Interesting Things – Thursday (11/14/13)

Here is today’s collection of things I found interesting online.

Marijuana: Police officers in Colorado have begun purchasing “nose telescopes” to detect marijuana odors and give out tickets for anyone who lets the smell of weed waft about publicly. It appears that the battle continues, even after a drug is legalized… the government will continue to find ways to profit off of you. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10448756/Police-use-nose-telescope-for-cannabis-odour-mapping.html)

Quote of the Day: “If it’s still in your mind, it is probably worth the risk” – Paulo Coelho

Prostitution: Prohibition always, always, always makes things worse. People will use drugs, pay for sex, and gamble no matter what. When you put it on the black market you end and ruin lives. Everyone, particularly the women, would be better off if prostitution was legal. (http://www.businessinsider.com/why-america-should-legalize-prostitution-2013-11)

Art: A painter creates beautiful works of art that create an optical illusion. It is incredibly mesmerizing. (http://retelly.com/art/artist-riusuke-fukahori-paints-three-dimensional-goldfish-embedded-in-layers-of-resin)

Privacy: The NSA continues to defend their spying programs and fight against any reasonable oversight. That agency is becoming increasingly frightening and we should be ever vigilante against those who would violate our rights in name of security, their intentions are irrelevant. (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/11/nsa-transparency-effect/)

Secession: Syrian Kurds have declared their independence for Syria and have set up their own government. I support any group of people to peacefully withdraw from the government if it no longer supports their interests, and in some cases I support violent revolution. The world needs more of this. (http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/11/12/Syrian-Kurds-declare-autonomous-government.html)

Nuclear Weapons: A 7-minute video showing the thousands of nuclear blasts that humans have created on the planet since we first split the atom. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9U8CZAKSsNA)

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Interesting Things – Wednesday (11/13/13)

Here is today’s collection of things I found interesting online.

Intimacy: Another city has a professional cuddler in it. Portland is the most recent in a string of “cuddle parlors” that have opened up to provide non-sexual intimacy with people. Personally, I love this. I think it is a shame that society so often discourages expression of intimacy, love, and affection outside of our romantic partners. I also think men often face pressure to not be emotional and a safe environment like this gives them a chance to be anonymously vulnerable. (http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/11/professional_cuddler_samantha.html)

Religious Hypocrisy: A Kansas City Mission has decided to prevent atheists from serving food to the homeless on Thanksgiving. I am not sure how they are living according to Christ’s principles when they are explicitly preventing people from helping those in need. It seems that they are choosing hate over love. (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/11/11/christian-rescue-mission-bans-kansas-atheists-from-volunteering-at-thanksgiving/)

Police: A former police officer outlines how to avoid getting arrested. Some of the tips are good but my biggest takeaway is how subservient we must be to men in badges in modern America. When it is recommended that you cry or wet yourself when you encounter these “public servants” there is a serious problem. (http://www.businessinsider.com/how-not-to-get-arrested-2013-11>

Sex: Today is national birth control day, be safe out there and use vegan condoms like Sir Richard’s.
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Nature: Here is a video of a dolphin masturbating with a decapitated fish. Nature is a cruel funny beast and we are all really just here to get our rocks off. (http://io9.com/this-is-a-video-of-a-dolphin-masturbating-with-a-decapi-1463711897)

Economics: Using game theory one can increase their odds of winning on the price is right. Economic principles can have a huge impact on life in general. For me ideas like sunk cost have actually changed my behavior. Everyone should understand the basics. (http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2013/11/winning_the_price_is_right_strategies_for_contestants_row_plinko_and_the.html)

Russia: A new promotion for the winter Olympics allows people to do squats instead of pay money for their train ride. I find this incredibly interesting and could be a way to both encourage fitness and provide transportation opportunities for low-income people. (http://mashable.com/2013/11/12/russian-subway-squats/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link)

Police State: For some reason Americans continue to assume the best out of the bureaucracy that operates our National Security agencies. Despite generations of rights violations, domestic spying, and abuse at the hands of both political parties people still kind of trust the system that is rife with abuse. It baffles me. (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/11/why-does-anyone-trust-the-national-security-state/281429/)

Perv Part 1 – “We’re All Perverts”

After a little break from any type of serious reading or writing I decided to pick up “Perv: The Sexual Deviant In All Of Us” by Jesse Bering. I am only through the first chapter but I can already tell I am going to enjoy it. Instead of only diving into the quirky physical nature of humans Bering wants us to both be more comfortable with the sexual deviant in each of us, and more understanding of others. He wants a world where people are judged for their actions, and not their thoughts.

Bering sees a problem with a world where we hide our fetishes. When we hide what we feel and crave we are putting on a mask, the same mask as everyone else, but we are pretending the masks are real. Our realities become a lie, a lie that we have all tacitly agreed to honor even though underneath the masks we are suffering. To ignore what you feel, to pretend it isn’t there, to act “normal” all the time bears a significant cost on your mind and can be harmful. And we go to great lengths to keep this sexual facade up, to the point where we work to dehumanize anyone with sexual perversions, we compare them to animals when they are very human.

Bering points out that all too often we fall into the “naturalistic fallacy” when discussing sexual norms. I know that I’m guilty of this in my defense of polyamory. We turn to nature and point out that other animals have open sex, homosexual activities, and multi-partner relationships, therefore it is not unnatural for humans to do this. Unfortunately this puts us in the same category as fundamentalist religious people who make the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” comments… basically they say sex is naturally for reproduction therefore if the act doesn’t lead to reproduction then it is unnatural. They are wrong when they resort to nature, and so have I been in the past. It may have strong rhetorical value but, as Bering says, “invokes a moral judgement against those whose sexual orientations are not found in other animals. Furthermore, even if we were indeed the lone queer species in an infinite universe of potentially habitable planets, it’s unclear to me how that would make marriage between two gay adults in love with each other less okay.” When we resort to the nature we spend so much time trying to defend it from an evolutionary point of view and stop asking the important question: is it harmful?

Sexual desires themselves to not cause any harm. They are firing neurons, a mental movie theater, an internal thought. Treating someone poorly or differently based on thoughts and urges that are beyond their control is a gross form of discrimination. We can’t help what we are attracted to. We should only pass judgement when someone acts on urges that cause harm to others, and maybe we should even congratulate the “perverts” who are open about their desires but don’t act on them if they are harmful.

We are all sexual beings. The lady at the grocery store, the old man on the park bench, your parents, grandparents, and siblings… they have all likely pleasured other people into orgasmic bliss. There is a serious danger when you criminalize thoughts or criminalize acts that do not have any proof of harm. Allowing governments to use force as an agent of morality means that someday those moral police may be turned on anyone if public opinion shifts.

 

Interesting Things – Tuesday (11/12/13)

Here is today’s collection of things I found interesting online. I often get Facebook messages from friends and strangers that say they enjoy the variety of things I post so I figured I would share it with the few people who follow me on here as well. As you probably expect it will lean pretty heavily towards science, sex, and anarchy.

Cute: Here is a link to something adorable (http://www.sanger.dk/)

Students For Liberty: This last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Students For Liberty Southern California Regional Conference. One of the speakers was Conor Friersdorff from The Atlantic. Here is his talk (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/11/how-to-safeguard-liberty-through-discourse/281376/).

War On Drugs: The War on (Some) Drugs has devastated countless lives through death and incarceration. It has also had an incredibly high economic impact by preventing collection of taxes on the nation’s largest cash crop, marijuana. (http://www.policymic.com/articles/72497/this-is-the-first-map-to-prove-how-valuable-legalizing-marijuana-would-be-for-america)

Social Norms: When you are done with a party to you just jet or do you make it a point to say good-bye to everyone? I am someone who just leaves (or ghosts). I wonder if there is a Myers-Briggs correlation between those who leave and those who hang around to formally say good-bye. (http://www.slate.com/articles/life/a_fine_whine/2013/07/ghosting_the_irish_goodbye_the_french_leave_stop_saying_goodbye_at_parties.html)

LGBT Rights: I don’t think the government should be involved permitting or licensing businesses at all, all that does is prohibit people from freely working and contracting and it disproportionately harms the poorest and least educated in our communities; but, if licensing must happen governments shouldn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation like this town in Mississippi. (http://thoughtsonliberty.com/mississippi-woman-sues-town-for-refusing-to-allow-gay-bar)

PTSD: As a veteran and open user of MDMA I hope people will recognize this as legitimate and effective medicine that has huge potential. Check out this video if you have a chance (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/healing-trauma-in-veterans-with-mdma-assisted-psychotherapy)

Police Brutality: There have been several high-profile cases lately of police officers forcing anal searches and probes on people without any real justification (thank you Drug War), but as this article points out it is unlikely that any individuals will face any consequences. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/11/anal-probes-and-the-drug-_n_4254600.html)

Best Thing I Read Today: “Rarely has man been more cruel against man than in the condemnation and punishment of those accused of so-called sexual perversions. The penalties have included imprisonment, torture, the loss of life or limb, banishment, blackmail, social ostracism, the loss of social prestige, renunciation by friends and families, the loss of position in a school or business, severe penalties meted out for conviction of men serving in the armed forces, public condemnation by emotionally insecure and vindictive judges on the bench and the torture endured by those who live in fear that their nonconformist sexual behavior will be exposed to public view. These are the penalties which have been imposed on and against persons who have done no damage to the property or physical odies of others, but who have failed to adhere to the mandated custom. Such cruelties have not often been matched, except in religious or racial persecutions.” – Alfred Kinsey

Photo Of My Day:
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“Marriage Isn’t For You”

On Friday my partner brought my attention to an article that has been floating around the internet titled “Marriage Isn’t For You”… I realize this was a week ago (which is an eternity in today’s world) but because love and relationships are something I have strong opinions on I wanted to share my thoughts. When I first read this article it made me really uncomfortable but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. After reading this response, posting it on my wall (where as of now every “like” is by a female), and talking it over with my partner and roommate I think I found the source of some of my discomfort.

I am not against love, monogamy, or marriage. I have performed two weddings, been best man in four weddings, groomsman in another half dozen, and an usher in two. I support my friends in love and I am always honored to be a part of the celebration of that love and their desire to love eternally. I recognize that all relationships require compromise, understanding, and often some form of sacrifice. I think Smith has moved beyond what is reasonable though, he is not suggesting reasonable sacrifice but is instead recommending people give up core parts of their beliefs to fall in line with social norms. If one part of a relationship isn’t comfortable with marriage there is something wrong with them in Smith’s mind and they need to just suck it up and do it because it will make another person happy.

We live in a modern era where love is free to express itself in many forms. Research continues to show that humans are not as naturally monogamous as earlier preached, and lifelong pair-bonding may not be for everybody. I am firm believer that there are a few certain things that partners need to have in common in order for their relationship to be fair, balanced, and healthy… marriage, kids, and lifestyle are those few certain things. For one partner to just get married to make the other person happy or to have kids or to change their lifestyle seems like it can only result in future resentment and probably a broken relationship.

Marriage is not necessary for financial security or even stability for children. Marriage is a beautiful thing, but it isn’t for everyone and to pressure people to commit their lives to something they don’t want to make a spouse happy cannot lead to happiness for either person. If one person wants to get married and the other doesn’t the one pushing for marriage is being more selfish, more stubborn, and will eventually cause more harm to the relationship. There is no honor in sacrificing your future in an attempt to make another person happy and there is no honor in accepting someone’s entire future as a sacrifice in hopes it will make you happy. Happiness can only be determined by the individual and a healthy relationship requires two people who can be healthy alone.

I love my married friends, I love those who have decided that they are on the same page with regards to their future and want to be partners for life, but there is nothing to love if the build-up to marriage causes “my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.” That is a sign that one party is not ready for marriage (and may never be) and to just cave in, put a ring on it, and hope for the best is a recipe for disaster.

For generations we have been fed fairytales where the end of the movie is a wedding between a hopeless romantic and a reluctant partner, but we never see what happens after the wedding. The most important part of married couples relationship is after the churchbells have faded and they are with their partner for life, if they don’t go into that on equal ground I can’t imagine it can end well. True lifetime love deserves the honesty and respect that comes from two equals who get married for both of their happiness, not to please another person or society.

Next Step

Today was my first real “work day” off since I quit my job. It is time to really buckle down and focus on things for the next couple of months as I prepare for my bike ride. It is an interesting feeling being unemployed, but it feels good and this is why I live very minimalistically and save money. I have known for about a year that the office life is not for me, there is something soul-sucking for me to commute and sit in a cube each day in front of a screen, particularly when I feel most jobs can be done from home, a beach, or some place less creatively stifling. The people I worked with for the last year and a half were absolutely fantastic and I plan on staying in touch with them for a long time, but the office life isn’t for me and I felt myself in danger of being numbed down and sucked into it long term. So, I quit and now I have 157 days until the next adventure starts.

I’m going to be spending a lot of time focusing on my writing, fitness, and other interests over the next few months. This blog will likely reflect that journey, as well as dig deeper into my views on politics, religion, relationships, and current events. I am really hoping to increase the quality and the quantity of the posts on my blog, as well as become more interactive with the blogs I follow regularly. A major focus will be finishing the book of my cross-country ride last year. I don’t necessarily think I will make a lot of money off it but if I can create something that draws a few dollars in over time it could really be beneficial to Anna and I. Part of good writing to me is reading, so bookshelf (Kindle and real world) will likely get much larger and greater use, and expect more book reviews.

I will also be implementing serious daily exercise which will primarily be bike rides and yoga, but if I can find a inexpensive way to add weights or other exercises to the routine I will do that as well. Some extra skills that I’m going to be working on is cooking (the ladies love a good cook… right?), an undetermined musical instrument, and a foreign language. I just can’t imagine living my life without learning how to communicate in another tongue or with language of music. Of course, this time will also be used to further my formal education as much as I can and chart out what steps I need to take to get into providing psychological support for those that need it.

All in all, I’m excited. My first day was not as productive as I would have liked but I have a nice dinner started for the lovely ladies I live with (sweet potato gnocchi with seared brussels sprouts and tarragon cream) and am starting a schedule for tomorrow. Hopefully with some experimentation I will get into a routine of happiness.