Monday, March 13, 2017

Catching Up

It's been the better part of a year since the last post, although my Twenty-five Years in the Seventh-day Adventist Church post continues to draw comments and I reply to each one.

We've had a bitter and contentious election season, and somehow elected a bitter and contentious person to the office of President of the United States. Way too much being written/ Youtubed/ podcasted about that fiasco for me to bother adding any more than I just did.

Speaking of which, podcasts have continued to skyrocket in popularity, enabling some rising stars to catch my attention. Here's my current faves:

  • Twenty Thousand Hertz, a too-short, very sweet occasionally published dive into interesting sounds. Created by a film and game sound effects house, it offers compelling background info on a topic which has always obsessed me: sound. 

  • The Rubin Report, Dave Rubin's audio version of his YouTube channel. He's gone completely Patreon/subscriber funded, and that's enabled him to build his own studio, and say whatever the hell he wants, and interview anyone, penalty free. This makes for some terribly informative listening.

  • Penn Jillette's Sunday School is fairly narrow in demographic, but I happen to fit into it: fans of magic, of Penn and Teller, and those interested in libertarianism. I started listening during the middle of last year, and it helped me comprehend that much-maligned political doctrine, and fleshed out a little of candidate Gary Johnson's background for me. The format is long and rambling, and seems like you just entered a long-running conversation between three best friends. It's not for everyone, but it has never failed to crack me up.

I've moved over to Disney's Hollywood Studios merchandise from the Magic Kingdom. I'm glad I did my first three years at Disney at the busiest, most intense park, but I'm thrilled to be away from the madness and chaos. Just ask anyone you know who's ever worked at MK or even an annual passholder or vacation club member; they'll help you understand that madness. It's a wonderful place to visit, but I'm not sure I could handle ever working there again. 

DHS is more my speed, and yes, I realize that it's about to get a LOT busier, when they finish Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land (2019-ish?). That's okay. First of all, I'm more of a fan of Star Wars than probably any other aspect of Disney; those geeky, nerdy, Star Wars fans the world over are my tribe, and I love meeting them every day. Also, I'm not intimidated by crowds or busy shifts; I routinely tell my coworkers and guests that I can't wait for the opening day of Star Wars Land, and I hope I get to work that day, since it will be so insane as not to be missed! 

I'm re-watching Neil deGrasse Tyson's version of Cosmos on Netflix. I have lately been delving deep into my interests in evolution and pondering the question of where we came from. This series is a must-see for anyone....period! And just finished reading Stephen Baxter's Evolution: A Novel, which has one of the most sweeping story arc's I've ever encountered (including Asimov's Foundation series). 

Thanks to a new friend (Stephen Barry), I've discovered and uploaded all the homemade electronica tracks I had previously showcased on The latter's interface and players are still superior to almost any other available for free online. But bandcamp allows monetization quickly, easily, and for a reasonable price. I've also created a bandcamp site for my wife's piano CD, An Offering.

I've also created a mirror to this site, just because I can and because it offers a different selection of themes. I think I like the look of it better.

That's the news for now. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Social Justice War On Speech

Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) have found the enemy, and it is freedom of speech! On university campuses, on their podcasts, blogs, and social media, and in their advocacy and movements, this branch of the political spectrum is ostensibly fighting for the victims of abuse and bigotry and systemic injustice. But in so doing, they have armed themselves with weapons to fight against the free exchange of ideas. Now everyone and every thing is scrutinized for a possible political impact. Every word is being parsed, every decision analyzed, every move broken down to find out how it potentially hurts someone somewhere, and thus hurts everyone everywhere, and therefore must be banned from the safe spaces, which are growing and merging, the logical end result of which looks startlingly like Orwellian dystopia. If you question everything, hold nothing as sacred, and say whatever is on your mind, you are not invited to the SJW party.

The regressive left has gone crazy.  Being liberal used to mean protecting freedom of speech. Now the SJW flank of the left have abdicated that protector role in order to secure an illusory goal of somehow keeping everyone safe from ever hearing anything threatening or uncomfortable (triggers).

As I learn about the damage being done to the right to speak freely, it reminds me of my own self-censoring while I was a Christian, and a Bible teacher. The parallels between the right and left on free speech have been discussed frequently by Dave Rubin on his excellent Rubin Report, which I highly recommend to anyone concerned about free speech issues. I also credit his series of podcast interviews launched last September for the inspiration for this writing.

It finally dawned on me last night that I could remember being confronted with 'threatening speech' occasionally during my Christian delusion. Even in the safe spaces of the Seventh-day Adventist campus where I taught, I could access and interact with challenging ideas outside that protective bubble, using the Internet. When challenges to my faith arose, I usually just dismissed them, feeling a pang of guilt which was quickly tagged as 'evil', or whatever-- Christians are good at inventing justifications from "The Devil made me do it". The guilt and shame came from my conscience, which knew better than to dismiss facts just because they were uncomfortable, but I did it anyway, time and again, in order to prop up my delusional belief system. That dismissal and damage to the conscience is a thing everyone did, everyone who clung to the irrational and illogical doctrines we all held sacred. It was easier to do in a community which encouraged it.

This kind of violence done to one's conscience cannot be healthy. Across years of indulging in this denial of basic values like freedom of expression and freedom to question sacred beliefs, the cognitive dissonance builds up like scar tissue on one's reasoning ability. I know this self-censorship made me vulnerable to conspiracy theory paranoia, inappropriate trust in bogus claims and authority, and doubtless contributed to the depression I fought since I began my journey out of Christianity.

I think that same kind of cognitive dissonance threatens those apostles of the social justice mania chilling free speech on university campuses and trolling social media now. I wonder if they are becoming vulnerable to irrational schemes and conspiracy theories just like Christians are.

It hit me again last night how much I regret wasting my youth teaching teenagers how to deny their consciences for the purpose of delusion-maintenance. Those same regrets are waiting to pounce on any current advocates of the speech policing now popular in academia and the liberal press, just as soon as they realize the damage they are doing to our hard-won 1st Amendment rights.

Supporting popular causes can make you feel important, and stroke your need to belong. But if that cause you love ever makes you censor your doubts about it or damage your own conscience, run away from it. Get out of that toxic pattern now, before you build up life-altering loads of regret.

If you're interested in learning more about freedom of speech and the current threats it faces, a good place to go is Dave Rubin's Rubin Report. It's a podcast and a YouTube video channel, and the interviews and commentary there are really interesting and informative. But prepared to be challenged! It is not a safe space for anyone still caught up in the regressive left mind-fuck!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Threatdown, Human Species Edition: Climate Change vs Religion

I've been wavering between two opinions for the past few years. It has to do with the delicate position in which the human species finds itself. We are perched, as it seems, on the razor's edge of extinction by climate change phenomena we ourselves are causing. I am very much a fan of humanity, and would like to see us thrive, prosper, and one day leap across the divide to other planets and colonize the galaxy. (I dream big; blame Isaac Asimov).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We Need A God

The terrible behavior of the god-believers is a convincing evidence of the non-existence of a morally influential God. Believers loudly legislate each others' behavior, imposing their made-up gods' made-up codes on each other (and the rest of us). And believers in gods constantly embarrass the hell out of each other.

It's a shame there isn't a real god behind all of the shouting, the offense-taking, the in-the-name-of-killings, whippings, wars, and blasphemy laws, sitting up above it all, shaking his divine head in disgust. The way the world is going, we could really use a god.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Moderates Become Extremists

When I was a religious extremist, I embraced every teaching of the Bible as if it could be none other than directly from the mind of a loving God to his lost children. One year of college, then one year of missionary service, only made me more extreme. Meeting and marrying my wife, having our first child, returning to the mission field, and then returning to college to complete my teaching degree were all life events which eroded away my extremism. By the time I was a seasoned teacher, I was religiously and politically liberal. I had become a moderate, using the current terminology.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Dickish Driver

UPDATE 02/05/2015: A brave group of youthful activists in Russia is taking dickish driving in their neighborhoods very seriously, and documenting it online. Have a look at some translated vids:

A dickish driver's manual must be genetically encoded into human DNA, because I see it so often these days, and it's not just one age group, gender, or nationality. 

Catching Up

It's been the better part of a year since the last post, although my Twenty-five Years in the Seventh-day Adventist Church post continu...