Archive for April, 2009

Catching up

April 28, 2009

Hit with a wacky schedule once again, so I’ve been unexpectedly offline for a bit. Still busy, but I figured I’d at least share a couple of interesting tidbits that have come across the ol’ desktop. I hope by the end of this week I’ll have some more time to do some “liquid thinking”. As everybody is no doubt aware, we are beset with all sorts of worrisome problems that can be readily read about everywhere. Such as the swine flu, continuing economic crisis, etc. So, let’s take a little break from that to check out something positive and interesting.

Twisters from Space!

Originating in the solar wind, the space tornadoes are rotating plasmas of hot, ionized gas flowing at speeds of more than one million km/h – far faster than the 300 km/h winds of terrestrial tornadoes, said Andreas Keiling, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley.

The tornadoes are actually vortices created by the release of energy on the dark side of the Earth in the trailing ‘magnetotail’ region of the planet’s magnetic field.

Yeah, but will they fling a space cow?

Unrelated but digging deeper into the Earth now, a mechanism has been proposed to explain how the Earth’s magnetic field reverses. As many are no doubt aware, the north and south magnetic poles are the effect of a magnetic dipole, which can be thought of, in simple terms, as a current loop. François Pétrélis of Ecole Normale Supérieure has shown that one mechanism that may explain the flips of the magnetic field is the coupling of the dipole field with a magnetic quadrupole field, due presumably to various flows within the core. In this model, velocity fluctuations in the flow of the core cause the system to be pushed towards having a quadrupole mode which couples to the dipole moment to eventually flip it. More details at the link.

Office space

April 23, 2009
Typical work environment

Typical work environment

I’ve barely had time to really put the time into really quality blogging lately, but here’s a topic I think I can whip out pretty quickly. A bit of a rant on work space environments. If nothing else, I hope it will be somewhat entertaining.

A friend sent me a link to an essay by Paul Graham (author of ANSI Common Lisp, sitting either on my bookshelf or buried in a stack papers on my desk. I’m not going to go looking for it at the moment.). The essay was dated 2004 but is still relevant today.

First, I don’t agree when he implies that are probably no good Java hackers. I’ve known quite a few as I’ve been coding in Java (though I do not claim to be a great hacker myself). I’ve also written perl, python, and lisp and have seen really good code written in those languages as well. I’ve also seen really crappy code written in all those languages. We can get into whole lengthy discussion on what languages or means of expression are good in which type of circumstances, but that’s a completely different post with no clear cut answers. So, that aside, let’s move on to work space environments.

If you are a company whose main product is software, the software you create is only as good as your developers. Their thoughts and creativity are your product. One way to maximize the likelihood of crappy product is pollute those thoughts by putting them in a totally distracting environment where they are constantly interrupted and distracted by people walking around, random conversations taking place here and there surrounding them, etc. In a word, cubicles. Whoever designed the cubicle work environment was not a hacker. In Graham’s words,

The cartoon strip Dilbert has a lot to say about cubicles, and with good reason. All the hackers I know despise them. The mere prospect of being interrupted is enough to prevent hackers from working on hard problems. If you want to get real work done in an office with cubicles, you have two options: work at home, or come in early or late or on a weekend, when no one else is there. Don’t companies realize this is a sign that something is broken? An office environment is supposed to be something that helps you work, not something you work despite.

He is absolutely right. In spite of cubicles being exactly the wrong environment to put hackers in, practically every company I know of does it. Every since I started working in software, every company I’ve been in, with one exception, has been a cubicle farm. When was I the most productive? At home, or after hours, or in the one company I was at where I had an office. Good hackers like getting quality work done, and getting it done well and quickly. An environment that runs contrary to this goal is, I find, generally despised. If you are a hacker reading this who actually likes working in a fabric covered box, please let me know in the comments. Allow me to be the first to congratulate you as you’ll be the first I’ve ever met.

The rest of the essay continues on to make really valid points. I highly recommend a read.

As an addition to that, I would have to add one thing. If you are a manager who is determined to damage productivity while possibly decreasing morale in the process, here’s a sure fire method. Introduce heavy handed processes that run completely orthogonal to how software developers actually work. But I’ll cover that in another post sometime.

Wishing Stephen Hawking a speedy recovery

April 21, 2009

Apparently last night (as of this writing), Stephen Hawking was rushed to the hospital from Cambridge University after not being well for several weeks. He is said to be in a comfortable position.

Of course, many of you will recognize that he is the author of the 1988 best seller A Brief History of Time and the somewhat more layperson accessible The Universe in a Nutshell and A Briefer History of Time. All for which, if you haven’t read, I highly recommend you do so. I might pose some related quiz questions here later.

Along with having brilliant insight as to how the universe works, he is a great populizer of science. It is also well known that he is a long time sufferer of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gherig’s disease. This is a neurodegenerative disease that causes neural signals to weaken and/or no longer be sent to the muscles which gradually atrophy resulting in the patient no longer being able to initiate or control muscle movement. Stephen Hawking continues to beat the odds at surviving this. Doctors expect patients to live about 3 years after being diagnosed and Hawking has lived with after over 30 years.

Although there are some clues, it is not known for sure what causes ALS and there is no cure yet (read the afore referenced link). The ALS Association is fighting to raise awareness, to fund research, and to help families that are going through this. I would urge everyone to give. Every bit helps.

In the meantime, I’ll take this opportunity to wish Stephen Hawking a speedy recovery and a long stint as Professor Emeritus at Cambridge whenever he decides to retire as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics (the traditional retirement age being his age of 67).

The silly party

April 18, 2009
Silly walks for a silly party

Silly walks for a silly party

I didn’t really have the time to blog about it, but I’m sure you have all heard about the conservative Republicans latest experiment with tea bagging (also here and yet another unique take). Without delving into particulars of what this can be taken to mean, allow me simply to say that this exhibits right wing cluelessness at countless levels. The motivation was, of course, to emulate the Boston Tea Party. This was an event at which some of the individuals associated with the American Revolution dressed nominally as Indians and dumped tea into the harbor to protest British taxes on tea imposed with no representation from the colonies. The only thing in common with this week’s tea party was that it involved tea (though had nothing to do with a tea tax) and was about taxes. Taxes legislated, by the way, from our representative government.

I saw a clip on the Daily Show in which a “tea-bagger” was asked about this. He said that he was not represented. More specifically, he added, his views were not “represented”. This fellow needs to retake civics class in high school, as he obviously flunked it while utterly and studiously failing to learn what a representative government is. What is more funny is that this individual will probably see a tax decrease from Obama. He was protesting the fact that taxes will be raised to a level slightly lower than it was under Reagan on people likely much wealthier than him. The money from the taxes will, of course, go towards paying for infrastructure, education, defense, etc. Is the stimulus and budget going to raise the deficit? Yes. But we are now in a bad situation with no good solutions. Only varying shades of bad. It will get better eventually, and it seems possible that Obama’s solution will shorten the wait.

On top of the utterly ridiculous tea party, we have the governor of Texas making not exactly veiled threats to secede. That would be interesting. Let me know how that goes Perry. Last I recall, it didn’t go so smoothly.

Now on one of the Daily Show clips I saw earlier, one of the protesters was holding up a sign showing Obama as Hitler. This was something I’ve seen started during the campaign in fact. Last week or so, I was sent a right wing chain mail warning people about the media’s “love affair” with Obama. Then ended with the quote “What good fortune for those in power that people do not think. ” by Hitler. Are right wing conservatives so devoid of ideas that they’ve got to drag out the old and tired Hitler cliche? Nosing around, I found a youtube video that purports to demonstrate how Obama is like Hitler. Go ahead and watch. I’ll wait.

Done? O.K. The main argument of the video seems to be that Hitler was popular and spoke at big rallies. Obama is popular and speaks at big political rallies. Therefore, Obama is Hitler. It’s kind of baby play, but I type fast so let’s break this down. Abstract it out.
Statement 1: X is P and Q.
Statement 2: Y is P and Q.
Conclusion: X is Y.
Let’s try it out for fun, and stick with the Hitler theme.
Paul McCartney is popular and a vegetarian.
Hitler was popular and a vegetarian.
Paul McCartney is Hitler.
Wow! Who knew?

Except last I checked Paul McCartney is not trying to invade Poland (at least not militarily; I’m not sure what his concert schedule is after Coachella.). Obama is not blaming a specific race of people for our current economic woes and advocating rounding them up into ghettos. Nor does he seem geared up to invade Mexico or Canada. Perhaps the main argument is that Obama doesn’t stumble all over his words like somebody else. Not mentioning any names. Is it now fair game for any articulate speaker to be likened to Hitler?

Now, Obama, along with rest of us, is a descendant from a primate from long ago. In other words, he is human. He is not perfect, and in fact, has a made a few decisions I’ve not agreed with. Going forward, I’m sure he’ll favor decisions that require more debate and modification. But it looks as though the conservatives* have nothing further to contribute to the debate. So, a message to all the conservatives out there. If you ever decide you can actually have a serious adult conversation, we’ll be over here fixing problems. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to regard you as the Silly Party.

*There may be a few good folks left here. For example, Schwarzenegger, although I don’t agree with him on a lot, has not been totally bad and seems somewhat amenable to reason and evidence now and then. Maybe the few sensible ones left should go off and form their own party.

The pain of no coffee

April 16, 2009
Your pain perscription

Your pain perscription

Trying to keep up with everything again, living on too little sleep, along with maintaining my run training, I came across a fun little link about the useful effects of coffee, specifically in regards to sport. University of Illinois professor, Robert Motl, has been doing some study on the effect of caffeine on pain during exercise.

Early in his research, he became aware that “caffeine works on the adenosine neuromodulatory system in the brain and spinal cord, and this system is heavily involved in nociception and pain processing.” Since Motl knew caffeine blocks adenosine from working, he speculated that it could reduce pain.

A number of studies by the U. of I. professor support that conclusion, including investigations considering such variables as exercise intensity, dose of caffeine, anxiety sensitivity and gender.

Motl’s latest published study on the effects of caffeine on pain during exercise appears in the April edition of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

By being able to ignore a little pain, you might be able to push your exercise a little more. The brain’s threshold on detecting pain signals may be a bit high, in my experience. The danger is that if you mask it too much, you may end up damaging your body. Pain is a way of letting you that something isn’t right. My guess, based on being both a avid exerciser and coffee drinker is that the caffeine won’t mask pretty severe pain.

Pretty sure the pain caused by too flat shoes during my last 20 miles on Saturday was not completely masked, in spite of the coffee beforehand. The danger with that is that the pain (Not sure if the brain’s awareness of this is going to effect this or not, but it would be interesting to find out.) often effects form. Exercising with bad form tends to just make things worse and increases even more the risk of injury.

I guess I can say that coffee certainly masks the pain of needing to be awake in the mornings though.

Learning compassion and human evolution

April 14, 2009

From NPR, I came across an interesting study from USC that looked at compassion linked to physical pain, contrasted with “learned compassion” related more to psychological pain. It is reasonable to expect that empathy (see one interesting detailed study here), linked to empathetic neural “mirror” circuits in the brain, was likely an adoptive survival trait. This is kind of a short circuit that could have helped to recognize when another in the social group is in pain and needing help, or for quickly learning things to avoid.

What the USC study showed is that empathy related to physical pain was much more quickly processed (hardwired) then nonphysical pain. Antonio Damasio, coauthor and David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience at USC and the director of USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute, says:

… early humans were probably more likely to survive if they could tell when a friend needed help or a foe was in pain.

“It probably took longer in evolution to get to a stage in which human beings could look at another human being, not see anything externally wrong with them, but imagine that there was something quite wrong in terms of their feelings, in terms of their mental pain,” he says.

Damasio says people still aren’t born with this sort of compassion. They have to learn it.

What I found interesting was that many of the same brain systems were involved in processing both the physical and psychological types of empathetic pain. But processing physical pain empathy was nearly instantaneous whereas to process more complex emotional pain took about 6 seconds longer. It seems as if the appropriate brain systems were co-opted via appropriate learning to give the same effect as an originally evolved function. There are possible implications for raising children.

That raises questions about the effects of news programs and video games in which a traumatic psychological event may flash by in a just a second or two, Damasio says.

He says that might not be long enough for children who are still learning compassion.

Possibly, if children are not learning the full range of compassion, they may not acquire these skills. As empathy and compassion are the foundation of our morality, this could be detrimental to society.

This is also consistent with the argument against the theistic argument that a god or religious thinking is necessary for morality. Morality emerges from the empathy and compassion built into our naturally evolved brains. That does not mean that we don’t need some early foundational training, or brain mapping, to handle more complex social issues.

This I believe or not

April 13, 2009

Over at The Friendly Atheist, a probing question is pondered. What do atheists believe in?. This is a question I’ve also heard from time to time, so I thought I’d see if I could do anything with it. The Friendly Atheist states:

It’s really just a bad question. Just because we don’t believe in a God doesn’t mean we don’t believe in anything. And just because someone says they do believe in God doesn’t mean we know anything else about them.

I’ve said here before that, of an by itself, atheism is not necessarily for anything. It is simply lacking a belief in a supernatural being that is possibly desirous of our worship, Often, for many of us, the path to atheism is a journey which sharpens ones toolkit towards answering questions and facing the complexities of life and the universe as it is. But really, for those atheists who have considered what their atheism is, a short and correct answer is that we believe in a likely vanishing probability for the existence of any god or gods, for some suitable definition of a god which probably includes such things as supernatural transcendence, or some such.

Beyond that is beyond the scope of bare bones atheism, but many of us do go beyond anyway. Obviously I can not speak for everyone, but I believe in the power of a human mind to collaborate with other human minds to examine the evidence to ascertain how the universe works. I believe collaboration is necessary because, as Richard Feynman noted, the easiest person to fool is yourself (What looks to be an interesting but speculative book that touches on this topic is Why We Lie by David Livingstone Smith. Something on my to buy list.). I believe in the freedom to question assumptions to see if they survive the fire of critical grilling. I believe that working together as a society, there are many problems we can solve, and there is much we will continue to learn and accomplish (We have the evidence to back this up). I believe that part of the toolkit that enables us to have such a society is human compassion and doing unto others as we would have done to us. Further, I believe that no religious structure or belief system in the supernatural is necessary for us to perceive this. It is part of who we are.

Celebrating the resurrection

April 12, 2009

It is that time of season again. The time that we celebrate the coming of spring and how death was conquered through the mythical death, burial and miraculous resurrection of Osiris. When we stop to ponder the mystery of the Holy Trinity of Osiris, Isis, and Horus.

Well, now there was a more recent usurper of this ancient and venerate religion. That of Christianity. This religion also boasts a killed and resurrected God, as incarnated in one Jesus, with yet another trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I’m oft told that Christianity is unique because God loved as so much that he incarnated as a human and sacrificed himself to save us from the universal rules of punishment for sin that he set up (well, not in those exact words). I don’t really see the sense of this, but it seems that the idea of dying and resurrected gods is not so unique. In fact, humanity in the Mideast seems to have been plagued with dying and resurrecting gods. From where did this idea arise?

To start, we see that the earliest religions had gods which seemed to represent different aspects of nature. For example, the sun, moon, weather, and so on. The sun rises and sets to rise again the next day. The moon changes phases disappears during the new moon and resurrects a couple of days later. Crops are harvested and vegetation dies every winter to be resurrected in the spring. It seems natural that gods would acquire the characteristics of the natural elements they represented, along with the human characteristics of the people creating them. In fact, I found a fairly decent discussion of this here. In this essay, an observation is made that many of the mystic numbers (3, 7, 12, etc.) common to many of the Mideastern religions (also found to be special in the Bible) arise out of simple astronomical observations. Observations critical to knowing when to plan and harvest crops, for example. How these observations made their way into the various myths of that region is given fairly plausible explanations.

From the link:

Here then, are the core ingredients for all future religious theology and mythology. They are all in one place, in the minds of one group, at one particular time in history. This place and time is the area of the world’s first civilisation, Sumer in Mesopotamia pre 3500 BCE.

With my fellow Sumerians I take these core religious ingredients and make up stories for them, creating characters to represent the objects and the elements as Gods. We also create characters for most of the natural things we do not quite understand which results in a plethora of demi-gods. We give form and names to the groups of stars in the sky and relate these images to the demi-gods we have created. The stories we create are parables and allegories; they all contain constant references to the magical numbers, particularly 7 and 12 representing the 7 heavenly bodies and the 12 Moon phases per year. 3 and 4 also feature heavily in the stories either as themselves or as multiples of themselves; 3 being the two extremities and the mid point in the experiment with the steaks …

The stakes (misspelled as steaks) refer to possibly used posts to align with the extreme and mid-positions of the sun as we pass through the seasons. The number 4 is the number of the seasons, which may be its special significance.

One of the earliest gods was Tammuz, a Sumerian deity, later incorporated into the Greek Adonis. He was a god associated with agriculture, vegetation, and fertility. He was killed when vegetation died and then resurrected when it came back.

Another god to arise in the Mideast out of these various patterns was Mithra (Mithras for the Roman incarnation). His birthday was December 25th, and according to some stories he died, and rose 3 days later. He also had a Eucharist, or “Lord’s Supper”. This was before the Jesus stories. More information can be found here, although there does appear to be some controversy on some of the parallel aspects of the Mithras myth. It does seem indeed that the specific relationship between Mithraism and Christianity may not be so clear cut. I would be interested to see if anybody else has more specifics on this.

The Greek Dionysus (and here) was yet another dying and resurrecting god, associated with wine, the earth, and vegetation. It is interesting to note that Dionysus was a child of Zeus and a mortal woman (Presumably a virgin. For more virgin births see here).

Of course, the most famous example is the Egyptian trinity of Horus, Isis and Osiris (Be careful. The font is horrible and you may want sunglasses.) This was another agricultural god. The I-kher-nefert stele describes the Passion of Osiris. It is interesting to note here the distributing of the body of Osiris which was eventually eaten in a Eucharist. The Egyptians took the story a bit further and associated a shared immortality with the god. They were quite concerned with an afterlife. From the first Osiris link:

According to Egyptian scriptures, “As truly as Osiris lives, so truly shall his follower live; as truly as Osiris is not dead he shall die no more; as truly as Osiris is not annihilated he shall not be annihilated.” Believers were “in Osiris,” the equivalent of being “in Christ.”

Be sure to check out all these myths and more as they are pretty fascinating in how they originated and developed.

Of course, as many Christian apologists will take care to explain, there are also some differences between the individual myths and the Christian story. But, the important fact is that all the elements were there. We humans are quite good and adopting and developing stories. Evolving them to meet the needs of the audience. There is simply nothing in Christianity that can not conceivably be easily extrapolated from what has gone before. At Pagan Library, an argument is made that all these patterns were there so that people would be receptive to the gospel. As one Christian correspondent told me, “Eternity is written into the hearts”. But the patterns motivating the myths were based on natural cycles, governed by Newtonian mechanics (gravitation, rigid body motion, etc.). The motion of the sun and moon. The tilt of the earth that results in seasons that give the appearance of the death and resurrection of vegetation, of life (the ultimate wish). These patterns have purely natural explanations and require nothing else. The explanation that these were purposeful foreshadowings of some sort adds no explanatory power and raises far more questions than it answers.

Another difference often stated is that in contrast to all these myths, Christianity is based on an actual historical person, somebody who actually lived among historical people, got crucified and rose again. We’ll pass by the easy argument that, in fact, all accounts of this person were written years after the alleged events and not by any eyewitnesses. There is a more fundamental argument. There is strong evidence that Jesus not only may not have existed as a historical person, but that the earliest Christians may not have viewed him as historical. An essay at Ebon Musings eloquently discusses this in some detail. Another essay by Earl Doherty fills in much extra detail which supports this. As an example, a smoking gun verse is Hebrews 8.4

8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

The “he were earth” reference refers to Jesus. In fact, the original Greek is a perfect tense saying “if he had been on earth”. The clear implication is that the writer of Hebrews did not think of Jesus as a historical person. He is seen as a heavenly being in a mystical Platonic realm. The idea of earthly things being imperfect reflections of heavenly things was a prevalent idea and the Hellenizing influence common in the Mediterranean made Platonic ideas quite popular among the gnostic sects and mystery cults. We see that in 8.5, where the earthly sacrifices are seen as the imperfect shadows of the heavenly sacrifice performed by Jesus.

What we have is the development of a story, springing out of the existing myths of the time, dressed up for a contemporary audience using popular contemporary ideas. Nothing surprising here. It was simply a resurrection of the resurrection myth.

Easter feasting

April 12, 2009

I had meant to get to get this posting out earlier today, but I got distracted running around to get stuff ready for a 20 mile beach run. An unexpectedly painful run it turns out. Seems my shoes have gotten flat, so it was not pretty. But, back and recovered, so here we go. This was just a few meandering and light thoughts on what are good items of consumption for Easter tomorrow.

As we look forward to celebrating Easter this year, it seems only right that the correct foods and drink should be chosen to celebrate the death and resurrection of mythical Osiris. Osiris (with attendant celebration), and in fact, many of the plethora of dead and resurrected gods originated in or were inspired from ancient Sumer and Egypt. As these are the places where, at the dawn of civilization, beer originated, it seems only fitting that beer figure prominently in the celebrations. In fact, many argue that beer made civilization possible.

Beyond beer, what else could there be? One well known resurrected god being Osiris, one can stick with traditional Egyptian food. It seems bread was pretty important. From this link:

The mainstay of Egyptian diets, aysh (bread) comes in several forms. The most common is a pita type made either with refined white flour called aysh shami, or with coarse, whole wheat, aysh baladi. Stuffed with any of several fillings, it becomes the Egyptian sandwich. Aysh shams is bread made from leavened dough allowed to rise in the sun, while plain aysh comes in long, skinny, French-style loaves.

Egypt’s remarkable records tell us that bread was made in more than thirty different shapes. They included the flat, round loaf now commonly called pita, still a staple food in Egypt. Sweetened doughs or cakes, treasured as food for the gods, were devised by combining honey, dates and other fruits, spices, and nuts with the dough, which was baked in the shapes of animals and birds. Since there was no sugar, honey was used as a sweetener by the rich, and poor people used dates and fruit juices.

Of course, along with liquid bread:

Beer was the national drink, made from the crops of barley. To improve the taste the Egyptians would add spices and it was usually stored in labeled clay jars.

One could also go for mummy shaped cakes. Or, of course, there’s always eggs and ham. More on all the fun death and resurrection stuff Sunday.

Osiris

Osiris

Florida tragedy

April 8, 2009

In a disturbing and tragic bit of news, a mother in Florida shot her son and then herself at a gun range. What reasoning did she use that led to these actions?

“I’m so sorry,” Marie Moore wrote in one note. “I had to send my son to heaven and myself to Hell.”

Apparently she also thought she was the Antichrist.

On audio recordings left for her family, police and gun range owners, Moore apologized for what she had done, but said God commanded her to do it. She said God made her the ‘Antichrist,’ and that she must die to save her boyfriend, son and the world from violence, and her mother, father and brother from hell.

“You have a gun, you can do it,” she said God told her while she was in a mental hospital. “I have to die and go to hell so there can be a thousand years peace on Earth.”

Her fate made no sense to Moore.

“I don’t know how all this happened. It’s not in the Bible,” she adds later. “No forgiveness for me. That’s not in the Bible. The Antichrist being a woman.”

Now, clearly most Christians do not go around thinking they are the Antichrist and shooting their children and are probably just as appalled at this as anybody else. Nonetheless, it seems to me difficult to argue that the thinking here is not entirely inconsistent with a religious mindset. Perhaps the son was saved, and in her view, he will now be spending eternity in heaven with God, before he has a chance to change his mind. She says that God talked to her. We recognize this as mental illness, but what makes this different than the numerous people God is said to have talked to in the Bible? What makes her interpretation of the Antichrist any less correct than any others? This is the kind of ungrounded thinking that religion enables. Perhaps without religion another tragic manifestation of her mental illness would have come to pass, but at least this easy avenue would not have been available. Without superstitious thinking, maybe she would have recognized the problems she was having and taken appropriate steps. We’ll never know.

Of course, this is not evidence against Christianity. But I would think that this should cause one to at least examine the beliefs that can enable this train of thought. If you are a believer, ask yourself if this belief set is really consistent with the world around you. Is it really consistent with your own morals and views concerning how worthwhile life is?

Regardless, deepest sympathies to the family of Marie Moore in this senseless tragedy.