
But you say "Abortion is murder!". I'll argue that on several points. I for one don't draw the line that life begins at conception. One cell is not a human being. One could argue that every unfertilized egg cell or sperm cell is a potential human being and masturbating is murder.
Lets take it a step further. If it is murder, so what! We as a society tolerate a wide variety of murder. For instance, a utility company turns off the utilities of old people who can't pay their bills and the old person freezes to death. It happens, here in America. And the utility isn't prosecuted for it. It is OK to kill someone in self defense. Capital punishment is legal in many states. We allow women and children to freeze to death on the streets of our cities. So don't feed me "it's murder" crap.
There are a lot of you who will disagree with me on these views and you can do so all you want. If you respond I request that you provide an alternative solution that is feasible and has a chance of working. I will not take you seriously without you presenting an alternative plan.
Pet Peeve of the Week
Woke up last Sunday morning to a ringing phone. I thought "this better be important!". I'm greated by a computer telling me that I just won a trip to the Bermuda Triangle (or somewhere) and just call this 900 number to claim my prize.
There has got to be a way to stop these bastards! Normally when you get annoying calls you can ask the person to stop calling. If they don't then you can call the phone company / police and make them stop.
But with a computer you can't tell them anything. You don't know who is calling. But my rights are being violated here by the phone company and I can't do anything about it, or can I?
I'm looking for a lawyer, who hates being woken up on Sunday mornings by computers, to start a class action suit against Southwestern Bell and other phone companies. What I want is that a judge order phone companies to create a list of people who do not want to receive automated calls. It would then be mandatory for those who own such machines to get the list from the phone company and program their computers to avoid these phone numbers.
I think it should also be mandatory that automated messages must include information as to who to call to get on such a list. So, if you're in the mood to get even, let me know. I want to DO something.
Did you ever wonder if William Kennedy Smiths real middle name is Kennedy? Before he was accused of rape was he ever called William Kennedy Smith, or was he just Billy? Anyhow, I'm glad it's over. I think it speaks very low of Americans to watch such stupidity.
Talk about stupid questions. At the trial they asked Senator Kennedy if he heard anyone screeming. Like he's really going to answer "Yes"?
Gorby resigned today. I wouldn't have resigned if I were him. When asked to resign I would have said, "Resign from what?" I think Gorby is the man of the century and I wish him the best of luck.
An interesting question. Why should Russia get the Soviet Unions seat on the UN security council? Why not Germany or Japan. They are more "world players" these days than Russia. I think the issue should be brought up.
How would you like to be Fedal Castro right now? Must be kind of lonely there in the last stronghold of communism. If I were him I'd merge with Haiti and apply for statehood so he can get on welfare.
The democrats want to buy our votes by giving us a one time tax credit during this election year in conjunction with a tax increase for the rich. And we are supposed to believe this is a tax cut. I really get offended when they think we are that stupid.
On the other side of the isle we have George Bush trying to artificially pump up the economy for next years run for the white house. Going to try to convince us not to worry about "that resession thing". Good to know he's got Dan Quayle to back him up in case anything should happen.
Remember when Bush had his little heart flutter and was hospitalized? They showed Dan on the news and he was grinning from ear to ear. Sent chills down my spine.
I'm an avid Star Trek fan, but the lastest Trek at the movies was a disaster. Not quite as bad as the last one but if you go see this movie I'd go with low expectations. That way you might not be as dissapointed as I was.
CNN last week had one of the stupidest news pieces I have ever seen. They were promoting the idea that cows bealching was contributing to global warming. I can't believe their editors are that dumb.
In 1988 both Pat Robberson and Jesse Jackson ran for president claiming that they were endorsed by GOD. I guess that since GOD didn't do so well in 1988 that he decided not to run anyone in 1992. I suppose we are on our own this time.
Bill of Rights
In celebration of the 200 aniversity of the bill of rights I am including them here. For those of you who don't know them, here they are. Don't let them be taken away from us.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject to the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining Witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Well, we can't cover everything in one issue. There will be more! I plan to cover a wide variety of issues in a frank and down to earth manner. Whenever possible I plan to present not only problems, but solutions. I'm not into writing a bitch only magazine. If I'm going to bitch, I want to be able to present a solution that will work. (At least in theory.)
Therefore, I would like those of you who write me to take a solution oriented approach. I'm interested in finding solutions to real problems.
Some of the subjects that will be in upcomming issues include Politics, Economy, Drugs, Education, Cigarettes, Welfare, Software Reviews, Religion, Banking, and what makes society so stupid.
Since we are in a resession (depression) and no one seems to know what to do to get out of it, in upcomming issues I will focus on real solutions that will work if we can only get them implemented. So stay tuned.
So whether or not Jesus was born on 12-25-0000 I wish you all a Merry one and a happy 1992.