Sunday, February 20, 2005

Life After Disembarkation

The last full day of my cruise, I’m ready to be home. The last leg of the course, the final point B and I’m ready to conclude. I wonder if I will feel the same in my old age.

I doubt that I will. This conclusion brings another point A and that is what I hurry to, not the conclusion itself. I smile and plan for the next point A.

Life after death doesn’t sound like a point A. It sounds like an eternal vacation from living. I like living. I like growing and changing. The promise of heaven is not an escape that I need. I would enjoy being free from sickness, but health without purpose sounds empty. This life with purpose feels rich.

Pearly gates and gold paved streets do little for me. I’m not drawn to ostentatious displays of wealth on earth and doubt that I will care for them after this life either.

Idleness does little for me too. I do not wish to die and become a lazy sluggard. I do not wish to retire into idleness in this life; I certainly do not pine for eternal indolence.

What is this promise of eternal life? It does not sound like living to me. It sounds like a vegetative state. Some shocked Christian may suggest that we will worship at god’s feet for eternity. This is just as unattractive. Does god really need this kind of reinforcement from those who consider themselves his children? I find modern rulers who need excessive praise to be the lowest form of leader: posters plastered all over their nation, songs sung in their honor at all occasions. This is the sign of a very needy and weak leader; they usually employ force and severe punishment to ensure their respect and continual worship. I say this to point out the contradiction between the view of “god the father” and the view of a god who desires eternal worship.

I do not assume to understand the after life. There is no way that I could. There are no facts to base an understanding on. It will be as Jesus will have it be. I will take it as it comes or as it does not. There is really no other position to hold.

I do not believe in the disciple John. I believe in Jesus. John’s book named “Revelations” does not deserve the position of fact. I don’t believe in the bible. I believe in Jesus. Jesus is my leader, not John and not the Bible. I do not believe in the men that chose the content of the collection of writings we call the bible. This was put together hundreds of years after even the original disciples were dead. The book was put together to formalize doctrine, and to consolidate power. This book was organized for political reasons as much as for the purity of the faith. I appreciate John and the bible. Both are useful. They are not Jesus nor do they hold a position in my faith approaching his. I follow Jesus not the men who put the bible together and not John.

So what can be known of the after life? We only know what we can sense and what we can abstract from these sensations. I was born with no sense organs that can aid me in understanding what comes after death. This does not mean that I think John false, I doubt him, but without data I can not be sure he is wrong or right. I simply can not be sure. I also do not feel the need to be sure. I enjoy this life. I expect that I will enjoy the next one too.

And I do not respond to the threats of men.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Creek View Restaurant

I see the jungle lined shore of Roatan Honduras outside my cabin window. I remember smell and color from the refuse filled creek; swirling brown. The broken TV stuck in the mud pointed up at the foot bridge; its final viewers. What did the locals watch on that TV before it broke and they tossed it out the back door with the rest of their waste: Friends, Cheers, Seinfeld, and Reality TV?

I also remember the dilapidated but vibrant Creek View Restaurant. I didn’t eat there. The view wasn’t appetizing; watching the sludge wash past the half submerged television set, upset my stomach. Too many Discovery Channel memories: parasites, bacteria, virus.

It was tempting though. The vibrancy of the thin stick building was appealing. I imagined their food being simple and fresh. A cold Honduran beer, Imperial, and fresh tortillas made by the old brown skinned grandmother in the back and delivered by their bright smiled granddaughters; dazzling white teeth against deep brown skin. The food sounded hearty in a fresh-soul way. As if the food itself was karma-light and while eating I would be unhurried and capable of truly enjoying the simple things: assimilation of culture through diet. I didn’t eat there. Instead, I’m waiting for the Sail-Away-BBQ on the pool deck, which will be delicious and free of intestinal parasites: continuation of culture through diet.

I visited Honduras. I really visited them. It has not been commercialized to the extent of Cozumel. I feel like I’ve had an honest and brief glimpse of this little island. While I remember the colorful birds that little native men put on my shoulders, and the playful and fun monkeys they encouraged to climb up into my arms, bribed with sunflower seeds, I also remember the Creek View Restaurant and my imagined meal.
This small bit of recall has no point, no liberal moral, no heart pulling we-have-it-too-good hand holding sermon. No such sentiment drives me to change the things that I saw. I’m no liberal; I believe that men should make their own changes. I don’t look at others and see victims. I do not need the ego masturbation. I can appreciate that they have the lives they’ve chosen and that they and their ancestors have made decisions for reasons that seemed good to them. My glimpse into their chosen world left me with a splinter of reason, a vision of a wholesome family filled life (avg. family size of 17) that is less reflective than mine, and less pressured and hurried. A life that doesn’t need to be justified and approved, but instead it is hot tortillas, pulled chicken, smoked iguana and cold beer.
I have the life I’ve chosen. They have theirs. Whose is best? It depends on the values of the one making the judgment. I will keep living mine. They will keep living theirs. I’m driven to reach certain goals and ends; I have a will to power and a will to create. I pay the cost for my will. I pay the cost for my decisions. Is this the best way? For me and those few akin to me, yes. There is a best way for me, not all men, not you, but for me and the others of this kind we have our path.
I enjoy fresh tortillas, pulled chicken and cold beer too, but for different reasons. I didn’t eat at the Creek View Restaurant, but I’m glad they do.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Willful Ignorance A.K.A. Christianity

A significant portion of current religious expression is willful ignorance of reality. This purposeful eye aversion from contradicting evidence is dishonest: prayers for victory, prayer for the sick, prayer. This same stubborn self-imposed stupidity extends even into the christian stance on the bible. A christian will assert with enthusiasm that he believes the bible to be the infallible word of god, as if god possessed a body from which to vocalize, yet he will clearly and completely ignore directives and commands therein: giving possessions to the poor, divorce as adultery, and uncountable old testament commands (Jesus said clearly that these were still in effect). This is the same willful ignorance, a mental approach to reality, applied to the bible as applied to the world around them; voluntary and selective blindness to reality.

If a thing is real then it can be shown to be real through repeated examples of cause and effect, and if you do not practice all the commands of your source text then have the honesty to admit that it is not infallible. Christian actions are more honest than belief: listen to what they do and not what they say. They selectively apply the bible but won't admit it and in so doing cripple meaningful dialog about the positive aspects of their lifestyle.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Minimalist Christianity

I desire to be a christian in only the way that Jesus was himself. I want nothing more. I don't want bumper stickers. I don't want the priesthood officialized by Constantine. I want a minimalist practice of christianity. I want nothing more than what i must have to apply the advice that Jesus chose to give us. I want nothing from Paul or the other men who were included in the catholic canon. I want the words of Jesus and him alone. I want a stripped down, clean, and simple christanity; one that embraces life and finds it a gift.

Sicks Days

I find it hard to use sick days: Admission of weakness. I know I should take the time off. I would encourage anyone I work with to do the same. Logic doesn’t impact. I still hate staying home sick. This practice was heavily discouraged during my childhood; skeptical looks. Even when I’m so sick I find it hard to breathe, I dread skeptical looks. I grew up sick, on and off, and was always aware of my health. Most children are ignorant of their good health. I grew up aware that my body was not strong. I grew up aware that the physical was not my arena. I’m familiar with physical discomfort and pain, and I work at minimizing its effect on my mind; at least I can still read and think. Reading was great for the weak bodied kid. It is still great for the adult. I still dread using sick days; stinks like personal failure; stinks like weakness.

I’m getting better. I’m home sick today for the second full day. I wish I wasn’t, but wishes are hopes that can not generate ideas. To a great extent we are still subject to our bodies and are left to deal with what they give us. Maybe I should go back to my “black-shirt” lifestyle (i.e. see entries concerning Technomonk). I was not sick a day during that period. While I’m getting better at taking the appropriate time off I would still rather never need to take any time off.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Jesus lived his passion

Don't praise Jesus for his death; instead praise him for his life. Give him praise for his example in living, not the single time he was a victim of life. He did not die for our sins; instead he lived to teach us to do without them.

Three Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Three stages of a healthy relationship:

  • formative
  • arrhythmic
  • rhythmic


Formative:

Purposes are communicated. Investment is heavy and constant. Definitions have not yet been made or are still loose. Illusions and assumptions are numerous.

Arrhythmic:
Purposes are agreed upon. Investment is heavy but sporadic. Illusions are lost. Definitions are forming; narrowing the scope of hope, sharpening the purpose.

Rhythmic:
The relationship is defined and has achieved a rhythm, frequency and amplitude appropriate to the purposes of the relationship.


"Where we are in life"

"Where we are in life", this concerns our position on the time-line of life. Our valuation of "Am I where I should be" is cultural. Your needs for fulfillment will change as you age. When young a good party and the company of women will make a man feel good about where he stands. His middle age is looking for stability and potential achievement in equal measure. In older age the desire to leave something behind, to make a mark, to be remembered begins to increase. The entire time line is a continuum with no real divisions. Convenient separations have been made but these are culturally specific and only there to help find our place and to understand where others are.

"Where I am in life", I'm in early middle age still wearing some unshed skin from my youth, still feeling the loss of what used to fulfill me, still trying to fulfill myself in ways that used to work but no longer do. I'm finding new ways, and some ways I used to try, fulfill me more now than they ever did. In some ways I'm just now coming into myself. It feels healthy to pin a flag in the time-line and say, "I am here."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Relationship Mechanics

The closer you are to someone the easier it is to push them away.

It isn't even necessary to push. A cessation of attractive activity will allow the other party to drift away under the influence of social currents. We actually have to apply continual force to keep social relationships stable. The closer two people are the more energy it will take to maintain that relationship. Microwaves and the electromagnetic spectrum illustrate this. The shorter a wave the more energy it possesses. Long waves like radio waves contain much less energy than microwave or gamma waves. Compare this to the amount of energy a relationship possesses, and the amount of energy it takes to keep this relationship in motion. When a very close relationship ends it releases a great deal of energy, as opposed to a very loose relationship which dissipates with much less fury. Relationships are dynamic and powerful. They are expensive to maintain and they can be devastating when allowed to fail. They can also be engines of propulsive force when running in harmony.

A rhythm is essential to an economical relationship.

Relationships are much like electromagnetic waves but they are equally like the events that cause them. When generating and maintaining closely bound relationships be aware of your danger and the threat to the rest of your life, but not so aware that you fail to use the incredible benefit unique to such personal frequencies.

You can never actually push someone away from yourself. More accurately, you damage the bond to the point that it severs and the energy stored in the relationship is released in a wild burst. It is this burst of stored energy that forces the two apart.

All parties involved in a tight social bond will work to maintain the relationship with the least amount of recurrent effort capable of keeping the relationship stable. All parties should be aware of this and work together to find a balance that allows for economical relationship stabilization. Long lasting and powerful relationships must be pragmatic at the core. Illusions are less and less tolerated as the bonds are pulled tighter. All these tints and shades must be striped off before truly tight bonds may be formed.

You are ready for a close relationship when you can safely achieve and maintain it.

Some people are especially suited for powerful relationships. These people most often form too tight of bonds too quickly and damage themselves and others. These individuals should be aware of themselves and form relationships with appropriate caution.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I'm not scared of eternal recurrence

If my life was a book I would read it again? Would I skip chapters, or would the slow parts have their own sad charm? The poignant parts may diminish out of context. A good editor would make all the difference; another reason to appreciate the nature of memory.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Music Selection

Music selection is mood dependant. Mood is at least partly context dependant. What music I want to listen to should compliment my mood and my activity. When choosing music for a group of people mood is difficult to determine. When choosing for yourself mood is often difficult to pin point. The context that the music will play in is less difficult. There is also the time of day to consider since it has a strong effect on mood: some songs are good for the morning and some for the evening.

An automated music selection system provided with context could then determine mood based music preference based on user feedback to selected songs.

Redefine context as a combination of listener activity and listener mood.

Time of day may be a way for the selection engine to make a guess at listener mood.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Music Problem

The digitization of music is proceeding apace: Progress has moved past the technofiles and into main stream adoption. As a person's music experience is digitized the amount of music they have access to at any one moment dramatically increases. With CDs a person may have had twelve CDs in a carry case, now with a digital player they have hundreds. The dramatic increase in available personal choices creates a new problem; what to play. At this early point we still try to play albums and we start using shuffle to range across artists, genres and whole collections. With an increasing abundance of choice comes the increasing difficulty of choice. Shuffle becomes an increasingly unsatisfactory tool. This presents a problem to be solved: What to play. Shuffle, as a solution, is already failing if not already completely out moded. Individual track, album, artist and genre choices are already eclipsed. The problem "What to Play" remains unsolved.
-

The music listening experience will inevitably become more collaborative.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Feeling Weak

When I'm sick I regret how I spent my period of health. I have the most discipline when I've been weak the longest. Weakness forces the motivated into self control. The trick is keeping discipline in strength, like being serious when you are the happiest.