Walkin’ and Talkin’ 1: Pine Grove

Well holy shit has it been a long time since I’ve posted here. Life’s been pretty hectic and I’ve been lax on posting anything. I’ll try and make some more content for this site for anyone who still may be reading or watching here.

I want to bring you guys into what I’ve started working on. A series of hiking/camping videos I’ll be making in which I take you along to some of my favorite spots and do some talking about life and other general thoughts that may pop into my head. I hope you enjoy it!

Some Quick Thoughts on the Universe

Milky-Way

This is a long one so hold on tight: The next time you visit the beach, think on this: Take a handful of sand back with you, just one handful, and lay it out on a table. Now count each individual grain of sand. Most likely it will take you all day. Now think about how many grains of sand would just one stretch of beach. Too many to ever count. As the brillaint Carl Sagan said; there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand in all the beaches combined on Earth.

For perspective, look at the first image I’ve attached to this post. We can see so many stars from where we are, but that is not even close to the amount in our own galaxy. Our Sun is the closest star to us and even it is over 93 million miles away, and so big we could fit a million Earths inside of it. And yet, the biggest star we’ve observed, Y Canus Majoris, is so much larger than the sun that it would take a plane flying 900km per hour over a thousand years to circle it just 1 time. Now in the second picture, those are not stars. Those are galaxies. Hundreds of thousands of them, just in one dark spot in the sky that the Hubble took a picture of. There are hundreds of BILLIONS of galaxies in the observable universe. So vast, so large is our universe that it is hard to even fathom. But we could only be 1 of infinite multi-verses. Nothing is more truly awesome and humbling as that. But, the only thing that may trump that, is that we are made up of the universe. The same elements in the stars, comprise us. We as a species seek so much to find meaning, to look for more to life than just what we have at this moment. To be rewarded in one of the many afterlives we’ve been able to think up on our time on this planet in this form. Having ego, makes the self think that it is seperate, to truly believe that we are unique wholly, and therefore must continue on in this same form after our bodies perish.

But what if that is just us coming to terms that this form of ourselves is mortal? We seperate ourselves from everything, from the rocks and trees, to the animals, even to the pigmentation of our skin. But observing the fact that we are made up of the same elements and are not seperate but IN and OF the Universe, why should we not BE the universe as well? What if everything that happens in the universe, we are a part of, because we are it? This stage of self is only experiencing life in this manner. When we die, we transform back to the elements, but we don’t disappear. In one way you can see it as reincarnation. The universe itself is in a constant reincarnation, and from death, life springs. We would not be here if not for the death and birth of stars. It is not only inspiring, but it is needed, that we think on these things while we have the chance to ponder them. These lives we live are so much like those grains of sand in terms to time in our universe. Let us strive to go further, to know more, to be kind to each other and the lives around us, because really we are all the same, we are all one, and we will remain that way eternally.

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Men and Street Harassment

I want you to watch that video. I want you to really digest what is happening.

I want you to put yourself in her shoes. I want you to put your wife, your daughter, your mother, your sister, or any woman you love in her shoes.

Then I want you to ask yourself how it would make you feel. How it would feel to be in her position. How it would be to see the women you love being treated that way.

And I hope it pisses you off. I hope it makes you feel afraid and sick to your stomach. Because that is the response that we should all have to these kind of actions.

When I was growing up the most I heard about this sort of thing was portrayed as a joke. Whether it was in cartoons or the trope of the construction worker whistling or yelling at a women in a skirt as she walked past him. And it was never played as a bad thing. We were taught to think that women like this sort of attention. That it made them feel good to be ogled and yelled at as they walked past you.

But that is not the reality of street harassment. From listening to women talk about their real experiences during the #YouOkSis campaign on Twitter; it revealed a completely different world. It was something I really never thought about in that way before. And what I learned shocked and appalled me, and it made me mad.

Personally, I’ve never yelled anything at a woman in the street. That has never been my attitude towards women, but I’ve also been complacent in never noticing that it is a problem that many women face on a daily basis.

A lot of the arguments I’ve heard have stated such things like ‘I just want to tell her she’s pretty’ or ‘why can’t I compliment her’. But we men aren’t seeing things from their perspective. We don’t know where she’s come from, what she’s experienced. What we think may be an innocent comment, may bring her fear or hurt or anger. And on the other side of the coin, maybe she just doesn’t want to be yelled at in the street.

Picture yourself walking down the street alone at night. All the sudden one person or a group of people start yelling at you. Then they start following you. How comfortable would this make you? Women not only face this sort of treatment, but this can also lead to worse. And it has and will again.

No woman should have to fear walking down the street. The way she dresses doesn’t matter. No one deserves to be accosted just trying to get to where they are going. Now imagine having to get this treatment every single day. First thing in the morning when you are going to work, when you go to get a coffee with friends, when you are with your children, when you are just trying to go home at night. There is no excuse for street harassment.

This issue falls directly and only on men. Women do not need to change anything about them to not be harassed in the street or anywhere else for that matter. This is a male issue that needs to be changed. We are the ones causing this problem and we are the ones who need to stop it. This is an ingrained behavior that needs to eradicated in our gender.

I’ve seen a lot of men pass this off with the explanation ‘Well, I don’t do this so I don’t have to be blamed for it’ along with the entire #NotAllMen movement. Yes, not all men behave this way, but NO man should behave this way. And our silence on the issue makes us an accomplice to the behavior. Because we are still allowing it to continue; which is giving a silent consent. If we aren’t working to put an end to it, we are telling the other people in our gender that we accept it is just part of being a man.

We need to teach our brothers to be better. We need to raise our sons the right way. We need to organize and support each other in this endeavor. We need to keep an open discussion with the men in our communities about these sorts of issues. We shouldn’t have to be lumped in with this sort of issue because it should not exist in the first place. Just because we were taught a certain way doesn’t mean that we can’t learn and grow and change our experience. If we continue allowing it, the issue will never go away.

If we want to be taken seriously by saying ‘not all men’ then it is up to us to really do some work to change that perception. Because even though you may not personally be doing the act, you are going to get lumped into it because that is perception the world has of you.

Each year, too many of our sisters are being harassed, raped, and murdered. And this alone should make us take action. We can never fully see things from a woman’s perception, but we need to THINK more of the way we act toward them, and try and put ourselves in the situations they face. We need to really think of how it would affect us if we received that same kind of treatment. This is a worldwide epidemic and if men want to be treated equally and thought of in better light, then we need to do more to show that world what we can be.

It is the lazy attitude that says I’m not doing anything about it because I don’t do it now. We have the ability to change this issue, to really stand up and fight for equality and justice. If you want to be seen as a ‘good guy’ then goddamnit DO something that shows that you are.

 

To see more, I ask you to check out #YouOkSis on twitter. Read the experience of women and what they have shared. And take note of a lot of the male response to it. It is really eye opening

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23YouOKSis&src=tyah

 

Joshua Feuerstein vs. The Atheist Horde!

You may or may not know Joshua Feuerstein. Up until recently I had never heard of him either until a friend on Facebook shared one of his videos. The video was titled ‘Dear Mr. Atheist, Allow me to destroy evolution in 3 minutes!’ Yes, that is the full title of this video. I clicked on the link just to see what this man had to say. Immediately, I was bombarded by this backwards-hat wearing gentleman yelling into his iphone. Twenty seconds into his rant, he says that evolution is not a science because it is a theory. While this is obviously already a man who doesn’t really understand scientific theory, I allowed myself to go on. I mean, if someone says he can DESTROY evolution in 3 minutes, I’d like to hear that either way. Not long after this he goes on to use an example of a tornado going through a junk yard of cars and turning the junk into a sports car on the other side. This, my friends, is his reasoning as to why evolution can’t happen. He goes on to say over and over that life couldn’t be an accident, that it must have a creator, and then says that all God had to do was speak one word and ‘Boom’ everything was created. I’ll include the video below if you would like to give this a chance.

If you are planning to ‘destroy’ something, I would imagine you would want to have some evidence to back up your claims. You can’t win an argument by stating ‘God did it’. That is not evidence, nor is it even a good argument. I’m more than willing to hear out an argument, even if it goes against what I believe, if and only if, it is based in some sort of logic or at least well thought out. This video had none of that, but felt like it was made on the spot and meant to be antagonizing. His whole demeanor is one of making himself larger and by practically yelling to shout over any voice of dissent.

I’ve always been one to try and not judge others based on what they believe. I think everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs. I’m not here to try and change anyone’s mind and really I can’t do that alone. It is up to each individual to discern what they choose to believe or not believe. That’s not to say that a good debate isn’t welcome or healthy, but it should honestly come down to each individual.

When this becomes a problem is when someone like Joshua Feuerstein comes along to poke and prod and generally mock a whole group of people because of what they do or do not believe. Since watching that first video, I’ve perused Feuerstein’s public Facebook page. He boasts an almost 1 million follower count and post multiple times a day. While he does post a good many videos and links regarding other aspects of Christianity, he always seems to come back to atheists. He posts many links to articles asking atheists to answer basic questions, stories about how this or that ‘destroys’ atheists, and recently put up a challenge stating he would give 100,000 dollars to any atheist that could disprove god.

He may claim that he loves everyone, but each of his atheist-centered posts comes with an air of smugness and an antagonist attitude. He seems to get off on the idea that he is rubbing something in their faces, but also wants to act as if Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs, which just stirs up his followers.

In his ‘$100,000 Challenge’ he states that atheists don’t have any real feelings, and that they probably do not even feel like the holocaust was a bad thing because of, as he puts it, ‘survival of the fittest’. Not only is this statement wildly insulting, it is also asinine, and proves how little he knows about atheists, or general human emotion. One does not need to follow a deity to have empathy or morals. Morals do not come from god, but from having a higher level of reasoning that we are afforded with our brains (not that everyone uses that). No atheist or non-Christian (without being a sociopath) would not see the holocaust as anything other than one of the greatest human tragedies that we have experienced as a species.

And Joshua knows this. He is not looking for an argument. He rarely steps into the comments to defend his point or to debate. He likes to post these ridiculous claims and then hide from any sort of discourse, as if his word is more than enough. He doesn’t want to debate anyone, lest he end up looking like a fool. He wants to stir up the pot and then leave the house while it is boiling. I could respect the man if he would at least engage with others when he posts these things, but he could care less because he knows he is getting hundreds if not thousands of people to share his rants on a daily basis.

He is one of the many Christians in this society to use ‘gotcha’ tactics and then to think that he has won by stating his belief without any evidence. He is also creating yet another divide between people of differing belief by making this an ‘Us VS Them’ battle. He wants to make it seem like atheists are out to get him and all Christians, and that they are trying to turn the country into some sort of hell on earth. The scary thing is that many Christians believe this lie and some have said that they are willing to fight for their right to believe. I’m not certain where this idea is coming from. There are no atheists trying to come to anyone’s home to force them to not believe in god.

A Gallup poll from 2012 (http://www.gallup.com/poll/159548/identify-christian.aspx) shows that 77% of United States citizens identify as Christian. A whopping 15.6% claim no religious identity, with only 2% of that 15% claiming the title of ‘atheist’. So, where are these vast numbers of atheists out to get the Christians? When have Christians become the minority? Fact is, that it doesn’t exist. Sure, there are plenty of atheists out there that will debate all gods. Not all of them are good spokespeople (just like any other group), but the majority aren’t doing anything other than voicing their own opinion. When your religious affiliation can claim a 77% majority rating, you have little to complain about and when you bring in arguments like the ones above, you are doing nothing more than alienating yourself.

The yelling and the screaming and the persecution complex, does not get you anywhere. You aren’t going to convert any atheists by treating them like idiots or telling them that they are going to hell for not believing in what you do. Try having a discussion with them first, possibly sitting down with someone who is an atheist, and I don’t know, talking to them like an adult. If you want to have your platform to speak on your beliefs, you are more than entitled to that. You can believe in god, or a giant shoe monster, or whatever that makes you feel comfortable or sustained, but don’t assume just because you believe something so strongly, does it make it real.

Without empirical evidence, you can’t prove or disprove anything. Just like I can’t disprove Santa Clause because there is no evidence that he doesn’t exist, you can’t prove or disprove god exists. It is impossible. Just because you feel like its true, again, does not make it so. Joshua has claimed that he knows god exists because he has felt him, but this is not evidence for the idea of a god. This is someone, who in their personal life, thinks that they have had a spiritual encounter. You can feel those things without believing in god. When I look up at the stars and recognize just how big the universe is, it makes me feel awe, but I don’t go around claiming that the stars are a deity and you are wrong if you don’t feel the same way I do.

I am an atheist. I stopped believing in god when I looked at my life and things in it logically and I came to the personal understanding that I do not believe in a creator being. I believe life itself is a never ending entity. It just always was and will always be. I struggled with being an atheist for a long time, because almost all of my family and friends are religious and I didn’t want to have them think less of me because I am. And I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed in the first place. It is my life, it is my belief, and I’m not trying to make anyone stop believing in god. At the same time there are so many others of these preachers that are trying to make myself and others sound like we are out to get them. That we have no feeling, and that we can’t find joy and hope in life.

I try to be a good person, not because of some spiritual reward in the afterlife, but because I feel it is the right way to live. If I wallow in misery and sadness, then that is how my life is going to be. I’m happy just to be alive, and get to experience this journey. I don’t need anything more than that. I love many people and I share in the full joy and love of getting to spend time with them in this life.

My message to Joshua Feuerstein is simple: Instead of trying to prove that you are right, try understanding that just because you think you are right, doesn’t necessarily make that the case. Instead of trying to win, try just talking to atheists with a little civility. Or better yet, don’t talk about them at all. There are many other facets of life that you could focus your attention on. Things that could go toward making life better for someone else. We are not your enemy, but should you continue to post these kinds of things, do expect that people will take you to task for it.

 

And sometimes, just sometimes, you don’t need to yell and wear a backwards baseball cap. That helps no one.

 

Bonus: Here are just a few fun tweets to show how some folks like to think of atheists

[Insert Ape Pun Here] Kloipy has seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

apes

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ kicks off with a rousing hunt scene. Instead of the apes chasing down humans, we are treated to a nearly wordless 10 minutes sequence in which the apes in formation, stalk and take down some elk and nearly escape a bear attack. Though the hunt turns into chaos it is also apparent that the apes had continued to evolve from ‘Rise’ by the fact that they have now established hunting tools, some wearing war paint, some riding horses, and a colony in between the giant redwoods. This society has families, a sort of school, some laws that they have put together, and at the top of the chain stands Caesar. He has taken the leader position and rules it well.

This ape-topia is broken by a group of humans out wandering in the woods looking for an old hydro-electric plant as they have lost power to their small community in the city which threatens to bring anarchy to their streets. One of the humans feels threatened and shoots and injures one of the apes. Caesar, being a fair leader, spares the lives of the humans, but is taken to task by Koba, his second in command for being too soft on the humans. Caesar, though cautious, still feels somewhat of an alliance to the humans based on his upbringing, and wants to be able to live in peace.

Not wanting to look weak in front of his group, he takes the apes with him to the human village and sets up strict boundaries between the two worlds. Showing not only that the apes can talk, but that they aint gonna take no shit from nobody. Dreyfus (Oldman) convinces one of the other humans Malcolm (Jason Clarke) to plead with Caesar for passage to the dam, telling him that things will go back to the way they were during the plague if they are unable to get the power working. Malcolm takes his son and his girlfriend and small band of others back to the forest, and Caesar allows them to work there in exchange that the humans do not bring any guns and that they are out in the time frame he allows them to work in.

This of course does not go as planned, things go awry, which leads to the action packed third act of the film. While the conclusion is thrilling and rivals some of the better action sequences of the past few summers, it really isn’t what makes this film special. While the trailers for this film promise a non-stop ape on human action, that isn’t what this film is about. This is a slow film, not in the bad sense, but it is building this world around it. I’m guessing this is going to be a trilogy and if so this is also one of the stronger second films around.

Knowing that this is a planet of the apes film, the movie smartly focuses mainly on the apes. A lot of the dialogue in the film is done with sign-language, with spoken words peppered throughout. This really gives the film a realistic quality that you can see this species evolving. Not all the apes can speak yet and they still live in semi primitive means. But you can see a society being built around them, the laws they have set up to follow speak to the kind of world the apes want to live in. A world not devoid of violence but one that has guidelines as to what is acceptable, to take them above and beyond just animals.

The humans aren’t ready to give up their place at the top. The plague that wiped out most of the world was called the ‘Simian Flu’ and most of the humans blame the apes already for causing this end of the world scenario. One of the things the movie handles perfectly is not defining real villains. There are some in the film, but they also stem from good intentions and aren’t there just to be ‘bad guys’. There are depth and reasons given to their actions.

The film handles the material seriously and does it in a way that never feels goofy or false. A lot of care was taken into building this world. My highest praise for the film is that it makes the premise believable. It never feels like a b-movie plot, but a logical progression of evolution. If another species would evolve like us, this is what would be natural. It gives us a look into what this burgeoning world would look like in a way none of the previous films of the series did. It makes us want to spend time with the apes, to look deeper into their lives, and how they have come to be.

The film also touches on society in general. How we work together, how we break apart, how even with the ideals we want to live with can sometimes be overtaken by our own violent instincts and prejudices. This message isn’t overwrought in the film but it is something you can feel underneath it all.

The film is not without its faults either. It is a long movie and you can definitely feel the runtime. Some of the third act decisions are easy to see coming a mile away, but it still remains enjoyable, and the action is easy to follow and you feel the consequences of what transpires. It is a great sequel and surpasses ‘Rise’ as a better film.

I’m sure every review of this film will mention the CGI, and I would be remiss to do the same. It really is some of the best CGI used in a modern film. The transition is almost seamless and many times I found myself wondering if they used real apes or if it was just motion capture. Topping this film once again is Andy Serkis, who deserves all the praise he has received for his work. Not only are the movements totally believable, but so much of the film is carried in his facial expressions, giving such a depth and real character to Caesar. This is not someone just prancing around in a monkey mask, this is an actor truly delving into a role and making it real. You feel his anguish, his pain, his strength, and love all throughout the movie. It really is one hell of an achievement and hopefully this will be the year his work gets recognized.

If you want a blockbuster film that has more of a brain, this is definitely the film to go see this summer.

And fuck, I’ve been restrained this whole time.

I went ape for it, I went bananas. No more monkey business, this film is ape-tastic!

 

Welcome to Jurassic Park: Or Having Fun on Twitter