Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Beautiful Fall

But it is Spring, you say. Yes, but I'm not talking about that kind of Fall. I am talking about the other kind - where a head hits a desk. They say that it is wrong to speak ill of the dead, and I generally agree. But in this case they are wrong, and today I speak ill.

When I hear the word 'bastard', I think of Jerry Falwell. He was the kind of knee-jerk, opportunistic, anti-intellectual egomaniac that embodies the worst in humanity. If you don't understand the depth of his poisonous effect on American culture (and you enjoyed your lunch but don't relish tasting it again) then don't bother trying to learn about this man.

He was a deceptive, racist sycophant and people like him catalyze the most vicious atrocities that humans are capable of visiting upon one another. He perverted the best tenements of his religion and contorted the words of its text into inhumane positions, taking great pleasure in using these perversions to advocate positions that would - how should I say this - make baby Jesus cry.

He tortured a beautiful philosophy until it cried "Do it to Julia". He was a pimp and a pusher. He was the Stalin to the Lenin. He spun lies from half-truths, knit them into a monstrous evil, and then sold it to the masses. He did as much to harm Christianity as any single man has ever done. He is the reason that atheists and agnostics cringe and scoff when they think of religion. He was the Christian equivalent of a lazy Bin Laden in a fat suit, only more charismatic, dumber, and with a less consistent morality.

If Jerry had been right that there was a hell, he would be in it now. Unfortunately he was probably not, and I will have to accept the fact that rather than suffering for all eternity, he is just gone. Sadly he leaves a legacy of judgementalism and ignorance, and has done a harm to the world that it will take generations of great leaders to undo. Jerry, if you are out there somewhere, burn baby.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Specieal Insanity

Most new parents hope that their children are beautiful geniuses who grow up to be tall and healthy. These are things that society values. But without adversity humans often/usually grow up to be character-free drones, lacking in inspiration and motivation - c.f. ‘Beautiful People Syndrome’.

Some people us BPS in a different way than I do. I am talking about being spoiled by an easy “high percentile” life where everything you want falls in your lap and people queue to cater to your needs. There is nothing more poisonous to the development of a soul than this. Some quick evidence – the most badass intellectuals and revolutionaries in history come up in the toughest places. Russia – need I say more?

So back to the point – if you want your kids to grow up to be happy, healthy, and INTERESTING, where is the balance? How do you check the parental instinct to provide and protect against the reality that adversity creates really cool people? Why don’t we ask questions like this? I believe that our society is becoming poisoned by risk aversion. We live in a country where people consider you irresponsible for not taking your pet for annual preventative doctor visits.

As more and more countries enter the club of developed nations, we as humans grow less and less connected with the context in which we evolved – a daily struggle for survival. We retain our instincts to survive, but in the absence of real danger we map them to the compulsions for improved fireproof pajamas, sanitized spinach, and cars that make it impossible to accidentally hurt yourself. It doesn’t really matter to us what we pay for these tiny marginal improvements, in either monetary or spiritual terms. Our instinct to focus on dying slower is what drives us, and the safer our lives become the more ridiculous the expression of that instinct becomes. We are losing our sense of adventure and our tolerance of failure. We accept no responsibility.

When I look forward and follow this trend to its logical extension, it could be described as insanity. With primary instincts that have become obsolete in the context of our “civilized” environment, we have no purpose. I think that to fill this void mankind needs a mission statement. Something that we can learn to focus on – a great collective dream. Interstellar travel would do nicely. So would World War III I suppose. If you have a preference remember to vote.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Awesome Quote - "Small feet can lead to unsoundness."

Someone else wrote this, but I don't think they ever considered its meaning out of context. What do you think? I love's like a Zen pun.

I found it a couple of years ago when I was researching God knows what for God knows why. Here is the original context:
Man in a Box

I was standing in the center of a large, dark box. I thought the sides were close, but I couldn't see them. It was just a feeling. I knew I was standing in the center and wanted to find the sides. I started to explore, but for every step I took the walls moved away from me as quickly as I walked. This scared me, but when I moved back towards where I started, the walls didn't shrink again. Just by exploring I had made my box larger. I had a tough decision to make. I was either going to be bored and stuck in a small box, or I could try to explore and make the box grow.

I made this up as an analogy to how we collectively approach science. The problem is that there are many of us, and those of us that go exploring grow the box for everybody. If you are afraid of infinity the last thing you want is the people around you constantly reducing your importance.

We (the people I like and am like) are used to thinking of knowledge as a shared resource that benefits everyone. From another perspective (albeit one that makes me want to get into a barfight) ignorance is also a shared resource, and one that cannot be regained once lost.
Poeticization of Me? Only this once and it's all her fault.

I wrote this poem for my wife on Valentine's Day. If you don't like it, keep in mind that I'm not much of a poet and my wife is so amazing that she inspired a non-poet to poeticize. If you do like it, she gets all the credit.

before i met you

footprints behind me, on the beach
were all the places that i'd been
in every place i thought the same
on different sands I was alone

one day i found another's tracks
i thought, but i had not found that
instead i'd walked the world around
and found my own footprints again

i thought i'd walk until i died
an empty man with empty tracks
staring ahead with stubborn hope
and measuring my life in laps

and then one day there you were
walking towards me on my beach
you'd been walking on it too
making circles on the earth

you took my hand and smiled at me
alive and warm i felt your glow
and for the first time in my life
i knew some things i could not prove

that you love me and i love you
that fate has blessed us both with this
that we will never be alone
and that this place was worth the walk.