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18th Century and then...

 ... what happened? The 18th century was amazing! I've only recently read Bram Stoker's Dracula for the first time, I was astonished to read that they knew of blood transfusions. Of course they didn't know anything *about* blood transfusions, different blood types, and why it sometimes saved and sometimes killed people, but they bloody well knew that if you took blood out of one person and put it into another you could save their life.

The 18th century was a brilliant front for thought as well, religion was challenged for the first time in, I'd guess several hundred years. Art was revolutionized, men wanted away from the things that had burdened them and forced them into the lives of simpletons. They wanted to think for themselves, they wanted to learn, they wanted to know.

And then... what happened? What have we as a society really done in the last 200 years but refine what those free thinkers gave us? More recently, in the last 100 years, what disease have we eradicated, what problems have we solved, how have we revolutionized the way we live?

Why is it when you dive into philosophy you're handed a dusty tome from 100-1000 or more years ago and told that these are the most pure things you will experience. That everyone else has added bits and bobs to these ideas, but to understand them you'll need to read Socrates, Plato, Epicurus, Nietzsche, Rousseau.

It angers and saddens me to think that our society is so weak now that we have no strong voices on these fronts. We have no modern revolutionists, headed off into the dark corners we can only dream of. If they are there, I don't know of them, and I suppose, in their day, the greats we look back on were unknown to the average person as well, but I'm afraid that when the 100 years passes over this time, the minds people look back on will be sadly lacking the power they had in centuries past.

Good and Evil

I've just been digesting some information on Secular Humanism, which is a new name (for me) to the concept I believe in. I think. Maybe. I haven't had the chance to study it yet though I have some books on the topic requested at the library.

The bare bones descriptions I've read so far included this statement when answering how the believers think evil enters the world (as through Satan in Christian teachings):
"No concept of “evil," or Satan, or supernatural Karmic action. Reasons for wrongdoing are explored through scientific methods, e.g. through study of sociology, psychology, criminology, etc."

This made me think. It's true, I don't believe in evil. Not a supreme, devilish evil, causing men to do things out of pure meanness and will to be evil. However, I also believe in balance. If there is no evil, does that in turn mean that there is no good? That what we see as good and evil are mere moral standpoints? That people don't do things for no other reason than to be good?

People have their own motivations for everything they do. When a war begins, it is because both parties believe they are in the right. Hitler felt that he was in the right, as did his most trusting adherents. (I assume this, if there is historical evidence to the contrary feel free to point it out.) The people who rushed to the aid of his victims felt they were in the right. And mankind has somehow come to the conclusion that dead people can't be right, so you have to whack a person with a really big stick to make yourself correct.

I don't feel that Hitler was evil. I believe he found a goal that (in his mind) would lead himself and his people to safety, preservation, and good living. Which is what all people want--safety, health, and the promise of those things for their children after they pass away. Somewhere in his plan he decided Germany didn't have room for Jewish people and he made the steps he felt necessary.

Now, we have the side of the debate most everyone reading will be on, that of the Allied Forces, opposition to Hitler. The Allied Forces found that Hitler's ideals would mean that they lost safety, health, and such promises for their children. Something had to be done, and a force of men with really big sticks ran at Hitler so they could remain in the right.

But I cannot, no matter how hard I try, give up the idea of GOOD existing in the world. Evil is easy enough, I don't see a malicious force driving people to be horrible, and neither do I see a supreme being driving people to be good, but I can't stop believing that people, all people, in the right situation, will do good. Will care for one another.

Perhaps I simply haven't been hurt by one of those movie endings where the bad guy walks away from the helpless crowd to save himself, but I don't think there exists a person without good intentions. Perhaps the only difference in that situation is his good intentions only concern himself. And perhaps the only thing skewed is my perception of the meaning of good.

My perceptions of the world--as a soft person, living in comfort in a civilized nation, never needing to worry if there will be food tomorrow, or somewhere safe to sleep--are contaminated by the media. When I experience hardships, they are safely told in the confines of a two hour movie, or a few hundred pages of a novel, and they need to be interesting, moving, and memorable. There is always a hero, and always something to fight against. The only people who are selfish and unkind are the antagonists or those cast in an unfavorable light. Everyone else I see has goodness in them. They will fight for what they think is right and uphold their ideals.

But this is just our moral code. Our perceptions of what makes a person good, and what makes a person bad.

And there I may have hit on my problem. Good and Evil are not balancing forces. Good and Bad are balancing forces, but what word balances Evil. Thank you dictionary.com, the antonym of Evil is Righteous not Good. Righteous means 'acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous' and Virtuous means 'conforming to moral and ethical principles; morally excellent; upright'.

It is VERY important to note that the opposite of being evil is merely conforming to moral and ethical principles. Meaning that to be evil you only need to neglect certain moral and ethical principles. It all comes back to the matter of morals and what we as a society are taught is right, and what is wrong.

And so I believe I have been merely running myself about a bush in all of this. When I say to myself that there is no Evil and thereby there should be no Good, I'm not trying to say that these qualities don't exist, only that they have no divine forces backing them, forcing us to be one way or the other. Also that there are no black and white conclusions as no person is either all the time. A person who seems Evil or Good at one time or another has shown qualities of the opposite. As a child Hitler may have saved a friend from some mortal danger, been an extremely kind hand with animals, or loved his mother very much. While the leaders of the countries who opposed his treatment of the Jewish people might have at one time cheated on their spouse, tortured a pet, or stolen from friends and family.

Balance avoids the extremes. With neither Good nor Evil existing in full, only in moments in each of us, balance can comfortably continue.

On the subject of Christianity...

I mentioned in my last post that I'm thinking of writing a paper/report/essay/article/book/new bible/etc on the subject of why I no longer feel comfortable with Christianity.

Now, I am in no way a feminista, you'll never find me preaching to the masses about women being on the short end of things. But the sexism in the Bible, the church, Christianity as a whole, bothers me, and is one of the reasons I fell away from the teachings as a teenager.

I've recently found an ebook that is quite interesting. It's a bestiary from the 12th century, translated from the Latin and given a thorough section of footnotes by none other than T. H. White. The book (The Book of Beasts) is full of the common misconceptions of the day. Almost no animal breeds through proper copulation, the smell of a male and she becomes pregnant, a certain type of fish swims in front of a whale and she becomes pregnant. Any sort of mixed breeding (horse and donkey, mixing of species of snakes) is called 'unnatural' or a 'bastard copulation'. Plenty of quaint oddities which make for an interesting read.

In true fashion of the time period there are heavy religious overtones. Literary concerns were dealt with almost entirely in the confines of the church as the average person could neither read nor write. As such I'm not surprised to come across passages dealing with Christian teachings, or making examples of animals who are seen detestable as holding the qualities of people who are un-Christian.

Those who serve 'wantonness and avarice' are compared to this monster, the hyena.Collapse )

Throughout The Book of Beasts passages of this nature are not uncommon. Comparisons of 'evil' animals to people of an 'evil' nature and the devil, and virtuous animals to upstanding members of the Church and their Lord happen quite frequently.

In curiosity I skimmed near the end of the document, looking for passages on dragons, to see what was believed in the time period. I couldn't help but read over the sections on various snakes as well, looking for the supposed correlations between snakes and the devil. But what I found is a bit outstanding, even for what I was expecting.

The viper is a violent creature with a voracious sexual appetite, and the female in particular is full of meanness, killing the male after copulation. The male will sometimes mate with sea eels.Collapse )

Now we come to the Christian interpretation.

A long passage comparing the meanness of the female viper and the sexual straying of the male to a failing marriage. Blame focused mainly on the woman.Collapse )

TLDR version: Ladies, if your man goes out and visits a prostitute, it's your own damn fault for being such a bitch to him all the time. He doesn't want to be bad, but you're just so cold and mean to him that he lusts for merely the flattering smile and kind words of the ladies of the night.

'Oh, the church isn't anything like that anymore, that was written so long ago!' Guess what. That Bible you read from every week was written longer ago than this. By 1300+ years. It is the same book the man who wrote the above passage learned from. A woman is to support her man in all his endeavors, a woman cannot teach a man, a woman must cover her head if leading other women in prayer otherwise she's disrespecting God, the first woman in the world lead us all into sin and death our only salvation: the son of God, the list goes on.

How any woman can be a member of the church is beyond my understanding. You learn weekly how you are a second class human, merely a step above a slave, how you can never hope to aspire to anything but the perfect compliment to your man. You are basically expected to be a pretty handbag made of skin for your man to carry around. If you are a virtuous woman who works hard and minds her children, his faults will be overlooked. If you are the subject of the gossip club after service is over and your children are rowdy during sermon, your husband is looked upon with pity for having such a heavy burden to deal with.

There are many, many scriptures that detail these points but I have neither the desire nor will to sift through a Bible or blocks of verses online at this time. I only lost sixteen years of my life to these teachings, I count myself lucky. I'm not eager to give more away.

If anyone feels the above passage unfair, the author does continue on with a word to the men, which settles the waters somewhat, until you realize he's not changing his tone by much.

On the viper and man.Collapse )

If anyone would like to read the work in its entirety there is a torrent for it here. This work does not pass into public domain until 2014, though I'm certain you would be hard pressed to find a copy on store shelves, so my conscience is clear.


Curse you Summer!!

 Summer is a terrible, addictive drug.

I am so tempted to start so many projects all at once.

So far today I've collected information on making chainmaille, leather armour, petticoats, skirts and dresses, costuming, ren faires, knitting, beading, and various forms of knot work.

I've also been tempted to start writing again, get deeper into my studies of mythology (mostly Norse), learn how to make proper e-books, re-checkout A History of Reading and read over the chapters dealing with religion, type up a formal report on why I'm no longer a Christian, and then there's this journal.

Oh, and I also need to get down to Fabricland (yes, that's honest to god the best Canadians can come up with.. a fabric store.. called Fabricland. *sigh*) and pick out material for my new curtains!! Very excited to get to work on the curtains. Of course I still haven't taken proper measurements, decided how many curtains I want to make, if I'm going to have different materials in the different rooms, if I'm happy with the current bedroom window hanging (Canadian flag, wootwoot), what trimmings, if any, I want to finish them with. I haven't even decided on a colour scheme or type of material. Absolutely and hopelessly - lost.

The -certain- projects I'd like to get started on are the curtains of course, and while I can get back and forth to the library without slogging through snow and below freezing temps, an in depth examination of the reasons Christianity and I can no longer speak to one another. Sewing... how I miss it. I'll get a dab of it with the curtains but I'm really hoping to get into some other projects. Hopefully some sort of costume for this Halloween. I haven't entirely decided what I want. Ideas I'm toying with: Valkyrie, I'd do a pirate lady but DH went as Jack Sparrow last year, Elizabethan era woman (I used a cheap ren princess costume last year though), something with armour - barbarian, sword mistress, I'm hoping to open up my options if I can drop the 30lbs I've packed on since I moved here. Weight... sigh. Maybe something anime? We're most likely not getting to a Con any time soon.. I'd love to go as Revy from Black Lagoon (see avatar) but she's hardly ever wearing anything more than a glorified bra/tank and short shorts. Oooh maybe one of Marciano's sisters from Coyote Ragtime Show... though I fear it would just come off as a 'sexy maid outfit' without someone to go as one of the other sisters with me. Unless I went as August, she wears a top hat and is fully clothed. I'd really really like to make some priest tier 1 (Prophecy) from WoW. I've been mulling over how to make the shoulder dangles and collar properly stiff for wearing, how to attach them to the rest of the outfit, how to make a decent Benediction (the staff) etc. for years now. Too bad I've never even made a proper dress... and now I want to make something detailed with multiple colors in it >.> oh well.. the curse of dreaming without practicing.

As for writing - I'm contemplating a mock up of my great-grandparents immigration from Germany to the states. I've been gathering information on them with the trial of Ancestry.com and know the port they left from, the ship they were on, where it docked, where they were living the next year for the 1930 census, that my two great-uncles fought in WWII, one of them didn't come back home (my grandfather was too young to enlist until 1942-3, with the war half over), and plenty of other interesting tidbits. But it's not like being there. I'd like to do some research, how would they have travelled across the states? What was available to them in 1929? When they stepped into New York, what  was posted on the billboards? What products and literature would they have been bombarded with? None in the family could properly speak English in 1930, how did they cope with the language barrier? Did they live in a German section of town while trying to find a way across the country? They were working on a *FARM* in what is now an extremely dense city area, just across the water from Mercer Island if anyone is familiar with some expensive property in Seattle. And there's plenty of area to embellish and make a readable story out of the entire fiasco. Who would have said goodbye to them in Hamburg, Germany? They would have corresponded at least a few times, what was said, how did their lives develop differently. Who did they meet on the ship? who ushered them through the ports? were Germans subjected to scrutiny or suspicion at any time? I've heard a few tales about my uncle who died in WWII, who's name was Adolf, being mocked for his heritage and name combination. How were conditions for my great uncles in the army, as Germans going to war against Germany? Were they uneasy about shooting their former countrymen? What did my great grandparents feel about having their two eldest sons in the war, with their youngest at home no doubt in extreme unrest to join his brothers (my grandfather enlisted as soon as he was able). Who opened the letter to read that Adolf was not coming home?

And this is merely one family of no consequence. Just a tale of the struggles all humans go through to make it to their dying day.

Ugh so many ideas rattling around in my head lately. I'd like to inject them all with some sedatives and get a decent nights sleep.
 I looked all over for one of these and couldn't find one. So here it is, my own WoW Holiday Calendar for Google Calendar in iCal format. Every holiday is included. The Darkmoon Faire, Fishing Derbies, and Raid Lockouts are not.

If you would like to add this to your Google Calendar click 'Add a friend's calendar' and paste in this: 2fthsokkbvgd6lkivrso036134@group.calendar.google.com

Here is the calendar if you would like to preview it:
Silly LJ doesn't allow iframes.

Why Don't...

... cellphones have call screening?

Does no one in the cell phone industry have a night job? Friends who call at ridiculous hours? Work on call?

It'd be decently simple. You set a call screening mode which is adjustable, allowing 1-5 numbers to ring and the rest to be silent or vibrate mode. You know... so your boss can wake your ass up and your annoying friend who calls every 10 minutes even though they know you're sleeping will just vanish for a few hours.

My theory is this is not yet implemented because people only think of it when they're too tired to complain about anything that takes as much effort as sitting on hold for 2 seconds to get to a customer service rep.

What I Want Right Now...

... is a new chat program. MSN is royally pissing me off. Sick of their constant 'news' reel at the bottom. Oooooh Soandso Celebrity is thinking of getting back with their ex-husband! Oooooooh Celebrity Chick and Celebrity Dude MIGHT HAVE HAD AN AFFAIR.... while both were MARRIED! 10 years ago!!! ZXOMGLKJSDFSS!!!!!

WTF Business of mine is that? What business of yours? They're people. Not deities.  Get over yourselves.

I was never much of one for the Celebrity gossip train at any point in my life. Sure I drooled over George Clooney with every other female with a pair of eyes, but really? Do I need to know every detail of some poor chick's sex life?

On the subject of Tiger Woods... should a person every have to stand up in front of the country and say 'Sorry I fucked someone else. I know my marriage and sexual relations should be mine and my wife's business but I just figured I'd apologize to everyone while I'm apologizing. BTW I'm sleeping on the couch tonight... any single ladies out there got an empty double bed?!'

It just truly disgusts that so many people slave over these trivial and raunchy bits of 'news' for day to day entertainment.

Watch a soap opera for crying out loud. Stay out of other people's business.

Imagine for half a second that was your face on the cover of some magazine. 'Judith seen leaving Tom's apartment late last night! How will Richard react?' With a picture of you, half dressed, no makeup on, getting into your car. Wouldn't it be great knowing that everyone in the country now has access to an article written by a sloppy journalist with half veiled comments alluding to what a slut you are and how unfaithful to your partner, and guessing at how your husband/boyfriend will react to the news?

Because honestly you're just as much of a person as whatever celebrity hits the cover tomorrow. You deserve to have housewives across the country titter and joke about your sex life as well. It's only fair.

You know what would be awesome...

 ... if I could pick out a bunch of songs I really loved, have a radio station made to only play those songs, and then had my memory wiped.

Imagine that. All day long, every day, I could listen to songs I'd never heard before but I strangely loved every single one of them. It would be quite possibly the coolest thing to ever happen to a person.

Learning the words to Ice Ice Baby all over again would be worth it too.

DVDs take foreeeeeveeeerrrrrrr to burn

 Finally got all the P90X videos, now I'm just burning copies and it's taking for. ever.

I think I'm going to get all the exercise I need stalking between the two computers and swearing at the dvd burner.


P90X Workout Routines (13 Week Programs)

P90X Workout Routines
Posting this for myself and friends - This is from the P90X booklet, telling how to use the videos in which orders for the three suggested 13 week routines.

Click here for the full routinesCollapse )