Thursday, July 28, 2005

Nearing the End of the Summer Session

There is a bit over a week left in the Summer Session at University of Portland, counting that the Philosophy of Religion Paper isn't due until next Saturday morning. Still, though. It's crazy how much time has actually passed. Next week's going to be quite hectic as well.

Monday I get to have lunch with two other De La Salle North Catholic HS Alumni who are also going to UP. It'll be fun. Plus, all three of us are in the same hall come fall. Unfortunately, earlier that day, I have my Philosophy final to contend with. Then Tuesday I get to practice for Church--the Youth Band's playing this Sunday. As if it weren't coming fast enough already, that'll probably be one of the last times that we will play together as a Youth Worship Band...Wednesday, probably, will be Youth Group, and more tying up loose ends in class. Plus a presentation on Islam and its current issues. Thursday's my last day of class. That'll be fun, but I guess it'll a bit odd having to suddenly not see Summer Session people until the fall. It's going to be so much more crowded in the fall. Friday I am going to be working on my Philosophy of Religion Paper--hopefully finishing it up and getting it to my professor that day, as opposed to by 9 AM on Saturday.

Then I have to hang out as much as possible with people who are going far away--places like the Midwest, and California, and pretty much everyone I know well who's not somewhere in or near the Portland-Vancouver area.

And in response to Michael's comment: I haven't read the article about Africa just yet. I should. I did read the article on John Roberts, though. Interesting. Probably somewhat biased, but even if I run it through my bias-filter it comes out making more trouble for the Democrats than they'd like. If I may ask was there anything else that caught your eye in that issue, in a good or bad way?

My First Issue of World Magazine

I got my first new issue of World Magazine in the mail today. Thanks, Aunt Pooh! I also read a decent amount of it. My thoughts so far are that it's a good magazine. Some might question its credibility because of its position, but it's bad to question the credibility of a magazine based merely on its position. World's position, for those who do not know, is the Conservative Christian position, which often means also the politically Conservative position. However, their reporting is refreshing--part of the reason is that I know what their bias is, and so I have an automatic filter for the way that they present things. One other thing that makes me more comfortable with them is my first issue's editorial: Basically, the whole chairman's letter/editorial thing was about how, ideally, readers aren't just reading World--they're also reading other news sources, and comparing them to test their credibilities. I found that quite an honorable thought for their sort of "main dude" to have.

Also, I think I'll be keeping Benedict XVI in my Google Alerts for awhile. While World, in an earlier issue, noted that he might not make the ecumenical mistakes (the type of ecumenical that involves praying in Mosques, apparently) that John Paul II made. I'm a bit concerned however that he might not recognize as a Pope the possibility of ecumenism within Christianity. I'm all for a Pope that rejects Pluralism/Relativism. But I've heard from many reliable sources that he's likely to reject other forms of Christianity besides the Catholic church. There's some pertinent document called "Domine Jesus" which I need to try and get a copy of; one section in particular should be relevant to this issue.

Speaking of Pluralism, I had an interesting conversation with my philosophy professor today about those things. I wanted to check my earlier logic regarding exclusivism and pluralism. It's still formulating, but let's just say he gave me some interesting stuff to think about in terms of my presuppositions about pluralism implying relativism. I think whenever the argument gets reformulated it'll be more along the lines of pluralism's problems, then "can they be solved by relativism" and then "no, because relativism is self-contradictory." Not those exact words, probably, but you might get the idea. So expect (sometime, not necessarily within any given length of time) an improved line of reasoning to come onto this blog. Sometime.

Also, kokosmasher--if you find download-worthy things on music.download.com you could also add them to our handy l'il sidebar for music.download.com picks. You are an admin now after all. Also, tell me what you think of this off-white. I'm not sure if it works.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Are YOU the Anti-Pope???


Yo kairos, as far as format and coloring, I'm thinkin' maybe an "offwhite"... or maybe some crazy-cool wallpaper...

But...uh...Anti-Popes! Did you guys out there know there were such things? I didn't, until I did some almost-pointless research! Thanks Google! Well, anti-popes are basically these rad dudes who didn't like all the "bad medicine" (according to them) that was going on in the church due to the officially-elected pope and named themselves pope.

One website actually calls Pope John Paul II an Anti-Pope. It's pretty crazy how people can be about things. The site lists "101 Heresies of PJPII" likely abusing the quote of Pope Leo XIII that reads "If anyone holds to one single one of these (heresies) he is not a Catholic." (from Encyclical Satis Cognitum:28). These guys have elected their own pope in his stead. I realize this may be just some fringe group of "Catholics" with scorpions in their knickers, but every once in a while it's pretty interesting, as mentioned before, the extremes we as humans can take when we believe strongly about things. To examine these extremes in others makes easier the examination of our selves because, in many ways, we know what to look for.

Anyone who has any questions about the tCC (True Catholic Church) can drop an email to the "papal secretary of Pope Pius XIII" here: sacerdos@verizon.net

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If anyone cares, do a google search for these musical artists...they are awesome...download/buy some of their music...you wont regret it. The content/genre/yaddayadda of these guys is pretty varied, I'm too lazy to be more detailed, so use google. I pity the foo's who be usin' slow internet connections! Long live the jacking of neighbor(s) Wi-Fi connections!
- - The Chemical Brothers - - Darude - - Bloc Party - - mwillstedt - -
- - sonylasvegas - - Electra - - dcon - - Mike Shaw - - Electric Limosine - -
- - Disco Volante - -

- - AND MUCH MUCH MORE! - I'll list more cool music as I find/listen/am introduced to it. - -

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And a cool bit of GraFik (I guess it appeared to top right of my post...dang blogger formatting stuff is not idiot-friendly) to make up for my lack of posting...(kkairos, stop bugging me and your mom about whether or not we've met your psycho "post-a-day" standard)...

The Coffee Trilogy is Complete

Okay, it seems that we are finally clear on the responsibilities of the parties involved in the Hot Coffee scandal. Michael Millar noted the fact that things are “eliminated” from games in a fashion similar to the “coffee scene” elimination more often than we think. In another conversation, he had informed me that apparently Rockstar was legally required to release ratings-concerned information to the ESRB. Those of you who know Michael know he knows his stuff when it comes to games; knowing that he was probably right I checked out the ESRB’s web site for myself, and found the following in their FAQs regarding their ratings:

“Every publisher of a game rated by the ESRB is legally bound to disclose all pertinent content when submitting the game for an ESRB rating.”

I believe we can safely presume that the “Coffee” scene is pertinent; in the least, it is now. Now if it was not considered to be “pertinent” at the time that the game received its first rating, then perhaps Rockstar is not guilty of any goof-up. If it is perfectly legit for Rockstar to “remove” the content in this matter, then if you ask me neither Rockstar nor the ESRB actually did anything legally wrong. Morality’s still in the equation, there, though.

However, if whatever is on a disc can be considered pertinent—as seems to be the case here—Rockstar did goof up, in which case they really did have the AO rating coming. But I do have to say I admire their willingness to cooperate and, at least now, to truly eliminate the “hot coffee” from the game. I say that this can be safely considered pertinent, because the actions the ESRB is now taking are, at least in terms of its FAQs, noted as actions to be taken when the publisher fails to reveal certain pieces of information.

The last three posts have been a total learning experience for me. Many valid points have come up with regards to the fairness of the rating system with relation to both Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and God of War. (They haven’t been mentioned here; they are given brief mention in the ESRB interview that Wygal linked to.) For your convenience, since the URL is visually cut off in his comment and I’m not sure why it all copied, the website’s total, I will give you
this link to the website. Anyway, for me the issue is pretty much resolved. Rockstar and the ESRB have done what they can. Hilary can back off of the issue; she really shouldn’t be getting in on it now if she wasn’t in on it when GTA first fanned the flames of controversy. kokosmasher proposed to me that perhaps she’s running for election. Anyone scared by that possibility?

Now I go on to happier things, like random comments made by youth pastors. I made a brief mention of a problem regarding predestination in another post, which Matt Prior, my current youth pastor, made a comment on: “Predestination, are you a predestined predestinationist?”

I suppose if you were one who believed in predestination (either a Calvinist or a determinist of some kind) you would have to believe that you were at least in some sense predestined to believe in predestination. I came up with an interesting thought the other day: “I’m trying to decide if I should be a determinist.” Of course I realize now a funnier thought would be: “I’m trying to decide whether I have a choice.”

One last note: Note that kokosmasher and I discussed how we would address this. It involves on of the comments made on the last post. Humorous comments are welcome, and light innuendo should be fine, but innuendo which involves God is something we at The Ongoing Saga would rather not have posted in comments on the blog. Thanks for understanding. As to the morality of those comments outside of the blog...I don't think I really know yet.

("One Last Note" Paragraph updated at 5:06 PM.)

Coming from this issue: Does anyone have an opinion about how the appropriateness of a joke such as mine or in fact Bobby's might change depending upon the situation and the group that one is with?

Anyone have an opinion on the ESRB's respective ratings of GTA and GoW?

Monday, July 25, 2005

More Hot Coffee

Hey! A new commentator! Awesome. In response to the last post about the Hot Coffee issue with Rockstar and the ESRB, high.as.a.kite responded: "It was, in fact, a MOD that needed to be downloaded to open this file in the game. Further more, the ESRB is given the code of the game. For all of the people that will be reading this htat don't know what I mean, the ESRB is given a paper that shows the internal make up of the game. It shows everything including a "sex scene" that is "locked"." (There will be more of high.as.a.kite's responses quoted later. His words will be in italics from here on out.)

This first peice of information has serious ethical implications. The question has now been raised: if the ESRB knows that there is something in a game not currently accessible, but which may later--and on a reasonably wide scale--become accessible, should they rate the game as if the content were readily accessible. I confess I was operating under the assumption that, for whatever reason, the ESRB had no knowledge of the Hot Coffee scene. If I may ask, high.as.a.kite (by the way, he's a friend from De La Salle North Catholic High School whom I will refer to for brevity as Wygal), are you positive that the ESRB was aware? Was the stuff shown to them purely in code form? I guess that perhaps seeing code, if they have someone who can read it, could show them what the scene was. I admit to wanting to protect the ESRB here much more than I want to protect Rockstar; one is a well-intentioned although oft-misguided agency; the other is a money-driven oft-misguided game company. Let us proceed to more of Wygal's commentary:

IN MY OPINION, and the most probable reasoning for this problem is that Rockstar created the scene as part of the original game. Then they realized that if this was part of the content then they would not get the M rating. So they locked the coding that contained the sex scene "Hot Coffee". The reason they would have locked it instead of deleting it is because a game that requires such an intrequite code would need a change that would be so drastic that it would require a whole deletion of a major section of the game' code. This would slow production and cause a later release date. When the ESRB was given the code I am sure that they knew it was there and that it was locked and I am sure that it was locked tightly. Then some pervert, computer nerd, that has no life, opened up the code and saw "Hot Coffee" a sex scene. To him it was gold. This problem is all because of some pervert that wanted to see sex and figured he would find it hidden in the code of a game that has lots of killing and cussing.

Interesting thought. I don't think, however, the responsibility for this is on the nerd. At least, not all of it. One could argue that the nerd was the one who unlocked it, but the question remains:

If we assume that Rockstar (as we have much reason to believe) knew what was on the disc, and that the ESRB (as we have been given some reason to think) knew what was on the disk, then should they be rating every little bit of the disc or simply that portion which is readily accessible? Obviously, if Rockstar believed that it was "locked tightly" enough, and it was enough to convince the ESRB, we might refutre the calls that the ESRB (and possibly even that Rockstar) screwed up here--given a situation like Rockstar's where they might not want something to be part of the game but at the same time not want to totally erase it, is it reasonable to expect it erased, or just tightly locked?

My question is (this is a conceptual question which it is unlikely we will be able to answer): If they can lock the code without compromising other parts of game code, why can't they delete it? How tied is this one scene to the rest of the game? I don't really know; perhaps it is tied together. I find myself thinking of the philosophical/theological implications of one event in our lives being predestined; that will be another topic for another post.

The one thing I am contending at this point: This is a very important ethical issue for game companies and the ESRB alike. We should study it further and come up with a more concrete rule of what, exactly, is fair game for the rating. If this was unlocked by some random nerd, was it locked tightly enough? If it had to be unlocked by some random nerd, should it be considered part of the game?

* Just a note to nerds who read my blog: I don't think you're all
perverts. "Random nerd" and "the nerd" are just references to whoever did the unlocking.

-- One last note: Wygal wanted me to plug his blog--the first post has an important message for the DLSNCHS
Class of '05.

EDIT (added at 5:15 PM): Oh yes. On the University of Portland track of things, I got my first philosophy paper back. A red, circled A was on the cover. It felt awesome.

Blog Updates, I'm Up Late

Blog update! The color scheme has changed. Everybody, kokosmasher included (especially kokosmasher), let me know how it looks; if you like it generally but could suggest changing just one thing, tell me that, too.

* Note: If you have children reading over your shoulder who don't need exposure to mature subjects, don't click on the links in this article. This post itself is, however, fairly discrete.

So Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas recently had its rating bumped up from M (17+) to AO (which is basically the NC-17 of video games.) Why, you ask?

Apparently Rockstar put something in there that deserves an AO rating--something that happens onscreen, which had to be blurred when VH1's Best Week Ever ran their commentary on it. Best Week Ever's commentary was actually quite amusing; catch a reshow of that this week if you can, there are some other funny things in it as well.

Well, you might ask how on earth this slipped past the ESRB. It's not often a game this big gets rerated after it's been released. The thing is, this secret "scene" is unlocked with a special code. I have heard rumors that you need to download some patch or other, or whatever. But the fact remains that the scene is ON the GTA: SA disc when it comes. This scene -is- part of the game, just like any other secret code or Easter egg, no matter what you have to do to unlock it. Read the 1up.com story
here.

Links leading from a different (but in my opinion related story) lead to one quip by a gaming magazine editor pondering exactly why it is this "
Hot Coffee" scandal that pushed things over the edge, as opposed to the violence already rampant in San Andreas.

Of course, given that such a huge game had to be rerated, some critics are saying now that the ESRB is not enough, or isn't doing enough, or whatever else. To that I answer with a big, huge honkin': What on earth? Really, this is not the fault of the ESRB, especially if there was some modding needed to get to this extra scene. How can you blame the ESRB for not rating something that A) wasn't exactly the most readily accessible material in the game B) Rockstar conveniently neglected to mention? You could argue it's their job--but is it their job to track down modding tools to uncover every single bit of a game, to check every little corner of the disc for foul play, whether or not that corner is normally accessible? I'd say that's putting a bit too much of a burden on the ESRB. Even though the ESRB isn't always my favorite organization, I do believe that they are the victim here--well, they and several unsuspecting households.

Rockstar (who, for those of you who don't know, made San Andreas) is cooperating with the new rating. Good for them. They had it coming. At least now that they've been confronted with it, they're deciding to be responsible. I guess it's possible that the higher-up Rockstar officials didn't know, but...Okay, following the line that even if Rockstar officials didn't know, that it was their job to know, one could argue the ESRB DOES have a responsibility to know. The logic would go like this:
If the company making a game is responsible for knowing everything that's
on the discs, then the ESRB is responsible for knowing.
Of course the resoning falls apart on further examination--the difference between the ESRB and the company is simple and vital: the company makes the game and can be expected to know what's going into it. The ESRB only rates the game on the basis of what the company tells them and what their people are able to find in the game--and the company doesn't necessarily tell them everything it knows. Even if we assumed that neither set of officials between the ESRB and Rockstar knew what was up (and may I point out that the only officials we can safely assume were in the dark were those at the ESRB), Rockstar is still more responsible, because they have a chain of information that should, ideally, be flowing to the top. The ESRB on the other hand has no chain of information coming to them from the people who are putting things on the discs, and is at an informational disadvantage.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Popewatch

The new Pope is an interesting character. I don't think he's quite as conservative as he's been made out to be if he's still calling for interfaith dialogue (I assume by this he means the good kind, not the "truth is relative" kind.) I didn't read the article but I saw some headline and snippit suggesting that he wanted religious dialogue to continue in spite of...I want to say the London attacks. Anyway, Benedict XVI is on my Google Alerts now, so I've got some interesting stuff to share about him. For instance, he is here being lambasted by a liberal feminist Catholic on several issues, most of which I side with Benedict on. (Hrm, almost spelled "Benediction!")

Another article says that the Pope is being unfairly portrayed as
condemning Harry Potter. While some of the things he has said in the past express concern regarding the books, the article does well in pointing out that "this particular spell may have rather more to do with spin than magic."

So is the Pope conservative? Yes. Too much? Probably a bit. Gotta go. Bed. Goodnight and God bless. More on this later.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Pug in Each of Us

<------ Is that an ugly animal, or what? Not to mention that weird whiteish substance at the tip of its tongue. This beast is our family pet, Toby. Each day I do my best to keep him caged up in the kitchen, letting him out periodically for a quality belly-scratch (or is it "itch"?). For the record, I give very high quality belly rubs/scratches/massages. If dogs could pay me for my services, I just know they would. I really don't like the dog, though. He is just an amusement that needs constant supervision and don't listen to no one. So...yeah...that's my dog...not to be confused with "dawg": "slang for 'my close acquaintance of an African-American ethnic background'"

the slang authority (for all you aunts out there who feel they can't communicate with today's youth)

fdasfdas

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Through the Fire

In response to my post regarding tolerance, intolerance and how exclusivism and pluralism (the latter moreso) misses the mark, my aunt k-po remarked: "i am intolerant of idiot behavior. just don't have time for it. to much to do in life. does this make me a bad person? at least your mom gets me." Being tolerant of idiot behavior, so far as I have learned, isn't wrong. But (and this is my view; there are certainly others) it can easily turn into the wrong thing to be if it results in any of the following:

1) X doesn't like Y's idiot behavior, and X makes the assumption that Y is totally capable of knowing their behavior is idiotic, and proceeds to correct Y as if Y knew what Y was doing, while in reality Y might not actually know what's up.
2) X doesn't like Y's idiot behavior and corrects it in such a way that it is unneccesarily hurtful to Y.

It's that whole idea that whatever one does should be motivated by love. As soon as we have hurt someone more than is neccessary for instruction, we have done something wrong--in a sense, while they need to be mindful of their behavior, we then become people who also have something to be sorry about. Note that this doesn't mean nothing we say should ever be hurtful. Sometimes people need to be told things that are hurtful. But when they do not need to be said, hurtful things shouldn't, ideally, be said. I don't know if you'll agree with that idea, but that's my take on things. It's a very difficult issue to deal with and I certainly don't expect I've got it right, or at least quite right, just yet. That goes for most every other issue mentioned in this blog--I'm pretty sure I'm right about stuff as it is now, but my views certainly need refining, and some of them will probably need to change. Not so much my general theology, even the One Way aspect--I don't think I'll abandon that anytime soon. I am noting that during college my worldview will be, in a sense, going "through the fire," in such a way that what is in it that is unproductive, detrimental and truly intolerant will begin to melt away.

Goodness, I've learned so much the last four years. And I'm going to learn so much these next four. Thinking about how much blood, sweat and tears I've been through getting my education (moral, spiritual, and academic) these last four years makes me almost dread the next four. But things will be better. Every time you stumble, that's one less stumble to worry about. That might not make sense, but think about it this way:

If I am going to stumble X amont of times more in my life before I finally go to my rest and go to be with God, then whenever I stumble, that amount goes from X to (X - 1). So I then have one less stumble to worry about--one more hurdle that's been climbed. Or something. Perhaps that makes things more complex. I guess it doesn't make too much sense, because I'm still as worried as possible about how college will work out. Oh well. University of Portland is going to be a positive experience. I hope that the readers of this blog are looking forward to hearing kokosmasher and I discuss our adventures at University, as well as our discussions of random things.

Comparing Catholics; Reading World Magazine

I am going to contrast two famous Catholics. The first is one who I learned about in my 11th Grade Religion class; the second I read as a gift from my former youth pastor (the burgeoningpragmaticquixotism guy) and have grown to love. An interesting contrast here. The first quotation comes from Cardinal Spellman--known for being a pro-Vietnam figure in the Vietnam era.

"My country, right or wrong."

The next, as readers who know me well enough may have guessed, is from G.K. Chesterton.

"My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober."

I owe the first quotation to
www.thesocialedge.com and the second quotation to www.quotationspage.com. The difference between the two views is quite interesting. Given that today Chesterton's views are, of course, conservative by today's standards (he passed away in the 1930's) it may surprise some of the more liberal people to hear that he was actually part of that great political movement which was in his day known as Liberalism--democracy. I would not be surprised to find a group of modern-day Liberals whom I could easily get to lump Chesterton and Spellman both into that dreaded "Ultra-Conservative" category. I am sure it would be good fun to do so, and the joke would be on them in the end. I should really look at more of Chesterton's political views--even by today's standards it seems he might fit into the Democratic party, at least with its ideals.

Of course analyzing the views of great Christian writers also makes us want to analyze and think what sort of current societal issues should be important to use as Christians. My aunt (not k-po, but aunt pooh who is the seventh comment on the quiz post) got me a year's subscription to World magazine as a graduation gift. I think I'm going to appreciate it. The back issues she gave me to get acquainted with it are pretty well-done, and even where I think I'm going to disagree with the tilt, I believe I will be able to get good news from it (hey! Pun!). It's an Evangelical tilt, which works out in practice to being both a theological and political conservatism, although the magazine's political slant is not exclusively conservative, often swaying to moderate and occasionally liberal positions. The theological slant I'm going to have one or two minor issues with, probably in part because there's been an interesting (and, as of now, not totally defined) Catholic influence on my system of belief.

Anyway I am very much looking forward to reading World inside and out, enjoying every bit of it (well, most every bit), laughing at the cartoons (which are actually quite funny) and critiquing the stuff I find myself in disagreement with. One thing I have particularly enjoyed is that the message of the magazine is compassionate, not judgmental. I also very much enjoy the cartoon that features Pope Benedict in a Popemobile with two drivers (I think I shall even post it up here, God willing, this week. It's that good.) If anyone thinks I'm picking on World like crazy, it's not just World that I see bias in. Time has the problem of being a tad left-wing, and The Oregonian is so screwed up I don't know what its bias is save that it's to the left. I haven't mentioned this, but there's one Oregonian article that was so cardstacked in terms of its facts that it was on the fringe of being an editorial--all it needed was a bit of commentary.

I am now getting to that place where I need to be winding down and going to bed. Goodnight, all.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

1700/1200 words. Wow.

"Dear sir, in response to your article--'What's wrong with the world'--I am." - G.K. Chesterton, qtd in Jesus Among Other Gods.

In a comment on the last post, nana (nja) commented: "tolerance is relative term. do you really think anyone can be totally tolerant? Or did I miss that point totally?" The question is worth addressing. Tolerance is a relative term, if by relative you mean that different people define it differently. Both tolerant exclusivism and tolerant pluralism shoot for a certain idea of "total tolerance," and neither meets the mark it sets for the definition of "total tolerance." Pluralism fails by default--it is obvious that its definition of "total tolerance"--at least when revised to include its implications--is not really total. Exclusivism doesn't fail by default--its standard could be attained under the standard of total tolerance. However, it's worth noting that we are all humans. As such I do not believe the it is really possible for us to attain any ideal, at least not right here in this life. Not that we should not strive for ideals; the famous cartoonist Charles Shultz once said that "ideals are like the stars. We may never reach them, but we chart our course by them." So the only thing we can do, if we are to be tolerant exclusivists, is to reach for the ideal we have set, and do our best. We have no guarantee that we will necessarily meet our ideal. I know that's not much of an answer. But it's what I've got, at least right now...

Oh yes, my huge honkin' paper on Descartes is now, well--at least in terms of being a rough draft--done. I get to take it in to the guy teaching my workshop at UP to have it corrected tomorrow. It clocks in at a total of around 1700/1200 words. 1200 was a guideline, but I think I may have gone a little too far over that guideline. My worst fear at this point is twofold (is this the right word?):

1. My paper turns out to be way too long, and I have to find 500 words to cut.
2. My paper is completely illogical, rather than just being acceptably illogical.

By way too long I mean way too long to be graded, and I'm afraid it is. By completely illogical I mean that rather than simply having the quasi-logical flaws that I am thinking might exist, that the thing turns out to be totally and fatally flawed, so that I have to go back and redo everything.

No matter. Earthsuit is playing in my iTunes, and life is good. I got to play bass at my church this Sunday, and life is good. I've now written two college rough drafts, and life is good. I thank God that life is good, and that kokosmasher finally figured out how to join the blog (not that I was much help to him.)

Speaking of kokosmasher, man. (This part is written TO kokosmasher.) It's awesome that you've joined the saga. In response to your last post, that was an interesting comment about George Fox. You really think they'd brainwash? J/K, I know you don't. But they really are heavy on mentioning their Christ-centered education. Not a bad trait to be sure, but mentioning it in the first paragraph of every brochure is definitely unneccessary.

That's all for me, today!

My First...Some sort of intro...More to come later!

Hi world. It's me, kokosmasher...holla atchya boi! You see, I'm a little more, let's say, "hip" than my partner in crime kkairos, so I can use words like BOI and ATCHYA. Expect some phat posts from yaboi smash.

Anyway, enough of the jibber-jabber. I was born in and currently live in Portland, OR with my great family. We are seven. We like to laugh. We need to go on some sort of vacation right about now. I am an entering freshman at George Fox University so expect to hear from me on my experiences there.

A tangent: At first, I was a little afraid (fear is a complex emotion, don't ever forget that) of all this "God-talk". Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer myself, but seriously...Do you people, in all your brochures, have to include the words "God" or "Savior" a minimum of twenty-seven times per paragraph. It's like geez, we hope your life is being guided by God if you're a Christian, but sooner or later, doesn't it just become known by one's actions, words, etc., that one is a Christian. It seems like a waste of air to me to have to mention these things every second, in every sentence. At second, I visited the school for a day and found that these people are, in fact, people, as opposed to a bunch of "God-Talkers". I suppose I was intimidated by the unfamiliarity of it all. "Would I end up talking like this?" "Would they strap me to some mechanic cot with tubes running through me...I dunno, brainwash me!?!?" I want objectivity, dag-NABBIT! (Is dag-nabbit hyphenated?)

I'll post later. Until then, go BRUINS whoopdewoo! Showday!!!

A First Draft is Due Monday

So, I entered college, right? And I knew it was going to involve more writing, right? Right. So I have a Descartes-related paper due on Monday. It'll be quite interesting when it's finally finished. But right now I've barely managed to get past my paraphrase of his Evil Demon hypothesis (admittedly, at 500/1200 words, that's a pretty big chunk of the paper, and the work I did today brings it to just a bit under 800. Which leaves a bit over 400, ideally, for tomorrow. So far I'm thinking I'm going to do well in my summer classes, but I'm betting that whatever the letter grade is I'll do better in Theology than in Philosophy.

BTW, I've now missed two days total of blogging (those who say I've missed more, note that I am counting the early AM hours of days as my posts for the previous day. So this is Saturday's post, even though it's currently 12:10 AM Sunday.)

I wonder if there's anything from my old writings I could dig up...well, no, because those are on the other computer. Still, I have to say something. Or do something. Or contend something. That's what I do with this blog. I contend things and challenge things which, to me, seem to be untruthful or theologically bad. I suppose I should give a paragraph and better give my argument against pluralism (for those of you who want to know, that argument was first given in
this post, and in retrospect was more of a complaint about a double-standard.)

The new argument:

Pluralism and exclusivism both set up certain standards, ideals we may say, in relation to the word "tolerance." However it is my purpose to show that while exclusivism meets its own definition of tolerance, pluralism by definition does not meet its total, complete ideal of tolerance--there must be an exception to its rule. The exclusivist's ideal of tolerance is simple: While I believe truth is exclusive and certainly cannot reconcile my beliefs with the disparate beliefs of my neighbor (e.g. a Christian system and a Buddhist system) I will respect my neighbor's right to his belief, and, should some moral principle or ritual action seem to be thought of in the Buddhist system than in the Christian system, I shall adapt it and make it part of my belief insofar as it is compatible with Christianity. This is my take on exclusivism--I like to call it "tolerant exclusivism." Really, the only part of the definition that is really central is the part be fore "and, should I see"--the last part is something I embrace, but I do not believe that all reasonable exclusivists are bound to it.

The pluralist's ideal of tolerance is as follows: I will presume that truth is relative in order that the beliefs of all may be reconciled, and, should I see something that seems to be better thought of in another system of belief than in mine, I will adapt it and make it part of my belief without regard to any conflict between the two systems. This is what I call "tolerant pluralism." However, once we consider the implications of such a system, we see that it does not meet its stated ideal. There is one idea which pluralism is bound to reject, because it prevents the presumption that truth is relative: exclusivism. Therefore pluralism, to be honest, must have an addition to its definition of tolerance which makes it known that "all beliefs may be reconciled save those of an exclusivist nature." From these two paragraphs flow two essential points:

1. Tolerant exclusivism meets its own standard of tolerance--its definition of tolerance allows people to believe whatever they want.
2. Tolerant pluralism can never meet it own standard of tolerance, if this standard is to be the same as in its original, ideal form--its revised definition of tolerance allows people to believe whatever they want, so long as it does not contradict the idea that truth is relative.

Given the way the systems work even with themselves, tolerant exclusivism seems the natural choice. Of course it does not sound as good as far as ideals go. Pluralism is very appealing because it seems to foster dialogue and coming together and other wonderful things. But we see in discussion of its implications that the ideal of pluralism, seeming to be "too good to be true," really is.

It is worth noting that some will notice that exclusivism is often, even by tolerant exclusivist standards, quite intolerant. Those who are intolerant exclusivists find themselves automatically placed outside of the realm of reasonable exclusivist action by default; this meaning that, if we are to force others to believe what we believe in order that they be "saved," we really have no guarantee that they are saved, because they have been forced into their "salvation" by the sword, or the law, or whatnot. Therefore while it is good to remind the exclusivist of his/her potential intolerance--keeping him/her on his/her toes--it does not in and of itself make a good critique of exclusivism to say that it pushes some to intolerance.

God bless you all, and good night.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A Fly in the Fridge

There's a fly in the fridge as I write this. For Pete's sake, I was just going to get some milk. And the stupid thing flies in looking for the light in the fridge. I can't get it to come out. When it finally leaves the light, it goes to the back wall of the fridge. For all I know it's still there, freezing to death. I feel sorry for the poor thing. I suppose when I studied Jainism in high school, that whole ahimsa thing rubbed off on me. I'm going to go check on the fridge right now. Maybe the fly's realized what's going on.

And yes, I do realize the number of philosophical questions being asked with regard to the fly's consciousness and thought process (or lack thereof) but that is beside the point. Also I realize that flies, given their limitations, cannot really be "stupid." Anyway, checking...
Okay, I'm unsure of what just happened there. I opened the door and there was a fly, but I couldn't tell for sure if it was the same one, or if it had flown towards me from some other angle. I'd like to note the irony of my mention of Jainism when coupled with the fact that I was swatting the fly in an effort to keep it from reentering the fridge. So much for ahimsa...or...

Hmm. If I ever meet a Jain, I will ask them if they have any idea which is the greater good: swat at the fly to keep it away from the fridge, or refuse the swat and let it die anyway. In case the link for Jainism doesn't give you an idea, this "ahimsa" principle I keep talking about basically says you should go out of your way to avoid harming any living thing, including the smallest bugs.

I wonder if there is any sort of Christian object lesson to be got out of this. Suppose the fly is us, attracted by sin (the light in the fridge) when in reality the darkness outside of the fridge is safer, and Someone is trying to show us this way (as I tried to induce the fly to come out by shutting off the light in the fridge.) Of course a perfect being such as God, trying to show us the way, would probably have though to turn the fridge light off and increase the light outside--whatever the theological equivalent of this path would be, it's not looking like it would be especially fun to describe. And the metaphor is incomplete in another way: said perfect being, being all-loving, would not as I did after about two-to-five minutes give up and leave the fly to freeze, and return later to (hopefully; I certainly hope I've freed the fly) free the fly.

The complete metaphor (I'm thinking the better word is, really, analogy, so I'll go with that): The better analogy would be the following. The fly (this means us) is attracted to the light in the fridge, even given its flickering nature, and the light on the outside does not attract it. Someone (this means God) is outside the fridge, trying to convince the fly somehow to leave the light and come outside. But until the fly decides to leave it is trapped inside, freezing. Of course an even more complete analogy would involve many more flies; I do not see the need.

I am almost disturbed how bad I feel about the fly. Oftentimes news that humans -really- are dead doesn't disturbe me so much, and here I am wondering about flies. In a sense I know it's just one of those things that happens when you're human. At any rate, I suppose I'll know with some vague certainty whether I "killed" the fly or not depending upon if or when a dead fly is found in the fridge. Hopefully not in the refried beans or the salad.

That is all for tonight. Goodnight (or I suppose good morning), and God bless.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Interesting Facts about D.J. Lower

I ran across the blog of a Quaker today who had taken a test to determine his (within Christianity) theological worldview. He suggested that perhaps he should check into Methodism because his scoring put Methodism first. Out of interest I took that same quiz. My #1 score was "Emergent/Postmodern", followed by a tie between "Wesleyan-Holiness" and "Neo-Orthodox." Also of interest was the fact that my Catholic score was 50%. Understandable considering that I have been in a Catholic school for the last four years now.

Okay, I looked up Neo-Orthodox: "A Protestant movement that arose during World War I and is closely associated with Karl Barth. It opposes liberalism and advocates certain theological, especially Calvinist doctrines of the Reformation." (source: dictionary.com)

I already know enough of what Wesleyan-Holiness means, given I've been part of it almost as long as I can recall. Interesting that I'm supposed to be part of this movement; I certainly don't recall advocating Calvinist doctrines of the Reformation. I suppose depending upon what "Emergent/Postmodern" means I should be disturbed that it was my #1; I am not. The definition given in the quiz spoke of dialogues but said nothing of pluralism or anything that really seemed a theological problem to me. Could anyone shed light on what exactly "Emergent/Postmodern" does mean?

Yes, I am taking this quiz too seriously. But I needed something to blog about, and this was entertaining and intriguing. Note that I didn't really know who Karl Barth (or this other dude mentioned in the quiz) was, and I probably would have pushed myself closer to the Neo-Orthodoxy movement had I known (one question was about how important Barth was on a 1-5 scale, and I picked the 3 because I didn't know. Take the quiz for yourself by clicking here, and let me know how you scored...I'd be interested in knowing. Not too serious of a thing; I still consider myself very much a Wesleyan-Holiness person; but a bit thought-provoking and an interesting diversion.


Posted at 4:21, edited for HTML at 5:24.

Monday, July 11, 2005

P & ~P; therefore Q

My first paper is underway! I just handed in my rough draft today, as a matter of fact, and it will be returned to me hopefully tomorrow with what criticisms I will need in order to rework and rewrite it. I hope the process goes well. My paper is on Peace, Reconciliation and Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama. It came out decently.

I also got back my first test, and I was happy to see that I got an A- on my first test. (A friend suggested it was probably because he's grading on a curve; either way, 32/38 becoming an A- is awesome.) There was one killer which I think got me because it had a contradictory premisis and a seemingly unrelated conclusion. It was:

P & ~P

therefore

Q

The P & ~P is the contradictory part. In case you're interested, it goes:

P & ~P
P
P v Q
~P

therefore

Q

Another friend actually did get the question right, and the professor confirmed this. I actually remember when I was in class taking the test and the professor (he's actually a PhD) mentioned that that problem wasn't a misprint. Well, I think I'm just about done for today. I know the post is probably a bit shorter than usual. For what it's worth, I still have to do my bass practice later.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Older and no Wiser in Myself

So I've had this idea for a song swimming around in my head for the last several days. (A very early version of this song was actually written in, I believe, my Sophomore or Junior year.) For now, consider it poetry; there is a tune and a bit of music written on the bass guitar, but nobody has recorded themselves playing and/or singing yet. Here it is:


Older and No Wiser in Myself

Do you remember
When we all would play pretend
A bright day in December
With a castle to defend
When we all would be robots
Or pirates on the sea
I know all that was fun and games
But it seemed so real to me

But now we’re older
My, look how we have grown
And so much wiser
My, look how we have grown
Goodbye, childhood ideals
We never wanted you!
We’re still pretending
We think that nothing’s wrong

So it’s been all this time
And we’re still playing pretend,
We sacrifice our health
We have our dignity to defend
See our Savior reaching
Into our petty hearts
Seems we’ve become afraid of Him
Afraid to do our part

Hello, childhood ideals
It’s true I have missed you
I realize that you can’t be
What I want you to
But it’s okay now
I take shelter in my God
The only thing that’s sure
Not to change with the times

Do you remember
Can you recall
We were so innocent
We thought we were strong
We thought we were strong
What went wrong

And now I stand still
Singing simple songs of praise
God’s made me wiser
How His wisdom tramples mine
And I am better
Sheltered by the Wings of God
The only thing I know
I’ll never leave behind

That’s all there is to the poem. Questions, comments and analyses welcome. Constructive criticism also welcome, but if you hate it don't be too harsh. That's all there is for today.

-edit-: You know what? It really stinks that I had to fix the formatting on this after blockquoting it.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Late at Night I Say, Indeed it is Another Day

It's 1:22 AM as I begin this posting, and God is good. I think of the Fold Zandura songs "Forever Throw" and "King Planet" when I think of the greatness of God, because those songs evoke this image of God that isn't just great and powerful. The image evoked is cosmic. For example, lyrics from "King Planet":

You are the mystic man
You are the promised lamb
You walk the silver sand of stars you're shining
You are the atmosphere
You are the music clear
You are the golden tier and you are king planet

Anyone who's heard the song probably has a better idea of what I mean when I talk of cosmic imagery. You get the picture that God is over not just earth but, in a more literal sense, over the universe. They're an odd band, but I think they're awesome.

I am going to have lots of fun this weekend. I have to do a report on peace and reconciliation according to Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama, and I don't know much about the subject aside from that basic thought that "peace is good, violence is bad" coming from the Lama. Thich Nhat Hahn probably holds some similar view, but I'm going to look and see if I can discern any noticeable difference between the two. Thich Nhat Hahn inspired some peice entitled "Fruit Salad Can be Delicious" which I am planning to read for this paper. I'll make sure to talk about whether or not the idea of it (which so far sounds like major pluralism) presents as badly as it has so far. I might point out that there is such a thing as tolerant exclusivism. The most well-known example might be C.S. Lewis, who believed in salvation through Christ alone, but tolerated his son's choice to go Jewish and even got advice on how to give his son a kosher diet. Just so it's clear, he was an exclusivist who still knew the meaning of tolerance.

My last note for the night is that I have been reading some lyrics of the band King's X, because I read somewhere that they were supposedly a Christian band and I'm checking out the rumor. The first album is entitled Out of the Silent Planet (also the name of a Lewis book; one that is often taken allegorically in fact) and while the subsequent albums seem to be less so, that one seems to be very spiritual and nothing seems to conflict with Christian thought, at least not in any major way. If anyone knows about this, let me know. It'd be cool to find out what, if anything, they believed of Christianity that might have influenced them, especially on that first album. I did a tiny bit of research and it sounds as though one or two of them were believers; anyone else have light to shed on this issue?

Friday, July 08, 2005

A Lot of Realizations

I’m having a lot of realizations this summer. I think the first has to do with a good friend who will, in August, be departing for the country of Iraq to serve his country. The mere fact that he’s going makes me want to put aside everything political and everything else and just think: He’s going. Not an especially wordy phrase but a powerful one. My friend, someone who I’ve gotten to know over there years, is going somewhere that’s very dangerous. There is no guarantee I will see him again; that enough should be enough for me to pick up a phone and call him, even at this ungodly hour.

Another realization I’m having this summer is that I’m not going back to high school, and that the set of friends I have now probably won’t be the same in a year. I’m not going back to De La Salle, and I think to a degree that it’s killing me. There won’t be any more fun times with school people, at least not at school. Many of the people I met at De La Salle I have no guarantee of seeing again. Even the people I’ve gotten to know at church for the last five or six or who knows how many years are people I’m going to be seeing much less of. I’m sure I’ll get to hang with them during summers and breaks, but it won’t be like youth group every week.

I do have some people who will be constants—four other De La Salle graduates are going to UP in the fall. But all of the change—some friendships will stay, some will be less, and some are probably going to sort of, well, fade away. And with a good friend going to Iraq during this time of transition, it’s all quite overwhelming. I suppose the best thing I can do, really, is spend the time I can with the people I know now, and stay in touch with them as best I can when I start going to UP full-time. Of course the one thing connected to this is that I’m going from high school to college, and that’s a major thing all it’s own. I’m going from home to living on-campus; I’m going to have to learn to be more responsible on my own.

All of these realizations, connected in various ways, keep popping into my head. You might think one moment of realization would be enough, but they just keep coming back. So the summer is, to use a popular term, bittersweet. I’m really going to miss a lot of my old friends, and all of the fun times and everything. I hope I get to hang with them again sometime, and I hope I can keep in touch. But as with many things in life this is uncertain. So rather I will do all I can, give the rest to God, and work hard at making the transition to college a positive and smooth one.

A sidenote: A happy birthday to the Dalai Lama. He is one year older and wiser, and perhaps one year more idealistic. (Perhaps, as I would favor, one year less idealistic.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Almost Always Productive Day of Zeux

Well, I took the comment of two posts ago as a starting point for my last, so I suppose I should take the comment of the last post as a starting point for this one: "daniel - when are you going to write something that i can understand??!! thank you for becoming my own personal greek philosopher and i crown you danocrates the great. you rock. but really write something i can get. love you stud. " My aunt, who in the forum of Blogspot has assumed the moniker of "k-po," wrote this comment. I hope that whatever on earth I provide in this next post will fulfill that request.

I have now turned off the music that was playing in my headphones after a long and tiresome writer's block. Music it seems can be as much a distractor as it can be a focus tool. For those of you who doubt its power as a focus tool, note that while reading much of what I have read of Simon Blackburn's Think for my philosophy class, I was listening to the Linkin Park album Meteora--and it seems it helped a bit. Do you italicize album titles or just put quotation marks around them? I wonder.

I know that this may not appease the commentator but it will probably be a bit less strenuous for everyone involved (I myself the writer and you readers) to note the continuation of a great tradition in the Megazeux community over at
DigitalMZX. Well, it's a Megazeux community tradition in general, but that's the main site. Megazeux, or MZX for short, is an obscure game-creation system from the mid-1990s which has passed into open-source development, meaning it is no longer shareware and is developed freely by anyone willing to expand on the code of the system and put up whatever code they add to it for others to expand on.

Anyway, this tradition is a contest in which Megazeuxers try to make a game on a previosuly unannounced topic in the span of 24 Hours, without A) dying or B) falling asleep. This great test of wills, wits and wacky game ideas is known as the Day of Zeux. I myself have been a participant, and I daresay that it has produced some of my decent finished games. I missed it this time, because it was the same day as the rodeo, but there are two games I have played so far worth noting. One involves a secret agent who, over the course of each level, becomes increasingly obese and hard to maneuver. Another involves the catchphrase "eat or be eaten" and a character who moves by the pixel, which is good fun because in MZX games movement is most often done by the tile.

Those not involved with the MZX community should probably figure out if they even understand how to work MZX before downloading the entries; this time around, there's something special you have to do, because they're not on DigitalMZX right away. But even if you're not into the idea of getting into something like MZX, I hope that this little dash of obscure internet subculture has brightened your day.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

An Interesting Question is Posed

On the last post there was a question posted by a reader which reads thusly: "Do Buddhism and gnosticism have anything in common, i.e., matter (desire) is bad?"

This question was posed by an anonymous poster. I will attempt to address this question as well as I can. I will treat matter and desire as separate subjects, because in the bit that I read attempting to answer this they appear to be separate things. My knowledge of Buddhism consists of what I have learned so I went to the Catholic Encyclopedia's interesting
article on Gnosticism. Dunno if this is -the- Catholic Encyclopedia; there are probably more than just one. I searched for the word "desire" and found a short little section of paragraph in shich the two worldviews were compared and contrasted.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia the two traditions are agreed upon as to the nature of our present existence: our present existence is miserable and viewed as a sort of prison from which we must escape. I realize that existence and matter are not the same, but there is some connection. As best I can recall, in Gnosticism what we see and perceive as being "matter" really is an illusion, or is bad. And in Buddhism there is a detachment from the material, which could say something about the Buddhist attitude towards matter. But when it comes time to plan one's escape from this material existence, the two traditions seem to diverge. According to the Encyclopedia, Gnosticism is "[t]he doctrine of salvation by knowledge." But in Buddhism the escape comes by eliminating desires, not simply by gaining knowledge.

Again my knowledge of these two traditions, while I do have some knowledge, is far from complete. But I hope that I have provided you, the anonymous poster, with something resembling an answer to your question, or at least helped you in your search for an answer. I suppose I might also take a moment and ask if anyone reading this blog knows anything about this. It couldn't hurt.

I ran into a friend's mom today at UP. This friend will also be attending UP in the fall and was also placed in the 3XX level of Spanish, and she is trying to transfer out. According to her mom there is very little, if any, English spoken in these classes. Coupled with the concerns about the vosotros person and being placed above where I tested this has created in me a bit of anxiety. I suppose one way to prepare would be to begin watching Univision and picking up reading one or two Spanish-language blogs; there seem to be a few of those here on Blogspot.

Well, I have a logic test tomorrow, and so I cannot put off getting to bed too much longer. I will end the Saga for the night; tomorrow the ship sails again!

A Moral Issue and a few Theological Ones

So I have now officially completed my first week of college, and my first college assignment. Procrastination didn't get me too badly this time, but I need to step up my pace some, because there are going to be more than two papers which will be fairly long but not have really long times attached to them. (We're talking about 5 pages in about a week and a half, so nothing too horrible.)

I read today an intriguing (and I would say good and fair and balanced) article on gender and gaming over here at 1up.com. Well, to be honest, I didn't read every word of it, but I read a fair amount--enough to get the basics. It features commentary on the shifts in female stereotypes over the years, from the pretty girls who get rescued in older Zelda and Mario to the pretty girls who kick guys' butts in fighting games. (Depending on the fighting game, this may also be the pretty boys. See Soulcalibur's Yunsung.) It was good to read an article on a gaming website which acknowledged the problem of gender stereotyping in games but did not demonize game companies for doing what was and to a vast degree still is business. The article also acknowledges the progress that has been made, and must continue to be made, if the game industry is to play to more than just males. There was also the valid reiteration of the point that games are far from being the only media which can/does promote gender stereotypes; e.g. the People/inTouch/Us Weekly/Cosmopolitan magazines come to mind. Of course the biggest modern culprit, at least when it comes to female stereotypes, is the entire Dead or Alive series of games. I support 1up.com and others in dealing with this moral/cultural issue. Check it out.

World religions reading was interesting as usual. Comparing and contrasting religions helps one to better understand them. I've learned a lot about Hinduism these last few days and I am learning a lot about Buddhism from this weekend's reading. For instance, while both religions emphasize selflessness and service, the ideals are interpreted in different ways and taken to different lengths. It is also interesting to see the difference in dealing with the issue of desire. Christianity sees some desire as good, and some as bad, noting that when people desire bad things they are trying to fill a hole left by what they really desire (Christ.) But they do not know they desire Christ and so they try to fill the hole with the more tangible things they desire. When one comes to Christ one finds one's deep-rooted desires fulfilled, and the other desires either eliminated or fulfilled, depending upon the situation and the morality of those other desires. By contrast Buddhist teaching seems to indicate that the path to salvation is to eliminate all desire, rather than fulfilling it. Desire in Buddhism is not good at all--it is the root of our suffering. Somebody once pointed out that the goal of eliminiating all desire could be seen in and of itself as a desire, but in a sense you are eliminating that desire once you have eliminated all others. Of course none of this makes them compatible, but that is no matter for my textbook; it is determined to impart unto me the utmost pluralism (not the "appreciation of religions," as it defines it, but rather the idea that "all religions are somehow compatible and are a way of interacting with the divine reality.")

My conclusions so far on compatibility of religions, going on belief systems:

Buddhism and Hinduism: Some, but not enough for them to really "work" well together. Morals are somewhat the same--Buddhism's moral code has less to do with the life you are "born" into. Hinduism and Christianity: Some interesting moral similarities, and some similarities in the manifestation of the divine. However the latter calls you to seek out the position that God wants for you, and the former simply says "where you were born is where the god(s) want you. Buddhism and Christianity: Just as with the other two, some moral similarities. Again espeically similar around the ideals of selflessness and charity, but these ideals are played out to different lengths. The biggest differences: Hinduism's pantheistic, Buddhism is non-theistic and Christianity is monotheistic. I should like to read the Bhagavad-Gita sometime, perhaps this summer. Should be an interesting read if I want to learn more about Hinduism's moral code.


Of course I must be fair and note that pluralism is a great thought. It is idealistic and reaches out in unity and love and understanding. But the greatest understanding is not found there; there will be more on this subject later.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Formal Logic and the Rodeo

Rodeos. An interesting concept--skills that real-life cowboys/ranchers/etc. use(d?) are corraled into a family-fun and family-friendly collection of events. The events include things like bull riding, wild-horse racing (that is definitely the most hilarious event; the horses run that show), bull-wrestling, and so on.

I went to a rodeo last night. Well, technically, since it is now the Fourth by about eight minutes, I went to a rodeo the night before yesterday. But the rodeo experience was still quite entertaining. I have to admit I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The smells were less than glamorous, and it was a little bit of a wait once we sat down. The rodeo clown was more just an entertainer--not really the stereotype of the "clown" I think I was expecting.

Bareback horse riding was one of the more tedious sports, as just about every small town in Oregon seemed to boast its own competitor, and a few other Northwest towns as well. Aside from the million and one competitors it was fun. Bull riding was also very much fun--all that eight-second excitement but with at least half the tedium of various competitors. There was something where they wrestled small bulls (would it be bull calves?) to the ground, a "wild cow milking" competition (quite entertaining), barrel racing, and my personal favorite, wild horse racing. There were a couple of other events, too.

Wild horse racing isn't really racing on a wild horse. It's really a question of which team can A) get a member on their horse and B) get the horse through to the other side, through the side door of the arena, and do it C) the fastest. I think it was the first two teams who were counted, or something, but people kept going until five minutes had passed, so perhaps everyone who got through was counted. Beats me. The point of the event, as far as I could tell, was really to see how badly these horses could torture the cowboys. More than one of these poor guys were dragged quite aways across the arena by their horses. By the end of the five minutes four horses were running free, about three or four teams had passed through the gate, and one poor cowboy was sitting on his horse very very near to the gate, trying various tricks to try and get it to go in. The poor guy wasn't getting any response from his horse, whom he and his partner had in fact gotten this far already, and I believe the timer sounded when he was still standing outside the gate.

So there is a connection between two recent things in my life: we're in the middle of formal logic in my Intro to Philosophy class, and I'm addicted to a game called "Sherlock" which revolves around discerning, given certain statements, where certain icons lie in terms of column. Look it up on some Shareware site; I'm sure it's laying around somewhere. Formal logic, as it's coming across to me in class, basically means putting things in certain terms so that they can be read as a sort of formulae. You even have to diagram some things. It's kind of like the proofs from Geometry, except that it's about more than Hexagon X,Y,Z,P,D,Q. I'm having fun at school. It's a good place, UP. And taking summer classes now means I'm meeting people in a smaller setting, as opposed to meeting them in the multitudes at the Freshman Orientation. The whole college experience should be fun.

Well, I need to start winding this thing down. I've got some classwork to do tomorrow. My weekly assignment is likely to be something along the lines of "learn how much less procrastination works in college as opposed to high school." I have a bunch of definitions for words in Hinduism to be done tomorrow, and they won't define themselves. I also need to study my logic a bit and read about Buddhism. The strangest thing is, now that I've spent a week in school, I am no longer wondering what on earth I was thinking taking these classes in the summer to begin with.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Ship Sets Sail With Ease, Carrying Cargos of Cheese

My first post...I have to admit that this is not quite the same as the feeling one gets opening a brand-new spiral notebook, which hasn't yet been written in, and feels one's hand over the fresh paper, wondering exatcly what is going to go from mind to pen(cil) to paper. But it is exciting nonetheless. (This part, and others, have been added a few minutes after the initial post. I suppose the initial post should have some length, but this one already has plenty, and I'm not sure how much I can add still.)

I suppose for this to make sense I should drop two random details about myself: I am a fairly strongly orthodox Christian (think Apostles' Creed, not Eastern Rite) and I am a believer Darwin's theory of evolution insofar as it is taken along with a dose of theism.

It has often been thought that Christianity and Darwin's theory of evolution are incompatible. I have often wondered about this. I first wrestled with the issue in my 10th grade biology class, where evolution was more than just a passing subject. I was forced to think about whether the six-day creation story of Genesis, and just how well it worked. My teacher, Brother Dan (this was and still is a Catholic high school this took place in, but the teacher has sadly moved on), opened my eyes to the possibility that perhaps evolution had taken place along Darwinian lines or similar, but that God had been an integral part of the process. Not until talking with Brother Dan did I learn that Darwin never actually rejected God. Darwin's God was simply less directly involved with the process of creation.

It might be worth pointing out that some of the imagery used in Genesis could almost be seen as a poetic counterpart to Darwin's theory, and the general order of creation (earth - animal - man) is maintained. The best parallel in my opinion is between the statement "the earth was formless and empty" and the thought of a very early earth (let us say 4 billion years ago, approximately) which was covered with magma and randomly shifting rocks in such a way that it might have been called "formless." "Empty" may be another matter, for technically it wasn't so. But the thought that "the earth was formless and empty" combined with that image of magma and random shifts of rock seems to me to be a very beautiful one.

I suppose I should try and give people somewhat of an idea of what sort of blog to expect. The Ongoing Saga will not be a political blog--but neither will it be apolitical. It will not be a blog focused necessarily upon themes of religion, philosophy, theology, or any combination of the three, but those subjects have as much of a chance of coming to mind as any. Frankly, Sharp Cheddar Cheese: The Ongoing Saga should be expected to be about a lot of things: My transition from high school to college and my life in college afterwards, religion, morality, life, God, politics, and anything else that comes to mind. It will also likely serve as a creative outlet for creative writings and drawings and whatnot. So, really, Sharp Cheddar Cheese will be about just about anything that goes from mind to keyboard to weblog, just as when one writes in a notebook, one often writes about whatever can make its way from mind to pen(cil) to paper. And so we see that perhaps the two new starts are not so disparate after all.