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Being who and what I am, I've discovered a few guiding principles that help me avoid some of the more obvious problems. The principles taught in church, school, and seminary were different, and generally did not work well for me. The principles that follow are the ones by which I try to live. The list continues to evolve and change...

Table of Contents
Principles of Knowledge
Principles of Behavior
Bumper Stickers
Not Your Usual Philosophy...
Books Read and Worth Reading
On the Reading List

Principles of Knowledge

1. No one has an absolute lock on truth.
2. I would rather know.
3. Theories must be testable.
4. Belief is not truth.
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Principles of Behavior

1. I am responsible for my own actions.
2. I am responsible, not for what I started with, but for what I did with what I had.
3. I reserve the right to change my mind if I become aware of a better method.
4. I will choose potential good.
5. I will not cause pain solely in order to hurt.
6. There is no shame in earning money honestly.
7. I hold the right of voluntary association.
8. Learning requires making innovative mistakes.
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We the People...

The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves.
-- attributed to John Locke

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and all that is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
-- Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 inaugural address

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.
-- attributed to George Washington

Love your country, but never trust its government.
-- Robert A. Heinlein.

Why of course the people don't want war... That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.
-- Hermann Goering.

I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution [there], start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which had addressed ourselves.
...We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem...
It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way...
-- Mark Twain. From the New York Herald, October 15, 1900
(from his newspaper article regarding the Phillippene-American War)

No form of government, once in power, can be trusted to limit its own ambition, to extend freedom and to wither away. This means that it is up to the citizenry, those outside of power, to engage in permanent combat with the state, short of violent, escalatory revolution, but beyond the gentility of the ballot-box, to insure justice, freedom and well being.
-- Horward Zinn.

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
-- Edward Abbey.

To criticize one's country is to do it a service .... Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism - a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar rituals and national adulation.
-- U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright.

1. The Political Spectrum as I see it. I did not develop the test or chart (wish I had), but from my point of view it makes intuitive sense where the modern-traditional Left/Right (or in the US: Democrat/Republican) dichotomy does not. If you want a dichotomy, then use the spectrum that includes the collective at one end and the individual at the other.
2. To quote Bugs-Bunny, the US "made a wrong toin at Alberqoirque" when it decided to abandon the guidance provided by the founding fathers. The result has been a slow slide* to disaster.
(*From my point of view. Historically the transition has been rather quick.)
3. From Robert A. Heinlein's classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress: Rules, laws — always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: "Please pass this so that I won't be able to do something I know I should stop." Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them "for their own good" — not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it.
4. Congress has no right to take from one to give to another, even if the process is called "charity".
From "The Life of Colonel David Crockett" Not Yours to Give: The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.
Per James R. Boylston, "Not Yours to Give" is a historically incorrect urban legend from the 1867 Harper's Magazine article by James J. Bethune (a pseudonym for Edward S. Ellis). Though Boylston's blog refutes the story, like any moral fable, "not yours to give" makes an essential point that should not be overlooked... In this case, I believe the essence of the story is, charity is only charity when it is voluntary. Forced charity is theft.
(More discussion here)
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Bumper Stickers

Say "NO" to political theft and drive a stake through the heart of this vampiric political meme "Thou shall not steal... except by majority rule".

Want a copy? You can find it here (w:300 h:361 px):
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Not Your Usual Philosophy...

Regarding data and information...
    The information you have is not the information you want.
The information you want is not the information you need.
The information you need is not the information you can obtain.
The information you can obtain costs more than you want to pay.

→ From a note passed to Peter L. Bernstein
After years examining data stored in information systems, I've concluded the note's author and Murphy were both optimists.
Commentary: The last line is too optimistic, it should be restated as:
   The information you can obtain costs more than you can afford.
Regarding expectations...
    You've set low standards and are consistently disappointed.
→ Comment from a friend when told the nature of data in information systems.
Regarding miracles...
    Miracle... a low probability fortuitous event, occuring at an opportune time.
→ The odds of finding consistently good data in an information system.
Regarding really tough problems...
    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
Albert Einstein's solution to finding consistently good data in an information system.
Regarding the Laws of Classical Thermodynamics...
  • Can't win (First Law).
  • Can't break even (Second Law).
  • Can't quit (Third Law).
  • ...so cheat! (Brown's Corollary) You open the system... or to twist a phrase, you think outside the black box.

→ I learned the original at UT's School of Mechanical Engineering... and that's where I came up with the corollary.
See also Soapbox Seminar #10

Restated as Brown's Laws of Data:
  • Data in a dynamic information system is never correct (First Law).
  • The best you can do is find and fix the errors (Second Law).
  • You'll never find all the errors, and you'll not know how to fix all the ones you do find (Third Law).
  • ...so cheat! Don't allow bad data into the system... in other words, no data is better than bad data.

Other variations of the Classics here.
Regarding bad marriages...
    The only thing worse than being alone...
Is wishing you were.

→ Knowledge gleaned from years of first hand experience, or what happens when you try to fix all the data errors in an information system.
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Books Read and Worth Reading

Economics for Real People
The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin no Sho)
The Law
The Prince
The Road to Serfdom
Thomas Jefferson : Writings : Autobiography / Notes on the State of Virginia / Public and Private Papers / Addresses / Letters
What Has Government Done to Our Money?
Who Killed The Constitution? Thomas E. Woods, Jr & Kevin R. C. Gutzman
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On the Reading List

A Foreign Policy of Freedom: 'Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship' Ron Paul
American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence
The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification : Part One, September 1787-February 1788
The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification, Part Two: January to August 1788
Benjamin Franklin
On Liberty John Stuart Mill
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Revised 2013.04.05 © 1997..2013 by Keith S. Brown