The Quest for Meaning

There has been lots of talk recently of doing away with ‘religion’ altogether. This would be the wonderful manifestation of a truly enlightened society. I woke up and thanked God for the day. The ‘enlightened society’ thanks no one.

Methinks the thanks is thwarted heretofore in the process.

What would it look like, if we could actually abolish religion? Would we be a calmer – –  more reasonable species – – intent on furthering mankind?

Why?

‘Truth’ is the casualty of marginalizing religion.

It isn’t that religion is truth, for it is not, but the search for truth is the sole thread searing through all religions. This isn’t a religious stance, but a truthful one. Mine isn’t an argument for religion, but for truth. We can only find what we seek. If we stop seeking truth, what then, will we find?

This has brought us empiricism, and I love empiricists. They adhere to life’s testable, reliable facts. ‘Proof’ is what they seek. They insist: if it isn’t empirical, it cannot be relied upon. Empiricism – for them – is the only viable way to reaching the truth in any matter.

Empiricism: What a concept.

Truth (as we know it) isn’t pliable, but it does change. This is an empirical truth.

Atheists, unbeknownst to them, insist on non-logical processes. Oh, they may say: “Think about it! Be logical…” but they are depending on a non-logical process to bring about a ‘logical mind’. Without a logical predecessor, logic itself is the outcropping of an illogical process.

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”

-Albert Einstein

There is truth, and it is ‘out there’. In fact, it very well may be ‘out of this world’. If life has meaning, something other than our minds, (and their neighboring cousins,) is responsible. When being brutally honest with themselves, atheists will admit that ‘meaning’ is just a comforting delusion. Barring the quest for ‘ultimate truth’, meaning isn’t just illusory. It is the ultimate illusion.

IMG_5535

We are truly responsible not by abolishing the quest for Ultimate Truth, but through seeking it ourselves.

Try accomplishing that without chafing against religion.

On Gay Marriage

Marriage is a religious institution. Marriage, whether it is mine or someone else’s, has nothing whatsoever to do with our government. Rest assured, though, if there is money to be made from any proposal brought before congress, it will surely pass. There might be resistance, but it will pass.

The conservative right will be all up in arms. This is not because they believe it is a legal issue, but because it goes against their religious beliefs.

The left will claim victory. This is not because their religious beliefs have been substantiated, but because it coddles their political perspective.

But just you wait. The lawyers will rejoice. Champagne corks will be as loud as the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Political expedience will always surpass religious agendas, in congress, every day of the week. Let’s not forget: an enormous conglomerate of politicians have already passed the bar. They know what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

And the gander are flocking to be fleeced by the geese.

Divorce: You just can’t have it without marriage. There is no money to be made on a gay couple who separates. For that you need ‘legality’. Once the courts become involved, the money will flow into the hands of lawyers like oil spilling into the gulf. The environmental impact from the Gulf spill will be nothing compared to the lawyers impact on the bank accounts of divorcing gay couples.

Although nobody gets married to get divorced, the courts cannot benefit until gay marriage becomes a legally sanctioned financial sieve.

Religious practices aren’t governmentally sponsored, condoned, condemned, or restricted. In the United States, laws aren’t supposed to be made which violate any religious practice. From a purely legal perspective, there is no reason gay couples shouldn’t have equal legal rights.

I’m just not so sure they deserve equal rights to the legal fleece.

Hiromi

Last weekend, my friend Win wanted to go see Hiromi in Boston. I had wanted to see her ever since I discovered her – thanks to my friend Andro – about a year and a half ago.

When I saw the video he posted, I immediately thought: “Who is this piano player?”

After that, I began perusing the internet in search for videos of her. The moment my wife got home from work I said, “You have to see this piano player.” In typical fashion, she wasn’t readily impressed. But by the time the video finished, she was hooked.

For my birthday, she bought me 5 Hiromi CD’s. They are all excellent. She is my all time favorite keyboardest, and when I went, Taryn was jealous. She knew I was about to experience something magical, something special… an evening with Hiromi.

Win and I had dinner at the adjoining restaurant, and Hiromi sat at the adjacent table, not 4 feet from me. I was respectful. I didn’t let on to knowing how close I was to immortality. That is what she is. No bullcrap. Hiromi is a world class pianist.

Although I love to be wowed, I reserve that status for the deserving. Few have ever achieved it. I remember King Crimson at The Pier in the 80’s had me wowed for hours. I am sure Frank Zappa achieved that status over the myriad of Halloween shows I saw.

Recently, I was wowed by The Tao of Drumming. This was yet another Win-musical-fest. Win told me about it, and I went with my daughter. That was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time, and gets my highest recommendation for anyone who has ever believed music has the capacity to move them.

Hiromi.

You know when someone tells you you have got to see a movie, because it is the greatest movie you will ever see? You know that feeling of disappointment you feel when it fails to live up to the hype?

Nothing could ever live up to my expectations for Hiromi. She was placed on a pedestal reserved for the best ever. After all, she was a she, and couldn’t, therefore, be worthy of ‘ultimate’ status.

Hiromi failed – – to disappoint.

After seeing the first of her 2 shows, Win and I went to the adjoining bar to imbibe at great cost to our wallets, health and mental well-being. Then we went back in to the second show and caught her last few songs. Win said to me: “You mean we could have been here instead of up at the bar?”

Apparently so.

Hiromi is, in my opinion, the best piano player in the world. I tried to diss her after being wowed, I really did. I thought, ‘well, she is fast, but can she play with feeling and emotion’?

I saw her live. The jury is in, and spent no time on that decision.

It is my hope to treat my wife to an upcoming Hiromi Concert. She deserves it, and I deserve to treat my wife to this event.

I’ll suffer through, if I must.

Evolutionary Predecessors to the Flat Earth

People once thought the earth was flat.

I think this concept falls flat. In the WAY olden days, people didn’t hop into their Lexus with GPS, and chat on their cell phones to find a latte on the flat earth.

The ROUND Earth is so logic laden, it defies explanation. Anyone with even the slightest tendency to discern ‘how things work’ should come to ‘believe’ the earth is probably round.

Let’s go back in time: Your home is a campsite. Most likely, this is where the majority of people spent their time. You notice the sun rising over yonder past that big tree in the morning, then setting over the lake in the late afternoon. You can’t help to notice that it does this every day.

Every evening the moon comes up from the direction of that big tree, and goes down over the lake.

An Earth-centric Universe seems a logical premise to those without modern technology, but a flat earth? Really? Where do the sun, moon, and stars go, after descending beyond the lake? How do they come back up, (and in the same approximate spot,) every day? Are they rolling across the underbelly of the flat earth until they push out and ‘rise’ over the big tree? Do the oceans spill out over the edge? Why do the waves keep crashing into the shore?

Seems round is more logical – – like the shape of the moon!

I also don’t see how evolution precludes creation.

Evolution is proof that life comes from life. This forms the foundation for every single cell within any evolutionary process, ever.

Life didn’t evolve from non-life. The first life was not evolution: that process began after life.

The core of evolution is it’s most tangible proof : life never produces life – – without a living predecessor.

The evolutionary process has nothing to do with life’s inception.

Every life came from the life before. Without this mandate, evolution would be unable to operate – in theory or in practice – even for a nanosecond.

The moment any life isn’t a byproduct of evolutionary processes, evolution’s explanatory power becomes flaccid. If abiogenesis could ever be proved, it would disprove evolution is needed for life. Nothing more, nothing less.

Even God is powerless to defy evolutionary processes more than that.

That is, more or less, the dawning of a rapidly expanding universe within the conceptual confines of science.

Cell-phone upgrade?

By the time you read this, it has likely already been done. I have caved in to the pressure to make my cellular telephone into the modern-day phone/computer bandied about by oodles of adults squinting at the palm of their hand.

I hate it.

This requires not just a decision, but a commitment. I don’t have a problem with decisions – – but commitments are another story altogether.

I have a 2004 Honda Odyssey wagon. It has a CD player, a GPS, and a DVD player. This probably added almost 3 grand to the purchase price. All of these functions are now available in a cell phone.

Many people stay on top of current technologies, especially the Mac-o-philes: They had the I-phone the first week on the market… same with the I-pad. What was once ‘cutting edge’ now seems to have taken on a much more sinister look. It has become The Pride of The Wasteful: “I bought this for 15 hundred dollars a year ago and it is worth almost 200 bucks today.”

I thought my 04 car was cutting edge. When purchased, I believed this would keep me ahead of the curve. But here is the really daunting perspective: Has technology finally advanced so quickly it has become instantly irrelevant?

My current cell phone makes calls. I can send and receive text messages. If the file is not too big, I can get a picture message. That is it. A few years ago, the text thing wasn’t around. That feature would be considered ‘the balls’. It is a mode of communication I truly despise. Compare that with an available technology that falls under the radar: You can record a message, and send it to another phone. Though this has been available for over a decade, nobody uses it. Perhaps it seems too impersonal. Is that even possible?

Spending time looking down at my phone – and punching digits – is a waste of time, energy, and sensory input. This assessment must be mine alone, since texting is extremely popular. In fact, spending time with friends is often spending time with a friend and their phone. They can’t get away from it, and you can’t get away from ‘it’ without getting away from them. 

So do you ask your friends to turn their phone off? Seems – oddly – rude! Imagine how far we have come as a society. Years ago it would be considered rude to talk on a cell phone at a cash register. Now it is commonplace, and interrupting the chat – in order to be present – is rude.

My cell doesn’t work properly. The call waiting feature hasn’t worked for years. I’m not aware of new messages for days. Sometimes service drops for no good reason. Recently the owner of the company I work for called me, and I didn’t get his message for 2 weeks.

But it isn’t simply a phone, it is a whole ‘plan’ decision. I am not under contract, so I could change carriers. Since everyone who has a phone hates their carrier (as everyone who has cable hates their cable company,) most would be delighted to give the middle finger to their provider. I try not to fall prey to this mindset, tempting as it is.

The upgrade would give me roving internet capabilities, and always-available GPS. I would be able to find restaurants and coffee shops with just a few finger movements. I could watch TV. I could read ‘stuff’, during down times, while waiting for scheduled stuff to come to fruition! I could check my email…

This the problem.

I don’t want to be ‘the guy’ who is observed looking at the palm of his hand. This is how a cell phone allows your life to pass by. ‘Life’ is right there in front of you. Is the item in your palm more interesting, pressing, or are you just obsessing?

Technology has taken people away from personal interactions. This has been replaced by a private, cerebral interchange. This isn’t just bad for the mind, it is bad for the spirit. We need to follow our heart, guided by our mind to the lives beyond the screen. This allows us to be positive members of society. Sometimes it even results in boredom.

Nobody has mental down-time anymore.

Imagine yourself on the beach at sunset. There is a warm breeze blowing across your face. The sound of seagulls is mixing with the waves crashing on the sand. Your feet are in the sand, and the water rushes over them and is drawn back out to sea. The sunset is orange bleeding into the blue sky, and a quarter moon can be seen in the distance, weaving in and out of the small wisps of clouds.

If your iphone had batteries, you could ignore it all.

Depressed, you leave this scene and retreat – – to charge the source of all happiness the world has to offer.

There is a world out there, and a world of people missing it.

What in the world has come over us?

People nowadays

Music

I’m an ‘outside in’ musician. Before I ever played, I fell in love with music. I soaked it up. I had freed music from it’s external abode so it could come out of me.

I love all sorts of music. One of my favorite past times is sitting at the computer, doing work (or playing around,) and having my musical library on random. Hard to soft, classical to eclectic, jazz to metal. It is all vital. It is all good.

There isn’t a musical genre I dislike. Sure, I have favorites. There are categories which are sparse, or even non-existent. But I have yet to hear a genre which repelled my sensibilities categorically. I understand there is music designed to do just that, but I often love it for that very reason.

I relate to the world in musical terms. There are chords, chord changes, varying rhythms and textures. Some of it is intense and in your face. Other parts are barely discernible, and go by unnoticed. With life you can’t just back it up and hear it again. You snooze you lose. If you don’t appreciate life as it happens, you can’t go back. The music keeps moving.

Some life is dissonant. Minor chords abound. Simplicity is often best, and most beautiful.

But it is really about the truth of music. It can’t be nailed down. You can’t ‘freeze frame’ music. Music is motion. Life is motion.

The best parts of life are appreciated by few people. Popular life is BS. Many people will claim to enjoy things, but few people understand the things they claim to enjoy. Truth, though hidden right in the fabric, can often deceive.

Here’s my secret admission: I enjoy having access to multiple audio sources. In the privacy of my own little office, I will start 6 pieces of music simultaneously. I then limit the scope of music to a single elongated song, in some cases, or set timers in others. The random music from the computer would be the constant, and one final musical piece will prevail as the soul source – – after about a half hour. 6 becomes 5, then 4, 3, 2… those two would mix for a while until the lone musical number will play out in what suddenly seems an immensely structured form, regardless of genre.

Music needs to breathe. I find ‘stuffing up music’s congestive cracks’ to be an enjoyable mental exercise, and one that no two people would hear the same way. As it finally pairs down to a single piece, music is once again allowed to breathe. Like the allergies which give us headaches from our inability to breathe, the lone piece becomes a breath of fresh air.

(So is silence.)

Does it Track?

The government needs more power.

If the government had more power, then they would be able to work EVEN MORE magic than they already do. A smaller government would decrease their power to give us all this fabulousity.

Size is so important to Our Government as to be omnipotent. There is a war on. That means we need a military. We need to protect ourself against the enemy. The enemy is called ‘terrorism’. Since our enemy has neither a face nor a place, military spending must be unlimited. That is the only way to ever rid the world of all the evil that just might be coming out of your neighbor’s stereo system at this very moment.

Healthcare: Since everyone needs healthcare, the government simply needs to increase spending in order to regulate more insurance (thereby creating more pharmaceutical outlets) enabling everyone to be on drugs: If you are 5 and figity, you are ADD. Ritilin or some other wonderful drug for children will be put into the General Consensus Soup, spilling out onto our playgrounds and coursing through our public school systems. This will eventually create a need for psychiatrists at every school, justifying even still yet more money for bigger government.

The bigger, better – new and improved – larger government is welcomed as an increased benefit for taxpayers. The monstrous vats and coffers required to pool, skim, and subsidize our increased needs are demanded by the voters.

Here’s the sales pitch: Until the government gets close to 90% of all the wealth in this country, it will just not be able to operate properly. (And I have only begun to touch on some of the expensive stuff.)

Is it just us, or is this Government tailor-made for an ailing country?

People are as healthy as they are un-medicated. Whenever pharmaceuticals increase, populations become less healthy. The current healthcare system is to thank for our medication dependence and subsequent decrease in overall health.

Not to be outdone, our government wants a piece of the action.

Enter: Obamacare. Once this kicks in, more and more medicated people from all walks of life will be wandering aimlessly in hospital corridors waiting to be given their latest prescription, enabling the pharmaceutical company profits to skyrocket even further. The moment Obamacare reduces pharmaceutical use in the USA, I will bow, and insist everyone else does the same.

Any idea needs to follow a line of reasoning which makes sense throughout. Ideas need to ‘track’. For example: if you go to the doctor and you are healthy, you don’t come away with a prescription do you? Imagine your doctor saying: “Hey, everything is great. Just fantastic! I am going to put you on these meds… just to make sure that doesn’t change.”

Does it track: Does this seem to track with your experience? How many people do you know who are on one med, and one ONLY? The argument that ‘we are living longer’ is paid for by the system that administers these drugs. Yes we are living longer, but – – is that really because of all the 90-somethings scoffing down 17 prescriptions a day?

Increasing the time before life expires does not increase the life modern medicine has managed to sustain.

The internet is fabulous for those who use it properly. However, what is ‘proper’ is completely unregulated by government. Am I the only one who believes hard-core pornography shouldn’t be instantaneously accessible to anyone with internet access? The Government has done nothing to crack down on free internet pornography, but not to worry: they do keep tabs on all we do here.

While I can’t fathom the internet was invented to allow the government to keep tabs on all of us, what a spectacularly invasive Governmental Glom! Henry Ford never created the automobile with the idea of restricting our freedom, but that is what a ‘motor vehicle’ does. Unregistered ‘freedom’ likely results in large financial penalties, or even jail time. Any perceived freedom comes at a cost far greater than your registration, or the gas at the pump, or the plane ticket.

In the 21st century, your movement costs you your freedom.

Our government doesn’t need to design invasive entities. They need only to regulate the inventions. This allows their Orwellian Fingers to grope every skin-tag in our lives. You can’t buy your way out, either. The more money you have, the more invasive technology pervades your life. Poor people are just too damn hard to track. Why do you suppose that is?

ABORT THE MISSION: The abortion issue is easy if you don’t care about life. I think parents should have the right to abort their child when they are in Middle School: “Sorry, son. Your mother and I have been reevaluating. On second thought, forget your mother… I have been reevaluating.”

Look at the News: Fox News gets a bad rap. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, and all the other forms of information gleaned from a source called ‘media’ are controlled by the same corporations. As a result, news programs are largely responsible for dumbing down America. Interestingly, the most reliable source of information is the internet – – which (overall) has a lower reliability than the media outlets. (It’s a quantity thing).

Behind the scenes, our Democratic President is mucking up our country.

‘Say one thing, do another,’ is the battlecry of politics. ‘The people will fight our battles for us. We can just sit here in Washington lapping up champange with the opposing party.’ True partisanship is in the college electorate. A candidates speech defines their beliefs as much as William Shatner’s world view is defined by the words he uttered on Star Trek.

Before you pull the levers, do some research. I am not talking about the issues themselves. The issues are just ‘talking points’ designed to make the pavlovian electorate drool with common conviction. Real research comes from finding the funding filling the campaign trail coffers. You can’t be The American Cancer Society and have a great deal of funding come from Philip Morris… can you?

I like Ron Paul, but this is his swan song. The enormous funding sources aren’t interested in someone they can’t control. He means what he says, and nobody is going to fund that disaster. Where does his campaign money come from? (Hint: it’s not Big Business.)

The words spoken by politicians don’t reflect who they are, and what they believe. Politicians on the campaign trail only utter what they believe will get the vote. Why else would every elected president be full of promises which pop like bubble wrap? A few years later they hold up their tattered bubble-wrapped promises, and point to the two (intact) bubbles – the promises kept – stating, “I keep my promises.” While farcical, it rings of truth, right at election time. (Ain’t that a coincidence?)

Ayn Rand. George Carlin. Frank Zappa. They were the last of the true free thinkers. I don’t know of anyone alive who gives me confidence in the future of our society. America has become a sloth of sedentary beings – operating on pre-packaged ideas – fueled, funneled and funded by the government.

Happy voting!

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