Showing posts from March, 2013

Thank Goodness

I really like the musical Wicked.  In fact, I like musicals in general.  But in particular, I really relate well to Elphaba in Wicked.

The song "Thank Goodness" happens after Elphaba becomes a public enemy and Glinda becomes a hero.  She is to marry Fiyero and save all of Oz from Elphaba and everything good and wonderful.  So they have a celebration.  One of the repeated lines in the song is "happy is what happens when all your dreams come true."  Now, I could be wrong but it seems to me that this song is to be taken as a criticism of the Disney-esque mindset we are often told to have by various entertainment media.  Either way, I wanted to comment on that line of the song because it's completely false.

We often have this misconception that we won't be happy until we have our dreams come true.  If I just get my dream house or my dream car, then I'll be happy.  If I get my dream job, then I'll be happy.  If I get that one new video game console, the…

The sound of equality

I have been impressed by the number of my non-gay friends who have changed their profile pictures on Facebook to the red equality sign, indicating their support for marriage equality.  Of my 650 friends, I would guess that roughly 200 or 300 are gay, and I was glad (although not surprised) to see many of them change their pictures as well.  But I was pleased and even slightly surprised to see so many who are straight, who have no personal interest in the matter, also display their support.

I was glad to read through and listen to the oral arguments given yesterday in court and see all of the good points raised concerning the argument.  I was glad to see the justices sincerely trying to determine what was the right thing to do in the situation.

And then I saw this on my news feed.  I know some of my friends--some gay and some straight--who feel this way.  This is the libertarian point of view.  It is a view that I find not altogether unpleasant.

My main issue with people voicing this …

Many paths to the top of Mt. Fuji

A short while ago, I wrote about a video I had seen where an atheist recommended mocking religion as a method for helping religious people question their own beliefs.  In that post, I mentioned that I was unsure whether that approach was right for me or not.  I think that the above video contains my answer.  It is in fact right for me, and so are many other methods.  I don't think there is one single method which will be successful in leading all people to the truth.  Some may respond better to ridicule, some may respond better to simply living a happy and fulfilled life as an atheist.  As the Japanese say, there are many paths to the top of Mount Fuji.

One thing that I think is significant in this video is that the caller mentions one story about how he made his mother cry (or, really, how her religion made her cry).  And Matt (the man on the right) responded by saying that he has made many of his family members cry and has disappointed many of them.  I am in the same boat.  I …

Being wrong

One mark of humility is to accept that you are wrong.  That is, if a humble person is provided with information sufficient to prove that something ey has said in the past is incorrect, ey will admit it.  In cases where damage has been done because of the previously-held false belief, ey will in addition apologize for the damage.  This is one indication of how the leaders of the LDS church are not humble.    Time and time again, they will say things which contradict what has been said in the past, but will not acknowledge that at any time in the past they were wrong.  They will pretend that the old information, now contradicted, never was declared as truth to begin with.

And such is the case when Pope Francis I was elected.  The LDS Newsroom released a statement congratulating him, calling him "His Holiness", and discussing how they are pleased that the LDS church and the Catholic church have worked together, and will continue to work together.  That's great.  That's …

Planned obsolescence

I want to make my job obsolete.  I mean, I love teaching.  I want to be a math teacher for the rest of my life (and also do math research, I kind of balk when people ask whether I want a teaching position or a research position--to me, they go hand in hand).  But I also think that our university system is antiquated and needs to be not just reformed but completely deposed and replaced with learning of the future.

It is no longer the case that information is hard to come by.  It is no longer the case that only a handful of people in the world understand calculus or Newtonian laws of motion.  It is no longer the case that numbers seem mystical with magic properties (ok, yes, there are those crazy numerologists, but I mean the general public).  One does not need to pay thousands of dollars of tuition in order to learn the basics of biology or astronomy.

I very much approve of all of the online learning resources that I have come across, particularly the free ones.  The Khan Academy is a…

Fornification against evil

Rant time.  This is why I think Christianity (and all religion) is not a force for good in the world, but rather a force for evil and immorality.  San Diego Christian College fired a woman for having pre-marital sex.  Who did they hire as her replacement?  The man she was having sex with.  I know.  I thought it was crazy too.  I thought "No way.  That has to be an Onion article or something."  It's true.  It really did happen.

So, first there's the hypocrisy.  They allegedly don't want the woman working for them because she had sex without being married to the person she's sleeping with.  Well, if that was their real reason for firing her (and not actually the fact that she's pregnant, which would be illegal for them to fire her for) then why did they hire her lover?  If she was having premarital sex then he was too (unless he was having an affair with her, but that wasn't the case).

Second, there's the crazy micromanagement of people's lives…

A Fantasy Finale

To this day, I think I must say that Final Fantasy 7 is my all-time favorite game.  I have spent more hours playing that game than any other game, with the possible exception of Lord of the Rings Online. I have played from the beginning to the end of the game no fewer than a dozen times.  I have beat the end boss and the two optional bosses countless times, perhaps even into the triple digits.  I have bred the fastest possible gold chocobo, I have obtained several of each kind of master materia (all without cheating).  I have spent hundreds of hours playing that game.

The single most poignant point in the game is at the very end of the first disc (there are three) when Sephiroth kills Aeris, who is the only remaining Ancient and therefore the only one who can summon Holy to stop Meteor.  It is a very emotional scene.  When I first started playing the game, I hated that part (mostly because she's my favorite character).  Over the years I have come to appreciate it and the emotion i…

How NOT to launch a game

When I was quite young, my dad had a Mac and a game called "SimCity".  I was enthralled by this game.  You could build a city.  You needed police stations to fight crime, fire departments to prevent and clean up fires, and power plants to power all the buildings.  I played it hours on end.  I've never been a violent person, and while I enjoy playing video games which are violent in nature, I usually wish that they were less violent.  This game was perfect because I could play it without killing anyone. And it was tons of fun.

Then, they made SimCity 2000 and 3000, and then SimCity 4.  I probably played SC2K the most because I never got 3K and I only got 4 just a couple years ago.  Each one was an improvement on the last.  In fact, the original game to SC2K was probably the biggest improvement.  So, you can imagine how excited I was near the 3rd or 4th quarter of last year when I found out that Maxis (now a brand of EA) was developing a new SimCity game.  (Of course, I th…

Park West

So, Conrad and I were invited to a church by a lady who helped us out when my car broke down.  We decided to go today.  It was quite different from an LDS service, but approximately what I was expecting from the way she described it to us.  It's a group that meets in the gym of the Park West church.

The thing that stuck out to me the most was the mind-numbing nature of the songs.  The first half hour of the service (aside from the opening prayer) was taken up with these songs.  They were very simple songs with extremely repetitive lyrics, as is much of the pop music that's made these days.  Essentially, they'd just sing about "We love Jesus" and "Heal us, Oh Lord".  A very simple message repeated ad nauseam.  I noticed that nearly all of the people there were really getting into it.  Almost everyone was standing, many people were waving one or two hands in the air, and several were singing along with the lyrics.  One woman actually worked herself into …