Monday, December 29, 2008

bible criticism

Helow agane.  

There have been a few funny things happening lately concerning me and people with very strong convictions.  So I'm doing what I always do... I'm plotting to take over the world.

Before for we get into this highly charged topic of religion and sacred texts let me just say this;
I'm nobody of consequence, I'm just some dude.
I've been wrong more times than I can remember and every time I was wrong... I thought I was right.
I've said the right thing at the wrong time... the right thing the wrong way... and the right thing for all the wrong reasons.
So there.

I am not a mainstream Christian or a Bible literalist.
I tend to believe that all religions are more than their sacred texts.
And I believe that spirituality transcends religion.

Now then, my first year Religion professor hated all religions except for Egyptology.
I remember him trashing the story of Jonah because archaeological findings suggested that Nineva was much smaller than the account given in the Torah (okay, that was his beef? What about being eaten and regurgitated?  No problem with that?)

I loved the guy, he was a great teacher, but he was no anthropologist or construction worker.  Experts in ancient South American civilizations will tell you that the old mezzo empires were vast, much more so than the sparse ruins that survived the ages.  That's kind of a cool idea, the metropolis consumed by the jungle.  Some anthropologists speculate that if modern civilization were to expire that the only thing left after 100 years would be hotdogs and super highways.

I find this very easy to believe.  Being a former construction worker I have seen first hand how poorly structures are made these days.  My house was sheathed in 1/8 inch foam and then covered in vinyl siding.  This plus my drywall is the only thing standing between a thief and my LCD television.  An archeologist digging around the ruins of America might suspect that the nation's capital was pretty small, after all DC is dwarfed by it's surrounding foam/plastic suburbs.  

Maybe the ancient Assyrian's had better construction than American contractors.  I don't know.  I've also been to Dandora, it is the largest slum in the world, it can be seen from space.  One good natural disaster and it's all gone.  The only thing left would be foreign embassy buildings.  
Then again, all my jewish friends hyperbolize every detail of every story... but they do make better stories.

I guess that's why all my other professors were always going on about 'context'.  
They all claimed to be teaching on religious texts from the context of 'phenomenology', well that was bull shit.  They were the most... never mind.  
From the academic context, the 'serpent' in Genesis is just a snake and nothing else (because the book of Genesis doesn't say that it is anything other than a snake), from mainstream Christian tradition, it is Satan.

Since my old friend Matt reminded me of a hilarious story about a bald prophet cursing 42 kids with death by bear attack, I'll use that one to crit in a few different contexts (in the tradition of the Talmud I'll start with minority and go more mainstream).

Here's a weird story where Elisha gets mocked by some kids saying 'go on up bald head!' and Elisha calls for TWO! bears to kill the kids (42 are slain) 'in the name of the lord'
Sweet, apparently Elisha is bald.
What does this mean?  
Was 'Go on up bald head' a reference to something in the northern kingdom?  an urban/thuglife philistine song perhaps? Did Elisha see the bears first and then prophesy ex eventu?  Was the scribe of 1 Kings just a baldy child-hater that had an agenda to insert a turd squirting fear of God in those would be bald head mockers?  I know that there was a different dialect spoken in the northern and southern kingdoms, perhaps 'go on up baldhead' meant 'hey you, with the bald head, look out for those bears' or 'please kill me'.

It's just a story.  
I'm only half kidding here.  There are dozens of different kinds of Jews.  They could be national, ethnic, orthodox, reform, conservative, mystic, whatever.  Most Torah literalists died out after Antiochus Epiphanes.  The few Jews that I have known in the U.S. don't believe in God or an afterlife, but might believe in a 'messianic age'.  

Christian Tradition
No one in the Bible makes mistakes, if it happened then it is good and we must conform our logic to these moral contradictions.  
God did it and the kids were asking for it, Elisha is just a vessel of GOD's will.
All have fallen short of the glory of GOD and the wages of sin is death... the kids deserved it... in fact we all deserved it... it's only by the mercy of 'Bald head' that we are not all eaten by two bears.  

Who cares?  Is there anything of worth to take away from this story?
I would find it very comforting to know that Elisha was just a dick.  I mean, I'm a lazy selfish jerk, but I would love to be used by God.  
I don't know if I believe in bear curses, but if I did then I would think that Elisha was GIVEN power by God early on and may have used it well sometimes and not so well other times.
Either way, I think it's a weird story.  I definitely would not take it as a prescribed world view, reflection of God's will, or model of good character. 

Alright, so I'm like totally not mainstream.  But I dare any of you baldies to curse me with carnivores bears.  That's how I want to go out... but it would be cool if they were undead cybernetic bears with alien DNA.  
On a more serious note, I would encourage those who get really defensive about their religious texts to relax a little bit.  If your faith is so fragile that it can be shattered by a bit of textual criticism then where is your faith really placed?  

The best things in life are unconditional, if you have a NEED for your book to a little inerrant idol then you don't deserve to have your faith, what you are looking for is certainty and insurance.  
Okay my stream of consciousness hit some rough waters there, I'm tired, figure it out yourself.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dirty Rooster

It's funny how different our prespectives are on the same things.
Maybe not. I'm so sleep deprived right now that I have no idea what I'm doing.

The doctors told us that we would have the baby last Wednesday. I've been on high alert for 6 days. Everytime I lay down to sleep my adrenaline pumps and my mind races. I stare at the ceiling for hours. M can't sleep because of her contractions.

Our daughter had her last day of daycare. The kids all did a little Christmas musical. Now she sings this song to herself all the time, but gets the words wrong. Yesterday I heard her say, "Baby Jesus in the manger, see him sleeping on the hay. Mary hugs a dirty rooster, see the baby run away."
That was cute. Since I've been reprogramed as a social worker every thing that I see is colored with a sort of welfare/human services tint. When I think about Christmas all I see is a teen pregnancy, the mom and dad in trouble with the authorites, and a kid being born in a cold dump surrounded by horse shit. I guess it is a little more profound than the crap on the Limetime channel. Do you think that those regal wise men really knelt down in manure next to a bunch of blue collar sheep herders? Damn I'm tired. Actually I really like my grunge revision of the nativity scene, it's much more punk rock, but not as marketable.
I do have one question about the angels that were seranading. Are these the same angels that make your face melt if you look at them? Cause, wouldn't that be really terrifying?
Christopher Walken was a pretty cool angel in that movie Prophecy. Eric Stoltz, not as much.

It's starting to look more and more like me and M are going to have a Christmas baby. So... yeah, Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Software Synthesizers

never mind all of this.
The only soft synths worth my attention are the Omnisphere and Alchemy.
(actually I own Absynth and it rules)
The fourier re-synthesizing of Alchemy blows my mind.
And the 'Steam Engine' of Omnisphere picks up my scrammbled brains and shoves them back into my skull.

I know there are a lot of quality virtual analogs out there, 
but I'm just feeling pretty played-out on that whole va sound.
There just needs to be new ideas in synth architecture!
Actually the Arturia Origin seems pretty friggin cool as far as originality goes.
If they could make additive, granular, and wavetable oscillator modules I would be all over them.  
I also wouldn't mind some good Oberheim and Prophet filter emulations... 
maybe even a formant filter... hell, an FS1R model while I'm at it.
Could you imagine Frankenstiening all those modules together?!?!?!?
It'll never happen though, Arturia is all about analog emulations.
I should make my own synth. It would totally be a keytar!!!

Additive, granular, and wavetable (true wavetable) is the way to go.
Actually the FM synthesis of the FS1R is still pretty friggin cool in my book, 
8 freq operators and 8 formant operators?!?!? Can you even believe it!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm in love

okay... I'm trying to catch my breath here.
My heart is pounding in my chest.
My family is asleep and I need to share my excitement with someone.
So here I am pouring myself out to the cold faceless interweb.

I was playing my Waldorf Blofeld synthesizer and I came across a ram patch called
"Choir Bells"

I held a simple C chord...
It was a nice angelic pad.
As the LFO swept through the wavetables I could hear droplets of rain like they were resonating wine goblets in a random and yet divine unearthly unity.

I just sat there holding that chord for about ten minutes.
It was ten minutes of bliss... pure untainted beauty just for me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Presence Process session 6 & 7

Uhg, what can I say about these sessions?

It was brutal.
This description is going to sound cheesy and new age.
Just bear with me, I have an open mind, but I'm not Shirley McClain or Tom Cruise. 

Session 6 focused on ... finally resolving past issues.

Session 7 focused on feeling secure while dealing with really insecure things.

Sometimes I would remember a mistake I made or something embarrassing that I said or did and I would beat myself up about it.  My reaction was to do what ever I could to sedate the feeling, distract myself, whatever, anything but deal with it.

The session seven tries to trigger even the most deeply buried junk from our emotional history.

This is important because the unresolved issues in our past are the basis for our reflex/reactions in the present.  

The training involves a change of perspective towards yourself.  If a good buddy came to you bummed about something stupid they did in the past would you punch him in the gut and call him names?  I wouldn't, I would try to be a good friend and console the poor dude.  But, why don't I treat myself with the same compassion when I recall a past upset?

Don't judge your pain, 
just listen to it, 
feel it, 
and deal with it.

So here's where it gets weird.  
Each day I would sit in a tub of warm water for 20 minutes.  
My ears were submerged  and everything sounded funny.  
I closed my eyes and remained as still as possible.  
The idea is that in our hyper-culture we are constantly bombarded with sensory stimulus.  
It is hard to experience the peace required to listen.  
So this is a little like sensory deprivation/womb simulation... that's the weird part.  
The difficult part is that what is triggered is not cognitive memory information, but pure emotional memory without any personal historical context.  
It is like taking an emotional shit, a very dull agony.  

But this is what it takes to remove the metaphorical splinter, a deep and infectious splinter that makes your flinch and get angry when people bumped it or tried to address it.
End of metaphor. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Custom Keytar Midi Controller

Who ever wants to build this for me, I will pay handsomely.
It needs to have velocity and aftertouch on the lower keyboard.
The neck keyboard should be very flat, like buttons, but more than just a printed plastic film. The neck wouldn't have velocity, but still needs to have aftertouch. The pitchbend bar is raised for the option to put a thumb under it or palm down. It should be pretty stiff.

Any extra standard midi controller functions that I forgot can go on the back of the body.

I was thinking that there could be either different styles or just a removable blank matte cover plate that you could customize.
Kinda like some cell phones.

My style ideas are:
Euro-Future, Rusted Cyber-Blood
Gloom Sexy. London Garage
57 Cherry, Mahogany Pearl
Rhyme & Bass, Blue Soul
Black Tie, Video Killed the Radio Star

There should be a contest for who can come up with the coolest designs based on these names.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Presence Process Week 4 and 5


Okay, I've been pretty preoccupied with the acquisition of new synth gear so I haven't posted in a while.

btw, the difference between reacting and responding is important in these sessions.
Reaction is an unconscious reflex and responding is a calculated choice.

Week 4 was about being one with your pain and discomfort.
The idea is that pain and discomfort are not inherently bad, but we react with judgement towards our pain and discomfort.
Our P&D are merely messengers.
Our reaction is to sedate and control our P&D.
If we shoot the messenger we might be spared of unpleasant news but it is probably news that we need to hear.
If we have a physical injury, getting mad at it might have some negative affects on your recovery.  I haven't done any research on the impact of stress on the human body but my doctor tells me that it's bad.

Week 4 focused more in terms of physical discomfort and week 5 was more about emotional discomfort; shame, disappointment, impatience, etc.

Week 5 was about changing our reaction to P&D to responding to it the way we would respond to some one else that was hurting.  
I don't know about you but when some one I care about is hurting I try to be compassionate, but when it is myself I tend to beat myself up about it.

So this week a lot of things from my past popped up.  Things that I was embarrassed about.  When I would recall these things I would usually get upset and try to think about something else.  
The problem is that past traumas effect our present life, decisions we make and how we react to people.
So this time I received these resurgent memories and talked myself down as if I were talking to a friend that was dealing with their own issue.
In this case I was counseling my younger self.  Yes, that's weird, but people are weird.  
As a result I was finally able to put some old ghosts to rest and they won't have any influence on my present relationships or my self image.

The whole thing is very weird, it's like re-experiencing something familiar in a strange foreign way. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jam the Vote

the rhythm is gonna get me

I'm getting back into music... synthesizers specifically.
I'm getting rid of all my old avant-garde junk and hopefully just getting a couple a versatile and modern pieces that sound great.

Here's one that I'm looking at.  
The Access Virus, it's a virtual analog beast.
I've always loved the crisp euro sound.
All my favorite Progressive House programmers use this thing.

Here's another one that I actually just bid on and lost.  
This is the Waldorf Mircrowave XTK.
It is based on wavetable synthesis, 
something I've wanted since I was 18, 
about seven-teen years ago. 
I couldn't find a good demo of the sounds on You-tube, so here's it's little brother, the MW2.

I've always really like FM synthisis, 
but hated that the Yamaha stuff never had resonate filters.
So now they have this cute little groove box, 
it's like a DX7 with knobs, 
built in effects, and A FILTER!!!

It features a rhythm section with step sequencing.  All in all a pretty cool little toy.

I have the Korg Electribe series and some soft synth stuff like Reason and Absynth so I guess I'll be in pretty good shape.
My friend Jeff plays guitar and drums really well, he has some really nice gear and knows about three people with Pro-tools studios with a bagillion plug-ins.  One guy has a V-drum.  Who knows, we might make some cool junk.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Grieving Process

You have to feel it to heal it.

I never really mourned the time when my Electro Harmonix Micro Synth was stolen.

I am sad.  Helios Creed put a wanted ad out for one of these things in a Sub-pop newsletter.  I was intrigued.  I saw one for sale locally, I only intended to check it out, see what it was about. When I played it I knew that it was made for me.  It made noises so offensive that the devil him self would blush to describe it out loud.  I had to own it.

Also, my Univox Super Fuzz was stolen in the same incident.

This video does not do it justice.  
When you think about the face-melting lead sounds on tracks like American Woman... 
that is what it did.  
I only got to play it once... 
it was like getting hit by a truck going 200 mph carrying velvet cups of butter.

But for some reason the dirty thief did not take my Digitech Whammy Pedal, 
Electro Harmonix Big Muff & 
Electric Mistress & Small Stone, 
Boss CE-3 & DM-2, 
Mutron Multi-Phase, 
MXR Phase 100 & Blue Box,
E-bow, or my Echo-plex.

Or my absolute most favorite pedal in the world, 
the amazing ACE TONE FUZZ MASTER 2.

So, I guess it could have been worse.
It feels bad to have someone take something from you.
Like a helpless victim... no one to grant me justice... never mind justice I just want my stuff back.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Presence Process week 3

bluh... week three is hard.

I'm totally depressed.

Depression is like a splinter.  
If it's deep you might not see it but you will probably feel it.
Whether you feel it or not, if it is festering, it is going to cause you some problems.

So, in week three I'm having a bunch of unresolved feelings that were buried deep in my mid-brain that are starting to rise to the surface.

Here's the thing...
There are many different kinds of love, the greeks had five different words for love that meant different things.  Then there are love languages, are people loving the right way and blah blah blah.  THe saddest thing is that there are a great number of people out there that are so out of touch with love that they don't even understand what the word means, they say that 'you can't define it', that 'no one can really know what love is.'  There is a real reason why some people don't know anything about love, they have been loved in some sense of the word but never been genuinely loved, truly and unconditionally.

Most of us probably did not get the love that we needed from our parents because people cannot give what they don't have.  Our parents probably did not receive the kind of love that they needed as children, and so on.

I wouldn't say that I had a crappy childhood, but do know that I didn't get what I needed.
I'm not going to judge my folks about it, they just didn't have it to give.  They did the best they could.  But, I think that for my whole life I've been depressed.  Most people from the old neighborhood would probably have described me as a hyper-spaz clown, but those behaviors were just my way of sedating and controlling... boredom... the empty, meaningless monotony of life.  Now, when I was a kid I would have never been able to articulate that.  I wasn't aware of it because I didn't know that there was any other way to be, I couldn't see inside people's heads to know how other people experience emotional health.  

One of the things that I look forward to each day is coming home to see my daughter.  I like just watching her play and walk around and spout irrational statements.  I don't think that I got that from my dad.  My mom told me that he never changed my diaper.  That makes me sad.  

It is hard for me to think about a father not having that kind of expressed affection for their own child.  Ravi Zacharias said that for some people despair is a moment and that for other people despair is a way of life with moments of emotional peace.  I wonder if my father was depressed.  

This morning I had a really hard time.  I was trying to get my girl ready for school and I was just empty.  I had no love to give.  I tagged out with my wife and went out on my deck and drank coffee.  I know that there is depression on my mother's side of the family, but my dad is from west Texas, they don't need shrinks.  

Well, that's about it so far.  I'm grieving unresolved emotions from my childhood.  I'm getting the splinter out and it gets uglier before it gets better.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Presence Process - Week 2

This week was about acknowledging my reflections in the world.

Apparently the brain is like a computer.  You can store memories that are time stamped and have all kinds of useful context information assigned to each memory.

But in addition to this metaphorical RAM, there is also a battery that stores energy.  This metaphorical energy is emotion memory.  There is no time context or any useful point of reference assigned to stored emotional memories.

That's a bad thing.

If you have ever seen someone overreact it is probably because they experienced a situation
where there were similarities to past experience, and emotional experience.  The current situation involved something that 'triggered' the emotional memory which released the intense feelings into the current situation.  The result is a 'reaction' that is greater than the situation warranted.

It is always better to choose your 'response' to an emotionally charged situation than automatically 'react'

Here's the solution.
Train your mind to exist in the present, stop thinking in terms of the future or the past.  
(In my last blog I talked about how my thoughts tend to dwell on what is coming up or analyzing what has already past, consequently my whole life I have conditioned my thoughts to never be in the present moment).
This gives your mind a point of reference in the present moment.
When something reminds you of a past experience you may take note of it and move on.
If you let the past experience dictate how you feel about the current experience then that is called 'projection'.

That's a bad thing.

Here's an example.
- your dad was a dick, you have strong negative feelings about him in your emotional memory
- your dad is a symbol of authority 
- God is a symbol of authority,  you place your strong negative feelings on any symbol of authority
- You conclude that God is a dick

Here's an interesting projection.
What does it mean?

What if every time I look at my grandpa I feel like I did the first time I saw Planet of the Apes?

Now whether that is true or not is not the point.  You want to arrive at your conclusions based on reality not a defense mechanism such as projection.

This past week I was successfully able to identify several times where someone reminded me of something from my past that was emotional, I recognized my impulse to project those feelings onto the person in front of me, and then I was able to acknowledge (not dismiss) the emotional memory and continue with my interaction.

Yae Me!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Being sick is lame

I used to like sick-days when I was a kid.
I got to stay home from school, stay in my pajamas, watch TV, and my mom would wait on me and give me soup and hot cocoa.  

Now it sucks. 
Now it's like... none of that.
My pajamas feel like a gross second skin... since I feel like crap everything on TV seems to mock me... my mom is in a different state... I really liked being a student on campus, so being at home sucks... I generally have no appetite but when I do I feel to weak/lazy to fix anything.

Right now I don't know what hurts worse, wiping my nose or my butt.  It's a toss up, I've been stealing my daughter's wet wipes for both... nothing helps.  At this point I'm not totally opposed to putting A&D ointment on both ends.

This all started on Thursday, my daughter had gross snot oozing down her face and she felt bad so she kept trying to nuzzle on me and then kept rubbing her snot all over me.
It's cool though, I still love her.  The ear-aches were pretty problematic for both of us.

The two things that are helping me 
cope are the cheesy Halloween theme 
commercials on TV
(it makes me smile to see M&Ms dressed as classic Hollywood monsters), watching the leaves swirl in the street in front of my house and the fact that I got invited to test the Beta of Resistance 2 on the PS3.

I can't tell you how cool it is to play 8 player online mission co'ops.  
I'm still a little to nervous to play the 80 player online tournaments.  It's so exciting that I'm afraid to play it.  I want to do well and at the same time I don't want to get sucked into a new addiction that is going to ruin my already unstable life.

wish me luck

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Coldplay:The Politics of 'Double-Dipping'

Coldplay was on SNL this weekend, they were awesome.
The singer was a little weird. 
Amy Poller had her baby.
It was weird watching Weekend Update without her. 

I used to hate reporters.  I don't like how hateful some of them are.
Then I started to like some that made me laugh.
So I started to pay a little more attention to the presidential campaigns.

Before I get into this let me just say that I don't consider myself republican or democrat.  I like some of the things that each candidate is pitching (whether or not it is in line with their party) but it just comes down to if I believe the nice things they are saying are really TRUE about the kind of administration they would make. So in this race I have been paying very close attention to character.

I like clearly stated policies.
I like campaign ads that educate me on a candidates own position on relevant issues.

Here's what I don't like.
*Omissions (if there is something potentially scandalous then just get it out and explain it, don't let the media discover it [unless you are guilty, in which case I hope the media nails you to the wall in front of the whole nation, and you end up serving as a warning to other corrupt leaders])
*making inappropriate faces and unfairly associated fear based labels
*blatantly avoiding direct questions with talking points
*not having a clear stance on the issues because you spend all your time criticizing your opponents issues
*distracting people from a lack of strong stance on issues by accusing the opposition of focusing on non-issues
*raising non-issues by saying that 'we're not going to raise non-issues'
*trying to win an election by appealing to the apathetic demographic with fear based accusations that the apathetic demographic will not fact-check or catch a retraction.  
*insisting on a caricature to represent the masses when the person that the caricature was based on misrepresented himself and would actually do better under your opponents plan
*combating a shocking and relevant endorsement with five irrelevant endorsements
*picking a running-mate based on election strategy versus having the readiness to lead the country in a time of historical crisis

Here's a funny one that deserved it's own paragraph.
Let's say that I'm running my campaign on the grounds of perfect social etiquette. 
Then I am caught double-dipping.  
I redirect away from the issue by saying that my opponent's party did it too and I have a right to double-dip, in fact double-dipping only proves that I'm a regular joe because hey let's face it, we've all double-dipped.
Then I further redirect the focus by saying that chips and dip are a great thing and when I am elected I will make sacrifices to ensure that there will always be dip with chips and I will defend everyone's right to have dip with their chips.

I guess the biggest thing that bothers me is the perception that the identity of the campaign is based off of polarizing against your opponent or a trial-and-error tactic.
I would hope that someone pursuing the presidency had one clear idea about each policy issue and reinforce it rather than making it up as you try to find what will help you win.

It's not about winning, it's about leading the country.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Presence Process

Hey, I'm going through a book about present moment awareness.
I thought I would blog about it in a journal style.
It's written by Michael Brown, aka John Locke.

Week 1 of the Presence Process was about 'choosing to experience the present moment'
Through a series of introspective breathing exercises I have discovered that I am always thinking in either the past or the future.
I am either rehearsing something that is upcoming or replaying and analyzing what I have already done.
I don't know if that is product of the hyper-culture or if I'm just scatter brained.
I've found that when I read, my mind drifts off.  My eyes continue to scan sentences at the same rate but I am thinking about something totally unrelated.  If I want to read for comprehension then I have to go back and find where I lost my trail.

I remember when I was in 3rd grade.  I had to read the book 'A Light in the Forest' and do a book report.  It was a pretty cool book about a white 4 year-old who was abducted by native americans and raised as a tribal son.  In his teens he was 'reclaimed' and launched into western civilization.  The boy was rebellious to the western clothes and white walls that suffocated him.

When I wrote the book report the story bled into a telling of the Disney movie 'Watcher in the Woods' (staring the sex crazy girl from the James Bond movie 'For Your Eyes Only')which I'd just seen prior to reading the book.  There was also a part where the white indian boy had a crush on the girl I sat next to, Betsy Phaus.  Then it degraded into a part were alien monsters that fought robot dinosaurs.

I was definitely not experiencing the present moment when I read that book.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

PSA: hit and miss

Sarah Silverman rules, others... kinda cheesey, 
but I guess this video is targeted at... people other than me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Anneliese Michel

I like to blog.  I used to have trouble sleeping some times because my mind would start racing. Blogging helps me to process things and get things off my mind.

Here's the deal, I've got something on my mind.  I've blogged before about my fascination and yet dismissive attitude about the paranormal. But lately I'm a little freaked out.
Ever since I saw The Ring I was freaked out by scary movies.
Maybe since becoming a father or just getting older I have an increased empathetic response to 
characters in movies.  Suspension of disbelief has never been a issue with me, I've always had an active imagination and tendency to really put myself into a movie, so maybe that's it.
This weekend I saw The Exorcism of Emily Rose.  It was a little disturbing.  I understood that it was based on a true story.  I figured the girl was mentally ill.  There was a history of mental illness in her family, some of her 'attacks' seemed like epileptic seizures, and he may have suffered from some kind of schizophrenia as well.  Combine that with Catholic guilt and superstition and you have a pretty good explanation.  
On a side note, in some African religions (like Yoruba) possession is not a bad thing.  The gods are largely morally neutral and even if you are possessed by a god that happens to be in a bad mood that day, it is still a good thing that you were blessed by his presence.  It is also important to note that most of these 'possessions' are nothing more that stimulated states of altered consciousness that can be scientifically duplicated.


Some of the things didn't add up.  She had 'exposure' to the study of foreign language.  I've studied foreign languages.  It doesn't make sense to me that someone would be able to converse, curse and blaspheme in six different languages from an 'exposure' to these languages.  I'm sure that the first thing Catholic kids do when they study dead languages is share how to drop the f-bomb in greek, hebrew, aramaic, and latin.  But, that's not really the same thing. 

The prosecution said that the girl was able to emit two voices at once because humans actually have two sets of vocal chords and that some tibetan monks are able to master the skill of making their second vocal chords make sounds...
some monks.... master... make a sound.
I'm not sure about that either.

Now, I've read a bit about demonology.  I've studied Goetic and Solominic keys.  I know about the power of spirt naming and recognizing subduing counter parts.  So when the demons identified themselves as Judas, Nero, Hitler, and a few other notorious humans, then I pretty quickly dismissed this case as just some crazy girl.
But, according to the tradition, when called out, demons will never give you a straight answer.
So not much help there.

Mental illness isn't contagious.  Many people surrounding the case experienced unsettling phenomenon that were reported by the girl when she first began having problems.  
I've seen a lot of scary behavior from mentally ill people, but... not like this.  And then there is the whole super strength/contortion/scaring animals thing.  I don't know what to make of that.

Okay, so here it is.  Photos of the real girl, Germany 1976, and actual recordings from the exorcism.  

I tend to keep my theology minimalist, practical and rational.
Every time I look at the facts it seems pretty straight forward, a sad case where a girl needlessly suffered and died because of ignorance and superstition.
But it's just freaky enough that if causes me to doubt my beliefs.
I try to seek out things that challenge my world view.  And as I've said before, I try to moderate my convictions by remembering that every time I have ever been wrong, I thought I was right.  I have a hard time fitting something messy like demons or possession into my neat modern and civilized theology, and I have to admit... I fear the unknown. 

***my apologies, I was recently corrected that Michel did not say that she was possessed by Hitler, Nero, and Judas, but that 'he who dwells within' was also 'within' Hitler, Nero, and Judas.

She did say that she was possessed by Bilial, who actually is one of the the traditionally named demons.

sorry bout that

*** also, since I am a liberal protestant, I was recently refered to the book People of the Lie by Scott Peck, a spiritual/rationalist psychologist that wrote on the 'Question of existential evil'.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The betas for Little Big Planet are turning out some great things.
This is a super open-source side-scrolling mmorpg for the PS3.
You can get online and play a variety of levels that users have created right down to each interactive and functional object.

Everything is user definable: characters, sound effects, backgrounds, you name it.

I personally really liked this kitschy halloween level.

check it out...  the geek site -
the commercial site

I really like that you can put your own background music tracks in the game.
LBP is to gameplay what the Wii was to hardware.
It will be interesting to see what the next generation brings :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Economic Crisis - WIP

There is a lot of finger pointing as to the cause of the current economic crisis.
Blame... blame... blame...
Some say it is the Democrats, some say it is the Republicans.
Some say it is the senior officers of high finance others say... well, they say that WE ARE ALL TO BLAME.

Contrary to what Whoopie Goldberg said, not everyone went to the party of financial free-for-all, and it's not just us that have to clean it up, it is going to be our children that are going to be dealing with this as well.

It would be easy to point the finger at one group and have a good ole fashion lynching.
Or just shrug and say that we all did it and a good ole fashion love-in.
But here's the reality, America is a culture of irresponsible finance, and there are a lot of people that are VERY responsible with their finances and are getting screwed because of the greed and financial irresponsibility of the masses.  I don't want to blame culture, can I blame materialism?

Melissa and I bought a used Hyundai Accent and it is paid off.
We bought a small townhouse that is about 45 minutes from the city.
We don't have any credit card debt.
We live within our means and we don't live on credit.
So... don't blame me for this mess.

Unlike so many other high finance companies, J.P.Morgan did not get themselves into the trouble that so many other did with high risk sub-prime loans... so I'm told.  So maybe there are some businesses that are fiscally reasonable.

Too many people buy the propaganda of the capitalism machine that material gain is the key to happiness, that a certain 'standard of living' is a non-negotiable. 
Some Democrats are guilty of this and some are not.
Same goes for Republicans, senior officers of high finance, and the average citizen.
I suspect that some politicians are not saying this because it would be upsetting to hear and they would lose approval.  Who's going to be approving of a guy that says you make crap financial decisions?

Why is looking for blames so seductive?

I've had the rare luxury of working with a leader that values moderation, diplomacy, and listening.  It was great for me to be exposed to real critical thinking early on.  When Clinton was president there was a lot of talk from Christian conservatives about how horrible he was.  My pastor told me that Clinton was not the anti-Christ.  He also told me interesting things about how Clinton managed meetings and actively sought out his critics to listen to what they had to say.  Because I respected the guy I was willing to have an open mind.  Years later GW took office.  Again, there was a lot of talk from Christian conservatives about how GW was God's candidate.  My pastor told me that while Clinton was not the anti-Christ, GW was also not the messiah either.  

I'm not in the middle of this thing, but as an average citizen I'm not feeling great about this rescue bill.  If you believe in a free market then doesn't that mean that you do not intervene?
I hear things like, 'Japan tried a bailout ten years ago and they still haven't recovered.'  I would like to help people feel at ease in uncertain times, but I feel like I'm going against the culture.  The way I was raised was always being bailed out when I got in trouble.  My parents were trying to protect me, but they ended up insulating me from the valuable life-learning experience of suffering natural consequences.  This is our culture.  Too many expect to be rescued from consequences because this is what we were taught to expect.  

So here's my advice.  If you are not part of the solution then try not to stir up a panic.  Start managing you money by living within your means and don't live on credit.  Realize that you do not have a right to a certain standard of living, 90% of the rest of the world would love to be in your position.  

The second part of my advice is tricky because I find it difficult to abide.  Don't be a hater.
There are people I really don't like, people that I think could be dangerous.  But I need to remember that people with power and people with out power are just people.   The best of us will make mistakes and brightest will have moral failings.   Hate is a heavy burden, it is hard to let go of because it is held in a clenched fist.  The hate that it holds was justified by a feeling that 'I am right'.  Every time I was ever wrong... I felt right.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I'm over weight.
I did the BMI and based on my age and height I need to be in the ball park of 160-165.
I started out this year at 235.
Right now I'm 218.  I'm cool with that.

Here's my diet philosophy.

1. Big ass protein heavy breakfast.
2. Medium sized lunch.
3. All-Bran for dinner.

The later in the day that you eat, the more likely it is that your food will turn to fat.
For breakfast I usually heat up some stuff I cooked earlier in the week.  Johnsonville Sweet Italian Sausage is a personal favorite.  I'll usually have it with eggs and toast.
Now, it's not good to have eggs every day, you need to be on a rotation.
If I'm lazy I'm grab some frozen chicken patties and some sweet potato fries.  I try to alternate with salmon and tofu.
I know, fish in the morning?  That sounds gross, but let's face it, where has western style eating habits gotten us?  Out of shape and unhealthy.  It does require a paradigm shift.

All-bran is the cereal with the highest amount of fiber.  Fiber is good, it will help you lose weight. Eating cereal for dinner will drastically affect your social life, bringing a ziplock bag of All-bran over to dinner at your In-law's place.
But, if your friends love you then they will support your lifestyle change, I mean, if I was diabetic (actually my doctor said I was pre-diabetic) then no one would say boo.

The Bowhay diet is kinda like coming out of the closet.  People will be uncomfortable around you because your lifestyle makes them confront their own lifestyles... or it's just awkward because it's out of the ordinary.  

For lunch I try to have two shots of wheat grass and a venti coffee. The coffee is very filling, but it's not good to drink your calories.  My advice is to learn to appreciate a good coffee without all the whip cream and syrup.  The peaberry is quite nice. The good thing about the wheat grass is that I don't like vegetables, so a few shots a week and I'm good.  If you've never had wheat grass before, WATCH OUT.  The taste is awful, it's like having your sinuses stuffed with fresh lawn clippings.  Keep the altoids handy, they're pretty good at masking the after taste.
Carrots take more calories to digest than what they introduce.  Soyjoy cranberry bars are the highest in potassium and lowest in calories, also a good source of fiber.  Cheese sticks and apples are good too. I rarely reward myself with a dark chocolate or green tea cola. If I'm really fiending  then I might chomp on some of my daughter's rice crackers.

You probably already know the vitamins that you need, 
A (Retinol)
B1 (Thiamin),B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (<Pantothenic acid), B6 (Pyridoxine),  B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folic acid), B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
C (Ascorbic acid)
D (Calciferol)E (Tocopherol), 
K (Phylloquinone)

but there are around 16 different minerals that the body needs to stay healthy.  
Calcium Chloride
Cobalt Copper
Iodine Iron
Magnesium Manganese
Molybdenum Nickel
Phosphorus Potassium
Selenium Sodium
Sulfur Zinc

Also, there are 8 different simple sugars that the body needs. 
Xylose Fucose
Galactose Glucose
Mannose  N-acetylgalactosamine 
N-acetylglucosamine N-acetylneuraminic acid

Most multi-vitamins that are available at your local drug store won't have anything with the 8 sugars.  If you don't have a specialty shop near you then go here.  But if you do then SUPPORT SMALL LOCAL BUSINESS!

You can't rely on a balanced diet to diet to take care of it for you any more.  In this day of corporate farming the soil is depleted of nutrients and produce is harvested before they have a chance to store any real nutrients. If you have farmers market near then go to it.  The key is to eat the freshest and most unprocessed foods as possible.
*When taking supplements you must drink lots of water.  Water is the catalyst. 

Vitamin D and Omega-3's will help you lose weight.
Omega-3's tell your body to burn stored fat.
Omega-6's (found in bread, pasta, and white starches) tell your body to store fat.
Your body doesn't make fat from consumed fat, it makes fat by converting starch into fat.

Last bit.
I bought a pair of running shoes and my buddy David gave me bike.
I try to use one of them daily.
My friend James showed me a thing called the Powerbase.
It is light and compact (fits under your bed) and offers modular low-impact isometric workouts.
That's a good thing.
I got on craigslist and found the exact stair-master I wanted, the 'Climbmax 3000' (very sexy).  I got it for $275. It was in Jersey.  It was a huge time (12 hours), money (I think the gas cost more than the 
and space
 investment (my laundry room is crowded as hell).  But I'm worth it :)

Also, if you are cheap and lazy like me, there are simple floor and stair exercises that you can do on your way from the kitchen to the couch.  

*one last tip
Mustard does wonders for bland healthy foods.
And it doesn't have all the sugar that ketchup or barbecue sauces have.  Here are some of my favorites.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


WARNING, IF YOU ARE A PRONE TO DEMONIZING SEXUALITY PLEASE DO NOT POST ANY COMMENTS. Instead you should go here, I mean, why needlessly upset yourself?

This summer my pastor gave a lecture that changed my life.
No, it was not the famous 'Last Lecture.'
It was about laziness.  I had always thought of laziness as the opposite of work. Anytime I wanted to  chill and eat some potato chips on the couch while watching reruns of The Nanny I figured I was being lazy.

This was his definition -
'When comfort wins over doing what is right'

That is a very liberating idea and at the same time very convicting.  

The reason why this affected me so much is that I was able to think about other virtues that I may have misunderstood and began to contemplate the principles behind them.

I met with my old religion professor last month just to catch up on life and talk shop.  He recently came back to his faith and is considering going back to church.  He lamented that these 'American Christians' are all obsessed with sex. He said, 'That's all they want to talk about.'
I thought to myself, "Yea, but there's a lot of freaky sex in the Bible."

Years ago I heard Ravi Zacharias talking about pornography and in the same lecture he said that 'nothing is inherently evil.'  He didn't come up with that, theologians have been saying that for generations. But, to include that thought on a subject that is so socially unacceptable was pretty bold.  Zacharias when on to compare trash romance novels to pornography, not because they were graphically explicit, but because they were conceptually explicit.  The indulgent reward to the pleasure center of the brain is the same, an instantly gratifying and intense rush of stimulation.

The problem with pornography is that it is  empty calories... 
like soda and candy.  Soda and candy are not evil, but if you use it to cope 
and rely on it as your source of nutrition then you will not only get sick and eventually die, you will also be somewhat dysfunctional as a person.
But let's face it, people will use anything to cope, even the common understanding of love is 'I like how you make me feel,' rather than 'I care about how you feel.'

Now you all know that I love a good controversy, and my last thought is not the big controversy here.  I would like to take this moment to trample on something revered in our culture.  Something that is undisputed as a godsend to our culture...

Of course it is good that some people get helped, that's not my beef.  And I'm not saying that it is a BAD show or that you are BAD for watching it.  After a long stressful week it's nice to flop on the couch and veg.  Coping mechanisms are okay in moderation, but over indulgence leads to an unhealthy and dysfunctional consumer mindset.  The reward for watching EHM is that you get an intense emotional rush, and it is instantly gratifying.  You get to feel warm and fuzzy about the down-and-out family that gets a second chance.  You get to feel good about yourself because other people rush out to serve the less fortunate.  

What's wrong with that?
And for the sake of argument, what's wrong with some pimply kid getting the instant gratification of an intense physical rush from a naked picture?
The teen-age boy is not actually participating in fornication... right?
(The same way that the viewers of EHM are not actually participating in any charitable act of service)

SIDE NOTE - I don't think masturbation can be considered a sin based on the Onan model.  The dude was guilty of deception because he was supposed to provide a child but was selfish and shot his load into his shoe (so as to not provide any evidence when he put his foot back into that slimy penny-loafer) and then exited the tent.
Sorry, it that too graphic?  That's in the Bible (maybe not the NIV).

Let's back up for a second.
What is lust?
Is it any sexual thought? No. (some sexual thoughts are harmless and some are psychotic)
Before you quote Matthew 5 gimmie a minute.
Does the insight into the principle of laziness help us understand lust? Yes.
Here's my definition
     Lust is when you indulge in your desire at the expense of another person.
(This is why I think that many husbands are guilty of lust against their own wives)
This may not completely resolve the controversy of sexual taboos, but it at least makes a little clearer and rational in my head.

Now getting back to the harmless thoughts thing.  I agree with Matthew 5:21.  Anger is totally unnecessary and can be eliminated very easily with the right coaching.  But,  sexual thoughts are only unhealthy if you are ogling or fantasying about indulging in your desire at the expense of another person.

If a kid objectifies women, then yea, that's not cool.  I consider myself a feminist, I have a wife, a daughter, a mom, and a sister.  I want the best for them.  As far as his pet monkey goes, maybe his impulse is momentarily satisfied, but society as a whole is not suffering from the loss of his contribution to... I don't know, the local sperm-bank?
But, if we as a culture are pacifying our ideal to help others because we watch a show on Sunday night then we all lose (except Home Depot).
And who really benefits?  Are the 'down-and-out' families receiving long term professional assistance?  No.
Hore Depot benefits, maybe they are not the corporate whore that some people accuse them of being, but they might be the ho-slapping pimp.

You are saying that this show inspires people to go out and help others...

...prove it.
EHM averages over 3 million viewers.  I don't want to be right, I would love to be wrong.  Cynicism has not served me well, I desperately want to have hope in Americans. 

If you like EHM and you like how it makes you feel, then keep watching it.
I'm not here to preach abstinence or censorship.  But I do challenge you to get involved in ACTUAL social service rather than a virtual fix. I believe in the potential that each individual has something to contribute.  When you stimulate yourself into social atrophy the whole community suffers.