Censorship, Freedom and the Millennials

In America we have a very specific protection of freedom of speech. In recent times the youngest voices among adults have cried out to silence some people and that really could take us in a bad direction. If someone is racist, un-informed, just plain mean, or trolling they still have every right to say whatever they want to say. As long as a person commits no crime due to the inspirations of their thoughts and words we cannot and should not silence them however we all also have the freedom to say whatever we want back. Freedom of speech doesn’t protect anyone from disagreement and on the contrary it seems to be a means by which all voices can be heard. Still, everything has a breaking point. I for one have never believed in the steadfast rule often lobbed toward children that no matter what anyone says to you that you never resort to violence.

I am not in any way advocating violence to solve arguments. Civility, while a hard concept to truly pin down without getting into a discussion on classes, is vital to problem solving. Arguments are disagreements on which things are a problem and which solutions best fix those problems. Such discussions should be conducted as calmly as possible and with all points of view entertained. This method is slow and that’s why people don’t want to do it. That and pride, as Americans we seem to be ever more infected with the idea of personal pride to such a point that entertaining another point of view becomes an affront to our quality of character. It is okay to be wrong though. It is okay to change your mind over time as you learn and change.

So what violence do I entertain? Perhaps that of the abused. If someone else believes what I don’t it may bother me, but it isn’t truly affecting me. I can choose to walk away or to argue it out but there are other ways that people treat one another. Abuse is the use of overwhelming force to control someone. That force can be applied physically and it is more obvious or it can be applied verbally, socially, institutionally and financially. To say that no words should ever inspire violence is to suppose that words cannot dominate and overwhelm a person to control them. Words very much can. This happens in families, in work environments and in myriad other circumstances. In these cases it may be right to take up arms to win back your freedom and your sense of self from your oppressor though from the outside these scenarios are hard to judge, hard to write a law about.

What does this all have to do with freedom of speech and censorship? The generation of people either lauded as amazing or hated as being vapid are millennials. These people are more in touch with open emotional expression than any in recent history and many would say this makes them oversensitive. Perhaps it does. A nation, like an individual, experiences growing pains as changes occur. When shifting away from being closed off emotionally it’s natural that we may swing too far toward knee jerk overreaction on the topics that have always been hard to approach, but now are not being ignored.

I was inspired to start this writing on hearing the President talk in an interview about college students working to ban any remnants of reminders of people that ever were involved in slavery. Being less than 200 years removed from abolition it seems nearly impossible but the emotions stirred up in people are understandable. Still I offer another point of view that on this particular topic we need to never ever forget that the trade of human lives and the ownership of human being was real here. It continues to be real in other places in the world today. We cannot lose sight of the importance of not abusing one another in this most extreme way. Because of this I ask that you not see reminders of the unchangeable past as a symbol only of current oppression. Realize their value as a reminder of what we have done and what we are capable of doing wrong if we don’t work to be better.

Educate everyone you can and listen to what people have to say to you. You will learn new things and hopefully you will spread good knowledge too but I hope we never decide that the right to any point of view, morally repugnant or not, isn’t vitally important to protect. With that lets hope for more discussion and dialogue and less sided-ness.

My Working Definition of God

A discussion started with a friend of mine recently in relation to the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on the idea of creationism vs evolution. I’ve held my own thoughts for a long time on what we might call God but until this discussion I hadn’t tried to articulate it all fully. In chatting with him I think I’ve managed to say what mental manipulations it takes for me to embrace the concept, the idea of a God or of holiness. Some will say that my thoughts are anti religious and you’re welcome to that opinion. For me it’s just a theory and it’s one I’m still working on but I’m ready to talk to more people about it.

Emotion matters. Emotion is real, as real as anything we can have in life. It’s a completely direct part of the experience of being human. Our emotions exist for reasons that have to do with our well being. Fire burns and feels bad because it damages our body and food tastes good because it supports us. Our emotions can be complex and even counterproductive but generally they come as a form of guidance built into us for self protection.

It is easily possible for people to create god within our mind to make up for what we can’t otherwise deal with. Death, origin, disrespect, oppression and so many other bad experiences overload us emotionally and dealing with those issues we’ve exchanged many stories and ideas over time. It’s quite possible that such inventions are so old that we’ve adapted to them as part of our way of living and our connection to the divine is a connection to the other people we identify with allowing our mind to reward us with positive emotion. Communal belief feels good because we survive as a communal animal and loneliness hurts because we can’t survive as lone beings.

I cannot disprove god and I don’t really want to but for my sanity after these theories occurred in my mind I have to redefine god as the community of human experience and collective well being. So for me God is another word for collective concern and identity in a community. God is, without us having to process it, a way to care for everyone and put the group first over ourselves. But that, to me, doesn’t make God exist as a thing. It doesn’t necessitate that god is real on it’s own outside of the existence of human thought. The old old question of “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?” is similar to what I have to call into question here.

The most important part of my theory of God is the fact that it doesn’t matter if you think as I do about it. If you accept God at an emotional level then you are still participating in the same social dialog that I am identifying but in a more direct way. Because I have thought this way I can’t undo it. I am forced to go through the extra steps to think about how god is a construct of our collective existence as thinking beings, but the result is the same.

People need community. People are community. In that way I want to go further into my theory of God and holiness to know what we as people need; what satisfies our want of collective worship and how to ensure that that fundamental want is not used to take us in destructive directions.

The Poor, Insurance, and Money

Being poor does not mean that you waste your excess income, it means you don’t have income. Being poor is the lack of having any money to spend. I think the work done recently in the United States on the Affordable Care Act is very good and while anything that big is going to have problems in it, overall it’s an improvement for the country. That said it all ignores the poor with impunity.

You can find our countries official definition of poverty here:

http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/13poverty.cfm

What is the reality? About 10,000 dollars a year or less, even nothing. That 10k comes to $27 a day including food and housing which would tend to leave 10 to 0 dollars over for personal freedom. What does this have to do with the Affordable Care Act? Well it’s expected that everyone must buy insurance or pay a fine for not having insurance. The goal of these rules is to spread the risk of medical problems over all of the population so that costs can be minimized for an individual. That all works for people with some money but what happens to people with no money?

If I have $0 and my leg hurts constantly I can go to a free clinic (If there are any) or an emergency room where my non-deadly condition will be ignored. If I have no insurance then my visit to a doctor might cost $200. If I DID have insurance then my visit could cost just $50. But I have no money so either way I can’t afford it.

Coverage itself is the same way, if I have no money I can’t buy any coverage and I can’t pay whatever fine might be laid on me for not having coverage because I have no money.

So if I am poor I can get emergency room help if I am going to die without it, we have had laws on that for a long time now, but if I have pain or trouble moving or problems with my skin I can go to a place where people have the skills and tools to help me and be refused.

The truly poor will get no benefit from having insurance or from the insurance industry being reformed. Am I wrong? Have I missed something? Tell me, I want to know.

If You’re in IT Learn to Use a Mac

I am a computer programmer by trade and a long time computer user. I’ve had a Macintosh Performa 405, a Compaq Presario, a poorly build hand made computer, a Macbook Pro, a Dell Vostro 1000 laptop, a better built custom computer, a toshiba touchscreen tablet pc, 2 kinds of iphone and a sony vaio that I am writing on now. I’ve administrated several linux servers remotely and run both red hat and ubuntu on home computers (deciding finally it’s not worth the work to run linux at home). Suffice it to say I’ve used a lot of computers.

In using dozens of different computers over the years I’ve noticed one thing, they are all computers. All of them do the same things. You can write documents, connect to networks, install programs, print, and browse the internet. None of this is particularly hard to figure out on a Mac but across the board I have seen IT departments that flatly give up when asked to do any of them using a non-windows computer.

10 years ago you could get away with acting like macs were a foriegn language and not supporting them but not today. Apple is the biggest company IN THE WORLD. It actually just beat oil in that competition. Every company is vying to get iPads pointed at their website or app and every consumer is either using or wishing they could afford a mac.

I know it’s easy to administrate for a group of windows pcs over a network but when it’s time to do your job it doesn’t matter what’s easy it matters what needs to get done. Figure macs out and be ready to work on them or someone else will and your value will fade away.

Been a While

It’s been a while since I wrote anything. The last post on programming languages was a bit difficult and the break was nice. I’m always open to topics people are interested in learning about and you can submit them via comments here. I have been more active lately exercising and doing parkour. In fact my group got an article in the paper for doing parkour in Memphis. I’m pretty happy with it and its done a lot of good for letting people know parkour is available here.

I’m also running a lot to get ready for Luv Mud, a dirt and obstacle 5k race. I’m really bad at running so I’m doing a lot of it. I want to be competitive but that may be unrealistic. I guess that’s all for now. I’ll be working on another tech article soon, till then stay happy.

A Brave New Website

This is it, the new jonathanmccarver.com. It’s not fancy (yet), I don’t really plan on making a pretty looking site because that’s not what I do. I make things work but in this instance I am trying to spread some of the knowledge that is natural to me. I’m making a technology blog as the mainstay of the site. I work at a newspaper and they just don’t have any tech news. I don’t blame them because it’s local to Memphis TN and there’s just not a need if your focus is the local market. Of course there are articles on tech happening here in the city but those will be sparse.

If you have any questions then comment them here (or anywhere). What do you want to ask a programmer, a scientist, a computer engineer, a phone designer, an internet architect. I can give you answers to all of these things if you want them so let me know.

List of Memphis Statues

This is a work in progress. Once it’s done I’ll add it to wikipedia. Please add any you know of by commenting.

  • 4 elvis statues downtown
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Buddha
  • Religious statue of liberty
  • Ramses
  • W.C. Handy
  • E. H. “Boss” Crump
  • greek statues at the courthouse facing adams
  • Tom Lee (in tom lee park)
  • Soldier in overton war memorial

Someone reccomended going through elmwood for all the ones there. Also CBU campus and theatre memphis.