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Why I am not voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

 Some of this I still need to confirm, specifically the Glass-Steagal, thing, but I will update this post as needed and as sources come up.

If you have any links, sources or corrections, then please feel free to let me know and i will consider it..

Thanks for understanding

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.

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.

She pays lip service to those things which echoe 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. 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.

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.

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.

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 y 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
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.

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 (gay marriage and Patriot Act) or the wrong (Glass-Steagall), when you can vote for the person who has been consistently right for the last 30 years.

Not her. Not now. Just NO!!

#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, 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 I time beforehand to write up a script that would cover the parts that 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 writted 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 character 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.


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


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


  • “…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


  • “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).


  • “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


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


  • “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


  • “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


  • “…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


  • ““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.”


  • “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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My Related Personal Blog Posts

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 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.


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.


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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The Wife and Kid are off to Belarus

It has been a while since I have last posted, but I have some kinda big news for you…

Yesterday, I dropped Tanya and Uliana off at the Chicago airport so they can make their way to Belarus for a month where they will spend time with family and friends. This will be Uliana’s first trip on a plane (and to Belarus)  and Tanya’s first trip back home since Uliana was born (~ 5 years). I am not going, because we could not afford it at this time. =(

The Trip

We had a goodbye lunch with my parents at a Chinese place at noon, and then Tanya finished up their packing and pre-trip checks.  We left by 3:22pm and drove down I-90 to get to the airport. The drive was pretty uneventful due to the rain even though there was a lot of construction zones. We made it there in about 3 hours (~6:30pm). Once we got there we checked their baggage, obtained their ticket,s and then they left for the security check @ 7:35pm. By 8:45pm I received the call that they were finally on board the plane, and that their security check was really quick. Their flight was scheduled to leave at 9:00pm for a nice overnight flight. I started my long drive back home after I knew that they has passed the security check OK. I arrived in Baraboo at 10:40pm and the whole trip cost 1 tank (15 gallons) of gas in our Santa Fe.

I will call them at noon to see how things went. Hopefully, it went well. =)

Update: At 11:15am I received a text and a  voicemail  from Katia saying that they landed, Uliana was great,  and everything went well. Whew!

My Thoughts on Their Trip

I am very happy that they finally get to go to Belarus. I know Tanya has been a bit homesick and really wanting her mother to finally be able to spend time with her grand daughter. We have a lot of family and friends over there that we have not seen in 5 or 6 years. Distance from them is hard. Skype is only so good. There is no replacing talking and meeting in person. Although, we keep our selves really busy, so that helps to not think about it too much.

Uliana’s Passport

While they are there Tanya will have to work on getting Uliana a Belarussian passport. Unfortunately, it is required by Belarussian law that Uliana gets one. She already has a US passport since she is a US citizen, but as far as Belarussian law is concerned she does not choose her citizenship until she is 16 and is kind of considered a citizen of both countries until she is old enough to choose. In the US getting a passport is a pretty painless process. Go and fill out a form, get a picture, pay some money, and then wait a little bit. In Belarus it is significantly more difficult. They are still dealing with Soviet era bureaucracy and red tape. It will go kinda like this: she will need to fill out a form, then go somewhere else to get someone’s signature, then go somewhere else across town get a stamp to verify the signature, then fill out another form, and perhaps do the previous steps too for that form. She may also have to get a signature to verify the stamp which verifies the signature. It is pretty crazy and it can take a month to get a passport as the red tape deals with itself. This is our main concern while they are over there, because if we are not able to get Uliana’s passport done by the time they are scheduled to leave then they will not be able to leave the country. So, this is going to be a noticeable shadow and stressor over their trip until that gets resolved. We plan on expediting this as quickly as we can, but that only goes so far.

Uliana’s Personality

I am a bit concerned about Uliana’s personality. When she is having fun and entertained she is great, but as soon as that bus stops she can be quite stubborn (she gets that from Tanya… for reals) and mean. Since they are in Belarus and are not in our own house,  disciplining Uliana can be a real challenge. She is going to be around a whole new culture and people and I am worried that she will be overstimulated which may make her cranky a lot. I fear that the trip for both of them will be a complete nightmare. On the other hand, since everything is new all of the time she may be in a great mood since she will be continually entertained… until they have to leave someplace fun. Plus they will be speaking Russian all of the time. Since Russian is not an easy language and she will have to try and think which may make her cranky. This may also add an additional stressor to their trip.

We shall see. I hope and pray for the best possible trip so they both survive to return home. =O =)

Friends and Family

We have a lot of friends and family over there. We have our girls who were here with Tanya – Katia, Ania, and Lena over there who we miss terribly. Katia from St. Petersburg who we met here in Wisconsin last year will make her way via train to see them for a whole day. We really miss her too. Tanya’s mother, brother, aunt and uncle and their families, and everyone else too. She has a lot of other friends to see too. A month is almost enough time to make the rounds to everyone at least once. It will be a great time to reconnect and renewing those relationships. It is a wonderful thing. I am soooo jealous. =)

What About Me?

When I am able to pull myself out of fetal position long enough to wipe the tears from my eyes I plan on hiring a bunch a strippers and having a keg on tap the whole time…I just gotta party when I can… While the cat is away the mice will play…

Ok, maybe not quite that. I plan on cramming a lot of stuff into my head. I have the following to read:

  • a book and a half on Mary Magdalene
  • 3 books on yoga studio management
  • a 1200 page Constitutional Law Book
  • books are religion and theology
  • books on writing

I also plan on fitting in some gaming. Brian has a Russian army I can play for the Bolt Action WWII miniature game. I will also be playing the our normal FFG Star Wars Game, and if I can fit in another game day or two I will.

Next weekend , my awesome nephew, Tyler, is turning 21 so I may go up to Marshfield to partake in that celebration. =)

I will post an update later on about how things are going.

My First NaNoWriMo Experience (NaNoWriMo 2013)

I have participated in my first ever National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November and it was a hell of an experience. Out of 312, 866 people signed up for it worldwide only about 40,000 or so succeeded. As one of the 40k+ I can count myself as one of the 2013 NaNoWriMo winners (winner means having submited your novel and had it validated at 50k+ words). On the early afternoon of Friday, Nov 29th, I submitted my incomplete science fiction novel, The Veritus Engagement, for word count and it came back at 50, 309 words. Praise be to the gods that I was able to finish. There were moments when I was not sure.

I have to thank my wonderful wife who was more than understanding and allowed me to make time for writing in order for me to participate. Did I mention that my wife was awesome? If I have not said that before let me state this now – My wife roxors my boxors! For reals!!

The Veritus Engagement (overview)

Set over a hundred years in the Earth’s possible future where a semi-united Earth has achieved limited space travel and has colonized some of the planets in our solar system, the United Alliance of Interstellar Earth (UAIE) is mired in seceded corporate space colony politics, the threat of a reignited war with the aliens, and competitive corporations vying to monopolize precious resources throughout the solar system.

The Veritus Engagement follows an elite off-the-record paramilitary group, called the Wardens, in which Kuulgan while assisting an elite human military organization, must wade through racial tensions and gun fire to help stop radical alien insurrectionists from reigniting war between the humans and the aliens.

The Preparation

I spent a good portion of September and October planning the writing in MS One Note, which rocks as software. If you have not tried and you are a writer or Dungeon Master, please give it a try I started with a one sentence synopsis, then a 6 sentence synopsis, and then I jumped into writing chapter synopsi using the 5 act plot arrangement with 5 chapters per section @ 2,000 words per chapter. Now, having an even number of chapters per act is not the preferred way to go as I understand, but that is what I went with in order to keep it simple, especially since this was my first time ever attempting anything like this – NaNoWriMo or writing a book. Each chapter synopsis was 3-4 sentences long stating what I was expecting to accomplish during that chapter, and, on occasion, there were also a smattering of bullet points too. I also worked on putting together some character information as I went and was thinking about the plot and needed supporting characters. I spent most time on the protagonist, an alien Named Kuulgan, and his supporting characters, of which there were a total of 14. I also spent a little time on the setting, technology, and history that was needed to support and make sense of what was going on. I even setup Scrivener, my writing tool of choice, with the chapters and 4 scenes per chapter.

The Month of Writing

November 1st came really fast and landed on a Friday. On that Friday I made my 2500 word quota and I was surprised with this and I thought that, with my first 2500 words completed, that I might just be able to this.  The first week of writing went fast and furious. I kept to my daily quote quite easily. Although as we jumped into week 2 I was finding that the 5 chapters about diplomacy that were spread around the book were only going to be about 500 words, so I knew I was going to have to make up for it somewhere. This amounted to about 7500 words of extra writing I was going to have to figure out. Fortunately, a few chapters sprung up that were at least a 1000 words over so I was fairly confident that I was going to be able to get it done. Week 2 was a little slower, but I kept pace pretty well. I used the weekend to get myself ahead by a little over 1300 words. Week 3 was tough. Some of the chapters were coming out, writers block seemed like it was going to be a problem. I had some setting issues that I had not figured out yet, and eventually said the hell with it. Just write and I will figure out the specifics later. I struggled that weekend to get myself caught up but, I was able to. By this time I was not ahead, only just keeping up. I even had to create another chapter with some background writing to fill up the writers block I was having. I was only keeping up, which was good enough for me. Week 4 was the week of Thanksgiving and I had no idea how this was going to work, plus at work my PC was upgraded to Windows 7 which was an all day affair, so I missed an entire day worth of writing, but fortunately I had Thursday and Friday off and was able to easily take the late nights if needed. At this time I also realized the way I budgeted my time I did not compensate for the extra 2 days of the month. I did the math based off of 4 weeks at 5 days a week, so I had extra time if needed, and, fortunately, I kept pace and finished on Friday, just like planned. I was soo happy that I finished. I was glad to finally be done and have conquered this beast. The NaNoWriMo Beast! I think that ding sound means I made it to second level! Squee!

The Experience

I was glad to be done with NaNo. It is not that I did not enjoy it, since i really did enjoy the experience. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is an incredible challenge with a full time job, wife, kid, and a business to manage. I learned that what you plot out and plan to take up a complete chapter worth of words may not actually end that way. I learned that even if you have everything planned out well that writers block may decide that you need more of a challenge. I learned that as you are writing that the writing may take on a life of its own and take you somewhere that you had not planned or it will reveal to you something about your book that you had not realized. I learned that Warrant Officer Giovanni did not like the sound of vibro weapons. The last combat that I had writing turned out nothing like I was intending – no one died. =( I am not sure who is boss here me or the book. =O

What Now?

Currently, I am working on what I hope will be an 7 book fantasy series based on a character and character history from a Dungeons and Dragon’s Second Edition game that played in the 1990′s during my time in the Navy. This was a single player game  that someone else DM’ed for me while we were on our 6 month cruise in the Mediteranean. I am currently in the process of plotting it out and workin on history. The series will be based on the character history titled ‘Of Books and Blades‘ (see link below) and the first book was going to basically be a large rewriting of this short story. I have since come to find out that I have almost completely abandoned this. The only part that is kept is that Jaerle and Kari and the rest is completely jettisoned. I am having the most problem figuring out the plot for this first book. Books 2-5 are fitting together pretty well. 6 and 7 are still a work in process I think either I will get the basic plot for book one done first, or book one’s plot may not happen until the plot for the last two books  are fitting. We shall see.

Wish me luck!

NaNoWriMo (3 Days and Counting)

OK, everyone there are 3 days and counting before National Writing Month (NaNoWrimo) which runs all through the month of November. It is coming… brace yourself!!

I do not have as much prepared as I would like, and I am not sure if the chapter synopsi that I have prepared will work well enough for me to be able to actually write each chapters with 2500 words. We shall see. This is my first attempt at something like this so it will be a huge learning experience.

I Have Joined the Green Party!

How I Found Out About The Green Party

I have officially joined the Green Party. “How did this come about?” you ask. Well, the short of it is that I took a thorough survey during the 2012 presidential electoral cycle which was titled “I side with…?“. I knew who I was going to vote for – Obama, but I was curious as to what the survey would come up with – looking to validate/invalidate my current political label or to illuminate where I really stand even if I think  I stand else where. The result for me from the I side with …? survey was a bit surprising – 98% Democrat, 92% Green Party, and 5% Republican. Agreeing with Democrats and not agreeing at all with the Republicans I understood, but I had no idea who Jill Stein or the Green Party were. I was kinda stunned. Who the hell are these people and how do I agree with them so much?  This started my search into the Green Party – the Green New Deal and other Green Party related sites. Recently I quickly took the survey again and I am at 95% Green and 91% Democrat and still @ 5% Republican. =)

Joining the Green Party

A little over a month ago (29 June 2013) I attended the Wisconsin State Green Party‘s Annual Meeting @ UW Oshkosh officially joining their ranks and become an Alternate Delegate for the state of Wisconsin to the National Party, as well as joining the National Green Party Platform Committee. About 2 weeks ago (25 – 28 July 2013) I attended the 4 day Green Party Annual National Meeting (ANM) in Iowa City, Iowa, and after a day and a half of training and talks on how to run for office, and like 2.5 days of committee meetings, I also have jumped on their IT and Outreach Committees, as well as assisting their Campaign Coordination Committee.

What Appeals to Me About the Green Party

The Green New Deal really appeals to me because it provides real answers to the many issues that we are facing as a country and as a people if we are to have any hope of a future for our country and the world. I do not agree with everything in there, but all most all of it makes a lot of sense and really attacks the real problems that we face in which the Republicans and the Democrats are too spineless to tackle for fear of losing their corporate sponsorship, and their seats. They are more concerned with money and power than actually solving the problems the real problems.  This saddens me greatly. Below I will highlight one of the areas that appeals to me about the Green Party and the Green New Deal, as well as add my thoughts to it:

Electoral Reform

One of the most powerful problems which truly prevents real change and real solutions to our problems is an electoral system that is rigged by the system to keep others out beside the two entrenched major parties. It is a herculean effort for a 3rd party to get on the ballot to be up for voting, especially for presidential elections. When the powers that be write the laws that keep them in power it is very, very difficult for anyone else to really participate in our “democracy”. I do not believe in any way that the Republicans and the Democrats truly represent the breadth of views that the entirety of the American people believe. Americans are not truly represented as long as there are truly only 2 parties able to run for office – the super conservative and the quite a bit less conservative. Voters are more concerned about “wasting their vote” than voting their conscience. I have been victim of that as well. I wanted to vote for Jill Stein in 2012, but did not. Below are four main reforms that need to happen to help correct this. These are not all that needs to be done, but this will go a long way towards fixing things:

  1. Government Paying for Elections: Elections are to be paid for by the federal/state government. This will limit the money wasted on such things, but more importantly it will get rid of corporate money from elections. This is the single most important change that can radically change the political and electoral landscape over night. Corporations will lose their power and will lose their primary method of bending the political process to their will and against the people.
  2. Proportional Representation: This will only really affect the senate and assembly and other seats where their is more than one person position available. In proportional representation seats are put up for vote in a block of seats. In this case let us say that their are 10 seats up for vote. Seats will be portioned out in proportion to how may votes they have received. If democrats receive 40%, Republicans receive 40%, Green Party receives 10%, and Libertarians receive 10% then they shall receive seats as follows: D – 4, R – 4, GP – 1, L – 1. This will allow for other parties to access the ballots and allow people to vote for who they really want and not fear “wasting” their vote.
  3. Shortened Electoral Window: The current electoral season is huge. Congress “works” for like 5 months out of the year and then they spend the rest of the time fund raising and campaigning. I am pretty sure this is not what we voted them in to do – campaign and fund raise. I think we voted them in to legislate and lead our country forward. The electoral window should be shortened to a month or so, so that time and money is not wasted on such things when people are going hungry, are without homes, and our education system is continually being cut.

Running For Office

Now, with all of that said  I would like to run for office so I can be apart of bringing about that necessary change that the Republicans and Democrats do not have the resolve and caring to make it happen. I am looking at running for local offices first to get my feet wet and then hopefully run for  state office. Since I work for a county government I cannot run for County Supervisor and then only spot that is interesting to me and available for this next electoral cycle is School Board, so, hopefully, things will work out so that I will have that opportunity. If I do I will definitely post that event here too.

Read More…

There is so much to than this in the Green New Deal. Please take the time to look at it and consider what it offers. We offer a real way forward to solve our countries problems.

Attempting to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

OK everyone…. I am going to attempt to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which is all through the month of the November (Nov 1 -30). The challenge is to write a 50k word novel in one month. I think 50k words is technically classified as a novella, but whose counting anyhow? Not a fully edited one, of course, just a rough draft. I have no idea if I can accomplish this, but I am going to try. I have a Google+ Community setup for those who wish to assist me in this craziness. If you would like to look up the community titled: FX’s 2013 NaNoWriMo GP – the Vertitus Engagement, or you can find a link below

FX’s 2013 NaNoWriMo Entry
Genre Sci Fi
Title The Veritus Engagement
Cover Summary Kuulgan, and alien from another galaxy and a former member of their alien military, while assisting an elite human military organization, must wade through racial tensions and gun fire to help stop radical alien insurrectionists from reigniting war between the humans and the aliens.
Setting Set over a hundred years in the Earth’s possible future where a semi-united Earth has achieved  limited space travel and is colonizing the planets in our solar system. The United Alliance of Interstellar Earth (UAIE) is mired in seceded corporate space colony politics, the threat of reigniting war with the aliens, competitive corporations vying for the next great technological advancements that can take our species beyond our system, and monopolize precious resources, tries to keep the peace with an elite off-the-record paramilitary group, called the Wardens.

Humans have encountered one sentient alien species which has traveled to our system resulting in a decades long war, but finally ended in a tense detente with the aliens colonizing the he periphery of our system. An eventual agreement allowed some cross immigration for both humans and aliens.