Ignorance is Dying

Yesterday, while I was procrastinating on Facebook a news article crossed my feed about a mother in Tennessee. This mother is upset that her 7th Grade child is learning about Islam (she doesn’t appear to be upset that her child is learning about Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism as well) and decided to voice her concerns to the local school board. She feels that her child’s “personal religious beliefs were violated” by being provided an education about different spiritual beliefs and they are proud of the zeroes received on the corresponding tests.

It is easy to get angry or stereotype Tennessee as a backwards place, but there is actually one line in the article that makes me incredibly optimistic.

“Edmisten was the only parent to speak about the issue.”

One parent. We are at the point where this type of craziness in a conservative state is down to one person who is outraged enough to cause a fuss. This woman clearly does not represent most of the school district. It is angry people who take the time out of their day to scream at bureaucrats and elected officials, and most of the people in this town aren’t angry about the school curriculum, and it appears the school board is going to kind of brush this woman off (as they probably should).

In some ways, I grew up in an “ignorance is a virtue” form of Christianity. I was taught explicitly anti-science things and my house were filled almost solely with books and music by Christian authors. I even remember writing a long paragraph protesting that my science class in seventh grade had a question about evolution on it and how it was “only a theory*”. That upbringing was self-defeating, though. Science easily won out when ignorance was encouraged and I was only given a strawman defense against scientific theories. For example, I heard many times “if humans evolved from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?”. This seemed like an airtight argument until I actually learned about evolution. When I found out that scientists don’t say that at all, what they say is that humans and monkey share a common ancestor (just like my siblings and I share a common ancestor) it shattered my beliefs on the subject and encouraged me to re-evaluate everything that I’d been told.

In addition, my “God of the gaps” (if humans don’t know the answer then the answer must be God) got smaller and smaller as those gaps were filled by scientific inquiry. Quickly I came to the conclusion that if a God exists then his followers should be focusing solely on the spiritual and not the physical. The study of “earthly things” like history, science, and economics should not be viewed through a theological lens because religion doesn’t have the tools to adequately study them. When Christian “science” and secular science conflict only one will be left standing because only one actually relies on logic and inquiry and is self-correcting.

This parent is doing her children a disservice and someday they may come to see it as brainwashing, and possibly resent her for it even if she is doing what she thinks is right. In today’s connected age you can’t fight information unless you go to dictatorial extremes. Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin may be able to shut off information to their citizens, but parents in the United States cannot. If people really want their children to grow up as healthy adults they need to be open and honest about the world and not try to isolate them from dissenting opinions. If your views can’t survive exposed to light and the marketplace of ideas, then your views should probably die.

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Just One More

Yesterday I did one more push-up than I did the day before that.

Just one.

That’s not very impressive, but sometimes one more is enough. Progress is made in increments of one. One more push up. One more second meditating. One more word put on paper. One less calorie consumed. One step closer to a goal.

Sometimes I get caught up in the vastness of what I want to accomplish. The mountains of physical fitness, writing a book, creating a practice overwhelms me and I feel so small. Defeat is inevitable. But, I take one more step, and that’s enough. With one more step, I can work my way along this beautiful trail of life and climb any mountain. Of course, the mountain doesn’t really exist, at the top will be more trails and more peaks to shoot for. Endpoints and victories are illusions, all we have is the path and the steps we take.

There are days when I feel super productive and knock out dozens of tasks. I hit a new personal best 2-mile run, I read 100 pages, I write dozens, I work 8 hours, I clean the house and rake the yard. My “to do” list disappears at an alarming rate. I sprint towards my goal on those days and it just feels So. Damn. Good.

Then there are days like yesterday, where my progress is less like a sprint and more like a forward collapse. It is easy to beat myself up for days like yesterday. “Why can’t I be more like my previous self and see huge progress? Why can’t I be more productive with my time and spend less time slacking? Why only one push up?”

Because some days one is all you have in you, but one is good enough. One is perfect. One is progress.

Week 2 Update

Alright, another week has gone by and I’m still pretty happy with the results. The week started off pretty rough and I had a hard time getting into my daily routine. There was a lot more going on around the house, which made it more difficult for me to get the day started off on the right foot. That is mostly just an excuse though, I need to be able to operate in non-ideal circumstances and blaming a bad start to the day to justify not accomplishing things is shitty. The truth is, I was just lazy and didn’t meditate or write as much as I wanted to. I was able to keep my run schedule and such, which is good.

I haven’t been getting as much sleep as I’d like because my dog is an asshole. I’m not sure what is really going on with him, he is waking us up for breakfast really early. I think the new food we started him on isn’t keeping him as full as the old stuff. Oh well, I’m sure we will figure something out. Despite the lack of sleep I have been feeling pretty good on only 7ish hours.

I also haven’t had any heartburn in two weeks. I’d guess either alcohol or the processed foods I used to eat were the culprit. It has been rather nice to be free of that inconvenience. Speaking of alcohol, there were not really any cravings for beer this week, which was also nice. This next week will be challenging as well, we are going to go to St. Louis for about a week starting on Thursday (probably). That mans I won’t have the kitchen I’m used to, we will be driving two days (which is always tough to eat healthy and get exercise) and there will be lots of food and drink to tempt. I’m not going to abstain from new experiences, but hopefully Anna and I can keep each other accountable and enjoy in moderation.

Overall, I’m happy with the direction my fitness is going. I’m burning off excess fat and getting stronger. I feel healthier, more energetic and productive, and more mentally strong. I know that many of the measurements are going to stop having such drastic changes, such as weight loss. I will eventually plateau my weight loss (which is good) but that means I need to find something else to measure as a motivating factor. Hopefully by then I will have access to a gym and can keep track of weights or something. I also realize a lot of these measurements are fickle… I’m trying to measure myself with a tape measure, which means human error, and weighing myself on the scale is not really an accurate representation of my weight because water in my system and a full bowels can effect the outcome. I’m keeping track more to look for trends instead of absolute measurements. New photos are available in here, as always they contain terrible tan lines, a sloppy man bun, and full-frontal nudity. I decided to use a real camera and a couple of poses so that it is easier to visually track my progress. It is hard to compare photos but I feel like I have more definition in my back and shoulders (though, that might be the tan) and my waist is slimming down a little.

Oh well, here are the measurements. It is set up like this Measurement: Current (change from last week, overall change). For example, my weight is 173 right now so it will look like this “Weight: 173 lbs (-2, -2.5)”. I lost two pounds this week, and two and a half overall.

  • Weight: 173 lbs (-2, -2.5)
  • Waist: 35 inches (-.5, -1.5)
  • Neck: 15. inches (-.25, 0)
  • Chest: 39.7 inches (+.25, -.25)
  • Left Bicep: 13.75 inches (+.25, -.25)
  • Right Bicep: 13.5 inches (+.5, -.5)
  • Left Thigh: 23 inches (-1, -1.25)
  • Right Thigh: 23.5 inches (-.5, -1.75)
  • Left Calf: 15 inches (+.25, +.5)
  • Right Calf: 15 inches (+.25, +.5)
  • BMI: 26.3 (-.46, -.76)
  • Body Fat %: 21.18 (-1.86, -3.84)
  • Average Daily Calories: 1696.86 (-66.57)
  • Average Waking Mood: 5.43 out of 10 (+2.19)
  • Average Midday Mood: 7.43 out of 10 (+0)
  • Average Evening Mood: 7.14 out of 10 (-.15)
  • Average Morning Sex Drive: 5.43 out of 10 (+0)
  • Average Midday Sex Drive: 6.71 out of 10 (-.15)
  • Average Evening Sex Drive:6.14 out of 10 (+.43)
  • Walked: 18.5 Miles (-.25, 37.25)
  • Ran: 11 Miles (+6.5, 16.5)
  • Biked: 9.25 Miles (4.25, 14.25) – My bike is at the shop getting repaired and probably won’t be back this week
  • Pull Ups: 66 (+15, 117)
  • Push Ups: 390 (+50, 730)
  • Plank: 9.25 minutes (+.75, 17.75)
  • Meditated: 30 minutes (-40, 100)
  • Average Nightly Sleep: 7.61 hours (-.25)
  • Daily Orgasm: 3 out of 7 (-2)
  • Blog Posts: 7 out of 7 (+1)
  • Daily German: 6 out of 7 (+1)
  • Daily Write Book: 0 out of 7
  • Resting Heart Rate: 54bpm (-4, -5)

 

Currently Reading:

  • “Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama” by Daniel Goleman
  • “The Great Hunt” by Robert Jordan

Someday, it won’t matter

I think (hope) there will come a day in our near future when someone’s sexual orientation and gender identity are no more important than their eye color or favorite food. Instead of classifying people along gender lines (or sexual orientation or race or a thousand other categories) we will simply see them as individuals. I hope we come to realize that there is no reason to control another person unless that person is harming you, and who someone falls in love with or how they identify harms nobody.

In fact, I bet we will come to a day when gender and sexual orientation is recognized as fluid in many (most) people and it can change depending on the circumstances. For some, this may be a slight change from a 0 to 1 on the Kinsey scale because there is one person in the world of the same sex that they find sexually attractive enough to fuck around with. For others it may fluctuate wildly from 0 to 6 throughout their life (or the week). I realize the Kinsey scale is imperfect, but I think it is good enough to explain my point.

We humans are complicated and fluid beings. We are a mixture of nature and nurture, and are constantly being bombarded with new stimuli from outside and within. It shouldn’t shock anyone that something as diverse and complicated as attraction (sexual, romantic, or otherwise) is that a binary system is inadequate for a species of 7 billion who live 70ish years. We don’t expect that from any of our other drives. Food, sleep, and sexual position preferences all change throughout the years as we are introduced to new things and our bodies change. Orientation and gender, for many people, change too.

I guess I just don’t understand the busy-bodies who act like the world is going to come to an end because people are free to label themselves as they wish. I guess some of their concerns are understandable… they don’t want children hurt… but their methods to alleviate that concern is wrong. There seems to be a pattern when it comes to children, parents will latch onto their greatest fears and pursue totalitarian policies that are ineffective and harm innocent people. There is no sacrifice too great when it comes to protecting your own children, even if it means treating the rest of the world terribly. Evolution is a bitch that way. We evolved in order to squirt out genetic copies, that is the biological meaning of life.

We should just let people be who they want to be. If someone wants to be called a certain pronoun (or hell, wants to be called a centaur) and it doesn’t hurt anyone then why not respect that? Who cares who they sleep with as long as they aren’t harming anyone else? It is not the place of government or individuals to enforce their morality on others. In fact, it stops becoming a moral action if you do it simply out of fear of hell, jail, or lynching by society. Something is only moral if the mind lines up with the actions, and no amount of force is going to change the mind of someone.

Anyway, things seem to be getting better and quickly in most of the US. Gender and sexual orientation is less important and fewer people are shocked when they meet a transgender or gay person. There is still work to be do, particularly in parts of the Fascist Belt (I refuse to call it Bible Belt anymore, there is nothing Christ-like about they policies or politicians they support, they are totalitarians, not Christians), but the internet is making things better, and the younger generations are comfortable with fluidity in life. I’m hopeful for the future in so many ways, society is becoming a happier, more peaceful, loving, and accepting place.