Archive for the 'Other good stuff' Category

Champions for change

June.15. 2017

I’ve been practicing a lot lately, and as usual, to distract my mind, I watch the news. And there’s been a lot of news lately.

Two news items caught my eye this morning.

First, Senator Sander’s pushback.

Apparently the crazed gunman was one of his supporters.

And he did the right thing, which was to come out immediately and condemn the despicable action in the strongest terms.

As opposed to some other people, who, when crazy people do bad things in their name, dance in the streets in celebration.

And then they wonder why people don’t like them.

Then there was this “Champions for change” self promo on one of those fake news channels.

Very heart warming indeed, to see these beautiful ladies do their community service and get some PR at the same time.

This is the right thing, of course, when you go out and do good deeds for your less fortunate neighbors, make sure there’re plenty of cameras following you.

The point of the promo is about hungry people in America.

And in this regard, America shows itself to be one unique country.

It’s the only place on earth where hungry people are overweight.

So an advice to the people at CNN. Next time if you want to do a story on hunger, hire some skinny extras to make the program more believable.

Perceptions

May.21. 2017

I am often perplexed by the political correctness in our national discourse these days.

Much of it seems naive and lacking in a basic understanding of the human mind.

Take the concept of profiling.

Profiling is a dirty word these days and often associated with bigotry.

But profiling is actually very much a part of our human DNA.

It’s a defense mechanism that’s been hardwired into us through thousands of years of evolution.

Perhaps one of our ancestors met a snake one day, and the snake happened to bite him.

So what happened the next time he met another snake? He would avoid it. He had learned his lesson and formed a certain profile in his mind of snakes.

Now we all know that not all snakes bite and that not all snakes are poisonous.

But tell that to our ancestor. Once bitten twice shy. Why take the risk again?

This is profiling. It’s a useful defense mechanism and one which had perhaps ensured our survival over millenia of evolution.

It doesn’t even need first hand experience. Profiling can occur through word of mouth too. You can hear of someone being bitten by a snake and you would also learn to avoid them.

There’s actually another side of profiling and it’s called branding. Branding is the pretty side of profiling (as opposed to the ugly side).

Take a particular lady’s accessory that has the initials “LV” as its logo.

For some odd reason, many women (and maybe some men), even those who seem to possess good intelligence, will fork over large sums of money to own one of these bags.

Why are these products so desirable?

Because they associate it with a certain quality or life style (or who knows what else they associate it with).

It’s a fact we can’t deny.

Profiling or branding is hardwired into our genes and there’s no use whining about it.

But we can do something about it.

For instance, I belong to an ethnic group that is often perceived as being weak and submissive. I have noticed that this perception can sometimes lead to some misguided individuals trying to take advantage of the situation.

So what do I do? I found that I had to change that perception when I am met with those situations.

Now, snakes can’t do anything about their bad reputations.

They can’t play victim and cry snakophobia and demand that people stop profiling them.

But we human beings, we can do something.

The first thing is to recognize that the human mind works through associations, through grouping like items together.

When someone does something, good or bad, it immediately affects everyone else who is linked to him/her in whatever shape or form.

If you happen to belong to his/her group and you want to erase or reverse that bad perception which his/her actions have created, you’ll have to do something about it. (In other words, you’ll have to reverse the “karma” of his/her actions.)

Sure it is not fair, why do you have to be responsible for some nutcase’s actions?

But ask yourself, why do people continue to waste their money on certain overpriced products simply because of a logo?

That’s not fair too and very foolish, but will people change simply because you tell them to change?

Internal evidence

May.5. 2017

One of the things that evangelists, especially televangelists, like to do is claim that “God” spoke to them.

It’s easy to be skeptical. Anyone can claim that God is speaking to them.

But I’ve since discovered that what they really mean is that they have an intuition or inspiration about something and they’re saying it’s God speaking to them through these intuitions.

And in a sense they are right. Inspirations do come from a mysterious place which no one can explain and the best thing is to attribute it to the Force in the universe.

This fact is not lost on the ancients.

For instance both the words inspire and spirit are derived from the same word “spirare” which means “breathe.”

To be inspired is to hear from the Spirit.

But what if the voices they heard are not from God but instead from the other guy?

In other words, what makes them so sure that what they’re hearing is the voice of God and not the adversary?

(Adversary here refers to the troublemaker, the downshifter, the one who destroys rather than build.)

From the content.

Among research scholars, it’s called internal evidence.

Let’s say you have a dubious work that is claimed to be the work of a great master, but there’s no external or physical proof to establish that.

So what do you do? You examine the work and try to determine if the content matches the content of other authenticated works of the master.

You determine authenticity through content.

In the same way, if someone claims that God spoke to them, look at the content of the message.

If the voice is telling them to do good, to make the world a more joyful place, it is likely it is coming from who they think it is.

But if it’s telling them to wreak havoc on the world and bring misery to their fellowmen, then it’s likely it’s from the other guy.

And if they still think it’s God’s voice telling them to do all these bad stuff, maybe they’re actually worshiping the wrong guy, they’re worshiping the troublemaker.

The biggest lie

May.2. 2017

I’ve said it before, there’s no such thing as unconditional love. In fact it’s the biggest lie and myth of all.

It goes against the very law of the universeyou get what you put in. Put in nothing and you get nothing. Put in no love and you get no love.

Even the Bible seems in agreement.

As the great sage/poet Mr. Zimmerman paraphrased it.

“God said to Abraham, kill me your son
Abe said, Man you must be putting me on
God said no, Abe said what
God said, you can do anything you like but the next time you see me coming, you better run.”

Unconditional love of course is a relatively new invention, mostly to legitimize another equally new inventionentitlement.

The concept of entitlement is based solely on unconditional love.

You don’t have to put anything into the universe and you expect everything from the universe.

This sense of entitlement is particularly prevalent among younger people who have been indoctrinated with the idea of unconditional love from birth.

And when they find themselves facing the harsh reality of the nonexistence of unconditional love, they become bitter and start railing against the world.

Whatever problem they face, it’s always somebody’s fault, never their own.

There’s an age-old saying which goes something like, “The world does not owe you a living.” Or to put it another way, “The universe does not owe you any love.”

Which basically reaffirms what I’ve been saying all along.

In between

March.31. 2017

In between my musings, I find time to play a little guitar.

hiiposter

 

Another hint

February.12. 2017

Continuing from the previous post, here’s another hint from the Gospel of Thomas:

“These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom.”

This passage recalls another saying from one of the Establishment gospels.

“Unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Ancient writings

February.4. 2017

Ancient writings fascinate me.

I see them as repositories of wisdom, ancient knowledge from a distant past.

Imagine getting into the minds of people who lived two, three, or even five thousand years ago by reading their writings or teachings.

The problem is that of making sense of them.

At first glance, many of them can easily pass for wishful fantasies, folklore, fairy tales, primitive attempts to explain the world around them.

There is one particular ancient story, however, that has had me perplexed for a while.

A paradise on earth where there’s no pain, no sadness and then through some unfortunate twist of fate and thanks to the machinations of one intruder into this paradise, the fall and forced exit from the paradise.

And then a redeemer who had to undergo unimaginable pain and suffering so that you and I and the rest of mankind can regain that paradise.

Who came up with that convoluted story? (My guess is some power committee operating in secrecy back in the day.)

The other day, quite out of the blue, the answer came to me.

Yes, of course.

It makes perfect sense.

It’s not just a fanciful story but a powerful way to explain the human condition and how we can bring ourselves back to the Garden.

I won’t go into the details but I’ll give a hint.

To get at the answer, you’ll have to read the Gospel of Thomas.

Once you get the central theme of that gospel, which is that the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now (and not the hereafter), the rest of the pieces will fall into place.

Short story 2

February.3. 2017

“I just had a dream,” she told him.

“You remember that land the government gave us across river? Your father was lucky, he got a piece of land with a small rolling hill.

“I dreamed we built a little house, a wooden house on that small rolling hill. And I planted vegetables on the land.”

“Wouldn’t it be nice to live in that wooden house? Your father and I, we dreamed of building a wooden house on that hill.”

She paused.

“Mother,” he said, “I’ll build that house for you. Wait till I come back.”

“Wouldn’t it be nice to live in that house?” she continued. “Plant some vegetables in the garden?”

“Yes, it would be very nice,” he said.

“That piece of land, your father was so lucky to get it. But you know, the land clerk, he cheated us. He said because we had a hill on the land, he would give use half an acre less. Such a jealous person.”

“But it’s just a dream. A beautiful dream,” she said. “It’s okay to dream, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s okay to dream,” he told her.

She went on. She talked about the house and the land and the vegetables and he listened.

That was one of the last times he spoke to her on the phone.

How the times have changed

January.1. 2017

Growing up in Borneo, my favorite time of day was evening. That was when the hot afternoon sun would finally set, giving way to cool breezes and warm nights.

And in the distance, the quiet sounds of evening prayers wafting through the air.

Back in the day, I used to love the sound of those prayers. They spoke to me of a gentle race and a kind and mystical religion.

How the times have changed.

These days, on my occasional trips back to that idyllic place, the prayers no longer waft through the air but blare out from loudspeakers at every corner, as if demanding that you stop whatever you’re doing and listen or else.

And telling you how holy they are. (Much holier than you because unlike you, they pray more times a day.)

And the funny thing is, the louder the prayers get, the more bloody the evening news seem to become.

Is there a connection, I wonder?

These days, when I hear those prayers (you don’t have much choice, they make sure you hear them) they only speak to me of death and destruction.

How the times have changed.

Two quotes

December.30. 2016

I just came across this quote from the great American watercolorist, Philip Jamison:

“A painting without spirit is like flat beer!”

Almost as insightful as that other quote from that great American literary giant, Anthony Bourdain, which went something like this.

“The food was good but it seemed to lack something and we couldn’t figure out what it was until my friend said, ‘The chef cooks like he’s never been properly fked in his life.'”

Something to ponder upon on cold winter nights.