Monday, April 30, 2007

Of Tao and MsDemmie

This post is in response to a post from MsDemmie in response to a response about another one of her posts that she posted for BYB: Sunday. Got all that? Well this blog is called "Blather and Rants..." I was going to just add this to the comments on her blog, but I realized it was too long. Also I wanted an excuse to use this pic since I think I look vaaary nice on that horse...

First off, thanks for answering the question!!! The idea of reasoned discourse is one of the things that bring me back to the internet: I wish it happened more often.

Second, sorry that it took me so long to respond. I don't really have a good excuse so I will not prattle on with a lame one.

And now some comments: I think that the blessing you described is more of an ideal than the literal truth: I don't think the kind of peace the poem described is the case when a nation is at peace. I strongly disagree that we are raising a generation where violence is the norm: I think human beings are extremely peaceful compared to most critters on the planet.

While I wish it were true that, if a nation is at peace, that there is peace in the cities, neighbors, homes and heart; it just isn't so. I think the situation with the USA and Japan over trade is good example. In many ways, the people of the USA resent the loss of jobs to people overseas. I recall an example where a congressperson took a sledgehammer and smashed a portable stereo to symbolize her feelings about the situation.

This was by no means limited to the citizens of the United States. There were also cases where Japanese workers would do essentially the same thing with goods produced in America. Yet the USA and Japan are at peace. Here is a situation where the nations are clearly at peace, but the people are clearly not at peace in their hearts.

Just because something is something is unattainable, however, does not mean it is not worth striving towards. On the contrary, this is one of the things it means to be human! As a people we will never reach peace, enlightenment, etc, but the process of striving – of trying to better oneself, is the human condition.

I think that many people will agree with your opinion that we as a people are raising a more violent generation or that humans are generally destructive. But I would ask: compared to what? Recall that previous generations have given us World War 1, World War 2, centuries of conflict in Europe, Asia, etc. If a generation wants to be "more violent" than the pervious one, they have a lot of work to do!

Compared to many species, human beings are incredibly cooperative and peaceful. Lions, wolves, etc. will all regularly fight, injure or kill each other. The same is true of many herbivores and sea-dwelling mammals. Conflict and even what one might consider "war" is by no means limited to humanity among primates – even Jane Goodall has observed fatal conflicts among chimpanzees.

[Sorry about the vague references – if anyone actually cares leave me a comment or send me an email and I'll come up with them.]

Now compare this to humanity. We live in incredibly dense, complicated surroundings that requiring intricate cooperation and yet we survive and even flourish. While violence makes the news, consider how much trust is required for a simple traffic intersection to function: there is nothing stopping all the drivers from ramming each other except their willingness to cooperate.

So I think the Tao chant that you mentioned is an idea rather than a goal. Never the less, I think it is an ideal that is worthy and that people should strive towards. I don't think that the generation we are raising is more violent than previous ones – I think human beings in general are peaceful and cooperative.

In closing, given my optimistic outlook and generally amiable disposition, I can't believe I'm writing this. Perhaps this is a sign of future senility, but I do see more hope then despair when I look at us.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

BYBS: 10 Things I Like About You

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings. Click this link, grab the blogroll code, add the code to your blog, leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience and post your blessing. Quick and easy!

This Sunday, I thought I would put down 10 things that I'm grateful for:

1. The One – why she stays with me is a continual amazement.

2. Blue Panther – nominating me for the "blog thinker" award thingie really made my day.

3. BYBS: writing entries – creating an entry forces me to look at my week and my life in a positive way, as opposed to seeing everything in a negative light.

4. BYBS: reading entries – I always find some thought or some idea that makes reading the entries worthwhile.

5. People in my life who care – I don't know why they bother, but when I'm not sitting around in the pit of despair, I'm grateful that they are in my life.

6. Weekends – just ending this damn week and getting a few days off was a blessing.

7. Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine :-)

8. DVDs – I couldn't exercise without them.

9. My Health – I'm relatively healthy.

10. Omega – The great big final exam.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

BYBS: Reprieve

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings. Click this link, grab the blogroll code, add the code to your blog, leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience and post your blessing. Quick and easy!

I had been troubleshooting a problem all this week that had been driving me up the wall. Everything I had tried had failed and I was reaching my wit's end. Finally I caught a break. Not a complete one, but at least something – I was so damn glad to have just gotten that.

I remember a scene from "The Little Prince" that talked about how the prince and the narrator are making their way through a desert and find a well to get some drinking water. The sound the pulleys make as the bucket is hauled up the well is described as a sort of song and the Little Prince remarks that its music would not have been so significant had they not been so thirsty.

I myself was not so much anticipating a drink as fleeing from a situation. The fear of spending yet another week of painstaking trial and error while a bunch of other people waited impatiently for me was not something that I wanted to do. I already know I'm an idiot; I don't need to have the fact pasted around me with letters five feet high.

In the Little Prince, the struggle and anticipation of trying to get some water when the characters were thirsty made something inconsequential, the sound of a squeaky wheel, into music. In my situation, the day was made sweeter because of my escape from a situation. While not the sort of thing that made the sunlight more welcome or made my breakfast taste better than a feast, the resulting day was much, much nicer.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

BYBS: Gallows Humor

The Blue Panther Experience is host for Blog Your Blessings. Click this link, grab the blogroll code, add the code to your blog, leave a comment on Blue Panther Experience and post your blessing. Quick and easy!

So always look on the bright side of death! Just before you draw your terminal breath. Life's a piece of shit, When you look at it. Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true,

- Life of Brian

Continuing in the thread of being grateful for humor, this post is about humor in the situation where things are really bad. In some situations you have to laugh or cry. Sometimes you cry and that is necessary. It expresses emotion and helps with the healing process.

Sometimes you laugh and I think that is also helpful. Laughing gives you an emotional "break" and also expresses something about the situation. The juxtaposition of humor into a situation that is so serious is part of what makes it funny.

For example, my grandmother was in the hospital, dying of cancer. My aunt visited and wanted to take a picture of the family members present. She was taking so long arranging people that my grandmother remarked "If you don't hurry up with this, I'll be dead before you take your damn picture!"

When Ronald Reagan had been shot and the doctors were about to operate, he asked: "All you guys are Republicans, right?"

My wife had gotten into a car accident and the first words out of her mouth to me were "I spilled my chai!" Later on in the day: "At least I don't have to go to work tomorrow."

I would love to hear about similar experiences that you've had.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

BYBS: Tinfoil Hats!

Image shamelessly lifted from Hopefully, the approve of the use I have put it to.

I thought that a more somber article was in order for this weekend, so here is my treatise on ways to improve your thought processes. I know it's a little late, but THEY tried to stop the public from being notified. Remember…THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!

Some years ago I had strange ideas that people were trying to control my thoughts and actions. Then I stumbled upon a solution to this using only household materials; principally tinfoil!

At first I was suspicious. Wouldn't those you told others about what was going on put themselves in immediate risk? How did I know that these "deflector beanies" really worked? I started reading testimonials like this one:

A picture recently taken of the leader the gnomish mind-control plot know as GMCP. This is NOT just a cheap image cap from World of Warcraft! Really...mostly...

Fools! Your Aluminum hats are no matching for the raw mind-bending power that we gnomes wield! Soon all your people will bow before us!

And this:

Once again, I am hoping that the folks at understand that MiB is playing for keeps: we need to unite!

I was sold.

By making a hat out of this marvelous material I was able to radically reduce the number of strange thoughts that I was being bombarded with every day. Soon, with my clear, mind control free powers of cogitation, I began to unravel the truths behind these nefarious plots, but the most terrifying revelation was yet to come.

Whilst wasting time on one of my favorite activities, I discovered the real, terrifying truth:

Here's to the heroic people at who have tried to liberate those who are caught in the web of evil mind control rays!

Blizzard, the company that has been for the last few days at least, dedicated towards freeing people from the throes of the alien mind control rays has allowed characters the World of Warcraft to product their characters form this effect. While wearing a hat, your character is completely immune to mind-control effects. These folks are really going out on a limb and deserve every bit of support that can be mustered.

But, why, you make ask, if we have these tin-foil protector beanies, what more needs to be done? Aren't we protected now? Wont the world-wide conspiracy be realized for that it truly is?

Recent, disturbing evidence suggests that this may not be the case. For example, you may recognize the squirrel from the previous testimonial:

I don't know where I got this one, it could have been slipped under my door after I tapped a big "X" on my window or something. The point is we need to take this implied threat the same way we'd take an implied invitation to lunch or dinner...or maybe not.
The forces behind the mind control rays will not easily yield control back to the people this great country! Fortunately, there is an easy way to tell the difference between the thralls and the enlightened: the presence of a tin foil beanie deflector! Those who wear them we can trust, those who do not cannot be trusted! Also, if they're 6 inches tall like these guys, it might also be a hint.

Good luck, and avoid gnomes!!!

P.S. Yes another April 1st has passed us by and, with another year behind me, I have the strength within myself to not act as childish and silly as I would have acted last year. All I can say is that last year would have been really bad.