Thursday, July 30, 2015

I've been slipping on my craft sodas lately. I went to Michigan and bought a 12 pack of Vernor's, so that's been my primary soda drinking. Here's another one from Bruce Cost. Their plain ginger ale was very good so I thought I'd try their ginger ale with Jasmine tea. As expected it was just as good, with a taste of Jasmine Tea. Nothing much else to report. The unfiltered bits at the bottom looked a little weirder, and they clumped up, I couldn't get them mixed in, but it didn't matter. The taste was consistent throughout. I was expecting some bitter tea taste in that last swig, but it didn't happen.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Advice on Life

Just another one of those passing thoughts at the height of summer as I try to get the garage painted and the woods cleared. I recently found out about from I recommend both. I found this bit from a young Hunter S. Thompson, who is asked for advice on life and starts out pointing out how impossible that is and how arrogant it would be to try, then he pulls it off.

He does it by not offering any advice, but talks to his friend about setting himself on a path of self discovery. He doesn't give any actual advice, like "be a fireman" or "do what you love" or "follow your bliss" or "plastics!". Instead he says the answer lies in the questioner. The questioner has already taken the first step by asking the question. The answer is to keep asking.

Self reflection is a daily task, although not one to get obsessed with. Re-examining the landscape of everything out there is equally important, especially in this rapidly changing world we now find ourselves in.

Well, time to let Maria Popova walk you through this essay. Enjoy.

But, before you go, let me tell you where this sent my thoughts. I argue about politics, against libertarians, about God, against fundamentalists, about science, against anti-vaxxers, anti-GMOers, anti-global warmingers. And where these arguments often lead is to a point where my opponent finds completely unacceptable of the entire scientific method, including the integrity of our universities, the validity of peer review, the trustworthiness of government reports, the ability of experts to interpret data and the ability of anyone to verify that the data is accurate. It leaves me with nothing to build on since the only thing left is each of our opinions.

This attitude toward the modern world of delegation of authority and knowledge begins early. At some point you begin listening to the people that say a college degree has no value and that high schools are designed by capitalists who want to create subservient workers. There is some truth in there, that is, there are some horrible teachers and there are corporations that don't value human life, but it is not a vast conspiracy led by a secret cabal. That you can discuss the idea that it might be is evidence that it isn't.

To figure out if all or any of these systems are working, one merely needs to attempt to work within them, to create some change. Short of that, looking into the history of where these system came from will tell you a lot. If you can't find that documentary on your list of 80 stations, just think about basic high school history. At one point there were kings who cut your head off, now we have nations. At one point owning another human being was commonplace, now it's not. The Pope once had power over all of Europe, now he doesn't. Even if you weren't paying attention to exactly how we got from there to here, you have to accept that here is better and there must be a reason for that.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Why I think this world should end

I don’t think that, but this rapper does. Here’s a few of the lyrics from his poem:

Isn’t that special? Whenever I hear something like this, my first question is, compared to what? By “world”, he means this particular version of civilization, and that’s happened a lot. That’s why we have Mayan RUINS and the Great Wall is now just a tourist attraction and why we marvel at buildings built thousands of years ago that are still standing, but the people are gone. Civilizations end.

The difference today is scale. If you compare us to a primitive village, they polluted their streams, then they just moved away from it, upstream. Why did you think they were nomadic? Did they just like to travel? My favorite though is “education is shot”. This from a guy who knew more than most people in history by the time he was 10 years old. This from a guy who has a command of the English language and has uploaded it onto a world wide communication system that I watched from little cabin in the woods in mid-Northern nowhere.

And if you can’t live with yourself, get help.

So everyone’s medicated
We pass each other on the streets
And if we do speak it's meaningless robotic communication
More people want 15 seconds of fame
Than a lifetime of meaning and purpose
Because what’s popular is more important than what’s right
Ratings are more important than the truth
Our government builds twice as many prisons than schools
It’s easier to find a Big Mac than an apple

And when you find the apple
It's been genetically processed and modified

Presidents lie, politicians trick us
Race is still an issue and so is religion
Your God doesn’t exist, my God does and he is All-Loving
If you disagree with me I'll kill you
Or even worse argue you to death
You think that’s new? There are 7 billion people on this planet, someone’s talking about sex somewhere. And games change. Go get a dreidel if it makes you happy.

The average person watches 5 hours of television a day
And it's more violence on the screen than ever before

Again, before what? I grew up seeing the violence in Vietnam on TV. It’s why we ended Vietnam, because we were aware of it. Or we could go back to seeing violence in the streets, I’m not just talking about Detroit, go for a walk in Paris in the year 1420, be sure to wear your knife. Or how about that great civilization of Rome? The Pax Romana was maintained by killing anyone who threatened it. Then they’d nail you to a cross in public as an example, you might have heard of this practice.

Technology has given us everything we could ever want
And at the same time stolen everything we really need
Pride is at an all time high, humility, an all time low
Everybody knows everything, everybody’s going somewhere
Ignoring someone, blaming somebody

I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say this is intentional irony.

Not many human beings left anymore, a lot of human doings
Plenty of human lingerings in the past, not many human beings

Money is still the root of all evil
Yet we tell our kids don’t get that degree
The jobs don’t pay enough

Good deeds are only done when there's a profit margin
Videos of the misfortunes of others go viral
We laugh and share them with our friends to laugh with us
Our role models today
60 years ago would have been examples of what not to be

There are states where people can legally be discriminated against Because they were born a certain way

It’s natural to fear the unknown, those who aren’t like us. It is a survival mechanism that goes back to our earliest ancestors. We are now aware of it and are learning to trust and live together. Look at your main street and count how many different churches there are. Now show me a town in history, more than 500 years ago, that can beat that number. For most of human history, your leader decided what your religion was and if you didn’t like it, you had to leave. If you were lucky you could leave with all your body parts intact. Go back far enough and it wasn’t even called religion, it was just the culture of your tribe, your way of life.

Prejudice is taught, no doubt. But it is also created by a few people who’s fear of change and feelings of being threatened get out of hand and the blame they place is believed by others. Everyone is “born a certain way”, with different advantages, physical and social. We created this “all men are created equal” thing a mere 250 years ago, and we didn’t have it right then, we left out women, obviously, and everyone at the time knew they meant “white” men. We have since improved on it, but there is still work to be done.

If you don’t know this, you weren’t paying attention in High School history. Read a book. If you are learning this from a rap song, you’re behind in your education. We need you to get caught up and join those of us who are working toward a more just and peaceful world.

Companies invest millions of dollars hiring specialists to make Little girls feel like they need “make up” to be beautiful Permanently lowering their self esteem
Because they will never be pretty enough
To meet those impossible standards

I kinda covered this in the sex part above. Really? You think treating girls like sex objects is new? Really? Ever hear of foot-binding?

Corporations tell us buy, buy, buy, get this, get that
You must keep up, you must fit in
This will make you happy, but it never does for long
So what can we do in the face of all of this madness and chaos?
What is the solution? We can love
Not the love you hear in your favorite song on the radio
I mean real love, true love, boundless love
You can love, love each other
From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed
Perform an act of kindness because that is contagious
We can be mindful during every interaction
Planting seeds of goodness
Showing a little more compassion than usual
We can forgive
Because 300 years from now will that grudge you hold against Your friend, your mother, your father have been worth 
Instead of trying to change others we can change ourselves
We can change our hearts

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. This is a song. It’s not action, but it is a call to action, and we need that. What we don’t need is more angry people shaking their fists at things they don’t understand. It doesn’t do much good to get angry at those you say are making you angry. If that’s what they want, and you say it’s not what you want, then why are you doing it? Be angry, it’s an indicator that you’re alive, but you don’t need to feed that anger. Of course life is hard and something’s wrong. We used to live in trees until someone decided that was stupid. The question is, what are you going to do?

We have been sold lies
Brainwashed by our leaders and those we trust
To not recognize our brothers and sisters
And to exhibit anger, hatred and cruelty
But once we truly love we will meet anger with sympathy
Hatred with compassion, cruelty with kindness
Love is the most powerful weapon on the face of the Earth
Robert Kennedy once said that
Few will have the greatness to bend history
But each of us can work to change a small portion of events
And in the total of all those act
Will be written in the history of a generation
So yes, the world is coming to an end
And the path towards a new beginning starts within you