Tuesday, May 12, 2015

KARMA ISN'T A BITCH



FOR THOES PEOPLE WHO SAY... "Karma is a Bitch"

Ever have a conversation with someone and the two of you are discussing a bad situation? The situation could have happened to your friend or maybe to someone else. Suddenly, out of nowhere, your friend resorts to the hackneyed cliche “Karma is a bitch”. Every time I hear that platitude I usually let it pass without a response, but inside, I’m seething with infuriation because it occurs to me that they lack a basic understanding of reality.  Yeah, yeah, I know it’s simply an expression and no one really cares about what it (actually) means.

But sometimes I’d like to say:
Do you honestly think the universe arranges itself around your behavior (and actions) and the behavior of others? Are you so deluded and grandiose in your thoughts about yourself that you think the physical laws of the universe react to your emotions and behaviors?

Do you think the space-time curvature of the universe repositions itself in such a way to retaliate against the individual who steals pastries from the local bakery?

If Karma exists—if people are in their current state of (natural) existence due to behaviors and actions from their past or from their previous lives-- we should rightly fault the children who are suffering from starvation. After all, wouldn't their current fate be determined by a past life, one in which their behaviors were evil or malicious?

People might use the word “Karma” in a practical sense. For instance, the phrase “You reap what you sow” comes to mind.

Yes, if you treat another person kindly, the chances are greater that they will treat you kindly in return. If you judge someone immediately and you haven’t even had a single conversation with them—you don’t even know them---expect them to judge you in the same rash response and don’t count on being their friend (you’ve already proven your judgmental attitude). There isn’t anything magical or mystical going on here. These are just the practical consequences of behavior.

As much as we would like to think the universe revolves around our ego and personalities-- as past scientists have thought that the sun and every other celestial body revolved around the earth—it doesn’t, and I am glad for this.

Karma isn’t a bitch because it doesn’t exist. It is just an eastern idea that has now become an annoying nonsensical phrase uttered by almost every thoughtless drone I encounter.

Perhaps it is time to deflate our egos and realize we have very little control of the world around us—that our behaviors good or bad—may not affect the trajectory of the universe or even our own petty lives. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that we just so happened to be lucky to be born in a developed nation and not have suffered from a water borne illness as a child. Perhaps, if you are one of those people who is often reminded that “you’re super smart” or “super talented/competent” you should just realize that you’re lucky and your life would be an entirely different experience if you didn’t have these preferential traits.

Instead of  saying"Karma is a bitch", how about “Being human is a bitch”. We make poor decisions regularly and we often act in ways that are self-serving—whether they are statements to hurt or diminish the importance of someone else (to feel better about ourselves) or whether they are physical acts of harm towards others.  Being human means you are, at times, going to piss others off. Sometimes your behaviors will be an intentional acts to harm others, other times, your acts will be purposeless and will hurt others.

But either way, the universe doesn’t care about your actions. There isn’t a physical force that is going to balance things out or push for (social) justice in the real world. It is us, and our tiny brains, who have to works towards that. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

VIDEO for MOM-- Remembering Old Times...



video


I grew up in a lower-middle class, Caucasian household. My mother was a full-time housewife and my father made a meager living as a salesman. Neither of my parents have college degrees.  Food stamps were never applicable to my family’s income but we lived happily and never with too much luxury. In the summer time, eastern Oregon can be very hot; we never had an air conditioner. I grew up with fans.  In the winter we used firewood chopped from the forest to heat our house. I always woke up freezing cold in the mornings and headed straight towards the wood stove on the other side of the house.

We didn’t have a lot of extra cash to pile our cupboards with expensive, highly processed goodies and snacks. The high price tag of Doritos, packaged cookies, soda and hostess cupcakes meant that such items rarely, if ever, made it into our cupboards. Instead, we had a flourishing vegetable garden with several fruit trees. We had grass-fed cows in our pasture which would be butchered once a year. We had a chicken-house full of hens that would lay eggs year round. Our animals were treated kindly and humanely.  Our property was sufficient in size to host a sizable variety of barn-yard creatures.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Social Rejection and Bullying WORSE than CHILD ABUSE



 A recent study (above) suggests that it is WORSE to be bullied and/or EXCLUDED by peers than to be abused by adults. Obviously, this shouldn't abate our natural outrage for children abused by adults or make it sound less severe. I just find it interesting that studies are finally showing something that I have parroted for years!

 As someone who never, ever made entrance into any single popular group in highschool (or even an upopular one)—and tried really hard to do so—as someone who never even made it into the auspices of 2-3 close friends during that time, I can definitely identify! As someone who was bullied from time to time during highschool, I can certainly agree with this--especially as I consider my own current levels of anxiety.

See my blog post below where I go into more detail about why I think bullying and social exclusion are so harmful. (Yes, I know this is nothing original, but at least I made sure to mention the factor of social rejection/exclusion here--sometimes people forget this aspect of bullying).

My "Social Exclusion/Bullying" blog post.




Monday, April 27, 2015

Gospel Message is like the Abusive Boyfriend/Girlfriend!!


One of the things that I always found to be off-putting about Christianity (the Gospel in particular) even as a child was the suggestion that I as a human being was somehow “sinful”, or  “wrong” in some manner. This is the idea that there is something fundamentally in error or “corrupt” about my person or nature.

I would listen to my Pastor every Sunday. I would listen to my Sunday school teacher about how marred, imperfect and sinful I was as a human and I would reflect upon this mantra on a daily basis.  I grew up thinking this way. Now I find myself detesting this kind of thinking—this style of thinking that presses itself upon my brain and makes me feel lowly and unworthy. This kind of thinking that teaches you to hate who you are—your personal characteristics, the way you think, your mannerisms and every minutiae of your person that you have little to no control of anyway. The Gospel message is like the girlfriend or boyfriend who psychologically abuses their partner by telling them, “You’re only good with my help/advice/support…you only can be good/worthy/important because of me! You’re only good if you could just be like me!”


I have a problem with the gospel message in the same way that I have a problem with other human beings in society who arrogantly tell others, how awful or “wrong” (i.e. sinful/imperfect) they are. These are the individuals who always resort to giving advice to others about “how they should change their mannerisms, style of dress, personal quirks/characteristics” simply to align with their own subjective preferences. It is one thing if an individual is committing crimes that are deserving of a prison sentence, it is an entirely different thing when a person is admonished by someone’s thought-policing; that is, when someone begins interjecting their own subjective standards on others to make them feel “not good enough”.

Friday, April 17, 2015

STOP SAYING "PEOPLE are so STUPID!"


I had to do a really quick blog post on this--because this is infuriating me! One thing I've noticed—time and time again—on facebook, in casual conversation, on various websites, in comments and in so many discussions is a very common phrase “Why are there so many stupid people?” or “Why are people so stupid?”. 

These kinds of expressions have become so old I want to throttle the person saying them. I wish for once that someone would post something like, “Why am I so stupid?” It would be quite shocking and interesting for change.  Everyone seems to think that everyone else is stupid (or, at least most others who don’t think exactly as they do) but not them. Kind of like how Christians think that everyone else is going to hell but not them. This is the exact same mentality. I’m getting tired of it and found another blog on this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

MEETING MICHAEL MOORE IN MUNICH



This past weekend my husband and I had the exquisite pleasure of taking a weekend trip to Munich—the famous party-city in Germany.  The last time I entered Bavaria was in 1998. At the time, I was with my family and we stayed in the city of Garmisch. Like the average tourist who visits Southern Germany, we had made a day trip to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle. However, since I was with my family and relatives of non-drinking Protestant sort, we never did make it into the beer-guzzling city of Munich. I wonder why.

My husband and I were looking for a short, frivolous getaway. Thankfully, transportation in Europe is done with supreme ease. Even if you book a train at the last minute, it seems you can still find options to go anywhere—provided you are willing to stand. We caught the Ice train in Mannheim which took us straight to Munich. We even passed through the village of Ulm, the town where Einstein was born.

We arrived in Munich in the early afternoon which gave us plenty of time to explore the city square. Once off the train we walked our way through the bustling train station and out onto the streets of Munich.  Munich is a large city—roughly 150,000 in population. I learned that the people of Bavaria proudly see themselves as almost separate from the rest of Germany—think Texans and the United-States—only that Bavarians are not Protestant Bible-Thumpers.  In Bavaria the locals are patriotic, conservative and largely Catholic.  Their unique cultural heritage is a result of being separate from Germany until only 100 years ago.

Women with model-looking bodies are seen on all corners of the streets. Everyone is toned, youthful, glowing and smiling.

Thankfully, our hotel was located walking distance from the main city square. After dropping off our bags in our hotel room, we wandered into the city center. We passed gangs of tourists and locals all jostling their way into the town-square for Friday-night escapades.  We walked by countless trinket shops and clothing stores specializing in dirndls—the traditional dress of German women. I even found a sushi spot nestled in the heart of the city—not too bad!

I would highly recommend walking by the Munich Rathaus.  Architecturally, this building stuns with richly ornate flare and at times, seems almost gothic. Like Notre Dame, it has gargoyles peeping out from all corners; definitely a captivating visual experience! Also, in the square you will come across several fountains with erected stone statues in the middle. I randomly notice that a Merman statue sits in the middle of one fountain and squirts water at a little boy.
 There are also a couple accessible cathedrals in the town-square that are free and absolutely worth a peak inside!


Munich Rathaus


That night we found our way into the Augustiner Keller and Biergarten—an authentic hot-spot that you must visit while in Munich. Once you enter through the gate you weave your way through the sprawling Biergarten full of Friday night locals all sitting on picnic tables in this outdoor garden. My eyes were grabbed by the variety of sparkling amber brews and assortment of beer glasses positioned all over the tables.

We decided to eat indoors. The beer hall was enormous! We sat at a long, wooden picnic table and then ordered typical Bavarian fare. In less than 40 minutes the beer hall filled up and became a rowdy, cantankerous joint though sans an accordion player. It was a fun place to observe the locals clanking their beer glasses with each other and having a good time.

The next day we made a short trip to Salzburg, Austria. For music lovers, this place is famous for being Mozart’s hometown and for many an American, it is famous for its various scenes in the 1965 musical, “The Sound of Music”.  WE LOVED SALZBURG! It is definitely my favorite smaller city that I have visited in Europe.



In the old town section of Salzburg, Austria. 



The old town of Salzburg is of delightful, quaint beauty. The streets are narrow and the buildings and storefronts are packed tightly together. There is an old graveyard in the center of the old city and above the city stands a fortress (Hohnensalzburg Castle) which we never made it to.

Beautiful graveyard in Salzburg, Austria. The Hohnensalzburg Castle stands in the background.



MEETING MICHAEL MOORE

After our Salzburg day-trip we headed back to Munich. We were just entering our hotel when we saw a group of 4-5 people standing in the lobby, checking in.  As we passed my husband muttered under his breath, “Looks like Michael Moore”.  How random could that be that a famous, controversial documentary filmmaker would be staying in the same place as us? I turned around, taking a closer look and exclaimed, “That IS Michael Moore”.  Michael Moore, hearing his name, turned around and glanced at us. Sure enough, it was him. We made a dash for the elevator. Neither of us are major Michael Moore fans but it was quite random (and surprising) to see that he was staying in the same hotel that we were and on the same weekend.

That night we secretly hoped to pass by him again but of no luck. My husband and I went downstairs so that he could get a drink at the restaurant bar. The bar maid accidentally spilled beer all over his pants and shoes.

In the morning we were offered free breakfast in the hotel since the bar maid soaked (and stained) my husband’s shoes in beer. Free food is free food.

Coincidentally, I stood right behind a GIANT (Michael Moore) in the breakfast buffet line who was heaping himself to lots of eggs and bacon. He had a specialty glass with orange juice and 2 sliced oranges adorning the rim. He was wearing a black t-shirt, sweat pants and an old ratty baseball hat. It felt odd that no one else seemed to recognize who he was. Then again, it seemed like we were the only Americans at this hotel.  My husband hadn't noticed my location yet, when he caught site who I was standing by, he smiled brightly.

Confidently he walked right up to Michael Moore and asked, “So when can I be expecting your next documentary?”.  Michael Moore seemed very enthusiastic that finally someone recognized him. He even pulled us over to the side of the breakfast room and told us that he was in Munich filming a documentary that will be entitled something like “Invade”…forgot the exact title.  His documentary will highlight "Some of the things that Europe does right...and should be incorporated into America (trains, health care etc)" He was quite affable, down-to-earth and actually, rather sweet. He was more than willing to talk to random strangers like us.

I wanted so badly to make a YOUTUBE video where I interviewed Michael Moore but I was too timid to ask. (He actually talked to my husband for quite a while). He was very approachable though and not pretentious or "I'm better than you" in the slightest! Next time I will be more apt to take up this kind of an opportunity, so beware!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

OLD PEOPLE, BLAH BLAH BLAH



MY PREDICTIONS ABOUT OLD PEOPLE



“In my opinion there is no aspect of reality beyond the reach of the human mind.”
 Stephen Hawking

For a long time I agreed with many of the current-day populizers of atheism. I thought that abolishing religion and cultivating a world without any religion was the solution to ALL the world’s problems. Though I still find myself agreeing with this sentiment—especially with regards to very problematic ideas like Islam—I’m not sure I have the same anti-religious fervency I once did.  Perhaps I’m just going through a phase. I do tend to wax and wane when it comes to religion.

I see a lot of problems in the world but I think that these issues ultimately stem from inequality. These inequalities that we observe in the human population, across the globe, are not, in my opinion, 100% due to nurture or to one’s environment. Many of the inequalities come, quite frankly, from differences in phenotype which arise from genotype (genetics). The qualities that give some individuals an advantage (and others a disadvantage) are how equipped they are to survive and/or reproduce. An individual’s intelligence, their physical capability, as well as their external façade, will help or hinder their own survival. Besides racial inequalities, I also notice major inequalities between young people and old people.

We need to work towards a world where everyone can have nearly the same opportunities as well as an equal chance at immortality. I think that science is on this pursuit already. It will help diminish the inequalities in society and level the playing field. I predict that along with a chance to become immortal, our external façade—our appearance—can be upgraded. One day, there will be technologies that can integrate with human skin, making it permanently durable. Perhaps organic face masks will be synthesized in the medical field and these can be merged and integrated with the skin of your face, creating an entirely new visage.  The world will one day say goodbye to unattractive faces or to haggard, aged faces. Basically, I think that we humans will integrate with technology--helping us become immortal and also less affected by attrition. 

 In fact, in this world the oldest people (based on the number of years they have lived) will appear just as young and healthy as someone in their 20’s; the difference will be that these older individuals will finally get the respect they deserve.  Not only will these folks appear just as youthful and physically fit as the younger generation, they will have a much deeper wisdom, understanding and knowledge about the world. They will have far more experience and insight to offer the world, to brag about on their resume or to work their way up the corporate ladder.

The younger citizens of earth will no longer be propped on pedestals in society. They won’t be the sensations on the internet, on television, in movies, anchors on Fox news or all over the media. Simply being youthful with symmetrical features and glowing skin will not give you an edge in attaining an acting role or becoming popular. Instead, a person will have to compete with all of the other equally attractive and youthful individuals who have varying levels of talent, originality, creativity, wisdom, intelligence, experience and insight. The people who have lived longer will finally have an edge on the younger generation.

One might be reading this and think—“See, then there are still inequalities in this new society. How bout if everyone could be granted the same IQ…the same mental software? Only then could we abolish inequality between human beings. We could all think and reason with the same efficiency. We could all pull ideas and knowledge out of our memory just as rapidly as the next person.”  This is true, but this doesn't take away from the fact that people who have lived longer have more experience and wisdom than those who haven’t lived as long.

I am excited to think about all the exciting and wonderful things that science can usher into the world!