Saturday, August 31, 2013

Time's Illusion (Dad's Work)

If God made humans,

then why did he wait so long to make us?

What was he doing before that?

My only thought concerning this is:

If time goes on for eternity,

then maybe time has already gone on for eternity.

So at any point that God decided to make us,

it would've been after eternity

no matter what.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Beauty Is A Sin

A poem by my friend Val:

But not so softly did she walk through the silken mist
Ethereal, yet staid like stone
Always wandering, always staggering, always haunting through that sultry mist
Under bridges and street lights did she walk like stone
Touched only by sincere words, not by sincere hands
You know, she was never touched at all

In times of modern desire and passions afloat
Some things never seem to be noticed

And what worse than true beauty to not be noticed for

Sliding, staggering, stalking down wet cobblestone walkways
Into that solid mist of the crestfallen night
Never was she seen, never was she felt

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Imposing Morals

This is copied from Nick's Tumblr.
I’ll keep this short and sweet for everyone so it takes less time to read, more time to think about.
Something I’m growing increasingly tired of: People in our country imposing their morals onto other people.

You will inevitably understand what I mean when you read the list and what they all have in common:

- Homosexuality
- Contraception/Abortion
- Prostitution
- Drug/Alcohol Use
- Polygamy

Some of you might have a jerk-back reaction to me equating homosexuality with prostitution and prostitution with drug use, but hopefully you’ll get the point in a second.

It takes quite some narcissism for somebody to decide that their own sense of morality, a sense of morality that many others may not follow, is so flawless and so necessary that they decide it would be best if that morality is imposed onto the people next to them.

This does not mean that in order to understand what I’m saying, you have to support or take part in everything I mentioned. For example: I’m not homosexual, I would probably never let my girlfriend have an abortion (unless it was necessary to keep her alive, or was a product of rape), I don’t agree with prostitution, I don’t do drugs or drink, and I think that single-partner relationships are hard enough to deal with (sorry sweetheart! <3)

But you don’t need to support or take part in any of these things in order for you to support someone’s right to do as they please.

Because unless you look at a single strict code of morals, the things I listed above are not inherently bad. (You could argue that abortion is murder, but you know what? Bodily autonomy. Look it up, and then shut up.)

So I may not agree with some of the things I listed above. I have my own code of morals, and yes, that might leave me in the position where I judge somebody because they didn’t adhere to my own inner sense of morals.

But that’s just it — it’s my inner sense of morals. They don’t need to know what I think, and I’m not going to flat out tell somebody who drinks that it’s wrong. I’m just going to choose not to associate myself with them as closely as I would with somebody who doesn’t drink.

It’s not about supporting the acts. It’s about supporting freedom, and not being so full of yourself that you impose your own morals onto other people.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Animal Crossing (A Cultural Sentiment)

I found something out recently that kind of surprised me.

Animal Crossing, a series of games that originated in Japan and was then taken to the west like most video games, features a character called "Booker" -- an English bulldog that seems socially awkward and withdrawn. His refined behavior is shown through his aversion to talking and speech disfluency. A first impression would just tell you that he isn't confident (which is ironic because he's a police officer/security guard in the series).

It actually originated in the Japanese version of the game. The canon description is that Booker was actually not a native Japanese speaker, and so he was self conscious about speaking Japanese in fear of messing up or using the wrong words and being made fun of or criticized for not speaking Japanese fluently.

The fact that he's an English bulldog might hint to the fact that his native language would probably have been English. They then kept that story as being canon when it was taken to the western market. I assume the reverse, if the first part were true, is that Booker's native tongue is now Japanese.

I think this is very telling of a few things. First of all, it shows that the appeal to sympathy used in the video game reveals a lot about some interests in Japanese culture. It shows that they, like us, are interested in showing that there are human aspects to people that seem "abstract", like foreigners who don't speak our language as fluently as we would like them too.

But secondly, and most importantly in my eyes, is that contrary to popular belief, Japan has a need to teach these things.

I have deep reservations concerning the world and how they perceive Japan, and it goes to a little bit of data that most people are aware of: That Japan is "98.5% ethnically Japanese", and would therefore be homogeneous.

This number is very misleading.

The truth is that on the Japanese Census, "ethnically Japanese" just means anyone who has permanent residence in Japan. That means that somebody from Britain who came over to Japan and obtained permanent legal status would classify as "Japanese", and not "Other".

Japan has millions of immigrants.

And with this bit of information about Animal Crossing, it seems that immigration is so existent, that they need to include these minor tolerance teachings in their common media.

I guess the important take away from this is not to project our understanding of ethnic division onto other countries. The Japanese don't really care where you're from, so long as you speak the language, or at least try to. I had no issues while I was there. If you're a legal citizen and contribute to their society, then by all means, you're Japanese to them.

It's something important that people should realize. We're not the only ones who deal with foreigners and immigrants. We're not the only ones that try to be tolerant. It happens everywhere.

Culture, however, portrays it differently, and thus when looking from the perspective of an outsider, you might not understand it.

I wish we (and the US) could, like many countries, simply adopt the standard for Census data to calculate based on nationality, and not "race/ethnicity" (especially since we've got those classifications wrong anyway). It would help with our racial issues, at least based on how it worked in Japan.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Writer's Block (Dad's Work)

Sometimes I sit; stare at the page.
Words fail to emerge.

This curse seems to afflict every creative soul,
And the endeavor becomes blurred.

I start to wonder if I have anything worth saying.
But of course, if I don't say it, how will I know?

It's nothing more, however, than a state of mind -- this dreaded "Can't".
It's just a wall.

There is a cure for this.

It sits comfortably upon the edge of a stained and rocky clifftop.
It looks out upon a world full of life and artistic opportunity.

It brings all the elements under the control of the creator.
It brings satisfaction in taking in beauty that others don't see.

It's something that all of us can conquer.
It's something that all of us have.
But something few of us wish to accept.

There is a cure for this.

Arrogance, used in the right mind.

If we can convince ourselves that the mountains can move by our written word, then it can be done.

So stop looking at that page, thinking "Can't".
Look at the page, and think "Pfft".

The Importance of a Friend

The importance of somebody that would stay up until 3 AM, even when they get up for work at 6, just for you;

Of somebody that never gave up on you, even when you gave up on yourself;

Of somebody that has been with you every step of the way.

The importance of somebody that moon walked eggshells in front of you;

Of somebody that wore whipped cream like a fez;

Of somebody that made you laugh, just for you.

The importance of somebody that never gave a damn what anyone else felt, and just held on;

Of somebody that asked you, just you, before doing things that you didn't even know you had a say in.

Of somebody that always put you above everything and everyone else.

The importance of somebody kind.

The importance of somebody true.

The importance of a friend, a single friend.

Well, now you know his importance too.


And what's most important, to me, is that he knows who he is when he reads this.

And I'm sure he does.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Because I Said So"

One thing I've noticed since I first moved into my new home here in Toronto is that I've yet to hear that phrase even once. Every time I've asked for an explanation for something, I've been given one, and have had no encounter with that dismissive, domineering catch-22.

Back in Ocean City, that was one thing I always heard. If anyone else has been in my position (I'd be hard-pressed to find one who hasn't), then you'd probably agree with me that not only is it incredibly disrespectful, but it's obviously as I said above: a method by which any person of authority can dismiss someone who questions them without answering the question, without even regarding that the question was posed, and yet still not look any weaker in doing so (at least to the unthinking masses -- I'm sure some people recognize it as a sign of weakness).

It made me feel like I had less value; that I didn't even have enough to deserve an explanation for something that I was questioning. I'll admit, sometimes I just asked "why" out of frustration or laziness, but I don't think I was ever that kind of child. All the way up until I was 19 (how old I was when I left Ocean City) I was very active, very ambitious, and typically wouldn't just ask questions with no particular reason. If I questioned something an authority did (specifically here I'm talking about my mom), I usually had good reason. Perhaps I noticed a contradiction, or just generally something that struck me as being illogical. Yet, I can still hear that phrase echoing in the canals of my ears. "Because I said so".

Now, I've yet to hear it once. I noticed it at one point, and decided to test it out. My uncle asked me to take out the trash (garbage day is Thursday in our part of District 3), and I just asked him "why?"

His answer?

"You're probably the only one in this house that doesn't gag at the smell. Besides, don't you usually do it, or am I thinking of your sister again?"

No, he was right, I always do it, and it doesn't make me gag.

I guess the point of all of this is to say that it feels nice to be valued, and not dismissed.

And I hope that if I have kids one day, I'll make sure to give them explanations. There are ways to establish your authority as a parent (and it's necessary, otherwise you're going to end up with too much of an autonomous child), but my belief is that dismissing the inquiries of your children as being not worth answering is not the way to do it. It leaves children angry, confused, and demoralized.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Humble Only to Nature

When it comes to human achievement, we can all very easily agree that there are no limitations in capability. If we ever come across something that can't be done (as Vinci did), rest assured at some point in time, the ability to do it will come about. Most of Vinci's ideas for inventions were impossible simply for the fact that the tools and parts needed for them to work had not been invented yet, and simply couldn't be made yet. Some might just call this "imaginative"; but remember, they happened.

While it is true to say that human beings have no limitations in what we can achieve, I think it's important to remember while we're strutting down the path of innovation, looking at all of the stuff that we've accomplished despite the odds and obstacles, we need to keep humble -- not to each other, but to nature.

But what do I mean.

There is a vague worldly definition of "natural" and "unnatural". If you want to argue that the "unnatural" is anything that doesn't occur automatically in life without interference, then you could argue that bird nests and beaver dams are "unnatural".

So, if that's the case, then cellphones, TVs, computers, and the lot are all "unnatural".

But I have my own definition for what's "natural". If you look at it in that way, then everything we do that exploits nature itself is still natural. We require nature in order to make all of the things I mentioned above. They require "natural resources".

So what's "unnatural"?

Let me put it this way:

As long as we stay on earth, we have no liberation from gravity. Sure we may have jet packs, planes, helicopters and so on to keep us in the air, but the entire makeup of those things were created around the bindings of gravity. They have to work with gravity already acting on them in order to work at all.

As long as we stay on earth, we have no liberation from the sea. In all our infinite wisdom and architectural ability, we have yet to create extensive civilization in the ocean. Note that our civilization typically ends at the shoreline. Sure we may create piers, but how far do they go before somebody says "okay, this is getting dangerous"?

As long as we stay on earth, we have no liberation from earthly things.

The "unnatural" would be if, in any case, those statements above were to become false. If we could somehow control gravity. Or the ocean. Or the wind.

But, if that is what's unnatural, then I believe that nothing can be unnatural.

Tesla may have moved mountains (you'll find I support liberal Tesla as opposed to conservative Edison), but had Tesla met The Storm face-to-face, would he have challenged it with his harnessed electrical energy, or would he back down and hope that he isn't struck by lightning?

Keep humble only to nature, because remember: Nature is the one thing that we, as humans, have to follow.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Journal Entry 6/13/2003 (Dad's Work)


Something made itself apparent to me today.

I took 'lex to the aquarium in Atlantic City a few miles away. Both of us are very fond of marine life, but it seemed to me that we're usually burdened by having to observe them in free movement. There's no isolation, so it's hard to get an especially good look at any of them.

So, we went, and it being 'lex's first time to any aquarium, I thought the experience would be interesting. I tend to take a bit of extra time observing them, though, so I offered her the chance to roam around (It's also apparent to me that She rather dampens 'lex's ability to wander freely as a child should.) When I offered, however, she abstinently told me no, and refused to explain why. It seemed strange to me, but that's only one aspect of this story that is unique.

We went from tank to tank, taking our time to read about the fish and watch them make goofy faces seemingly at us. She laughed, of course, and I thought she was enjoying herself.

There's an elevator that can take you to the third floor there. It leads to a balcony that watches over the harbor and gives you a breathtaking view of the city in the distance. Sadly, I didn't bring a camera. I would've loved to staple a picture of that in this passage. So instead, we stood up there just to look. I lifted her onto my shoulders and pointed out the buildings, the badly painted cars, and what I thought to be a large catfish swimming in the harbor (Especially strange note, it seemed that the shadow of that catfish extended several yards away...). I asked her if she was enjoying herself, out of curiosity.

I never imagined, though, that she would give me the blatant "no" that she did.

I asked her why, and she told me very simply: "It's nicer to be with them when they're happy, and free."

I told her in an attempt to reassure her: "These fish couldn't be any happier than they are here. They're fed well and their tanks simulate their natural environment."

She retorted: "Have you ever seen a cat at the pet store paw at the glass?"

Damn her for being so smart, and at age 10...

And damn me for not seeing it before.

Needless to say, I'm taking her out tomorrow to dive.


I think this is important for my first post. It came from one of my dad's journal entries that he wrote 10 years ago. I don't even entirely remember this conversation, but I suppose that even from a young age, I recognized the illusory freedom that fish in a fish tank have. It's so much more surreal to see those beautiful creatures in the open sea, which is ironic because that's the most realistic you can get.

I feel like in many ways, we live in much the same conditions. Our lives are never natural. There is always another hand poking its way into our environment, controlling the way we act and what we do. There is always someone above us making sure we keep ourselves in the cycle of economic power control that keeps the industry of human livestock afloat. Thus, we're merely fish in a fish tank -- being watched, being tricked, and being used for the entertainment and financial welfare of someone else.

Maybe I'm a cynic. Maybe I'm not. But if you dare to think about it:

Look over every single thing you do as part of your daily routine. Your actions, your job, your typical activities, etc.

Do the majority of those things result in the financial gain of another person?

I asked myself this once. Now, instead of going out to dinner for fun, I sit in one of the many trees that hang over my "backyard" and whistle with the music of the forest, sometimes strumming a guitar. Call it theatrical, but it's more liberating than most people could ever realize.