Category Archives: Ze Rest of Ze Ztuffm

Happy New Thingy

The completion of the annual revolution of the earth is marked with celebration and reflection. Our limited mortality prevents us from doing the same when our sun completes a trip around the galactic core or when our galaxy finishes its path around the central attractor of the local cluster… to say nothing of when the local cluster or its containing supercluster complete their cycles. And yet, nature has the biggest bash of all: after the heat death of the universe, quantum tunneling can lead to a release of baryonic matter and energy, in a new big bang event, starting another cycle on its way. Happy New Year, in perspective.

A Discussion of the “Confederate Flag”

What most people call the Confederate Flag is actually an elongated version of the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, which itself would have been an interesting footnote in Confederate history were it not for the use of that flag as a symbol promoting the Lost Cause movement and, later, the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. I explore the facts and mythology surrounding the flag in this video. If you enjoyed it, be sure to like it, share it, and subscribe to my channel.

A Grander View

Perhaps this might offend someone… but it might also uplift someone else. I write this as a rant, so I’m already convinced of the certainty of these arguments. It’s not a soul-searching piece. It’s just another page of my open-source diary.

Birth is not a beginning and death is not an end. There is no end to existence, though it may pass through phases, times, and seasons. I watched as this world came into being, and I shall exist long after its passing. My life here has a purpose, but it is for an end beyond this life. And of this beyond, what proof do I have? I have enough for my own purposes, and I had to fight and struggle for that proof born of faith. I confess a tired impatience when others speak of that faith as a secondary concern, or of it being no concern at all. It is the same tired impatience I experienced when an ignorant young wag would try to debunk my geographic knowledge by virtue of the fact that I had not yet been to every place in the world. I had been to enough of it to know that it was there and to trust in the tales of honest travelers who had been to other places in the great, wide world.

By that same token, I have been to spiritual places in number enough to trust in what is told to me by honest men that have seen more of that realm. That knowledge informs a view I hold that looks beyond the limits of mortality. I see my ultimate end as being one with God, as part of His family, engaged in the work and glory of bringing to pass the eternal life of mankind.

Why are people born the way they are? Jesus said it wasn’t because of anyone’s sins: it just happens. Pick any condition in the “born this way” category, and it just happens. Each of us faces a string of burdens in life, unique to our own existence. We can choose to be guided by pride and demand that we are right, damn anyone that dares to disagree. In the process, we can destroy goodness around us and blind ourselves to truth. Or, we can choose instead to be guided by humility and accept that we have much to learn and, in the process, open our eyes to truth as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, care and precision.

So how can I, a person who claims to be a just, enlightened, unbigoted intellect, be against the idea of same-sex marriage? How can I be against the idea of full gender equality in my own faith? Well, I shall explain.

First, the same-sex marriage thing: We are here to prepare to be part of an Eternal Family. That is no euphemism. I was a spirit child before I was a mortal child, and as a spirit child, I was the product of a loving union in the realm from which I came and to which I hope to return. Gender was important to the creation of my spirit. Important? No, it was vital. Gender is vital to the continuance of that work, for there is more of it to come. I cannot live alongside my Heavenly Father and do the things which He would have me do without an Eternal Companion of the necessary opposite gender. Biology for the continuation of the species is not limited to the time between birth and death in this mortal existence. It is Eternal. Marriage between a man and a woman can continue for eternity, should it be sealed upon earth by the proper authority and in the proper place. Any other sort of union cannot.

Now, if persons wish to make same-sex marriages legal, that is their business, and they have to accept that I will oppose such measures on my own moral grounds. Even so, if someone wishes to live a life in a same-sex union, so be it. We all are free to choose for ourselves how we live our lives. But don’t expect Eternal truths to change because of societal druthers. No matter what may be permissible in society, I am quite certain that my religion will never recognize same-sex marriages as being acceptable to God as things that can be as Eternally binding as those marriages I mentioned as being sealed by the proper authority and in the proper place. And I’m fine with that.

Now, given that gender has Eternal meaning and implication, part of our existence here is to experience what it means to be who we ultimately will become. Our roles and experiences here guide and form our souls, and our souls have a gender. All the stuff the Greeks came up with about the body being a prison for the spirit is only so much philosophical noodling. The body and spirit are the soul, and gender has no small part of defining our souls’ eternal experiences.

For some reason, men need to learn important lessons about leadership, organization, and service that go with serving in the priesthood in my religion. I don’t believe that women don’t need to learn those lessons: I just believe that they don’t need the priesthood in order to learn those lessons. For some reason, men need to be ordained to the priesthood in order to perform solemn observances in the Lord’s temples in my faith. Women can perform those observances without being ordained to the priesthood – they have that right from birth. There are things of Eternity in this difference and distinction. Asking why is fine, but demanding an answer that fits a notion at variance with Eternal truth is not.

And I admit that my answer on the women not having the priesthood thing is not as solidly formed in my mind as is my response to same-sex marriage. But I do know that the answer is there, and that it explains things fully and to the satisfaction of anyone not motivated by pride, self-importance, or with a mind to justify sin. Yes, it takes faith to muster up the patience to await that answer, but faith and patience have been good to me in the past, so I trust in them for my future.

Women should have the vote, equal pay for equal work, the same standing as men in a court of law, the right to own property, the right to have credit cards in their own name, the right to initiate divorce, the right to have custody of their children, the right to learn any subject taught in the university and a host of other equalities that they have struggled to attain – some only in the last 40 years in the USA – but there is an end to equality where gender makes a difference, and that applies to me as much as it does to my Eternal partner, my wife. The inequalities of gender do not make one greater or lesser – just necessarily different in order to experience the fullness of Eternal Life.

Here endeth the rant. I don’t care if anyone reads this or is persuaded by it. I just care to commit it to a document for my own sense of posterity.

Zombie Apocalypse Fantasies and the Desire for Community

How do people survive when times are hard? How do people survive in conditions of grinding poverty? They form communities or, rather, they live on in already-existing communities. Bereft of electronics, reliable supplies of food, without ready access to clean water, people survive through communal structures – families, neighbors, co-religionists – pooling their resources, skills, and luck to support each other.

But surround a man with technology, and he becomes more and more isolated physically from his world. Not only does the technology place distance between him and his fellow men, but the technology also reduces his need to reach out to his fellow men for day-to-day survival. The lack of regular personal contact with family, neighbors, and co-religionists results in a certain kind of loneliness that manifests itself as a homesickness for human interaction.

Enter the zombie apocalypse sort of fiction. The plot is straightforward: it’s the end of the world as we know it, and all that stuff of technology is gone, possibly for good. In this fantasy, humans must band together to defeat whatever forces caused the apocalypse. Right now, zombies are all en vogue, but nuclear warfare and Martian invasions served as fitting backdrops for stories of human family reunions brought about via horrific disasters.

If one notices, however, people living in conditions of grinding poverty don’t really have an interest in zombie apocalypses. Those kinds of events, like hurricanes and earthquakes and dictators propped up by multinational corporations, can be survived, but life would be less harsh without them. People involved in helping others survive also don’t really spend a lot of thought being entertained by wondering about big “what ifs”. They’re getting that human interaction through volunteering to help out friends, neighbors, and co-religionists.

Human poverty can manifest in so many ways. There is physical poverty, sure, but there is also poverty of the spirit and of the soul. Leaving our comfort behind in order to become part of a community to deal with poverty allows us to deal with the very real calamities that exist on a person by person basis, and to experience that human togetherness that technology has removed from our experience.

First Impressions of San Francisco

I got off the plane and stepped into an odd place that combines Europe, America, and Asia. I like the quirks, don’t get me wrong. But, taking public transit from the airport to within .2 miles of my hotel? That’s not American, most places in the USA. My hotel, Hotel Bijou, is a quirky place across the street from two Indian restaurants and a 6 minute walk from Dottie’s, where I’ve been told that I simply MUST eat a breakfast at. There’s no AC in the room, but this is San Francisco, where I had to put a coat on as I made my way through the town. It’s an odd sort of penetrating chill in this city, but it’s quite refreshing.

My trip here was great fun. The shared ride in Dallas was lively, what with the Ethiopian Gospel music and the discussions with the other passenger about her upcoming trip to Germany to study abroad there. On the flight, I sat next to a materials engineering student who was making her way to New Zealand to study there. The battery on my phone held out well, which was good, considering that our flight arrived a little late. No worries, though, as I had plenty of time to finish reading my CCDA book.

For, yes, I am here to attend Cisco Live and I will take my CCDA exam on Monday. I plan to have Indian food tonight, but both places across the street are equally highly rated. Which one do I go to? What a lovely problem to have.