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Bernie Ziebart

The Engineering Perspective

The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.

Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.

Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.


The Sheboygan crime

Two 13-year-old boys have been charged as adults in the murder of a 78-year-old woman in Sheboygan Falls. Prosecutors say one of those children is the woman's great grandson. According to prosecutors, the teenagers attacked the woman with a hatchet and a hammer. Authorities describe a crime scene that was particularly gruesome. The victim is identified as Barbara Olson. Prosecutors say her great grandson, Antonio Barbeau and his friend, Nathan Paape attacked her.

After attacking and killing the 78-year-old woman, the boys stole money, jewelry and the car. They took the car for a joy ride, went to get pizza and then abandoned the car.

The great grandson's attorney, George Limbeck, spoke to TODAY'S TMJ4 following the boys' court appearance on Friday morning. "People need to understand that what the state said today is not necessarily the facts of the case." "The relationship between my client and his great grandmother was actually a very good relationship.” Limbeck also stated, “Despite popular opinion, my client is not a monster…and he is extremely upset by the allegations.”

Homicides generally fall into 5 categories;

  1. Material goods. A perpetrator will assault and occasionally kill the victim for some material gain. Typically, the perpetrator is in dire need of money for the next ‘fix’ and will do just about anything to get it. 
  2. Crime of passion. The perpetrator is seething with hatred over a rejection, betrayal or some other hurt. The victim knows the perpetrator quite well and the signs of the crime of passion usually encompass severe facial damage.
  3. Turf war. Two street gangs are engaged in a battle over turf, (the right to sell drugs in a particular area).
  4. Thrill kill. Some individuals get a ‘high’ or ‘thrill’ from the torture and murder of another person. Typically, the perpetrator does not know the victim. The victim is stalked to understand their patterns of behavior, but the victim can be selected randomly.
  5. Sex crime: During the course of a sex crime, the victim may be killed to cover the identity of the perpetrator.

The murder in Sheboygan falls was not committed for material gain. These boys came from middle class homes. They could have gotten pizza any time they wanted it. This was not a crime of passion, sex crime or a turf war.  This was a thrill kill. The unique aspect was that the victim was the great grandmother of the perpetrator. 

I have had to wade through a mountain of columnists claiming that this type of heinous violence is caused by video games and the glorification of violence in movies and TV.  Others say that this represents a lack of morals and discipline. While I think it would be a good idea to reduce the violence in games, TV, movies and add discipline and morals in schools, this all misses the bigger point.  

This type of violence and murder is just unexplainable; a root cause can’t be found. It can’t be rationalized or explained, despite the best efforts of the defense attorney (In this case, the defense attorney is absolutely reprehensible by asking for compassion and understanding for these 13 year old boys). It is so vile and demonic that any attempt to rationalize it is just sickening.  

This crime suggests to me that there must be some force influencing (not forcing…we have free will) the boys to commit this atrocity outside of the material world. I have a hard time believing that 13 year kids came up with this idea on their own in a spiritual vacuum. 

There are three basic components to these 13 years kids and people, in general.


The function of the body is simply to carry the soul and spirit around and do its bidding. We are out of balance when we allow the body to dictate to the soul and spirit. When matters of the body drive all decision, we are desperately shallow; see ‘Shallow Hal’.   

The body is fickle, temporal, constantly changing and has no lasting value. The only value that the body has is derived from the fact that we are made in God’s image.  In MGarber’s case, the body is a product of time, chance and chemical determinism.

I equate the body to the transmission of a message on a phone line. In a phone conversation, we speak into a microphone. The microphone digitizes the sound into an electrical signal consisting of 1s and 0s. This electrical signal is transmitted through the air or over a copper wire to a phone on other end of the conversation. The phone at the receiving end takes this electrical impulses and converts in back to an audible sound that is recognizable to the person listening. If the raw electrical impulse was written and presented to the person at the other end of the phone, it would not be understandable and meaningful. Likewise, the body takes the thought impulse from the soul and transforms the thought into something recognizable to the outside world.

But unlike a phone that exists to transmit the sound from one person to another in the most efficient way with clarity, the body does not transmit the thoughts very well and muffles the intensions of the thought. The body will try to destroy the signals and twist the impulses until we learn to discipline the body so it does not filter the signals from the mind and soul. But the body essentially transmits the signal from the soul through action to the outside world; it put thought into action.


The real substance behind my action is not a substance at all, but the thought behind the action. The thought itself is never created; it is only given symbolic form. The thought belongs to the thinker and the other thinkers who are capable of interpreting the symbolic form in which the thought was expressed. 

Thoughts and inspiration have no dimension, but belong to the unseen world. Those things which I produce; things that can be felt, seen, heard, have no meaning except the meaning that people can give them by the ability of me to transfer my thoughts.

But where did my thoughts come from? In most cases my thoughts are recycled thoughts of others that I have latched on to. I have read much and heard much that I only need to pull something out of my proverbial file folder when responding to someone or developing a thought. Most thought is simply parroted thoughts of others. 

Thoughts typically come through the senses of the body but are filtered through the body. The body modifies the in-coming impulses from the sense based on way it is wired. As long as the body is the major source of thought generation, the mind can not be objective since the impulses it receives are substantially filtered.


The only other source of producing a thought is the spirit; but it is nebulous and unquantifiable. We are born pre-tuned to evil spiritual forces (beyond short-term self-gratification). I equate our pre-disposition to evil to a Volvo coming off of the factory floor pre-tuned to National Public Radio. Unless the tuning is deliberately and willfully changed, it will remain at the factory setting. 

When our tuning is changed to life, love, peace and light, only then can thoughts be developed that are not tuned to self or destruction.   These thoughts are new to us. But the purpose of re-tuning our spirit is to create beauty.

Am I capable of developing a thought never thought of – truly original thought? Theologically, the answer is no. All things have always existed and an original thought had to already exist before your spirit was tuned to it. 

Back to the 13 year-old boys.

Where did the thought to kill great grandmother come from? It was nothing that they saw being modeled. They might have seen this on ‘Grand-theft auto’, but most people can differential between a game and reality. There was no pressing need to kill great grandmother for self-preservation. This thought was developed through a tuning to evil. 

I understand that many people do not believe a spiritual realm exists and everything that does exist is material; it can be weighed and measured. But these actions can’t be explained through explanations dealing solely with the material world.

I can’t put credence into the world view that everything that exists is contained within a material box. Therefore all answers to issues within the material box must all come from within the material box. But when the problems come from outside the material box the subsequent answers must also come from outside the material box.

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