Dave Sim's blogandmail #443 (November 28th, 2007)
Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist
1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.
2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.
3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.
4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.
5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.
6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.
7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.
8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.
9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.
10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.
11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.
12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.
13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.
14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.
15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.
The million-dollar question posed to Einstein around his 50th birthday by an interviewer: Did the great physicist believe in God?
I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.
I think it would have been more accurate for Einstein to say, "You're asking the wrong person. You're assuming that because I figured out one little contradiction/glitch in our perceptions of space/time and the fact that that solution led to the creation of the atomic bomb that I know all of God's secrets. I haven't really figured anything out of any great significance since I came up with the Theory of Relativity and that's almost thirty years ago now, almost half a human lifespan. A Complete Unified Theory has escaped me and I was working on it before and I've been working on it since." The more you know in the maths and the sciences, I think he was saying, the more you realize that you have only a dim understanding of how the whole of reality is put together. You can figure out how space/time works and from that an atomic weapon can be built – or a nuclear power plant -- but that doesn't even begin to solve or even address the idea of whether, say, interstellar travel is possible. All that he had been able to figure out had only established for him just how an immense a proposition even perceiving the nature of reality was. Einstein only dimly grasped the immensity of the metaphorical library we are in and could only perceive just how limited his own perception and capacity was, while most people thought of him as the New Librarian who would be able to assimilate and explain all of the books to us or at least figure out whatever we wanted figured out: how to change lead into gold, how to create a car that ran on bottled water, how to create a 100% effective means of birth control, how to teach monkeys to talk and play chess and so on.
The larger point for me is submission to the will of the Actual Librarian, God, who wrote all of the books and understands every word and every nuance in them. That brings me back to Scripture. The limitations of the human mind and the human lifespan are a given, the immensity of the Library is a given, the ultimately futility of however many man hours Einstein devoted to the Unified Theory is a given. From that I extrapolate that everyone is better served by having the Actual Librarian direct them since we are, as Einstein said, dramatically limited in every meaningful aspect of effective action. No one but the Actual Librarian is going to know the best use of our 70-or-so years given our severely limited grasp of the nature of reality.
Is this a Jewish concept of God? the interviewer next wanted to know.
I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will. Jews believe in free will. They believe that man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew.
I think Einstein's defining himself as a determinist originates in his discovery of the underlying nature of space/time that, in effect, everything that will happen has already happened if you expand the context far enough. Einstein was born when he was born and died when he died and in the context of the fifth dimension of time he is, as Alan Moore has pointed out, a metaphorical millipede or snake-like being that begins here and ends there and was doing, has done and, for all space/time, will do only the things that he was doing, has done and will do all along the winding millipede like track of his life. Einstein, probably more than anyone, perceived that more accurately and earlier than anyone else did. Alan Moore could only come up with the metaphor because of the work that Einstein did.
But that in no way refutes the reality that Einstein did actually make choices. Every Friday that he chose to work after sundown he violated his (residual?) Orthodox Judaic faith. Every Sunday I choose to do the opposite, to not work, to rest, to read and comment on Scripture from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday. That doesn't mean that I shape my own life (so far as I know) but it does mean that I shape a part of my life, and it does mean that there are choices that I make that I believe are significant: significant for the exact reason that I don't inhabit the larger context. Although linear living is illusory, that is how I perceive my life, that is the context I inhabit, so I try to make good choices instead of bad choices. Whether there are alternate realities where my better choices have a net positive effect even while in the main reality I continue to drink and to womanize and so on, that is beyond the limitations of my mind to perceive. But choices I perceive. Choosing to fast for four days every three weeks, to fast in Ramadan but not to choose Islam OVER Christianity and Judaism, those are all choices. Arguably the only person who would know if I broke Sabbath would be God. I never see anyone I know in town and most of them have no idea of my observance. But breaking Sabbath – going out and eating in a restaurant, having a glass of wine, taking in a movie – would be, to me, a significant negative act so I don't do it. It is now true that Dave Sim has only broken Sabbath a handful of times since the late 1990s, that he always did and always will observe a Sabbath in the larger context of space/time from the late 1990s to 2007. But the decision still has to be made next Saturday night, next Sunday morning, next Sunday afternoon, next Sunday evening, next Sunday night. And the one after that and the one after that and the one after that until, metaphorically speaking, my millipede is completed and it can be said that I observed a Sabbath from the late 1990s to the point of my death with a handful of exceptions. And I do think that that decision would shape my life and would have a larger net positive effect than whatever Einstein was doing from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday for the last forty or fifty years of his life.
The interviewer next wants to know: Is this Spinoza's God?
Tomorrow: Is Einstein's idea of God Spinoza's idea of God?
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