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Sunday, March 14, 2004

http://www.unitedforpeace.org

March 20: NYC Still Says No to War!
March and Rally Against War and Occupation
Saturday, March 20 Assemble at Noon.

It's hard to believe that it has been a year since I was stuck in that "penned-in" area on 3rd avenue.  This time, I am vowing to be smarter about and not get herded in, if that's possible.

And I need to get to write something for my dad's 80th Birthday which is Sunday.  I still have this idea of sort of doing a "roast" but I have to be careful about it -- pretty easy to offend people, not to mention dad.

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8:09:25 PM    

Made some changes (yes again) to the Prints for Sales section.  It may or may not look as good but it will work better for anyone who is using a monitor with a lower resolution.

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Excerpt from Notes from Undergound (Dostoyevsky)

"Now, let me ask you something: what can one expect from man, considering he's such a strange creature?  You can shower upon him all earthly blessings... give him such economic security that he won't have anything to do but sleep, nibble at cakes, and worry about keeping world history flowing - and even then, out of sheer spite and ingratitude, man will play a dirty trick on you... What he wants to preserve is precisely his noxious fancies and vulgar trivilaties, if only to assure himself that men are still men and not piano keys."

The poor "mouse" of a narrator is trying to show that even if we can prove that everything we do is pre-determined, that we are no more than Piano Keys being played by the laws of nature, that we will still do something stupid -- just to assure ourselves of our own free will.

And that is exactly how free-will vs. determinism shapes up for me.   I think you can prove that just about everything we do is determined by some previous cause, which in turn is the result of a previous cause, and yet, we will do something that is not to our own advantage, knowing that -- just to prove we are not Piano Keys.

The following is by contributing editor A.G.

There probably is no such thing as free will, but we need certain illusions to live our lives in an orderly way. 

Free will is one of those important illusions.  There would be no justifiable punishment for crimes and every murderer could be acquitted on the basis of temporary insanity if the justice system didn't assume that people had some responsibility for the decisions they made.  The suicide bombers in Israel today had no illusions about free will.  God gave them a mission and they submitted to the will of God.

Perhaps if they had been brought up in an environment in which the illusion of individual freedom of choice held sway, they may have questioned the belief that killing Israelis was God's will.  In every society, as Dosteyevsky says, there will be those who spitefully commit unexpected irrational acts as heroic, yet futile proof they have free will. 

But when governments and religions preach deterministic inevitable outcomes("Democracy will prevail" or "Allah will wipe out the infidels"), then the melodies that the mice determine from inside the piano will certainly turn out to be dirges. AG

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I actually don't see the connection between suicide bombers and free-will.  I believe that most religions support the idea of free-will.  Without it, there can be no sin, which is a big part of religion.  When you say you are "doing God's will" you are actually saying that you choose to "do God's will."  That is an assertion of your own free will.  So I don't see the relevance of the above idea by my good friend, the senator from New Jersey.

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5:59:57 PM