Thursday, June 28, 2012

random vlog I made.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to Convert Anyone to Christianity, (Satire)

“Witnessing On An Airplane”
A Free testimony manual for creative evangelizing techniques
By Renee (Satire)
December 21, 2010

Handing out tracts or witnessing to lost souls can be a daunting challenge for any true disciple of Christ. Getting people to give you two or three hours of their day to preach at them and announce their imminent fall into a fiery, eternal abyss (unless they accept word for word everything you say) may not bring them glorious sensations of joy.

And that is why we have devised an entire course entitled “Evangelizing On An Airplane” suitable for any Christian novice.  In ordinary circumstances your convertee will not tolerate your threats of impending hellfire and will simply walk away or impudently tear up the tract you’ve handed them.  On a airplane however, options to escape or avoid an altercation are considerably limited.

Choosing a long flight from Seattle, Washington to, say, Madagascar, will give you enough time to belabor your fundamentalist ideology into your targets brain.   While your airplane neighbor may be mentally reveling in a lusciously tropical vacation in Madagascar, an offshore ferry ride to Mauritius, petting wild lemurs in rainforests or lackadaisically sprawling on beaches, it only seems fair to make him “work for it first” so to speak. You can do this by strong-arming  your fellow passenger to listen to long, drawn out scriptural oratory, recited by yours truly, of course.  Only then can your airplane aficionado enjoy their vacation more fully once they arrive.

Why does this method work so effectively? To begin, the individual you are attempting to convert has very few places he can go.  He may not like it, but for safety reasons which we won‘t elaborate on here, he is forced to remain in the plane throughout the duration of the flight.  Since the cabin of the plane is limited in space, there are only so many places he can hide.  Remaining locked in a lavatory throughout the flight will not be tolerated by flight attendant staff or by other passengers.  Your fellow flight neighbor will be forced to remain in his seat for the majority of the flight.

You may want to start your session by covertly placing a large, black, KJV Bible on the tray table in front of you with several sheets of clean paper, pencils, and a thick stack of printouts entitled “How to convert someone on an airplane”.   You obviously don’t want to scare your fellow passengers so doing this in the most discreet manner possible is preferred.  The hellfire video depicting graphic scenes of sinners burning alive should be saved towards the latter half of the flight, or, you may find it convenient to switch on when the plane is passing through heavy turbulence.

To begin, you will want to greet your fellow flying mate with a friendly handshake and a warm, foreboding smile.  Offering little hints such as these are sure to put your fellow plane passenger at ease and give you an aura of credibility and sincerity.  He or she will automatically think “This person can be trusted” etc. If your neighbor appears a bit resistant or seems to smile through clinched teeth, he may need a bit of warming up before any intense bursts of preaching should commence.  You may want to break the ice by asking a few, small, but harmless questions or telling them a little about yourself “My name is John and I attend (insert your church denomination here). Getting info on their blood type or whether they are an organ donor isn’t necessary at this stage.  Save your “What do you think would be the worst way to die?” questions for at least 5 or 10 minutes into the conversation.

Before exchanging a plethora of stupid niceties, it may be wise to ask your friend which church they belong to.  This one question alone can guide the course of your conversation for the rest of the flight.  If your neighbor says “I don’t go to church.” You can rest assured and begin your mantra into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ--(or else).

 If, at any time you find your neighbor pivoting from your original  topic of discussion to other trivial, insignificant banalities such as his family, children or the prevailing illness he is dying from, you will need to reread our tactical guide on “Getting back on topic”.   You don’t want to find yourself in a discussion learning about his views on things or who he is as a person.  Remember, the whole point of this discussion is you discussing your views and creating a slightly awkward, mildly pressured environment for him to listen to you and what you have to say about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If your neighbor explains that he is already part of a church that happens to not be denomination of your choosing, you can sometimes gently let it slide, agreeing to disagree.  However there is some virtue in finding a couple topics that the two of you vehemently disagree on such as areas of scripture that your neighbor has interpreted incorrectly or intentionally to fit his sinful lusts.  At that point you can start a healthy, much needed dialogue to even out creases in your neighbors basic hell-bound misunderstandings.

A good thing to ask your flying mate is “Do you think you are a good person?” He may initially flinch, wondering why such a question is being asked.  He may be under the delusion that he is generally a good person. There is extreme utility in this important question. It is a very sneaky way to get your friend to admit that he isn’t perfect, and then, in his weakest moment of desperation, loudly and fanatically call him on it, preferably in front of nearby flight passengers.  You can ask him if he has ever lied or looked upon a woman with lust.  You can ask him if he has ever said a curse word.

The goal is to find where your friend is a failure and then point at him and laugh uncontrollably. Using childlike mannerisms and tone, you may want to explain that his character defects are blatantly offensive to both yourself and to God.  Making people feel bad about their sinful lifestyle is a good way to segue into “their need” and then offer a solution to the need you’ve created--that only you (or the people you know) can offer.  This is, perhaps, as simple as marketing 101.  When people realize that you’re trying to market an idea to them and not simply trying to be a friend, they tend to respect you even more.  You are obviously coming from a sincere starting place, free of bias or passion with the goal of trying to bring about truth.  No coercion is ever necessary.

After you have done this, bringing out the video “Hell-fire testimonials”--from people who have been to hell and back--we’ll often seal the deal.
Notice the rise in anxiety, blood flow and perspiration that accompanies your friends face as the fidgeting begins. “Finessing your sales pitch with a little Fear” as we like to call it, is an excellent way to bring them towards your ideology.

As your flight approaches its end, you will want to finish your session with prayer, communion and baptism.  Ask your local flight attendant for several pitchers of water and some croutons.  When the flight attendant gives you a disapproving look, loudly remind them that religious intolerance will not be tolerated on a cross-continental flight.  You are an American citizen with certain unalienable religious rights and the ceremony you are about to perform will go on, despite flight staff disapproval.

Hosting communion followed by baptism on an airplane is always a very creative experience for everyone present. First of all, it shows your sincerity about your religious stance and makes it publicly known to others that you are willing to take whatever risk is necessary for your faith--donning a very reassuring feeling to the other flight passengers.  As we all can attest, few people can resist the well-meaning intentions of a religious zealot aboard an airplane.

Dumping two or three pitchers of chilled water over your flying mates head will suffice for a baptismal experience.  Later, after he has dried to completion, and shook his wet hair off like a wet dog, begin communion. Offer him a crouton and announce “I break this bread as a covenant unto you” continue with the communion oratory.  Finally, you can end your session with a long, dull prayer. Ask everyone on the airplane--including pilots and flight attendant staff--to bow their heads, close their eyes and join you in prayer.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Design" thoughts

The process of evolution has to use what is naturally available. DNA, the replicating material that started life (well, they say it was RNA first, right?, but going on…), is going to be used in all future replications throughout the evolutionary tree of life. Thus, we find that DNA is the common denominator in all life-forms. It would seem that a God would not be constrained to one particular replicating molecule—DNA. A God could use any particular molecule and any particular combination. That is, every life-form on planet earth wouldn’t necessarily have to be carbon based if an all-powerful, all-creative agent designed life. Wouldn’t we expect an all-powerful, all-creative mind to utilize creativity in the genome of living creatures? Wouldn’t we expect evolution to be restricted to the materials and replicators that are available?

What we will next hear from the theistic perspective is “God designed the laws of chemistry in such a way that of course we would naturally live on an earth with certain physical parameters which would necessarily be followed by a specific chemical make-up of life-forms.” Okay, there you have it. The reason why things flow the way they do is because Zeus ordered them to.

Just because life appears to be designed doesn’t mean it was the product or result of some higher, governing intelligence. If we look closely, life appears to have an intrinsic design for survival and reproduction. This perceived “design” is entirely natural. This design is formulated by physical forces that are part of this world we observe.

When you observe the complexity and design of a kangaroo or a leopard or of a human you realize that the complexity and design of these organisms does not have its purpose in some supernatural concept but instead, in natural concepts such as survival and propagation of genes.

Just because a zebra or any other mammal is complex and appears to be designed doesn’t mean these creatures come from an intelligent being who has a supernatural plan for their temporary existence on earth. What we actually see is that physical properties that are part of these creatures are explained in natural, material ways. Why wouldn’t we extend this to humans as well?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How to be successful on Youtube, How to be successful on your blog!

Think of your site on the internet (i.e. blog, website, youtube channel etc.) as your virtual real estate.  How valuable your property is will be based on an objective measure.  In regards to virtual property, you can check the number of daily site views and comments as well as viewer engagement. These, I’ve heard, factor into Google’s search engine algorithm as to how likely your virtual real estate (website etc) is going to pop up when someone searches for words that are connected to the specific content you provide. The higher your daily numbers, the higher the value of your virtual property.

Spend less time trusting the advice or criticism of those whose online real estate is measurably less valuable than yours. Always look to those who have higher objective measures (#’s) than yours for advice. Next, seek ways to emulate them in some ways while also trying, to some degree, to remain original in the content you provide. You have something to offer that someone else does not—by virtue of being YOU. You have unique experiences, style and ideas that can be translated into views, more ideas, learning experiences and opportunities…even money (well, possibly).

If you think someone else has terrible content (has bad ideas, is a terrible presenter etc etc) then use this as a catalyst to make your own virtual content and compete.  Everyone has the “I don’t have enough time” issue, so please don’t use that as an excuse.  I personally work two jobs and have been going to school for the past two years to get into a nursing program and was just recently accepted into a program.  I’ve gone through a terrible break-up and have lost so much time these past few months. Time is an issue for EVERYONE. If you are one to criticize, this obviously means you have better ideas/are a better presenter, so create the content that you know is superior.  Then, sit back, and let the numbers tell the story.

When I think of monetarily valuable online real estate, I think of someone like Jenna Marbles. The content Jenna Marbles provides the world is spreadable and sticky. Her appeal strikes a wide audience. People that view her videos have a memorable experience and will come back to her. I’ve read several comments about “how addicting her videos are” and “I can’t wait for Wednesdays!”. She now makes a decent living on youtube and her blog gets regular visitors as well. Not everyone can be a Jenna Marbles in their overall expression of personality, presentation, comedic display and her generation of original ideas. This doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer the world though! You just need to find your niche.

What makes a piece of property valuable in the real world? We might consider:  How close is the property to desirable land features? Is the property close to a beach or lake… does it have a view of the mountains? What is the upkeep like on the property? Is it in good condition? The list goes on and on.

What makes online property valuable is slightly (or, considerably?) different.
While space is limited in the physical world, it doesn’t seem so in the virtual world. The bifurcating nodes of the internet seem to spread out in a never ending fashion—there is clearly enough space for everyone here!  In the virtual world, you can easily create a website, youtube channel or sign up for a blog.  The limiting factor in the virtual world seems to be users. (?) That is, there are a limited number of people on planet earth. On top of this, there are only a small number of people on planet earth who will be intrigued by the content you offer—even if you are stellar.

The key is this: You give the user an incentive to come back. The more people come back, the more valuable your online property becomes. Advertisers will consider your site to be more valuable as well. You add value to your property by making it “sticky”. Make some aspect of your virtual property plant a seed in the user’s mind making them remember you in some way and possibly want to return. 

The internet has exploded this past decade and its network will continue to expand ad infinitum.  It is time for you to create your virtual space.  If physical property becomes more valuable with time, why wouldn’t virtual property? “User disengagement”, you retort. That could be true but it doesn’t hurt to try. What do you lose?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thinking with a deterministic perspective

One thing I’ve noticed is that people like to feel that they have control over their situation. People love to feel like they have correctly assessed their lives and have taken the necessary steps to make beneficial decisions. I sometimes sense an attitude of complacency, even arrogance from some people.  Some of us like to pat ourselves on the back, realizing that we’ve avoided the pit-falls that the unsuccessful masses have succumbed to.  “If only these losers would make better choices.” we readily lament with an air of judgmental ostentation.  “Just World Phenomenon” comes out in our thinking.

 I do accept determinism. Well, to a degree, I guess. It is true that we don’t yet know how much quantum randomness would effect the deterministic prospect. While I do think that for the most part choice is an illusion—I still believe that education opens the door to improved decision making. Furthermore, when a person is given the opportunity to experience motivation, their outlook may change which might increase their perception of options which they could then pursue. This succession of events might end up benefitting their lives—taking their lives down another pathway that they wouldn’t have come down otherwise. I don’t think the free-will vs. determinism debate is even roughly solved, but I do lean more on the side of determinism.

The reason I’m even spouting this half-baked response is because I’ve seen an abundance of information claiming that “If only people pulled up their pants and slapped on a positive attitude, if only they would make the effort to seek a higher paying job, by all means, they could attain it”. We commonly hear, “It’s all in the attitude. It’s all about keeping a positive outlook.”  Also, there seems to be an unbridled obsession with “Karma”.  Books like “The Secret” abound. There seems to be so much emphasis on the personal choices of the individual as if such choices and “positive energy” would decrease the expansion of the Sahara.

While such “positive thinking” advice might have its place, it certainly does seem like these hackneyed phrases prevail. Simplistic, black and white thinking emerges. Empowered by these platitudes, financially successful, healthy people can smugly think that they are better than other people. They might look at other people through the lens of their own circumstances and simply assume “the poor masses make bad decisions intentionally and therefore deserve their plight of poverty and a destitute life”.

Let us never forget the fact that our financial success as a human being first and foremost depends upon which geographical location on planet earth we were born—a factor we had absolutely no choice or influence upon in the first place.

Another factor that you had no control of was the family that you were born into and whether they were wealthy, poor or middle class. These factors would influence how you were raised—whether your nutritional needs were met and whether your basic physical development was healthy. Of course, we are not even addressing psychological and intellectual development here—which are taken for granted by those privileged to be born with parents who have psychological health and have had the opportunity to obtain a college degree (education).

There are so many variables to the quality and experience of your life of which you have absolutely no control of. It seems simplistic, limited thinking that takes for granted this enormous number of variables that exist outside one’s control—that exist outside the ambit of one’s sphere of choice. Only a cocky, arrogant person would attribute the successes in their lives to their own doing, to the appropriate choices they’ve made “independently”—I hate that word because really, we are interdependent.

We all like to analyze the choices someone else has made and think, “If only so and so would have done X instead of Y they would have gotten so much farther along, they wouldn’t have made this or that blunder (which would have been presumably worse than another blunder that they also could have made had they made another decision).

I think it is extremely critical to have a modest level of self confidence in oneself and one’s achievements. Too high—but rarely, too low—throws you off balance and gives you an inaccurate representation of yourself and of the world you actually live in.  It is easy to inflate the self and the self’s accomplishments, but never forget the litany of assistance you had.

Did your parents go to college and achieve degrees so they had more knowledge to dispense into your brain as you grew up —especially during those formative childhood years? Mine didn’t and I remember feeling—quite often actually—like  I had to struggle to learn so much on my own and that I missed out on information that could have been sealed in my brain years I had so many gaps in my understanding compared to the other children. Speaking of ignorance, I had to explain to my Mother this evening what "R & B" music stands for.

This all doesn’t mean I was disadvantaged. I still lived in America with plenty of access to libraries and I had the opportunity to attend a public school for free (primary and secondary education costs money in Africa). ! Did your parents pay for your college tuition?    My parents did not pay for mine or my brother’s college education but that still doesn’t mean that I’m not privileged. Again, I was born in America—a first world nation with extraordinary opportunity and access to loans, grants, and scholarships (and jobs to pay off our debt) compared to other developing nations.   

While we might be relishing in our achievements, we really should be thinking how lucky we are that the natural order of events unraveled so remarkably well for us. We should find ways to extend a hand to others.