Archive for October, 2009


Thursday, October 29th, 2009

I feel like I’m too judgemental.. about political subjects, about religion, about a whole host of things that seem almost like they’re set up to absorb infinite amounts of emotional energy without any real progress being made.

I don’t really think that I’m wrong about these things, exactly, but I also don’t really think that it matters that much if I’m right or wrong. I’m kind of tired of the concepts of right and wrong – and good and evil – any way – they seem like they’re oversimplifying everything by trying to squish rainbows down into single bit binary values.

I want to be better. I get the sense that I’m sick – that perhaps it’s a sickness that much of my kind shares, in fact –  and I want to be well.


Thursday, October 29th, 2009

One of my counterarguments to the athiests [not that I deny your right and indeed responsibility to believe whatever you think is right, but just that I like to play with ideas] is that it seems really insane to think that we’re the largest and most powerful organized systems out there. It seems like we’d already be dead from nuclear war or something if this were true.

But, perhaps I just suffer from a want for there to be something beyond me, because the idea that a bunch of people like me are running the universe is a little scary.

Of dieties and beliefs

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

So, this is sort of a continuation of yesterday’s post. The question I’m going to address in this post is probably one of the oldest ones in religion.

If I have internally a sense of what I feel to be right and wrong with respect to God – and it disagrees with what the world’s majority religion says is right or wrong – should I think

a: I’m wrong

b: They’re wrong

c: Something is jamming my communications, hence I can’t hear them and/or they can’t hear me

d: Absolute right and wrong have no place in religious discussion [unless one wants a holy war or three], there is only relative right and wrong for each individual

Now, if you believe the Christians, this actually matters. It’s apparently not enough to just set the ‘I accepted Jesus’ flag high once and ignore it.. there are apparently some other things you have to do in order to qualify for not being tormented forever, although they’re a little unspecific as to what. But.. it seems *extremely* counterintuitive that the Christians could be right. Let me explain.

If I was created – as opposed to evolved, or always existing, or any of the other amusing possibilities for how I got to be here in this place and time – my creator presumably designed me to be, more or less, what I am. Which means that if I have a sense of instinct that says a religion is wrong, it probably is – that’s probably built in, as a sort of informational immune system, to keep me away from the occasional person who might otherwise use religion to control or abuse me.

The alternative is to think.. if you’re taking the Christian view of things.. that my creator created me with a set of beliefs and instincts that would lead me to being tormented eternally. Set me up to lose. If you take *That* view, then God is evil and we are all fucked. Oh, dear, there go my judgy jackels again.

No, this is a little worrisome. If I take the majority rule view of religion, ignoring my own inner voice, I’m killing myself in favor of something that, to be honest, doesn’t look that great. If I stick with my own instincts, ignoring the religious texts that feel wrong, it seems like it’s possible I will find the right answers, or at least stay away from the wrong ones. But it’s a scary leap to take, because I am basically ignoring what you’ve all said to me.

Another option is to look at alternate religions. After all, one doesn’t necessarily choose the best religion by democracy, any more than one chooses the best operating system or programming language that way. So, we have several stripes of Buhddism to investigate, including the SGI folks, the Zen folks, and the idea that one should just try and do whatever mental process Siddartha did to begin with.

[Honestly, chanting to a piece of paper that describes the shape of a loving universe seems considerably less whack than bowing down before a torture implement.. but  I digress]

Friends have suggested various Buhddist temples.. perhaps it’s time I got off my duff and actually showed up at one?

Anyway, back to the original problem, which is.. actually, probably one that’s more overarching than just religion. In general, if my gut and the data the world is presenting me disagree, should I go with my gut, or should I go with what the world is presenting me? I don’t have to tell you that this world has a lot of people with really questionable motives running around in it, or that the economic and social systems seem to be built up in such a way as to make it both a hazerdous place and a place where a lot of competition goes on.

Um, is my perception. Again, lately I’ve been toying with the idea that the world isn’t really what I think it is at all. The problem is that I know a lot of the things I’m afraid of (the IRS, the franchise tax board, eviction, etc) are real, and not just in my head. Um.. do I know that? I think I know that? I have this vision of me sending a letter to the FTB – “You don’t exist. Go away.”. [Bonus points for anyone who gets the operating system reference]

It’s a interesting.. not to mention somewhat upsetting.. possibility to consider that I am my own tormenter, that I always have been. I guess that’s sort of a Buhddist thing, though, isn’t it? If so, the question I have to ask, being a somewhat pragmatic Sheer is, great, how do I stop?

Anyway, once more back to the original topic, which is – the data the world is presenting me and my gut instinct disagree on something. Do I go with the data the world is presenting me, or my gut?

Jackels, Giraffes, and Dieties

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

So, last night, on our way to the U2 concert, we were accosted by a couple of Christian trolls. I say they were trolls because Kayti approached them and offered to be converted, and they couldn’t come with any concrete suggestions to her on how to get saved. (They weren’t, in other words, out there trying to save souls. It was actually pretty funny.. they were yelling things like “You’re behaving like your old daddy Lucifer.. he invented music, you know! Rock music leads to sex and drugs!” – to which we all cheered. Yes. We certainly hope so.)

Now, I recognize that these two were just trolling for amusement value, but there are really people who believe that a: Some sort of day of judgement is coming and b: We will be judged based – apparently – on how little fun we had. No, really, God made a universe with a lot of entertaining possibilities, but we lose points for every one of them we indulge in, apparently. We’re supposed to be unhappy so we’ll be worthy of being happy in the next lifetime. No, wait a second, where does that end? Next lifetime, we’ll again be competing for how little fun we can have? Who signed me up for this, and how can I get off the list?

Now, normally I bash Christianity because I’m pissed off at the Christians – for a long list of reasons detailed elsewhere in this blog that I’m not going to go into here. But I did make a serious attempt recently to figure out how to wrap my head around the religion – and I just don’t think I can.

To explain why, I’m going to head over to a topic that Kayti has been studying lately – nonviolent communication, or NVC – I think they have a web site at – now, obviously me and Kayti had some pretty spectular communications issues and it’s really great that she’s studying this, and she’s been sharing some of it with me – and one of the mental models they use to discuss communication methods is Jackel vs. Giraffe. The basic theory is that jackels are very judgemental, very lacking in empathy for the other side of any given discussion, while giraffes, with the biggest hearts of any animal on earth, can hear the needs behind the judgemental (and sometimes, let’s face it, horrible) statements of the jackels and manage to communicate with them anyway.

So, how does this connect to religion? Well, it seems to be a popular thesis that humans can’t understand dieties. Not everyone claims this, but the majority of people say, God is too big, you are too small, God will not make sense to you. Therefore, it seems likely to me that we see only the parts of God that we believe in – just like I suspect we see only the parts of the world we believe in, at least to a certain extent. There are input filters between our senses and the parts of us that are us, and they filter out anything that is too far out of line with our beliefs – or perhaps the filters are before our memory, and so we can only remember things that match the things we believe – anyway, I’m suspicious that, since the world is full of contridictory religions, and people of all of them are equally convinced that their religion is the one true one, what’s happening is that people are filtering the available data based on their belief-set, and thusly seeing what they expect to see. Dear all adherents to religion everywhere, congradulations, you are bending your own reality. Now, that’s not saying God isn’t real – after all, people all see the Sheer they expect to see too, and I’m pretty sure I exist. But I do think you get the God you believe in, at least somewhat. This doesn’t seem too difficult to figure out..

But, I was talking about jackels and giraffes. I have this need – being the candy-raver kid I am – for God to be a giraffe. I just don’t want to live in a universe where *e’s a jackel – I’d rather not exist. But I hear these people talking – usually right after I’ve made a statement defending gay people – about how God is a “just God” and therefore “MUST punish people” for “committing sins”. Now, if some guys tell me they have this book that disagrees with what my heart says must be true about the divine.. I’m going to ignore the book and go with my heart – and I think I’d be an idiot not to. Anyway, we were talking of the concept of God I get presented including the plans for judgement this creature has.

Well, what a jackel this creep must be! In general, judging other people isn’t the best behavior to be indulging in, as most of us figure out sooner or later. Why would God need to be judge and jury – for that matter, why would anyone need punished at all? Earth already has too many ‘consequences’ for my tastes, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Really what we need is a system to keep us from hurting each other – but there are many who would rather have a system where we can hurt each other, just so they can have the pleasure of punishing us for doing so.  And there I go Jackeling off again and judging them.. but.. read and consider how the statements in there apply to $DIETY.

To get somewhat off my original topic (I’ll come back to it, probably), what Jackel need is welling up in the Christians making these claims for God? A need for the universe to include some sort of punishment for behavior that they see as immoral, or possibly that just squicks them? Why would they need that? There really must be a valid answer to this, and I suspect it’s an issue of control. I haven’t really run my file-permissions universe by too many of these individuals, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t like it very much, because it removes any valid reason or even excuse for a ‘judgement day’. (well, I suppose you could have a time where you decided if the story-lines currently going on in your life were worth continuing..) – these people believe in this, presumably, because they want to! I certainly don’t seem to have any trouble not believing in it – and I’ve been just as convinced of having concious contact with the divine as any of the rest of you..

If I were trying to hear them in Giraffe, what would I hear? Fears about an inability to control the behaviors of others? Fears that if they don’t speak up for the Jackel nature of God, *e might turn out to be a big, tall Giraffe who doesn’t really care who we sleep with? The phrase ‘living in sin’ has always fascinated me – to this apparently huge group of people, there’s something inherently bad and awful about living with a lover unless you make a lifetime commitment to them – but I think the only reason they have for this is ‘this is how we’ve always done it’. Birth control and longer lifespans both change the rules in some fundamental ways, but religion adapts even more slowly than government. Human systems are not exactly light on their feet, and so little of our social systems seem to be optimizing for happiness.

Really, I assume there is some basic need in some people to control the behavior or happiness of other people. I just don’t understand why the need is there. Maybe some people only feel complete if they have power over others? Hm. That sounds like I’m judging them too. This nonjudgemental stuff is really hard, especailly when you’re talking about a subject that is fraught with oppertunities for unhappiness and the opposite of nonviolent communication.

Well, before the information age, I guess there wasn’t really any way we *could* be light on our feet in terms of idea structures – and now, we’re still learning how. So I’ll pat that jackel that’s over there in the corner bittering about how awful the world is on his furry little head, and continue about my original thesis.

From where I sit, the bible was written at least partially by forces that liked hate, darkness, and evil. Even Jesus doesn’t say ‘Yes, the people who came before me were at least somewhat wrong’ – even though the people who came before him seriously suggested stoning anyone who slept with another person of the same gender.. (for example). This is not a book written by love. I would dearly love to see what the bible *would have* looked like if it *hadn’t* been written by the forces of darkness. I suspect somewhere out there, maybe in some parallel universe or maybe in this one, is a “real” bible – a book of collections of ideas about love, written by people who actually know what it is and have felt it on a regular basis. For my own reasons, I suspect this bible would have more women then men in the list of authors. But.. Paul, for example, is the Enemy with a capitol E. Although I wonder.. if I heard Paul’s mysoginistic Jackel in Giraffe, what would I hear? ‘I’m frightened by women, because I feel they might be smarter than I am.. or because they’re so different.. and so I want them to stay quiet in church’? ‘I need to rig the deck of this religion to support my gender because otherwise I’m afraid we will all be overrun by the women’?

I’ve strongly considered the possibility that the book is both Giraffe and Jackel – that in fact it’s my own darkness that makes me unable to see the Bible as it truly is – I see my own darkness reflected in it, instead of the original message. However, if my nervious system is subbing out content from the world around me, there isn’t a lot that I can do about it. (Other than blog about it and see if it gets any reactions)

I suspect that I’m a jackel more often than I would like to be. Since Kayti discussed the course materials with me, I’ve been watching my words and thoughts to see how often they contain judgement – or pointless suggestions and advice – when empathy would be a more appropriate response. Anyway, if you are a Christian reading my blog – I know there’s at least a couple of you out there – ask yourself, why would you want God to be a jackel? Or, what need of yours does it fill to claim that you absolutely know what God wants, and that *e wants people to suffer if they (a: sleep with the wrong people or at the worng times b: don’t say one key phrase about accepting this one guy who got killed for trying to bring a message of hope and love c: whichever set of beliefs you happen to have). Are you sure there isn’t a better way to get that need met?

I just hope that God’s runtime behavior isn’t decided by what the majority believes about h*. That’s not a hard possibility to believe in.. if we’re each one neuron in a neural net that is God, for example, you’d expect behavior kind of like that. In which case, I should really be trying to convince everybody to have a happier view of the concept – perhaps as insanely happy as possible?

Power switch?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

I’m really pretty sure my brain was supposed to have the ability to scale back its operating frequency a little bit. I haven’t figured out how to do this just yet, but I’m thinking that’s what the Buhddists mean by meditating. Really, this thinking needs to stop. Just for a while, I want to hang out and *not think*. Enjoy the silence, as it were. You listening, oh forces who have undertaken to hack my neural nets for reasons I can only but guess? Can we get a ‘neutral’ setting? I’ve had a few moments of silence recently, but I think I’d like.. I don’t know, a few weeks of it?


Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

I used to have semi-nightmares every night. Problems that needed solved, things that weren’t working, people who were angry with me.

I don’t seem to any more. So, I can’t control my dreams, but at least they’re not awful any more.

Whip It..

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Okay, so Kayti and I went to see Whip It – it wasn’t hard to convince me to see this movie, since it had pretty much everything.. Drew Berrymore, skating (I loved Roll Bounce), and.. roller derby?

I’m not a contact sports kind of person. Generally, ‘no pain, success’ has been more my style than ‘no pain, no gain’.. but .. wow that looks like fun.

Yes, I realize it probably hurts a bit..and I would have to regain my quad skate skills, which are very, very dusty..

Sadly, a little Googling reveals that there’s no male roller derby team in SoCal. Ah well.

So, I commented on this on facebook, but seriously, wouldn’t laser tag on roller blades be fun? Especially on a very large flat surface like a warehouse floor, with some cleverly placed obsticles? (And some of Chris Mish’s best EBM going). Who’s got a warehouse we can borrow? Anyone else in? [Oh. Wait. I only have one friend who lives here who skates, and he’s more the dancer type..]

Well. Hm. I wonder.. Craigslist…?

You can’t always get what you want..

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

So, apparently lucid dreaming is not in the cards for me – or not yet, anyway. On the other hand, an old friend has become a living presence in my mind that has been giving my personal demons a serious ass-kicking. Every time I hate something about myself, or kick myself for failing something, I get a reminder to reality-test that against the real world. Every time I get the urge to lie for short-term gain, costing long-term, I get a gentle reminder about where that leads. And every time I’m afraid, I get a reminder that most fears, when faced head-on, turn out to be, as Brenda would say, False Evidence Appearing Real.

So, you can’t always get what you want.. but if you try sometimes.. you just might find.. you get what you need.