Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Simple Definitions (A rant, intellectual-style).

Okay, here are some simple definitions to clear up some misconceptions. All of these definitions can be found at or the wikipedia.

Establishment Clause:

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution states that:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

Frequently, the "Establishment Clause" is used to refer to the entire clause referring to religion, but the term is more accurately used to refer to the first part of the clause. The second part of the clause is commonly referred to as the "Free Exercise" clause.

Traditionally, this has been interpreted as the prohibition of the establishment of a national religion by Congress or the preference of one religion over another.


1. a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.


1. Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.
2. Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
3. Of or relating to a deity.
4. Of or relating to the immediate exercise of divine power; miraculous.
5. Of or relating to the miraculous.

Intelligent Desgin (ID):

a theory that nature and complex biological structures were designed by intelligent beings and were not created by chance.


1. Present in or produced by nature seems to me that for complex bioligcal structures to have been designed, that would mean they weren't produced by nature, which would mean that it violates natural forces, which would make ID supernatural, and since it's becoming institutionalized, that makes it a religion, which, in turn, means that if it's taught in a public school as fact, it violates the Establishment Clause!

Get a clue!

We cannot let creationism into a classroom in any way, shape or form, and ID is creationism of some sort. It might be Raëlian creationism, it might be Christian creationism, it might be this watered down, intentionally vague ID creationism. It doesn't matter. None of it is science. Calling it science doesn't make it science. Here's the definition of Science:

1. a. The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.
b. Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena.

Does that look like ID in any way, shape or form? Noooooooooo. And please don't bring up "teaching the controversy" to me. You don't teach controversy of this sort in a science classroom. You teach "the Earth's core is iron/nickel versus the Earth's core is uranium" issue in a science classroom. That's an acceptable controversy, because they're both refutable, testable theories. The ID controversy isn't a scientific controversy. It is an ideological controversy. You teach that in a philosophy class.

Now, a word on why the Establishment Clause is a good thing, just in case someone ever reads this and, like the idiot that they obviously would be, says something to the effect of "But why shouldn't we establish Religion X as a state religion?" or "Why can't we teach Religion X in public schools?"

To the first question, we shouldn't establish Religion X because it then follows, almost automatically, that Religions Y, Z, A, B and C are all diminshed in capacity because of it. That violates the second half of the Establishment Clause, also called the Free Exercise Clause (see above definition). And how does establishing Religion X dimish the other alphabetical religions? Simple. People are sheep. They do what the government tells them to do. Not always, but often enough. So, if the government establishes Religion X as THE religion, people will eventually flock to it.

To the second question, that's even simpler. (We'll drop the alphabetical religions and move to real ones for this answer.) Think back to when you were in high school biology class. You took whatever the teacher said as true because he/she was the teacher, right? You didn't know that chlorophyll existed. You'd never seen it. You took his/her word for it. That's because teachers, believe it or not, are authority figures. Heck, that's why some kids have so much trouble in school, because they don't deal well with authority figures, and they're surrounded by them. Anyway, we tend to believe authority figures. If you believe my mother, you should never challenge them. Ever. Scary thought, isn't it?

Anyway, teachers are authority figures. Students tend to take what they say at face value, and more importantly, believe it. If we start teaching, say, Christian Creationism in a science classroom, what happens to the little Hindu kid in the back row? Here he is, in a science class, being told that the Christian creation story is how it REALLY happened, wink wink nudge nudge. So, as he sits in his science class, he's being told that his religious beliefs about the origins of the world are not scientifically accurate, but the Christian ones are. Do you think he would, just maybe, start to think that the rest of his religious beliefs might also be inaccurate? Probably.

Now, turn it around. If we start teaching, say, Norse Creationism in the classroom, then little Johnny sitting there spit-polished and All-American, it going to be told that the Genesis story he was taught in Sunday School isn't accurate, but that the Norse myth is scientifically valid. Do you think this would make little Johnny start to doubt what he was taught in Sunday School? Well, if he believes his science teacher, then yeah, he will.

Either of these outcomes, for the little Hindu kid or little Johnny, are violations of the Establishment Clause. It's not just there to keep religion out of a classroom. It's not just there to keep religion out of all government functions. But it's also not there to protect Christian rights alone. It's there to protect the rights of all the religious. Teaching ID or any other form of creationism is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

Just goes to show how little respect for the Constitution and the religious our present government has, considering the President has come down on the side of ID recently.

The only way for a science class to be fair about religious issues is for them to never come up. If you bring religion into a classroom in any way, you begin to establish some form of religion. I heard a very intelligent man say recently that he believes that God guided evolution and that they should both be taught in a classroom, side by side. The problem with this is that it establishes a religious belief as fact. Specifically, his.

What about all those polytheists out there that don't believe in a single God, but multiple gods? Are you going to teach that evolution was guided by God, and also by the gods? What about those "Blind Watchmaker" Deists out there that think that even though got set the world in motion, he then walked away? Are you going to teach, in a science class, that the Christian creation stories (there are two, after all, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, each a different story) are accurate? How about the Muslim ones? Gonna throw the Jewish myth of Lillith in there? How about the Norse ideas? And don't get me started on the Hindu & Buddhist stories. That would take a class all on its own! If you start teaching creationism in any form in a science classroom, you open that classroom up to ALL creationism.

Don't want to teach all those different creation myths? Well, which ones do we choose? And, more importantly, who chooses?

The man I mentioned above wants his version taught. I can't say for sure, but it sounded to me like he believes in Evolutionary Creationism. But the Young Earth Creationists want their version taught. The old Earth Creationists want their version taught. The ID crowd wants their version taught. Everyone with a creation story, Christian or otherwise, wants or would want their version taught. IN. A. SCIENCE. CLASSROOM!

Would you ask a Buddhist to teach a Christian Sunday School class? No? Why not? That's the essence of asking a science teacher to teach creationism. True, there are a handful of science teachers out there who would be willing to teach creationism, and there are a handful more who are true believes in some form of creationism or another who would LOVE to spread their religion through a public forum like a school classroom. But would you ask a Buddhist to teach a Christian Sunday School class? No, of course not. Why not?

Not because he wouldn't like to come and talk about Buddhism. I'm sure he'd be more than willing. No, it's because he'd probably GET IT WRONG! From your perspective.

So, all of you out there who want creation in the science classroom, ask yourselves this: Would I want an (atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, Raëlian, etc.) to teach my kid religion? Because that's what you're doing when you ask science teachers to teach creationism. You have no control over the faith or lack thereof of the teachers teaching these things. I, personally, am an agnostic. Would you like me to teach your child about Genesis? I can put quite an interesting spin on it for you, if you like.

No? But why not?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Alas, poor Yorik...

I recently went on vacation with my wife and four of our friends. These are people that I've known for a long time, some more than a decade. Since I'm only thirty myself, that's a hefty chunk of my life. I went to college with these people, participated in their weddings, am currently watching two of them raise their first child and watching the other two try to decide if they want children. Funny, though, they think they've decided that issue decisively, but I don't think they have.

And that's the point du jour. I'm pretty sure that these two friends of mine aren't as decided as they think they are about something that life-altering (but not, I'd like to point out, life-ending...that's another rant for another time). I think I know my friends well enough to judge their motivations so well that sometimes I can see things about them that they can't see about themselves. And I'm not alone in this. Everyone does it. EVERYONE. Some are better at it than others. Some are bloody awful at it. But the human mind in its infinite self-trickery takes every positive hit and ignores every wildly wrong negative. That's good old
confirmation bias.

But putting a name on it doesn't really show the depth to which we can fool ourselves about these kinds of things. A (trivial) example: I'm a loner by nature, except when I'm not. I spent a lot of time with my friends on this vacation, and I loved every minute of it, even when the rugrat (mentioned above) banged himself up pretty bad while running to me (because I called to him, of course....ah, the guilt never ends). I was having a blast and, I believe, so was everyone else. But that old loner instinct kicked in pretty hard, and I was jonesing for some alone time. But I didn't want my friends to think I didn't want to spend time with them. I didn't want them to think I was mad or anything. I just get antisocial occasionally, or frequently, depending on how you measure time. But I was freaking out because I didn't think one or two of my friends would understand this. Remember, they've known me for a decade, but I didn't think they knew me well enough to know I'm a jerk from time to time, but I wouldn't dismiss them on our shared vacation. I was pretty sure about their reactions, so I resigned myself to an evening of minigolf with the gang, until my Swiss Army Wife stepped up and helped me out. She went and talked to them for me, because I was too much a coward to do it myself, and told them I wanted a couple of hours to myself. And guess what, boys and girls! They didn't mind. Nary a hurt feeling in sight. I felt awkard as hell, though, because the cognitive dissonance was setting in, and my entire view of my friends was changing.

Think about it. How many times have you had a conversation like this with your own conscience?

Damn, they don't mind if I take a couple of hours to be by myself.

Well, of course they don't mind. They're your friends.

Yeah, but...

Shut your cakehole, dumbass.

That's about what it was like. And this just kept amazing me over and over again. And then I started feeling bad, because I had seriously short-changed my friends. The ones who have stuck by me through horrendous girlfriends, mental illness, living together, living apart, and pretty much my entire adult life's hardships and happiness.

And then K., bless her heart, made me feel a little better about my dumbassedness. She went upstairs to read for a couple of hours, and then commented that she had been wanting to, but didn't want people to think she didn't want to spend time with them. I almost laughed out loud, I was so relieved.

So, you see, none of us really know each other as well as we think we do. That's something to keep in mind when making predictions about people, friend or foe. Be skeptical of all your musings. Be wary of all your conclusions. And give your friends a little more credit than you are willing to give them. It's probably still not enough, but it's most likely better than what you're doing now.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I Don't Have the Words

Ever since I started this journal, I have wanted to say something about my wife. Something about how wonderful and exciting and frustrating and infuriating she is. Something about how much I love her and why.

The only reason I haven't is because I was "waiting for the right words" to come to me. But it occurred to me not ten minutes ago that those words will never come. I will never be able to fully explain the depth and, more importantly, the complexity of my feelings for my lovely bride of six years.

My feelings change from day to day. Hell, my feelings change from hour to hour. And all of that gets wrapped up in what I feel for her. I don't need to see her naked body to stir my heart. All I need to see is how she cocks her eyebrow at me when I've made a bad joke. There's as much feeling in that sight as there is in the deepest throes of passion. Not that I'm knocking passion. It's a treat!

But passion fades and burning desire turns to ashes. That's the nature of intense emotions. Not strong ones, mind you. Intense ones. The human body can only take so much adrenaline and then it just throws up it (figurative) hands and says, "Enough! No more!" I still feel passion for my wife. I don't think I'll ever completely stop. But passion isn't love. I'm passionate about my comic book collection. That doesn't mean I love it. I sure as hell wouldn't marry it. I have a friend who is passionate about the weather, of all things. I hardly think he would describe what he feels as love.

But I love my wife. Strongly. Those words mean something different every time I say them. They mean "I love you because you're wonderful." They mean"I love you even though you're bugging the hell out of me right now." They even mean "I love you despite the fact that you've royally pissed me off." And every time I say "I love you", it comes from a deep well of feeling. Strong feeling. Strong as in tough, durable and lasting.

I think that too many people use the word love to mean passion. They confuse intense feelings for strong ones. That's not what I mean when I say I love my wife. Sure, I have the hots for her, even after almost a decade of knowing and, ahem, knowing her. But what I feel for her is different from moment to moment. And yet, at it's core, it's exactly the same. A cocked eyebrow. A wicked smile. A silly catchphrase (Why would anyone want to poke a turkey, anyway?). These are all things that remind me of what I feel for my wife. I could add to that list forever and not get it done.

As to why I love her, well, a cocked eyebrow, a wicked smile, a silly catchphrase (Boom!), etc. etc. et al. I love her for the exact same things that remind me of why I love her. Crazy, isn't it? It's Ouroboros all over again. An endless cycle of small cues that make me love her all over again and remind me why I fell in love with her in the first place.

Those who know what I'm talking about already understand what I'm saying. Those that don't, may never. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

My original intent for this post was to talk about my wife, not myself or the nature of emotion, but I find that I can't talk about her without talking about myself. She's become so much a part of my life, my routine, my self-image that I can't help it. Yes, she's wonderful. She takes care of me like no one ever has before. She's exciting. She does this thing with her....well, never mind that. She's frustrating. She believes in the existance of faeries, or so she says. She's infuriating. She...actually, she's not infuriating. I just get mad really easily sometimes. I can be a real jerk. And what does she do? She takes it in stride, and she helps me deal with my screwed-uppedness. And that just makes me love her even more.

My nature always makes me ponder the nature of emotion, especially love. I always want to know why. I think, on some level, most people want to understand why we feel the way we feel about our loved ones. And I'm sure that science will eventually answer this question. There's already been some rumblings from the molecular biologists and psychiatrists about this. Maybe my wife just produces a lot of oxytocin, I don't know. Right at this moment, I don't care.

All I care about is that my wife is, at this moment, all snuggly in our bed, no doubt already asleep. I think I'll join her. That's what love's all about. That, and just about everything else under the sun.

Good night.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Below is a apology I wrote to my sister for recent events. Below that is one to my mother, over the same events. I would rather have sent these directly to my family, or even said it to their faces, but 1) I'm a coward, so the face to face is out and 2) I doubt they'd read it if I mailed it to them. So, maybe this will help someone else find the right words some day.

To my sister:

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you don’t know me well enough to know that I wouldn’t kick you out of my house over a silly argument.

I’m sorry that you believe I’m so shallow that the threat of not getting my loveseat finished would shut me up about something I think is important.

I’m sorry that you didn’t realize that when I said "Goodbye" it meant "You are free to leave whenever you wish. I’m not keeping you here." not "Get out of my house."

I’m sorry that I got so heated over the things we were talking about that I said some things that were vicious and nasty. I have a bad habit of that. I picked up that habit a long time ago, and I haven’t grown out of it yet. My friends, who see me more frequently than you do, all realize that I get hot-headed, and say things I don’t mean. They have learned to forgive me when it happens, because I’m not the only one who does it. I forgot that you didn’t know this about me, and couldn’t take it into account, even if you were inclined to do so.

Mostly, I’m sorry that your feelings got hurt, especially since I caused it. I have always felt very protective of you, even if you never saw it, never noticed it, never cared one way or the other about it. I have never forgotten a single time I hurt you, intentionally or incidentally, at least none of the times I know of. They all hurt me, too. The older I get, the more they hurt me. I don’t expect these words to make this most recent evidence of my hotheadedness go away. I don’t expect you to forget it. As I’ve said, I won’t. But even if you can’t forget, I hope that someday you will forgive.

To my mother:

I wish you and I could treat each other like adults. You have been one my entire life, and I’ve been one for longer than you’re willing to admit.

You’ve claimed recently that you don’t fight anymore. I don’t believe that. You intentionally picked a fight with me and then were rude to Lena and I. From my perspective (and I’ll admit that it’s only one of many), you haven’t changed much in a decade and a half. You’re still baiting me like you did when I was a teenager.

You claim to want to put the past behind you, and don’t want it "thrown in your face." That would be fine, if you showed one ounce of willingness to let go of the past yourself.

Now, for the apology.

I’m sorry that I forgot these things about you and me. I’m sorry that I’m your favorite sparring partner, and that I let you goad me into a conversation that was bound to end badly. I let you do it. It’s my fault as much as it is yours. I wish it weren’t so, but no one can push me into fight mode faster than you can. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get over that.

If you were some crazy old woman, maybe then I could just let it go, let it wash over me, like I do with all the ignorant people I work with. But you’re my mother. You’re the one who tried to teach me about fairness, principle and protection of human dignity. Whether you realize that that’s what you were doing or not, it took.

You claim that I’m pushing people out of my life. I think what you really mean is that I’m pushing you, among others, out of my life. Well, I’m not trying to do that. I can’t help it if I’m stubborn about what I believe is right and wrong. I don’t ask anyone to agree with me about politics or anything else, for that matter. All I ask is that if you want to have your say, then I get mine. If you think that’s pushing people away, then all I can say is that you spend your time with the wrong people. My best friends in the world disagree with me on a lot of things. They know I disagree with them on those things. We can discuss them like adults. You and I used to be able to discuss issues like that without getting into fights. I remember a lot of discussions when I was a teenager about things like abortion, the ethics of war and a bunch of other stuff that we can’t even mention to each other, apparently.

I am sorry that I projected all those "standard" conservative values on you, though. It was unfair, and I shouldn’t have done it. I don’t know if you’re anti-gay rights or not. I doubt I ever will, now. You’re good at punishing me like that, by withholding information. It used to infuriate me as a child, and it still does. Another character flaw of mine, I suppose.

Again, I wish you and I were better at this whole parent/adult son thing. I wish I wasn’t so mean to you when you make me mad. I wish you weren’t so good at making me mad in the first place. I’m more sorry than you will probably ever believe that what happened, happened. I hope that some day, you’ll forgive me for it. I don’t like the past being held against me any more than you do.


Those were hard words for me to write the first time. It's not really any easier to put them up here. I know that this site is supposedly anonymous, but my friends (and maybe my family) will all someday read this, if they aren't already. They know who and what I'm talking about in detail. Saying I'm sorry has never been easy for me. It's that stupid cocky side of my personality again, I suppose.

A word of free advice, keeping in mind that you get what you pay for:

Don't let yourself get into a position where you have to come up with words like this. It sucks out loud.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I've been thinking about respect alot lately. I feel like some people don't respect me as much as I used to think (see previous posts for some of this, although not all of it), and I've been wondering why. Is there something inherent in me that makes people lack respect for me? Am I not respect-worthy? If I ask something of someone, are my wishes not worth taking into account? Do I deserve to be blown off?

Hard questions to answer internally, no? Two sides of my nature are at war on this issue. The cocky, arrogant, ulta-self-assured side says HELL YES I'M WORTHY! The nervous, scared, ultra-self-conscious side of me says maybe there's a reason they're being mean.

These are tough issues for me to come to terms with. I know that I lose respect in some people's eyes because of things I do. But at the same time, sometimes I don't think I deserve to lose that respect. Just because I disagree with someone's religious views doesn't mean they should throw requests I make out the window, especially when I'm trying to do something nice for them to begin with.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the easiest person to get along with. Just ask my wife. I'm sure she can share horror stories about what I was like before I was diagnosed as cyclothymic and got medicated. Heck, she can probably share horror stories about last week. (Hmmmm ... future post opportunities???) But, there are times when I try to reach out, to bridge the gap between my own hard-won and hard-held beliefs & attitudes and those of my acquaintances who don't share those things.

I am invariably rebuffed and shown time and time again that I shouldn't even bother. I know not all "people of faith" are like this, but I have found lately that the people in my life that are "religious" (whatever that means) are, not to put too fine a point on it, bastards.

Take, for example, my "friends" with a ten year old homeschooled boy. Now, when I was ten, I loved the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. I know. I know. How very topical, considering the movie coming out soon, right? Well, I didn't know about that when all this started, so shut yer gob! :)

Anyway, when I was ten, I loved the CoN. And C. S. Lewis was a pretty famous Christian apologist, so I figured his children's books would be acceptable to a Christian family. And I, being the packrat that I am, still had my twenty year old copies of the CoN from my childhood. So, in a gesture of friendship, and in an effort to give this ten year old boy (who doesn't get many nice gestures coming his way) a piece of myself, in an effort to show him that I love him, I gave him a piece of my childhood. As shallow as it may sound, I was trying to give him a piece of myself, so that he would know that I loved him. But I realized that he might have already had a set, so I asked him to give them back if he didn't want/need them. I thought it was a reasonable request. I could always pass these books on to the child of one of my other friends someday, or even, *gasp* my own kids some day. Remember this part of the request. It becomes important later.

Of course, in typical ten year old boy fashion, the kid didn't get it. At least not immediately. I should have known better, I suppose. But his mother knew. She got it. She even commented on it. She understood what I was trying to do, and she appreciated it.

For about a day.

Not long after I gave this boy this bit of my history, his mother caught the eBay bug. Selling, not buying. And she started to scour her house in an effort to find things to sell. Understandable all the way, right? eBay is a great way to bring in a little extra cash. I've thought about trying my hand at it myself. And I'll admit that if I did, I'd probably end up selling something that someone had given me as a gift.

But you know what. This mother made a point to tell this ten year old that these books were important, and to pay attention (or so I'm told....I work nights a lot, so I wasn't actually there to give 'em to the sucks, but it's true). Too bad she didn't take her own damned advice.

You already saw where this was going, right? Yep, she sold those books on eBay. Never even thought about, from what I can tell.

So, respect. This is only one incident in several recently that have been making me think about respect. The things mentioned in my previous posts also indicate a certain lack of respect.

Every relationship has a component of respect in it. This component may be empty in a given relationship, but it's still there. I have the utmost respect for my wife. She is the most amazing woman I have ever met. And just to set the record straight, I thought that before I ever slept with her. ;)

I have a certain amount of respect for my parents. I didn't turn out too badly, all things considered. They had a lot to do with that. I doubt they can see that right now, considering how much I differ with them on SOOOOO many issues, but I'd like to think that some day, they will pay me the respect I deserve as an adult with my own life. I'd actually love to think that. It's not ever going to happen, but I'd love to think it.

Hell, I have respect for those political conservatives who are conservative due to well thought out principles. Our political system here in the USA needs a brake on it, and conservativism serves as that brake. (It needs an engine to drive it and a hand to steer it, as well. That's liberalism and moderatism, respectively.)

The people I lack respect for, and those for whom I have lost the respect I once had are those who are blind followers. Those that are so tied to their upbringing that they can't do what's right, even if they were erroneously taught in their youth that it was wrong. Those that don't question the actions of others at all times. A belief that can't stand up to a little questioning is worthless. A principle that is followed because you've been told to follow it is hollow, at best, and dangerous at worst. I can't respect the people who do these things.

Maybe that's why others seem to disrespect me. Maybe their view is different. Perhaps the height of respectful behavior IS to follow blindly. If so, I guess I'll just have to live without the respect of some of my peers and family. I don't follow anything or anyone blindly. I don't believe anyone should. Do you? Would you? Are you?


"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain


Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu