Archive for category Musing

Opposite Effect

Posted by on Monday, 23 July, 2012

Someone on fb (who am I kidding, it is always the same person) posted something about the number of abortions in the U.S. and China. The China figure was significantly higher than the U.S., but when adjusted for population, apparently China has roughly double the number of abortions per capita. Which is still a lot, so that point is neither here nor there.

No, what I have been pondering for the last week or so was a comment someone else left about how the aborted babies are “immediately with Jesus forever.” I do not know that there is Biblical evidence to support this, I think it is merely assumed because God is not a d-bag*.

I started thinking, academically, about what part of you actually goes to Heaven. Specifically, whether or not you retain your personality and values in the after life. I have to assume either that these unborn babies with Jesus will either have no personality, or that our personalities are in no way formed by the experiences of our mortal lives. Or that that which is aborted is not actually a person. Or that the whole thing is hogwash and there is no such thing as Heaven.

And with that simple comment, I felt as though the entire concept of eternal life came tumbling down like a house of cards.

*Although the Biblical evidence for THAT is somewhat open to argument.


Posted by on Monday, 9 July, 2012

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matt. 7:3-5).

I have been struggling lately with character flaws in others that are also a problem in me. This is happening at work, in social circles, among fb friends, you name. I am very non-confrontational to begin with, but I keep wishing I could say to people, “You know, this would work a lot better if you were not so _____.” Then I realize that I am quite ____ myself, and am in no position to criticize.

So what then? Are we to merely accept that people are inherently flawed, that criticism is not constructive, and that we must lower our standards and realize the futility of our goals?

Do Not Think

Posted by on Saturday, 25 February, 2012

In a previous post, I set out to list all the reasons that I do not date. By the time I was finished, I had almost talked myself out of it. That is counter-productive. I am so reluctant to make decisions at all,  to question the convictions that I already have simply will not do.

I also went through the archives looking for something. Reading through old post is always depressing. I sometimes dissociate, and think, “This poor guy has been in such pain for so long… I wish that there was something that I could do.” Then I come back and realize that that guy is me, and there is nothing anyone can do. I realized that, I do not think that this was a conscious thought necessarily, but in the past I was hoping that someone would read my blog and understand my struggles and show me what I was missing. Because I was definitely missing something.

Since last summer, I have written a post per week, whether I had anything interesting to say or not. Usually not. I was telling someone recently that I thought the discipline of doing it every week was more valuable than anything I actually had to say. Although, after reading through the older posts, I wonder if the silly stuff I write about now might actually be an improvement.

In the past, I never wanted to talk about my blog in person. I do not remember why, or if I even had a reason. Now I find myself mentioning frequently in conversation, and I feel foolish every time. In the mid ’00s, everyone had a blog and nobody cared. Now we are well into the ’10s and people care even less. In fact, there is a certain comedy website whose articles lately keep slapping me in the face. Talking about your blog is pathetic. Talking about your book that you are never actually going to write is pathetic. Talking about your dream journal is pathetic.

It is almost enough to make me want to throw in the towel. But I am committed to one post a week, and again, it is not wise to rethink that.

What Would Happen If?

Posted by on Friday, 3 February, 2012

In my previous post, I tangentially mentioned that I sometimes think of story ideas, but never write them down. It occurred to me afterward that someone out there (and you know who you are) might insist that I should write and make available these stories. This is actually a minor subset of “projects that I could be working on, but I’m not”, which is a much greater issue. But since I already brought it up, I will discuss this specifically

The thing is, I do not usually come up with STORIES, I come up with story IDEAS. I have think of premises for stories, not the story itself. A premise asks a question: “What would happen if…?” The story is the answer: It tells what would happen.

For example, many years ago I had an idea for a story called Holiday Ten. The idea was this: There are ten* federal holidays in the United States. Yet take, for example, Columbus Day. I realize that some people do take all the holidays seriously, and that around that particular holiday, certain types of people want to argue over whether Columbus really should be honored. Yet aside from that, and perhaps store promotions and such, I expect that most people do not give more than a passing thought to Christopher Columbus. They just take their three day weekend. In the UK, they actually have what are called Bank Holidays. It is just a day where the banks are closed and most people have the day off. Not in honor of anything, just because.

So imagine that a hundred years or so in the future, no one cares what anymore about what ANY of the holidays were intended to celebrate, they just welcome the extra day off. Having lost all original meaning, the holidays are simply referred to by number.

I further noted that, rather than our current calender, the 365 day year could be divided into 13 months of 28 days (4 weeks) with one day left over. That day would not belong to any month and would mark the start of a new year. Holiday One, if you will. Though I came up with this entirely on my own, I recognize that it is basically a lunar calendar, but I never bothered to research how it compares to the lunar calendars that other cultures have used for millennia. I also did not have a specific plan for leap years.

In any case, as indicated, my story would take place on Holiday Ten, previously known as Christmas. And when I say “take place”… I am pretty much out. What takes place? I have no idea. No plot, no characters, nothing. I actually came up with the idea several years before I ever started going to church, so it is not as though I even intended it to be preachy about the “true meaning of Christmas” or anything like that, although it is hard to imagine where else one might go with it.

So if any aspiring authors out there want to run with that, be my guest. Let me know what you come up with, and if you happen to write a multinational bestseller, please mention my blog on your book tour.


I did get a little bit further than that on this more recent story that I mentioned last week. I had an idea that I found intriguing. It felt like it would work best as a movie or graphic novel. Perhaps as webcomic since I enjoy those so much. I would like to do webcomic** sometime, however, I have had several ideas in that vein already, and if I ever did decide to formally begin one, this particular story would not be first in line. No, the best thing for this would be to just write it out, post it online somewhere and move on.

So I had this idea, but needed some characters and plot. I came up with a murder mystery sort of thing. But after several days thinking about it and getting the story all worked out in my head, I realized that I what I had was basically a murder mystery with a gimmick. As a consumer of entertainment, I absolutely hate it when I see something that wastes a good premise on a mediocre story. I certainly did not want to be guilty of that myself. Especially since the more I thought about it, the more I realized there was a certain richness and depth to my original idea and I kept asking myself, are you going to explore THIS aspect? And the answer kept being, “Not really.” I wanted to include little hints to some of these things for the audience to think about and discuss, although I find it hard to believe that people are going to set up a forum to discuss my work.

Another problem is that there is a certain supernatural element for which I really need to work out the rules. Not so much explain how it might scientifically possible, because it obviously is not. Rather, if we simply accept that this does happen, under what circumstances does it occur? Who can do it? Whom does it effect? I was not being consistent about these things. Of course, one can always just say, “Ha ha, magic!” but that is sloppy.

So after an overall evaluation, I realized that with the red herrings, hints to things outside the scope of the story, intentional ambiguities, and straight-up plot holes, I had quite a mess on my hands. Off to the back burner with that.



*It turns out that there are actually eleven federal holidays. I did not realize that Inauguration Day is an actual holiday as it only happens once every four years, and even then it is only observed in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas. Ignore that one.

**The lack of any drawing ability is not as much of a hindrance to webcomic authorship as you might think. While many do have quite excellent artwork, in the case of two of my favorites, one is draw with stick figures and the other has identical artwork every day – literally the only thing that changes is the dialog. Other options for the non-artist include: photos (either taken yourself or found online), Lego or other posed toys, crude MSPaint drawings, 3D computer graphics, and if all else fails, partner with someone who CAN draw.

In Which the Author Considers Supervilliany and the Nature of Evil

Posted by on Thursday, 13 October, 2011

I spend a lot of time alone in my house doing absolutely nothing remotely of value to anyone. A lot of time. I thought it would be nice if I had some sense of purpose that I was working toward; whether for good or evil, either one would be an improvement at this point.

So I started with evil, because I assume it would be easier, and I am a path-of-least-resistance kind of guy. The quintessential evil plan, obviously, is to take over the world. I do not want to do that, that sounds really stressful. So, a lesser evil scheme then. For that I need a better definition of what exactly is evil.

After some thought, I decided that evil is based on power. But did not Jesus say that “the love of money is the root of all evil”? Yet, when the Devil was cast out of Heaven, it had nothing to do with money and everything to do with power, much as I hate to contradict Jesus. It turns out that A) it was NOT Jesus, but rather Paul who made that statement in 1 Timothy 6:10, and B) newer translations add in “… all kinds of evil,” which in a strictly literal reading is the same thing, but really has a more general connotation of “a lot of evil” and not, in fact, ALL evil.  I do not disagree with the sentiment of modified statement, however, after doing a [very] little research with a Greek concordance, I am not convinced that the addition is justified.

It is not my place to say what Paul did or did not mean. Regardless, money is not power, however money does represent power (among other things). Therefore, I feel justified in saying that the love of power is the root of all evil.

Thus, for my evil scheme, I would need to exert power. Unfortunately (or not, depending on your perspective) I could not think of anyone over whom I actually wanted power. So it seems that evil is just not my thing.

Then I thought, if I could be doing good, but choose not to, is that not also evil? That suggests somehow that not using power that I already have is evil. That contradicts everything which I have said so far.

Also, I do really like to win at board games.


Posted by on Thursday, 22 September, 2011

I am a person that values privacy. That should not come as a surprise to anyone, I think? It is perhaps odd that I choose to reveal personal thoughts to the world via this blog then, but I think that more often than not, I am generally so vague in the specific personal details that one would not actually know what I am talking about unless they already knew what I was talking about.

One of my FB friends posted an article about the latest round of changes to that site and, of course, the privacy concerns that always accompany that. One of their friends then expressed a lack of concern because their life is “BORING!” [emphasis original].

This is not the first time that I have encountered this attitude, and I never know how to respond. Yet this particular example was so concise in wording that it made me realize something. The fact is that NOT everyone leads such a boring life, and no one should have to worry about choosing between a life that is boring or a life that is scrutinized. It does not matter who is doing the monitoring; be it Facebook, Google, Apple, the U.S. government, the Chinese government… The complacency of people who do not think that they are “interesting” enough to have a problem ruins it for everyone.

On Hypocrisy

Posted by on Saturday, 3 September, 2011

There were several incidences of me being hypocritical in my previous post. There were going to be even more, but I did not manage to fit in all of the things that I was thinking about last week. Yet it started me thinking about what hypocrisy really is, or more accurately, what it is not.

According to Merriam-Webster, hypocrisy is: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.

This is actually a little bit different from my working definition. I think of hypocrisy as saying one thing but doing the opposite; specifically, condemning others for things that you also do yourself. The difference between the dictionary definition and mine is that theirs seems to mean an intentional deceit, whereas my definition could in some cases be interpreted as arrogant yet not dishonest. “It is O.K. for me to do that, but you can’t.”

If I criticize the actions and traits of others that I also despise about myself, should that be considered hypocritical? To me it just seems consistent, even if not particularly helpful. Or a situation that seems to come up often with political and public figures: if someone criticizes or condemns something with which they are (or have been) involved, is that hypocritical? Their opponents are always quick to claim so, but consider it like this: a smoker who tells others not to smoke might seem hypocritical, yet the very fact that they do it, they know that it is wrong, but they can not stop, actually makes their opinion more valuable.

If I do something and it turns out badly, then it seems reasonable for me to advise, possibly even demand, that others not do that. However, it is not always so clear cut. A particular decision yields some benefits and some disadvantages. Maybe you even readily admit that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits, yet you can not fully bring yourself to give up those benefits, so you find yourself trapped in that particular course of action. Weak… yes; lazy… perhaps. But is it hypocritical?

Future Racism

Posted by on Friday, 12 August, 2011

Long before I had any interest in Christianity, I became skeptical of evolution, as the whole idea seemed rather far fetched. I never looked into it though, and as the topic is still fairly taboo among Christians, it was easy to put the question aside when I entered the church some years later. The question of whether or not evolution is (for lack of a better term) “real” is simply not important to my daily life, and my faith or lack there of does not hinge on that particular issue. (Though from the passion I notice in others, I have to assume that my attitude toward this topic is atypical.) That said, I only offer this post as philosophical speculation, not well grounded in anything at all.

I happened upon a video online a few weeks ago on “ring species.” One definition of “species” is a classification of organisms that can successfully interbreed. Horses and donkeys are separate species, for example, because while they can in fact mate, the resulting mule is almost always infertile. Also, ligers and tiglons which I found out just now* are actually NOT infertile, so bad example. [*Via the internet. I was not personally attempting to breed them immediately prior to writing this post.] Still, ligers and tiglons, everybody!

A “ring species” is, to my understanding, when a “species” becomes geographically separated into a number of distinct populations. Population A can successfully interbreed with population B; population B with population C; C with D; and D with E; however, population A is NOT able to interbreed with population E. The question then arises, are populations A and E the same species? The video that I saw was actually presented as a challenge to creationists. Many creationists accept “micro-evolution” within a single species (i.e. breeds), but “macro-evolution” (one species evolving from another) is right out.

If any creationists out there would like to address this then be my guest, but as I said before, it is not my concern. I do not give a crap about birds or salamanders or even dogs. Yet I idly wonder: does this happen with people? Can, say, an Australian Aborigine and a Scandinavian produce viable offspring? Probably… but when you get right down to it, I am not really sure.

Switching gears slightly, the movie Idiocracy postulates that natural selection favors stupid, irresponsible people and that in the future, there will be no intelligent people left. While I did not care for the movie itself, I always felt that the underlying premise was extremely plausible. However, at some point in the recent political-economic climate, I began to wonder if this was inaccurate. What if natural selection does not, strictly speaking, favor the unintelligent, but rather the underprivileged? Furthermore, what if the opposite group (the “haves” as opposed to the “have-nots”, if you will) did not actually become extinct, merely a smaller and more isolated population? That would result in a situation much more like the one presented in The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. It has been a great many years since I read that book, but the gist is that the time traveler discovers in the very distant future that humans have evolved (or devolved) into two separate species: the Eloi, who live a carefree lifestyle on the surface of the earth, and the aggressive Morlocks, who live underground, tending to and feeding off of the Eloi. It should also be noted that both the Eloi and the Morlocks are significantly less intelligent than modern humans. No one is disputing that.

Political Racism

Posted by on Friday, 29 July, 2011

I occasionally hear the accusation that conservatives and/or Republicans (if one wants to make the distinction) want to see President Obama fail because “He’s Black,” and that Republicans, especially “the Tea Party”, are nothing but racists.

Now, while I am sure that many conservatives do happen to be racist (the “birther movement” comes to mind), but that is hardly a defining characteristic of the whole. Here is what I think happened: Obama’s election was an enormous symbolic victory. Many people probably voted for him specifically because he is Black; I would not be surprised if many people voted for the first and only time in their lives simply because he is Black. Even people who supported his policies, or those would have automatically voted for the Democratic candidate regardless, no doubt felt a little extra proud about their choice. Like Jackie Robinson, who was not necessarily the greatest baseball player even in his own time, the fact that Obama was the first Black president will most likely be historically more significant than anything else he does as president. I also think that many people were fully expecting the same sort of backlash against Obama that Jackie Robinson faced.

Therefore, if one believes either openly or subconsciously that the most important thing about Obama is that he is Black, then obviously an attack of any kind must be for that reason. Yet I think you have to objectively ask: exactly who is the racist in that scenario?

The last Democratic president prior to Obama was Clinton, whom the Republicans tried to run out of office. Yet Clinton was (that particular issue aside) in many areas more conservative than Obama. The Democrat before that was Carter, whom I have frequently heard refered to by conservatives as “The Useless One” or something similar. However, both Carter and Clinton were white, Southern Baptists, so the objection to them was obviously not fueled by racism. It turns out that Republicans just really dislike liberals.

In fact, returning to the “birther” idea, while that particular accusation would never have worked against a white president, I suspect that at least some people supported it simply as any excuse to get rid of a liberal president. I believe that most intelligent, respected conservatives tried to distance themselves from the idea as an embarrassing distraction from the real issues. One might even argue that the liberally biased media gave the issue more attention than it deserved for exactly the same reason.

Republicans do not want to see Obama fail. Even conservatives who may or may not have respect for the man or his policies can still be proud at least that the racial barrier to the presidency has been broken. I have never heard this point argued before, but to me it seems that the fact that right now, in America as it is today, a Black man born in obscurity is capable of rising to the highest office in the land is actually more in line with conservative ideology than liberal. (Though I admit that it is entirely possible that I am missing part of the story there.)

Republicans want Obama to succeed. The catch is that they will judge Obama’s success or failure based upon how well he conforms to conservative policies and principles. Under such criteria, he is most certain to fail.

Casual Racism

Posted by on Thursday, 21 July, 2011

A year or so ago I was at one of those “pieces of flair” restaurant/bar places with a small group of people. At some point, the other members of the party had wandered away from the table for whatever reason, leaving me alone with a guy that I hardly knew. He proceeded to solicit my opinion on every woman in that establishment, which is not a game with which I am particularly comfortable.

Quickly tiring of my noncommittal answers, he began a more direct line of questioning to determine my “type”. At some point in this line of inquiry, he asked my opinion of Black girls, and being annoyed at every aspect of the conversation thus far, I exasperatedly replied, “I’ve never met a Black girl that I wanted to date.”

Now that is the kind of statement that you really wish you had not said the very instant it leaves your mouth. My companion was momentarily shocked, but undeterred, he began to name some African American celebrities and do I not find them attractive? Sure, whatever.

As if it was not obvious enough before, we were at this point clearly not on the same page. For I specifically said “date”, while he was (at least for the purpose of this exercise) not remotely interested in dating.

Regardless, that statement of mine has been troubling me ever since. The most obvious defense is that it was merely a statement of fact, in the same sense that “I have never been to Brazil” is a statement of fact. Or perhaps a better analogy in this case would be, “I have never wanted to go to Brazil.” What do I have against Brazil? Absolutely nothing. It is not that I refuse to go to Brazil. It is simply that, although technically I could get on a plane at any time, at no point in my life thus far has “Go to Brazil” seemed like the thing to do at that moment. If the opportunity should arise that I had a compelling reason to go, then I probably would. But as it stands, there are a lot of places to which I have never been, and that is merely one of them.

I am not opposed to the idea of dating a Black woman. I have met some wonderful ones that I have gotten along well with over the years, it just so happens that I have thus far not have felt that sort of chemistry with any of them. I almost feel like I should now go out and date a Black woman just to prove that I am not racist, although realistically, I fail to see how that is in anyone’s best interest. If we are really going for brutally honest T.M.I. here, I actually have a preference for Asians, yet I have never dated one of them either. The truth is, it has been years since I have met anyone at all that I have wanted to date, although that is a rather separate issue.

Maybe I would have let this whole thing pass, but some time later, a coworker was telling me about a time that he went to a strip club, and that a Black stripper was wanting to give him a lap-dance, but he had never been attracted to Black girls. This conversation also was rather outside my comfort zone, yet I felt a certain guilty relief in being able to agree with him on this point.

More recently still, I found two videos online (independent of each other, and I do not recall now how I came across either one.) The first is from a comedy series. The second is heartbreaking. So I see that this is much more than one poorly phrased, frustrated comment. This is a deep cultural problem.