2017 marathon

This was my seventh marathon, third time running Canyon City.

turned out to be my 6th “best” marathon out of the seven. One thing I could have improved upon was the amount of lone runs I did leading up. I never even hit 18 miles yet. I was doing shorter distances like 9 to 12 miles at higher frequencies than before. During the race, the complications didn’t come in until mile 18. From 18 to the end I was cramping up, had to keep my pace steady. At times I could barely walk, I really wanted to sit down and rest, but by mile 20 my body was on auto pilot going forward, and my thoughts kept trying to bring me down. It was the first time I had given up on myself before mile 22. When I’m at 23 onward, there’s no point in thinking, or giving in to the pleas.

Been a couple days and the soreness has gone down. I still can’t walk at full speed, but I can still take on a bunch of students on my way to class.

So now I’ve run 3 CanyonCity and 4 LA marathons. My next race planned is this same one next year, followed by LA and CC again. That’ll be 10 marathons in 10 years. Others have done more, many others less. Let’s see if this all happens.


philosophy in high school

I noticed that several times throughout my life when conversations turn to complaining about things, that the topic of the uselessness of grade school comes up as an argument against what is expected of us from the “real world.” When we observe the daily life at face value, one might seriously question what the point was to learn seemingly useless things. I’m not sure if anyone making that claim realizes that one doesn’t have to go too deep to realize the use in language skills or arithmetic or basic history or basic economics. Grade school is a bare necessity. I wonder what would happen if I pressed the issue to someone making the claim. What quickly comes to mind is the argument of governments reliance on an ignorant constituency, that without our basic knowledge in grades school we’d be sold short of the campaign promises, but that’s selling “the constituency” short by grouping all of us and betting against ourselves. Hoping that the worst is true. I’m not of that bias, but rather the opposite. I digress.

I’m a huge fan of philosophy; I’m studying it for my minor. When I think of the material I did in grade school, I don’t find many traces of philosophical practice. That may be why I got so much into it, that it just wasn’t available the way it is in college. But thinking about it I can recall that proofs in geometry are like proving syllogisms in deductive logic.

When I consider what grade school may have skipped in getting the basics, I feel like there were missed opportunities of philosophy classes. Now, I’m not sure if philosophy is offered in any high school, I can’t imagine it’s not somewhere, but it would have been one of the most useful classes to have something like basic intro to philosophy, or critical thinking classes that focused on our biases, that brought light to fallacies, that fun stuff. It’s sort of psychological as well. But I guess if the argument to add basic philosophical groundwork in grade school begets the questions of why not also bring in some basic psychology and some basic sociology and basic anthropology, and by then we’d have too much to really consider adding. And so it gets pushed for later. But it does make sense that we first need a more basic understanding of the world to even try to comprehend the next level stuff. Oh well. I’ll still hold that a class that focused on cognitive biases would be really interesting to take for junior-senior level grade school. It would definitely leave fewer offhanded arguments that school was useless.


Elmo Radio: October 2017

Since 2013 I’ve been wild with looking for and listening to new music. I made playlists every month of the music I was listening to, and every six months released a compilation favorites. I stopped making the monthly lists but I never stopped looking for music. I tend to enjoy indie pop/rock or many incarnations of rock, particularly arena rock or progressive rock. I love finding music akin to disco (wish it could be revived somehow, but within the indiepop/rock area that’s the closest I’ll get). Very little super-electronic music, as long as there’s too much creativity going on, like with Caravan Palace, or it’s super mello.

I’ve never been able to maintain an all-time list of music, like one that just includes the top of the top of the top for me, but I’ve always wanted to. I can think of at least 8 songs that I have ever considered the number one favorite song that I enjoyed at the time. I’ll be working on that list.

But  for now these are songs I’ve gotten into in October. The last lists I made were a 2015, 2016, and First half of 2017 list. Idk if I’ll make it, I mean maybe it can easily be trailed on Spotify by looking at my profile, but anyways that’s for another post.

The first four are songs I sing to on a daily basis, sort of like an exercise for my vocals. The next songs I simply enjoy. More female vocalists than normal, but all so great. Summertime by MCR has been a previous all time fave.

I’ll call the future monthly lists Elmo Radio from now on. :E Here it is on both YT and Spotify.


social media concern

I attended a discussion on social media given from the perspective of the FBI. It raised awareness of the information we might give that could have big consequences. The three questions we revolved around were “What info are you giving, who are you giving it to, and is that a good idea?”

This led me to a few actions, first deleting my Snapchat account, which had already been dormant for about three years, and removing information from Facebook. The only other sites I have are Instagram, Twitter, and this blog site. Twitter has also been dormant, that one for six years, though I’m not compelled to delete it yet. I never post, never snoop, never care enough for it, but I acknowledge there is a force telling me not to delete it. I’ve indulged in myself too much at this point.

I’ve been too conscious of the information I post, and in this blog site I open myself a lot about what I’m thinking, so this is technically a risk, but my own reply to this is the fact that at the moment I’m still a nobody. I’m fine with that. I maintain that a bit more by never advertising this blog on my social media; I’m being silent on purpose.

And yet I’m still a little paranoid about the info I post online.. Dx

I’m doing the least I can to keep this site alive. Alive doesn’t mean I get anybody viewing my stuff. It would be nice to have a reader, but I’m still enjoying the absence of that.

questions: happiness, refusal, punishment

Is happiness the most important purpose in life?

Let’s think of the things I want. I want to own a grand piano, I want to travel, I want to have political power in my local city or school districts, have a family well down the road, be a teacher, maintain my friendships, attend river clean-ups, donate money to a charity, etc. List some of your own things. If we ask the grand proverbial question of “why” we want these things, you can answer as many times as you want, just keep asking why and why and why. I want all those things because I believe it would bring me happiness to have these things, and you want what you want because it would do the same. We all try to be happy. It doesn’t get more basic than that.

This question is relevant given that I had just written an essay in defense of Utilitarianism, the moral theory that states we must asses what is write or wrong by looking at the consequences of our actions, what makes something right is what will promote the most amount of happiness and well-being for the most amount of people and by extension other beings and things. The right thing to do is what will benefit everyone and everything involved in the action. We do a cost-benefit analysis in our head, sort of: What is the best choice given the circumstances? My mom is vegan, I’m not, but if she asks me what I want to eat I deffer to her diet, because my diet includes all of hers, and that way she doesn’t have to prepare two kinds of meals and we can both equally enjoy the meal. All because it would bring more happiness, less pain, in the long run. High standard applied to a not tooo moral situation, until we start bringing up the cost for maintaining the kinds of mainstream diets and those effects, as we know.

I’ve been a utilitarian until recently, right now I’m in a grey area on morality. I’m in an ethics class, learning so many perspectives. I feel like virtue ethics might be the new direction I come to agree more with and adopt, but we haven’t covered that yet.

Is it wrong to spend money on expensive food when people are dying of hunger?

Under Utilitarian thought one can say that it is, though my gut reaction says no. I wouldn’t fault anyone for doing that, unless they did it in spite. But the standard I place on myself is different. I’m not willing to buy something too expensive when I know I can buy a cheaper version of it, as long as the quality doesn’t drop dramatically more than the price. Whether one contributes to helping world hunger doesn’t matter on my stance, though I hope people are always doing everything in their power to help others. I ration my money because I know I want to have enough available to contribute to some kind of charity or expense. The little I can do I do, but I’m not looking for any recognition for it so I’ll leave it at that. So my answer is a little grey, but push me on it and I’ll say yes.

If someone is drowning and you refuse to help, are you responsible for his death?

This one challenges the answer I just gave on the previous question. I was so passive about that, but here my attitude changes. I answer with my gut and try not to overthink when I do this, but anyways…

Well, there do exist laws that would make it so you’d have some grain of responsibility, at least where you were able to prevent such a death. And to some good extent; I would want someone to help me if I were drowning, and not stand by, if they could definitely help it. I would want to help someone drowning if I could definitely act. There’s always the risk of not succeeding, but that risk stays at 0 when I do nothing. This is all assuming one could do it. If one can’t or is too afraid of losing their own life in the process then I wouldn’t fault them, but there is knowing refusal to help. That complicates it certainly, by how much will depend on the person.

This raises my concern with my previous answer, as I said. But the difference here is willingly not helping a drowning person, versus knowing that there are starving people. One can argue that I might not be responsible for the starving people, or that I’m responsible for helping them, and I’d agree to the latter idea to some extent. In the drowning scenario, I mean I’m not directly responsible for the drowning, but as with the starving people I can take responsibility and at least try to save the drowning person to the best of my ability. I’m not sure I cleared anything up with this.

Btw I’ve drowned three times in my life, was resuscitated two times, at childhood. That last day it happened was the last day I’ve ever felt confident I could swim in any depth. It doesn’t stop me from trying, or keep me from getting in swimming pools or rivers. I’ve done both, and I’ve still swum in deep parts since; Where the trouble comes is the constant reminder of it when I do try swimming, and it panics me within 5 seconds. So I have trouble enjoying it. This is probably something I need to address in therapy.

Why do we punish people?

Because we want justice. I’ve used the term deservance, but it’s the same thing. Punishment is a great deterrent of doing some pretty bad stuff. Louis CK put it best when he said “the law against murder is the number one thing preventing murder.”

People don’t want to be punished for it. I know I don’t. And I feel like he’s talking about me when CK mentions the quiet people.. cause I’m so quiet. :E

I’m reminded of the golden rule. it’s the most popular rule, and it’s a good one too. Don’t wrong me cause you wouldn’t wanna be wronged. Punishment is the idea of people wronging others and not getting away with at least some inconvenience, right? And it’s reciprocal on the judges as well. Since I can agree that I’d need some time away from society from hurting people, then I’d put others away. Where the we cross the line for me is the death penalty. I’d accept being killed as punishment for killing others. But we know that innocent people have been sentenced to the death penalty. I wouldn’t want to be send to my death if I was falsely convicted into the death penalty. I also wouldn’t want to send an innocent person to such fate. That’s why I’m completely opposed, because I won’t risk an innocent life if I can help it. At least maybe we can agree that a truly guilty person who merits such a punishment deserves to be away from the rest of society forever.

Is it alright to torture terrorists to extract information?

“They know what they’re signing themselves up for,” is my gut reaction. Or maybe they didn’t, either way my answer is simple. Violence is generally not my method of getting anything done; the only exception is violence in self defense. I know most people in the US don’t agree with me on not torturing them, but I guess that’s that.

When is it ok, if ever, to disobey the law?

I understand evil as how a professor of mine pinned it: unjustified suffering. Ya know, doing unreasonable things to otherwise innocent people, or beings. Innocence I understand it as not being guilty or not having responsibility for a given action.

If a law is being applied unfairly, biased against one particular group for no logically reasonable purpose, maybe disobedience has merit.

I’m not sure how else to put it. Interesting how just yesterday I was thinking of such exact question, and I kept breaking stuff down and putting it back together to end up with that answer, or something very similar.

Anyways, that’s enough questions.. now on to the more important stuff.


god is making popcorn: my deism and the multiverse

There was a period of time where I could best describe myself as a deist, and it was in a rather grey area of time between my being a theist, specifically a Jehovah’s Witness, and the atheist I currently am. I want to share the idea I had that tried to make sense of the existence of God and the multiverse theory. I’ll go over the problem of evil as well, since it was the pivotal argument that started this thought of reasoning. For the remainder of this piece I’ll consider myself a deist to make explaining it easier for me, after all this idea of mine isn’t difficult to simply return to and readopt. And I apologize beforehand for referring to God as a male; that’s the most popular understanding of God.

A deist in traditional sense is one who believes that God doesn’t intervene in humanity’s affairs, or won’t. This isn’t to say God never did, it’s a formal way of saying “Yeah, but he just doesn’t care, or he gave up, or he’s busy somewhere else, not prioritizing us.” This belief was my answer to the Problem of Evil, a logical argument against the existence of God, which goes as follows:A deist in traditional sense is one who believes that God doesn’t intervene in humanity’s affairs, or won’t. This isn’t to say God never did, it’s a formal way of saying “Yeah, but he just doesn’t care, or he gave up, or he’s busy somewhere else, not prioritizing us.” This belief was my answer to the Problem of Evil, a logical argument against the existence of God, which goes as follows:

1. God exists.
2. God is all-powerful.
3. God is all-knowing.
4. God is all-loving.
5. Evil exists.

Before I continue, if you know of the problem of evil and all the responses to the argument than by all means skip ahead to the phrase I’m done with the problem of evil. I will go over it all as I have understood it. To start I say we should define evil, and my definition of evil is unjustified suffering. There are inexplicable reasons why given people had to suffer, like when people are randomly murdered or raped or taken by some natural disaster, where it doesn’t appear they really “deserved” it.

Evil can not possibly exist with the given accepted qualities of God in premises 2-4. If God were all-powerful, he’d have the power to remove evil from the world. If God were all-knowing, there’s obviously no way he couldn’t have known a particular evil act was happening on someone, and if he were all-loving, he would want what’s best for us and would desire us to no suffer unjustly. But evil remains, where a God has no excuse not to act to save a baby from a burning building; this is a famous example. Because how can we make sense that the baby deserved to die in the fire, when there is someone there who can possibly help it. God certainly can, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t interfere with what happens to us.

Now, some might say the problem of evil is too simple of a problem to even begin to deal with; it’s too reductionist of what it means for there to be a God in the world as we know it. It still raises a question though about the nature of a god who possesses these qualities given there are helpless newborns in hospitals dying when an earthquake hits.

We “solve” this problem by simply removing a premise, by rejecting the truth of a given premise. If we reject the first premise, then the problem is solved the easiest way: If God doesn’t exist than we don’t need to wonder about his qualities and can accept that evil simply is a part of this world. But that’s almost too simple an answer, too satisfying in the short term.

If we remove out any of the 2nd to 4th premises, we have a big issue; most religions understand God to have these qualities of God, it’s absurd to think of God as a not-all-powerful or not-all-knowing or not-all-loving entity, because then you’ve separated yourself from the majority of theists. But let’s say you do remove any of these given premises. To reject the idea God is all-powerful is to mean that God can’t help all of us always, not to the extent he would wish. This leaves room for evils to go by unstopped. To reject the idea God is all knowing is to mean that God simply doesn’t know some things are happening in places he isn’t at. This leaves room for evil. To reject the idea that God is all-loving is to mean he doesn’t care. This is something many theists will not play with, because these qualities can not be taken out for the major religions, otherwise we’d need new sets of churches to cater to these fundamental changes.

The 5th premise may be rejected instead though, and we would have a world in which evil doesn’t exist, at least my definition of it, there being unjustified suffering. We can’t deny suffering exists, but the justification can be played with: One can say we have free-will to account for the suffering of otherwise innocent people. But free-will only takes into account the things people do onto others; it does not factor in the newborns being taken by the earthquake. And if we say God is “working in mysterious ways,” to show us the way to him, well why didn’t he give the newborns an equal chance to know him?

I removed the fourth premise to explain the existence of evil and God. He just isn’t interfering with us, or he doesn’t care. But maybe he does…

I’m done with the problem of evil.

Now to combine the multiverse theory; the idea that we are in one of an infinite amount of universes. This is a difficult theory to prove, since as of yet we can not remove ourselves from the universe we are in to prove it, but proving God exists and is the ultimate way would require just as much faith, so why not we infuse both ideas?

Let’s say God made our universe, and let’s say our universe is one kettle in a bag of popcorn. Some of the popcorn is rich in flavor and texture and puffness and whatever else we consider the ideal popcorn, and this is the case for a fraction of the popcorn. Another amount didn’t even pop, or popped poorly, not in the ideal sense. Well those poorly popped popcorns would represent the universes in which we can not possibly exist, and if you look into the fine-tuning argument (a fine argument), the conditions to have a universe like ours are very rare, The perfectly popped popcorn. And given that there are an infinite amount of universes coming into fruition, it might be possible a universe exists where I did not use the popcorn analogy, given how poorly puffed it is (I’m coming up with it on the fly, or .. POP!)., and everything else could be the same, I can be just as terrible at everything else and there will be an infinite amount of worlds where you and I are slightly better or worse in any given quality, or a slightly different or very much different action had changed even the smallest of decisions. You get it by now, lot of popcorns are fine enough though.

God is making popcorn. He’s throwing bags into his microwave and making popcorn. He finds a world that fits our description, where we can live, and proceeds to restart our world as we know it. His goal is to reconcile a world where evil does not exist. Once he finds what he’s looking for than he might do something with those who believed in him or something.. I never thought too hard on that part. But deism makes sense here because the lore would go that he failed in our universe, in this attempt, and he’s somewhere else, outside our dimension, working on it. We know god works in mysterious ways, if I’ve brought that up yet, so this is still worth experimenting with. That was my proposal. But of course this has its many flaws. How can we have evil not exist and yet have free-will and all the problems that rose from looking at the problem of evil?

I have not dealt with free-will, and frankly I won’t, because I don’t know anything about the debate. I understand free-will as “the ability to do otherwise,” but I do not have the will power to get into determinism here. I think that coming to understand the idea will help me further my little model of understanding a world with god, as I live my life without.

Sorry for any grammatical mistakes, and the word ‘popcorns.’ I’ll fix mistakes as I catch them.

reflecting on a group discussion on God’s existence

It was a group of seven of us, and I was one of the quietest ones in the discussion. It wasn’t until the last part of the discussion, where we opened up to the others in class who had watched the discussion, that I was able to speak. It was only because someone specifically wanted my opinion on a question I don’t remember anymore. My answer had something to do with rationalizing against a response to the problem of evil (an argument against the existence of God). I’m not going to raise my response here because I don’t remember the whole context of the moment, and it would be wrong to assume I could give it without any other given person not in the event being able to grasp what I’m saying.

But to be more clear, I’m an atheist. I was one of the two in the group, and the quieter one, so I guess it was expected that someone would be singling me out for an opinion, because one really didn’t come from me until then.

I can only reason my inability to participate equally in the discussion was due to a few reasons:

  • I have no, or rather little, value on my opinion on anything. I place more value on others’ opinions; I want to listen to the conversation, not exactly be a part of it.
  • I was raised to speak only when spoken to, as I did in this case of being singled out.
  • I’m not strong on coming up with any kind of quick reply. I don’t like having impulse opinions, I usually enjoy watching others go at it, especially when they’re good at responding.

Someone had a specific question to the theists: did the discussion change your views in any way. None were swayed much. I mean, my response that first time was well received (understood) and conceded. My favorite part was others outside of the group trying to grasp what I was saying.

One question within the group was “how to find morality without God,” and my response was the use of rationality, coming to some sort of code that would work with that little we knew we had: ourselves and this earth we seem to be alone in; I became a consequentialist, and argued that we should do our best to further humanity in a way that served the most possible people (utilitarianism) usually at my own expense (moral altruism). That is my specific moral code.

A response was an example of being completely alone in a place where no one could ever know I could do something immoral, but then the question used the specific example of finding a wallet on the floor with money and an address and phone number etc… The obvious thing for me is to simply ration “if that were my wallet I’d want it return, therefore I would do everything I can to return the wallet. Similarly I do what I can to not unjustly hurt people because I wouldn’t want to be hurt unjustly.” Something like that.. which led to a final discussion of the golden rule, something that was fairly acceptable for everyone. We ended on that positive note.

To add more context: Tat was about 5 minutes of my responses, in a one our session. The discussion started with the philosophers we had read about, what we agreed with from them and disagreed with, then talking about the validity of a holy scripture over time.

I wanted to bring a question into the discussion, but as I reasoned above why I couldn’t, I didn’t bring it up: can we separate God from religion? This question I am truly confused about. I try to answer it but I get confused quickly, because I don’t know what answer I’m looking for, but I guess one idea I can try is to pick a side and try to argue against it. I mean, that’s how most philosophers go about proving their ideas, right? I’ll try in a later post, eventually. And I’ll clean up any grammatical errors I made on here.. eventually.