Friday, January 31, 2014

My Complicated Relationship with Pinterest

I've kind of been trying to do pinterest lately, and I've decided it isn't for me. Not because I don't see it's appeal. The problem is the food stuffs. See, I look at all the amazingly delicious-looking food that people pin and I get hungry. I mean look at this, how could I not?

link to recipe

So then I go to the fridge/cupboard and usually I've waited so long to eat that I've allowed my hunger to get to a place where I don't want to spend time actually preparing something. I think about all the time it would take to actually make something, and my stomach says to me, "no. feed me now." And, as Cato the Elder once said (as quoted by Plutarch), "It is a hard matter, my fellow citizens, to argue with the belly since it has no ears."

So in the end I usually settle on eating  scrambled eggs or hot dogs or frozen burritos or spaghettiOs. Which is satisfying enough. But then I go back to my computer and see the pictures of the coconut waffles with pomegranate syrup and three layers of coconut flavor or the feta, onion and spinach quesadillas that made me hungry in the first place. And Then I feel a little ashamed. And then defiant. And then slightly embarrassed.

Which leads me to conclude that I could avoid all that trouble by just not Pinteresting.

Friday, January 24, 2014

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Fact 1: It's 12:23 am.

Fact 2: I have to teach in a couple hours. (7 to be precise)

So can the BYU game get over soon, please? It's bad enough that they had to start  it at 10 pm ET, but now we're on to 2OT.

Oh well, I guess sleep will just have to continue being that elusive mistress that she is.


Edit 12:46 am: Oh Come On!! On to a 3rd Overtime?!? This is getting ridiculous.


Edit 12:58 am: Screw it; I'm going to bed. I'll check the score in the morning.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Eva, Again

It's incredible to me that she can take a corny 80s song, and turn it into something so emotionally evocative. You listen to this song and you just can't help but to feel. Now don't get me wrong, I love me some Cyndi Lauper every now and then, but you can't deny the song is corny. 

But Eva, man, Eva. I mean, it's like she just gets me. You know?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Head Asplode

First of all, you gotta hand it to Gorgias. After reading Gorgias,Westley's words to Vezzini never ranger truer:

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Allow me to illustrate what I mean.

Here follows a part of something I'm reading for class tomorrow. It's an excerpt from a  "fragment" of a Greek text explaining Gorgias' views "On Not Being." Basically Gorgias is out to prove that nothing exists. Yes, you read that right.

Check it out:

"Now he (Gorgias) concludes in the following way that nothing exists: If [anything] exists, either the existent exists or the nonexistent or both the existent exists and the nonexistent. But, as he will establish, neither does the existent exist nor the nonexistent, as he will make clear, nor the existent and [the]  nonexistent, as he will also teach. It is not the case then that anything exists.

"More specifically, the nonexistent does not exist; for if the nonexistent exists, it will both exist and not exist at the same time, for insofar as it is nonexistent it will, on the other hand, exist. It would, however, be entirely absurd for something to exist and at the same time not exist. The nonexistent, therefore, does not exist. And to state another argument, if the nonexistent exists, the existent will not exist, for these are opposites to each other, and if existence is an attribute of the nonexistent, nonexistence will be an attribute of the existent. But it is not, in fact, true that the existent does not exist.  [Accordingly], neither will the nonexistent exist..." 

And it continues on in this vein for some time.

Just go ahead and mull that one over for a little while. As you do, you will likely come to the same conclusion I have:

Somebody should set up a fake Gorgias twitter account and post incomprehensible philosophical tweets. I'd definitely follow that.

(10 points for my second blog post in two weeks with a homestarrunner reference.)
(yes, I just awarded myself 10 points.)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Some Thoughts on Gay Marriage

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time. Several years, in fact. This has become an increasingly important issue for me over the years, and with the recent changes happening in Utah, my home state, it’s become an ever more pressing issue. What finally pushed me to write out my current thoughts on the subject was a post written by one of my best friends in this world.

This is kind of a heavy topic, so first here's a happy picture of a field with my favorite flowers in it:

Okay, on to business.

The first thing I want to say is that this issue is a lot more nuanced than I think most people give it credit for. Much of the public discourse I see surrounding the issue seems to operate from the assumption that the solution is black and white. I don’t think it’s that clear. There are those who say, “Homosexuality is sin and not marriage and it shoudn’t be allowed, period.” And there are those who say, “Homosexuality is my identity and I deserve the same rights as you do, period.” And then they proceed to yell a lot and get angry at each other. But that kind of discussion goes nowhere and does nothing but increase the level of contention in the world. I hate contention. So consider this my attempt to try and push the conversation in a more productive and civil direction.

Now before I get into exploring my views on the subject, I want to say that there is no way I can possibly address all of my thoughts on all the different threads of this question. There are so many different arguments that get brought up when we start delving into this matter that there’s no way I can possibly touch on them all. Among the many threads, the most prevalent is the question of what does the word “marriage” mean. Related to that question, we have the question of human rights, the question of societal impact one way or another, and perhaps most important on an individual level there’s the question of identity. With this blog post I’m not going to try and address the question of societal impact, mostly because I’m no expert and I don’t want to pretend authority that I don’t have. Also, the question of identity is only going to be mentioned briefly, though I find it a very compelling question that I might revisit sometime in the future. Mostly, I want to talk about the word “marriage” and how I think that much of our current disagreement and contention on the subject stems from the fact that we aren’t operating from a commonly held understanding of the word. Thus, while the defining of this word should be the argument that is being held, it usually is not. And I find that frustrating. So I’d like to try and clarify the differing definitions of marriage so that we can maybe start working towards a mutually acceptable solution to the problem.

First I want to put my cards on the table. I have long been opposed the legalization of gay marriage, largely for religious reasons, though I have somewhat softened my views on the subject over the years. I know that’s a very unpopular opinion for many people, so let me explain how I see this issue, and why I think taking a hard line stance in either direction is impossible.

The word “marriage” brings with it a lot of baggage. Like it or not, the word carries with it strong moral, ethical, and religious connotations.  Now I don’t pretend to be any great religious scholar or theologian, but looking at two examples we can begin to see how deeply connected marriage is to religious traditions, specifically Christianity.  I am not very familiar with the specific place of marriage within Protestant Christianity beyond being able to say that I know that they view it as a holy act done in the presence of and often consciously including God. As such I don’t want to misrepresent their specific beliefs so I’ll not discuss them further. That said, the examples I want to look at are of Catholicism and my own religion Mormonism.

First let’s look at the Roman Catholic Church. In the Roman Catholic Church, marriage is a “sacrament,” a word derived from the Latin word sacramentum which means “sign of the sacred.” explains saying, “The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence.” While I am expressly describing Roman Catholic traditions, a cursory review of sources shows that the Eastern Orthodox traditions hold similar views of marriage as a sacrament.

In Mormonism we take a similar understanding of marriage. For us Mormons, marriage, when performed in a temple by one authorized of God, isn’t just an institution of this Earth, but one that extends through eternity. It’s a promise that you make both with your partner and with God as well. Marriage is deeply connected with our faith, our understanding of God and our relationship with him, and our eternal potential. In these religious understandings of marriage God prescribes that they be done between a man and a woman.

While these religious views of marriage are not universally held, we can’t escape the fact that when we talk about marriage in the public discourse, this is what much of the religious population is hearing. They hear “marriage,” and they think “man, woman, God.” They think of marriage as a sign of the sacred. So it’s easy to see why they view homosexual marriage as something abhorrent. If you view homosexual relations as morally debase and outright sin before God, and then have someone come in and try to link that view of that way of life with that sign of the sacred, then you are going to react in such a way that reflects how repugnant that is to you. This is where much of the religious population is coming from.

Now the debate can be had concerning the morality of homosexuality, but that is an expressly different discussion from the one I’m trying to outline here. It’s a different discussion because we all have different definitions of “morality,” which go far beyond sexual preferences. What’s important to take from this is that for a large percentage of the American population, this is their reality. This is why there is such concern among the religious about how this might affect public policy concerning freedom of religion. Marriage is a part of their religions, and so to redefine it is for the government to change their religion. The two issues are inseparably connected for these individuals.

I’ve heard many people on the other side of this issue say that gay marriage has nothing to do with freedom of religion, and from their point of view it doesn’t. But that is because they are working from a fundamentally different definition of the word “marriage.”

Now my discussion is transitioning onto shakier ground for me. My purpose here is to explore why this issue isn’t easily resolved because of our differing understandings of the word “marriage.” My operating assumptions concerning marriage fall in somewhere among those of the religious, so I recognize that in trying to explore the views of those with whom I don’t entirely identify I run the risk of misrepresentation. I want to say outright that I don’t mean to oversimplify or distort this view, so if I do so in any way, I welcome correction and feedback. I truly do want to understand.

That said, from what I understand, proponents of gay marriage seem to work from the definition of marriage that says that marriage is a social contract between two consenting adults who love one another. From this viewpoint, marriage is seen as a governmental rights-granting institution. This is a perfectly valid understanding of marriage, because that precisely what it is from a government standpoint. This is why arguments such as this one that appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune this week are so effective: “We want our daughter to have both her parents be legally responsible for her.” Two women, consenting adults, have adopted a child. They want to be assured that legal action is taken to assure that child’s security.  The question of human rights is a very compelling one that can’t be taken lightly. While I think that comparisons to the cultural subjugation of black Americans and the equal rights movements of the 50s and 60s are entirely inappropriate in terms of scale and history, it can’t be denied that there are some governmental rights withheld from gay couples.  In addition to adoption rights, you also have hospital visitation rights, insurance beneficiary rights, tax benefits and a whole slew of other government granted and protected rights that are only available to individuals who are “married.”

And this is where we find the problem. Well-meaning and completely justified homosexual couples want legal justification. To be perfectly honest, they are being discriminated against by not being granted the legal benefits granted to heterosexual couples. And this is where they see themselves taking a stand. For them it’s about rights. And on this point, I agree with them entirely.

Can you see how these two definitions of marriage are at odds with one another? For the religious who oppose gay marriage the big question isn’t rights, it’s whether or not the government can declare moral something that they deeply believe to be immoral and something that they see God as having declared immoral. For those in favor of gay marriage the question is love and equal rights, and religious freedom is an entirely separate issue.

As long as these two sides of the issue aren’t arguing from the same definition of marriage, there will be no understanding and there will only continue to be conflict and hard feelings. Is there not some middle way? Is there not some path that can assuage the religious freedom concerns of the religious population, while granting the rights so desired and craved by the LGBT population?

Perhaps more importantly, is there some way we can get past defining ourselves as belonging to one of these populations or the other? Can’t we find some overarching community definition that incorporates all of us into a single population, a population that works together for the good and happiness of all? For me, this open and loving community that works to accommodate, embrace, and celebrate differences is the end goal we should all be working towards. In the immortal words of John Lennon, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.” 

Was that a corny way to end this post? Probably, yes. But I do what I want, so deal with it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Beef with Pantone

Thanks to my sisters I'm always up on what the latest "color of the year" is per Pantone. Now I don't mean that as some kind of excuse to justify my manhood; I'm perfectly happy being a man who knows these kinds of things. I just wouldn't know about it were it not for my sisters. So thank you, dear sisters of mine.

That said, I have a beef with this year's color of the year:

Allow me to rephrase that. I don't have beef with the color, per se. In fact, I rather like it. I've always loved orchids (which gives me something in common with the most desirable contestants for The Bachelor...again, not ashamed), I generally have warm feelings towards purples, and I think the visual design of the image above is fantastic.

My beef mainly comes from the name of the color. Radiant Orchid. Now I don't know about you, but the word "radiant" doesn't describe this color for me. When I think of something that's radiant I think of something that's bright, something that catches my attention. I think of it similar to how I understand words like "dazzling" and "brilliant." And this color ain't none of them things.

This "radiant orchid" is a great color. It's calming. And soothing. And maybe even a little bit nostalgic. But nowhere in this color do I see radiance. And I needed the world to know that I see no radiance here.