Wednesday, September 26, 2007


"... unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." - Declaration of Independence

Alan Keyes, during a Q&A after a talk touched on the Liberty aspect and laid bare the foundations with such clarity... he said (not the eloquent original text): If God himself saw fit to give men freedom we should be most reluctant to reverse that endowment!

So what happens when you give every person freedom? Evil. Yes - some evil will undoubtedly happen in the world. To prevent it wouldn't God have to rescind free will?

St. Augustine defined evil as the lesser of two goods. (This takes some time to get used to but it is based on the simple fact that what God made (created things) are objectively goods.)

So how do you give freedom to every living person? You have to allow for each person to see the various choices available to him - to be able to weigh them according to their different attributes and consequences - and to make the choice based on that stew. Someone who always makes the choice which brings him alone the most pleasure (at the expense of others' or even God) is a hedonist. Someone who always makes the choice which brings him alone the most power (at the expense of others or God) is ambitious (in the bad sense). Someone who genuinely works to make the choice that is THE best available (with respect to God, others and himself) is a saint. Etc.

So every action must touch on several attributes and consequences. We must live in a web with other creatures and with God.

Therefore it seems that God will not remove all hurts and obstacles and ornery folks precisely because He wishes to preserve in us the dignity of Liberty.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Gordon Moore

I have been at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this week (sweet!). It is really a geek festival. There was a competition going on as I left of 3 guys racing each other building overclocked top-end computers for prizes. And they had a big audience standing around wishing they could be doing it too.

But that serves only to introduce Gordon Moore. Instrumental in bringing the integrated circuit from curiosity to commonplace- (but still staggering-) reality. He was among a handful who made Intel. And he still has some pretty good experience and thinking skills!

He was educated as a chemist and physicist. When asked what he would go into if he had to start today he said Biology. Life sciences are really making leaps and growing lots. It is an area with a lot of potential still too! Meaningful too.

His advice to new engineers is this (paraphrased - I can't write that fast):
It's not the exotic... It's not the non-linear equations... it's the fundamentals that you learned. Keep well grounded in the fundamentals. Make them part of your way of doing things.

Which got me thinking... In electrical engineering V = I * R is a fundamental. I have solved a lot of things in my career by writing that down on the top of a whiteboard or a scrap of paper - and going from there.

In fact there are probably just one or two things to remember in many of the disciplines and sciences. Maybe we could make a list - a simple list!! - to give to the kids. The fundamentals of:

  • Electronics: V=I*R
  • Chemistry: elements are conserved. Maybe something about bonds too.
  • Biology: (help me out here). Life is the universe's consistent exception to entropy.
  • Math: = + - zero
  • Religion: God is good. He made us to know, love and serve Him.
  • Philosophy: There is truth. And it can be known. WE are made to know the world.
  • History: History is a great teacher - learn humility. Never use absolutes! Everyone is like you. No-one is like you. There have been remarkable changes in the body of knowledge but people are remarkably recognizable as far back as we can see.
  • Manners: Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
  • Humor: The surprise of seeing two things together that you weren't otherwise seeing as related.
  • Speaking in public:
  • Decision making: (This is another thought from the Gordon Moore interview here. I am still mulling on it.) The hard decisions are often the ones where you see the least difference between the choices. Consequently, they in particular probably won't make that much of a difference either way.
  • Thermodynamics already has it's own nice little set of laws.
  • Mechanics does too. (mostly thanks to Newton).
  • Leadership: those who simply DO are usually the leaders.

Comments and corrections ALWAYS welcome.