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The Passion

June 1, 2010
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     This happened a while ago. Maybe two or three months ago. But I had it on my list to blog about, but I never did. Well, Here it is.

     The youth group I work for is for high school students. But if anyone wants to learn about Jesus or hang out, we don’t turn them away. As long as they don’t be a distraction. One of the kids, who actually is a freshman in college, asked me a question when I was driving kids home. it was a rhetorical question, but I still answered it. Because it not only shocked me, but it made me angry. It wasn’t really a crazy question, that’s not why it was shocking, but the ignorance and stupidity of the question. And on top of that, he was saying it rhetorically; like it was a good question to provoke thought.

     The question was “Why would they show “The Passion”(of The Christ) to high schoolers?” What shocked me about the question is the stupidity of it. He went on to explain that it was too graphic and scary..

     The context of this question is: at the youth group earlier the speaker spoke about Jesus’ love and showed clips of the movie. The clips were of Christ’s Crucifixion in the movie. I went on and crucified him with my answers. I hate putting people o\n the spot or attacking anyone’s thinking. But this struck me in its ignorance. He said it was too graphic for a generation that is desensitized to killing and vicious mindless murders in scary movies, that have no other purpose than for entertainment(I’m referring to slasher movies, and scary movies in general), with war all over the news and video games that glorify killing. And he has the audacity and lack of thought to say it’s too graphic? It’s a historical account of something more meaningful than a mindless evil killing, and it’s too graphic for high schoolers? That’s what made me mad.

     The reason why it is such a powerful imagery that is needed to see by christians, is because it only makes my faith grow. In the present, we can not comprehend the pain and emotion by purely words that we read. It was a different culture that we don’t have a complete understanding of their values, naturally, because our values and lifestyles are extremely different. We don’t have anything in our lives that we can compare His life to understand what he went through. So it has less meaning to what it really is since we don’t really understand it. But when we see what it is, by watching The Passion, we get a clear picture of it and it becomes that much more real to us. I have to admit to, that I cannot watch it and not cry. That scene of Christ being crucified is beautiful, and should be watched by all who are mature enough to.


The Illegal Immigration Battle

June 1, 2010
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     The argument of illegal immigration makes me a little mad. Because with Arizona’s new state law, the debate has been re-ignited. Now, all I hear is each side’s argument’s all the time in the news and editorials. I am a Californian, California-grown. And I hear about illegal immigrants a lot.

     One argument I hear all the time is illegal immigrants and their economical footprint. defenders of illegal immigrants claim that they contribute more than they take. That is a flawed argument in many ways to me.

     Just because they contribute more, does it make it alright that they are illegal? If you murdered a very bad person, not because of self-defense or anything, purely because he was bad, does it make it right to murder? If you were poor, does it make it legal to steal? Yes, these are two extremes of the situation, but are just the same situation as illegal immigration. It’s illegal no matter what the situation is. Just because they contribute more, doesn’t make it right.

     And another thing is their rights in America. They get less rights and paid less, treated less than citizens. Anyone living here indefinitely should be treated right. But as long as they are illegal, they can’t and shouldn’t be given rights. So there should never be illegal immigrants in the first place. It would be unfair if they are illegal and given he rights as tax-paying citizens, but at the same time they are being paid meagerly, and treated like lesser people, which also isn’t right. So to solve this paradox, there shouldn’t be illegal citizens in the first place. Businesses should be moral and turn away their work and government must act on their being here.

     If you take an economical argument to the situation, you need also to take a political view, as they go hand in hand. Political meaning the if it’s legal. Because the law and economics should be together. And In legal terms, illegal immigration isn’t right. Businesses are taking advantage of illegals and it lowers the standard of living for illegals. It abuses their illegal status.

     One thing, if history has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t need illegals to work for us, we can adapt. Another argument that stems from the economical contribution argument. It’s that no one wants the jobs they do and that how much they get paid keeps prices low. This is eerily similar to slavery. Thats the same thing they said about abolishing slavery. That will destroy the southerner’s economy. It shook it up after slavery was abolished, almost destroyed it, but we adapted, and everything worked out, and slaves were free. This to me is the same thing as slavery, just not to an extreme and it’s hidden behind politics to make it seem less than it seems.

     I love America. I love people. I don’t have anything against immigrants. My mom immigrated from Japan, legally. I just don’t like it when they are here illegally, and when people are treated unfairly. Just because I think they illegal immigrants should be treated fairly, doesn’t mean I think they should be paid more or get healthcare. in fact, I think the opposite. I think that they should be refused those things since they are illegal. But businesses that are exploiting them treat them unfairly, not the government. I would love for them to work and be treated fairly, but only as them being citizens. If they became citizens then they could complain about their country. But until then, they have no country.

     All this is, is slavery-lite. We need to stop this, and as long as they can get any type of work, they’ll continue to come here illegally. That has to start with businesses running fair and moral practices.


The Pope: Machiavellian

May 11, 2010
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NOTE: The purpose of this essay was to show with a modern event how Machiavelli could be used in today’s society relevantly. My personal views of the Pope are irrelevant. Purely used as an example and not to judge the Pope, even though it may look otherwise. I also compared Thoreau and Machiavelli to the play “Antigone”.

Machiavelli’s view in Antigone is clearly shown in how Creon handles himself and he keeps power. Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy is shown in Antigone, and these contrasting philosophies of Antigone and Creon lead to Antigone’s death. Antigone stays true to beliefs which make her a martyr while Creon is battling within himself and isn’t a pure Machiavellian which turns him into a tragic hero. The current Pope can be seen applying Machiavelli to the current issue within the church involving him. He displays Machiavellian characteristics to how he’s handling the situation. Especially being a person in such a high religious position, makes him even more interesting as how Machiavelli approaches religion in his philosophy.
Machiavelli sees life as war, and that enemies should be taken care of without mercy. He shows view he has when he said “A prince…must he take anything as his profession but war” (paragraph 1, lines 1-2). Creon believes this, and sees people as either enemies or allies. He shows this in his natural language. For example, he says to Antigone referring to her brothers “If you honor the traitor just as much as him” (Line 580), and also he says “Aren’t you ashamed to differ so from them(the public)? So disloyal!” (571-572) Phrases such as these show Creon’s Machiavellian mindset. Another thing Machiavelli says is needed to keep power is “a prince must be prudent enough to know how to escape the bad reputation of those vices that would lose the state for him”. In this he means that any things that make someone look bad should be hidden. This is where Creon fails at keeping up the “Machiavellian” way. Machiavelli endorses being merciless and ruthless, to be a tyrant. But not to be viewed as a tyrant is key to keeping power. Antigone reveals the public opinion of him when she says “The citizens here would all agree (with me)…if their lips weren’t locked in fear… Lucky tyrants… Ruthless power to say and do whatever pleases them.” (562-564)That sums up how Creon is viewed in the play. But to look good to where it becomes a hindrance is bad, as he states, applying it to generosity, “I say that it would be good to be considered generous… generosity used in such a manner as to give as to give you reputation for it will harm you”. (Paragraph 9) He means it’s good to be generous, but if you are seen as too generous then it will bring you down. Creon does not have the body buried to not look weak and show mercy on the enemy. Showing mercy to enemies is considered looking weak. Creon can’t show generosity to enemies, or he looks weak; that’s how he viewed his actions. That’s what Machiavelli was referring to when he said that being generous can become a hindrance. You need to look generous only when necessary. Machiavelli also says fear, over love, is the way to rule, he acknowledges this when he says “because love is held by a chain of obligation…which is broken on every occasion… but fear is held by a dread of punishment which will never abandon you.”(Paragraph 14) Through this philosophy, Creon sends out the decree that the punishment is death. This is how he rules in fear. And just as Antigone said the people’s lips were locked in fear, that is how Machiavelli says to rule, and that is how Creon rules.
Henry David Thoreau goes on the principle power isn’t everything. Antigone uses this principle also. But freedom for individuals and that the morale rights are more important than ruling. That too much regulation gets in the way of the morale law. Thoreau sees it right to go against government when it’s necessary. He says “All men recognize the right to revolution… and to resist government when its tyranny or inefficiency are great and unendurable.”( ) Although Antigone knows she’s breaking the law made by Creon, she doesn’t care, because the divine law law is more important. She displays this when she says to Creon “Not ashamed for a moment, not to honor my brother, my own flesh and blood.”(574-575) To be just is more important than retaining power. Power in the majority or in one person is not right. Thoreau reveals this when he says “Must the citizen… resign his conscience to the legislator?” Antigone’s conscience is shown when she says “I was born to join in love, not hate- that is my nature.”(590-591) In this she says no matter the law, she will not resign what she believes, so she went and buried her brother. Thoreau says it’s the right for citizens to overthrow an unjust government to uphold the divine law. Even though Thoreau does not have a favorable opinion of government, he still respects it, he shows this respect when he says: “The authority of government… such as I am willing to submit to.” Antigone’s beliefs also relates to this, as she does not fear the punishment of the law she has broken, and has broken it not trying to run from the law. Antigone doesn’t try to fight the punishment, and fully accepts death as her punishment. She admits to Creon that she accepts death when she rhetorically asks him “Creon, what more do you want than my arrest and execution?”(555-556) Thoreau goes on to say that “I shall endeavor to be satisfied with things as they are and say it is the will of God.” Antigone sees the will of the gods to be more important than anything Creon can decree. She tells it to Creon saying “Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods” (503-504). Antigone makes it clear what is more important and she pays for it with her life willingly.
Neither Machiavelli nor Thoreau have any flaws in their argument on how to live life. Flaws only appear when there are conflicting assumptions between two philosophies. For example, for Creon, the assumption was to keep power. And had he ruled more ideally, more Machiavellian, he would have become powerful. He was justified in his actions through the assumption that retaining power is the most important thing, and Machiavelli’s philosophy is the most proficient way of gaining and retaining power. But looking through Antigone’s eyes, it has many flaws, but that is only it is not power she values. She values the upholding of a divine law, a power more powerful than herself. It is not power she is searching for, but to honor what needs honoring. So to Creon, what Antigone was silly, only because he held different values. His higher values were power and retaining it. Antigone does not see it that way. SO when the decree was made, they were bound to end up how they did, because of their opposing views had them face off. So in the end, Creon failed to stick to his Machiavellian ways, turning him into an antihero and Antigone into a martyr. But for Antigone, she accepted her punishment because of her belief that it was meant to be as long as she upheld the divine law. So even though she died, she actually didn’t lose, because she didn’t hold her life and possessions above what she was fighting for, the divine law. So each philosophy is not flawed in its own right. They justify themselves through their own assumptions.
The current pope, Benedict XVI, can be seen as a Machiavellian. He is described as “more introverted than his predecessor… with the crags and wrinkles of a sinister great-uncle… jousting with liberal theologians and being caricatured as “God’s Rottweiler.””(Ross Douthat, “The better pope”, NY times, 11 April, 2010 ) John Paul, the former pope was much more loved, but Benedict does not follow the same path. In the current papacy, there is a scandal. It is failure to report pedophilia in the church. Prior to Benedict becoming pope, he was a cardinal. He was described by a witness, saying “The cardinal “was tough as nails in a very cordial way,” (Ross Douthat, “The better pope”, NY Times, 11 April 2010) This shows how Benedict made himself to be. Being a cardinal it was his duty to report cases, some of which were priests breaking their vows, and committing pedophilia. What happened was it took a very long time for the case to be properly taken care of. It took four years just to be looked at, as revealed in this statement: “four years after the priest and his bishop first asked that he be defrocked, the future Pope Benedict XVI, then a top Vatican official, signed a letter saying that the case needed more time and that “the good of the Universal Church”(Laurie Goodstein and Michael Luo, “Pope put off punishing abusive priest”, NY times, 9 April 2010). In this he uses the logic that it is for the “good” and for the church. When if taken with a Machiavellian viewpoint, it is only good when it is good for reputation to be good; and to not let it hold you back from gaining power. He is only now addressing this issue because it is more public and can hurt his image in the eyes of the people and ultimately, can take power from him. The pope is addressing it very well in terms of Machiavelli’s philosophy. It was not necessary for him to do anything, but now he must look good and religious since more attention is called to him in such a scandalous way. He reacts to the scandal, shown here: “In his first such encounter since a sexual abuse scandal began to envelop the Catholic Church in recent months, Pope Benedict XVI met privately on Sunday with a small group of victims of sexual abuse by priests, expressing his “shame and sorrow” at their plight” (Rachel Donadio, “Pope meets victims of abuse in Malta”, 18 April 2010) Once the news broke, he started a campaign to make his image look favorable in view of sexual abuse, so he goes and visits victims of sexual abuse. Now he is building an image of his compassion toward these victims even though it was not shown when he was a cardinal. He pope said, referring to his visit to Malta “I shared their suffering and emotionally prayed with them,” (Elisabetta Povoledo, “Pope pledges to confront abuse crisis” 21 April 2010). The pope has a very serious tone to him but also, when he needs, appears religious and very good. It can be seen as classic Machiavellian, and he is dealing with the situation in a Machiavellian style also.
The Machiavellian approach to life can be used very successfully. But it is a fine line that is walked in order to be successful. With Machiavelli, it’s all about keeping for yourself but not to look as if you are taking from people. Not to seem like you are taking power. And being greedy. Being a Machiavellian, it means to be ruthless, self-serving, greedy, and be overall selfish for success, but not to show it. It is about deceiving and looking good even though you really are utilizing bad qualities. It’s hiding those bad qualities that maintain your power that you need people to not see. Creon fails at this, he breaks down in the end, but the pope, one of the more unlikely people ideally, can be said to display these qualities and execute a Machiavellian style rather nicely. However, with Thoreau, it is much simpler and easier to follow his philosophy. The value of power isn’t as great as the value of good. With that assumption, there is no need or want for power, just justice, and when put into effect, can create a harmony, also no need to be ruthless and evil and self-serving. As far as the ultimate question of which is more applicable today; it depends on the point of view. If you want that power, Machiavelli’s philosophy works quite well, but if you focus on more pure things, and strive for justice, Thoreau makes a better argument.


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Our brain is smart

April 28, 2010
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Our brain is extremely slow. Can’t process as much information as you think you can. No, there isn’t a contradiction between the first sentence and the title. Our brain is very slow, but very smart at the same time, in fact, because how it handles its disabilities shows how smart the brain is.

Our brain cannot process all the information we take in. For example, we cannot take in every single little color and every single little sound. Because the number of that we take in is so large, our brain cannot process it. But our brain takes shortcuts.

Let me further explain. Your brain sees everything, and sees them again, but they are never seen in the same light or at the same exact angle, ever. Same with sounds too. So your brain “matches” to things in the long-term memory. And does a kind of database search, similar to the fingerprint matches on CSI, how it scrolls through all the possible matches until it finds something similar.

This makes your brain label everything it sees in comparison to things already seen in the past. This shortcut makes you generalize things. But it’s a very useful shortcut that puts things in categories and saves memory space. Puts it in a mental “File cabinet” with all the other things it’s similar too. And also gives it “tags” for search purposes so when something triggers a certain thought, your brain goes through everything that matches. It keeps every foreign thing from being unknown. We naturally cannot be content with the unknown, so our brain caters to that fear and labels everything.

The journey from our eyes to our brain is a far one. Our brain cannot possibly process and mange all the colors and sights we see every second. And to process it in milliseconds like we do. Also, if we were to just take it for exactly what it were instead of relating it to other objects seen in the past, we would only recognize them as lines and nothing more. But this isn’t so. We do recognize and/or label everything we see. But also, we do not take in everything and process everything. We process a fraction of it. Pieces that give it a kind of outline, just enough information is gathered so you recognize and can match it to something in your database of information. This is a shortcut. Saves a lot of time and it makes everything easier to grasp and comprehend. You never know exactly how many leaves are on a tree or how many raindrops are on a window in the rain. Your brain doesn’t take every speck of information, it takes only the main parts to analyze. When you see a tree, you just see the large amount of leaves(or lack thereof), and then classify it as a big or small tree. Same with color. The brain does not take in every single shade of color, just the general description of it.

When seeing things, the brain classifies and labels to relate and identify. The same also applies to hearing. Not every wave is the same length and taken at the same frequency, and size, and angle. All these factors distort what you hear, so your brain relates it, and takes parts of it, and matches to what they hear. A good example is that voices are never the same, but you can recognize if a southern person says “automobile” or if a New Yorker says “automobile”. It all goes through the brain and processes as taking the main parts of the sound and analyzing it. And when hearing sentences too, the brain matches whole sentences and the context to what they know in order to understand better, which makes comprehension easier.

One example of how our brain uses shortcuts is shown in a WordPress article I’ve seen today, it’s here: http://voicingouropinions.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/only-great-minds-can-read%c2%a0this/

Now onto the bad parts of these shortcuts. With sight, we generalize, and to make it easier. But also, we don’t collect all the information, and with what we match it to, we fill in the blank spaces we didn’t pick up. Just like you can’t count the leaves in a tree from memory, even though the tree may be very vivid, it’s because we add those leaves, and since they are fake, we don’t let ourselves pay attention to the leaves so we cannot count them, they are in a way, blurred by our minds even though they look very vivid. But if we see something with a more exact quantity, but didn’t pay attention to the quantity, such as coins on a table, we may fabricate the number and it may not be accurate, but even then, it’s a little more harder to count. When it comes to people, the reason why we do a “double-take”, and see something that resembles something, and we could be so sure that it was whatever you thought, maybe an old friend, it’s because our brain fills in the blanks. Only when we get a good look at someone, do we recognize who or what they are.

We generalize, this process isn’t restricted to our brain’s subconscious workings like I showed in the above paragraph. We also do it consciously, and this leads to disputes and the creation of phrases like “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, etc. I hope I don’t need to explain how stereotyping is wrong, it’ll save me a little ink and you time because you won’t have to read my overly long paragraphs.

Here is a bad example of how our brain uses a shortcut to get out of things, it’s also a classic word puzzle. Read it once through, don’t go slow, read it as if any other sentence, and count the f’s along the way, and then don’t read it again until you know the answer which is in the next paragraph: “Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combined with the experience of years.” How many f’s are in the sentence?

If you have seen this puzzle before, you probably felt smart that you knew, but every time from what I know nobody gets it the first time(unless you stare at each individual letter or went to a similar extreme). It is because your brain processes the word “of” as “ov”, so your brain naturally passes over the letter. The actual number of f’s is six. So, the brain is slow, but in being slow, the best is shown as it didn’t settle with being slow, it used what it had and now is very proficient in its duties.

     Which is how we should be. We, as a culture, should not be alright with mediocre. Being smart isn’t about what you know, it’s about how you handle what you have, how you use knowledge, not how you store it. Same with us. It’s not about complaining about what we don’t have, but doing the best with what we have, and we shouldn’t be happy with less than what we can do. We shouldn’t be happy with being given and being heir to things. We shouldn’t be happy being given what we don’t work for, or settling for what we’re given or told what our limitations keep us from doing. We should strive for something higher. We have become complacent, that’s just not right. We are not great for having it all, we are great for doing great things.

     In comic books, if the struggle were against all-powerful heroes against people who aren’t as powerful that make superheroes great, it’s the lack of power and overcoming their disadvantages that make them great. They are heroes because they realize what they can’t do but then still save the world in spite of that, or in the face of a greater evil power. The lack of power creates a doubt if they can accomplish the herculean task before them, and how they face it, that makes the stories suspenseful, and in the end, gives the reader a better story. We always dream of being heroes because of the power they have, but in reality, it’s not the power that makes them great, but the accomplishments in spite of not being as powerful that make them great.

     It’s the David and Goliath complex. We dream of being Goliath, but he had won, it wouldn’t have mattered, because he was the one with power, who was expected to win, but it’s the David’s that we really are, that we should really want to be. We need can’t lose sight of our shortcomings, but we shouldn’t focus on them, they hold us back. They make us feel like it’s alright to be less than what we can be, who we were meant to be. We should want to be greater, and we naturally have this negative attitude making us less than what we can. Don’t settle for ok. Be versatile. Be creative. Be smart. Utilize what’s in front of you. What we are is wasted potential. But we were never meant to be that. So much potential out there, but we are less because we fail to use it. Mediocre shouldn’t be in our vocabulary.


“Gotta Have ’em”

April 21, 2010
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Our consumerist culture is being cultured by the ads we see, and is reflected by the ads we see. this trend of products being advertised as “needs” isn’t good and blurs the lines between what we do need and what we just want.


Effects of CGI

April 15, 2010
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With the advancement of CGI technology, the lines between the real and fake on screen blur, changing our sense of reality and perception of the world. CGI also isolates us from the world around with increase of technology that takes face time away. It keeps us isolated from the world because of the convenience of the internet and the computer technology brought by CGI that we don’t shoot on-location or even with props anymore. Environments aren’t made by setting pieces in a setting, but in a dark computer room in a studio that could be very far away. The effects this kind of technology can have on us is very scary to think about.


Short comparison between Lao Tzu and Henry David Thoreau

March 25, 2010
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          “I heartily accept the motto-“That government is best which governs least.”” These are the words of Henry David Thoreau; which is the opening line to his essay “Civil Disobedience”. This is very similar to Lao Tzu’s philosophy of the Tao. In which Lao says “When the master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists.” Thoreau takes direct influence from the Dao-Te Ching. Machiavelli is all about taking power and ruling with ruthlessness and fear. While Lao Tzu writes about freeing yourself from the material world; and the government is all about controlling material. Lao Tzu’s philosophy goes with centering yourself, and when you reach that point, you can self-govern without trying. Thoreau uses the same principle. That we should govern ourselves because our conscience is ours. And laws do not make our consciences better just because of restrictions. So government only gets in the way. States Thoreau “we should be men first and subjects afterwards.” He says this because citizens “resign their conscience to the legislator.” This is unfair to us; so governing powers must be as little as possible. Thoreau takes it one step further and wants no government at all. Lao Tzu is a very influential philosopher and it is shown in Thoreau’s work.


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Analysis of Orwell’s Argument against Capital Punishment

March 22, 2010
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Critical analysis of Orwell’s “A Hanging” as an argument


“The Fall”

March 19, 2010
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The fall is really poetic, it is the ultimate ultimatum. What it gives you is two choices: to lay there or to get up and finish the race you see ahead of you. To walk off or to press on through this hurt.


Pleasantries of Business

March 18, 2010
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Being genuine seems to be a lost art that being replacing by a social structure that is engineered to make everyone happy. This isn’t right.


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