Monday, May 15, 2006

Hammer's Life Lessons -- A blog on life

Check out Hammer's Life Lessons

A gentleman dispenses the wisdom gained from his own experiences. He is very candid about his own life. Today he discusses how to deal with rejection.

Check it out.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dirty Words

What is your view on the use of "dirty" words?

I am talking about supposedly forbidden words like "f*ck", "sh*t", etc.

When I was growing up, most kids could certainly expect a reaction from our parents if we used these and a variety of other words. We would almost certainly be punished. It would not have been unusual to get the strap. And if we were caught saying these things in school, we almost certainly risked the strap.

But we weren't just worried about the punishment of this world. There was also the next to think of. Swearing was a sin in those days. Why, if God caught you swearing, you could pretty much expect to be in His bad books, and you were risking an afterlife in Hell. (Ironic, isn't it, that a kid wasn't allowed to say Hell, but could have been required to go there.)

That got to be a problem I got a bit older. All the teenagers where I lived used the f-word on a regular basis, myself included. It was just part of normal discourse among teenage peers. It wasn't normally seen as a measure of respect for each other. Instead, it was a measure of belonging to the teen underworld. It was just language. "Hey man, didja get the answer to the second f*cking question on the f*ckin' test? It took me 20 f*cking minutes to figure that f*cking thing out. I thought I was having a hard f*cking time, but then I looked over at Jimmy. Man, he looked like we was gonna f*cking cry."

But even by our mid teens, most of us didn't use this language in front of our parents. The strap was no longer an issue for me when I was 15 or 16, but that didn't mean I wanted to go down that route with my parents.

Long before I had hit my teens, I remember hearing that a boy named Freddy and his sister--they lived down the road a piece from my cousins' house--were both allowed to swear and use all kinds of sinful language--right in front of their folks. Freddy was a bit older than me, but he was still a young teenager. That seemed shocking to me at the time. I remember shortly afterwards being on their front porch and hearing Freddy in a conversation with his mom and he probably used a half dozen words that I wasn't even supposed to know at that time. It looked like a pretty casual conversation. His mom didn't seem perturbed in the least.

That always stuck with me.

See Freddy, was about the nicest kid you could want to meet. So was his sister. You'd a thunk that they would have turned out all rotten, seeing as they clearly were not being brought up right.

But you know what? They grew up to be two very well liked, very respectful adults. And as far as I know, they both had a reputation for being nice kids right through adolescence. So what was the big deal? Why did we make such a fuss about all this "naughty" language?

For my part, I have decided I will not punish children for using "bad" words. As far as I am concerned, it is their language. They have a right to use it. That said, I will (do) set guidelines: The use of a word in itself is not bad. But there is the question of how you use it. We are free to use our language, but not to use it for the purpose of being disrespectful to others. And we should make a point of being sensitive to other's feelings.

So far, I have found this to be pretty effective, although my daughter is pretty young. This, to me, is a good place to start with teaching freedom of speech.

What is your point of view on all this naughty language?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Who is your God?

Who is your God?
What are your God's characteristics?

Is your God the creator of all the universe?
Did your God exist before time?
Is your God all powerful?
Can your God do anything, no matter how impossible?
Can your God tell a lie, or deceive?
Is your God all knowing?
Is your God always good?
Does your God require strict obedience?
Does your God allow you to be defiant?
Are you allowed to question your God?
Is your God always right?
If your God said to kill somebody, would killing be right?
Does your God require you to turn the other cheek?
Does your God allow you to fight?
Does your God put the evidence of your holy book before the evidence of your eyes?
Does your God put the evidence of your holy book before the evidence of your heart?
Does your God put the evidence of your holy book before the evidence of your mind?
Is your God the same God your parents believed in?
Will there be a judgement day?
Who judges your God?
Does your God evolve?
Are you right about your God?
If so, how do you know you are right?

Tell me about your God?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Righteousness vs. Demagoguery

I just realized what a poor job I have been doing. Not so much the fact that I have hardly been posting. That's not a quality problem in itself. That's just laziness.

Rather, I got thinking about my stated goals. There is this mission that I claim to be on. I am supposed to be righteous and protest stuff. Mostly me. Or us. Once in awhile I protest you. I never protest "them". Protesting "them" is necessary, but it falls outside the scope of my mission.

And that's all well and good. But it dawned on me that something has been missing from my repetoire. I am a righteous asshole. At least some of the time. And that fits in well with my vision statement. I also have a bit of a sense of humor. (Although I am not always sure that other people get it.) But what is missing is demagoguery. That's right demagoguery.

It seems to me that by now I should have upbraided many a hypocrite for his (or her) demagoguery. But the fact is, I haven't even used the word 'demagoguery' once in any of my posts. Neither in the comments that I have left on other people's blogs.

The truths is. I am not even sure what it means. I looked the word up online, and found an HNN News Network article called "What Qualifies as Demagoguery". I tried to read it, but I ended up more confused after the first paragraph, so I just gave up.

It seems to me that I had no choice but to write a "Copernicus protests himself" post. The truth is, my skills as a voice of social revolution peaked around month 2 of this blog. After that I went into a decline. And now the truth is out. I claim to be righteous, but I don't even know the vocab.

Oh well. Copernicus sucks. Spread the word.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Observations on Conflict

Conflict

We are locked in conflict. A struggle of cultures. Us and them.

Is it war? Is it love? Is it hatred?

No. Conflict is social interaction. Some conflict is gentle and tender. Some conflict is tumultuous and belligerent, but settles back into something near civil. Some conflict is about humiliation, and venom. Some conflict is vicious and vitriolic. Some conflict is death. And blood. A race between two adversaries to destroy each other.

But conflict is always a social interaction. It's two or more participants, in a bizarre dance together. It has a bond. It has the power to destroy. It also has the power to heal. But that might depend on you.

Most of us are at odds with conflict. We are ignorant. We pretend it is not happening. We don't see our part in it. We accuse and deny. We base our own honor on our lies. We deceive. We deceive ourselves.

So many among us think conflict is just one thing. They don't know that it is many things. It is there in love. It is there in family. It is there in being a neighbor. It is there in debate. It is there in war.

Conflict is in everything. It entangles everybody and everything.

There is no escaping conflict. It simply is.

We are stupid in the ways of conflict. We are ignorant. We boast and we are vain. We are conceited. We don't know what we are doing.

In conflict, it is well to start by getting to know the truth about yourself. Do not believe your own bullshit. Do not believe your own press releases. Do not believe your own words. Do not believe yourself at all when you sound noble. Until you know the sound of your own lies.

Get to know the people who call themselves your allies. Some have real honor. But many seek to entangle you in their adventures. They fill your ears with talk of values. They speak of things that make your emotions rise. They fill you with pride and urgency. But they are ignorant. They shout filth in the street during, waking the violent ones. And they expect you to join them. Know them well. For they are not your friends. And you owe them nothing.

Do not believe your own innocence. Do not believe your own pleadings. Do not believe your own emotions. Until you have examined yourself through your opponent's eyes and you have seen where you are wanting.

If you are full of opinions about your adversary. If you think you know what you need to know about them. Think again. If you think you possess the uncontestable argument. You deceive yourself. If you are not experiencing a change of viewpoint, you have learned nothing. If you only see what you always saw, you see nothing because you are blind.

If you do not see the need to learn about yourself. If you do not see the need to learn about your opponent. If you have already learned enough, you are the cause of your own destruction, though you will surely blame others.

If you do not respect your opponent. If you are contemptuous. If you think you are guaranteed victory. You are a danger to yourself and others. Keep away from me.

If you think you can play with conflict. If you think you are free to torment and antagonize, feel free. Fly to your own folly. I might laugh at your stupidity--if I weren't so busy trying to keep you from dragging me with you.

If you think you can run a conflict remotely. If you think you will not be touched by it. If you think the war is "over there". You are a fool. You will visit evil on your own family. On your own children. Then how you will cry and blame others.

If you think you can avoid conflict. You are equally foolish. There is no escape. It is the air itself. Avoid it if you are able. How long can you hold your breath?

You can not avoid conflict. None of us can. So turn to it, and face it. And learn to manage.

If you can turn an enemy into a friend, this is often the best road to victory. If you can teach their children love, you spare your own.

If you must fight, then do so. But respect your adversary. Maintain your respect, even when they do wrong. And do not underestimate them, even though your craving for confidence tempts you to.

When you fight, if you are winning, remember that a determined adversary will learn and adapt. They will change the game.

When you fight, remember that some day there must be an end to fighting if you are ever to have rest.

Be cautious of your hatred. Be cautious of your contempt. Be cautious of your conduct. Even to your adversary. Because when the day is over. After you have killed your adversary's children, and your adversary has killed yours. You will still need to live together.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

On the Cartoons: Communication, Criticism, Complaints, Conflict, Caring, Caricature, Caution, Contempt and Consequences.

This whole claptrap about the cartoons is starting to annoy to me.

My job here--the one I appointed myself to when I took on the name of Copernicus--is not to tell the other guy how to improve. Rather, it's to criticize me and mine. It's to take part in the protest against ourselves.

Of course, in saying that, I am going to have to momentarily buy into this "us versus them" mentality. Just for today--for the sake of this post--"us" means us westerners. Us secularists. Us who come from Europe and North America. Us, who are sophisticated. Us, who defend freedom, and democracy, and rights.

And "them", just for now, means them Islamic folk. You know. Them. Over there. Them religious fanatics. Them ignorant ones. Them people what can't take a joke. Them people with backwards thinking. Them people--many of whom seem awful prone to extremism and terrorism.

Now, I know that my definitions sound pretty prejudiced. But I think it just makes sense to start by getting our prejudices out in the open, right here, right now. Why should we be bottling up our prejudices all the time? We all got 'em. Why should we be ashamed of 'em? Ain't you just sick and tired of all this politically correctness bullsh*t?

We got free speech, don't we? So, why should we suppress what we think? Don't you see? We don't need to. We don't need to be ashamed of our prejudices. We should revel in them. We got freedom of speech!! In fact, why don't you just go on down to your workplace, or maybe take a walk through your local shopping center, and tell the first Muslim family you see what the patootie you really think about their backward little religion?! Heck, you got a right. You got a right! It's called freedom of speech. So, just get up off yer lard ass and go down there right now and do it, whydoncha? SHOUT IT AT 'EM!!

Now you were probably thinking that freedom of speech is just for people who write stuff, like books and newspaper articles--oh, and cartoons. Kind of like a special license, or something.

Well, no sir. No siree!! It's your right too. Fact is, it ain't just your right. It's your duty. Yesiree! A lot of good men fought and died trying to stop that bastard Hitler, just so you and your kids could have freedom of speech.

Course, if you don't want to stand up for your rights, I understand completely, son. You just go ahead and have a little lie down right there at their feet. Just relax and don't say anything. In fact, don't plan on every saying what you think again.

What, you say you want to defend your rights? You say you want to do what's right? You wanna stand up for free speech? Good boy. Good to have you on board. Fine boy like yourself, and all.

Now, I'll tell you what you gotta do.

See, what you gotta do, boy, is to get right in their faces about what you think. Better yet, give 'em some funny stuff. They need lots of that. A lot of them folks are just too uptight about this whole thing, so you gotta make 'em understand that they just need to loosen up their sense of hawhaw. Y'know all that fundamentalist religious stuff addles their brains. Makes 'em high strung. Pokin' fun at 'em oughtta help.

Get right in their faces. Don't let up.

And if they protest and get all extremist on you, don't you dare back down. And if they come after you and start protesting your actions, why you just gotta act with honor, son. You gotta stick to your guns. You just gotta muster up your grit and just keep shovin' your opinions right back in their uneducated little faces.

Now, I know what you're thinking, boy. I know what you're thinkin'. You're thinking, well what if I have to defend something that somebody says that I don't agree with?

No problem, boy. That ain't no problem at all. See, the issue here is not with whether what anybody says against them folks is right or wrong. It's about their right to say it. See, that's what we mean by freedom of speech. You see, you gotta defend any old crap that anybody says. You see, it don't matter who the devil says what. You just gotta defend it. See, that's your duty. Doesn't matter what their intention was. Doesn't matter if they were just trying to push somebody's buttons. Just do the right thing, and if things go bad for you--well then you're a martyr for a good cause. Freedom. Rights. Wahoo!

OKAY!! OKAY!! Enough of this!!

Copernicus here. I'm back to my old self again.

As I was starting to say, I am getting tired of all this claptrap about those damn cartoons. All I want to say is this:

You wanna communicate, something? Communicate it.
You wanna criticize? Go right ahead.
You got something to complain about? Say it.
You feeling the need to get the conflict out in the open? Fine and dandy.
You need to let somebody know about the things you care about? That's a good thing.
So far, it sounds like you might be acting with respect, and I got your back.

But go any further, and you might want to tread with caution.
Do you feel like mocking somebody today?
Do you feel like a caricature is in order?
Do you feel like treating others with contempt?
Do you feel like crapping on the things others consider holy, just to provoke a reaction?
Well, Mr. Man, hope you thought through the consequences. Maybe what you're doing is going to work. And maybe it ain't. But you better plan on taking good care, 'cause I for one am going to have to take a long think about how much help I feel like providing.

Personally, I love freedom of speech, but I don't always care much for the way some zealots go about defending it.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Makin' up words

Did you ever make up any good words or expressions? I made up 3 that I like:

1) Obvuto - Has to do with truth value. An obvuto statement is a statement that is true and useful as long as you appreciate the extent to which it may actually be misleading. For example: "Karate is the art of breaking boards with your bare hands." Most karate practitioners would cringe at that definition, but as a way to explain what karate is to people who have a limited exposure to such things, it can be effective. How useful such a statement is depends on whether the listener understands that the statement is obvuto.

I really like the word, but to tell the truth I don't use it in conversation much. Not unless we're talking about words we made up. :)

2) Smell-deaf - I figure I am about 65% to 70% smell deaf. My wife can smell just about anything. She takes great pride in her acuity of smell. But she is grossed out a lot. (Not by me, of course!) When she was pregnant with our daughter her sensitivity of smell went through the ceiling. She couldn't stand the smell of anything. Almost made a basket case of me trying to arrange the universe of smellery to not offend her. Personally, I get the impression that having a keen sense of smell is mostly a disadvantage unless you live in the wild.

I couldn't find a quick word or phrase that applies to the notion of having a poor sense of smell, so I made up smell deaf. Most people seem to know what I am talking about immediately.

3) Smell frequencies - Somethings I can smell just fine. But I sometimes seem to pick up only certain smell frequencies. My wife once brought home some little white flowers. I think she called them paperwhites. Anyway, she sat them in the living room and went on and on about how nice they smelled. I just ignored them. But awhile later I started smelling burnt rubber. I was a bit alarmed and told my wife that I could smell an wire burning somewhere. She just looked at me funny and said she didn't smell anything. That was weird. I ran around the house in a panic expecting to find an appliance overheating. I ran around and around sniffing everywhere, like that smell-deaf bloodhound (or whatever he is) in Disney's Aristocats. Finally, I sniffed and snuffed my way back to the coffee table in front of the sofa where I was sitting in the first place. To my surprise it was the paperwhites. To me, they smelled just like burning rubber or plastic. To my wife they smelled fragrant and sweet. That's when it dawned on me that I was probably only picking up certain smell frequencies, but not the all same ones my wife was getting.

I have tossed this expression into conversations from time to time. I usually get a comically puzzled reaction. I suppose people who know me might just take it in stride with all the other things I say. I suspect they think I am usually tuned in to a different frequency most of the time. :)