12.31.2008

re-deux

I didn't realize I had accidently italicized a lot of the last post until everyone started freaking out about it in my comment section. here it is again, sans italics:

This week's This American Life was so interesting. Especially the opening piece.

A scientific study confirmed what I think most of us have come to realize intuitively through experience.

A researcher wanted to study group dynamics, particularly, how 'bad apples' can affect a group.

Through studying the work done by other researchers, this scientist who I will call Will Phelps, because that is what he is named, Identified 3 types of 'Bad Apples' that can spoil a team. There is the Jerk, who puts others down with insults(he would say the other's ideas were inadequate but offer no ideas himself. He would say they all need to listen to the expert: him) . The Slacker, who does less than they can(would say 'whatever' and 'i don't care' I feel most like the slacker). And the Depressive Pessimist(the name says it all. Would complain the task is unenjoyable. Doubt the groups ability to succeed.).

Phelps hired a confederate (an actor) to play these three roles (not at the same time) while various groups of volunteers engaged in assignments requiring team work.

It was not surprising that Phelps found groups performed more poorly when the confederate bad apple was a part of their group. However, it was surprising to me, how much worse they performed and how universal it was. All but one group was effected (more on that one group at the end). Not only did each group perform worse(30-40% less effective), but the way they interacted with each other was also negatively effected. Regardless of which bad apple the actor was being, they would argue and fight. They would not share their relevant information and generally communicate less. Also, individual group members began to adopt the behavior of the bad apple(which would then amplify the effect he had).
When the confederate was a jerk, people became more insulting of each other, when he was the Depressive Pessimist Phelps said that towards the end of the assignment many in the group would actually be laying their heads down on the table. I have several opinions on why this is so. Some of them I wrote here.

This is an interesting study that has great application to our personal betterment.

Often in a group we might only see how we are affected by who we are around, but this shows us how much of how people around us act depends on how we act. This places responsibility on us in terms of how people around us behave. I think we have all been around one of those 3 types of bad apples and experienced the negative consequences which result, but I think that all of us, at one time or another has also been one of those bad apples. When our behavior then began to effect the group, I wonder how many of us then blamed for how they were responding to our negative behavior

Their is a quote I like by Ram Das (that I couldn't find, so I will paraphrase) about how we can tell how we are doing personally by how other people act around us. This study very much illustrates his point. I think many of us are able to recognize that when we are around a selfish person, it then brings selfishness out of us (since they are only looking out for themselves, we feel compelled to make extra certain our needs are being met, creating a cycle) When we are around generous, kind people, it is easy for us to feel generous and kind in return.

It makes some things that seem idealistic and altruistic actually pragmatic and self serving. When we are kind, compassionate and giving towards others, it makes them kind compassionate and giving towards us. (Generally. Narcissists can be an exception and totally take advantage of us when we are giving. But this is very rare, and with time I have seen even profoundly narcissistic personality types soften and be giving.) When we listen and are understanding towards others, they listen and are understanding towards us. (I'm not saying someone who does these things does it for selfish reasons, but that when they do, it then serves the self regardless)

Because of this, it is the ironic that our selfish tendencies are actually so counter productive. If we are the sort who is still at the stage where we are desperately seeking to have our needs met by other people, the best way to do it, would be to treat others exactly as we want them to treat us, which will then, very often, elicit that behavior from others. It is hard to be rude and uncaring towards someone who is being compassionate and giving.

If we want people to treat us a certain way, the best way to make that happen is to treat that person the way we want them to treat us. The worst way would be to silently pout about it. Or to be pissy and bitter because they aren't treating us how we want.

When someone IS being rude and selfish towards us, often we can break that cycle by then being kind and compassionate towards them. It can be very difficult. When someone is unkind to us, it brings up strong emotions. Makes us want to put up defense mechanisms and resist them, which only perpetuates their unpleasant behavior, but if we can have a moment of clarity and strength to break the cycle and be compassionate towards them, most often this will end their mean behavior and allow us a return of that kindness.

This is the first chapter of the self help book I am writing called 'Will you make me a baked potato?'. I am joking. Jokes on you, Ashton Kutcher, Come on in!

Oh yeah, which reminds me, I forgot to mention the one group in the study that wasn't spoiled by the bad apple. That group had one member who was a dynamic leader that listened carefully to each member of the group. His behavior, of giving a voice to each person, making sure they were listened to and understood was able to keep the dynamic positive and productive and overcome the negative influence of the Bad Apple.(it turns out his father is a diplomat) I found that inspiring. That as destructive and influential as bad apples can be, their negative influence can still be overcome with, perhaps, listening. (Of course, this was only one example in one study. The researcher is now going to to a study on the effects of listening to combat bad apples. I am curious to know the results.)

It has been great dating Marissa where all of this comes natural. She is always so kind and giving that I feel my emotional needs so fully met I have no need to then be emotionally selfish or taking. It requires no effort on my part to feel compassion and love towards someone so perpetually compassionate and loving. And in only 6 more hours I will be reunited with her messy hair. A copy of the Kama Sutra in hand.

12.26.2008

The Influence of Bad Apples.

This week's This American Life was so interesting. Especially the opening piece.

A scientific study confirmed what I think most of us have come to realize intuitively through experience.

A researcher wanted to study group dynamics, particularly, how 'bad apples' can affect a group.

Through studying the work done by other researchers, this scientist who I will call Will Phelps, because that is what he is named, Identified 3 types of 'Bad Apples' that can spoil a team. There is the Jerk, who puts others down with insults(he would say the other's ideas were inadequate but offer no ideas himself. He would say they all need to listen to the expert: him) . The Slacker, who does less than they can(would say 'whatever' and 'i don't care' I feel most like the slacker). And the Depressive Pessimist(the name says it all. Would complain the task is unenjoyable. Doubt the groups ability to succeed.).

Phelps hired a confederate (an actor) to play these three roles (not at the same time) while various groups of volunteers engaged in assignments requiring team work.

It was not surprising that Phelps found groups performed more poorly when the confederate bad apple was a part of their group. However, it was surprising to me, how much worse they performed and how universal it was. All but one group was effected (more on that one group at the end). Not only did each group perform worse(30-40% less effective), but the way they interacted with each other was also negatively effected. Regardless of which bad apple the actor was being, they would argue and fight. They would not share their relevant information and generally communicate less. Also, individual group members began to adopt the behavior of the bad apple(which would then amplify the effect he had).
When the confederate was a jerk, people became more insulting of each other, when he was the Depressive Pessimist Phelps said that towards the end of the assignment many in the group would actually be laying their heads down on the table. I have several opinions on why this is so. Some of them I wrote here.

This is an interesting study that has great application to our personal betterment.

Often in a group we might only see how we are affected by who we are around, but this shows us how much of how people around us act depends on how we act. This places responsibility on us in terms of how people around us behave. I think we have all been around one of those 3 types of bad apples and experienced the negative consequences which result, but I think that all of us, at one time or another has also been one of those bad apples. When our behavior then began to effect the group, I wonder how many of us then blamed for how they were responding to our negative behavior

Their is a quote I like by Ram Das (that I couldn't find, so I will paraphrase) about how we can tell how we are doing personally by how other people act around us. This study very much illustrates his point. I think many of us are able to recognize that when we are around a selfish person, it then brings selfishness out of us (since they are only looking out for themselves, we feel compelled to make extra certain our needs are being met, creating a cycle) When we are around generous, kind people, it is easy for us to feel generous and kind in return.

It makes some things that seem idealistic and altruistic actually pragmatic and self serving. When we are kind, compassionate and giving towards others, it makes them kind compassionate and giving towards us. (Generally. Narcissists can be an exception and totally take advantage of us when we are giving. But this is very rare, and with time I have seen even profoundly narcissistic personality types soften and be giving.) When we listen and are understanding towards others, they listen and are understanding towards us. (I'm not saying someone who does these things does it for selfish reasons, but that when they do, it then serves the self regardless)

Because of this, it is the ironic that our selfish tendencies are actually so counter productive. If we are the sort who is still at the stage where we are desperately seeking to have our needs met by other people, the best way to do it, would be to treat others exactly as we want them to treat us, which will then, very often, elicit that behavior from others. It is hard to be rude and uncaring towards someone who is being compassionate and giving.

If we want people to treat us a certain way, the best way to make that happen is to treat that person the way we want them to treat us. The worst way would be to silently pout about it. Or to be pissy and bitter because they aren't treating us how we want.

When someone IS being rude and selfish towards us, often we can break that cycle by then being kind and compassionate towards them. It can be very difficult. When someone is unkind to us, it brings up strong emotions. Makes us want to put up defense mechanisms and resist them, which only perpetuates their unpleasant behavior, but if we can have a moment of clarity and strength to break the cycle and be compassionate towards them, most often this will end their mean behavior and allow us a return of that kindness.

This is the first chapter of the self help book I am writing called 'Will you make me a baked potato?'. I am joking. Jokes on you, Ashton Kutcher, Come on in!

Oh yeah, which reminds me, I forgot to mention the one group in the study that wasn't spoiled by the bad apple. That group had one member who was a dynamic leader that listened carefully to each member of the group. His behavior, of giving a voice to each person, making sure they were listened to and understood was able to keep the dynamic positive and productive and overcome the negative influence of the Bad Apple.(it turns out his father is a diplomat) I found that inspiring. That as destructive and influential as bad apples can be, their negative influence can still be overcome with, perhaps, listening. (Of course, this was only one example in one study. The researcher is now going to to a study on the effects of listening to combat bad apples. I am curious to know the results.)

It has been great dating Marissa where all of this comes natural. She is always so kind and giving that I feel my emotional needs so fully met I have no need to then be emotionally selfish or taking. It requires no effort on my part to feel compassion and love towards someone so perpetually compassionate and loving. And in only 6 more hours I will be reunited with her messy hair. A copy of the Kama Sutra in hand.

Equal Time

Something that I think is difficult for some (Latter Day Saint)Church members to recognize or realize is that when you have come to see the Church a certain way, increased exposure to it not only does not make you more likely to believe again, but actually increases your disbelief.

I say this because someone close to me was recently (this morning) counceled by her Stake President to give the Church 'equal time'.
Now, I am not criticizing this advice, I think it is excellent. I wish this were the advise given to all Church members, not just disillusion ones. Rather, for the most part, the Church has come to discourage a person from critically examining its claims by means other than prayer or faith. Any organization that would not encourage members to fully investigate the its claims by any means possible should be seen with caution. To encourage not giving equal time to both sides of an issue is part of what constitutes brain washing.

The Church used to not be this way. The Church used to be very much about logic and reason. It is interesting to read Church writings from even about 50 or 60 years ago how much emphasis was placed on science and reason. The missionary discussions used to read to Socratic dialogues (and were fairly manipulative. I think the current discussions are much better). But as science has advanced into areas the Church makes claims on, repeatedly, evidence has shown the claims made by the Lds Church to be incorrect(no Hebrew dna in America, Joseph Smith's 'translation' of the Pearl of Great Price has no association whatsoever to the text it was claimed to be translated from. Joseph Smith's 'translation' of the Bible bears no resemblance to any historical text. Joseph Smith's 'translation' of the Kinderhook plates was, as had been claimed, a 'translation' of made up characters. Homosexuality is not a choice and cannot be overcome by 'the Atonement' or prayer. Believing in Jesus or Joseph Smith does not increase ones happiness any more so than any other belief in any God. Tea is actually very healthy.). Now, rather than revamping their positions on certain issues as the Rlds Church has done, they have chosen to distance themselves from science and reason.

(although, recently the Church has been doing somewhat better had confronting some of the uncomfortable issues head on. I think this is because with the internet it has become unavoidable. As well, I think there was a backlash against the Church from the historical community for having closed its doors to independent investigation to its historical claims. Any organization that would be reticent towards having outsiders look into its history should rightly be viewed with suspicion, and I applaud the Church for having changed its course in that regard. I think the new multi-volume 'Joseph Smith Papers' is an amazing undertaking that illustrates the new, more open, stance the Church has been compelled to take)

Back to my first point: it is understandable that Church members would feel that if only doubters were able to expose themselves more to the Church, then their doubts would fade. This is what they have been taught as Church members. As well, I think this is a basic part of human psychology. I think most people feel that if only others could familiarize themselves with what their beliefs, then others would then adopt those beliefs as well. Our beliefs feel, to us, so obviously true, that the only reason one wouldn't belief them is because they must not be familiar enough with them.

Also, I think it is difficult for some Church members to realize that a person might actually not find the claims of the Church tenable, rather than just not want to live the lifestyle it requires. I remember feeling this way about people who left the Church when I was in it. When I was debating my high school friend, he made this claim to me. He could not belief that I sincerely had no belief in the Church, and it wasn't about wanting to not follow the lifestyle. For people who feel this way, it makes sense they would feel that if only a person could be around the Church, and be reminded of what they 'truly believe' and have their 'hearts pricked', they would then stop their doubting.

However, having lost all belief in the Church, not only does exposing myself to the Church not soften my heart towards it, but it further emphasizes to me(and others) why we do not believe. When I am not confronted with the Church for a while, I sometimes forget about the issues I have with it, to a degree. While I never feel myself starting to believe in anyway, I do find myself thinking of it, on occasion, with a certain amount of fondness. But then I will read the Ensign, watch a conference talk, or attend a meeting, and all of that fondness is shattered by the memory of how deeply I disagree with the overwhelming majority what the Church teaches. So, I think giving the Church equal time is a great idea, and for some who are easily persuaded by emotions or guilt it will probably be effective. But for those who have legitimate concerns with what the Church teaches, it will only further their disbelief.

12.24.2008

xxx-mas

It is Christmas Eve. Oh, I guess now it is Christmas.
I like some of the stuff Jesus may have said, but I would not consider myself a Christian, but I still celebrate Christmas.
In some ways Christmas is just another day to me. I enjoy the holiday season. Things feel fun and exciting, but Christmas itself doesn't feel much different than other days around this time. It is kind of fun giving and receiving presents, but there are many things I enjoy much more. Any day that has a lot of expectations to be a particular way I think is unlikely to fulfill those expectations. I often have good experiences and memories created around the holiday time, but rarely are those moments actually on Christmas day. Christmas usually feels chaotic with lots of kids around being kind of selfish about their toys and kind of loud. It is fun, and I enjoy kids, but it isn't the highlight of the year. Often the good times are on Christmas Eve, playing games and watching movies with my family without the young kids being wacky. Tonight was good, I spent time at my sister Amy's house. We watched Hellboy 2 and Flight of the Concords, we also talked and made jokes and I ate an individually packaged pickle and saved the pickle juice in a cup and made my sister's couch smell like my arm pit, but Christmas time definitely isn't the same without my brother and his wife around.

Speaking of expectations. It is now a little more than 24 hours till I pick Marissa up from the airport. This is a highly anticipated moment, that I do not think will be an example of unmet expectations. Reuniting with a person is different than a holiday. Marissa described our reuniting as being the most highly anticipated moment of her life and I would say the same applies for myself.

I want to write an entry explaining why I feel so strongly about Marissa. I was thinking I might write that entry right now, but I want be able to fully articulate my thoughts and I am probably too sleepy right now to do it justice.
One thing I realized a little while ago, is that even if I were not in love with Marissa I would want to marry her. I don't think love should be the primary reason people should marry. Love is fickle and chemical, and won't, in and of itself hold a relationship together because it is not substantial. People did not marry for love until somewhat recently. Probably the early 1700's ish. When people did start marrying for love, it was controversial and looked down upon. People wrote passionately against love induced marriage. They felt that if people began to marry for love, then what would there be to hold the couple together when their love waned, as it almost always would(typically the infatuation stage only lasts about 1-3 years, but recently, some very interesting research showed that showed in a small minority of couples it never seems to wane), at some point in time. It was thought that if marriage was done for love, then the divorce rate would increase, and those people were correct, the divorce rate went way up.(when women were allowed to divorce without husband's permission the suicide rate for women went down significantly) However, I also imagine that people were able to have much more fulfilling relationships.

Although I am deeply in love with Marissa, she is so much the type of person I would, with my rational thinking, like to spend my life with, that even if I were not in love with her, I would want create a family with her.

One benefit of having had several serious relationships and having been in love before, is being able to better recognize the need for attempting to view a person rationally when considering a romantic relationship. There have been girls I felt very strongly about, while being able to recognize traits in them I found undesirable. Because of the biological reaction I had to them, I was initially able to look beyond those unwelcome attributes. But as time passed, and the oxytocin left my blood stream, those same traits became great obstacles towards having a healthy and fulfilling relationship. The first few times this sort of thing happened, it was sad and confusing. It troubled me that I could have felt so strongly at one time, then later feel so different.

I learned that while relationships are a very emotional thing, one can not trust their emotions as a good indicator of who one can have a healthy and fulfilling relationship with. Which is brings me back to Marissa. All of those traits I have learned to recognize as red flags for relationship trouble are absent in Marissa. And all those traits I have come to see as desirable in having thriving relationship are present.

Of course I very much enjoy being with Marissa and see her as my best friend. She is a person I admire and connect with on all levels, she also has the relationship and human being skills I see as necessary to having a happy and fulfilling relationship, and without that, after time those other things would not be able to be realized and appreciated.

I remember one time a person signed an email to me 'your friend in a world of foes' (which is ironic, because she is one of the very few people in this world I would think of as a 'foe'). I think that very well describes what it feels like for me knowing Marissa. That she is my friend in a world of Foes. Not that I see the world as being made up of foes, but no one else feel so fully 'on my side'. With Marissa there is never any sense of competition or struggle in the slightest. Only kindness, giving, compassion and empathy. We have been dating for... I guess about 4 months now?, and while we do not agree on everything, there has never been even a moment that felt like tension, let alone a fight. All of the attributes I have tried hard to cultivate in myself in terms of interacting with others, I feel come natural to her. In Ukraine she was told by the Principal's wife that not only was she their best teacher, but the best teacher they had ever had. This doesn't surprise me, because she is so good at being emotionally giving and present.

I took this screen shot as we were video chatting recently. I was amazed at how clear the image is. She got a new Macbook, which I think has something to do with it. it almost looks like a photograph.

12.22.2008

Rick Warren.

It has been disappointing and dumb to me how the left has responded to Barack Obama inviting Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration.

If you aren't familiar, people have been upset because Rick Warren is opposed to gay marriage.

I receive the Moveon.org newsletter and and one of their recent emails was about how much of an 'outrage' it is for Rick Warren have been invited to pray. This strikes me as hypocritical. If the left wants to be the party of understanding and tolerance, this is not the way to do it. This sort of behavior is exactly what they do not like about someone like Rick Warren. Being tolerant is about allowing people you disagree with to have a voice and be included.

Allowing someone you disagree with does to say a prayer does not mean, in anyway, that you endorse their opinions. Obama has been very clear how he feels about marriage, and allowing Rick Warren to pray has no effect on that. Obama and Warren are long time friends, and his having a friendship with, and being inclusive of someone who has such different opinions than him on some issues is something that should be admired.

While I deeply disagree with Rick Warren about a variety of things (and agree with him on some others), I do not believe he is a bad person, or that his reasons for opposing gay marriage are evil. This man is doing something he believes to be correct by following a what he things is the will of a God he believes in. Yes I think it is dumb, but I understand where he is coming from and acknowledge he thinks he is doing good. I don't think anything positive will be accomplished by shunning him, and think much good will be accomplished by being compassionate towards and inclusive of him.

Obama is doing exactly what he promised to do in terms of trying to be a force of unity, it is odd people are upset or surprised at this.

If someone on the right were to disallow someone from saying a prayer at a public function for holding views the right disagreed with, people on the left would likely see this as bigoted behavior, yet when they do the same, they seem to not recognize it as such.

12.19.2008

ORDER IN THE COURT

Man oh man! Court yesterday was SO scary.

I forgot to mention why I was even at court. When I first bought Jeff's car, there was a little while after having bought the car, but before I was able to get a hold of Jeff to learn where the title was and so be able to register it, so I drove using Jeff's old plates, which I did not realize was a problem.

Turns out it IS a problem, punishable by up to, I think, 2 weeks in Jail. Because the car wasn't yet registered in my name, I wasn't able to have insurance and was also fined for that. I wrote about the circumstances of receiving the violation here.

It took me over 2 hours to drive the twenty miles to court because of the snow. I had called the twice on my way explaining my situation and they were understanding. When I showed up, some other lady was also showing up late, but she hadn't called to inform them and she received some sort of penalty I was unsure of. I imagine she was in the same circumstance I had been(weather) but wasn't lucky enough to have had a cell phone. This gave me the impression that the Judge=kind of a dick.

I brought paperwork showing I had registered my car shortly after receiving the violation, hoping that may help my case. The Judge asked me if my car was no registered and I said it was, and mentioned I brought documentation, but he wasn't interested. He asked if the car was now insured and I said it was not currently because my license had been suspended until I cleared this issue and without a valid license I couldn't get insurance, but he didn't seem interested in that. I wish I had just said I did have insurance, since he didn't seem interested in if I had any proof or explanation. When I tried to explain anything the Judge would say 'just answer yes or no'

After the short questioning the Judge asked if I was ready for sentencing. I said I was, but am now wondering what would have happened if I said I wasn't.

On the first Charge, of driving with the previous owners plates he sentenced me to 9 days in jail!!!!

Normally I wouldn't mind being sentenced to 9 days in jail, and would even think it fun. A part of me has long been interested in having he experience of jail time, and 9 days seems like a perfect amount of time. But the timing right now is so bad. It is my Christmas break, but more importantly it is close to the time I am reunited with Marissa.

I was pretty devastated and shocked when I heard that. No part of me had considered that I might face Jail time. It was probably only a few seconds, but felt like a very long time because of how much passed through my mind, but the Judge then said the Jail time was waived in lieu of a 50$ fine, which was, obviously, an incredible relief.

He then went through the same process with the other two items, sentencing me to jail, then waiving it in lieu of a fine. For having no insurance the Jail time was about 120 days. Each time I was almost as scared, not knowing if that one would then be waived by paying $. Even though the fines ended up totaling a bit more than I had anticipated, the prospect of having to go to jail made any amount of $ feel like a relief.

The situation at Court was a reminder to me of how unfair the legal system can be. Although they were very flexible with me in terms of my payment options( I am able to make small monthly payments), the fee is far more of a burden to me than it would be to a wealthier person. While the punishment may be technically the same, in reality, poor people and rich people are receiving much different punishments when fined. Also, had I not been able to pay this fine would that mean I would have to serve Jail time? That is not just.

It also struck me how strange it is that some people are granted so much power over others. This man who I had never met before and who knew nothing about me except what I looked like and the few violations I was on trial for, had the ability to have me confined in a cell for several months or give me a fine, or do nothing.
During the summer while having my car inspected I had a conversation with one of the employees about how he had spent a month in Jail for contempt of court for being a smart ass to the Judge while he was defending himself for a possession of marijuana. It is amazing someone can have the authority to legally disrupt another person's life so drastically just for being annoying. Here is an article about a Judge giving a woman 10 days in jail for wearing a hijab.

While the Judge did seem like kind of a dick, he could have given me larger fines, and of course sentenced me to jail, so over-all I guess he showed me a certain amount of kindness.

farm

Most applications on facebook just feel like clutter to me. But a couple weeks ago I added the 'My Farm' application and I love it.

Depending on what crops you plant it takes from 1-3 days for them to be ready for harvest. First thing when I wake up in the morning I check the status of my crops, excitedly harvesting the ripe ones.

I have never been too big into video games. I like video games very much, but I wouldn't consider myself a 'gamer' and haven't gotten any video game console since the Nintendo 64, but averaging about once a year I will get extremely into a video game. When I do I will play it every second of every free moment I have. I guess it has been a couple years now since I last got that into a game. Since I don't own any video game systems(except a gameboy color, which I can't find the charger for), my annual game loving has been dependent on roommates who owned games. The last game was 'Harvest Moon', a farming game, similar to the facebook application, but much quicker paced. I think it was Karl J who loaned me Harvest moon and for about 10 solid days, except when I was working at the Provo Care Center, I played Harvest Moon on my gameboy color.
(I generally liked working at Provo Care Center, but it became very stressful when one of the people we took care of developed a crush on me and became very weird and manipulative threatening suicide almost every day. I knew she wasn't physically capable of harming herself, but it emotionally taxing. One day at work I surreptitiously drank a bottle of the syrup of ipecac(I had always referred to it as ipecac syrup, but I just now looked up the spelling and only saw it referred to as 'syrup of ipecac')which caused me to vomit in a garbage can, and got me out of work for a couple days. I don't remember if this was during my Harvest Moon phase or not, but I like to think that it was.)

One thing I like about the facebook farm game is it is an exercise in patience. Once a day I can harvest crops plant new ones and till some soil, but then I must let time pass while the crops grow before being able to do anything else.

Speaking of games being similar to real life, I remember when I lived with Morgan in The Maxwell House and he bought an X-box, he once got a game from Japan that was noted for being like real life. But playing it wasn't fun at all because of how much like normal life it was. To get $ you had to get a job at this little warehouse moving boxes around. At first the game was really cool to me, and I was impressed by the realism, but it didn't take much box moving for my interest to fade.

12.18.2008

morning

Good morning.

I'm in Utah now.

I have a court appearance in one hour. I hope the Judge doesn't throw the book at me! Last time I wore flip flops and was turned away via having a large book thrown on my head.

When I was in Olympia, despite all that I love about the place, I had begun to look forward to when I would leave for Christmas break. This was mostly because of how cold my room was. The rest of our house is a comfortable temperature, but my room alone was like the refrigerator room in Storehouse.(does anyone remember Storehouse Market? It was a poor person grocery store and the Refrigerator and freezer sections were two separate rooms, chilled to the temperature of refrigerator and a freezer. I had forgotten about this until recently something triggered the memory. As a kid, shopping with my mom, I dreaded having to go in those cold rooms. If I am dressed appropriately and acclimatized, cold weather is fine, but to suddenly be in freezer temperature in wearing shorts and not even underwear(as a kid I often didn't wear underwear. I once burnt my penis on my sister's hot car seat because of it) was very unpleasant, as I remember it. What a bizarre idea to make the entire room cold. I wonder what the adults thought of it. As a child one often thinks that adults enjoy everything they do, otherwise they wouldn't do it, but now I am an adult I realize that even without parents there are still forces compelling me to do things I don't enjoy.)

The day before I left Olywa I discovered the reason my room was like the storehouse freezer room. It is what most people would have checked first thing. My heating vent was closed.Kahea had looked at it earlier, and said it was open. I had decided take a closer look at the vent, see if I could notice something stuck inside blocking the air flow when I realized the vent was simply closed.
Having a warm room again made such a big difference, and I no longer felt the longing for home I had on previous days.

8 more days till I am reunited with the love of my life. Having such a highly anticipated event happen the day after Christmas is like when the Sun is visible, the stars seem not to not exist. (Marissa being the sun, Christmas the stars. not that I have anticipated Christmas with much excitement since i was a child, but even as an adult I have often found myself looking forward to it.


On a different note.
I experienced a brief lapse into mania for a few days. I believe it was triggered from stress of and lack of sleep involved with preparing for quarter's end. Although mania can, at times, be very enjoyable to experience, this was extremely unpleasant. When the mania reaches a certain intensity that I feel a total loss of control over my mental processes it can be pretty scary and uncomfortable. At times a constant stream of words, with no obvious connection to each other will flow through my mind at high speeds. Or it will feel as if 3 or 4 streams of consciousness are occurring simultaneously. I had some visual hallucinations, mostly colors and movement out of the corner of my eye.
Fortunately, my roommate has an anti-psychotic, that also works well as a sleep aid. Even though I had been up for 3 days straight, I wasn't able to sleep, and asked my roommate if I could take one of his pills. This allowed me to sleep and brought me out of my mania. I am lucky to have that, otherwise the episode could have lasted much longer.

I feel kind of discouraged about it. I haven't had mania interfere with my life for a long time, and somewhat felt it was behind me. But now I have accepted this is something I must forever be vigilant about.
The timing was bad. It interfered with my successfully completing all my classwork, but I am looking into what my options are as a person with a disability.

One unfortunate thing about mania, is that since it is triggered by stress, it tends occur at the most inopportune times. Generally, if a situation is causing me stress, it means I am in a situation that requires my full attention and mental functions, but when that stress triggers a mania, I then lose my grasp on reality to be able to complete what is required.
When I came down I crashed pretty hard, and felt depressed and anxious in ways I hadn't for a very long time. But I seem to have stabled out and am doing well. It is nice to be home at a time like this.

Off to Court. Order in the Court!

12.06.2008

nb

While it might be comforting to feel that God or whatever force wouldn't give us more than we can bear, I think that since people have nervous breakdowns, it is clear that isn't true.
When I was...17? I had a nervous breakdown. It sucked.

Me writing this isn't related to any events in my life or the life of someone I know. I was just reading a random blog of someone talking about the challenges they were going through, and they mentioned this familiar idea, and their taking comfort from it, which reminded me of nervous breakdowns.

12.04.2008

Sometimes real life is like a cartoon.




It is difficult for me to explain how this photo caused me to react. It evoked an emotion I don't know how to name or even describe. I laughed and slapped my head a bunch. The animal is a Wombat. Just a smiley little Wombat that looks as if it is about to speak.

12.01.2008

Plane Panda.

Christain Rome, elaborated.

This is an expansion of my previous entry:

It is so bizarre to me the way Christians like to use the decline of Rome as a model of what will happen to America. This website is a perfect example.
Bizarre because what happened just prior to the decline of Rome? The country became Christian.


"Fall of Rome" is normally either dated to the Sack of Rome by Alaric the Goth on August 24th A.D. 410, or the resignation of the last Roman Emperor of the Western Empire, Romulus Agustus, on September 4th, A.D. 476.


And

On his deathbed (May 337 A.D.)Constantine converted to Christianity. Although the path from Pagan to Christian Rome had a few more hurdles, it was from the time of Constantine that Roman Christianity is dated.



I think it is unlikely the Christianization of Rome led to its decline. Well, I really have no clue what I am talking about, but it seems unlikely the two are related.
I am fine with people trying to show parallels with the decline of the Roman empire and the United States, and think it is possible some parallel may exist, and provide lessons for us today, but it is bizarre when Christian writers talk about the Decline of Rome and attempt to parallel it with the 'declining moral values' of the US. As the above article excellent demonstrates, they try to show(without citing any references, statistics, or studies whatsoever) that Rome fell because of its declining Christian morals.

I imagine that when a country goes from being, not Christian to Christian, its living of Christian values increase, exponentially. Assuming this is the case with Rome, it pretty much proves the decline of Rome is not a result of a decline in Christian values. And while America is on the verge of losing its super power status, it has far more to do with the increasingly global nature of markets and the rise of China and India, then our losing of sexual restrictions, and increase in tolerance, acceptance, and unity, as many Christian writers like to portray.

For an interesting and what seems objective analysis of the decline of Rome, I just came across this article, which also links to several other articles on the subject. Interestingly, it does show some reasons why the Christianization of Rome, did contribute, along with many other factors, to its decline. The problem was not so much the country becoming Christian, but the leadership.

A quick list of Reasons Rome likely fell:
* Decay
* Financial Problems
* The Dole and Barbarians
* Economic, Military, Gradual
* Christianity
* Vandals and Religious Controversy
* Division of the Empire
* Lead
* Hoarding and Deficit




And, because it was funny, I am going to re-post my brother's comment on the previous entry here:
wow, that article is such a rigorous academic study in the fall of rome

this line was my favorite:
They live in a fantasy world in which they “must” have cellphones; they “need” their privacy; they “have rights.”

man, the idea of kids having privacy and rights is outrageous, if those romans were like todays kids i'm surprised rome didn't collapse sooner!

11.30.2008

Rome

It is so bizarre to me the way Christians like to use the decline of Rome as a model of what will happen to America. This website is a perfect example.
Bizarre because what happened just prior to the decline of Rome? The country became Christian.

11.29.2008

Bird Brains.

Here is a really fascinating interview with a scientist about Bird Intelligence.

Here is an excerpt from one of the more interesting parts:

LEHRER: What do you think was Alex's(here is an excellent video showing alex talking) most impressive cognitive feat?

PEPPERBERG: The work on the “zero-like” concept. He had shown that he could label the number of a subset of items in a heterogeneous mixture (for example, tell us the number of blue blocks in a mixture of red and blue balls and red and blue blocks), but we hadn't tested his comprehension of number. That task was important, because young children, at a particular stage in number learning, can label a set but can't, for example, remove a specific number of marbles from a big heap.

So we were testing him on number comprehension, again showing him heterogeneous mixtures of different numbers of objects of different colors (for instance, two blue keys, five purple keys, six green keys and asking, "What color is six?"). As was his wont, he was at about 90 percent accuracy on the first dozen or so trials, but we needed far more for statistical significance. The problem was that he just did not want to comply. He began to turn his back to us, throw the objects on the floor, or give us all the wrong answers and repeat the wrong answers so that, statistically, we knew he was avoiding the correct response. We started bribing him with candies and treats to get him to work. One day, in the midst of this, I'm testing him with a tray of three, four and six blocks of different colors, and I ask, "What color three?" He replies, "Five." At first, I was puzzled: there was no set of five on the tray. We repeat this interaction several times, and he consistently says, "Five." Finally, in frustration, I ask, "OK, what color five?" He says "none"! Not only had he transferred the use of "none" from a same-different task, where "none" was the response if nothing about two objects was indeed "same" or "different," to the absence of a numerical set, but he had also figured out how to manipulate me into asking him the question he wanted to answer!


If some birds are already that intelligent, I wonder how long it would take to evolve into Human like intelligence, assuming they are evolving in that direction.

I would speculate this bird is of roughly equal intelligence as Homo Erectus (gay boner), the species modern Humans evolved from. It took about 2 million years to get from Homo Erectus (gay boner) to modern humans. So, perhaps in 2 million years(or maybe even sooner if something anomalous happens*), we will have birds of human intelligence. Though, I think one big obstacle is the overall size of birds,(small size=small heads=size brains=less room for neurons) but of course birds could get bigger. Perhaps we will have giant, intelligent birds who we share the planet with. Of course, by then Humans will have likely made evolved in interesting ways as well. Also we will probably have introduced genetic enhancements as well as synthetic enhancements, giving us a leg up on our smart bird friends. I wonder what sort of relationships these two species would have. I could see these birds, at some transitional stage, being treated in ways akin to how black people were/are treated (slavery). Well, I guess we already use animals as slaves. I wonder at what point would people see these beings as intelligent enough to be treated as equals. Perhaps by that point in our development our treatment towards animals will have progressed enough in general, that we will have long stopped treated animals as property.

Maybe in 2 million years the earth will be diverse in intelligent species. Dolphins, Birds, Humans. Air, land, and Sea. Perhaps interspecies marriage will be the new gay marriage. And gay marriages and abortions will be required by law. Everyone must have one gay marriage and one abortion at some point in their lives. We will engineer human males with the ability to birth a child, just so they can have abortions.











* "In an absolutely fascinating experiment first reported in July 2002, scientists modified a single mouse gene and created mice with brains 50% larger than normal. This experiment shows that a point mutation can, in fact, have an immense effect on brain size. It is still unknown whether the larger brains make the mice smarter or not, but it is easy to imagine later mutations refining the wiring of these millions of new neurons."

11.28.2008

Rice

You know who seems like they wouldn't be fun to hang out with at all?



Condoleezza Rice.

Natural healing.

Lately I have been interested in, and curious to learn more about herbal medicine. Not because of it being a more 'natural' approach to health and wellness, but because of its DIY nature.





I think the increasing interest in things natural is well intentioned but misinformed. People often think of something natural as innocuous or healthy like a tomato or a vitamin, and something synthetic as dangerous or harmful like turpentine or arsenic. Both turpentine and arsenic are naturally occurring products. The deadliest poison on earth, Botulinum toxin, is an 'all natural' product. Three of the most addicting drugs, Tobacco, Opiates, Cocaine, are also natural products.(well, cocaine is extracted from the coca leaf, but the process is very simple. Simple enough it would fit within the guidelines of being considered a 'natural' product if sold at the store)
I don't really have evidence to support this, but I would guess there are more 'natural' products that harm us than help us. And think of all the synthetic products we have which benefit us by counter-acting a 'natural' process. My point being that natural does not=beneficial to humans.

I admit, I do feel personally drawn to nature, and the concept of things being natural. I enjoy products that have as few synthetic qualities as possible. But I do not know if if my appreciation for natural things is anything more than aesthetic.(I don't mean aesthetic to mean strictly appearance, but beauty in general). I suppose because of my culture and past experiences I have positive associations to things natural, and negative associations to things synthetic for a variety of reasons.

We, as humans, are very very young in our development of technology. We are just barely able to understand and predict cause and effect. Because of this, many man-made products that may have initially seemed safe beneficial, turned out to have numerous unintended effects that were harmful. I imagine this has conditioned a certain amount of leeriness in synthetic products. Not that naturally occurring products do not have the same dangers, but they have the benefit of having been easily accessible to man for thousands of years, allowing us to have a better grasp on the long term effects. (of course, this doesn't always hold either, as it has only been recently we realized the harm smoking an cause despite its long history)

Naturally occurring products that are beneficial to us, are beneficial because we evolved with them in a shared environment, and so evolved to make good use of these products in our environment, adjusting our bodies over time maximize the utility of these products while minimizing the harm. But with synthetic products, we have no shared evolution,so many may not be well adapted to the particular, complex needs of our bodies.



There is generally a certain warmth natural products have that synthetics do not. There is an exactness and precision to synthetic products. The 'imperfection' of nature is something I find pleasant and comforting. It is something we associate with life and warmth, while exactness is most often produced by machines, which we associate with cold, unfeeling, lifelessness.

Related to that sense of warmth and life, there is also a sense of spirituality associated with natural products. Since the essence of what is spiritual is related to being alive, only living or once living things are generally thought to possess spiritual qualities. Though, some inorganic, naturally occurring substances are seen by some as having spiritual properties as well. I suppose one distinction may be the perception of a natural product having been produced by God, versus man having produced synthetic products.
I am not saying these are things I necessarily agree with (or disagree with), but just something a part of our culture, that I am imagine has had an influence on my associating natural products with good and synthetic products with bad.

There is also a sense of there being an authenticity to natural products that synthetic products lack. I don't know if there is any inherent lack of authenticity to a product that is synthetic, but I suppose we might tend to associate man made things with having been produced with not pure motives, such as to make as much money as possible, with the least amount of effort.
In truth, everything ever is natural. The only reason we can make anything is by using natural elements and obeying laws of nature. We are a product of nature, so, just as honey made by the honey bee is a product of nature, so is everything made by man.


All of that aside, my interest in herbal medicine does have a small amount to do with those things I wrote about above, but as I said, I am primarily interested in the Do It Yourself nature of herbal medicine. I love the idea of being able to grow and dry my own herbs for healing. Medicine is such a specialized field that leaves the patient at the mercy of doctors. (Which isn't necessarily bad since bodies are so complex, doctors are experts in their field and the average person knows very little about what will help the body best.)

In most fields other than medicine, while it may be nice to have experts we can rely on, there is also room for amateurs, people who have an interest in a field, though not enough to dedicate there lives to it. But nowadays with medicine it is most often illegal for an unauthorized person to deal with drugs, this is where natural medicine comes in.
So, welcome the Christopher Allman Pharmacy! You have back pain? Smoke some of this Opium I grew. Feeling fatigued from all the opium you are smoking? Chew on the these Coca leaves. Now, step into my office (opium den) and tell me how this happened.


This is the greenhouse in my backyard which I will clean out and grow herbs in.

I will would write prescriptions like this:



Put them in boxes like this:

BND

Perusing the internet I have seen a handful of references to 'Black Friday'. I kept thinking, 'When did people start calling Buy Nothing Day Black Friday?', Then I remembered 'Black Friday' preceded 'Buy Nothing Day by many years. I just checked on wikipedia, and the term Black Friday first appeared in the 1960's, while 'Buy Nothing Day' started in 1992.

I won't have any trouble not buying anything today. Even if I wanted to I could not because I have no $, and I am writing this while being hung on a ✞.

11.26.2008

Advertisement

Even though I recently put an icon on my blog proclaiming it to be ad-free I am now posting an ad! This ad is for Simple Shoes, a company I support, so do not feel bad promoting.
Why am I promoting Simple Shoes? I can't remember. I am joking. If A person posts one of two videos on their site they are entered to win a free pair of Simple Shoes.
Their shoes are cool and their bags too. By cool I mean well designed and environmentally friendly. Below are both videos. I don't care at all if anyone watches them, but them being here might win me a free pair of shoes. I realize it is so gimmicky of Simple Shoes asking people to post their video for the remote possibility of winning a shoe, and maybe I seem like such a sucker for having fallen for it, but since I do support the company, I guess I don't mind. And all my current shoes are old and crumbly.




11.23.2008

$$$$

The more I think about the financial crisis the more I don't care.

On one hand, I realize that whenever there are economic difficulties, those who generally bare the brunt of the turmoil, are those who already struggle. I realize that financial difficulties can lead to deeper problems. Barely being able to get by, and particularly Unemployment can lead to depression, straining relationships and families. That is something unfortunate, and I feel a sense of compassion to those who struggle. But I am glad we live in a country that offers assistance in a variety of ways to struggling families and individuals. I hope with the leftward shift our government has taken, more assistance will allotted to those in need, rather than to those in power.

All that aside, there are so many worse things that can happen than not having a lot of money. The large majority of people won't lose there jobs or receive wage cuts that seriously alter their cost of living. For most people the most this economic downturn will meet a slight decrease ability to be a consumer. (of course, hard economic times can lead to budget cuts for things like schools and libraries, but hopefully our new administration will take more a of a 'New Deal' approach and increase spending to stimulate the $ world)

Even for those who do lose there job, while it can cause strain and stress, it may not always be negative in its ultimate consequences. I remember my dad lost the job he had held for almost 20 years, and wasn't able to find an adequate replacement for almost 2 more. Times were tough for a while. (Well, I guess they were. I can't remember anything being at all different about the way we lived. I was 15-17). The Job he eventually got at the Post Office was much better than the job he had before. Working less hours for more pay in a better environment.
I don't think that all job losses will end up with a silver lining, some people will never be able to find work equal to what they had before. But for most people, things will even out, and for some even improve.



For the average person, whose life might be effected by having to cut back somewhat, I can't help but think: 'so what' or even 'good'. I wrote before about how an increase in choices does not create an increase in happiness, and can even lead to a decrease. We all know we are a nation obsessed with consumerism. When times are good, we have news reports praising our economy and spending, and others criticizing our high levels of consumer debt and materialism. It is almost as if there is a partition in the mass mind. There is a sense of wanting people to shop a lot and support industry, yet do it without being materialistic or in debt.

When of the cutbacks people will have to make, I don't see this is a 'crisis', or something that concerns me. Economies are always up and down. People are often going in and out of jobs. When I think of all the corporate executives not getting their bonuses this year, I don't know if anyone really cares but the executives and their families.
So, yeah, we might be in a crisis, but the crisis is one of being so attached to $ and products we think our lessened ability to live excessively really matters.

Of course, I might feel different if this economic instability led to an actual economic depression, or if I was being personally effected, but I was listening to some interviews conducted in the 50's with people who had lived through the depression. There seemed to be in most of them, while not explicitly stated this way, a sense not unlike gratitude for having gone through a period of extreme lack. It taught them a sense of appreciation for what they do have, and an repulsion to over indulgence. Perhaps times of economic turmoil can be ultimately beneficial for the nation's psyche.

11.19.2008

Interesting animals.

I have come across three interesting animals recently.

Remember that entry I posted about the real life furby?
That one is from the sea. But there is another real life furby, that was thought to be extinct, and was just re-discovered(oh funny! i did an image search for 'real life furby' trying to find this picture and the ninth picture was ofme! No joke! It is the picture I have of myself on my blog, I assume because of my real life furby entry.:







This next animal is extinct. It is called a Chalicotherium. It is an early mammal, and a proto-primate. I think it is so cool. It is easy to see how it is related to things like horses and giraffes, but is an evolutionary step towards being a full primate like a gorilla. It almost looks like it could be some alien intelligent species.



I just looked it up, to make sure I had the name right, and came across a different artist rendition. Since this animal extinct, obviously there are some uncertainties about its appearance. I think seeing a variety of artist interpretations can help one have a more full understanding of the species. Like reading a variety of translations of a particular text. Since none will be exact, reading several, is like drawing a hole around the thing you want to describe, but cannot name.




And here is my artist rendering:








The final animal is not extinct. But looks like it should be. And if I have my way it soon will be.

It is called the Okapi!!!!!



Someone needs to show this to Kirk Cameron, who beleives that because there are not animals transitional looking animals like the 'crocoduck' evolution cannot be true. Although he concedes there is one animal, the duckbilled platypus, fitting his criteria, he then says it is that way because it is just how God created it. Which is pretty unfair of him. He sets up a criteria for proving evolution true, then acknowledges that criteria has been met, but still doesn't allow it to be evidence for evolution.

Here is a video of Kirk doing this:



Perhaps someone need show him the Okapi, because it fits his criteria of a'transitional' animal, that is supposedly what we would see if evolution were true. Even though of course, it won't persuade him. (even if there were not animals like the duck billed platypus or the Okapi, I think evidence for evolution solid for very different reasons. The criteria he sets up of what the world would look like if evolution were true, comes from a misunderstanding of evolution. I don't think any scientists who understands evolution expects to find a 'crocoduck'. Even though the world does actually, on rare occasion, look the way he thinks evolution requires, it is because of a fluke, and not because of a requirement of evolution)


Here is another view of the Okapi I just found, which surprised me, because I had been under the impression that the Okapi was about the size of pony.


11.16.2008

more prayer flags

I have started researching various wedding customs. it seems like there ought to be something more beautiful and interesting than the traditional western wedding.

These are words to a song I like, that I am listening to right now, as I surf the internet and write in my blog:

Listen to me get off the internet
We are the ones who are alive right now so lets start living
We're obsessed with freedom and living easy lives
but what use is an easy life hungry and blind
The hallow cold, the crawling-hunting,
indulging your weakest parts and still you're hungry
Why not wake the fuck up and smell the air outside
and do a little real work and come back to life
Clean out the fridge, take out the garbage,
sweep the floor, open the doors and windows
read the news, shut up about music
ask a stupid question, stop feeling too ignorant
This is the one world where we live curious and busy,
As the world is ending can I survive this cold dawn
At least I can sit here in the street exhaling and strong
Clean up the mess, get off the internet
We are the ones who are alive right now so lets start living.

here are more pictures of prayer flags:

















11.13.2008

Post prop 8. Collective personality disorders

It is strange, almost surreal to see how the Church and Church members are responding the the backlash against them since prop 8 has passed.

Many people are frustrated and hurt by the passing of prop 8 and, understandably, wanting a place to direct their emotions. People want to respond to this injustice, and see the Lds Church as an appropriate direction for protest because of their key role in the pro prop 8 movement.

Yet the Church and Church members have adopted this sense of perplexed victimization. As if they are being arbitrarily and unfairly singled out, revealing it is actually they who are the targets of persecution and bigotry, rather than the source of it.

I think a perfect example of this is illustrated by this Facebook group.
It contains a list of 12 things, such as "Mormon voters were less than 5% of the yes vote. If one estimates that 250,000 LDS are registered voters (the rest being children), then LDS voters made up 4.6% of the Yes vote and 2.4% of the total Proposition 8 vote." Trying to show the unfairness of singling out the Lds Church, because they were actually just a small part of the pro prop 8 movement. One very crucial item left off of that list is that it is estimated that Lds Church Members provided 70% of the private money donated to the pro prop 8 movement, and these donations came in response to The Church as an organization asking its members to contribute. They also asked members in California to go door to door and place phone calls encouraging neighbors to vote yes on Prop 8.

Just before the election, there seemed to be a sense of pride among the Church and Church members for their ability to lead the Prop 8 Movement despite representing a small percentage of the population. It strikes me as extremely disingenuous for them to now act as if recognizing and responding to the major role they, above any other one group, played with prop 8 is unfair, as if they hadn't actually led the fight to ban homosexual's from marrying.

Also strange and surreal, is how the Church, and Church members, act as if them being picketed represents bigotry and persecution. To be sure, there have been a handful of violent acts, such as chapels having their windows broken, and such actions are obviously dumb and unhelpful and only represent a tiny handful of individuals, but by and large, this backlash against the Church has been by means of peaceful protests, petitions, websites etc.. For a group to spend an enormous amount of time and energy engaging in a particular behavior, then when succeeding to of those they protested against use those same actions against them, and call it persecution is bizarre.

These protesters are not asking that Lds people have their rights limited, they are not asking for a ban on Lds marriages, they are protesting the Church's having limited their rights(though some are asking for the Church's tax exempt status to be removed, which. Though I disagree with the stance the Church took, I do believe it was within their rights as a religion and should not affect their tax status).

On the Church's website, in regards to this controversy they wrote "No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information. It is important to understand that this issue for the Church has always been about the sacred and divine institution of marriage— a union between a man and a woman. Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong."

As my brother wisely pointed out, this statement contradicts itself. It begins by saying, no one should be vilified. Then says marriage between a man and woman is divine That is vilification. It vilifies their opposition to say their position is divine. Implication: the alternative is not divine, but from Satan.
For them to claim that allegations of bigotry or persecution are wrong, is misunderstanding what persecution and bigotry mean. Again, as my brother pointed out bigotry means: "obstinately convinced of the superiority of their opinions". When you say your beliefs are divine, and the oppositions are not, and then spend enormous amounts of time and money advocating legislation which enforces that belief this clearly fits that definition.

It does not matter how much they emphasize their love for homosexuals as individuals. It does not matter if they feel no animosity or dislike for particular homosexuals, to vilify their position and deny them rights is bigotry and persecution. I don't believe most Mormons or the leaders, are personally bigoted against homosexuals, and in recent years the Church has shown improvement by encouraging members to be compassionate to the circumstance of homosexual individuals. But saying something like, 'I don't have anything against Xgroup of people', does not make their desire to deny them certain rights any less. No matter how much a person may say they have nothing against black people, if they also act to deny black people equal treatment, it doesn't do much good. Some people seem to think that adding they don't have anything against a particular group, then makes it okay for them to deny same group rights, but it is the rights which matter most. The important thing about being seen with compassion, is what it leads to, so acknowledging a compassion while rejecting what it should lead to falls short. Much like the concept, 'faith without works is dead', 'acceptance' without equal treatment is dead.

Imagine if a group tried to deny Lds people to marry as they desired. No matter how often they said they had nothing against Mormon's personally, for them to deny them the right to practice their beliefs would be perceived as persecution.
Of course, and what makes this situation so ironic, is that the example above isn't hypothetical. There was once a time when people tried to deny Lds people to marry how they believed(the obvious example of plurual marriage, but there was once even an effort made in 1870 to pass legislation to make any Mormon marriage invalid.) Many of the exact same arguments being by the Church against homosexual marriage, were those used against the Church. People appealed to tradition. People said that by allowing marriage to be something different than a Union between one man and one woman, it threatened the institution of marriage. At that time, the Church Brigham Young responded with many of the same defenses that advocates of gay marriage are using. And of course, the Church saw this opposition as bigotry and persecution. Now, when they are the aggressor, it is only seen as standing up for their beliefs. Even when their is a backlash, and protests, people upset about having their rights taken away, the Church again sees even this as persecution and bigotry. Apparently, according to the Church, fighting to deny a group their rights is not persecution, unless that group is Mormons. When this type of behavior comes from an individual, that person is said to suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder. I wonder if a group can collectively suffer from a psychological disorder.




Of course, the Church and Church members have a certain affinity for seeing themselves as victims of persecution. Opposition is seen as emphasizing the truthfulness of the Church. To quote what someone wrote on the Facebook group I linked above: "the LDS church being attacked is just more proof that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. Satan wouldn't focus all his energy on it if it weren't for a reason." If Lds people were to really follow through with this reasoning, they should convert to Scientology, a group far more persecuted against than Mormons. Or if persecution were an indication of truthfulness, should we then take that to indicate the goodness of gay marriage because "satan wouldn't focus all his energy on it if it weren't for a reason"?

11.04.2008

Visualizing compassion.

As I have gotten caught up in the strong emotions surrounding the presidential election, I have found myself feeling somewhat disturbed by the intensity of my negative emotions toward the right-wing. I have been feeling things like 'only a retard or an ass-hole could possibly be a Republican'.

That is what comes from the emotional part of my body. But the rational part of me recognizes it is not true. I know there are kind-hearted and intelligent people who desire many of the same things for our country as I, but disagree on how those things can be achieved. And even those who aren't intelligent and kind-hearted, or desire things for our country I believe to be bad, my feeling negative towards them doesn't help them or I.

(The debate I had with Jon Wells, the kid I knew in high school, as well as those on the pro-prop 8 Facebook group has, perhaps, given me an unfairly negative sense of the character and reasoning people use to support their right-wing tendencies. As well as watching clips online of people like Bill O'Reilly. My body is generalizing from these few individuals to an entire group of people.)


I think we are all familiar with being able to recognize something with the parts of our mind associated with reason, yet not be able feel it with our emotional mind, even if we want to.

I don't like the feeling so poorly of a group of people or towards particular individuals, especially when I know my feelings are a distorted stereo-type. When our emotions become high, particularly in negative, angry ways, it clouds our judgment, making it difficult to recognize when we are wrong. It creates within us a sense of superiority, indignation and barriers between ourselves and others. These are all things I want to avoid. And of course it is difficult to feel peaceful and calm while feeling negative about others.

Ever since I had that powerful experience doing visualization meditation, I have been doing visualizations regularly, and experimenting with a variety of techniques (while I haven't yet had as intense of an experience as the first time, it has always been very powerful and euphoric).

One thing I have been trying is to imagine positive emotions, energy, love, and compassion towards those who may evoke feelings of frustration within me, such as a certain mom(not mine) who is constantly putting me down. I have found this to be very effective. I imagine this positive energy flowing from me to them, until I then genuinely feel positively and compassionately towards that person. The feelings then remains with me throughout the day, or if I feel the negative feelings returning, it only takes a little effort and time using visualization to bring the positive feelings back. I have found this not only works for other people, but things as well. If there is something annoying me while meditating, such as an itch on my body, or construction banging outside, I imagine feeling positively towards that disturbance, until I then develop genuine positive feelings.

Today it occurred to me I could try this technique towards the entire right wing and hopefully overcome the negativity I want to free myself from. (well, what my imagination has created for me as the stereotype of the right wing.) I tried it and found it worked well. It is a little more difficult to try and imagine a group of people, most of whom I don't even know, but it proved effective. I now feel much more compassion towards these people. I still struggle understanding how people can believe certain things, and be so inconsistent in their thinking, and I still very much disagree with them but overall, I have found myself being able to empathy and compassion towards this imaginary group of people, and the people who aren't imaginary like Jon Wells and Bill O'Reilly. I am happy about this. I feel a greater peace and calmness returning to me that had lessened over the past little while.

The first polls are just now closing. Fingers crossed. Crossing myself like a Catholic. Nailing myself to a cross.

Here are a couple photos I took in my yard in Olympia. The first few are of the chicken coop in my back yard that I am returning into a Tea Room. The first photos were taken when I very first opened it up, and discovered vines, a tree, rotted wood and old chicken coop things. Then after I cleared some vines away and removed the coop things. Then a photo of it partway through the renovation. It is a lot further along now, but I don't have a more recent photo. The work has been going slow, because when I am not at school I am usually working on my show, doing homework, or talking to Marissa(hi Marissa♥). After the tea room photos are photos taken in my yard on a foggy morning. Almost every morning is foggy because we live in a marsh.





























flip flop

I keep pulling John Kerrys. I go back and forth between excitement and nervousness about today. I will read a news article about Obama being 11 points ahead in the polls and feel so excited, then hear on NPR him being ahead by only 6 points and feel nervous. I also read, just this morning, that in 2000 Al Gore was behind 7 points in pre-election polls and, as we remember, won the popular vote. This made me particularly nervous.

On one hand I am excited to finally know who our president will be, but I think I will miss the election fever. I enjoy the way election time gets everyone talking about issues that are sort of important. I enjoy the weird debates I get in with old friends from high school who ask if I hate America, and when I say no he tells me Obama does, when I ask what his evidence is he says a bunch of stuff about socialism, when I ask him to remind me how that has anything to do with hating America he then shifts to Obama not having worn an American flag lapel pin. I ask if he wears an American flag lapel pin. He then changes tactics again. I will honestly miss weird stuff like that.

I will be excited to no longer hear rants against the Bush administration. While I generally agree with everything these ranters are saying, they never say anything new, yet speak as if they are saying something incredibly profound. I won't miss at least one caller per episode on every Npr show that takes call going off on a rant against the Bush administration, no matter how loosely related their rant is to the shows topic. I wonder what these callers say to the screeners. Do they make up a fake question? Or do they tell them, 'I'm just going to go on rant about the Bush administration until the host finally says that I need to ask a question because they are short on time'

'Dear God, Please bless that Barack Obama will win the election today, your friend on earth, Christopher' I prayed this morning.
I am hoping that God values my prayers more than all the Christians praying for John Mccain. And that the new electronic voting booths are susceptible to his holy spirit, creating divine election fraud on my behalf. If all my prayers are answered I should also be expecting a free pizza any minute now....

But to be honest, I did pray this morning that Barack Obama would win the election. Then I thought, wait, what am I doing? For the reasons I joked about above. Supposing prayer really works, and supposing Obama would otherwise lose, yet God wanted to pay special attention to my prayer above others, what would be done? Divine fraud?

But man oh man! I started crying again thinking about the possibility of Mccain winning.

'Dear God, why hasn't my free pizza arrived? Your friend online, Christopher'