Killing Me Softly

by Peter Rittman on May 5, 2014

Music is well known to have therapeutic effects that can lift a troubled soul from the depths of manic depression. Of course, it can also drive one to the depths of despair if one is so inclined – I’ve sometimes thought that if you could get Janis Ian and Leonard Cohen on the same stage, you could pretty well guarantee mass suicides! Don’t get me wrong – I love both of those artists, but I have often been given to deep introspection and I am naturally disposed to both depression and manic joy. And no – I am not bipolar – I do not subscribe to the superstitious belief that such a thing exists – it’s just another imaginary condition foisted on us by the pharma industry and its army of dependent analysts! To hell with them all!
As for Cohen – my God! This is the only man on Earth who can make the joyous sound of Hallelujah sound like a funeral dirge – I LOVE HIM!!! Listen to this –

(Copyright Sony Entertainment – buy it from Itunes!
Depressing or what?! But stunningly marvelous!
I often wish i could play an instrument, to give voice to the agonies that have plagued me through my long, long and bitter life. Of course there have also been periods of joy, but pain is so much easier to express in notes and song and words; that’s what the blues is all about I guess – about the pain of love and misfortune, misery and injustice.

.And of course, blues is probably the single biggest misic form that underlies all popular music today in one way or antother, just as black spiritual music, also rooted in injustice and sorrow underpins rock and roll. Maybe what this artform tells us is that there can be no real joy without sorrow and that joy itself is but a brief respite from the eternal sorrow of creation. What else are we to make of life – we live and we die!

Having said that, the universe itself is base on music if we are to believe string theory, and every physical thing is composed of a chorus of vibrating microscopic strings that exist below the level of atoms and quarks. Quantum theory backs this up and tells us that every physical thing in the universe made of mass also has a corresponding waveform and that the waveform itself is made up of an infinitude of frequencies – God’s harmony given voice in reality. So maybe the universe is God’s song and we are the notes, ringing loud through all eternity, deathless if not unafraid!  That is my hope.

Anyway, to tap into this feeling, the feeling that’s gving rise to the song of words and thoughts, the best way is to learn to sing or play an instrument – and find your own unique part in God’s eternal chorus, in the choir of heaven and Earth. This is Peter Rittman, signing off for now.

– BU! you might check out UDPK for some similar mental instability and rambling!

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Ethical Standards in Medicine

by Peter Rittman on April 7, 2014

ethics

Ethics and god manners make the world go around! Recently I’ve been looking at ethics in medicine and particularly in plastic surgery.

millions of people are fighting an ultimately hopeless war against aging with plastic surgery.

I’m one of those people that frowns on cosmetic surgery. Ever since I realized my friends were getting nose jobs for their birthdays, I have thought that body modifications are an excellent example of a modern form of mental illness – neurosis – an obsessive an destructive desire to be someone you’re not! And when I see rather old celebrities with lips that are three times their natural size, I actually cringe. Of course thy are a minority to be fair, but the sort of cosmetic surgery disaster that Michael Jackson brought upon himself makes me doubt that there are any ethics at all in the cosmetic surgery industry.

A doctor I know who was completing a Ph.D. outlined a number of ethical questions surrounding cosmetic surgery in a recent article for The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.

He notes that, for many of us – people like me I guess – cosmetic surgery induces a reaction of repugnance and for very good reasons. Ethicist Leon Kass talks about the “wisdom of repugnance,” the idea that our revulsion indicates an intuitive understanding that something is morally wrong. Michael Jackson’s and Joan Rivers’s adventures under the knife seem like modern-day morality tales. But whilst I cite them as examples,, I am nowhere near as negative about them as I am about the elleged ‘doctors’ who took their money and turned them into grotesques. have those doctors no morality at all?

So what is the root of my prejudcie? Is plastic surgery bad because it’s unnatural? Shaving legs and armpits is unnatural, but you don’t hear a lot of popular sentiment about how Americans are going against nature and nature’s God when women buy razors. So that’s not it! Not, it’s not the unnatural aspect that bothers me so much as the allocation of precious medical resources to things that simply don’t need doing as well as the pandering to the needs of essentially mentally unwell people and performing surgery on them.

Some might argue that most of our grooming (such as dying one’s hair or shaving) is a temporary aesthetic fix, whereas cosmetic surgery permanently alters what we are born with. The duration of change is hardly the best ethical barometer though is it? We don’t seem to have problems with knee replacement surgery or the permanent removal of teeth but surely they are simply medical necessities – things that must be done.

Is the real difference, as I asses it to be one of treatment versus enhancement? A woman getting cosmetic surgery following the removal of a cancerous breast is perfectly understandable, but one expanding her bust-line without medical necessity is absolutely silly – and it actually harms her because having failed to resolve one insecurity she will surely move on to another and another until she ends up like Joan Rivers!
Our nip-and-tuck culture is about beauty and covetousness. It’s also about our frail and failing bodies, and even more about discontent. And there are so many options these days – a friend of mine (Herman the German!!! – he’ll kill me for that!) is starting a similar discussion and marketing some products at Zeerca dot com that he’s just taken over. Do have a look if you can read German!

Perhaps the best way to approach questions about the morality of cosmetic surgery is to pinpoint why we’re pondering the issue. A woman who thinks her marriage will improve if she improves her bust line certainly needs help– but probably not the kind of help that a scalpel provides. So what do you think? Drop a comment and let me know.

Just another thought – do technology, poetry, art and ethics seem like a stable mix? I cam across a strange site and I’ll be keeping my eye on it! It’s here at Shadows of Reality! and I really can’t see the mix working out. Ah well!

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Rittman Lifestyle – Choices for You!

by Peter Rittman on March 31, 2014

Sara

 

We are young and cheeky and we enjoy life! We are part of a new online spiritual network that celebrates the wonders of God and life and everything! The life of a believer is not dull, it is not devoid of high technology, of electronic systems and music; it is not devoid of iPads and databases – in fact it is full brim to overflowing with all of the things that God has provided for his people one way or another. As I said, we are part of a network that will grow in time and with God’s grace. Here is the first of our friend-sites: Friends In Christ that we will be workings with, exchanging articles and idea. For our first article we will be exploring technology in the 21st Century and trying to see what impact it will have on humanity.

God and Technology in the 21st Century

One of the fundamental questions concerning God and technology arises from issues centered on the possibility of Artificial Intelligence. There are two key schools of thought here:

1) Strong AI which insists that human consciousness is algorithmic in nature and will soon be created in a digital computer

2) Weak AI which says that although machines can be made that will appear intelligent, they will not be self aware and will not be able to reach any level of consciousness.

This is not a simple argument! In fact, although digital computers are a recent development in human history, this question has plagued philosophers for centuries. This question is what drove Descartes  to write:  Cogito Ergo Sum – I think Therefore I am!

Two Ways of Viewing a Computer

What I am going to say now will seem obvious to many, but absolute heresy to others:

“Any machine that is designed to execute rules, even when those rules permit the acquisition of data, can never be self aware and can never be considered to be a life form.”

To me this is self-evident. I have worked with computers most of my life, having been an electronics engineer, software developer and hardware designer among other things. There are only two ways to look at a  computer:

1) From the inside

2) From the outside

To me at least, this is as simple as it seems.

A Computer Seen from the Inside

From the inside, a general purpose computer (as conceived by van Neumann) is quite simply a calculator that can take in data, operate on it in some way and produce a result which it stores in memory. Of course it does this millions of times per second and the result can be anything from an enhanced image to a number to control signals for a vehicle. It is dumb and it does what it is programmed to do.

A Computer Seen from the Outside

This is where the proponents of strong AI start veering into fantasy land.

More soon!

 

 

 

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