Endless Curiosity

About Me

I write software for a living but am endlessly curious about the world and the people in it. I finally decided to start a blog after sending out a daily email to a distribution list and having to constantly answer the question “Why don’t you have a blog”. So now I do.

As a software writer I have to be reality-based. I write software then have to test it to see if it works. If it doesn’t work I have to figure out what is wrong, fix it and retest it. I can’t just write the software, genuflect and pray that it works. Nor can I simply believe that it will work. The result is that I have little belief in ideology or unsubstantiated beliefs. Reality rocks. Test your ideas and if they don’t work, modify them.

I am a total liberal and proud of it. I believe that society has a responsibility to all its members and not just to those powerful and selfish enough to take what they want. My social philosophy derives from the idea that society should try to increase the opportunities for those at the bottom of the heap – the rich and powerful can make enough opportunities of their own. I love the quote from Sadiq el Mahdi, a Sudanese man quoted by Paul Theroux in his book Dark Star Safari. “The criterion is how you treat the weak. The measure of civilized behavior is compassion.”

I also love the idea proposed by the late American philosopher John Rawls. Try to define your perfect society: all the rules, laws, safety nets, and so on, with the caveat that once the society is fully defined, you will die and be born into that society. However, you have no idea who or what you will be. You could be smart or stupid, beautiful or ugly, born to rich parents or to a single crack-addicted mother. You could be born into a wealthy neighborhood or a rundown slum. It’s a good exercise in thinking how to create a fair and just society, and in getting a feel for how you have benefited.

But while I believe that society has a responsibility to all its members, I also believe that capitalism is the engine that drives progress and wealth. However, I don’t believe that unfettered capitalism is the answer. Some people will always try to get as much as they can, which is why we have rules and laws, and since capitalism is based on the actions of people, capitalism needs rules and laws.

My answer to those who say we should be able to keep what we make is that we could have a society like Somalia’s, but we don’t. We have a nation and a society that was created and improved through the blood, toil, tears, and sweat of others who came before us. Those who benefit the most from this society created by past generations should quite reasonably contribute back the most to it for the benefit of future generations.

So obviously some of my posts will be political. However, I’m also fascinated by the way that people think and remember and believe, and all the exciting new research on the way our brains work. So I’ll also post about these types of topics. In fact, I’ll pretty much post about anything that I find interesting or fascinating and want to share with others.

But having said all that, my main purpose is to use this blog as a web site so there probably won’t be many postings. You can find the main pages in the Pages section. In particular, there are links to two books I’m slowly working on – A God of Manageable Size, and The Happiness Dance.

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