Tuesday, December 16, 2008

GREAT word

Check this out:

Omphiloskepsis - The act of contemplating one's navel

Monday, December 8, 2008


A friend of mine discovered this, and I wanted to pass it on as a follow-up to my previous blog. This is an ad printed in the New York Times concerning the backlash against the LDS church over Prop 8:


Quite frankly, I'm very impressed. I'm glad that responsible citizens (who don't profess to be mormon or gay) are willing to speak out against the ridiculous response to LDS members (and others) who supported Prop 8.

Well done, sirs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In the wake of Prop 8

I wasn't a big participator in the Prop 8 argument. I'm not firmly decided in any particular way, it seems MUCH more complicated that most want it to be. Believe it or not, the argument over Prop 8 is not between lunatic, godless, twisted sex demons bent on fiery, burning apocalypse and the complete destruction of America's moral system versus wild-eyed Christian fanatics bent on conquest through Bible-violence, forcing their opinions on innocent bystanders like bloody crusaders of years past carving a swath through heathen "Mohamadens".

It's all much more human than that. These people on both sides are people, people.

However, what does get me in a bit of a fit (Besides retarded Mormons with no idea how to ethically consider people that have different beliefs and lifestyles) is the post-prop 8 backlash. Many of the homosexual-rights groups have gone well past the line. I'm not talking about civil rights or political platitudes. I'm talking about blatant disregard of life, liberty and property. Why do we even HAVE a constitution if these people can trample on the rights of those that disagree?

Check out this article, it echoes many of my sentiments in a fairly level-headed way:

Why do we stand for it? Why are the protesters climbing over the wall of the LA temple not thrown in prison? Why are many of the vocal anti-religious groups not branded as the bigoted idiots that they present themselves as? Why isn't America pissed about this?

I am.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Quick Glance of Spain

On my way to school, whether I walk or ride the bus, I witness many occurrences that reveal Spain. Sometimes Spain is the wisp of smoke, the dog crap on the sidewalks that sticks to my sandals, two women chatting with loud voices and lively gestures, the smell of fresh-baked bread, or the long line of cured pig legs hanging at a butcher shop. At other times, Spain is one of many teenagers' mullets, a flock of birds, the whine of a beggar’s violin, or the rhythm of the feet of pedestrians.

For me, Spain is the king of specialty stores and quaint mom and pop shops. There is an “-ería” for anything g you could image (frutería, panadería, pastelería, papelería, dime-que-quieres-ería), and very few monster superstores. There are large street markets where gypsies, Africans, and Spaniards sell every item under the sun. This includes exotic fruits: membrillos, jínjoles, chirimoyas, caquis [persimins], y granadas [pomegranates]. While the prices are reasonable, the problem is that you usually have to buy at least a kilo. It can be hard to carry all the food you are interested home, let alone consume it all. The non-food items you need to be careful with as they are probably from Morocco or China, and the quality is often poor. There is definitely a black market here in Spain. The salesmen offer their products (Gucci look-alike purses, movies, music CDs) on blankets and sheets. They tie a rope carefully around the blanket so that if they see the police coming they can pull the cord and the blanket will close up. Then, they can make a ran for it or try to meld within the crowd.

Part of Spain is poor and miserable. I see it in the people waiting in line at the doors of the government employment agency. Some carry babies (possibly for emotional effect when speaking with an agent), others sport Mohawks, and others dress like businessmen. They age from 18 to 60. I see it in the lives of beggars. One shook his money-cup frantically up and down with his teeth up because he was armless. There are drunks; one walrus-man passed out on the sidewalk, his enormous stomach pouring out onto the pavement.

The majority of the urban cities are anthills with cramped streets. I don’t know how the busdrivers can wind there way through them without accidents [correction: they don’t]. Navigating through an unvisited neighborhood seems like wandering in a labyrinth. There are supposed to be streets signs on the sides of buildings, but most of the time they are not available. Many of the smaller streets are not available on the map. Gratefully, the cities are so beautiful during the day that even if you are lost you end up in a place where you can enjoy yourself.

Spain is crowned with the arts. Everywhere there are cultural sites, monuments to writers and intellectuals, and museums to historical figures. The works of painters are collected in galleries like the Prado or the Reina Sofia. On the Gran Via there is a series of theaters and music venues. Add to that the many elaborate fountains, medieval fairs, and botanical gardens. Spain even protects the stork nests by placing fences around them on the roofs. Aesthetics and sports mix in the bullfights. It is a cruel art, a correct art in portraying the ser-en-lucha of existence that would satisfy Schopenhauer, but unnecessary in a life that already proclaims this message to the four winds. There is also the darker side of art here. Spain was a prostitute when I left her in 1997, and she still plays her role. Pornography fills the newspapers, and covers the shelves of gas stations. The book stores at train stops and in the streets all sell sex books with risqué covers. Even the advertising used by local pharmacies shows naked women to promote their products.

I emphasize that Spain is really a cultural passion; a mix of sensations and mental phenomena. She is not just a piece of land. I taste Spain in a gross yema [sugared egg yolk], I see her in a paella’s yellow, and I hear her in the sound of castanets. These rituals and experiences show me more of her organic history and delights than boundary lines on a map.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Voting Angst: Part Second

Honestly, it's hard for me to want to vote either way. When it comes to principles, I lean toward McCain and can't really consider Obama. When it comes to presentation of candidates, I lean toward Obama and can't imagine McCain. Obama seems significantly more rational and effective as a politician than McCain, but that doesn't mean he's the best choice. The liberal side strikes me as a pipe dream of a perfect world laced with some fairly disturbing and immoral ideas. I don't believe Obama seeks to kill babies and throw our country into communism, but there are definitely ideas that give me the heebie-jeebies. The Republican side reeks of ignorance, cronyism and decay. They can't get anything done and ignore facts that scream in their faces. Ostriches with their heads in the sand, both sides spending our money to save their personal political careers. At the expense of the rest of us. It's a brave new world or the same ol' corrupt one, eh?

There doesn't seem to be any middle ground for me. I checked out the third parties, they scare the heck out of me. They don't have ANY idea what they're doing in national/international policies. Basically, I feel like all I get is lies and propaganda and I don't know how I can make a good decision. As if there were a good decision.

So, I'll go to the booth tomorrow and vote. It doesn't make me happy; I'm not excited to do this particular civic duty. It feels like someone but a bag of poo on my porch last night and I have to clean it up now. When the chips are down, my sister's bit on the abortion issue (http://nessaandmichael.blogspot.com) seems the only thing that strikes a real chord in me. All of the rest seems like so much force-fed drivel that has nothing to do with the way the country will actually be run. It is certainly time for change, but there ain't no change in this election. So I'll vote for no change tomorrow. Not because I want to; because I have no choice.

Voting angst

Anyone have any good ideas what one should do when voting feels like selecting which cancer to contract? I've heard "lesser of the two evils" but after doing a bit of research on the positions of the main (and third-party) candidates, I've decided it's the "lesser of the five depressings." What on earth am I to do when I feel compelled to vote but feel a bit of disgust when I consider my choices?

Friday, October 24, 2008

More random Peirce thoughts

The symbols we use define our reality in many ways. They affect how we interpret the world and what we see around us. However, the symbols of our society are not concretely defined. They are always changing, depending on how they’re used and how wee the world. Peirce has said that we are always impacting and impacted by symbols. They are a fluid thing, guiding our communication and thought processes. For instance, the symbol of justice cannot be easily defined and, indeed, changes from case to case, moment to moment. And yet, we nearly all believe we have a concrete idea of justice upon which we base our conduct and the expectations of the conduct of others. Is would be useless to squabble over whether or not this fact is good or bad, it is merely a fact. However, we should realize the fact. We should understand that the symbols and terms we use are fluid. Many times we get stuck on a particular idea or way of looking at things when it is not, in fact, defined as such. How we have used a symbol, how we are now using it and its future use all play a part in what the symbol means.

Peirce’s pragmatism suggests that unless something makes an observable difference in the way we experience the world, an idea is pointless. I agree. However, this idea has some pretty strong consequences. If that is accepted, we can never assert to finally have “the truth.” We never know what facts lurk that simply have not made themselves known through a discernible difference. We will forever discover them, as our perceptions change and our ways of looking at the world become more complex. Will we ever understand everything? Maybe, but even if we did, how would we know that we did? Therefore: would it matter?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Drooling over Spanish Philosophers

While I once thought there was a dearth of Spanish philosophers, I recognized that it was just my Philosophy book. There is some great stuff here. I've been drooling over my copy of Unamuno's Del Sentimiento Tragico de la Vida. It's surprising easy to read philosophy in Spanish. I have also been plowing through his La Agonia of Cristianismo (The Agony of Christianity). I have also been trying to inundate myself in some Jose Ortega y Gasset. These guys are surprisingly in my line of thinking: mixing some James, Kierkegaard, Husserl, and Christianity into an interesting, pragmatic Christian existentialism to some extent. I have been enjoying John Thomas Graham's A Pragmatist Philosophy of Life in Ortega Y Gasset. And really want to get my hands on "Spain's Christian Existentialism," but of course it had to be someone's disertation... ugh. Anyway, I think I'm going to study some more Ortega y Gasset and Unamuno in grad school. As for some other Spanish philosophers, I'll want to go into George Santayana. And I have found John of the Cross' works surprisingly moving. The Spanish mystic is quite different than I would have expected; very different from other mystics.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stupid Fonts

Ok, the last post looks retarded with the font issues. Every time I copy text from Microsoft Word in gets all weird on me. Anyone know a way around that?


Ok, I've been reading Charles Sanders Peirce's Some Consequences of Four Incapacities and here are some thoughts I had.

(Look, I realize that there is no explanation of the content of the article, that I give no background information to acclimate you to the discussion. Get over it, I'm that lazy. You get what you get. If you want more info, ask me some questions and I'll either give unsatisfactory answers or none at all. Your lucky day!)

Peirce makes a claim that we have no ability to introspect. If we have no power of introspection, if we cannot know anything without reasoning from external facts, how do we approach religious knowledge that is described as inherently introspective? There are several options: 1. Peirce is wrong about introspection. 2. Religious knowledge is not knowledge after all. 3. Religious knowledge does not come through introspection.

Considering the first: Could Peirce be wrong? Sure, but it sure doesn’t seem like it. He persuasively explains that everything we know is from external facts, down to our very existence. If we do not have introspection about our own being, can we have introspective knowledge of other things?

Second: Perhaps, as many have suggested, religious knowledge is not knowledge after all, but merely delusion or false hope or what have you. This may be so. Perhaps religious knowledge is a hope for knowledge, a desire for something better. This certainly requires a different stance to be taken on how we approach religious knowledge, but does not necessarily make it obsolete or bad.

Third: A more interesting idea to think about. When we as mormons speak of learning things through the Holy Ghost, is it always introspection. Surely not in the cases of inspiration where the faculties of reason are increased, where those under the influence of the spirit are able to quickly put things together. But what of those cases where we just “know”? Where the knowledge comes from the “inside?” Does it really? Or do we approach it externally? Perhaps we’ve been taught that the spirit feels a certain way in certain situations… when we feel this feeling, we attribute it to the spirit, an external fact. Perhaps religious knowledge is never actually introspective the way we think it is…

Peirce makes an interesting point when he argues that emotions are known through external facts as well. Anger, for instance, seems to always be pointed at an object. Do we ever have un-directed anger? Peirce admits that some emotions, melancholy, for instance, are non-directional, but goes on to show that these emotions do not manifest themselves spontaneously but are shown through objects of thought. I feel melancholy ABOUT things in the world, ABOUT my life, ABOUT life. Is it ever just melancholy? Another good case seems to be the existential angst referred to by Sartre, Kierkegaard and others. I’m in no position to fully define this “angst”, neither do I intend to for this line of thought. It has been described as a general feeling of unease, a feeling in inadequacy or a general feeling of meaninglessness in life. Does this manifest itself through objects of thought as well? When and how do I feel the angst?

Peirce says that we discover our own existence through error. It is not until we do something “wrong” that we discover the being that erred. This is interesting in light of Heidegger’s ideas on things being broken. Heidegger argued that we use things as tools, not noticing their qualities or being until they “break.” When things no longer work as usual, when our routine is disturbed, we start to notice the objects themselves, no longer mindlessly using them. Is this how we discover our own being as well? Do we only really discover our being through our being broken? Perhaps this is why we tend to disappear to our consciousness when life is running smoothly and our the fact of our existence (bodily or otherwise) comes forcefully back to us when we run into issues? Is this where the afore-mentioned angst steps in? When our existence breaks? All of a sudden we become an “I”, as in “I’m sick,” “I hurt,” “I screwed up,” or even “I don’t know why I’m here (existence, not location)”

Friday, September 19, 2008


I lost a friend today.

I was not friends with Mike Hess for long, I never had his cell phone number and I never even added him as a friend on facebook. We were "just" coworkers who joked around a few times a week. All the same, I treasured my friendship with him. Today, as I sat on the lawn, enjoying the glorious sunshine and reading Terry Pratchett, I realized something important.

Last night, Mike and I both lived and loved. We cared about people, we enjoyed life and we smiled. Two days ago, we laughed together and joked about burnt food, 50 cent raises and grocery. Last week, he beamed and told me about how he finally reached level 70. Three months ago, Mike said hi to me in his particularly "Mike-ish" way and made me particularly happy.

And now? Mike still lives and loves. He still cares, he enjoys and he certainly smiles. And so must I. I feel no remorse for Mike's passing. He lived well and died well. I do not mourn his loss. I feel pain that he is no longer here, I wish to share that with all those that knew him. To be true to Mike, we must be Mike for someone who never got the chance to meet him. We must smile, we must greet, we must sing and talk and laugh and joke like Mike. We have the chance to affect people the way he did us. May we never forget that.

Thank you Mike, for showing me how to treat people. Thanks for the happiness. I'm glad you hit level 70 before you left, I'm glad you found love and married before you left, I'm glad I met you before you left, and I hope there are others wherever you are that can meet you. Keep burnin' the butterscotch!

See you later!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Recent Paper

I've been trying to get informed about politics lately so as to be able to make an informed decision in the upcoming election. I figure if I'm gonna vote I may as well know what on earth is going on and what my options are...

Simultaneously, my first major assignment in my writing class was to write a quick one-page paper that makes and argument. The papers are not masterpieces, just quickies to give the professor an idea of what he's dealing with in his students.

In light of a recent interview I saw between Bill O'Reilly and Barack Obama, I chose to write my argument about income redistribution. I'm not sure I agree with myself, but I haven't satisfactorally answered my own questions brought up in the paper, so I thought I'd post it for all to see (that is, the select few that occasionally check this recently scant blog.) What do you think? Am I off base in my concerns? Why?

Without further ado:

Income redistribution has recently arisen as a topic of debate. Proponents of the system suggest taxing the rich at a considerably higher rate than others in order to reallocate their wealth to the lower and middle classes. Income redistribution, although noble in its aims, is not just. This oft-nicknamed “Robin Hood” procedure seems like a great way to help the less fortunate, but, like its namesake, eventually boils down to stealing from the rich.

There are many wealthy people in the United States. On the other hand, there is a large contingent of Americans that fall under the poverty line. Many have suggested that the rich can afford to be taxed more heavily in order to assist the under privileged. To tax the rich at a greater rate than others, however, reeks of theft. Those voluntarily giving to the poor should be lauded for their altruism, but if a mob were to come and take money from them, even if the mob were to give its spoils to the poor and hungry, it would turn the “givers” into victims. Onlookers would be outraged to hear of such an event and would rightly clamor for justice.

Similarly, if the middle and lower class were to decide to forcibly take money from the upper class, although through democratically chosen and seemingly legal taxation, does not the same ethical problem arise? The rich cannot be forced to “donate” their money to others, no matter how needy the poor may seem. It is their choice to do what they please with their property.

Simply put, the rich cannot be over-taxed to benefit the lower and middle classes. We are beyond our rights to impel them to give aid if they are not willing to do so. Income redistribution, no matter how much it helps, cannot be ethically upheld.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Uncertainty and Politics

I am going to discuss this in a very mediocre format, so bear with me. Americans dwell within a democratic society where our votes can largely shape the structure which in we live. Of course, we are not used to dealing with issues from day to day, and probably only use our democratic powers when we vote once every four years for our president. We probably rarely, if ever, communicate with our elected officials. However, when it comes to voting for our President and issues that spike our interest more than usual (for instance, the recent developments regarding same sex marriage), how do we decide where to vote when we are not happy with either sides of an issue, or are not certain where to vote? As for myself, I doubt pretty much everything I get the chance to think about. That will probably include this post when I am done writing it. So how do I (when I am pompous enough to believe, and probably wrongly so, that I think on certain issues more than the average Joe or Jane that votes) vote on issues that I am uncertain about? Should I let many others who do not make thoughtful decisions choose the outcome? Is not voting really accurate of my view if I care very much about the issue? I don't believe we can trust on what "we feel good about." There are many decisions that I think may have been the right decision but I felt or still feel insecurity about. Marriage was one of them, but I do not think that was the wrong decision. I think we often have competing claims made upon us, and choosing one is to the exclusion of the other, and so we are bound to feel some insecurity for excluding the other claim which had good to it. So what to do? Do we pick to stay the course? In other words, when we are not certain about a topic, ought we stick with the original position if the alternative is a radical departure? Of course with non-radical departures, we would be more willing to give and take. Hmm... thoughts are appreciated. I am sure this is a difficult issue regardless of when it takes place, and there is no perfect way to follow it out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Attraction and Gay Marriage

As a California resident, these topics are a little more pressing on my mind. In November Californians will have the opportunity to vote for Proposition 8, a proposed constitutional amendment (also known as the Limit on Marriage Amendment or California Marriage Protection Act) that would override the Court's decision to permit gay marriage in California.

California like most states has a very divided population: a very liberal urban population and a very conservative rural population. It will be very interesting to see what the turnout for this vote will be. My question is, as a Latter-day Saint, what can I do to better interface with Christians and non-Christians on this topic? I believe there are many sitting on the fence on this issue. It is hard to fight against a wave that claims freedom is its banner, and discrimination and intolerance and bigot are the labels attached to those that oppose it. There is an immense amount of social pressure to live sexually as you wish, regardless if through pornography, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery. Furthermore, I know I have had a tendency to let people live the way they want to, as long as it doesn't interfere with my life. I imagine many other people feel this way.

However, as I have grown older, I realize (imagine that!) that I do not live in a vacuum. The popular opinion has a huger sway than we recognize, and even moreso what our educational systems and authority figures teach. This beckons to Michel Foucault, who sought to understand how power relationships create conditions for the production of knowledge. The knowledge that is either opened or closed as a result of these relationships greatly influences our freedom. Indeed, it seems hard to choose to do that which we do not know of. While we may stumble upon experiences by mistake (perhaps I could whistle by blowing air through my mouth without intending to, and then study the experience enough to replicate the action for instance), overall what we can do we have experienced. Faith cometh by hearing. An adjustment in what we hear then changes what we will believe and do.

So what does that have to do with gay marriage? Simply, I wish to show how accepting gay marriage as an outlet for those who wish to become part of it will greatly change the educational structure of this nation. In essence, do I want my children to be taught there is a good chance they are homosexual and that they should participate in it? That gay marriage is a normal and acceptable institution to engage in? This occurred on some level while I was in High School. They took all the Junior High School students on a weekend getaway, and one evening they held a "fireside" on how it was alright to be gay and that many of us probably were. Students were taught that it can be hard, but we should have the strength to act on what we "know." Parents and students were not informed that this was going to occur. Hence, I don't believe it is far-fetched to think that if gay marriage is adopted, state-by-state and perhaps on a national level, that our educational systems will be greatly altered in how they approach the issues in the class rooms, the second generation of text books will promote gay marriage, and even children's books will be altered. You can look at Massachusetts as an example. I've seen recent copies of Goldilocks and the Three Bears get rid of Mama and Papa bear for non-gender terms like Big Bear and Bear.

I don't believe I want my children to be exposed to such cognitive dissonance as they are taught strongly by their educational and social figures that such a lifestyle is good, and their parental and religious figures teaching strongly it is bad. The popularity of opinion is bound to encourage more children to embrace that lifestyle. The teenage years are troubling and filled with emotional angst and existential crises; no reason to take advantage of it. This issue may go beyond the dissonance as well. Reverse discrimination may come in spades. In the recent interview with Elder Oaks, he mentioned "a church pastor threatened with prison for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual behavior is sinful." Now I'm not expecting that to occur in America, but it's a frightening possibility. Will we be able to preach against homosexuality as others preach for it? The most scary possibility (though highly unlikely) is that the marriage rights of the church could be revoked. Adoption agencies have been forced to shut down for not permitting gay couples adoptions. The question then becomes: Can the government refuse a religous organization the right to legally marry people if they refuse to perform marriages for gay couples? While of course the church would continue to perform marriage in the eyes of the Lord, could their right to perform marriage via the laws of the land be revoked? I am not mentioning this to promote some fanatical notion, but to consider the possibilities.

I think these ideas and thoughts need to be considered by those who are Christian, religious, and those not religious but champion or are considerate of heterosexual marriage. We need to encourage others to think, and recognize their vote on this matter counts. Yes, their choice will involve discrimination. But it always does; we form our world. To be a person is to have a stance on an issue, to be faced one way or the other: to have opinions, and to reject other views. A freedom in one area can limit freedoms in another.

We tend to argue against same-gender marriage on historical-traditional grounds (it's always been heterosexual marriage), religious grounds (God has revealed it this way), and definitional grounds (marriage means a lawfully sanctioned relationship between a man and woman). I've heard Kantian ethics also applied: that which is not got for all of us to adopt, none of us should adopt. As homosexuality would lead to the extinction of the race, it is not good. It would provide an evolutionary dead-end. Of course, not only would this logic be faulty in many occasions, but what of bisexuality then? While these arguments may be convincing to conservatives, they seem unconvincing to liberals. Perhaps we need to be greater versed in discourse with those promoting homosexual marriage, even on basic issues. A lot of these will probe questions of philosophy of sex. For instance,

1. What do we mean by saying attraction or gender orientation is genetic? As I would imagine attraction comes via the senses, how can genes determine what I enjoy visually? How can the senses judge between men and women? Obviously, the sexual organs can be, but not any place I live around has them publicly displayed. I know attraction can come via cultural norms, but cultural norms don't seem to be inherited in genes. There are so many differences between cultures and in time on what is attractive: how is that genetic?

I've been to the beach and been attracted to who I thought were women in the water in wetsuits, only to find out they were men. How can gay men (the same applies to lesbians) not say they were attracted to women they thought or look like men? From what I've read, this is more myth with homosexuals. The "ghost stat" that I've heard is that 80% of homosexuals are actually bisexual.

It seems we culturally create archetypal molds or ideas of what is attractive: by why are those gender specific? My questions here need to come to blind people too. Take out the visual element: how do they note gender differences and what is attractive to them? I imagine the sound of the voice, but I could be wrong. There is a large array of pitches of voices that spread across gender lines: how would such attraction be genetic?

Sexual attraction also goes beyond simply gender: it goes into age. Some people enjoy sexual encounters with little children, babies, grandma at the old folk’s home, their own brothers and sisters, dead people. It even moves beyond the human species: with dogs, horses, and so forth. Some are not attracted to anyone, but enjoy masturbation. Gender is not the only sexual orientation. Are such attractions also genetic? How can that possibly be?

2. Is attraction conditioned? And if so, to what extent? Since Locke and particularly Hume, and probably earlier than this, we have recognized the mental experience of association. This means when someone brings up basketball, and I think about the topic, other ideas brought up with it come to my mind: perhaps Michael Jordan or in Jason's case, how the Suns need to win the NBA championship. Pavlov noticed this with his dogs on a behavioral level, and developed the notion of classical conditioning. The bells rang when the food was brought out, and soon enough when the bells rang without the food being brough out, the dogs salivated anyway. Could it be that human attraction is conditioned: ie when we aroused and we see certain behaviors, images, and so forth, and then they become what we aroused by? Could human romantic encounters that we see on television or our society’s pornography largely define what we find to be attractive or that arouses us? Pornography could play an interesting part in sexual orientation: many homosexuals and those engaging in bestiality have been involved in that first. I am sure there are some who have not. Or could it be a mental fascination or curiosity? People tell us so and so is attractive, so and so is interested in us: do we form attraction around opportunities and indoctrination?

3. Is attraction divine? And if so, what does that mean? Are our consciousnesses directed by or connected to some wider field of consciousness that influences our sexual behavior? Or is attraction bestowed from the divine via a naturalistic-genetic path or via conditioning through scripture and revelation? Why does the divine care about sexuality?

4. What is sexuality? By this question I mean, what does it contain? Does sexuality mean expression with one’s sexual organs? Or does it involve procreation and reproduction as well? Can they be separated? Does sexuality necessarily involve a partner? For instance, am I sexual if all I involve myself in is masturbation? Or what if I enjoy a form of pornography, but do not physically engage in it (i.e. am I homosexual/bisexual if I enjoy homosexual pornography but do not and would not engage in it physically)?

5. How can I honor and tolerate all forms of sexual attraction and yet honor fidelity? How can I be “bisexual” and loyal to my partner?

6. Should sexual attractions be curbed or sponsored by society? If so, why?

I have many other questions and topics I would like to talk about on this issue, but feel I should stop as this post is already so long. I would like to hear from other thinking LDS students what they believe/have heard/have thought about on such issues. For me and my state, this topic is pressing, and I would appreciate discussion.

Friday, July 11, 2008

What is this world coming to?

Tonight we (Mike, Kayla and Myself) dine:

French Dinner Crepes with Steamed Broccoli and Swiss Cheese
Moroccan Chickpeas and Roasted Vegetables over Cracked Barley
Couscous Tfaya with Chicken and Majhoul Dates
Moroccan Almond Baklava

The kicker? We can't get anyone to dine with us. Noone will eat our fare.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Silence Must End

Pathetic. All of our writings and musings have been on such a halt. I suppose that's what Summer Jobs do to you. School years are such easier times to think. Well, I got back from St. George yesterday. I hiked Angel's Landing on Monday, and it was pretty cool. My uncle had warned me against hiking it because some kid that went with his Boy Scout troop lost his grip on a chain, fell down the mountain and died. It's true, there is over a 1500 feet drop off, sheer cliffs on both sides. On the other hand, the chains were sturdy and the path was still decently wide, only narrowing down to 8-10 feet at a few points. I didn't feel that unsafe. It was fun, to stand out in the middle of a gorgeous, big canyon. In fact, when I got to the "summit," the scene reminded me of that scene at the end of the Land Before Time, when Little Foot and company see the huge fertile valley they've made it to. Well, okay, it was a lot more of a desert than a fertile valley from where I stood, but it still captured that sort of majesty. On an aside, 7 of us hiked it and I think all of us were unfit. Most of us took an Excedrin afterwards because we were getting headaches; my brother-in-law Dave and sister-in-law Megan had it so bad that they both barfed. I don't think i've ever barfed because of a headache before. yet I do have to say that once I got down the mountain I was very uncomfortable, questioning if it was worth it. Yet when I was at the summit, and even now, i think it definitely was. I guess there's a great example where bodily condition can change perspectives.

As for what I've been thinking about: I've been thinking more about embodiment, and my relationship with my wife. I want to enjoy each day with her, because I don't think I really understand or accept that one day they will end. How to make the most of it... Always tough.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You've got to be kidding me.

Martin and I are about to turn in a 70-page paper. Holy...

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Who knew the Nickelcade would be so much fun? All this for $3.50 per person!

To infinity....and beyond!


Martin's big butt baaarely fit

Of, come on, this is a G-rated establishment!Something funny is going on around here...
Road? Rage

The race is on!
Other way, Marty...Good-lookin' folks!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

For Champions

My latest paper for my "Writing about Food" class:
(Can you believe they give college credit for such a class?)
(Thanks for letting me steal your recipe, V)

For Champions

Ah, breakfast. Widely portrayed as the most important meal of the day by concerned mothers, breakfast is indeed a big part of our lives. Anyone who’s never awoken to the wonderful smell of something warm in the oven or sizzling on the stove has truly been deprived of one of the great pleasures of life. The iconic image of Mother, hovering over the kitchen table with a large plate of pancakes ready to be inundated in syrup and messily devoured hangs around my dreams like a squatter intent on staking a claim. Let’s get real, though. We’re at college here. Mom’s not bringing a steaming plate and roommates probably aren’t going to pull through, either. So what’s a guy to do? I’ve got three papers due today, I slept in a few snooze-buttons too many and my car hasn’t really worked for longer than I can remember. Frankly, getting a healthy and filling breakfast is pretty far down the list of priorities. (Probably somewhere between shining the irregularly worn spots on my shoes and vacuuming the front room that feels more like walking on a sandbar than carpet.) Partially as a personal culinary enrichment activity, partially for a class assignment and partially for the sake of time-destitute and cooking-resistant men everywhere, I humbly submit these easy, fast and utterly screw-up proof recipes.

Sometimes lucky charms just don’t cut it. A cold bowl of pre-packaged grain (at least that’s what the box calls it) and sugar is not usually what the doctor – or anyone else, for that matter – ordered. On the flip side, the two types of oatmeal, stick-to-your-ribs and hello-hemorrhoid, don’t exactly get me excited. Here’s the remedy: a cereal that skirts the line and delivers the best of both worlds. After you justify not doing the majority of your homework but before you go to bed, take 1 cup of rolled oats and 1 cup of cream (or half and half if you’re watching your girlish figure), mix them in a bowl and stick ‘em in the fridge. When you drag yourself out of bed in the morning, grab the bowl, mix in whatever raisins, fresh fruit or nuts you can find and voila, breakfast for a king. With a calorie count to satisfy a linebacker and a prep time of less than five minutes, how could you go wrong?

If slicing an apple and sticking it in a bowl of creamy oats takes too long, consider this quick granola idea to make ahead of time: Turn the oven on to 300. Mix together 3 cups of rolled oats, 3 tablespoons of oat flour (grab it at the health-food store or just throw some oats in the blender for a while) and 1 cup of sliced almonds in a large bowl. In another container, whisk 1/3 cup canola oil, 1/2 cup honey, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon almond extract. I know this is getting tough. Stay with me. Put the contents of bowl 2 into bowl 1 and mix well. Pour the whole mess into a 9x13 pan and bake for an hour. Remember to mix it around after a half-hour if you plan to ever get it out of the pan. When it cools, put in into an airtight container and treat it like lucky charms. You know, pour milk over it and eat with a spoon.

There are mornings where I feel a bit like a hippie. All I really want to do is eat some fruit, drink soymilk and play an acoustic guitar all day. On days like that, a smoothie works perfectly. Smoothies are insanely easy to make. Do you have a blender? Congratulations, you’ve just accomplished the hardest part of the recipe! Now, here are the basics. You need an 8 oz. container of yogurt. Doesn’t really matter what kind, although I try to avoid chocolaty stuff. Now add 1/2 cup of soymilk, 3 ice cubes and a little of whatever juice is sitting in the fridge. That’s your base. Now, you can pretty much throw in whatever you want. A year-old can of peaches? Sure, toss it in. (Not the can, stupid…) Your girlfriend’s frozen strawberries? You bet. Those old browning bananas? The browner the better! (Remember, brown and black are different). Really, you can toss in whatever fruit you’ve got. That’s the beauty of a smoothie! 99% of the time it’ll taste great. The other 1% will work great as paint remover.

Finally, a slightly tougher dish for the really ambitious: muffins. The beauty of muffins is that once they’re made they’re tasty, easy and portable. Muffins are like smoothies and research papers: they start with a basic pattern and the rest is just a bunch of BSing. The oven gets set to 400. Mix 1/2 cup oat flour (see above), 1 1/2 cups of white flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 cup white sugar in a big bowl. Crack an egg into a smaller bowl and beat it with a fork. Add 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup applesauce to the egg. Finally, mix the eggish milk stuff into the bowl with the floury stuff (not too much or you’ll get hockey pucks instead of muffins). You want to keep your batter a bit lumpy. Bake for 25 minutes and they’re good to go. You may have noticed that those muffins are pretty boring. Never fear, this is where the BSing comes in. Let’s say you want blueberry muffins: toss some blueberries in before you bake them. Ditto for strawberries, bananas, nuts and whatever else you may want in them. If you want cinnamon and sugar on top, put some on top before you bake. It’s pretty much up to you at this point.

So there you go. Four painless ways to have a quick breakfast that mom would be proud of. No more starving at 10:15, no more raiding the vending machines for donuts to hold you over until lunch. These recipes won’t fail in a crunch. Go ahead, use your newfound cooking skills to impress the girls and bribe your roommates! You’ll never have to miss breakfast again!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Miscellany of Colorful Pictures

Welcome to the Hare Krishna temple for the Festival of Colors!

Jennifer gets a little touch-up
How cute...

The Battle Snake DancerCasualties of WarYou ok, Katie?Love is in the airThe GangThe Chest-bumpIndividual Shots
What remains

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sort of like a deer, but not.

When I cross a road at night and a car comes, I look directly at the car. Every time. Why?

I think it's an inherent understanding that when they see my face they will understand and deal with me as an 'other'. Something in the way they perceive me changes when they see my face. It's my little way of demanding that their treatment of that thing in the road shift from object to other. It's basically just the creation of a moral relationship. Interesting, eh?

Monday, February 11, 2008

A funny thin happened on the way to the JFSB today...

Walking across campus, I witnessed a unique seen. A physically handicapped guy, in a wheel chair, having lunch with a slightly-less-handicapped lady. He didn't have fully developed arms and she was feeing him cucumber sticks or something of the sort. It's the sort of awkward scene that is interesting but one must hide his interest so as to not be socially "rude". At any rate, as I watched the process for a moment, I was overcome by a sort of curious jealousy. Here was a man and woman, seemingly detached from the suffocating social norms by perceived-as-debilitating handicaps, enjoying a wonderful afternoon lunch together. No pretension, no image to keep up for the sake of someone that doesn't even care. These two people were just having lunch. She seemed perfectly at ease feeding him his lunch and he at receiving it, unable to assist. Both stunning examples of attitudes devoid from the pride that seems to plague us. They've understood and enacted a good life that few of us achieve and often only temporarily. To paraphrase "Gone In Sixty Seconds":

"...they carry with them an inherent nobility, and a supreme glory. We should all be so fortunate. You say poor them? I say poor us."

Saturday, February 9, 2008


I attended the Mika concert in Salt Lake last night. It was a blast! After we waited in the cold for 1 1/2 hours, we finally got in to intermix with the teenagers. Mika's instruments and equipment was stuck in CO somewhere in the snow so we got 10 dollars back from our ticket and heard a ad-libbed concert with someone else's instruments. It was really, really good! The band took the whole thing pretty light-hearted and just had a lot of fun with the audience doing something they'd never done before. My favorite part was the 40-something black guy behind me with a beard dancing and singing along... well worth the 13 bucks! If you get a chance, go to a Mika concert. He puts on a GREAT show!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Egocentric doubt

So some not totally thought out thoughts on egocentric doubt. This doubt, in overabundance, brings such a focus on the ego that it may weaken and dissolve the community. Although listening and accepting the opinions of others suggests a faith in one's judgments about their opinions, it does not bare the same egocentrism. This focus on the ego seems to try to destroy the views of others to replace them with your own. We ought to be willing to limit the egocentrism at times, and be willing to adopt the intellectual progeny of others (at least in an experimental sense), and work them in our lives. By subduing the ego, we may significantly aide ourselves in developing part of relationships, friendships, marriages. It is hard, this courage to accept an other's will, yet courage and faith it is, a choice to believe. This adventurous endeavor undoubtably brings either some sense of unity, friendship, love, or well... disappointment.

Animal Sacrifice

So finally, I return to posting on this good ole blog. There will be many of them today I imagine. I wanted to note down some thoughts that I've pondered on animal sacrifice. I don't understand overall why it's there. It's traditionally explained as some sort of useful memory device that pointed people to Christ's coming and sacrifice. But I don't see how that's a valid point of view. They were without Christ, just as we are now. We have our types, explanations, tools and so forth to "remember him," so why couldn't they use similar ones themselves? We don't need to slay animals now to remember. Other rituals like dances would be just as fruitful without causing suffering. So this is strange stuff.

But then I thought that of course the food was eaten by the priests after the slaying of the animals. We have to slay animals or kill plants ourselves to eat. So if the animals were going to be slain anyway for the purpose of food (in a nontorturous way), then maybe the ritual has purpose. The public killing and burning could bring a communal awareness of what must be done so that we might live as humans. This seems more humane than eating in private boneless meats and forgetting what is done for us to live. So in essence, the animal sacrifice attaches further meaning to an act we already endure. That's useful. Yet, as I'm going through these Biblical sacrifices, it seems that many animals were burned/killed without being eaten at all. This seems extremely wasteful, and contains pointless suffering. So, oh well I tried to think of a meaning for them. Only some do. Last of all, how good is the animal sacrifice for a prefiguring of the atonement? The animals are not voluntarily giving up their lives as sacrifices (not that we could no if they were or not I suppose), so it doesn't equate too well. The blood being spilt could be shown without death, but I guess death is the point. Oh well; seems like another case of human ascendancy.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Restaurant Review of Gloria's Little Italy

The majority of Italian restaurants I’ve visited in America have been embellished affairs, with flowers, soft music and reprints of semi-famous paintings adorning the walls. The atmosphere in these restaurants usually consists of every non-table surface being covered with darkly tinted wine bottles and baskets of pasta, tomatoes and garlic. This, however, is not the experience of dining had by most diners in Italy itself. Most Italian trattoria are not nearly this ostentatious, focusing on quality food and value rather than pomp and scenery. Gloria’s Little Italy follows this philosophy, a breath of fresh air in a market drowning in fake Italian music and too many lobster dishes.

Gloria’s is an unassuming, metal-chair-and-plastic-tablecloth kind of establishment. The restaurant, tucked cozily to the side of the kitchen and market section of the store, is lined with shelves holding a wide variety of purchasable imported European goods. The dining room is abuzz with busy staff and regular customers, some holding hushed conversations, some bantering back and forth in both Italian and English.

Upon seating, I asked the waitress (who had neither a Sicilian accent nor a name ending in –a) to suggest a dish for a first-timer. She steered me toward the pesto pasta, a house specialty. While waiting for my entrée, I was treated to a small salad and a few slices of bread. The salad was quite good, with a variety of unusual but tasty lettuces lightly sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The tomatoes, sadly, were rather tasteless and spongy, not unusual considering our location and season. The bread, drizzled with olive oil was warm and inviting, with an unanticipated but satisfying saltiness.

The pesto dish lived up to its billing. Penne pasta, tossed in copious amounts of olive oil-laden pesto sauce, was delightfully smooth and simple. The individual flavors of basil, olive and pine nuts, like harmonies in beautiful music, had been respectfully blended to create a balanced accord bringing out the highlights of each ingredient. The result was eminently rewarding.

The menu at Gloria’s consists almost exclusively of pastas and calzones, ranging in price from $7 - $14. There were select few antipasti or appetizers, one of which, amusingly, is the most expensive item available. There is a range of desserts available: distinctive cakes, flaky pastries and luscious gelato make their appearances, each with unpredictable and varying options. The servings are generous (especially the slices of cake) and the service hurried but friendly. Reservations are suggested for groups and on weekends.

Dining at Gloria’s Little Italy is a great experience. If you’re looking for fancy china, all-you-can eat breadsticks or expensive seafood, you may be better served elsewhere. However, if you want an Italian experience reminiscent of your favorite corner Italian restaurant in Europe, look no further. Gloria’s has the atmosphere, the ingredients and the personality to transport you right back to the outskirts of Florence, Milan or Rome.

Gloria’s Little Italy

279 E. 300 S.

(801) 805-4913

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ethical fragment

We mock the less fortunate to our own denouncement. When we see those around us that are ugly or awkward or dumb, we only indict ourselves by comparing ourselves to them. The less fortunate have the same desires for success, comfort, love, learning and acceptance as we do and often far less fortuity in achieving such. There is a struggle for these extremely important emotional needs that we simply do not face when things are easy for us. We often miss out on that struggle and the personal inglorious glory that comes with such a battle.

Do we put such persons on a pedestal, to learn from and idolize? Certainly not. Wishing or seeking for misfortune will only land is in bad situations without the natural processes that lead to the painful yet beautiful trial.

Do we pity them, for the mental anguish and their lack of whatever-it-be that causes their unhappy situation. We cannot. To pity is to make an even deeper mockery of the solemn life of the tried. We often reveal only our own glaring pride and ignorance by pitying the suffering.

How then, do we approach the weirdos, those people that make us squirm and take another path? How do we treat the over-friendly nerd in our class, the girl whose vocabulary is mostly the term "like"? How can we interact with the smelly, the socially awkward, the un-cool? Only with respect. We can give them the deepest respect for fighting through something we may never fight, facing disappointments that we cannot even fathom. It is a personal charge they (we?) face, the moment of self-realization when our weaknesses shine through and our precious self-deception disappears. Let us recognize these as fellow-beings and admire their courageous struggle, offering a hand of friendship and acceptance.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Yeah yeah yeah

Ok, everyone, I'm back. I know it's been a while, but when Brad makes fun of me for not writing in my blog I know things have gone a bit far. Thanks, Bradders...

Things have been good. I've been surviving the post-europe letdown fairly well. Christmas break was good, it involved a fair amount of working which was probably a good thing, preventing me from going completely and totally insane. I am absolutely pumped for school to start, I have enough cool classes to make me run around like a giddy schoolgirl. Schoolboy, perhaps? Martin and I have an independent study class that will be great. Why, you ask? Here's a taste: Tomorrow we get together to eat, talk and prepare a syllabus to present to our teacher.

How often does one make one's own syllabus?

That class is on Kierkegaard. Other good classes involve Nietschze, German, French Theology (focusing on Jean-Luc Marion and some other dud who's name escapes me currently) and "writing about food". Writing about food should be cool. Class will often involve tastings and restaurant visits. Not bad...

Well, that's it for now. I'll write more next time I'm up too late and feel postish.