Rants, Rumblings and Ruminations in D minor

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday Fives

1. Do you squeeze the toothpase tube or roll it? What's the advantage of your method?

I roll and squeeze my toothpaste tube. They work equally well in my estimation. To get to that last bit of tooth-whitening goodness though, I cut the end of the tube off and swab the inner remnants with my brush.

2. How many siblings do you have? What's your birth order?

One younger brother by about 2 years and a step-brother who is only 6 months separated from me. Even my grade school friends could recognize that 6 months was not enough time for a woman to gestate another kid, so that was always interesting to try and explain in my earlier years without somehow making my step-brother any "less" of a brother.

3. What is something you won? How did you win it?

I won a state-wide art prize in high school for a stippling drawing of a german shephard.

4. What is one of your nicknames? What do you prefer to be called?

I have more than one nickname. In no specific order, they are: Beaker, Beaks, Markus, Marky ( one of the oncologists I work with calls me this.....go figure ), M&M ( by virtue of my first and last names starting with the letter "M" ), or Marcus Aurelius. I prefer Beaker actually.

5. What's something your parents used to say to you as a child that you promised yourself you'd never say - but now you catch yourself saying it?

Praise Jesus? HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA. Just kidding. My parents didn't even say that. Um, I can't think of anything really except something along the lines of " music today isn't what it used to be".

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Draw me a Picture.................

Anyone who has been following the news for the past 3-4 days is well aware of the Muslim outrage over satirical cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. According to Muslim law, it is forbidden to draw the Prophet as it could encourage idolatry which is against Muslim teachings. Radical Muslims also see this as yet another attack on Islam by the West and have since taken to the streets around the globe in violent protest. Quite frankly, I find the entire thing incredibly insane. Foreign embassies are being attacked, people have been KILLED and trade routes are being cut off all because of a cartoon? With respect, these radical Muslims need to realize that there is a good part of the world that does NOT practice their religion and thus could give two wits about a cartoon that--quite frankly--showcases the face of Islam that many of us are familiar with.
A couple of talking points:

  • First off, what this is REALLY about is a classic case of East meets West. What these enraged Muslims do not seem to grasp is that in a free society, the press is not controlled by the government and thus they can print whatever they damned well please. The press corps of Denmark, Germany, Italy ( and a host of other countries ) are under no obligation to recognize or adhere to Islamic law as these countries' laws are based on secular thought and not on religious texts. ( Kudos to the Europeans for giving the Muslims the proverbial "fuck you" by re-printing the cartoons to illustrate their commitment to freedom of speech. ) Muslims living in these countries would do well to remember that when you live in another country, you are making a social contract with the native people to adhere to the mores and laws of the land in which you are living. Thus, in a free society, you are certainly entitled to be angry about something which you find offensive, but you do NOT have the right to violently attack other people and their property. You do NOT have the right to quote scripture as some sort of justification for your actions because that is not the law. If these enraged Muslims feel that this is unfair, I suggest moving back to a Middle Eastern country where religious law is the norm.
  • The origin of these satirical cartoons can be traced right back to Islam itself, or at least the militant wing of it. By taking to the streets and shooting, looting and going mad, these Muslims are reinforcing the very stereotypes that were showcased in these drawings. In addition, I find it highly amusing that these very same people who are protesting in free countries can only do so because of the freedoms guaranteed them under these countries' unholy, secular laws. Funny how that works..................
  • The assertion that these cartoons are an attack on Islam is absurd. At best, they are a means to satirize the very real association of Islam with violence.......which has been going on since I can remember ( about 36 years ) and I think at least a few thousand years before. Newspapers and magazines in the U.S. routinely satirize Christianity and publish images that I'm sure right-wing Christians find offensive. And yet you don't see them on the streets looting and setting things ablaze and suggesting that our government censor our press. The price of living in a free society is having to deal with ideologies or points of view that are at odds with your own and in my estimation, it makes a country richer and fosters intelligent debate.
  • Finally, the latest rumblings from Iran suggest that an Iranian newspaper is soliciting cartoons satirizing the Holocaust to " test the West's resolve concerning free speech". To wit:
"Does Western free speech allow working on issues like America and Israel's crimes or an incident like the Holocaust or is this freedom of speech only good for insulting the holy values of divine religions?" wrote the Iranian daily Hamshahri, according to the Reuters news agency.

Clearly, these folks have never read The Onion or seen The Daily Show.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Gl├╝cklicher Geburtstag!!!!

Today marks the 250th birthday of one W.A. Mozart. I could run on and on about his genius, his prolific output, his influence upon the greats which followed him, or his desire to be classical music's first "star". But I won't. Instead, I will simply revel in his music and sit in awe that 250 years later, we are still worshipping at the altar of Amadeus.

Friday, January 06, 2006

1. If you perform a good act, but with bad intentions, does it still count as good Karma?

I'd have to say yes. To say no would imply that the "Karmic Force" could know my true intentions and I don't believe that there is some all-knowing force that can delve into my inner machinations. And besides, I'm sure we all have inadvertently performed good acts without even realizing it. In these cases, if you were to assume that INTENT was paramount in determining Karma, then even these unintentional acts would not count as "good" when clearly they result in a favorable outcome. In the end, its the RESULT that supersedes any INTENT............in my humble opinion anyway.

2. If there's an accidental good outcome to something you did, can you count it in your karma column? Is there truly such a thing as an accident?

I guess I partly answered this in Question One when I was speaking of inadvertent "good" acts. The take home message is: Outcome supersedes Intent.

As concerns whether there are true accidents, I guess it depends on what you think an accident "is" ( sorry to go all Clinton on you guys ). I like to think of accidents as a convergence of unforeseen events that result in equally unforeseen consequences. Therefore, if I accidentally perform a "good" karmic act, it really is not the result of my singular act, but rather the convergence of several events at a particular time. Had I performed this act at some other time it would not have the same effect. The "good" act arises out of my being in the right place in the right time. To believe that all karmic acts must be preconceived is irrational as we can never control all the variables the Universe hurls at us daily. Think of it as a bonus point to your "good" Karma Score!

3. What about white lies? Is it bad karma to say something you don't mean--knowing that it's nicer than what you were thinking?

I think white lies are a necessity for society to exist. If everyone went about spouting off what they really thought, we would have Anarchy......or at least more domestic violence. So my answer is that white lies are actually "good" because they foster a more functional society. As concerns Karma, since the white lie functions to make someone feel better or to prevent an unnecessary conflict, it is good, hence the modifier of White. If the lie is told, say, to seed discontent or to shift blame to someone else, then it ceases to become a White lie and becomes its antithesis: the Black lie. Or what we just normally call a lie........
Again, it all comes back to the OUTCOME, not the true INTENT.

4. Is a bad intention at all on the same level as a bad act? (For example, is thinking "I'd like to see him killed," on the same degree as 'pulling an MJ?') Christianity, and some criminal statutes seem to think so, but I don't happen to agree.

Absolutely not. It is human nature to have vicious thoughts from time to time. We are, after all, just highly-evolved animals with millions of years of instinct ingrained in our DNA. However, our social conditioning usually precludes us from acting on these feral and mean-spirited instincts, hi-lighting the importance of CHOICE. Feelings are not altogether controllable or even anticipated, but how we deal with them certainly is.

5. Is it good/bad to stick up for yourself, knowing that doing so will inflict harm on others?

I have to play Scientist here and play the "Survival of the Fittest" card. Sticking up for yourself is a pure act of self-preservation. I do agree with Roy though, that the manner in which you do so is very important to the larger Karmic balance. If you unnecessarily degrade others to elevate someone's view of yourself I should think that to be Bad Karma. If, on the other hand, you are defending yourself on the principles of rational thought and logic, then you get a gold star in the Good Karma column.

6. What obligation, if any, do we all have to look out for each other?

I don't know if we're obliged to help others, but I think we should help others. Once again, I'll play the Darwin card and suggest that ultimately we are all personally responsible for our own well-being, whether that entails relationships, ethics or moral values. I agree with Sage that we NEED to be advocates for those who cannot defend or be advocates for themselves. As far as Karma goes, I do think helping others certainly makes the world a better place and also enriches a person's life experiences. And in that case, Good Karma can be attained. But what about the person who performs good deeds for purely selfish reasons (i.e. to make one's self look better to one's peers)? I still think they can get Good Karma as the OUTCOME is still good, but they have to live with the knowledge that they are, in fact, not being genuinely altruistic. Which goes back to a person being ultimately responsible for their own well-being. Good Karma can be attained in many ways, its our choice on how we get it.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Friday Fives

1. What Is Your Most Prized Material Possession?

My stereo speakers. I bought these monsters in 1988 and they still sound better than anything I've heard to date. Big, bulky and unwieldy, I will nonetheless amp those woofers and tweeters until they burst in a cacophony of sound.

2. What item, that you currently own, have you had the longest?

A quick search through the files in my head ( my god it's dusty in here! ) leads me to my collection of Star Wars comic books which I collected from 1979-1981. There may be something from an earlier time, but its the first thing I can recall without digging through all my stuff.

3. Are you a packrat?

Sort of. I've kept a few things that take me down Memory Lane from time to time and some odds and ends from my childhood. I'm not particularly sentimental; I don't feel I need "things" to recall my past and besides, my vague memory edits my past into a much more pleasing and abridged version.

As concerns everyday life, I don't really stash stuff away. I routinely clean out my wardrobe at least twice a year, although I do hold onto some stuff that will, quite frankly, come back into vogue. Then how cool will I be? I may be 60, but I'll be fashionable dammit!

4. Do you prefer a spic-and-span clean house? Or is some clutter necessary to avoid the appearance of a museum?

I like a clean house, especially since I have a very liberal "10 second rule" as concerns food hitting the floor. While our house isn't a museum, it is tidy and relatively clutter-free. However, my ever-growing collection of CDs is threatening to take over the living room and has metastasized into the bedroom.

5. Do the rooms in your house have a theme? Or is it a mixture of knick-knacks here and there?

Not really. If there is a Themed Room per se, it would be our reading alcove off the living room. We call it our Cost Plus/World Market World Tour Room. We essentially have a mix of bogus things on display that we have picked up from said stores and some genuine things that we have picked up in our travels.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday Fives

1. What book has had the most significant impact on your life?

Curiously enough, the Holy Bible, for it was this book that helped me to form my views on life. At a rather early age ( around 10 ) I began to realize that:

  1. the Bible was a essentially a collection of morality tales, kind of like Aesop's Fables but with a decidedly wackier twist. To wit: the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, a world-wide flood and the erection of a tower to the heavens are just some of the more fantastical elements in this "historical document". But beyond all this fantasy is a book which generally gives instructions on how to live a better life, much like the hundreds of recipes in my Mr. Boston's Bartender Guide----- and who can say that's a bad thing?
  2. people who took the Bible literally were just as wacky as the stories contained in it. I found these people to be uninformed about the world about them and generally ignorant and thus found myself attracted to non-church-going folk, ergo my assorted and motley friends that have drifted in and out of my life over the years.

2. What is the worst lie you've ever told?

I take the 5th. Some things do not belong on a public blog.

3. If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?

I plan on being cremated and allowing the winds to scatter my remains to the four corners of the earth. Think of it as a delicate sprinkling of Fairy Dust over the entire globe. If I had to write an epitaph though, it would be: Have I Been Raptured Yet?

4. If you could have chosen you name what would it have been?

Actually, I have always liked my middle name--Christopher. I contemplated using it when moving here, but its probably a good thing I didn't, as several of my friends are named Chris or Christopher. Did you know that Christopher means "full of Christ"? We soooooo didn't get *that* memo.

5. What is in the trunk, or back, of your car?

A spare tire and jumper cables and a tarp. Don't ask what the tarp is for....................

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Fives

1. What is your favorite "Friends" episode?

Hands down, the Thanksgiving episode where Brad Pitt plays the old high school friend who used to be fat. One of his best roles ever, right up there with his tic-ridden activist in Twelve Monkeys. YAMS!

2. Who would be in your historical threesome?

I have no idea as my knowledge of historical likenesses ranks right up there with my knowledge of 17th century Dutch mercantile practices. If the young, 12 century King Philip looked anything like the young Timothy Dalton who portrayed him, he'd definitely be a candidate. Oh and I guess I'd throw in England's contemporary Prince William . Viva la France and God Save the Queen!

3. What foods have you forced yourself to eat this year that you usually don't eat?

Nothing. I have never "forced" myself to eat anything. I'll try anything once. If I don't like it, I'm not going to eat it again. Period.

4. Given the opportunity and a clear shot, what would you most like to steal?

Without a doubt, the winning lottery numbers. Unfortunate as it sounds, money is the means to many ends, not least of which include the wherewithal to pursue your fancies and the freedom to do so.

5. In life, we make choices. What have you chickened out of doing?

Hmmmmmm. The first thing that comes to mind is lacking the balls to break up with my ex-lover. I wasn't good at dealing with conflict ( and still don't really like it, but have learned that it is a sometime necessity in life ) and in the end, Robert ended up being the de facto heart-breaker. To this day, it is something I regret and am ashamed of, but something which made me grow.