This is a delayed post. I originally wrote this on a plane in May of this year. I’m just now getting around to editing and posting it.

What kind of a world would we be living in if we had no emotions? Would we be alive at all? What drives our emotions? Are they useful to us? Does religion play a part in our emotions? Does it define who we are, even if one doesn’t believe in a God? Let’s explore that by way of an encounter I had recently when traveling.

It all started at the airport as I was leaving for a trip to Orlando. As I normally do, I picked up a bottle of water to keep myself hydrated on the flight. There was nothing unusual about that, it was the same brand of water, purchased from the same airport store and the same man behind the counter took my money. In idle chit-chat as I decided to pick up a pack of gum at the same time, he quipped that we weren’t supposed to be here anyway.

To put that statement into context you would have to have known about the “End of the World” prediction for 21 May 2011 at 6 PM. This apparently didn’t come true as here I was on the 22nd, buying a bottle of water for my trip. Those of us who are diligent in understanding The Bible know that no man will know the date or time of the second coming of Christ, or the end of the world as some people would say. I said as much to the man behind the counter, who then postulated that we’d all be better off if we had no emotions. So this is where it gets strange.

I’m not sure how or why this gentleman made a leap from faith to emotions. He said emotions are why we still have wars, why we still have killing, hate and in that statement he lumped all “bad” things of this world. My feeling was that he was presuming if we had no hate in the world it would be a better place. By that he would have been correct, but his statement was seeking a world without emotion. So let’s study that for a moment.

What are emotions? Love, hate, desire, sadness, gladness, madness, happiness? There are probably more which can be covered by those basic ones off the top of my head. What about want, is that the same as desire? How about care, is that the same as love? Is need an emotion? I don’t see it as such as need is something driven more by self-preservation. But isn’t that driven by emotions of hunger and pain, survival? I need food to stay alive, or shelter to stay out of the weather. Let’s remove emotions from some situations and examine their outcome.

Let’s say I have no want, I have no care but I do have need for food. If I have no food, and you do, how do I get it? Do I ask, or do I simply take it, or maybe even just kill you for it? That’s no less than an animal would do to stay alive. I would have no remorse over your death if I had no emotions. I wouldn’t try to hide it as I would have no shame. No one else would have emotions, so no one else would care. Your carcass would simply rot where it lay. There would be no repercussions, without emotions no one has made any laws to govern us as a people.

Let’s say I’m walking along the street and I see people in need, they are probably more hungry than I am. If I have no emotion, I have no care. My focus is on preserving my own life, not others. But what is to prevent them from killing me if I have food? Perhaps only my own strength or other means to defend myself. But isn’t self-defense driven by emotion? But in this example, I have no fear, I have no emotions. I am not fearful of them killing me. For that matter do I have an emotion that drives self-preservation? Is there emotion tied to that?

If I am hungry do I experience pain? In a world without emotions is pain allowed? Is pain an emotion? In a world with emotions we sometimes equate pain with sadness, grief or loss. In that respect it -is- an emotion we experience. In a world without emotion, would we then not experience pain, would we not feel a need to eat, to preserve ourselves? I’ve drawn a parallel to the animal kingdom, but that’s not a fair comparison as animals do have feelings as well.

There is simply no way I can draw a clear example of the human race not having emotions. Under just this simple example given here, I think it can be quickly seen that humans would probably not exist without emotions. We’d probably kill each other off rather quickly and more so than we do now. So our emotions are key to our existence, and I would propose it’s why we -haven’t- killed ourselves totally. Where then does that leave religion as it relates to emotions?

There’s a little thing many of us call “morality.” Those without religion also have a morality though it may not have religious ties. It’s been something they were raised with in one way or another. It’s a defining line between right and wrong; what we feel good about and what we feel bad about. There’s that “feelings” thing again. Religion, when it’s taught and accepted as its founders expected, can be a strong driver for the good of man. When it isn’t studied properly or those of a weaker mind are bamboozled by charlatans and false-prophets, it drives a deep divide between those who understand religion and those who accept the fact others believe even if they themselves do not.

There are many people in this world who do not believe in God and they manage to get along fine with the rest of society. They even give to the poor, support charities, raise their kids right and contribute positively to the human condition. Are they living without emotions? No. In a sense, in America, it is the religious background that has set the stage for such high morality in our society today, preventing all out chaos. Religion has helped define the right and wrong, the good and the bad, and I’d almost bet those without religion can recognize that.

Would we have, could we have, emotions without religion? Certainly we could, in fact I’d say we would. And in having emotions, we would feel the good and the bad, and by that it would assist us in the right and the wrong. When things make us feel bad, we think of them as wrong. If I am hungry, I feel pain, I feel bad and I feel it is wrong that I am hungry. Once I eat, I feel better, I feel good. And in that personal experience I can understand how other people feel when they are hungry and in need.

If a person close to me dies, I feel pain, I feel bad, I feel it is wrong that the person has died. I therefore feel preserving life is good. Just that little bit of emotion can shape morality, even without the benefit of the 10 Commandments. Now I suppose without religion our feelings could have been defined differently, such that we don’t feel bad when somebody dies, but doesn’t that lead to the same chaos as our supposition of no emotions? If killing people feels “good” we’d do it until there is no one left.

So in a sense, religion has helped us as a society define right versus wrong, good from bad and has in many ways helped prevent war; kept war and killing to a minimum. Now if we could spread that feeling around more, maybe we could prevent it even more. I think religion has a powerful part to play in it all, as long as the morality being taught is to respect life and not take it in the name of “religion.”

Spread the word.
Asa Jay

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Shelley, Sam and I just got back from an extended vacation. I didn’t take a laptop, I didn’t take my cell phone. We slept in tents, cooked outside, endured rain, wind, cold and general unpleasantness. Of the four days at the campsite, one was comfortable, sunny and warm.

We survived.

After a total of about seven days, I got home to an inbox brimming with about 320 new emails. Not bad actually, that was just my personal account. A quick check of my cell phone (for work) and I find about 100 more. Seems about right. It’s time to get back into the swing of using technology to improve my life. But is it really?

For seven days, we went without most modern conveniences. I didn’t really miss email, or my cell phone. Having email has opened communications to a new level, but do I really need it that much? It helps support my hobbies and my work. Do I really need it for my hobbies? Well, a question beyond that really is, do I really need my hobbies?

Amongst my emails are the standard daily notices from the Barracuda Spam and Virus firewall. Prior to my vacation I was probably getting maybe 5 to 10 spam messages in there a day. After my vacation, it’s brimming with over 100. Since coming home the daily total is hovering around 30. What just happened?

What probably just happened is a bunch more computers out there got taken over by a spam zombie program and are sending out emails out the wazoo. The authorities find and shut down one spam house… and there are several more waiting in the wings to be top dog. It’s an ebb and flow of sorts, it gets heavy for a while, the somebody gets caught, computers seized, accounts frozen, servers taken down and the spam load goes down. A little while later, it starts coming up again, and usually heavier than before. Rinse and repeat, only it never goes away and it only gets worse.

With the modern convenience of of the computer, email, web sites, etc. I also now have the added -inconvenience- of having to sift through crap just to find the valuable content. It’s rapidly coming to a peak where the inconvenience of it all outweighs the convenience. Let’s take a look:

– I have anti-Virus software installed to try and catch nasty things hoodlums try to send me in emails or downloads. Sometimes it’s silly. I’ve recently been getting emails from a noreply address at my -own- domain. I -own- the domain; I -am- the administrator; there is no “noreply” address in my domain. The emails are trying to get me to open a file with a virus in it in order to compromise either my computer or my domain. My virus software scans the emails on incoming and removes the virus. It’s safe, but it’s a damn bit inconvenient that I have to put up with it.
– Anti-spyware software. Same reasons… jerks who have nothing better to do than try to take over the world by using my computer. Increases the time it takes to boot my computer; increases the time it takes to load web sites, increases the time it takes for me to browse, learn, buy, whatever. A brand spankin’ new fast computer and it’s been slowed to a crawl by all the anti-this and that having to scan every bit that flows through in order to keep cretins out of my system. That’s all a damn bit inconvenient if you ask me.
– Parked domains for sale. Here’s a good one. I did a search for something today at work; I used my favorite search engine. One of the hits appeared to be just what I was looking for. Nope, turned out to be a scam site that appeared to be everything I wanted, but in reality only linked to a bunch of ebay auctions with similar key words, and pasted in various places on the page were offers to have me buy the domain. That wasted a few minutes of my work time; don’t believe that was convenient for a second.
– Spam, not the kind that comes in a can, but the kind that clogs my Barracuda spam firewall. Sure, it’s nice that I don’t get all the extra crap in my inbox, but I still have to go out once a day, scan the subjects and “from” lines in the quarantine and either verify they are spam or friendly. That wastes several more minutes of my day. It wouldn’t be so bad, but it keeps classifying as spam, several email addresses I’ve whitelisted. So it’s not perfect. And those I’ve blacklistd keep showing up in the quarantine too. If I’ve blacklisted them… I don’t even want them in the quarantine, throw the damn things away.

Should we talk about the cell phone? No, let’s not go there. Just focusing on email can get me pretty riled. Sure it used to be a great convenience, but now with all the extra hassle, I’m not so sure. And it’s all because some dirt bags are either trying to scam things out of me like bank account numbers, logins and passwords, or they are trying to plant things on my computer to use it as a zombie to do their dirty work, like spam other users, or run denial of service attacks on others, or attempt break-ins at banks, or military installations. It makes me want to scream.

My wife, who runs a work at home business, nets over 100 spam messages a day. That can really eat into her day especially if she’s trying to make sure a legitimate customer didn’t end up in the spam quarantine. Our time is worth something too. It’s like I have to -work- in order to use these neat little conveniences. All I really want to do is use the computer as the tool it’s designed to be; not have to keep one step ahead of the criminals by constantly upgrading, scanning, checking, verifying, wondering, worrying, etc. I’m rapidly becoming sick of it, entirely.

For all the conveniences of the modern computer to bring me useful information, news and entertainment, I’m just not sure it’s worth it anymore.

Asa Jay

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Watching and listening to so many arguments over “entitlement” programs, I sat back one day and penned this little quote:

“It’s not up to society to -grant- the standard of living; it’s up to the individual to strive for it themselves.”

I’m all for charitable giving and trying to help others. However, the point at which a society is simply using my moral ethic to milk me of my hard earned standard of living, I may just give up my ethic and live off yours. Then who will be the provider?

I think that’s about as basic as it gets. If I really need to explain it further, I don’t know you’ll ever really “get it.”

Asa Jay

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I recently came across this article on the BBC that talks about the Casio F-91W watch. It reminded me of a similar watch I have in my pocket at this very moment. It’s a Casio Data Bank Telememo 50, from 1986.

In 1986, I was attending a military technical school for the AN/TSC-60 Communications Facility (another story in itself). One of the class members had this really cool Casio watch that had a touchscreen. He showed me how he could enter names and phone numbers by writing on the screen with his finger. Being a technology geek of heavy proportions (and little money) at the time, I was intrigued.

When I returned home from that school, I began looking for that watch. After a few months of no luck, I ended up buying a Casio Data Bank Telememo 50. This had the same basic functionality but without the touchscreen. I’ve owned it ever since. I used to keep lots of names and phone numbers in it, but they always got lost when I replaced the batteries. Eventually, with technology changes, I keep that info in my cell phone now.

I’ve had to replace the batteries in it a few times since 1986. The most recent time I had it apart to replace the battery, I cleaned all the contacts for the buttons and treated them with DeoxIT. After years, the contacts had become nearly useless from oxidation, so the buttons were difficult to operate. After applying DeoxIT, it’s like the watch is brand new again.

Many, many years ago, I took the original watchband off and put it in a military style woven webbing strap style band with an integrated fold-over cover. I wore it that way for many years, until it really no longer fit. Then it migrated to my pocket and it now serves as a protective case for the watch, and a money clip, if you can believe that. I’ve not worn a watch on my wrist in probably better than 15 years.

After 25 years, this watch is still going strong. It’s hard to tell if it’s really losing any time. I use it as my alarm clock religiously. I take it on all my trips. It’s been to the deserts of the United Arab Emirates, and to the shores of Japan. It’s outlasted many things I own, except perhaps the Casio calculator I purchased in 1972 that still works and I still own.

Now I’m waxing nostalgic about that comm shelter……..

Asa Jay

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Please let me be perfectly clear about this, I am -not- anti-vaccine.

My son has Autism and I know there is a large body of individuals who believe vaccines are a primary cause of Autism. I also know my son’s behaviors appeared to change after a huge battery of vaccines were administered. Does that mean vaccines are causing Autism?

I recently read an article in which Bill Gates indicates those who are buying in to the anti-vaccine theory are putting their kids at great risk. I happen to agree. But if vaccines aren’t causing Autism, why is there so much anecdotal evidence indicating there is? I would like to explore my own observations and questions that make some people think I’m anti-vaccine (but I’m not).

I am not a doctor, or a chemist, or even a behavioral specialist. I’m an engineering and troubleshooting type; analyzing and collating data to come to logical conclusions. I’ve been using the Kepner-Tregoe method of problem solving since High School, though I didn’t know it at the time. I don’t wish to spend days researching answers to these questions; they are meant to be taken at face value for the reader to ponder and react accordingly.
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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton