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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Going Cold Turkey

I quit coffee after finals. It’s so expensive on campus, there isn’t a meal plan for the summer, and I’d kind of like to go without an addiction for three months. So far, it’s been going well. There was a rough week or so after I came home that I craved the taste of a particular flavor, but I didn’t have access to it, so I ignored it pretty well.

Then it started again, out of nowhere. Well, maybe not out of nowhere–lately the guys I work with have been sending out for coffee. So now there are days when I’m surrounded by coffee, and it’s so hard to keep my resolve. I can only remind myself that I have no change on me, but today that barely helped.

See, I’ve been sick since I had mono, and when I’m not sick I’m exhausted. Today was one of the latter days. I haven’t been sleeping well lately because of the heat, and my fan seems to bring on allergy attacks. So today I almost gave in. Almost. The smell nearly made me insane.

I’ll be fine, in the end. Today just reminded me there’s a reason I don’t take money to work: if I spent it all on coffee, I’d have very little left.

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

In Which I am Unusually Productive

This has been a strangely productive summer. For one, I have a job. For another, not being able to depend on another person to make my food seems to have increased my desire to cook (though it hasn’t taken away the dread).

Here’s what I’ve done this summer (in no particular order):

  • Walked to Wegmans. I did this yesterday, and was so proud afterward that I ate lunch at Subway and bought ice cream on the way back home. Needless to say, I spent more money than I ever wanted to spend.
  • Cooked a casserole. Macaroni and cheese and chicken. Yum.
  • Practiced saxophone. The only reason I stopped was because of the flood that closed the music building a few weeks ago. For a while there I was getting up early, at least.
  • Wrote the draft of an introduction. Sure, it was assigned, but I worked on it every day at work until it was fit to see the light of day. Now I just need to apply that to my creative work, and I’m set.
  • Got results which made no sense, and found out how to fix them. This one is work-related. I’m a physics research assistant, and needless to say something always goes wrong. Hopefully this time will be better.
  • Finished two seasons of X-Files. I hate cliffhangers.
  • Found a new favorite book. Review to come soon.
  • Speaking of books, I’ve finished three already, and am working on my fourth. This is the most reading I’ve done in a long, long time.
  • Began reading three textbooks in earnest: Inorganic Chemistry, Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers, and Cauldrons in the Cosmos: Nuclear Astrophysics. They’re all challenging, especially for a sophomore physics major, but they’re so interesting. They make it easier for me to ignore my longing for homework. To give an idea of what I mean by “challenging,” I’m taking General Chemistry this year and will need the second book for my next two physics classes. Don’t look at me like that. Haven’t you ever wanted to learn more about things you don’t know much about? And who doesn’t like astrophysics?
  • Started working on a new short story. See the fourth bullet for why this may turn out to be a major accomplishment.

And to think the summer isn’t over yet!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Murder is wrong–but only sometimes

Genocide is wrong.

I don’t remember when exactly I learned that–it could have been from a book, or in class, or even from my parents. Whichever is was, the only important part is that I picked that up at some point or another

When I was a junior in high school, I was in an IB English class. For those who don’t know, the IB English curriculum dictates two papers on world literature, which are to be completed in either the first or second year of the program and shipped off to somewhere else in the world at the end of the second year.

One of the options for one of the papers was The Odyssey, by Homer.

Now, I hate to spoil the ending of a book, so I’ll try to keep out all the minor details. There’s a point in the book where Odysseus is told by the gods to kill fifty people. He does, and is duly rewarded.

While the class talked about how he obeyed his gods’ orders, I talked about how Odysseus was hearing voices telling him to kill people. In today’s world we call that schizophrenia, I argued. At what point does religious obeisance translate to murder? At what point does that become a problem, one that we in the United States now call a serious psychological problem? Is murder ever justified, even if it is committed on religious grounds? This was my topic, I decided. Unfortunately, my ideas were still raw, and I hadn’t quite reached that last question when I proposed my topic. My English teacher denied my request, saying that I might get a low grade because it offended the scorer.

That was unfair, I thought. Students should be graded on the merits of their paper, the validity of their interpretation, and their ability to carry their argument. Questioning religion should mean absolutely nothing with respect to my grade. I’m sad to say I gave in to my teacher’s request–now I can’t even remember what I wrote about, it was that unimportant to me. Portrayals of men and women throughout history, probably, a topic which usually bores me to death on a good day. The only time I can ever stand reading about anything like it is when I read Clarissa’s Blog, but that’s another story for another day.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. If I can see that genocide is wrong, that killing people is wrong, even on religious grounds, why is it that elementary schools have to allow people to teach that genocide is right if it’s in the name of God?

Let’s take a step back. These people see elementary schools as potential missions. Their goal is to convert children to a specific brand of Christianity, the most outspoken members of which have a tendency to claim the following (in no particular order, and often all at once):

1.) Abortion is wrong because murder is wrong*.

2.) This is the United States, not Nazi Germany.

3.) This is the United States, not the Soviet Union.

So, murder is wrong, but genocide on religious grounds is just fine? How does that work? Since when is genocide not murder?

Oh, but they’ll be punished anyway, when they die and find themselves barred from Heaven. Regardless of their morality, their code of ethics, or their own beliefs. Someone can be the most moral, ethical person in the world, but if they don’t have this highly specific system of beliefs, they’re not going to Heaven. Regardless of whether they believe in Heaven or not.

I’d be perfectly fine with it if anyone thought I was going to be punished in the afterlife for not following their beliefs. Does that mean I agree with them? No. Does that give anyone the right to try to “reeducate me,” and teach me the “error of my ways?” Absolutely not. I personally don’t care what you think of my beliefs or what will happen when I die. So don’t pretend that it’s some personal affront to yourself when I tell you I don’t believe what you want me to believe. If you like to walk around with your eyes closed, completely content that “it’s all for the best,” then go ahead**.

Clarissa is completely correct when she says that the more people state that we’re not the Soviet Union, the more these peoples’ policies appear identical to the Soviet Union (or Nazi Germany, as the case may be). Here are people who will freely tell you that genocide is barbaric, that murder is wrong, but it’s okay if it’s done in the name of God. In the Soviet Union, Lenin was treated as a god, and communism as religion. Therefore, all murders and imprisonments and genocides committed in the name of communism were perfectly fine, right?

But, Fundamentalist Christians will tell you, that doesn’t count, because Lenin was not God, and neither was Stalin, and neither was Hitler. And communism is not Christianity. So that makes them wrong. They can’t commit murders in the name of God, because they didn’t share our exact brand of Christianity, if they were Christians at all.

So, no one but Fundamentalist Christians can commit murder in the name of God, and they’ll not only be forgiven by God for committing murder or genocide or what have you, but they’ll also be rewarded.

I have to agree with Larisa on this. At what point will people stop taking the┬áBible so literally that they completely ignore their own religion’s basic tenets? Rather than obey blindly as in Orwell’s 1984***, is it not better that we keep our eyes and ears open? Is it not better that we learn to think for ourselves?

If murder is wrong, then it’s wrong. There are no exceptions. Not even in the name of God. We have a name now for those people who have committed murder “in the name of God,” and we call it “mentally unstable.” You can’t just go around killing people and claiming that even though God said “thou shalt not kill,” he also said “kill this person, for they have sinned.” Because that, my friend, is a direct contradiction within Fundamentalist Christian teachings.

How can any Fundamentalist Christian claim that history will never repeat itself because we live in an enlightened Information Age when members of this group are essentially promoting the beliefs behind the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition? How can anyone tell me that McCarthyism was wrong, that Stalin was wrong, that Hitler was wrong, and then turn around and be willing to commit the exact same crimes in the name of their God?

If murder can never be justified, then why is it that this is exactly what these people are trying to do?

*I’ve written more about this statement here.

**Bonus points if anyone can guess what book I reference here.

***Anyone else find it funny that Fundamentalist Christians try to ban this book because it supports exactly the blind obedience they promote, but in a negative context?

Before taking offense at this post, please note that I am not claiming that all Fundamentalist Christians believe this. The ones who do just happen to be very outspoken.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Uncategorized