Happy New Years!

Posted in Miscellaneous on January 1, 2009 by Joe

This will be the last post on this blog, because I am officially moving this blog to MusingsOfJoe.com.

There will be some changes. For one, I will no longer worry about making long posts. Like Bill Maher’s new rules, I am only going to use the text necessary to convey my ideas.

So Happy New Years, and I hope to see you all on my new blog!


I is sorry…

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags on December 22, 2008 by Joe

…for not updating this site in quite a while. I am currently building two other sites, a task that is consuming a good majority of my time this winter break.

Update: December 25, 2008

Incidentally, I just finished one of the aforementioned websites: DebateDotCom.com. Leave a comment about what you think about the design.

Oh, and Merry *****mas!!!!!!

Update: December 31, 2008

I received a cease and desist letter on December 29, 2008. As such I was forced to move the domain to DebateFans.com. You can click here to read about what happened.

Oh, and Happy New Years!

The Passive Aggressive American

Posted in Society with tags , , , , on December 7, 2008 by Joe

As an Asian who knows many other Asians, I am surrounded by conservatives on a day-to-day basis; and while they all agree that gay marriage would destroy morality in America, none of them would personally go up to a gay couple’s house, knock on their door, and tell them to disperse. Of course not. That would be absurd! But they are all fine if the government does it for them. My conservative friends proved this fact on November 4, 2008, when they all cast their ballot: ‘Yes’ on Proposition 8.1

Then there is our military. “Support out troops,” we say, and with good intent. But if being part of America’s military is such an important and noble deed (as it very well may be), then why don’t more people join the army? Why does only one Republican congressman have a son in Iraq? Could it be that we put forth emotional investment, but are simply too lazy to do anything about our beliefs?

I see this apathy in bloggers as well. Bloggers are, perhaps, the most outspoken lads of this generation. We passionately write entries detailing our beliefs, our philosophies, and our ideas. But how many of us actually act upon our ideas? I know I don’t. And I suspect that very many others do (or rather don’t do) too.

The average American has outsourced his beliefs. We hold them — many beliefs — but we leave other people to do the dirty work.

If the terrorists attack us, we let the government take care of it for us. But they sell away our fundamental rights with legislation such as the PATRIOT act, and they attack the wrong countries. We don’t like that one bit, but we seemingly don’t care. And instead of grand protest marches remembered in the 1970s, we sit at our homes, watch television, and speak, “Hey Honey: That Bush is at it again.” Honestly, could you imagine the antiwar protests of the seventies occurring today?

I know I don’t have the ability to. Because I was born into a world where apathy and outsourcing your problems is commonplace. We care about the issues, but we let the government take care of our problems for us. Seriously America: What happened?

1 For those not in the know, proposition 8 was a proposition to once again ban gay marriage in California.

A Letter to Myself

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2008 by Joe

(The idea for this post was entirely ripped from this guy.)

You grew frustrated today — frustrated with people, school, work, and yourself. You snapped at people, offering sarcastic responses to legitimate questions and inquires. You let yourself grow unjustifiably pompous. And you let your anger bottle up.

It started in the morning. You woke up late, and started your day with a bad attitude. When you got to school and saw people standing in front of your locker, you should have asked them to move politely. But instead, you asked them to have some “f*cking courtesy”. How were they to know you wanted to access your locker? In what context could they have foreseen your irregularly late arrival?

At band class, a friend of yours wanted to speak to you, and this made you even angrier. You threw at him more expletives, forcing him to leave you with your self-pity. You did this because you consider his discussions to be meaningless — trivial even — but you must consider, too, how he perceives your conversations. He misinterprets your smiles, thinking that you actually enjoy his sexually obscene and assaultive humor. You should explain to him how you do not enjoy his humor, and tell him your feelings toward his general discussion topics.

Later at band class, the director asked to speak to you privately. Just yesterday, you wrote a sappy letter explaining why you could not perform at a church service you promised you could perform at. This discussion exemplified the misinterpretation you lead people off to; for he believed that you were afraid of him, that you wrote the letter in that fluffy sort-of-way not because you were deeply sorry (which you were), but because you were genuinely afraid of what he might do in response. Confused and bewildered, you offered a five-word response and ran off. Next time, clearly explain what your intended meaning is, and perhaps his perception of your character may become more accurate. You fail to realize how important your reputation is — how vital is their perception of you.

After school, you ran to the nearby Elementary School to tutor. You knew you were going to tutor a new kid, James, and this excited you. So at the school, you found your new student, and began to instruct. But you instructed him poorly. You saw that he did not understand the basic concepts even after much repetition; and in response, you started speaking quicker and started using more advanced vocabulary, subsequently confusing your new student even further. You grew frustrated, you increased the volume to your voice, and you may have very well frightened him.

Joe: The main problems in your life are social. They regard the way you carry yourself, and the way you respond and act towards other people. You must be more open, and you must believe in the value of perception. Ask yourself: “If the words I speak were spoken to me by someone else, would I be hurt by them, or possibly misdirected”?

You live under a cloud, as if your pleasure is all that matters. But if you really wanted to be objective about it all, you would realize that closing yourself into the egotistical, self-loathing box you’ve gotten yourself into prevents the very pleasure you so seek.

It is time for you to change your personality, your essence. Do it now.

Why the GOP Struggles

Posted in Politics with tags , , , on November 27, 2008 by Joe

[Picture of a capsized, dead GOP elephant.]

Even FOX News admits the GOP struggles. They see the younger generation lean towards more liberal values; they scream about Congress slowly being replaced by Democrats; they hear the massive “How the GOP must rebuild itself” discussions. They say, somewhere down the line, political consensus curved, and America became more liberal. They ask: Why?

They blame it on the media — the famous actors and actresses who preach liberal values; that damned MTV and her politically motivated music videos; the broadcast of gay pride parades, Obama ads, and more. But I think that this supposed “liberal change” is indeed not a change America felt, because a change as fast and as drastic as these questioners describe is absurd.

I don’t believe America changed at all; I believe it was the Republican party that changed. With the eight devastating years President Bush was in office, a massive, massive divide separated traditional Republicans with new “neo-conservative” Republicans. The traditional republicans who advocated separation of church and state, who supported personal liberty, and who scoffed at the idea of preemptive war felt betrayed. And they — by mere contrast — became moderates and liberals.

It is not that America is becoming more liberal; rather, it is the Republican party becoming more and more conservative. And it is the Republican party demanding that traditionalists get out of their selective tree house. That is the reason for the downfall of the GOP. That is why they struggle.

Review of The God Delusion

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on November 23, 2008 by Joe

Rating: B+

[Book cover of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion]

As I stared at the cover of this delightfully bright, silver book, I expected grandeur. The book has sold over one and a half million copies, and has been cited by atheists for just an unholy amount of times. The author, Richard Dawkins, is a renowned ethologist and evolutionary biologist; known not only for his preeminent achievement in science, but also for his clear logic, high quality prose, and sharp wit. The God Delusion is currently perhaps the most controversial book arguing against religion, but I ponder whether it lives up to the high-standards so convincingly set forth by atheists.

It certainly has its faults. Chapter three, so titled “Arguments for God’s existence”, is almost embarrassing. I can only deduce that Dawkins wanted to preach to the choir when he employed such abusive labels as “perniciously misleading” and “infantile”. And when he employs a mocking “Nur Nurny Nur Nur” it is hard for a reader not to cringe. If I were religious, Mr. Dawkins would have needlessly offended me. The religious people who picked up the book should be eased in — not pissed into throwing the book away in anger!

Furthermore, Dawkins puts very little effort into his counterarguments. They are the same counterarguments people who have educated themselves on the religion debate have heard a million times. Indeed, I found myself increasingly bored throughout chapter three, as I slowly turned the next pages to find I had correctly predicted the route of his arguments.

In short, religious arguments are (admittedly) easy to refute, but if Dawkins wanted to convert more religious people, he should have gotten his act together, ceased using mockery, and started to take his refutation more seriously.

Chapter four, so titled “Why there is certainly no God”, does not get much better. But it certainly does get better. Dawkins correctly refutes the idea that a creator who has set up all the world’s variables, who simultaneously whispers in the ear of every religious person, and who maintains every single electron in every single atom in every single world is far more improbable than our universe either being spawned by black holes or being part of a system of an infinite number of multiverses.

In this chapter, the literary technique employed by Dawkins will induce many mini-epiphanies in the minds of his readers, especially if they have not studied the essence of our universe; however, Dawkins, once again, continues to be abusive. Not only that, but he begins a whole new list of No-Noes — a list that includes needlessly attacking many no-name religious individuals, and confusing the existence of a non-interventionist God with the Christian God.

Thankfully, the following chapters give a breath of fresh air. They deal with the psychology of religion, important case studies (the “Cargo cults” section is a must read), a discussion about the changing of morality, the indoctrination of children to religion, and a convincing argument as to why organized religion should be abolished. I spoke of “mini-epiphanies” in reviewing chapter four; well, chapters five through ten will leave your mind utterly engaged, perplexed, and bedazzled. Chapters five through ten are Dawkins at his best — it is when he forgets the devise of abstract arguments (which he unfortunately remembered for chapters two and three), and gets down and dirty with the cold hard facts. His ideas are nothing but elegant, and his original thoughts will fascinate.

After reading the book, I conclude that it has failed at its vital intention — to disprove the existence of God. Those two chapters contained so little substance that Dawkins resorted to petty personal attacks. But I believe it has succeeded, miraculously, at something perhaps unintentional. The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, examines, investigates, and makes vital conclusions about religion.

His thoughts on religion dominate. Why is it that only one in twelve children deviate from their parents’ religious beliefs? How is it that religions have so much in common? How can atheists be moral without religion? Why should religion exclusively define morality? How and why does religion evolve throughout the ages? Dawkins answers all these questions — and more — in his book.

So sure, I was disappointed at first, because I expected a discussion on the existence of God. But mid-way through the book, I gave up my initial expectation, and I discovered a “wholly” different type of book. And that book was good.

A Passionate Music Director

Posted in Music, Personal with tags , on November 19, 2008 by Joe

His hands waved around frantically as he sang vociferously at us. Most of us laughed, but I kept a solid, straight face. ‘This ardent little man truly loves what he does’, I remember thinking. ‘He is a man who found what made him happy in life — a passion — and he stuck with it.’

And I remember envying him, because he knew what he was good at, whereas I don’t. As high school graduation creeps closer into view, I fear not knowing what I want to do for the rest of my life. What will I be? What will I do? Will I be happy? They are all questions that consume my mind routinely.

So I watched him fine tune our music; and I watched our band’s sound grow brighter, deeper, and more beautiful. ‘Not only is he happy,’ I thought, ‘but he is good at what he does. And that is what makes a man great.’

Afterward, I criticized a friend who I saw laughing. I told him, “I want to be just like him.” He continued to laughed. So I pushed further, “I want to enjoy what I do for a living. I want to be great at what I do. I want to do something that has depth and meaning. I want to help the world through my work. I want to be great.”

My friend laughed some more.

What makes a man great is not necessarily his accomplishments or achievements or the size of the mark he leaves behind in the world. People who believe so are petty and arrogant. No, I believe there is something more to life than mere contribution. And that is passion — to be passionate about one’s work; to love doing it every second you are doing it; to have fun, laugh, and enjoy — that is what I want.

Because the future scares me. I take comfort in the presence of my parents, and in the knowledge that they will take care of me if I falter. I look ahead and realize that they will be gone in three years. I realize I must very quickly find what I am simultaneously good at and passionate about. And what haunts me is the knowledge that I don’t know.