Is obedience more important than chastity?

Picture from the Telegraph. Follow this link to read the article.

Is obedience more important than chastity? Ask Fernando Lugo, former priest and catholic bishop and, now, president of Paraguay.

Father Lugo has caused quite a stir, both in Paraguay and elsewhere, when in the last two weeks three women came forward claiming he had fathered their children. First one was Viviana Carrillo, 26, who got father Lugo to acknowledge the claim. Apparently she was 16 when the relationship started. Her son is two. (There are unconfirmed reports that she has moved in with the president). Then it was the turn for Benigna Leguizamón, who was 17 when she started working at the bishop's house and allegedly gave birth to Lugo's child, who is now 6. I can't help but notice that, because of their ages, father Lugo was carrying on with Benigna and Viviana at the same time. Both Benigna and Viviana requested parental support for their children.

As if that was not enough, just this week another woman showed up with a child. This time it was Damiana Morán. Unlike the other two, Damiana was not father Lugo's parishioner but a church activist and she was claims to have been dazzled by the bishop's personality and charm. Her son is a year and half old. Also, unlike the other two, she has no monetary claims on the president.

While the whole bruhaha does not seem to be harming father Lugo politically, since Paraguay is a very conservative and macho country, his opposition is latching on to the scandal to try to get some mileage for their cause. Even one of the cabinet ministers, Mrs. Gloria Rubin, who is the minister for women (an interesting title) is claiming she and her ministry will stand behind any other women who has any further paternity claims.

And rumour is, there will be more. This week, bishop Rogelio Livieres indicated that, as early as 2004, the church was aware of father Lugo's dalliances as two women presented written complaints to Monsignor Antonio Lucibello, the papal Nuncio in Paraguay. Apparently, this complaint prompted father Lugo's resignation from his post. As is usual in these cases, the priesthood quickly swept the trash under the rug and kept mum about the whole deal, as the offender was safely out of the way.

The Roman and Apostholic Catholic Church does not need any more scandals. Unfortunately for them, none from Pope Ratzinger down seems to notice or care. And father Lugo could easily have avoided this ordeal had he chosen to break both his obedience and chastity vows. It turns out that he was only delinquent on the chastity, as he obeyed his superior, the Pope, while committing the deed: he did not use a condom.

What is man?

Picture from Posted under fair use policy. No rights implied or assumed.

The three laws of robotics:
1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Isaac Asimov. Runaround (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942)

In Bicentennial Man (the story, not the Robin Williams movie which is a poor adaptation of the good doctor's work), Dr. Asimov tells the story of Andrew, an NDR series robot who struggles to become human and finally accomplishes it. Bicentennial Man is yet another fantastic tour de force by Dr. Asimov, a fantastic insight into what means to be human... even though the story is about a robot.

I found today another robot story that explores the meaning of being a man. Article of faith, by Mike Resnick (Baen's Universe, october 2008 and EP193 of Escape pod) goes into the tricky question of whether a robot has a soul. (Article of faith, by the way, is a 2009 Hugo Nominee. If you don't know what an Hugo award is, there is always Google...)

Regardless of whether a soul is an attribute of either man or machine, both Dr. Asimov and Mr. Resnick have hit the nail on the head: being man is not about shape or origin but about the ability to think and reason. Both Andrew (Bicentennial Man) and Jackson (Article of faith) while made of metal and with plenty of bolts and nuts, thought like a man and struggled to find their place in the universe; in both cases, that quest ultimately meant their demise: by choice, in the case of Andrew and by violence, in the case of Jackson.

Who knows if we will ever be able to generate artificial intelligence so capable that it may struggle with these deep questions. But science fiction is always at hand, to prod us into thinking and speculating on the possibilities.

And I just heard someone saying that impossible just means I don't know how to do it...

We are in good company

I got a link to the list of the 50 most brilliant atheists of all time. I recommend to read the list, it is a fascinating read. And interesting to know that we share our non belief with such distinguished people like
  • Stephen Hawkins
  • Steve Wozniak
  • Warren Buffet
  • Katherine Hepburn
  • Jodie Foster
  • PZ Myers
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Richard Leaky
  • Sigmund Freud
  • ... and 41 others

Years ago, I used to think that if almost everyone believed in God, God's existence must be real. Now that I know better I realize that this line of thought is an argument "ad populom" or, in other words, a generalization.

Truth is not a popularity contest but the concordance between our judgement and the facts; actually, as we all know, truth can be very painful and unconfortable...

Rick Wagoner leaves GM and everyone beats on a dead horse

Image found at Poynography

After several years at the helm of GM, Rick Wagoner has resigned. Under duress.

Of course, who can say no to the US president?

I remember when Wagoner was appointed to the top job at GM. All my favorite car magazine's writers were excited that he apointed a "car guy", Bob Lutz, to be his second in command and he would have GM build some exciting new products instead of just hulking SUVs and pick-ups.

(We car guys don't like SUVs... got it? But we don't hate them like infamous green eco-histerical Arianna Huffington).

Unfortunately, after that, GM missed all the market trends - cross-overs, hybrids... forgot about cars... A car company that does not make cars? Hum... funny.

Car guys or not, we have all known about GM's woes for a long time. The pensions were choking the company, the UAW was strangling it and it's dependence (same as Ford's and Chrysler's) on SUVs and pick-up trucks was a big sword dangling over poor Rick's head. Tough decisions had to be taken which were never really addressed and this latest crisis is nothing else than the chronicle of an announced death.

Yes, there was poor product planning but I get really upset when I read opinions like this . GM's downfall was in the making for more than 20 years and it might not have happened if there had been no crisis. This lady, Maureen Dowd is taking Huffington's side by proclaiming that SUVs are the reason for this latest tragedy at GM.

In her words "...Wagoner stuck to gas-guzzling pickups and S.U.V.’s long after it was clear that higher gas prices meant he should vary the fleet with more fuel-efficient vehicles..."

Dear Maureen, it takes years to develop new cars. It only took one year for gasoline to skyrocket and fall again. The reason GM failed was lack of foresight, if you will. But GM built what the american public wanted: large trucks and SUVs. Now that gasoline is cheap again, you yourself admit that small car inventories are piling up.

Ariana and Maureen should develop some critical thinking skills in addition to getting a nice new shining crystal ball. Rick Wagoner's ball malfunctioned and now he is out of a job.

To add insult to injury, Rick is stepping down and Fritz Henderson will be appointed to be the new CEO. Funny. Fritz was always Rick's choice and will continue to do more of the same.

Yes, everyone agrees that Rick's tenure was a huge failure. But one thing he did as asked: SUVs and pick-up trucks.

Give people what they want. You will be punished. And everyone will beat on your old, dead carcass.