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Judge not that ye be not Justice

I just called both of my Senators' DC offices and left a message asking them to vote no on the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. I have also emailed both of them with the same message. I am sure my messages will ultimately make no difference in their vote on the matter. However, it is with some small degree of hope that if enough people call with a similar message they might change their minds. However, ultimately it is so that I can in good conscience say that I have made a concerted effort to make my voice heard that I do not believe Brett Kavanaugh is fit to sit on the High Court.

But the real issue that I would like to blog about is the matter of empathy. The ability to put oneself in another's position has been something I have always heard my whole life as a good thing. I often heard the adage that you shouldn't judge someone until you've walked a mile in his shoes. It seems to me that some people are better at feeling empathy and others, whil…
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A Tale of Two Egos

I would like to discuss a stark contrast that I've just been presented with. On my Facebook news feed, I have seen several posts about Donald Trump's statements on 9/11. To me, I think the most repugnant one is that on the day that it happened, he said that his building was the tallest in NYC before the World Trade Center was built and now that they had fallen it was the tallest again. Set aside whether that statement was true, because in my mind that's irrelevant. Just consider that this man had just witnessed the same tragedy we all witnessed. Thousands of people had just died. And he doesn't give a thought to any of them. His only thought is to brag about how tall his building is.
A student of mine had missed several days of class. As I usually do in such situations, I emailed him to inform him that he is expected to attend class. His response was that he was having difficulty attending class because he was homeless and sometimes it was difficult to find a place to …

Learning

A couple students sat with me at lunch in the cafeteria the other day. At one point in our conversation, it came up that I want my students to genuinely learn the material in my courses. This seemed authentically surprising to both students. As I recall, one of them even asked me why. I admit I was taken aback.
I understand that many students only go to college to get a degree, not to actually learn. There may be many reasons for this, but I suppose the largest is the pressure from society to get a degree--even if the degree is never necessary for the position that requires it. I have said before, and I still firmly believe, that this is harmful rather than helpful. Pressuring (or forcing) people to go to college who would not have elected to do so on their own--while perhaps granting job security to me--seems to be detrimental to education.
While I understand the reasons why students may go to college that are different from actual learning, I cannot relate to it personally. Yes, I a…

Moral Reprehensibility

I feel compelled to voice my feelings on this matter. I wish for it to be understood in no uncertain terms where I stand on the matter. I have been vocal in my opposition to Trump and his policies ever since he first started campaigning for president. I continue in that opposition now and do not see a future wherein I do not oppose him.

The matter currently at hand is that of children being torn from their parents at the border. Border patrol has been instructed by the administration to have a zero-tolerance policy and to separate families who are attempting to cross the border. Infants as young as 8 months old are being held captive, forcibly separated from their parents. At least one pregnant woman was among those who have been kidnapped and held in these unspeakable detention centers for weeks so far.

I denounce this practice as being immoral, unnecessary, and purely disgusting. It should offend any person with any shred of empathy. It is highly ironic that conservatives who have s…

Alpha Blockers

So I enjoy Final Fantasy games. I've been a fan of the series since I was a young child. I had friends down the street who had Final Fantasy II and III (those were the numbers given in their original USA release, but were in fact the 4th and 6th games in the series respectively). From that time until now I have owned and played every Final Fantasy game aside from 11, which was online only and at the time it was out I had neither the money for the monthly subscription nor a computer capable of running the game.

Lately I've been playing Final Fantasy 14, which is the second online game in the series. I find it to be a rather enjoyable game. And I find a vast majority of the people who play to be rather friendly people. The nature of a massively multiplayer online game is that you do quests and run through dungeons with other players. Each person controls one character in the game and you work together to defeat a difficult enemy. In most cases, people don't say much when the…

Karing about others

Mostly because I have been thinking about her lately, I feel compelled to write about someone who was very dear to me.  Many people who have met me in the last several years may not be aware of the fact that I was married to a woman for 3 years. I understand there can be lots of confusion whenever I mention it, and misunderstandings or misconceptions might occur. So I would like to take this opportunity to discuss my feelings about her.

Shortly after I came out, I attended a party for ex-Mormon gay people. Many of them had been married (to someone of the opposite sex), as I had. Most of those marriages had ended in divorce. Sometimes the divorce was very ugly, other times it was rather pleasant and they remained friends throughout the process. I assume it is because of the ugly divorce scenarios that this statement was made to me. Upon revealing that I had previously been married to a woman and that the marriage had ended in her death, a man said to me that it was good that it had end…

The Orville is making me feel spacey

(As a warning, this post contains spoilers to the Episode 7 "The Majority Rule" of the TV series The Orville.)

I started watching The Orville a week or two ago.  I have seen up to episode 7.  In this episode, there is a planet with a culture that evolved to be very similar to Earth's.  In fact, the dominant species on the planet looks identical to humans (partly, I believe, to save on budget costs for make-up etc).  In this society, we learn that every person is given a badge at age 18 and they must wear this badge at all times.  The badge has two buttons--one upward-pointing green arrow and one downward-pointing red arrow.  When a person does a good thing, another person might press the green button as an "up-vote", to express approval.  When a person does a bad thing, one might press the red button as a "down-vote."  This is clearly inspired by sites such as Reddit that allow thumbs up and down voting on posts. 

At one point, one of the crew members…