Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

Dear Bernie Sanders,

I know you feel battered and bruised with the mainstream media ignoring you and warring against you while giving plenty of free and biased coverage to Trump and Clinton. I know that it is frustrating and that it seems hopeless when the Democratic Party is willing to subvert the electoral process and the will of the people by engaging in electoral fraud, voter suppression, money laundering, and collusion all to force their corporate candidate, Hillary Clinton, upon on us. I know you feel sorrow when those who you thought were your allies stood back and watched you as you were constantly attacked while taking the road less well traveled, when they also used to accompany you there, and then betrayed you and their supposed progressive values.

After President Obama and Senator Warren both endorsed Hillary I could see the wear, the tiredness, and the look of defeat in your face. I was so deeply outraged at Senator Warren’s betrayal that I wrote an Open Letter to Elizabeth Warren to express my disappointment and sadness and to help express this sentiment for many of our progressive brothers and sisters of the revolution.

http://www.arionshome.com/2016/06/10/open-letter-elizabeth-warren/

We see everything you have had to endure while standing up for us and for real change. Have no fear and realize that you are not alone, because while you walk that lonely and dusty road we are there in the trees, on the curb, and by the side of the road cheering you on. Do not lose hope. Do not give up. Do not waiver.  We need you. The world needs you, because you speak the truth and because you don’t just talk the talk like Clinton and most other politicians, but because you also walk the walk which is the first time I have seen this in my lifetime.  You have the strength and bravery to be that lone voice gruffly barking out in the dark of night against all of the stupid things that this country has tried to do over the last 30 years. You alone have had the courage, principles, and foresight to speak the truth, to speak for us, to speak for the world. History shows that you were right and that Hillary and everyone else were horribly wrong.

You have proven for the first time in history that corporate money is not needed to fund elections and that a person of principle and foresight can run for president and the people would flock to them. You have proven that the people want real change. We need you to be strong. We need you to be angry and fiery. Mess up your hair, get a balloon, or whatever it is that you need to do because you are the rallying call our country needs to fix our broken electoral system, health care system, foreign policy and everything else that the corporations have broken for their benefit, causing the American people and the people around the world to pay for it with the blood and tears of the innocent. We need your roar to echo through the halls of Congress to cower the establishment to let them know that we will not stand for it and the end of their corruption is nigh.

Endorsing Clinton

I know that I do not need to tell you that Hillary Clinton is a poor candidate with a deplorable record ranging from voting for the Iraq War, supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, betraying the Children’s Defense Fund who she worked for by voting for the Welfare Reform Bill, to the selling of fracking and the TPP throughout the world. She is not liberal or progressive at all. She just tries to play one on TV to appeal to the yearning progressive masses to win their votes. I have written a massive article titled I will NOT be voting for Hillary 2016 that goes over many of her horrible decisions and her orchestrated and inauthentic flip-flopping to pander for votes. The sad thing is I could have updated my post weekly with all of the things that are wrong with her as a candidate.

http://www.arionshome.com/2015/09/17/voting-hillary-clinton-2016/

Unfortunately, I have run into too many Clinton supporters who do not care about how horrible she is as a candidate and only care about and concentrate on the very small amount of good they can find. They blindly back her not caring about her many disastrous decisions and votes, or not knowing or caring about the issues and how these have destroyed the lives of the innocent. They do not realize that judgment matters. That her judgment has been so wrong that with almost everything she has done she has had to flip-flop and apologize for to finally be on the right side. In desperation, they try to rationalize voting for a horrendous candidate by resorting to the harms of gender identity politics . =(

I expect that when the Democratic Party shows that it does not care about winning the election or the future of this country by anointing Hillary that you will also endorse her, because you are a man of principle and you essentially said you would. Your latest words from Vermont sadly seem to point this way too. I will ask you to not do this, please. You know that if the Democratic Convention chooses her that you will get nothing from her or the party – no real concessions or real change, because then you will have no leverage or power to make demands. You will just get their coforting words and platitudes to keep you silent and to ensure that you do not run as a third party. You know that she and the Democratic Party cannot be trusted for they are owned by their corporate masters and you are an affront to their very existence and power.

In the end, I hope that when you see this all play out before you that you will not give in and endorse her. Do not ask us to vote for her for she has definitely not earned it. Do not ask us to vote for our fears and not our values as we demand, as you have given us the courage to do.  Do not ask us to vote for the lesser of two evils when we can and will vote for only you, the greater good. Your principles and this independent grassroots and progressive movement will die if you endorse Hillary or ask us to vote for her. This will be your and our ultimate defeat and their ultimate victory – the defeat of a truly grassroots movement and a truly progressive candidate,  a candidate and movement of and for the people which rejects the corruption that poisons our country.

New Progressive Party

It is laughable that Hillary and the Democratic Party say that they want to “unite the party” when they have done every corrupt thing that they can think of to subvert the will of the people to ensure that Hillary wins because she could not win in an honest election. They show that they really do not care about democracy and do understand our movement or what appeals to us. I know they want us to just fall in line and support Hillary like good ill-informed sheeple, but that is not who we are or why we rally behind you, Bernie. Ignorantly they believe that we are willing to settle for no change, for a government controlled by their corporate masters. I would rather vote for what I want and lose it than vote for what I do not want and get it. We are the Revolution and we will not fall in line and support any form of evil, whether the lesser or the greater!!

With the sad trend of politics in this country moving year after year farther and farther to the right we have the far right represented in current Republican Party which is infected by the Tea Party, the center is represented by current corporatist Democratic Party, and now we need a truly left leaning progressive party. We need you to work with whoever to create a third party that will speak for and represent progressives whether it is the Green Party, the newly forming United Progressive Party, or whoever. We need this. You need this. The world needs this! Please do not allow your principles to stop you from truly igniting and supporting a movement that can unite the progressives and carry your dream, our dream, forward with you. Our voice needs to be heard. Our voice needs to be represented because it is not at all represented in Congress or as a viable political party today. We do not have a real chance to be heard or to demand change. The world needs a third progressive party in the United States as a part of your extensive legacy.

Please do not let the movement that you have captured and inspired to lose hope or die by endorsing Hillary for we independents and progressives are Bernie or Bust and will never vote for her. To endorse her, in the end, is to not only endorse and accept the fraud, voter suppression, collusion, and money laundering that the Democratic Party has perpetrated without punishment, but it will also be a vote for Trump, for you are the only candidate who can beat him or any pathetic excuse for a Republic candidate that is put forth.

In Closing

You are OUR voice. You are OUR leader. You are the voice of the Progressive Revolution! Hillary is the voice for the corrupt centrist Democratic Party who desires naught but to do the bidding of their warmongering corporate masters. There is a reason that we are Bernie or Bust and that is because no one else represents us and inspires us like you do. Your campaign and candidacy is the clarion call to real and honest change, to principled leadership. You are the sole voice of the unheard progressive masses who have longed for a candidate to speak to our hearts. Many of us thought Obama was that candidate with all of that talk of hope and change, but we were wrong.  Obama did inspire us, but you have done so much more. You have awakened us from a despondent torpor that we did not even know we were in and have lit a fire in our hearts and souls like no other has done before.

Stay strong, Bernie, because we need you, America needs you, the world needs you. Walk proudly forward through the rest of the electoral process and into the convention for you are the only real hope to beat the Republicans and bring real change.  They are terrified of you and the movement that has formed around you. They are terrified of the power that you now possess. You are who the people have truly chosen and the Democratic Party is going to lie, scream, and lash out so that they can keep things the same for their corporate masters and so they can keep their power and money.  You are the only candidate the truly cares for and represents not only the people of America, but also for the people of the world. We will accept no one else – only Bernie Sanders. We, the people of the Revolution, are proudly Bernie or Bust!!

With great love and respect,

Bernie or Bust,

James O’Neill

#BernieOrBust  #Sanders2016 #FeelTheBern #StillSanders

#JillNotHill #HillNo #ToneDownForWhat

Open Letter to Elizabeth Warren

Senator Warren,

I am a father, husband, small business owner, home owner and a Navy Veteran who was a part of Desert Storm. Over my 42 years of life and experience I have come to value the electoral process and have an understanding as to how important, powerful and corrupt the process is. I had formerly voted for Obama twice, but have since transitioned over to the Green Party because I wanted real change.

This Electoral Cycle

My emotions swelled this election cycle because my hope for our country’s future, my daughter’s future, and the world was truly embodied in two people – Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. These two principled progressives who form the rallying cry of the progressive movement in the Congress trying fight-by-fight to hold the corrupt system and politicians accountable. I am sickened to know that I was wrong in this to instill my hope in BOTH of you.

I expected Obama’s endorsement of Hillary since he had also sold out quite a while ago, which was shown horrendously when he supported and still supports the TPP (and other things). You have NOT endorsed Hillary because she is the right candidate, a principled candidate with the right positions. She is not a better candidate than Bernie Sanders – not by an order of magnitude. She is worse in pretty much every way. Perhaps, the most important way is that she is worse is because of her judgement (or lack thereof). She has had to apologize or flip-flop to be on the right side of almost all of the issues and to be on the right side of history. In stark contrast to her – for almost every stupid decision that America has made in the last 30 years there is a video of Bernie Sanders who was sometimes the sole voice trying to prevent it. What more reason do you really need to say NO to Hillary and YES to Bernie? Judgment matters. Judgement prevents the problems, saves lives, and does not create them so that we have to apologize later with many lives destroyed in its wake. I have felt so strongly about how bad a candidate Hillary is that I wrote a massive post titled ‘Why I am NOT voting for Hillary 2016” where I even have your very important Bill Moyers interview linked and this interview has formed a cornerstone to my view of Hillary and her politics.

http://www.arionshome.com/2015/09/17/voting-hillary-clinton-2016/

What does this portend for Hillary’s future potential presidency? It will be soiled and mired by a string of flat-yet-expected apologies where history will see her for what she is – corrupt, and with broken moral compass, and  unable to see the right side of the issues . How much will Americans and the world at large suffer because of her inability to see the right answers to the issues that face us even though Bernie Sanders has shown himself to be uncannily prophetic? You are endorsing a woman with bad judgement and whose only response to destroying people’s lives is “I am sorry. I was wrong. Vote for me anyhow because I am a woman and because I am not Trump!!” That is her only real selling point. She is not Donald Trump and that is a sad, sad statement.

Your Endorsement of Hillary

When I had heard that you were going to endorse Hillary I became sick to my stomach. I felt betrayed, confused, and disillusioned. I barely had the stomach to watch your endorsement on Rachel Maddow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVxQ9B4pVWk

You have decided to support Hillary for one really sad reason – out of fear – the fear of a Donald Trump presidency. You have sold the American people out. You have sold yourself out. You have sold out the democratic process by supporting her and the party that has chosen to subvert the democratic process through voter suppression, money laundering , collusion, and electoral fraud. She will lose to Donald Trump (or whoever their candidate ends up being). She will lose because the Democratic Party and their corporate owners betrayed the people and engaged in horrible and despicable acts to force a heinously incompetent and corporate candidate upon us. Hillary is a candidate who listens to the corporations and not the people as she has well proven.

In case you and the Democratic Party have not noticed the tides of history have changed. We may not have the anger or gumption that many Europeans have, but we are angry. We no longer want corruption and corporate control. We want real justice and true change for the people and you said ‘NO’ to that when you endorsed Hillary. You said yes to more of the same. It makes me sad to say that you will end up joining Hillary to be on the wrong side of history when she eventually loses. The Bernie or Bust movement is a clarion call to the world, to the establishment, to the corruption found in our government that we have had enough, that we are done. Things will change even if you do not see it, but I know you see it. I know you know it. I know that for whatever reason you have sold yourself to the control of the corrupt Democratic Party and their corporate owners, and have betrayed your values and principles poisoning your potential legacy. This saddens me greatly because you are better than this, at least, I thought you were.

You have made the same mistake that the American people have been trained to make by the mainstream media and the corporate owned and reinforced two-party system. They want you to vote your fears and not your values, for in this we are all easier to control.  I made that mistake in 2012 when I wanted to vote for Jill Stein, but I let fear force me to vote for Obama so that Romney would not win. I stayed up all night watching the votes come in with my stomach roiling, especially since Romney took an early lead. I will never do that again. I will never again vote my fears. I will be brave. I will have my voice truly heard. I will have my vote count. I will vote my conscience. It seems that you do not have the same courage in the electoral process that you have in fighting big banks. I expected better of you, Senator, Warren.  I really, really did. You were a hero of mine. You are not a villain to me yet, but I do pity you and how you really must feel inside doing this despicable act for whatever misguided  reasons you have.

I also used to greatly support Rachel Maddow  who was one of the few remaining progressive voices in the news before she also betrayed us by selling out to the establishment. Now you, one of the few people I respected in politics, have done the same. You have betrayed not only yourself and everything you have fought for, but also all of those true progressives who saw you and Bernie Sanders as our last hope for real change. That hope in us has almost been snuffed out, not only with you selling out and supporting Hillary who is the woman who stands for everything you have been fighting against, but also by not endorsing Bernie Sanders early off when he really, really needed it. You had that chance to turn the tides to make a real difference, to change the world, to be a part of a really, really historic moment, but you chose cowardice instead. I do not know if Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Establishment has some dirt on you or if you have really been playing progressives as the fools for so many years, but what you have done is unforgivable.  It is like you have completely forgotten the sort of corrupt politician she is. One to which you yourself have brought to light by your interview with Bill Moyers. It seems somewhat convenient that you have forgotten this.

As I am sure you are well aware Hillary has not really changed since then. She is still corrupt and flip-flops when it is politically expedient. She is not a politician that is guided by principles and by what is best for the people. She is guided by money, power, and a ruthless desire to be president – nothing else. We thought that you were also guided by principles like Bernie Sanders, but it seems like we were wrong. You have betrayed everything you have ever stood for and are now cavorting with the enemy. When the going got tough you folded like a sheet.

In Closing

We progressives had feared this possibility of you endorsing Hillary or running with her to try to “unite the party” to try to mitigate how much progressives revile Hillary and do not want to vote for her. We feared this moment that you would show a sign of weakness, a loss of principles, and it has come to pass. I never could have imagined that you would do this for I thought better of you. It is hard to unite a party when most of us who vote for Bernie are Independents and some Democrats, and with Independents being the largest voting block your support will end up backfiring. We do not want Hillary. We do not want Trump. We want a truly progressive candidate like Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein.

With the “Democratic” Party engaging in voter suppression, money laundering as well electoral fraud and corruption for Hillary Clinton and her campaign how can our dreams of real change not be completely crushed? When one of our cherished progressive icons says ‘Yes, I support this icon of corruption and power. This is what I want.‘ and we are supposed to accept this and fall in line? The hope for my daughter’s future has just been ransacked and sold out. I cannot say that I have not truly considered moving to Norway or Sweden before, but your betrayal of your progressive values has made me consider it again because the future for this country and the world just became much, much bleaker. Collectively we just witnessed the death of a progressive icon – Elizabeth Warren.

You had my respect. You had my support. You were one of my personal heroes, someone who gave me hope. Now, you are a sad sign of the insidious toll that corruption and fear can take on a politician, even one as formerly principled as yourself.  I know the following will not mean much to you at all, especially because I am not a constituent of Massachusetts, but I have unfriended you on Facebook, unfollowed you on Twitter, and I have unsubscribed myself from your newsletter. You have lost me. You have lost my support. Mrs. Warren, I really, really hope you find your way before it is too late.

Sincerely,

James O’Neill

#WhyWarrenWhy #WarrenFear  #ValuesNotFear #WarrenBetrayal

#HillNo #BernieOrBust #StillSanders #Sanders2016

Polyamory, Jealousy, and the Eight Walls of Intimacy

Note: This post will be a sort of a part of a 2-part follow-up to my post on Understanding and Managing Jealousy:

If you have not read the other two articles then please take a look.

Jealousy, that horrible Green-Eyed Monster that can tear apart relationships, can rear its ugly head enough in monogamous relationships, but in an open or polyamorous relationships there are a tremendous amount of opportunities where jealousy can surface and cause problems if you are not prepared. The more we understand jealousy the better we will be able to tame this destructive beast. Please also take a look at my other articles on Jealousy to explore this further.

The Eight Walls of Intimacy

I envision there are 8 basic walls (categories of intimacy) that a person may encounter when jealousy, fear, and insecurities can really rear its ugly head. For some of you, depending on where you are at in your journey, these walls can be made of teddy bears and rainbows bringing us joy and candy, but for others, though, a wall can be made of a thousand pounds of tetanus-laden spiked bricks and wounded badgers which rise up to tear you and your loved ones apart.

Each person and each relationship is going to be different, but below are the eight walls I have identified that we may run into when our partners desire intimacy, are intimate, or show intimacy with others. Six of the walls are general categories of actions, and two are specific significant actions whose potential emotional response may be large enough to warrant its own listing. You might arrange them different for you, but I tried to put the walls in the order of least likely to most likely to trigger a jealous reaction. Some specific actions may be categorized differently for you than it is for others, or might be categorized under several of the walls for different reasons, but this should be good enough to start the conversation.

  1. Interest in Another – showing or expressing interest in another person
  2. Non-Sexual Physical Intimacy – holding hands, hugging, kissing, cuddling, petting
  3. Intellectual Intimacy – having deep conversations, sharing a hobby or other interest in common, have aligned philosophical, political, or religious views, etc…
  4. Emotional Intimacy – the way that your partner looks at another, desiring and being excited to see another person, having or desiring a deep emotional connection with another
  5. The “L” Bomb – saying that you love someone else too
  6. Sexual Intimacy – sexual thoughts or having sex with another
  7. Commitment – entangling finances or living conditions, etc; bringing the partner over to family events,
  8. Children – wanting to have children with another, having their children play together, spending time or taking care of the other’s children

Jealousy Severity Rating (JSR)

In the table below I have the 8 Walls listed with a rating scale (0-5) for the Jealousy Severity Rating, and a section for Partner Notes. You could even create subcategories to show that certain aspects are better or worse for you like: non-sexual physical intimacy does not phase you, with the exception of kissing which is something that you may consider very intimate, and seeing your partner kiss another brings out a fresh batch of negative emotions.

Here is a PDF version of this: Jealousy Severity Rating Worksheet

Walls of Intimacy Jealousy Severity Rating (JSR) Partner Notes
0 1 2 3 4 5
1 Interest in Another
2 Non-Sexual Physical Intimacy
3 Intellectual Intimacy
4 Emotional Intimacy
5 The “L” Bomb
6 Sexual Intimacy
7 Commitment
8 Children

Jealousy Severity Rating

JSR name description notes
 0  no reaction no negative emotions are brought up, sunshine and rainbows good for you – compersive feelings are what it is all about
 1 light jealous reaction wibbling, you notice it and may be able to tell it to go away; you may be aware of what is happening and why perhaps some more self reflection is in order and perhaps consider a future talk with your partner about this
 2 mild jealous reaction some negative emotions arise are creating stress and some conflict with you and/or your partners this is a good time to start a conversation with you partner as well as healthy dose of self reflection time
 3 definite jealous reaction definite negative emotions arise: anger, sadness, feelings of loss or neglect and create definite conflict therapist most likely needed, partner conversation needed
 4 strong jealous reaction crying, rabid fears run amok, feeling despondent, questioning relationships and partner choices therapist definitely needed
 5 overwhelming jealousy hysterical crying, serious thoughts of divorce or breaking up, potential thoughts of suicide therapist definitely needed

Exploratory Exercises:

  • assign a Jealousy Severity Rating (JSR) to each Wall with 5 being the most severe reaction
  • create sub-categories or list specific triggers that are significant for you and list their JSR
  • rearrange these in the order from least to most likely to induce an attack of a negative emotion
  • share this with your partners along with notes of their triggers and for ways they can provide reassurance and support to help you combat or deal with it
  • your partners can do these exercises for themselves too
  • each partner can fill this out for how they believe these areas may affect their individual partners as a sort of a check. We may not think a specific or category or trigger affects us, but others may see that it does and this can start a conversation

The Implied Monogamous Relationship Agreement (IMRA)

Note: This post will be a sort of a part of a 2-part follow-up to my post on Understanding and Managing Jealousy:

If you have not read the other two articles then please take a look.

Introduction

To get the most out of this article you will have to closely examine your past and present monogamous relationships as well as your thoughts, assumptions, and expectations in relationships to see the truth in what I am presenting. This process may be challenging for some. Keep in mind, also, that this is written in broad and sweeping terms.

This article is written from the stand point of an American in a westernized culture where monogamy is the norm and other relationships are not allowed and/or are punished. The only acceptable or even acknowledged relationship structure here is monogamy.

All relationships have a relationship agreement which governs what actions are acceptable or not – monogamy is no exception, although most do not even know that it exists or that this is a thing. The first rule of monogamy, like the Fight Club, is to not talk about the Implied Monogamous Relationship Agreement (IMRA) or even acknowledge its existence.

The IMRA is something that we are taught from birth. It is ingrained and indoctrinated into us as children. It is a fact of life and no other relationship formations can even be contemplated or considered, because the rules for all relationships are already set in stone for you before you were even born, and they are to be a visceral and intrinsic part of your worldview, understanding of life, and the way you interact with people. Its rules and your acceptance of them is implied and expected by everyone as a matter of course. To violate these rules is to court disaster from society at large.

Our culture supports, enforces, and perpetuates the existence of monogamy and its relationship agreement through books, movies, music, religion, laws, and our societal expectations of relationships. Understanding that the IMRA exists can help us to understand our thoughts, emotions and desires, to manage and understand jealousy better, and to better understand relationships dynamics.

As a note – a lot of this is perpetuated and reinforced by 2 harmful ideas: the Starvation Model of Love and the One True Love Myth. If you have not heard of these then please look them up. Perhaps I will write up a short post on this as well.

Contents of the Implied Monogamous Relationship Agreement

The IMRA manifests as a series of Exclusivity Clauses (EC) which effectively state that your partner will have exclusive access to you in the following major areas of life:

  1. Social
  2. Intellectual
  3. Emotional
  4. Sexual
  5. Financial
  6. Parental

I will talk about the individual EC’s a bit more below. In my forthcoming article that talks about the ‘Eight Walls of Intimacy’ you will see how these EC’s map to the Eight Walls – hint: they map pretty closely. Certain specific life moments may have significant overlap in several areas. Flirting is a good example of this, since it could hit on sexual, social, and intellectual or emotional areas, depending on the person or the situation.

For the following discussions I am going to assume that we are talking about a person who is in some form of a committed monogamous relationship (i.e. married or dating exclusively).

Before we dive in we have to create/define one word here as it will be used for our purposes so I do not have to repeat a large phrase each time:

person-gender:  a person of a gender that is appropriate for you as a potential romantic interest (i.e if you are a heterosexual woman then that gender would be male). This is typically applies to situations outside the work environment, but could apply there – each person, relationship, and situation is different.

Social Exclusivity

Social Exclusivity points to only spending time with your partner and no other person-gender – not for lunch (especially if they are very attractive), not chatting on Facebook, not flirting with, not going to a convention or concert with. Your primary social partner is your exclusive partner in all things not work related and anyone else is infringing in that space.

Intellectual Exclusivity

Intellectual Exclusivity points to not finding other person-gender interesting or having interests in common (and wanting to share it with them) especially if your partner does not share it in common with you; not having deep conversations about life, politics, religion, or philosophy, etc.

Emotional Exclusivity

Emotional Exclusivity points to only having romantic or other feelings of desire for your partner and no other person-gender – not still caring for your ex’s or even still carrying a flame for them or a previous love, not falling in love with or being attracted to someone else, not having a close friendship that is closer than an acquaintance or distant friend.

Sexual Exclusivity

Sexual Exclusivity points to having sex with and only sexual thoughts for your partner and not finding other person-gender attractive or thinking about them sexually, not looking at porn, not admitting that they are pretty or are in great shape, not pointing out great things about them, since you should have eyes for only your partner.

Financial Exclusivity

Financial exclusivity points to not spending money on other person-gender – not gifts, surprise parties, trips, etc. All money should be spent only on your partner.

Parental Exclusivity

Parental Exclusivity points to only wanting to have children with your partner, not thinking about wanting kids with partner-gender or what your children might look like. Obviously, there are some exceptions when you already have kids with someone else, but the other rules still basically apply to them too.

Electoral Corruption and Collusion For Hillary 2016

It really saddens me to have to write this post and to think that I may have to update this as the election season continues. As an addition to my previous post titled ‘Why I am NOT voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016‘ and the ‘Electoral Corruption and Collusion‘ section of that post for this season I am adding this post to keep up with everything that Hillary and the Democratic Party are doing to try to ensure that Hillary wins, and to subvert the electoral process and the will of the American people.

As a Progressive having voted for Obama for the last 2 elections and having joined the Green Party after the last presidential election I have had the false notion that Democrats were above the Republican ideals of democracy, which includes cheating and voter suppression. This caucus for the Democratic candidate is rigged to try to ensure that Hillary is crowned queen, and the Democratic Party is not even trying to stay neutral to ensure that the will of the voters are heard. I am deeply saddened with what is happening because  I expect better from liberals.

Iowa Caucus

This is the first time I have cared about or even watched a caucus. I stayed up until 11::30pm refreshing the results on my screen watching as the difference between Hillary and Bernie flutter between 0.2 and 0.3%. It was stressful and nail-biting. I finally went to bed when I could not stay up any longer, and when I awoke tired and anxiety ridden in the morning, I was greeted with posts about electoral fraud and collusion. Here are the things that have gone wrong with the Iowa Caucuses:

  • not enough Democratic Party staffers were available to correctly count and manage caucuses
  • some caucus precinct staffers were paid Clinton staffers
  • some precincts were awarded to Clinton by statistically improbable coin tosses (winning all 6)
  • not actually counting votes and making numbers up
  • violating caucus procedures
  • Clinton’s premature declaration of a win even when margins are razor thin and all votes have not been counted
It is easier to commit voter fraud if precincts are not properly staffed. It is also easier to sway the results and the process to one candidate or the other if paid staffers from one candidate are apart of the precinct staff. With all of this happening this makes a good case for getting rid of the caucus process and just having a primary election.  It is sad to think that the United States may need election monitors to ensure a fair and honest election especially among democrats. How far have we fallen? Unfortunately, this may be the only way that Hillary can win. Without the corruption and fraud, I think Bernie would have won by 0.5- 0.75%.
Here are some links that cover these iniquities:

General Fraud

Coin Tossing

End of Night

#ShowTheVotes

Why I am NOT voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

This is a follow-up to my Facebook post which covers much of the same, but here I am going to flesh it out a bit more, clean it up, and possibly even support it with sources and research too, as I am want to do. =) I am planning on also following this up with a post on specifically why Bernie Sanders has my vote, so that this is a bit more clear, and not just a ‘I do not like Hillary!‘ vote. I assure you that this was not the case. I was excited, if not giddy, when I heard that Bernie was considering running for office and had not really considered Hillary’s platform or what I thought of her until recently, after someone added me to a Facebook group that changed to a Hillary 2016 Group, and then things started to get a little awkward and annoying for all involved. Then I got banned from the group. My consideration for Hillary as a candidate and her campaign comes as a fallout from that Facebook situation.

The Basic Information on Hillary Clinton

First, here are some basic links about Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) if you do not know much about her:

Here is a list of her ‘political’ positions (‘political’: since not everyone would consider First Lady as an official political position) :

dates position notes
1993-2001 First Lady marrried to President Bill Clinton
2001-2009 Senator of New York Senate Career
2009-2013 Secretary of State Secretary of State Career

Second, although some may find this statement debateable (?Republicans?), let me say that I acknowledge that Hillary has definitely done some good things. Just by virtue of her being a democrat alone means that she has done some good things for our country. Below is a link that has an ‘incomplete’ list of some of her accomplishments in her time in the government. I am sure there is more, but this list should get you started. The links above in this section can lead you to more of what she has done while in office.

Here’s A List Of Hillary Clinton’s Accomplishments, So Quit Saying She Doesn’t Have Any (Addicting Info).

I will not go over her entire career here, since it is beyond the scope of this post and is beyond my capability, but the list is there for you to peruse like: working for women, children, and the climate. Please do take the moment to take a look . All three of these areas that she has worked for are good, however…

The Woman For President Conundrum

Believe me, I would really, really, really love to follow voting for our first African-American president by also voting for the first woman president in our history, so we can join the rest of the first-world progressive countries, but she is definitely not worthy of that position in our collective history. She wants to be the next Elizabeth Warren, but Hillary is not close to being as authentic, progressive and dogged as Elizabeth Warren has been for the people of this country and against political and corporate corruption.

Some people will vote for Hillary just because she is a woman and a democrat and that is about the only thought that they may have put into it or it will be their primary determining factor, but that will not be me. I will agree, even for me, the fact that she is a woman is a very attractive point. In general, I think the world would be much better off if there were a crap-load more women holding high offices, especially in our government, however, of course, there is much more to a candidate’s ability to hold office and do what is right beyond their “gender”.

To make my point further about the gender issue and my vote I want you to consider my following stance: If Elizabeth Warren was running, and Sanders was not, then Warren would definitely have my vote since they have similar messages and stances on issues. If it were both Sanders or Warren who were competing, and since they have very similar stances on issues, then I might vote for Warren because she is a woman, although it would be a tough process of working through where they are different enough on the issues to make a difference; but hell yea, lets finally bring a woman into Oval Office, a woman who is definitely worthy of this historic position – Warren 2024 (after 8 years of Sanders)!!

Below is a video titled The Caleb Bonham Show: Students Support Hillary Clinton Because She is a Woman that shows that some college students are thinking of voting for her just because she is a woman so you can at least see that this attitude is out there and not just me postulating:

Social Liberal While Centrist Everywhere Else

For those of you who are yearning for a truly progressive candidate you will find that looking to Hillary is not going to truly satisfy you and will leave you wanting for much more. She is not a true progressive. She tends to be quite liberal when it comes to social issues like women, children, and poverty, which is great, but she is very much a centrist democrat by looking at her record and her words regaurding war, the economy and trade, energy, and Wall Street. Here is an article that goes over it lightly: The Vast Ideological Gap Between Hillary Clinton and Supporters of Bernie Sanders.

She pays lip service to those things which echoes a rising desire for populist ideology, especially since Bernie has started running, and I do believe, that she actually cares about some of those issues, but there is a reason there is meme about Hillary’s position being whatever Bernie’s position is as stated two weeks ago. Here is a Saturday Night Live skit which is a mock ad of Hillary Clinton which makes fun of how her stances are changing to become more like Bernie’s:

Her ultimate political position is all about politics and getting the votes. She has changed her position on some issues due to the election season and the shift of the electoral climate. Now that she knows that she is unable successfully pander to and realistically make herself out to be a truly progressive candidate she has recently declared as much to differentiate herself from the very progressive and populist candidate Bernie Sanders.

“You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center,” Clinton told the audience at a Women for Hillary event in Ohio. “I plead guilty.”

Hillary Clinton, speech on Sep 2016 in Columbus, OH

She soundly supports Monsanto and Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)s, the private prison industry, the fracking industry, the Keystone XL pipeline, Wall Street greed, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and is a war hawk to top it all off. She was against gay marriage, the Iraq War, Wall Street regulation, and the Patriot Act until it was not politically expedient to do so. I do not trust her at all and to where the winds of change (and money) may possibly pull her, especially with her Centrist leanings.

Here is an article ‘Why This Socialist Feminist Is Not Voting for Hillary‘ that is a good read.

Changing Values

I whole-heartedly support people changing therir views based on new experiences and information. This is should be the standard for everyone, although this is not the case for many politicians. For her what I see is her changing her views based mostly on poltics, electoral pandering, and catering to the flow of money into her electoral ambitions, and to top it off she has been quite wrong on many issues which is why she needs to backtrack and change her position. It is definitely better to not have to say you are sorry and change your mind when people’s lives and the economy is at stake.

  • Gay Marriage: At one time she was steadfastly for the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) and against Gay Marriage, and then, as recently as 2013, she has had a change of heart while she was conveniently mulling a 2016 presidential run and after Gay Marriage was definitely going to be a national thing.
  • War and Security: She voted for the Patriot Act and the Iraq War and, following the horrible repercussions of these votes, she has said that she regrets these votes.
  • Wall Street: She was a chief advocate for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and now is suddenly against it,while she has historically voted for most Trade Agreements which have harmed American workers. She seems to against it to be following the populist tides here too. Was against tightening bankruptcy laws and then she was for it.

Some links which talk about her flip-flopping:

This video sums it up pretty well as far as her many, many flip-flops. Take a look:

Hillary Lying for 13 Straight Minutes (You Tube) – another video on her flippity-floppityness

Her voting Record and Stances

My words from above were all well and good to say, but lets back this up her actual voting record, her history, and her self-reported stance on the issues where she has been very wrong. You can find voting and stance info on the sites listed above.

Here is an article that goes over the 32 times where Hillary and Bernie were opposed to each other in the Senate: The Senate Votes That Divided Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Here is a video showing their differences ‘Bernie Sanders & Hillary Clinton Over The Years: Then vs. Now‘.

issue Hillary Bernie notes and links
issue Hillary Bernie notes and links
War and Borders
Iraq War y n
Patriot Act (2001) y n
Patriot Act (2006 reauthorization) n n
National Defense Authorization ACt (NDAA) (indefinite detention of prisoners of war) y n
Mexico Border Fence (2006) y n
Civil Rights
Clemency for Snowden n y
Against Gay Rights y < 2013 n
Support Gay Rights y 2013 y
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (1996) y n
Marijuana Legalization n y
Labeling GMO’s n y
Trade and Wall Street
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) y n
Glass-Steagall n y
Repeal of Glass-Steagall (1999) y n
  • for repeal when she was in congress
Bailing Out Wall Street (TARP) y n
Criminal Justice Reform
Private Prison Industry y n
Death Penalty y n
Energy
Keystone XL Pipeline y n
Fracking y n
Offshore Drilling y n

Electoral Corruption and Collusion

Democratic Primary Debates

I am going to tell you what is happening for the Democratic Primary Debates and why things are wrong and, if Hillary is taking part in any of this or knows of it and has not spoken out against it, would be a serious problem for she would be trying to circumvent the democratic process by trying to prevent America from getting real exposure to all of the candidates and to allow them to make an informed decision resulting in having a candidate thrust upon them which has been set forth by the party’s biased and unethical internal politics.

Debate Schedule Limiting: First, we seem have the lowest number of sanctioned debates which is itself a little fishy, but not necessarily so, unless… The chair of the Democratic National Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was Hillary’s 2008 campaign chair, is arbitrarily setting the debate schedule to serverly limit the number of debates so that she can protect Hillary and her strong name recognition by mimimizing Bernie Sanders’ exposure to the public which would help his flagging national name recognition. This is especially important for Hillary’s campaign in light of her greatly falling poll numbers and Bernie’s rising numbers. Limiting the debates will limit her fall and his rise in the polls protecting her campaign to the disadvatnage of all other democratic candidates.

Party SanctionedPrimary Debates
Election Year Dem Rep
1980 6
1984 11
1988 22 7
1992 12
1996 7
2000 9 13
2004 15
2008 25 21
2012 20
2016 6 12 *

Barred from Extra-Party Debates: Second, typically the number of debates is not as serious a concern, since the candidates were welcome to attend other debates outside the specifically party sanctioned ones. However, this time around she will bar anyone from the party’s sanctioned debates if they participate in any debates besides the six that the party has specifically set up, which harms all other candidates and greatly benefits Hillary due to her great name recognition and limiting the access to other public debates by the other candidates. Again this is done to give an advantage to Hillary by reducing any face time that other candidates could possibly have by participating in extra-party debates to which Bernie seems to be quite inclined to do. It also gives the Republicans the upper-hand when it comes to exposure to the public, which is going to end up a critcal problem since the republicans have at least twice as many debates scheduled and, therefore,  twice as much exposeure to the public’s eyes and ears.

Unusual Dates for Debates: The first debate takes place after the New York date for voters to register as Democrat in order to vote for him in the primary, so those who vote there will not have seen a primary debate with all of the candidates who will be on the primary ballot, which greatly favors Clinton. The second debate in November is on a Saturday which has 10 million less viewers than other days. Ther third date in December is on the Saturday before Christmas which is a huge shopping day. The fourth debate in January is on the same day as an NFL divisional playoff day, which is one of the 10 highest viewed shows during the year. Another debate is scheduled on a Saturday before the Christmas holiday. The dates are not set so that they are conducive to people watching and to have a chance to for people to make an educated vote.

Other Electoral Corruption

Super Pacs

This may seem strange here since there is nothing illegal about Super Pacs, however Hillary has Super Pacs behind her with the prison industry, banks, Monsanto, and Wall Street raising money for her. That there should tell you something about where her policies will lay. As a man true to his beliefs, Bernie is not accepting any corporate money at all, and is only excepting money from the people, for who he represents. Hillary has supported and amendment to get corporate money out of politics, but is still accepting their money and their influence. She is talking the talk, but is not walking the walk here, while Bernie is.

In Closing

Hillary Clinton represents much of what is wrong with our electoral politics and is apart of a rich dynasty which is very disconnected from the people and our middle class concerns. Bernie has stuck to his views for his 50+ years in office, and he has been right, while Hillary is changing as her need for votes requires. Hillary is very much apart of, and representative of, our country’s historical and steady movement towards the right, by being strongly centrist on non-social issues. It shows us how far we have fallen when we say that Bernie appears radical when he echoes era Eisenhower Republican values. In a political climate where greed and hate are viable and popular political ideologies while taking care of the vulnerable and the environment, working towards peace, and being truly fiscally responsible isn’t.

There is a reason why Hillary’s poll numbers are going steadily down and Bernie’s are steadily going up. He has even surpassed her in quite a few polls as the people hear his message and are becoming tired of Hillary’s questionable voting record and way too practiced and political answers. Once the debates really start people’s minds will change drastically as they hear Bernie’s message and look at his record, especially when compared to hers, and when they look to where her money comes from – corporations and her Super Pacs. His money comes from the people and only the people. He does not take money from corporations and does not want any corporate money and stands steadfastly against their influence. He has always been this way – for the people.

Change will only really happen with a real progressive like Bernie Sanders, who cannot be bought, and has had a consistent message for over 30 years as a mayor, governor and now senator. He is the only way to truly move our country forward and to catch up with the rest of the first world countries to which we are distinctly behind. Bernie Sanders is a thousand times the candidate than Hillary is and a million times the candidate that any Republican has been for the last 30 years. He has been consistently for the people, works with integrity and transparency, and has gained tremendous amount of bipartisan support which is the only way he could have won and election with 71% of the votes. He has been corruption and controversy free and is the only candidate that will bring true change to our country.

If you take nothing from this writing, then please take the following: Why would you vote for someone who has been on the wrong side of so many issues, or has had to evolve her stance on issues for the right (DOMA, gay marriage, the Iraqu War and Patriot Act) or the wrong (Glass-Steagall, GMO’s), when you can vote for the person who has been consistently right for the last 30 years.

Not her. Not now. Just NO!!

#WhichHillary #ReleaseTheTranscripts

#FeelTheBern #BernieSanders #BernieOrBust #BernieSanders2016 #Sanders2016 #BernNotice #BerningForBernie #BernBabyBern #HunkaBerningLove #VetsForBernie #GeeksForBernie #OpenTheDebates #DebateWithBernie #Berilicious #Bernificosity #Bernasaurus #Bernapotamus

In 2006 I thought was a Centrist. Not Now.

So, in 2006 when I was just starting to get into politics and religion I took the Political Compass quiz to find out where I stood and I blogged about it, since it was also news to me. I found myself, where the x and y axis met, just to the left and down. Keep in mind I have no idea what that meant, not that I do now, but then I was just getting into the religious, political and electoral worlds which I never ever cared about before then.

Now, 9 years later, and having become active during California’s Proposition 8 trials in challenging right-wing nut-jobs, writing activist articles for my blog, joining a UU church, voting, joining the Green Party, and reading everything from evolutionary psychology and biology, Revolutionary War history, philosophy, theology, Christian history and theology, Near Eastern Archaeology, divine feminine studies, linguistics, and having joined the micronation of the Republic of Talossa, my views have changed quite a bit. I find myself quite a bit away from my uninformed self. Once you start to really care about justice and how the government treats others how you think about the world really changes.

2015 Political Compass Results [economic left: -7.8,Social Libertarian -5.23]

2015 Political Compass Results

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I am a guest on Episode 8 of the Storium Arc Podcast!!

I am a member of the Storium Arc podcast team for the Storium game (@FreeXenon), although I only help a little in the background mostly, but I had the wonderful chance to be a guest on the show last week as we were recording Episode 8, in which we discuss character creation. I am in a game or two with one of the hosts named Justin (@Twisted_Gnome) and he thought that my view point as a player might be interesting for people to hear.

Now, this was my first time on podcast and I was really nervous about it. I spent time beforehand to write up a script that would cover the parts that I thought I knew I was going to have to speak on, but it never quite came out that way. I never ever looked at what I had written down, although it was fresh’ish in my mind. I felt like a hot, hot mess, so, as a method of some level of redemption, or at least to make myself feel better, I am posting my script here to translate my borderline incoherence below, also keep in mind I have posted links to everything  mentioned here at the bottom of this post.

My Introduction

Hello everyone, my name is Jim O’Neill and I go by Free Xenon on Storium,  and just about everywhere else on the web. That is Xenon with an ‘X’.

I have been playing role playing games for about 25 years starting with Dungeons and Dragons First Edition and then Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth editions. I have also played Alternity, a smidge of Rifts, Shadowrun, Marvel, GRUPS, Vampire, and then a bit of Star Wars, which is what my gaming group is playing now.

As far a writing is concerned, Role Playing Games were my primary gateway drug, and then blogging was a close second. In the years I have been playing RPGs there have been many, many character histories and narratives written, however in the last 5 or so years they have been getting more complex and larger, much to my DM’s chagrin.

My journey into writing really began after I was helping one of our players who was a high school student and son of one of the other players. I was working with him on his character history, since we were intertwining our histories. At one point he came to me with his character history and I was inspired by it so I rewrote it for him. It turned out to be 10k words long and I finished it in 3 days, so about 3.3k words per day. I was completely shocked when I saw that I had written 10k words. I began to ask myself if I could write a book and this was really the beginning to my serious look into writing. I have also participated in National Novel Writing Month 2 years ago (2013) with a Sci-Fi A-Team sort of thing. You can read my posts on this experience under the posts with the NaNoWriMo tag. I am currently, more off than on, attempting to work on a fantasy series.

I have also been blogging or had a website for about 15 years, so I have had a lot of experience just writing my thoughts out on the web covering mostly religion and politics.

I am current playing in 7 games, but all of them have hit that wall, where everything has slowed down a lot. Maybe one post per week or two. I generally prefer sci-fi and fantasy games.

So, yea, that is me in a nutshell, more nut than shell, that is. =)

Character Creation Process

  1. The Hunt
    • Hunt through the Browse Games Listing or, on occasion, I will look at the Looking for Players thread, until I find one that piques my interest
  2. Cardic Inspiration
    • Once I find one that I like I will click through to the character creation cards and see what they are about and see if there is something there that inspires me. If I do find some inspiration then I start will look at the cards more closely and start to assemble a potential character, personality, and history in my mind.
    • Here I also tend to spend some time reading the current characters too, to see where I can fit in or fill a hole.
    • Once I am done experiencing and selecting the cards and I have a character percolating in my mind, it is time to get serious.
  3. Character Creation Preparation in MS One Note
    • Now, if any of you out there have not used MS OneNote and you play RPGs or are a writer please go to download it, NOW. No, seriously stop, what you are doing right now, pause this seriously kickass  podcast, and go to download it. We’ll wait. tick tick tick tick
    • Ok, once I have OneNote open I create a copy my game template pages which contains (link below):
      • a page to copy the game description, a character submission template
      • character profile page
      • a section for writing my posts
      • as well as providing a space to record any research I need to do about the world. This space was especially important for a Mass Effect and Start Wars game I was in.
  4. Character Submission Template
    • In One Note I open the Character Submission template which is the page that I will post to the game’s character page,  and then I fill that out. (link below)
    • This has info like: my post times and time zone at the top; and then the character’s: name, gender, race, faction, height, weight, etc
    • Once I have that filled out then I will work on writing the character history
    • At some point during this process sometimes during the Cardic Inspiriation of the Character Submission Template phase I start to look for images for my character, and for me, frankly, this is the hardest part of character creation – trying to find the image to reflects that character and the cards I have in my mind. I have honestly scrapped a few too many characters due to not being able to find the right images to go along with the character and cards in my mind, which is really, really annoying.
    • Once the history and the rest of the template is done’ish and I have adjusted my cards as needed I will finally submit the character
  5. Character Profile
    • Once the Submission Template is done I go on to the last major step which is to fill out the Character Profile (link below). Now, I have posted my Character Profile to a Storium forum thread under the Player Advice Forum. This Character Profile is something I have put together from trying to put together a Character Profile for characters found in the fantasy series I am attempting to work on, but this is modified a bit just for Storium characters.
  6. Revisit the Character History and Cards
    • Once the Character Profile is done I will generally revisit the published Character History and the Cards to make any changes or corrections as needed based on revelations that the process of putting together the character profile has revealed.

Links

Images for Cards: at some point during this process sometimes during the Cardic Inspiriation of the Character Submission Template phase I start to look for images for my character, and for me, frankly, this is the hardest part of character creation – trying to find the image to reflects that character and the cards I have in my mind. I have honestly scrapped a character due ot not being able to find the right images to go along with the character and cards in my mind which is really, really annoying.

Flash-Fiction – “Kin Slayer’s First Breath” (~ 680 words, fantasy)

As the king’s honor guard roughly dragged Tradion out of his lightless dungeon cell by his heavy black iron chains, his left cheek bled profusely and he limped from the horrendous beating the guards had just delivered him for having the temerity to ask for water. They were once his friends and comrades-at-arms, as was the now deceased Prince, for whom he was accused of murdering. It started three days ago with bystanders yelling, screaming, and pointing at him with his blood-soaked blade and the Crowned Price lying dead at his feet in a pool of blood. He did not know how it all happened and now he is being led to the market for a public hanging.

The black hooded hangman bore the stench of unwashed peasantry and spilled cheap ale as he roughly dragged Tradion up to the noose in the center of the market before a whole crowd of people – beggars, nobles, peasants, soldiers, and slaves, his manacles cut into his wrist and drew some blood which dripped slowly to the wooden platform. People came from miles around to watch his hanging, the hanging of the man who killed the Crown Prince. The Chamberlain read the charges against him before he was to be hanged until dead. Tradion was strangely at peace with what was about to befall and he did not know why. He said a quick prayer to the gods above and then to his cousin the Crown Prince, and then waited for inevitable.

They fitted the noose around his head and pulled it tight around his neck. He looked around, not sure if this was even real, and then the floor dropped out from under him, the noose snapped tight and the pressure on his neck was unbearable, his eyes bulged as he struggled to breathe. His legs shook for a few moments and then he exhaled for the last time as the last sound he heard was the loud crack of his neck. The crowd yelled and screamed rejoicing that justice was victorious this day.

On a hill overlooking the market area were two hooded individuals who had watched the death of the traitorous dog, Tradion.  The much larger of the two men abruptly arched his back and took in a deep mechanical sounding breath, and then his head snapped from side to side like he was confused or panicked, or looking for something that was about to attack him. The other man pulled up his hood a bit revealing the concerned face of Crown Prince. He adjusted wove his staff forming arcane runs in the air and then looked cautiously to his large panicking companion.

After a moment the Prince said ‘Will you ever forgive me, Tradion.’  The Prince’s companion, fully a head larger and with the broad shoulders of a soldier, pulled up his hood with hands that bore metal plates and some bronze colored rotating gears. The Crowned Prince looked upon face made of a steel plate mimicking Tradion’s face, bronze colored gears could be seen peaking out from underneath the sides of the faceplate which ended  at the line following the cheekbones down to the chin. A quiet mechanical whirring could be heard emanating from within his new mechanical form.

A gruff and mechanical voice answered “Next time you will be the one to die, CUZ.” Tradion shook his head and snorted, and then lifted and flexed his arms trying to get used to who this new mechanical body felt.

“The King and Queen would never let me nor any of our knights undertake such a mission, so it is up to us my brother. We will need you at your best for the battle to come, for the Lords of Dathnar do not sleep.”  The Prince smiled, for Tradion was still in there… somewhere. His cousin’ spirit was tethered to this mechanical shell by the powerful magics he himself had worked over many long months or preparation. They both reared their horses and galloped full speed due north toward the Dathnari Mountains where destiny waited.

Flash Fiction: “Callie” (~ 700 words, modern)

Trigger Warning: rape, murder, women, children, serial killer, prison, capital punishment

They sat there in the sterile white visitation room, a thick ceiling-to-floor glass wall separated them as a large red digital timer on the wall counted down from fifteen minutes, second-by second. The fluorescent ceiling light cast a sickly white light over both of them as one of the ballasts buzzed and was the only thing to break the cold silence. He looked at the floor. She could only hope that he could not look at her due to a deep soul wrenching shame that he felt for all that he had done to those innocent women and their families. Five minutes left and she was growing fearful and impatient that she would never get closure. She needed closure and so did her husband. They both deserved it. Who was she kidding? His victims and their families deserved closure from him more than she did.

The man finally grunted out his first heavily accented words to her in his harsh and gravelly voice:  “I’ve wronged many in dis life. I’ve done some tings. Some dat I regret. But, what has me sit’n here in dese chains isn’t one’o  dem.”  Her heart beat faster and faster as she resisted the overwhelming urge to flee when their eyes met for the first time.  His dark brown eyes started to peruse her toned feminine form like a predator before its meal. She was a mother of three that he never would have hesitated to pull into the back of a van to violate horribly while she would have screamed and screamed, and then leave her for dead along a highway somewhere, her eyes opened wide in terror and desperation staring off into eternity.

She saw it in his cold and remorseless eyes. She could feel it. She could feel all of the horrible things he was imagining he would do to her, which sent a shiver down her spine. Melanie shifted uncomfortably in her chair as he carnally undressed and assaulted her with his eyes.  Her hands felt cold and clammy, and were white from gripping her seat tightly when she knew he was thinking of where he would have left her violated body for the crows. She had never felt so dirty and worthless in all her life, like a piece of unwanted and infected meat, and she wanted to run out of that cold room, but she stayed.

Every night since she braved looking at the numerous reports and bloody pictures two weeks ago that recounted the bloody end of his victims – soccer moms, college students, goth girls, a construction worker, an exotic dancer, and even a nun – she has bolted upright in a cold sweat each night screaming after reliving the bloody deaths of his victims in her dreams.  The news clippings read to her like they had been taken straight from a horror movie. They left her speechless. She did not understand him or anything he had done, least of all why he would kill another serial killer so brutally, smashing in his skull until there was nothing but as crimson paste remaining. She just wanted to know why. Why he did it?

She pulled her eyes away from his carnal gaze, cleared her throat and then weakly said, almost whispering “After raping and murdering thirty-three innocent women over the last ten years, why did you let yourself get caught? Why did you kill him?

Did you do it for what he did to my little Callie?“.

Just saying the words gave her a small sense of closure, for she had come here and was brave enough to say those words, and he heard them, which was more than many whose families suffered such horrible fates received.

She felt it when he looked down to the ground again, his stare was palpable, had a powerful and filthy predatory weight to it. He grunted.“Wimmin folk can struggle’n fight. Chil’en can’t. Met him on a street and we wuz talk’n. Told me what he’d done. Was dead ‘fore he could finish speak’n ‘er name.” He grunted again. Tears streamed down her face leaving black trails on her cheeks as the guard walked in and escorted him to the last few moments of his life.

What is Flash Fiction?

Flash Fiction does not have a really hard or fast definition. It really just depends on who is talking and how they want to specifically define it. In general, Flash Fiction is a story that is anywhere from 300 to 1000 words that contains a beginning, middle and end to it. Writers often try their hand at flash fiction as a challenge.

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Morality without Religion?

I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a single session of a class held at our congregation (The Free Congregation of Sauk County) where this question was asked by Nick Schweitzer, the class’ facilitator:

18. When someone asks you how an atheist can be moral, what do you think the underlying question is? (E.g., is he/she asking how you can know what morality is if you don’t believe in God’s rules, or how people can be trusted to behave decently if they’re not afraid of damnation, or how people can be motivated to behave decently if they don’t believe in an eternal reward, etc.?)

What is your answer to the question?

Below is my answer as far as I can articulate in a short time (a partial day’s worth of work). It is bit disjointed and not as well research or worded as my other writings, but this is all I could manage for now:

The Real Question

So, they ask you “How can an Atheist be moral?”. What do you think the underlying question is?  Well, the underlying question they are asking from their limited context really is:

“How can a person who does not believe in:

  • the authority of the Christian God as the sole source of good, and ethics, and morality
  • their interpretation of their version of their sacred text
  • heaven and hell (and, by extension, damnation and salvation)

..still  have a moral system, especially when, in their world view, where the source of morality and good emanates from a reward and punishment system that is a visceral part of their world-view and  moral system, and this “atheist” has the temerity to reject it?”

Unfortunately, it is natural for someone with this limited world-view to ask such a question, and it is seriously asked by those of  conservative denominations, for obvious reasons. Hopefully, some will find my thoughts and considerations below interesting or enlightening.

Evaluating Conservative Psychology and Religion

Now, there are a lot of problems with this question especially when a lot of the impetus for the question is founded in the limited conservative religious world view, and there is a lot to consider and the take into account when trying to understand it. Keep in mind, that all of this below is just my opinion, and it is based on only that which I know, which is not everything, unfortunately. =(

Conservative Psychology

First we will want to take a look at the psychology that underlies conservatives that will help us understand the impetus and phrasing of the question from their mindset. For that we will travel to Moral Psychology land as well as visit Negativity Bias and Other Psychological Factor‘s land:

Moral Psychology

To understand where this question comes from and what they are really asking we really need to delve, at least a little bit, into moral psychology, which can be quite enlightening in subjects such as this. Jonathan Haidt, a famous moral psychologist, and those in his field have distilled the basic moral components that we all have as the basis for morality, and this is even shown in other animals to some extent, as the following:

  • Harm/Care
  • Fairness/Reciprocity
  • In group Loyalty (Tribalism)
  • Authority/Respect
  • Purity/Sanctity

Liberals score high on:

  • Harm/Care
  • Fairness and Reciprocity

Conservatives score high on the other three:

  • In group Loyalty (Tribalism)
  • Authority/Respect
  • Purity/Sanctity

Now, this can already show why and how conservatives see things and approach morality differently than liberals, at least according to moral psychology. Essentially, conservatives respond to authority (religion and authority figures), tribalism (groups like themselves), Purity/Sanctity (religion) regardless of how it affects others, whereas liberals respond to fairness and taking care of others regardless of the affect on the established institutions. This alone is pretty telling especially when you compare this to liberal and conservative religious and political rhetoric and ideologies.

If we apply the above moral psychology principles to our “question” it may look like this:

“You are not apart of our group, and you do not respect the authority of our group and its institutions and beliefs, then how can you be a good person, since we obviously are good?”

Negativity Bias and Other Conservative Psychological Factors

A recent study has come out that shows that conservatives have a “negativity bias,” meaning that they are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, disgusting) stimuli in their environments, even to the point of seeking it out or “seeing” threats in places and people, especially when differ from themselves.

Other studies suggest that conservatives are characterized by traits such as a need for certainty and an intolerance of ambiguity, of which conservative organizations are more than happy to help with. They provide a clear and clean “this is right and this is wrong, and these are our enemies”.

With this being said, this research sort of shows a conservative person as being prone to seeing threats from that which is different than themselves and their beliefs, and even likes to hear those that espouse that there are threats even if there aren’t any, and is bound to see that which is different as a potential “threat”, especially since they do not believe the same, which in some ways feeds into conservative talk radio, and racism, and other forms of rallying against those who are not like themselves regardless of the consequences to those who are different than them.

Conservative Religion as it Caters to Conservative Psychology

So if we combine the psychological factors discussed above into one thing we get a person who:

  • Prefers their group (tribalism)
  • Respects authority, especially within their group
  • Seeks out and prefers to hear those say what the threats are against them, especially when it includes those who are different than them (not a part of their tribal group)
  • do not like certainty and has an intolerance of ambiguity

Once we have this picture and we add in the influence of, or as a byproduct, resulting in the creation of conservative religion things come into focus very clearly. Conservative religion provides a clear membership identification and is more than happy to tell you who is good and who is bad which caters to adding certainty and removing intolerance to ambiguity, as well as providing authority, a tribal group, and an authority that they can respect. A massive confluence of all of the things that conservative psychology enjoys and thrives under.

Another benefit of conservative religion is that they will have no one to hold them accountable for their interpretation of their sacred texts and their resultant actions when they can say that their interpretation of their religious scripture says they are correct. When they all get together and say ‘yes’ we believe this (even though they may be wrong), their divine entity will not come down and  slap them silly for being stoopid in the head. They get the benefit of defining their version of their religion and their version of their divine entity that caters to their psychological needs and no one can say, in any certainty, that they are right or wrong, even thought they are obviously from a moral and ethical standpoint. It becomes an battle of “our interpretation” vs “your interpretation” which would never sway a conservative since they have a strong respect for their tribal authority (their own) no matter what the consequence to others is. They feel a they have the righteous belief and will not brook any question of the truth of their interpretation or actions since it will bring about dissonance and ambiguity, and jeopardize their belief in their authority figure.

A part of the conservative religious world view is inherently laden with fear, temptation, damnation and sin, original sin, and demons all of which cater to their negativity bias, and, of course, which can also have adverse psychological affects on those who partake of this way of thinking for a long period of time resulting in a life filled with fear, anxiety, and feelings of less-worth. The resultant negative and fearful view towards the world, humanity, and, unfortunately, themselves too inherent in the conservative religious world view is a natural part of their view when around all corners is temptation and demons, fear and anxiety are a natural thing to have.  Now, the convenient part of this is that they invest their trust in the authority of ‘their church’ which propagates these negative emotions and beliefs and it, therefore, becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. When the church says people are bad and inherently sinful and then they seek the church for guidance due to their bias towards their own tribal authority, and their negativity bias which results their own self-inflicted refuction in self-worth, then all good becomes because of their tribe membership and all bad comes from outside of the tribe, since that is what is bad because it is different. To believe otherwise is to invite dissonance and ambiguity which is not allowed in their minds, or by their authoritarian structures. Conservative psychology, by extension, has a self-vested interest in maintaining tribal exceptionalism and the convenience of inerrant scriptural interpretation of their sacred text, since it all feeds into creating certainty (even thought it may not be correct) which provides the benefit of removing ambiguity and promoting their belief in their tribe and its authority, without which will come uncertainty and dissonance.

Revisiting the “Real Question”

From above we said the following:

“How can a person who does not believe in:

  •  the authority of the Christian God as the sole source of good, and ethics, and morality
  • their interpretation of their version of their sacred text
  • heaven and hell (and, by extension, damnation and salvation)

..still  have a moral system, especially when, in their world view, where the source of morality and good emanates from a reward and punishment system that is a visceral part of their world-view and  moral system, and this “atheist” has the temerity to reject it?”

… and that a summary of conservative psychology is:

  • Prefers their group (tribalism)
  • Respects authority, especially within their group
  • Seeks out and prefers to hear those say what the threats are against them, especially when it includes those who are different than them (not a part of their tribal group)
  • do not like certainty and an intolerance of ambiguity

Let us apply the conservative psychological factors to the question so we can understand where they are coming from. This questions calls into question the non-believer’s nontribal membership, caters to their negativity bias and their bias towards authority. Their authority structure has already branded this person as bad and therefore uncertainty has been removed as well, and therefore the unbeliever is bad, so this question really is formed and is reinforced by their psychological world view as described above.

The Liberal Answer

In some ways I have covered a lot of my answer in my previous blog posts from a few years ago, but I will reform my ideas briefly here within context of this question. Of course, most of what I have to say will not convince a conservative since it does not key on their conservative psychological factors and keys on factors outside of their world view, a lot of which challenges their belief structures which is much of why they deny science since it is a considerable threat to what their authoritarian structure teaches, and also imposes external authority structures which invites dissonance and ambiguity, which they do not like.

Limiting one’s perception of the world and decision making to that which their religious tribe says is OK results in a severely limited world view, especially if they are willing to eschew other other authority structures which conflict with their primary and self-assured source of eternal authority. This view lacks an open and informed context of the world (eschewing science, history, empathy and sympathy), especially when their religious world view is limited to a 2000 year old text (at least as far as the New testament is concerned, if we are being generous, or over 5000 years old text if we take into account the Old Testament) that was founded in a culture, history, and context of which we do not share, especially when homosapien is at least 100,000 thousand years old, therefore the most powerful religious denomination in the west has only been around for 5% of human history. An incredible amount has changed in our society due to science and social sciences in the last 100 years, let alone the last 1000 years, and unfortunately conservative religion does not move at the speed of social or scientific progress. The thought of a changing conservative religion is abhorrent to conservatives for many reasons as you could see from up above, although they eventually do change when they are not able to fight against it anymore, or to do so would threaten their existence. This lack of change is due to a threat to the perceived stable and eternal authorith of their belifs which they do not like so they fight it tooth and nail to maintain their beliefs and authority regardless of who is hurt in the process. Sure there is wisdom to be had in their sacred texts, but it must be measured with contemporary social and scientific advances and not be anchored in an ancient world that no longer exists, especially when the beliefs result in harms to other people, the environement, or other creatures.

Singular Mythological or Religious Authority or Something Else?

Let us take a look at the fact that there are over 5000 religions that humanity has utilized over the its short lifespan, and most have many things in common – their laws and ideals at their base teach us good from bad, which is a powerful underpinning found in every religion and society through the history of humanity’s short existence . This alone is a powerful concept which points to something even larger going on that is not limited to one any one religion. A keen example of this is the Golden Rule. The following of the existence of the Golden Rule in many religions is overkill, but it will really help to strongly reinforce this idea that no one religion has corners the market of moral truths:

Bahá’í Faith:

  • “Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not.” “Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.” Baha’u’llah
  • “And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.” Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. 1

Brahmanism:

  • “This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you”. Mahabharata, 5:1517 “

Buddhism:

  • “…a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?” Samyutta NIkaya v. 353
  • “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga 5:18

Christianity:

  • “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12, King James Version.
  • “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31, King James Version.
  • “…and don’t do what you hate…”, Gospel of Thomas 6. The Gospel of Thomas is one of about 40 gospels that circulated among the early Christian movement, but which never made it into the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).

Confucianism:

  • “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you” Analects 15:23
  • “Tse-kung asked, ‘Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?’ Confucius replied, ‘It is the word ‘shu’ — reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'” Doctrine of the Mean 13.3
  • “Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence.” Mencius VII.A.4

Ancient Egyptian:

  • “Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do.” The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, 109 – 110 Translated by R.B. Parkinson. The original dates to circa 1800 BCE and may be the earliest version of the Epic of Reciprocity ever written. 2

Hinduism:

  • This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you. Mahabharata 5:1517

Islam:

  • “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths.” 3

Jainism:

  • “Therefore, neither does he [a sage] cause violence to others nor does he make others do so.” Acarangasutra 5.101-2.
  • “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara
  • “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. “Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

Judaism:

  • “…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”, Leviticus 19:18
  • “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a.
  • “And what you hate, do not do to any one.” Tobit 4:15 4

Taoism:

  • ““Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien
  • “To those who are good to me, I am good; to those who are not good to me, I am also good. Thus all get to be good.”

Zoroastrianism:

  • “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing to another        whatsoever is not good for itself.” Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5
  • “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.” Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29 5

Perhaps you may might state “Well, God has existed before all time and that is where humans get good and evil and motality, so what you are saying is not true. How ’bout them apples, Mr Smartypants? “.

Well, that could easily be claimed by every single religion ever created, therefore such answers are NOT valid. This becomes especially poignant since almost all religions have a creation mythology, and Christianity is no different. You will also find that the mythological stories in the Christian narrative have parallels in the other religions that have come before it and from which its stories draw. The Christian narrative is merely the byproduct of the religions that have come before it as pulled together by the cultural, religious, and political needs and context of the people who created it, as all religion that have ever existed have. Christianity is, in no way, more special than any other religion that has ever existed. It is merely just one of the many religious views that humanity will have throughout its existence, hopefully long existence, assuming our planet does not destroy us first for our hubris.  =)

Evolutionary and Moral Pscychology as Human’s Source For Morality

Naturally evolutionary psychology and moral psychology tends to show us that morality is an integral part of who we are as humans, independent of any particular religion, since we evolved as social creatures as an evolutionary survival adaptation. Those who work together tend to survive longer, but not only that, those who treat others well, tend to survive longer since it breeds greater tribal loyalty, cooperation, and cohesion. Morality is not a thing powered by the gods, it is powered by our evolutionary instincts for survival, without which humans would never have survived long enough to have a need to create its mulitifarious religions, especially in its contemporary forms . I have written that the fundamental essence of all religions is humanism draped in cultural, social, political, and theological trappings of their time. It is a means of passing on moral and human values in a form that is more acceptable to their specific historical and cultural audience. I also venture to say that religions will only survive in the far future if they embrace a humanism as its core, especially as humanity becomes more and more advanced and liberal by extension. Erasmus of Rotterdam was a Catholic priest from the 1500’s who saw a great need within the church and promoted Christian Humanism, and is the contemporary father of this movement.

I may even venture to say that it is easier for liberals to live moral lives without religion since the things that trigger them as identified by moral psychology:

  • Harm/Care
  • Fairness and Reciprocity

… inherently bring about higher chances of devloping a morally good person or society, whereas it may be more difficult for conservatives to do so since they have a strong negativity bias, dislike for ambiguity, and repond to authoritarian structures regardless of how it affects others.

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DDP Yoga and why I started my journey into it. BANG!

DDP Yoga LogoThis post is written as a break off from my previous post about Tanya and Uliana being in Belarus. I wanted to separate the DDP stuff into another post, so here we go:

First let me tell what DDP yoga is:

About DDP Yoga

DDP Yoga came into being after DDP , the professional wrestler named Diamond Dallas Page, messed up his body while wrestling. The doctors told him he would never wrestle again. He was desperate and would try anything to get back into the ring. His wife was doing yoga at the time and recommended that he give that a try. He was desperate so he tried it, and within 3 weeks he was back to training for wrestling  With his seemingly miraculous return to wresting he worked with a chiropractor who specializes sports extremity medicine affectionately named the ‘Yoga Doc’ , who is also a Power Yoga instructor, to create a workout that integrates Power Yoga, rehabilitation techniques, and dynamic tension to create low impact yoga based workout that delivers cardio and strength training too. He has championed it among his wrestling buddies and many are doing DDP Yoga as a part of their training regiment.

“It ain’t your mamma’s yoga!!”

How It Started

So, why did I start looking into DDP yoga?  Well, it all started when a rep from the Madison Mallards called me to let me know that DDP was going to be at a Mallards game some time in June and will be teaching a class after the game. He wanted to see if our studio wanted to arrange for a group outing for the game and DDP’s class. This, of course, had me thinking DDP?  Yoga?? What the hell is going on here? I spent some time researching it and it looked legit.

In doing some research on this I found  the inspirational story of Arthur Boorman‘s transformation using DDP Yoga, which was amazing. Eventually I bought his book Yoga for Regular Guys (YRG). After reading the YRG book I took a better look at DDPYoga.com and I really liked what I saw. Last Thursday I made the jump by purchasing the Max Combo pack, and then the fun began.

Why I made the Jump

As most of you know, my wife and I have a yoga studio, and she teaches there as the primary instructor teaching about 13 classes per week. I have been taking Yoga with her on and off, depending on babysitting, for about 3 years or so, which has been great for my back and neck. I will also say the Tanya is an awesome instructor.

I have wanted to become a yoga teacher for a few years now, but this is difficult because of babysitting, time (~1 month) and money (~$3,500). The 2 paths I have considered are Power Yoga and Yoga Therapist. I first considered Power Yoga since that would appeal to guys more and it is a great workout for muscle building and weight loss. I definitely need a little bit of both of those, but the possible intensity of workouts sorta scared me. =O I found a more important Yoga focus, since in the last year or so I have been battling with RSI (repetitive strain injury), which is the precursor for carpal tunnel syndrome, and it came to the point where I was concerned about having to quit my job. I decided that if I were to get certified I would pick a therapeutic focus and I found that Yoga Therapy was a possibility, more specifically I found out about the Integrative Yoga Therapist certification which also includes diet and Ayurveda too. I am a strong proponent of ‘fix your freaking diet’ as my friends and family well know. Again, this also takes time and money which we do not have at this time.

Now, DDP Yoga is a nice mixture of both Power Yoga and Yoga for a therapeutic end, and they also recommend good dietary changes too. They recently released the first part of  a certification path which only costs $500 and you can do it at home. If I am able to survive DDP Yoga and benefit from it, especially at the upper levels, I may look into getting certified and then I may run classes in the morning as a sort of a boot camp, but that is in the future and assumes much. We shall see if that shall come to pass.

DDP Yoga Poster

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Here are some links about it in case you get curious:

The First Three Weeks Since Tanya and Uliana are in Belarus

I am writing this post during my fourth week alone, and my first week back to work, so this will be all from memory, and not completely correct, but it will be close enough for government work. I was planning on doing a week by week post, since I expected to be really busy, but that sorta did not happen. My time was pretty much was laced with laziness.

The First Night

The very moment I finished work @ 4:30pm the day after I dropped Tanya and Uliana off  (Tuesday) was strange. I was free with nothing to that I had do, no child to babysit, no yoga class to take, no plans at all, just the emptiness of the night with nothing at all on the agenda, and no one calling for my attention. It was really strange. It has been a long time since I have had moments like that, especially for such a long stretch. Having a child changes things a little bit. =) It felt kind like getting out of basic training in the Navy for the first time, going from where your every minute is scheduled and demands are made of your time and attention, and then nothing. My mind really had no clue what the hell I should be doing. It was expecting to be expecting to be expected to have something to do. Twas strange for me to process. I slowly walked home from work taking my time thinking about all of the things I could do, and then I just went home to prepare for the coming time alone. The first night sleeping alone was a little strange too. I am sorta used to having Tanya there, and not having her there made it hard to sleep. =) =( I miss my Ribchik!!

Week One

The first week  I spent some time cooking, shopping, and doing laundry, as well as doing just a little bit of yoga in the evenings, not so much though. I joined the free trial of Redbox and started to watch some movies, as well as watched some shows of mine that were DVR’ed. I did not really do any reading, sadly enough. This first week had me staying up late, like until 11:00 to 12:00am. Much later than I like. On Wednesday I went down to the game shop to chill with the guys. There is usually a Bolt Action Game going on. Bolt Action is a World War II minis game. I think I also went down on Saturday too to check out the gaming goodness.

Weeks Two and Three (Vacation)

Things pick up a bit during these two weeks in which I was on vacation, and I did not accomplish everything that I was hoping to. Things were more laid back than I was planning. The complete lack of routine totally threw me for a loop. I work much better when I have a rigid routine in place and then I can fit things in as needed.

These first weeks of vacation had me staying up late, like until 12:00am to 1:00am in the morning watching movies on Redbox. I usually woke up late which is like 9:00am or so. I would get up, drink my honey-lemon-cinnamon water, take care of email and Facebook, do my yoga, and then shower. I would finish all of this around 12:00 to 1:00pm, and then I would eat breakfast which would usually start with a protein bar. Once all of that was done I would get on with my day.

Reading Books

I was originally planning on reading my Constitution Law book which I bought for my birthday in 2009 and spent a week of vacation reading it. During that week I read ~583 pages. If you get really bored you can read about that in those posts tagged Constitutional Law: Pricipals and Policies. However, since I really wanted to start at the beginning to read the 1300 pages straight through, preferably in a week, but most likely 2, I chickened out. Before your judgemental bastards judge me keep in mind that this is not like 1300 pages of Lord of the Rings, novel sized pages. These are 1300 pages of college text book sized dense law reading. =P

Below are the few things that I read instead:

First, I finished reading the the following 2 books which were already about 60% read:

God and the Gay Christian: This was perhaps the best book I have read on this topic. I have read a few and this is the first one that was really convincing and really gets it right. This is perhaps one of the most important books of the year.

Mary Magdalene: This is the second book on this topic that I have read and I really enjoyed it. Well researched and it really brought me a better understanding of the ways that Mary was and is understood and what it really means today. Good stuff.

Then I moved on to reading new books. You will notice a sort of a trend in the topics here:

Yoga for Regular Guys (YRG): I had picked this up the previous week and had taken a look at it. This week I spent some time going through the yoga routine in there. I recognized pretty much all of the poses in it so there were no surprises there. The forward for the book was written by Rob Zombie which was neat to see. The book was written in a laid back style for men, a bit sexist, but meant in fun, sorta like a professional wrestler wrote it. =O

So You Want to Open a Yoga Studio: This was a small but awesome book. It covered how and why to open up a studio plus what to look for in a space and so much more. If I were looking into opening up a new studio, this book would be a really great place to start.

Light on Law for Yoga Studios: This was written by the guy who is the legal counsel for Yoga Journal, I think. He is also a lawyer and a yoga teacher too, so this book is chocked full of great advice, thoughts, and actual legal forms you  can use to create your own forms. I will have to take a look at my own studio forms and change things around with the info from this book. I wish I had this when we started our studio and I put together our forms and waivers.

The Yogi Entrepreneur: This was a great book on running a studio from everything from choosing a teacher training program, finding work to social media management. A lot of great advice in there.

Yoga

I did yoga almost everyday. My sessions were anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, though I tended to average about 30 minutes. Loving it.

Gaming

I had Charles over and we played some of the following games which are featured on Will Wheaton’s Table Top series:

I also made it over to the game shop and played some:

I will send a shout out to Brian, who has always been kind to me. He has always played mini based games and he always had an army for me (and others) to play. He bought a Russian army for me and I was able to play it for the first time the last Saturday of vacation. He also has plenty of ships to go around for me to play Star Wars:X-Wing too… go Imperials!!

Strangely enough, especially since I am tactically challenged, I won most of the games. Perhaps their is something magical about vacations? Hmmm…. =)

We also had our bi-weekly Star Wars: Edge of Empire Role Playing Game game too, which went well, and Brian also GM’s that and has been our dedicated and tireless GM for 15 years. You go dude! … and thanks!!

Week Four – At Work

With the start of a new week and starting work, I did some cooking and laundry too. It was not too bad getting back to work since I stopped in on both Sundays to clean out my mailbox and see if anything needed to be done.

DDP Yoga

So, I purchased the DVD Max Pack for DDP Yoga and started it Thursday of last week and have done it everyday so far, except for Sunday. It is pretty intense, and I am definitely sweating when I am done. I am looking forward to continuing this practice to help lean me up and lose some weight.  Now that I am back to work I am getting up at 6:00am so I can get my Yoga in before I go to work which will also charge up my metabolism too. It is going pretty well so far and I am going to bed at around 10:00pm too, which is right about where I want to. It is only 2 days in, but things are going well. For more info on DDP Yoga and why I choose it see my next post.

Tonight I will go to Marley’s and then go to see Godzilla.

Next week I pick up Tanya and Uliana on Friday night, and then, thankfully, everything will be back to normal.

I think I have rambled enough for one post.

Chose to Bless the World” by Rebecca Parker of Starr King UU Seminary

This is a wonderful poem that I heard read at our congregation at the Free Congregation of Sauk County, and it touched me enough to post it. It is written by Rebecca Parker, a Methodist/Unitarian Universalist minister, who attended famous UU seminary the Starr King Seminary.

Choose to Bless the World by Rebecca Parker

Your gifts—whatever you discover them to be—

can be used to bless or curse the world

The mind’s power,
The strength of the hands,
The reaches of the heart,
The gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing, waiting

Any of these can serve to feed the hungry,
Bind up wounds,
Welcome the stranger,
Praise what is sacred,
Do the work of justice
Or offer love.

Any of these can draw down the prison door,
Hoard bread,
Abandon the poor,

Obscure what is holy,
Comply with injustice
Or withhold love.

You must answer this question:
What will you do with your gifts?

Choose to bless the world.

The choice to bless the world is more than an act of will,
A moving forward into the world
With the Intention to do good.
It is an act of recognition, a confession of surprise, a grateful acknowledgment
That in the midst of a broken world
Unspeakable beauty, grace and mystery abide.

There is an embrace of kindness that encompasses all life, even yours.

And while there is injustice, anesthetization, or evil
There moves
A holy disturbance,
A benevolent rage,
A revolutionary love,
Protesting, urging, insisting
That which is sacred will not be defiled.

Those who bless the world live their life as a gesture of thanks
For this beauty
And this rage.

The choice to bless the world can take you into solitude
To search for the sources of power and grace;
Native wisdom, healing, and liberation.

More, the choice will draw you into community,
The endeavor shared,
The heritage passed on,
The companionship of struggle,
The importance of keeping faith,
The life of ritual and praise,
The comfort of human friendship,
The company of earth
The chorus of life welcoming you.

None of us alone can save the world.

Together—that is another possibility waiting.

Rebecca Parker

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