Monthly Archives: December 2003

Out of Context Awards: December 2003

Looks like it’s the month of me for this month’s edition of the Out of Context Awards.

In fourth place: “Who needs internet when you’ve got booty?”

Context: While I was talking about how I wish I could be a pirate, I mentioned that pirates wouldn’t have an internet connection. Then, I uttered that quote.

In third place: “Ian McKellan is not girly!”

Context: Well, we (my cousins and I) always said Orlando Bloom (Legolas) looked like a girl. Then, Wenschel, noticing all of them had long hair at one point in the video game, I think, says that they all look girly. I say that because earlier I was joking about how Ian McKellan was the hottest one in the Return of the King. (Might have spelled his name wrong, too lazy right now to check the DVD.)

In second place: “You’re still ramming this metal rod into someone, and you can still hurt them, even if it does have a rubber tip.”

Context: I was talking about a fencing foil, okay.

Winner: “I’ve yet to meet a ninja with a ghetto accent.”

Context: Interestingly enough, this quote came from the same conversation as the 2nd place quote. Still talking about how a foil can hurt, I try to use an analogy involving the hand and how soft, yet deadly it is. To further illustrate my point, I ask the person to imagine that she is a master ninja. She replies with something like, “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout? I am.” So, I reply with my line.

Picture: Best Xmas Ornament

Best Xmas Ornament: Pumpkin

Indeed, it is my favorite Christmas tree ornament… and I bet it beats any of yours!

On a happier note, I got my wisdom teeth pulled out. I hurt. However, I took medicine, so it’s starting to hurt less, as long as I don’t move my mouth around too much. Worst of all, I can’t play trombone.

Angry Bookmarks

I am angry. I just lost all my bookmarks in Opera. I don’t know if it was the stupid AIM+ I was trying to use, or what. So, I’m not using that AIM cloner anymore. My computer froze, I shut it off, Opera came up with an error. I reset the computer, my E: drive doesn’t show up. I reset it again, Opera still has all the preferences lost. Now, I have to go back to all the sites I want and bookmark them again. And now, my wand doesn’t work, so I have to retype all my passwords (Opera users will know what I’m talking about). That’s why I am angry.

Signs of Lucidity

Lucid dreaming is when you’re dreaming and you are aware that you’re dreaming. There are various levels of lucidity. When you know you’re dreaming, you’re more likely to have the ability to control that dream. You can do what you want, since it has no consequences. There are certain signs that can tip you off as to whether you’re having a dream or not. Here’s my current list:

  • Deja vu – I have never experienced deja vu when I’m awake. I think it comes from previous dream experiences which are only remembered vaguely.
  • Wondering whether this is a dream or not – If I have to ask yourself if I’m dreaming, then I am dreaming. When things are real, I have no problem identifying that they are real.
  • Flying – This isn’t just restricted to flying, actually. It also applies to when gravity is not working properly.
  • Eyes not opening properly – Sometimes I have problems with my eyelids when I’m dreaming.
  • Changing scenery/Unstable environment – This is a sign I have in my head, but it’s almost never the one that manages to tip me off.
  • Being lost in a place I know well – This isn’t quite the same as the previous item. This environment is relatively stable while I dream, but the place is way off from what it should be while awake. Sometimes, this manages to produce deja vu.

There are more, but I’ve yet to actually use them.

Concerning the Absence of Color

I came upon this site claiming atheism is a religion via Anyway, the site claims:

But this [that atheism is not a religion] is like saying that “black,” (which physicists define as the total absence of color) is not a color. The car I drive is a big, old Chevrolet, whose color is black. In common practice throughout the world, “black” is understood to be a color, despite the technical definition of the physicists. Likewise, “Atheism” is a religion, despite any technical definitions to the contrary.

If black is a color, then Atheism is a religion.

The analogy is flawed. The answer is clear when you think about it the right way. What color is a window?

Yes, black is a color, but atheism is still not a religion.

So, I decided to send an e-mail to the webmaster (which is pretty much what I said up here). It’s subject is “Concerning the absence of color” and it reads:

Dear Rev. Bill McGinnis,

In your web page titled “The Religion of Atheism” (found at you state:

“But [saying atheism is not a religion] is like saying that “black,” (which physicists define as the total absence of color) is not a color. The car I drive is a big, old Chevrolet, whose color is black. In common practice throughout the world, “black” is understood to be a color, despite the technical definition of the physicists. Likewise, “Atheism” is a religion, despite any technical definitions to the contrary.

If black is a color, then Atheism is a religion.”

I believe your analogy is incorrect. An object that is transparent, such as a window, can be said to lack color.

If you believe I am incorrect, please reply. If you believe that I am correct, could you please e-mail me if you decide to make any changes to the aforementioned web page.

Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail.

I’ll keep you updated if he decides to e-mail back.

I Was Quoted

Check this out: My weblog (the one you’re reading right now) was quoted in the Agnosticism/Atheism section of I subscribe to the newsletter and was rather surprised when I clicked on a link and then found myself quoted. I feel special. The internet is a beautiful place.

Animals and Self

Certain animals can be conditioned to be called by a certain name. Does that mean that they have a sense of self? It seems like it to me. I don’t know exactly what the limit is, but the main question comes to killing. If the life form is too low to have a sense of self, it should be okay to kill it, right? But then, what about young babies? They don’t have those cognitive abilities at the very beginning of life, do they? No answers for today… I’m tired.

Drugs are bad for you

According to my philosophy I’m building, drugs are bad for you. They artificially alter your mind, and your thoughts, and thus, your perception of self. If self alters self, it’s not the same. That’s change, not outside interference.

More in this vein tomorrow…

Axiom of Others’ Existence

You have to take it as a given that other people exist, that you aren’t the only one thinking. If you’re not familiar with solipsism, you probably are somewhat confused. Some think that self is the only thing that can be verified. I’m assuming from interactions with other people and scanning of the brain, that other people do think. Therefore, they have a perception of self. Since self is the most important thing, even in others, destroying “self” is wrong. Killing is wrong because it ends thought and a sense of self.

Axiom of Imperfection

The axiom of imperfection states that all humans are imperfect. I’ll define perfection as without fault. Yet, how does that work in humans? I suppose I’ll say a human is perfect when he or she can make all decisions in a correct manner as to provide perpetual happiness for themselves… that’s making a lot of presumptions (look for one more axiom tomorrow). But the purpose of the axiom of imperfection is to provide the basis for the statement that all problems, individual and social, stem from imperfection.

Saddam Gone

And so, Saddam has been captured. Let the media hullabaloo begin… oh wait, it already has. What can I say that’s new? Probably nothing.

This capture symbolic, but the symbolism can only been seen in hindsight. If the US is lucky, the attacks will begin to decrease. If the attacks decrease, we’re probably looking at Bush with a second term as president. Then again, the attacks could spike, or remain the same. Actually, it doesn’t matter what happens, as long as the “correct” spin is put on it.

Hm, or even better yet, we could find some more information on any stuffs or links that might still be hidden. Vindication of the war would be a better symbol, but I doubt Saddam’s capture could bring this about. Still, preemptive war is a scary precedent.

I think “no” to international court. Tried in Iraq would look better and be more symbolic. It would have better spin for democracy. Yeah, that’s my reason better spin. Really, though, symbolism is important, and I think that a symbol of democracy and independence for the Iraqi people is better than false “cooperation” among the international community. It’s also a good symbol for a new start, by punishing the head of the old regime.

I don’t understand this from Dean: “This development provides an enormous opportunity to set a new course and take the American label off the war. We must do everything possible to bring the U.N., NATO, and other members of the international community back into this effort” [emphasis mine; quote found in Lycos news article, can’t remember link, but those expire quickly anyway…]. Uh, “back”? When were some of them in it in the first place? I don’t see any reason why Saddam’s capture should change anything with the international community’s involvement. To the victor still belong the spoils. How can anyone else really take credit for Saddam’s capture? If anything, it’s positive propaganda that the US can do and is doing it right.

In any case, I thought that piece of news was important enough to preempt axiom number two. I’ll get back to that tomorrow, unless something else happens.

Axiom of Self

When I originally started this weblog, I wanted an unorganized way to just get down my ideas for my future Well, still hasn’t progressed. So, I’m going to try something more organized. I’m going to try to build my philosophy with a bottom-up approach. I’ll be doing for a while, with some breaks in between.

I’ll start with my axiom of self. I think the most important thing is self. It’s hard to really back-up. Self is the only thing you know truly exists. You are yourself, and if you’re not happy, then, well, you aren’t. I don’t know how to phrase it without being circular, so I have to call it an axiom in order to get anywhere. Geometry is based on certain axioms that aren’t proven. They are just accepted. This is my first axiom.

Following from this, you have the statement: “I think; therefore I am” — Descartes. Self is the most important thing. Self derives from thought. Without thought, how can you know you are yourself? You don’t know anything. You have no identity. Since self derives from thought, thought is considered just as important. But what constitutes thought? What degree of intelligence is needed to come up with a concept of self? These will be addressed later with different issues.

Tomorrow, I’ll have axiom number two.

Chaos Theory and Significance

Not taking into account the truth of it, I think part of the popularity of this is that people think that they are significant, no matter what they have done. They think they are not insignificant because they are like the butterfly, and can change things in unexplainable ways.

Part of chaos theory is applied to hypothetical time travel situations. Change one thing and everything in the present is changed. Perhaps. Though if Columbus hadn’t lived, one cannot say that none in Europe would have “discovered” the Americas.

As time goes by, there are more and more people on this planet. Go back in time, kill one of the first moving out of Africa, and the genetic makeup of the human race is greatly altered. However, go back in time five minutes ago, kill some random person, and there probably wouldn’t be as much change. How many starving people are already out there dying?

I, for one, think the tornado is more important than the butterfly. Or, at least, I’d rather strive to be the tornado than the butterfly.

Answering a Second Comment Regarding the Pledge

In response to my entry, Answering a Comment Regarding the Pledge (which answers a comment from my original Pledge entry), Landon said:

So in response of your response, what is the evidence for evolution? I bet you don’t even know it. I completly agree with the first guy.

George Washington states

“Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

I found that at the University of Chicago Press’ site. Now explain that. Our founding father states that we are a religious country.

But you are exactly correct about this country; about it being a Democracy, and you have a chance to voice your opinion, but the fact is, America was founded upon religion of the ‘Almighty’ as Washington puts it. If you don’t like what America is, LEAVE, GO SOMEPLACE ELSE. I’m sure Mexico will love you to voice your opinion.

‘Under God’ was put there for a reason. It was during the Cold Wars’ most difficult time.

Pres. Eisenhower states “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

‘Under God’ is simply a reflection of our religious heritage.

First, regarding evolution… Read Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. The finches of the Galapagos Islands adapted to fill different ecological niches. Another supporting piece of evidence is that artificial selection produced different dog breeds. Different pressures in nature can produce change in species. How about bacteria that are becoming resistant to certain antibiotics? Explain that without evolution by natural selection. Evolution is defined as a change in allele frequencies within a population. And before any one shouts out anything of macroevolution versus microevolution, I’d like to quote the Agnosticism/Atheism FAQ on evolution: “If you find a creationist arguing that microevolution can occur but macroevolution cannot, simply ask them what biological or logical barriers prevent the former from becoming the latter – and listen to the silence.” From now on, if any one wishes to comment, please read: Evolution is a separate issue from the Pledge of Allegiance. Comments on the two subjects should therefore be separate.

On to the second point regarding George Washington’s address on Thanksgiving… Please look at this page on Thanksgiving from the Smithsonian Institute. I don’t deny that some of the Founding Fathers were religious. I don’t deny that people had religious beliefs when founding this nation. But, I do believe religion is a personal issue, not a state issue. The state should not interfere with religion, and religion should not interfere with the state. Apparently, I’m not the only one: “The next three Presidents proclaimed, at most, two days of thanksgiving sometime during their terms of office, either on their own initiative or at the request of a joint Resolution of Congress. One exception was Thomas Jefferson, who believed it was a conflict of church and state to require the American people hold a day of prayer and thanksgiving. President James Madison proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to be held on April 13, 1815, the last such proclamation issued by a President until Abraham Lincoln did so in 1862.” You can state privately that you believe America is supported by a god, but the government should issue no laws respecting any religions.

Although you can choose to believe that a god provided the opportunity for the United States to be formed, you can’t deny that people wrote those words, not any god. We are a nation founded by people, not any god. This nation is for the people, not any god. Notice this within address itself: “especially by affording them [the People of the United States] an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now, look at this, also within the proclamation: “for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed” [emphasis mine]. And is that liberty not infringed upon when a government forces us to pledge to one particular “God”? Even that day of Thanksgiving was but recommended to the American people.

The statement by Eisenhower merely reaffirms that “under God” is meant specifically to endorse religion. I don’t believe that the Constitution allows that. Since I don’t believe in any god, I specifically disagree with the theology behind the statement. We are not “under” any god. The people are subject to their own authority, not any god’s authority. That however, is a different point. The main crux of my argument still is that it is not Constitutional.

I disagree with you about your viewpoint on democracy. I seem to be getting an image that if people disagree with you, they should put up with what you believe, or get out? I believe that democracy involves discourse between disagreeing opinions. If something is wrong, we should try to fix it, not “get out.” Sorry, there are people who disagree with some of your opinions, and they love America just as much as you do. They just may love different aspects of it; for example, I value democracy, republicanism, religious freedom, and discourse. Getting out doesn’t solve anything. Did the Founding Fathers just “get out” when they didn’t like Parliament’s policies? Not that I’m equating the two issues, just making a rhetorical point.

But no, I just love how I have the right to voice my opinion, but if I’m “wrong,” I should be quiet, but still thankful that I can voice my opinion because in other countries they can’t… I just love how that adds up…

Santa and God

Note that God is capitalized, so it’s a proper noun, a name. I’m referring to the Christian God, in this case.

Santa Claus knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. Santa is omniscient. He knows all. God knows all.

Santa is completely selfless and generous. He creates infinite presents out of infinite raw material. It’s seemingly conjured out of nowhere, almost as if a… miracle… had occured. With his sled, he can defeat the laws of physics. Maybe he controls time to complete his tasks. His powers seem limitless, almost omnipotent.

Santa can reward you for good behavior, or punish you for bad. On a larger scale, this is a reflection of the “afterlife.” Instead of Christmas, it’s the day of your death. The present is heaven, with eternal rewards, and the lump of coal is hell.

The timing also helps the parallelism. Christmas takes place in the winter. Winter can be a symbol for death. Spring is the renewal, and thus, the afterlife.

So is Santa supposed to be Satan or God? Or is he just Santa? I may also attempt to compare Santa to Jesus, but not tomorrow. Tomorrow, I speak of death.

Santa is an anagram of Satan

Is this a coincidence that the letters of Santa can rearrange themselves into Satan? Yeah, of course, but I can still find some superficial similarities between the two.

Let’s take the mythology of Santa and twist it. Santa’s watching, so you better be good. He doesn’t actually want to give you presents. He wants to give you coal. But if you’re good, then he has to give you presents. Against his will. So, on his off-time, he is actually trying to persuade people to be bad. He is the devil when it’s not Christmas Eve.

Santa has elves. Remarkably similar to sweatshops, one could argue. They aren’t elves. They are the souls of the damned, forced to work, and forced to serve the people who are good and holy.

The man lives at the North Pole, where it is extremely cold. Now, extreme heat is usually used to describe hell, but still, these environments both involve extreme temperatures. And no one describes the true interior of Santa’s workshop, or lair. It could very well be hot and toasty, to make the souls of the damned, or elves, suffer.

Don’t believe me? Well, Santa is clad in red…

Tomorrow: Comparing Santa to God

Thanksgiving: The Neglected Holiday

Oh, no Out of Context Awards for November because I couldn’t remember any, and I wasn’t on the lookout for any good ones. I don’t think I heard any.

While listening to the multitude of Christmas songs, I realized that there were no Thanksgiving songs. None. Is Christmas that much better than Thanksgiving? There’s a new Christmas movie coming out. Why are there no Thanksgiving movies? Are there any Thanksgiving cards? If asked, what’s your favorite holiday, how many people would name Thanksgiving?

There’s a lot of commercial opportunity missed here. I’m imagining poems, characters, songs, movies, books, children’s stories, cards, toys… and that’s but the beginning. I’ve thought many times of inventing my own holiday and what it would entail. I always came up blank. Instead of inventing a new holiday, how about reinventing an old one?

The greatest potential lies in the globalization of the holiday. It can definitely be branded as bigger than America, while Americans can still have the pride of inventing the holiday. Christmas is so much bigger than Thanksgiving because it’s celebrated all around. Thanksgiving has no religious connatations, but it can if people want it to. It can potentially reach a bigger market.

Thanksgiving will remain supreme! Christmas will no longer be celebrated before Thanksgiving!

Or maybe it’s a good thing that Thanksgiving has not been commercialized as much as Christmas…