Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


June 26, 2012

WE THE PEOPLE: A bird, a plane or hallucination?

CROSSVILLE — I saw several UFOs one November night many years ago while flying in a plane load of fellow paratroopers over the Yukon Territory on the way to Alaska. Half a dozen lights appeared and followed on the port side of our troop carrier at a steady but respectable distance and then disappeared. We checked our parachutes. There was nothing around us or below us except snow, mountains, forests and an occasional frozen lake in the dim arctic night. We had no idea what the lights were except that they were UFOs (which was hardly an explanation).

Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, says: “In all fields of science there is a residue of anomalies unexplained by the dominant theory. That does not mean the prevailing theory is wrong or that alternative theories are right. It just means that more work needs to be done to bring those anomalies into the accepted paradigm. In the meantime, it is okay to live with the uncertainty that not everything has an explanation.”

Some UFOs and other strange things people believe or think they see are a part of the “residue problem.” The problem is not restricted to scientific theories. The problem appears in politics, religion, and other aspects of human behavior. It often waxes large in the preoccupations of persons with too little reliable information or too little to think with.

Humans tend to need explanations. If there are none, then we often create simplistic ones. Creationism, for example, is an unscientific religious belief. “God did it” is creationism’s only theorem. Whether or not you believe in creationism does not make you a good or bad person.

Reactionary pundits, however, writing about the wonders of conservatism quite often use personal attacks and distorted world views to complain about everything. Close examination reveals they spread invalid information, not real ideas, and want us to see them as being under assault from everyone, including most family dogs.

Much of the residue problem rampant in the country is caused by people who are not in circles that deliberate with logic and reason. The far right often promotes faith-based arguments. These political radicals comb through the Internet like bears in a dumpster feeding on fetid morsels of garbage. They threaten anyone who tries to herd them toward more substantial fare. Yet, they want to control the world because they claim to know the hearts and minds of the Founding Fathers.

Yes, there are lots of new UFOs out there. Not all come from the right, either. The far left knows that capitalism is designed for profit, not for compassion, but capitalism also helps make things run. There is a land between the two extremes.

We are facing a new era. How shall we preserve democracy? Both sides claim to love this country and our freedom. A big UFO problem today is Unexpected Funding Obstacles. We know we must spend less, but how? The choice facing voters is to choose a leader who will lead us to the right balance. Will less taxation and more guns fix things or is it time to rebuild the U.S.A. and our economic machine on the Golden Rule and not the rule of gold?

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  • Lion and the Lamb: Our war on women

    Jimmy Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981, has had quite an impressive career as an author. His first book was published in 1975, and he has now written a total of 37 books, 23 of them after his presidency. He has set a high example for other past presidents, especially those who would like to find ways of being as beneficial to their nation as possible in the days after their retirement.

    April 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: "Selfie" destruction

    Technology continues to profoundly impact our daily lives, from the Heartbleed Bug that put hundreds of thousands of websites at risk of compromising customer usernames and passwords, to the little light that tries to tell me I'm about to run out of gas. Technology also impacts our language, with new words being created to describe the latest gizmo, gadget or trend.

    April 21, 2014

  • Stumptalk: It depends on what you mean

    A writer’s headline asks, “Do we really believe in democracy?” To which I answer, “What do you mean by democracy?

    April 21, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

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