Tag Archives: society

All the Things I’ll Never See


Often times we stand in the here and now and we believe that we understand what brought us to this point. We take for granted certain things about ourselves and our world. We have seen the past and we look forward to the future. In reality, we have personally experienced very little in our own lives and we rely heavily on the stories of others to tell us about the things we will never see.

All the things we will never experience for ourselves, and all the times we have never been a part of, must be learned again. These unseen events and people are nothing more than pages in a book, or words leaving someone’s lips. The story is recorded, either physically or mentally, and then passed down to us, but we can never truly know what it was like to stand in the middle of that moment and be moved by it.

Here are just a very few of the many things that I will never be able to see, but nonetheless shape me and the world I live in. The moment has passed and it will never come again. Though I may understand that this past does exist, in essence, I am completely ignorant to the truth that can only be fully known by someone who was there or who lived in a world much younger than the one I currently occupy.

I’ll never stand under the stars and look up at the moon and wonder what it is made of or how far away the stars are. People just like me have been there and stood under the stars looking back at the rest of us. They drove around, jumped up and down, and hit golfballs across the face of a dead lump of rock. Mystery solved, no more imagination necessary.

I’ll never walk down a hallway and see separate bathrooms for “Whites” and “Blacks.” I will never truly grasp what it was like to experience this void of separation that ran so deep for so long. My young life views this culture as it is now and the truth that it wasn’t always this way can sometimes seem a little absurd.

I’ll never stand in the crowd as John, Paul, George, and Ringo come out on stage and send the waiting crowd into a frenzy. As strange as it may seem, the simple gathering of these four guys playing music didn’t just change the lives of a few fanatical teenage girls. It did change things in a noticeable way and sent the world culture in a new direction.

I’ll never see my parents as teenagers falling in love for the first time. I’ve heard stories about their younger selves , playing drums and singing Janis Joplin songs, but it seems like it must be so long ago. I wonder if it seems like that far in the past to them? As I grow older will my memories get further apart, and harder to reach, or just more compressed so that the trip further into the past takes the same amount of time?

I’ll never come to the crest of a hill, look out across the other side and see land that is not already owned by somebody else. No matter how far you go you are never far from everyone else. When you get there you may find a soda can or some dirty socks under a shrub. Gone are the days when there was a wilderness to be “tamed,” when you could strike out towards the country to start anew.

I’ll never stand in front of a Washington D.C. monument and hear a speech about dreams. Will there ever be a moment again when someone speaks so passionately and effectively about something that is so important to them? Or have we become so jaded and cynical of everyone and everything that when they speak we ask ourselves what is their real agenda, or what’s in it for them?

I’ll never stand on the beach and stare into the vast expanse of ocean and wonder what is on the other side. Everyone knows what is there and we all have seen the pictures to prove it. There are other people very much like us over there and they are standing on their own beach. No monsters, no demons, no edge to fall off of.

Absolutely everything we learn about the past is told to us by someone else. The separation between what we know and what we have experienced is vast indeed. We do not inherently know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, we have never seen this happen. Most of us have never actually witnessed penguins diving off the Antarctic shelf or felt the heat radiating from the mouth of an active volcano. Yet, we take for granted that these things happen.

We do not even know everything about our own past. We must be told about the times we spent before we can remember. We are nothing without a past even though it is a past we largely have no personal knowledge of. I will soon become the bearer of the past for others, but how much do I really know?

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The Presumption of Intelligence


"Well, actually Gabe, it turns out you are, in fact, a moron"

We believe what we believe. We tend to find validity and truth in those things which are presented to us that correlate with what we already believe to be true, and we reject those things which do not coincide with those beliefs. The media does not create belief systems and morals, it does not create a world which does not exist. The popular media, often vilified for its skewed portrayal of humanity, simply strengthens and solidifies feelings that have always existed inside of us, and that were looking to find their own reflection.

We believe what we believe and we ignore the rest. We dismiss it as the background noise of the lesser enlightened people that make up the mindless public masses surrounding us. Even if you truly believe that you learned something new and unexpected, something unbelievable and you’ve had a revelation of sorts. You only believe it because you allowed yourself to do so, and ultimately it falls in line with similar patterns of thought that you already share.

Often people consider themselves to be open-minded when, in fact, they simply choose to believe in things that others choose not to. They have moved beyond the mainstream to form a pattern of thought that falls out of line with most of the public at large. This makes them unique in a way, however many choose to ignore the fact that instead of truly being open-minded they have simply chosen another path that comes along with all the same close-mindedness they tried to escape. They turn around, close the door and join the others like themselves. They all rejoice and say Look at how incredibly open-minded we are!

Presumably, the intelligence level of their beliefs and those they believe in is slightly, how should I say… enhanced over those who believe in supposedly archaic ways of thought. The enlightened people will not say outright that their beliefs are better or more intelligent than yours, that would be too close-minded of them. No, instead they will smile smugly and condescendingly tell you it’s alright to believe whatever you want, like a parent petting the head of a child.

A book is written on a subject by a person with a degree of some level and people say Aha! Look at what this very intelligent person just said about this! It must be true! What about the 40 people standing over there who also have degrees and who happen to disagree? Well, they must be wrong and/or ignorant… unwilling to acknowledge the truth… too scared to allow themselves to be free-thinkers!

A pseudoscientist finds proof of God in the complexity of a cell, through systematically neglecting to recognize countless factual contradictions, and the religious community shouts See! Even science proves it to be true! Ignoring the protests of the rest of the scientific community, and the fact that they operate under no agenda. They choose to believe any “proof” that points in the direction they want it to go, and they ignore the rest.

We believe what we want to believe and then we lie to ourselves that we are simply weighing the evidence and making a fair decision. We fool ourselves into believing we can objectively balance our options without prejudice. We consider ourselves open-minded based only on the fact that we consider ourselves to be in the minority, then we turn and judge the majority on how uninspired their views are. We convince ourselves we are special for our unique beliefs and presume that we, and others who think like we do, are just a little notch above the rest in the intelligence department.

Star Trek and ATM’s


A bit of irrelevant ranting for a Monday morning…

"Is there a 'Fast Cash' button upon this device?" "Dude, are you gonna be a while?"

I stopped off at an ATM last week to pick up some cash for the farmer’s market and the nearest bank was, of course, the ever-prevalent, Bank of America. The bank that charges you a fee to look at it as you drive by. I pulled in, skipped gayly across the parking lot, and strolled up to the machine to begin my transaction. Now, a small note about myself: I have this weird little thing where I actually pride myself on my blazing ATM speed. Bing, bang, boom! I’m out! No receipts, no surrender! Nothing worse than getting stuck behind the guy who wants to deposit money, pay bills, and check the balance of his 5 accounts via the machine expressly intended for people in a hurry. Not this guy. I use double fingers like I’m playing Simon Says.

Anyway, I quickly realize from looking at the very first screen that I am on unfamiliar ground, as I rarely use B of A machines, and this may not be as cut and dry as I’m used to. The first screen asks for my language and it literally gives me 8 options to choose from. Really?!? 8? I know this is northern California and we are pretty ethnically diverse, but I haven’t seen that many language options since I tried to read the warning labels on my Swedish-made furniture (long story short, attach all furniture to walls like your blonde-haired life depends on it).

I stared in amazement at my plethora of options and half expected to turn around and see the entire cast of Star Trek waiting in line behind me. That’s about the only circumstance I could foresee in which most of these languages would ever be used, and while I did see some character-based languages, I’m pretty sure none of them were Vulcan. Scotty could just select English, but I still think the ATM would have to either be drunk or use an accent in order for him to understand. Of course, we all know that the Federation has no use for money in the 23rd century (duh), but I think we also saw that sometimes it is necessary to go back in time to northern California to save extinct whale species in order to stop giant space probes from tearing the Earth in two, so ya never know.

The icing on the cake was after I pressed “English” it then went to the next screen where it proceeded to tell me that I had selected English and asked me whether or not that was correct… in English, of course. Did some software designer somewhere get paid by the amount of ridiculously useless screens he created? If it was wrong, how the hell would I know?!? If I had accidentally selected Vietnamese I would have been left staring at a screen of wingdings for who knows how long!

What a complete waste of time and energy on everyone’s part. Just another example of common sense being overruled by the desire to placate even the tiniest percentage of the consuming public. If the United Nations ever decides to come to Chico Ca. on a “fact finding” mission about the medical uses of marijuana you can then reinstate the universal translator software, but until then I think maybe it might be easier if I just slip in my bank card, that has English written all over it, and then enter my PIN.

How to End This War, Right Now


Two words: air conditioning. I think we all know what hundred degree temperatures do to people. It makes ’em all crazy inside. I mean, look at these guys… these people aren’t evil they’re just dying for a cool breeze across the forehead once in awhile. We must provide window A/C units for every household in Iraq and Afghanistan if we want to win the hearts and minds of the people. What else are we good for if not to spread lethargy and procrastination worldwide? It’s the American Dream damn it!

They’re just pissed off all the time over there, and who wouldn’t be?!? Who can think straight with beads of sweat running from back to crack all the time? I’ve done the math, folks. We’re looking at about 650 million dollars to give every household  A/C units, compared to the latest totals of about 1 trillion dollars that we have racked up so far to fight both wars.

The heat is just intolerable people, let’s be honest. Hell, I wanna blow something up when it hits 90 degrees in my house… and I have cable and a Playstation 3. Come to think of it… let’s give them all cable T.V. and Playstations. It’s a mere drop in the bucket compared to what we’ve spent so far!

If you really want to give the middle east a real taste of authentic Americana, do it the best way we know how, through obesity and plain old fashioned laziness! Who wants to scheme up terrorist plots when there is a Madden ’11 tournament going on over at Ahmed’s place? C’mon, I’ve got a bag of Cheetos and a 12-pack of Coke Zero with my name on it Habib! Can’t we “destroy the infidels” after I crush Akhbar with my smothering Raven’s defense?

Terrorists with On Demand reruns of The Office and 70 degree temperatures aren’t terrorists anymore. Nobody wants to put down the lamb kebob and pause Michael Scott (AKA Prison Mike) to go shoot at some dudes in that sun. Besides, if anyone does start any trouble, no problem. A morbidly obese “evil-doer” is nothing if not a slow “evil-doer,” and easy to catch. Easier to spot too. Wal-mart could start shipping over Little Debbie’s Honey Buns by the truckload… I’m sure they’re down to “take advantage” of the new market.

Have you ever walked out of your nice, cool, house straight into a 110 degree slap in the face? You think twice about leaving don’t you? These guys just need a good reason to stay home and I think high score bragging rights on Guitar Hero 5 might just be the way to do it.

Democracy is all well and good, but what better way for the newly “freed” citizens of both Iraq and Afghanistan to learn about the power of one vote than through casting their ballots for their favorite “Islamic Idol?”

That is all….

Mindset List Highlights


Every year Beloit College releases its “Mindset List.” This list is basically an overview of the cultural world that this year’s college freshmen live in. It began in 1998 when Professor Tom McBride and Ron Nief created the list to help teachers and faculty better understand the basic differences between the world they grew up in and the one that the students now knew. It really is eye-opening when you come to the realization about how different our culture is now as opposed to 20 years ago and how an 18-year-old today might view the world.

This year is the class of 2014. These students were born in 1992. For example, these students have never lived in a world without color T.V. or CD’s,  and they likely have never even seen a drive-in movie theater. It’s strange to think, but actually being aware of little things like this can help teachers and students better communicate and relate to one another. I picked out a few of the most interesting and surprising from the list to share with you today:

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THEM…

The terms “caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been used and understood – Coffee is taking over the world!!! I, for one, am perfectly happy with it, of course. Coffee is not the devil. Coffee just told me to say that. All hail coffee. (Blank stare)

Few, if any, students know how to write in cursive – This was kind of already going out the door when I was a kid, thank God. Really unnecessary if you ask me, especially since most people can’t even spell properly in the first place. One thing at a time here people.

Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause – Holy crap, let’s pull it together here people! Your empathy and compassion levels are not in competition with anyone else’s and they are not measured by the amount of ribbon magnets you have plastered on your trunk or wear on your chest. Don’t get bamboozled by breast cancer awareness lawn mowers and autism shoelaces. It’s a pink nightmare out there.

Email is too slow for them – I have to admit I’ve been sucked into the texting game. I wonder how the whole thing is going to start affecting people’s patience levels? Everything seems to be available at a moment’s notice these days.

Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess – I’m sure the latter was thrilled with the emergence of the “lovely lady humps” version of her namesake. If you don’t even understand this one, it’s okay.

They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone – Oh man, I had completely forgotten about that! Those things never stayed coiled properly for longer than a week out of the box. Somewhere there are just heaps of tangled phone cord disasters that will never be undone. Don’t pull on it, you’ll just stretch it out! So what? Now home invaders have to bring their own restraining devices? Not cool.

They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day – The watch industry must be seriously tanking in every direction. Look at your wrist. Are you wearing a watch right now? If so, you are definitely in the minority. I haven’t put on a watch in about 6 years and it was only because I was in the army and they have this funny thing about being on time. Go figure.

“Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows – Not only that, but what about those channel logos in the corners? When the hell did that start up? I had never even seen one of those until I returned to the states about 10 years ago and they were on every channel. I know I’m watching Spike TV!!! Stop it with the explosions in the corner!

Czechoslovakia has never existed – I know, and I miss it so much everyday.

The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs – End result? We now have the fair and balanced FOX News! Great.

Nirvana is on the classic oldies station – Awesome. Does that make it any cooler to listen to the classic rock stations? God, I hope so. I’ll be the coolest dude around.

Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine – Hey, when I came home from school I only needed one channel. As long as that channel was the one with Duck Tales, Rescue Rangers, Tiny Toons, and Animaniacs. C’mon people, you know what I’m talkin’ about.

Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies – C’mon Airwolf!

…and the final mind-blowing revelation about this year’s class is??????

The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping – Ouch! This one really hits home and shows my age. Seriously?!? He’s been rapping that long? I was in high school damn it! I don’t know… I guess I just always loved his doggy-style…

For the full list read on here: http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2014.php

Whose Bright Idea Was This?


Featured in the Chico News & Review Aug.5th, 2010

Written by: Rachel Leibrock

The Bright side

Is atheism going mainstream? One local group says yes, presents a new option for nonbelievers

Paul Geisert doesn’t believe in God, but he didn’t exactly want people to hate him for it. And so there he was, in the fall of 2002, contemplating plans to attend a march in Washington, D.C., organized to protest the overarching religious themes of September 11 memorials and tributes. A Sacramento resident since 1985, Geisert wanted to head east to participate in the demonstration but was aghast by the message its name implied. At best, he reasoned, the Godless Americans March on Washington was clueless. At worst, it was downright offensive.

That name, the longtime atheist remembers, left him feeling angry and defensive.

“I just went absolutely ballistic—here the [march organizer] is calling on everyone in the active atheist groups to march on Washington, and they call it ‘godless’—it was just like spitting in everybody’s face,” Geisert explains on a recent afternoon. The way Geisert saw it, the word godless is synonymous with “evil,” and its use was a surefire way to alienate the general public.

“Why would anyone want to call themselves something that was seen as evil? That ‘godless’ part just drove me nuts.’”

So the former science professor sat down and tried to think up a new term—one that was less divisive than godless but more inclusive than atheist.

The idea, he says, was to pick a word that would help public perception of atheists. Much as the term gay has largely replaced homosexual in the mainstream lexicon, Geisert wanted a word that would allow more atheists to feel comfortable being “out” with their viewpoints.

A few weeks later, after brainstorming thousands of ideas, he finally hit upon what he believed to be the perfect word: bright.

Used as a noun instead of an adjective, Geisert’s definition of the word expanded it to include any “person or persons possessing a worldview that is naturalistic”—a person without belief in a deity or so-called “supernatural” elements such as the afterlife or spirits.

The word bright, as he excitedly explained to his wife, Mynga Futrell, could serve as an umbrella term for atheists and agnostics as well as self-described “freethinkers,” rationalists, secular humanists and skeptics

To read the full story click on image above.

The article is actually pretty extensive and continues to go on and discuss how the “bright” movement is picking up steam and joining with the growing atheist community worldwide. They have memberships and meetings and the founder and his wife are very excited about fellow atheists “coming out” and being part of the new movement. They say that their purpose isn’t to divide the people of the world into believers and non-believers, but to dismantle the religious framework of our culture, presumably through enlightened and natural thinking, unbiased by irrational belief systems.

As a self-professed “atheist” my eyebrows were raised in surprised curiosity once I caught the gist of this material from the first few sentences. After reading further, however, I couldn’t keep from cringing multiple times throughout this article. I guess I can understand the desire to package up your entire belief system into one all encompassing phrase or word for easy consumption by the public. However, this smacks of the pot calling the kettle black.

It’s funny that he uses the word “clueless” to define the protestors and then turns around and is oblivious to the flaws of his own creation.

You don’t want to divide people? Oh, just dismantle the cultural framework that is intertwined with everyones religious beliefs? That seems easy enough… as long as you don’t have any beliefs to begin with. Those who do believe might have something divisive to say about it.

You have meetings and memberships? You belong to a group of like-minded people who carry the flag of a belief system that differs from others? Geez, that sounds familiar…

And how pretentious is that name? “Brights?” As in we are enlightened and intellectual free-thinkers, we carry the torch of truth, we are a beacon in the night? I’m sure that really butters up the opposition.

The need to “belong” strikes again! Since you don’t believe in God, aren’t a gang member, lost your Safeway Club Card, and don’t understand how to use Facebook, you have to find some group to hang out with and swap stories about how you have it all figured out. Not good enough to just have a life philosophy, you have to sign up and join the “good” fight.

If this sounds like a rant, I guess you are right. I just don’t like it when people go out and inadvertently give me a bad name. Whether it is being liberal, an atheist, a male, a father, or a Niners fan. This solves nothing. All it does is continue to stir up feelings of ill-will and contempt. It serves only to further divide people and establish battle lines for future skirmishes, the calling card of the religious culture they are aiming to “dismantle.”

Just live your damn life and GET OVER IT. You go to your corner and believe whatever you want and I’ll go to mine, but don’t start forming clubs and handing out membership cards trying to build up some kind of anti-army. That’s what you started out being against in the first place, now you’ve allowed yourself to get sucked into the game and I just have to laugh at the hypocrisy of it all.

I can hear myself think


What I sometimes think about when nobody is talking…

I have recurring dreams about flying. I just spread my arms out and soar into the sky, free from all the bindings and responsibilities of the earthly realm. These dreams are usually followed promptly by dreams about me plummeting to my death in a terrifying free fall as the earth comes rushing back to crush me. I don’t need any dream interpretation skills to figure out what this means.

I have to laugh when I hear people get really perturbed when they hear a celebrity’s view in world matters. These people get all indignant and say things like “What the hell does Bono know about anything? He’s just some dumb singer. Just stick to writin’ crappy songs and let other people worry about things you couldn’t possibly understand, all right pretty boy?!” Well, I don’t know Jimboy, you seem to vocalize your opinions pretty loudly and you have more missing digits than remaining teeth, so let’s hear what Brad Pitt thinks about world hunger for a sec. Maybe other people can also have a shred of insight, even if they are just subhuman celebrities.

I’ll take experience over age any day. Just because you are old doesn’t mean you are wise. A person can live their whole life and experience next to nothing. There is no seniority rule in truth, but the truth of an experience is lost if the person doesn’t have the will for self-reflection.

If you ask me what I think or feel about something and I say “Oh, I don’t really know.” I am lying. I am just subconciously stalling so that my brain can catch up. You didn’t ask me what I “know” about something, or any factual statistical analysis. You asked what I thought or felt about it and the brain never stops thinking or feeling at anytime. There is no off switch. It is hard-wired to prejudge, to make snap decisions as a matter of survival. When I say “I don’t know” it means “Of course I have already formed an opinion on the subject, whether or not I wish to admit it. Even if I appear undecided or neutral, deep down I know what I feel, but I don’t want to sound ignorant or short-sighted.” I think most people feel that way about most things, if they are honest with themselves.

If you truly believe that you don’t care what anyone thinks about you, you’re probably lying to yourself. You are a social animal and you didn’t just unravel millions of years of human evolution that is dependent upon group interaction for survival, just because you listen to indie rock and shop at Hot Topic. You care. Thoreau didn’t fill up reams of paper so that he could read his own thoughts at some later date. It’s usually the people who think themselves the most individualistic and free of any outside influence who have to find someone to tell it to or rush around letting the world know how much they don’t care. What a pathetically selfish world it would be if nobody cared what anyone else thought or felt.