Global Warming

Newsweek article: http://www.newsweek.com/2007/08/13/the-truth-about-denial.html

The global warming debate (now more properly known as the global climate change debate) still rages.  I’m not afraid to say that I come down on the opinion that human factors definitely influence climate change.   This article, “The Truth About Denial,” explores some of the background of the denial of climate change.  It’s worth a read, though be warned, it is rather long.

Doodles

I need to find something to better occupy my time.  Anthro final to write?  Meh.  We’ll see about that.  All I have to do is graduate at this point.

This is definitely not what I should be doing with my time.

I downloaded the free application, SketchbookExpress, today.  Gonna be quite the time-waster for a while I think.

Rat’s Wisdom

Maybe I should follow this advice rather than continuing posting in my blog.

Those DC Monuments Got Me Wondering

Thomas Jefferson National Monument

I spent a few days of my spring break in Washington DC with my dad to check out a couple law schools (American and George Washington — I liked GW better).  Of course, I feel like you can’t (or shouldn’t) go to DC without seeing the some of the monuments, so Dad and I visited a few places, namely the Thomas Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln monuments.  I noticed just how enormous these places are, many of them with obvious Roman influences.  I thought about how today we find remains of Roman architecture, some of it massive and simply stunning and began to wonder what future civilization will think of us.  I was talking to Luke online a few days ago and mentioned these thoughts and he raised another interesting question.  Rather than wondering first what future civilizations will think about the United States, he thinks more about the more basic questions of what civilizations will exist beyond us.  Interesting questions I think.  Discuss.  (I say this under the delusion of a large blog readership.)

Me standing next to a pillar at the Thomas Jefferson National Monument.

What do an 18th Century Enlightenment Thinker and a Duck Have In Common?

Answer: Absolutely no idea.  Possibly nothing.  That title was just an attempt to get you to click, and if you’re reading this then clearly it worked.

The following is what this is really about . . .

Confession: I am having fun writing my Senior History Honors Thesis. I’ve spent a lot of time with the tall red-head, Thomas Jefferson and am quite enjoying watching my argument develop and finally take shape in my Word document.

Confession 2: I have been looking for a reason to write a paper on Thomas Jefferson since I got to college.  I’m serious, people.  For some reason this guy has always fascinated me.

That is all.  Thank you for indulging me.

Thomas Jefferson

Picture is not mine... Obviously... Came from thefamouspeople.com

Some Might Call This the Ripple Effect


Do you ever find yourself wondering how things would be different if you’d just said or done even one thing differently? For example, what if you had decided to attend a different college or university? That’s a big jump to make, but it’s kind of what I’m talking about. Recently I’ve started to speculate on smaller instances of how making different decisions might have changed a lot. But then, that’s all it is, isn’t it? It’s just speculation. No use actually dwelling on it, but it is interesting.

Procrastination Blitz

Arg. Yesterday, the smart me installed an extension on Chrome that would limit my Bejeweled-playing to 10 minutes per day. I just finished my history paper and all I want to do is play one game, or two, or you know, however many my addicted self will play until I realize I’ve wasted way too much time on it… again. So, this means two things:

1. I have to find a more creative way of procrastinating (hence ANOTHER post here)

OR

2. I actually have to study for my exam tomorrow.

Finding other creative procrastinations is too much effort. Guess that means studying.

… I just realized that I could use LSAT logic for this:
If I don’t find more ways to procrastinate, then I will study. If finding more ways to procrastinate is too much effort, then I won’t bother with it. Finding more ways to procrastinate is too much effort. Therefore, I will study.

With that being said, you know what I’m about to do.

‘Bout That Time, Eh Chaps?

Here we are, end of the fall semester and I am busier than any fall semester ever before!  Hooray!  So you know what that means right?

If you guess that it’s time for major procrastinating while staying home on a Friday night to make myself feel better, then you are absolutely 100% correct.  I’ve convinced myself I won’t spend too much time on this, but who can really say?  I also tell myself I’ll never play Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook ever again  since it is such a time sap, but that hasn’t happened either.  I’m also acutely aware that the more I babble on, the longer I get to put off my 15 page term paper that is due Monday, of which I have only written five pages.  But you don’t want to hear about everything I have to do.  That would be painfully boring.
Right now I’m sitting on the couch listen to my lovely roommate squealing over some website that draws pictures and repeating how she wants to be able to draw like this, (how she wants to put it on twitter, but how she doesn’t want people to judge her for it . . . which I really don’t think they would) and reflecting on the semester.  All I need is some tea and I’ll be good to go . . .

Ah, there we go.  Favorite tea ever: Perfect Moment from Heine Bros. Coffee.  Yum.  Now that I have this, I can tell you, my four readers (except for everyone who might see this on my Facebook . . . if that’s you, visit my real blog.  Give me views, please and thank you.), my rambling thoughts.

This semester did not turn out at all as expected.  I moved to Louisville this summer, officially out of campus housing, thinking that this semester would be so much better than all my other stressful, freak-out inducing class assignments, etc.  Boy, was I wrong.  I’ve been busier than ever this time.  Yet, I’m beginning to learn when I can not freak out and when I maybe should be.  For example, I was going to work on the aforementioned research paper on Wednesday (I had nothing written at that point), but around 1:30 in the afternoon, my good friend Michael asked if I wanted to finish our Lord of the Rings, extended-version, movie-watching extravaganza.  It was too tempting.  I pushed the metaphorical academic angel off my shoulder and went to his apartment for the four-hour movie.  Seriously, I have never sat through a longer film, and except for the parts with Frodo, it was pure LotR glory and wonder.

My point here is that, here I am, Friday, and I have just over five pages written on a paper that I would have let completely freak me out a year or more ago.  As long as I do at least five pages per day the rest of the weekend, I’ll be fine.  It’s manageable.  Definitely do-able.  Now, as I say this I begin to hyperventilate just slightly thinking about everything else going on next week, but I remind myself of my new-found realization that my friends helped me to come to, both in Louisville and not (shout-out to various conversations with Stephen Gregory), that even if I relax a bit and let myself have fun, things will get done.

So, though I’ve been busier than ever this semester and it hasn’t been what I originally expected, one of those things that’s been different is my changing perceptions on homework.  I’ve gone out on weeknights (radical, k?).  I’ve stayed up late and, yes, I’ve even fallen asleep in class a few times.  I almost dare to say that I have nearly mastered time-management since my grades are still fine while I’ve been able to do all this, but let’s not get cocky.

Enough of this now.  It’s time to get working on these final papers and study for my tests.  I have to finish out this semester so I can have a super awesome winter break.

And yeah, next semester is gonna be so much easier.  We’re gonna finish off senior year.  Send it off in style, academically and otherwise I hope.

Hope for Tolerance, Understanding and Cooperation

I’ve been following the controversy over the mosque in lower Manhattan as well as some of the controversies around the country regarding mosques. Frankly, I think it’s shameful how people have responded to the issue. What I see is fear and hate on the part of the protesters, and I have to wonder if they realize the hypocrisy of their actions. They don’t want Muslims to build a mosque, why? Because it will supposedly breed terror and hate for other American citizens and our government. But what about them and what they are doing? From what I have seen, they are not immune from hate. In fact, it seems to me that it is things like this that cause Muslims in other countries to look at the U.S. and think that we are in fact what people say, a Godless hateful nation. It’s a vicious cycle.

Part of the argument against building the mosque is that it wouldn’t be an appropriate place and that it would offend and hurt the families of victims killed in the 9/11 attacks.  Some people have claimed it would be no more than a “victory monument” for the Muslim community and the attacks.  That argument claims, without warrant, that all Muslims approved of and applauded the actions taken by violent fundamentalists that led to the destruction of lower Manhattan and the loss of thousands of lives.  This assumption is false.  It is based in misinformed and poorly understood fear.  I do not claim to completely understand myself and do not claim to be anywhere close to an expert on Islamic studies.  I will not even go to scripture comparison, as some might, to try to make my point because I have not studied either extensively.  I know the Bible fairly well, but the Qur’an I know next to nothing about.  What I can talk about is the people I have heard speak, Muslims who condemned the attack as murder and in opposition to Islam’s core beliefs.  Though I do not know how versed President Obama is in the teachings of Islam, I believe he put it well in this New York Times article.

In his remarks, Mr. Obama distinguished between the terrorists who plotted the 9/11 attacks and Islam. “Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam — it is a gross distortion of Islam,” the president said, adding, “In fact, Al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion, and that list includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.”

Some people might argue, “But there is a call for violence against non-Muslims in the Qur’an.”  I don’t doubt this, and I can say that the Bible can also be used for justification of violence as well.  And of course, it has been used many times over the course of history, through the crusades and even to the justification of slavery in the United States through the early 1800’s.  Today, Christians condemn that violence and people realize that it did not encompass all of the belief system.  Muslims do the same.

I understand the sentiment behind the argument that it would not be an appropriate place for a mosque, but I think that the reasons used to support that argument are bunk.

In another article, New York City Mayor Bloomberg flipped the protestors’ argument in an interesting way saying, “To cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists — and we should not stand for that.”  And indeed it would be.  In 2001, Americans said with a unified voice that we would not be broken by the attacks, but we were whether we want to admit it or not.  Americans are terrified of what could happen and it has severely affected politics, racial relations and religious tolerance (or the lack thereof) for the past ten years.  This is a broken nation that is running off fear and ignoring basic rights and privileges of all U.S. citizens.  The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, as I’m sure you are all aware of, states that the government cannot make a law respecting (here meaning, “in reference to”) an establishment of religion.  Unfortunately though, citizens are allowed to spread their misguided and misinformed fears through their demonstrations.

Mosque Protestor

One protestor's sign. Picture belongs to the New York Times.

Just as an interesting digression, here’s the meaning of the word, “mosque.” I found it pretty interesting.

The New York Times quoted Robina Niaz, the founder of Turning Point for Women and Families, the first non-profit in New York to address domestic violence in the Muslim community in New York City, as saying, “What it has done is suddenly made it legitimate for everybody else out there to lash out at Muslims. It has brought us together. But it also shows how much work we have to do.”

The United States was built on the ideals of personal liberty, the protection of private property and religious freedom, all things the protestors should claim to love and support since they also claim to be patriotic American citizens.  However, in this specific instance they are vehemently opposed to it.  This is hypocrisy and prejudice, verging on and often crossing the line of hatred for one group of people based on their beliefs.  Are these not characteristics many people link with Al Qaeda, with whom people wrongfully equate all Muslims?  Let me use an example.  Several years ago, soldiers at Guantanamo Bay humiliated, tortured and terrorized prisoners there who were likely innocent.  Yes, innocent.  Most men held at the facility had weak or no ties to the attacks on the U.S., but were held regardless.  Many were not even picked up by United States forces.  To this day, none of the prisoners ever held there have been convicted.  I could go on about Guantanamo and the human rights abuses, but again, I digress.  I’m going to return to the soldiers who tortured the prisoners there.  Citizens of the United States should recognize (please, God, lest all my remaining hope for humanity be lost) that this was a sickening display by people with whom we share a common classification, that of United States citizen.  Yet, we hope, again I hope we do, that the world does not equate those men and their actions with all U.S. citizens.

I would like to make another point.  The proposed site of the mosque is two city blocks from the site of Ground Zero.  It is not on or at Ground Zero.  If they cannot build there, near the site of their original space, where in the city can they build?  And why, if they have been located close by for so long now, do people suddenly care?  These American Muslims, indeed most Muslims around the world, are a prayerful and peaceful people.  Recently, the spaces that exist now for them to pray and gather are too small for the population of people who wish to use them and they have had to turn people away for lack of space.  It is simply shameful how people have reacted to this.

I hope, for the world and for our country, that tolerance is realized.

Don’t Let Me Become a Cynic

I’m honestly really sad and discouraged right now. There has been a lot of talk on Facebook this summer about God, religion, atheism, things of that sort. These are things that could lead to a really interesting discussion, but unfortunately most of what I’ve read is hurtful, some hateful, and in poor spirit. I was not immune to being drawn into that mood either, sadly. I think the internet lends itself to making what someone else “says” nothing more than words on a page, ready to be shot down and torn to pieces without any regard about the person on the other side of it all. This is why I’d much rather talk in person about such sensitive issues, but I digress.

Mostly I’m upset that someone first insulted christianity in general, and then I responded with anger thinly masked with civility. Just recently (today) though I was hurt by a fellow christian calling Catholicism, my faith tradition, dangerous, broken and “filled with extraneous human elements.” I know that sentiment exists, but I’m not here right now to talk about why I think it’s wrong. I’m here to just assert my feelings of disappointment. Why can’t we have a real dialogue? Why do people get defensive and start attacking one another? I’ve talked with people in person and I want to know where the respect and love for one another that we talk about in theory has gone to. Is it possible to have a discussion about this without arousing feelings of resentment? I’d like to say yes, but I haven’t seen it happen yet, and that’s upsetting.

I’ve used this summer to come to a better understanding of my own faith tradition and deepen my own beliefs. (I still have a long way to go too.) So it’s hard to realize that here I am coming to a greater understanding, but other people haven’t discovered what I have, don’t know what I’ve learned and know how it’s helped me. I’m striving to be the best version of myself that I can be and I’ll always be striving for that. It’s disheartening to see a person condemn something that I have come to absolutely love.