Everything is impossibly complicated

For some reason, this fellow named Matt Walsh is granted a lot of credibility as a Christian speaker and writer. This is a puzzling phenomenon because a cursory look at Matt Walsh’s writings makes it exceedingly obvious that he neither gives a damn about Jesus nor the Bible.

Take one of his pet peeves: abortion. The Bible says literally nothing good or bad about a woman choosing to have an abortion. The closest to a statement on abortion that it makes is a law that requires a man who accidentally hits a pregnant woman to pay a fine if her pregnancy is aborted as a result of the hit. This law is vitally important, since it demonstrates beyond any reasonable objection that the Bible does not consider a fetus to be a person–if the fetus were a person, the man who accidentally caused the abortion would be sentenced to exile to one of the cities of refuge, just like the man who accidentally kills a person.

The favorite Psalm of the anti-abortion crowd (Psalm 139) is no help to them either. Sure, it praises G-d that “you knitted me together in my mother’s womb“, but the reality is that G-d knitted everything, everywhere together, but that doesn’t give everything, everywhere the status of person! All the Psalmist is saying is that “whatever it is that I was when I was in my mother’s womb was yet another of the things that you, G-d, knit together by virtue of your status as Creator.” A goat is also fearfully and wonderfully made, yet that doesn’t prevent us from killing and eating goats (well, many of us, anyway).

Of course, we need go no further than the opinion of Jesus to decide if Matt Walsh is a Christian. What did Jesus say?

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

“I was hungry and on welfare”–and Matt Walsh took away their food. “I was thirsty because I live in Flint and my water was full of lead”–and Matt Walsh did nothing to give them water. “I was a stranger from Syria”–and Matt Walsh did not welcome them. “I was sick and in prison because of a marijuana offense that cops targeted me for because my skin is black”–and Matt Walsh did not visit them. Jesus is very clear what he thinks about Matt Walsh: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Matt Walsh is no Christian–just a small, angry snowflake lashing out at a society that no longer grants him the undeserved privileges he feels entitled to.

Evangelicals love to throw around the label “baby killers” for anyone who supports abortion rights. This, of course, is based on their alternative definition of “baby” (shared by no one else) as “fertilized human egg.” (Although even they aren’t entirely consistent on this point, since they don’t go around calling people who support and perform in-vitro fertilization “baby killers”, even though the process results in the discarding of fertilized human eggs.) Unfortunately for them, “baby killer” is a label that can only really be applied to them.

Let’s start with the Bible. In the Bible, G-d commands the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites: men, women, and children. That is literally killing babies, which they believe is a literal historical fact and a literal command from G-d. Proceed from there to the war on terrorism, which is literally killing babies through air strikes and drone attacks–which they enthusiastically support (often citing as support the verses about wiping out the Canaanites, since the groups we’re fighting are often also enemies of modern day Israel). And don’t forget Trump  (yimach shmo), who made a campaign promise to kill the wives and children of (male) terrorists–more literal baby killing. Finish by observing their rabid support of American police forces, who are literally killing children of color, and it’s very clear that there is indeed a group today that can be called baby killers, and it is none other than Evangelicals.

American Terrorists

Matt Walsh has written another outstanding article, this time about how the Charlotte protestors are terrorists. Of course, every rational person is puzzled by this assertion, given Walsh’s unwavering support for domestic groups that kidnap young women on their way to their dream jobs and beat and starve them until they die, groups that regularly engage in drive-by shootings of children, that ambush men on the roads and highways and shoot them in front of their children and wives, and engage in numerous other acts of ongoing terror against Americans.

I wonder if Walsh would be brave enough to call this man a terrorist:

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history.

(Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Or how about the group of men who, because their government refused to acquiesce to their demands, took it upon themselves to destroy the private property of merchants, and then go on to write the following? Let Walsh be a man and call them terrorists as well:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these [rights], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

(American Declaration of Independence)

Unfortunately, Matt Walsh is beyond reason, being instead committed to a narrative that exalts white, nationalistic, Christian America high above all.

No More Lesser Evils

In the shadow of the DNC, Frank Schaeffer wrote several harsh articles aimed at Bernie supporters who won’t support Hillary. In response, my pairbond wrote this letter:

Mr Schaeffer,

I am disappointed in your lack of understanding toward Bernie supporters who oppose Hillary. You are toeing the same tired party line of our responsibility to choose the lesser of two evils. Why does the prospect of an unqualified and loose-cannon racist president obligate us to waste our vote supporting a woman who is so drunk on the prospect of power that she will hold to no moral ground to get there? Throngs of people voted for Bernie in the primaries because they are tired of politics as we know it, and getting a good president, rather than just one who isn’t as bad as the other guy, means we have to undermine the structure that gave us the two clowns we have now. Hillary is not progress. Hillary is not safety. Hillary is yes to voter fraud and political corruption. If that means that Trump is elected by default, that is not the fault of Bernie supporters who won’t get with the program. It is the fault of Hillary’s own corruption and myopic quest for power, and nothing else.

This two party, lesser-of-two-evils system that we have is our reality only because we let it be. Times change, circumstances change, and what seemed inevitable thirty years ago does not have to be the rule for today. We have a moral obligation as voters to choose the best person to rule our country. We have other qualified candidates. It’s time we put one in office.

We’re currently watching BBC’s Sherlock Holmes and enjoying it immensely. The character of Sherlock is so well done that it keeps you captivated for the entire show, just as the books did in my teens. Of course, such a striking character is just begging to be typed in our favorite non-scientific personality system, the Myers-Briggs system. (The fact that it’s non-scientific isn’t of great concern; it merely means that it’s not repeatable when used on real people, but that doesn’t reduce the usefulness of its categories for self- and other-analysis in a general sense.)

I’ve seen claims that Sherlock is a primary Ti user. Until the episode The Hounds of Baskerville, I could see this argument, because we didn’t know exactly how Sherlock’s thinking process worked. But in the Baskerville episode, his thinking process is shown clearly (when he’s trying to put together Liberty, In, and Hound), and it’s not introverted thinking–which would be a logical process deriving one thing from another to get to a sound conclusion–but rather introverted intuition, trying many possibilities until everything converges into one answer.

There are arguments that his logical explanations for his uncanny knowledge preclude him from using introverted intuition. However, this is mixing up the external presentation (his explanations) and the internal process (how he comes to his conclusions). Ni-dominants can’t describe the actual thought process that leads to their conclusions, because it’s something more akin to crystallization, where an atom falls into its natural position in a lattice and you just know. So after many years of living this reality, they develop the ability to explain themselves through their secondary, extraverted function, which helps them come up with an alternative path one could use to get to the same conclusion, using objectively accepted frameworks. It’s a mistake to confuse the external presentation of the thought process with the actual internal thought process.

In fact, the clearly ordered, logical explanations that Sherlock offers are actually evidence that he’s using Te, not Ti. Ti is very logical and orderly internally, but externally Ti dominants aren’t nearly so ordered. Having had long conversations with a couple INTPs, you quickly realize that A) they talk a lot when you get them on a topic of interest, and B) they never get right to the point. They either wander off on one tangent after another, never to return, or they travel all over the world to finally come back and conclude their point, which has now been firmly founded on an exploration of every possibility and how it all fits together. Sherlock doesn’t worry about other possibilities (to any great extent). He has his conclusion and his explanation is concise, giving the impression that it’s the only possible path you can take.

I’ve also seen arguments about Sherlock’s turbulent emotions, which are offered as evidence that he uses Fe. This again is contradicted by experience with INTPs and ENTPs. xNTPs have a personableness to them–they’re friendly, though with some social awkwardness. INTPs are much more self conscious and awkward, but still have a noticeable warmth to them. ENTPs are actually compellingly warm if you are the focus of their interest at all–you’ll only realize that they aren’t Fe primary when someone they aren’t interested in starts talking about something they don’t care about–they’ll suddenly just drop out of the conversation entirely. Sherlock isn’t warm at all, but you clearly get the sense over time that he’s good. It takes some time to realize it because it’s internal, an internal value system, or Fi. The turbulence fits quite well with this, because he has no problem being emotionally turbulent around strangers–something that Fe users won’t easily do. Fe can be turbulent, but only with those who are close. Strangers will generally enjoy the warmth of Fe from those who have it.

Finally, there’s the question of Se, which clearly plays a big role. I’ve seen him typed as ESTP because of the role Se plays for him. I think that’s a compelling argument, but after thinking about it I don’t see him with Ti or Fe, and I can see both Te and Fi. Further, I’m not concerned about the fact that he feels a need to experience the case in order to understand it, because I’ve seen that same process with an INFJ: intuition leads to a vision, but the vision has to be experienced to really understand it. It shouldn’t be surprising, really, because dominant Ni is fed by the inferior Se in order to have the material to make its convergent vision from. This is clearly how Sherlock uses Se. However, he does seem to use Se much more strongly than you’d expect for someone with inferior Se, and I’d argue that that is the fantasy about Sherlock’s character, that’s what makes him fiction. There’s no one (or at least, almost no one) who is truly like Sherlock in the real world, and that’s because real people with inferior Se almost never have it developed like he does. That’s his magic.

So in case it’s not obvious already, I think Sherlock is clearly an INTJ, although a fantastical version of it.

Crazy All Around

In my early teens, I became very interested in music as a way of understanding and expressing my feelings, something I felt like I couldn’t do through speech or any other means. I tended to latch onto specific songs that resonated with some part of me (though unfortunately since all non-Christian music, and much of Christian music, was suspect of “leading me astray”, many songs I latched on to I wasn’t allowed to listen to). I always sort of felt that if I could share those songs that really touched me with someone, if we listened to them together, maybe they would understand me and we could connect with each other.

Dad and I fought a lot during that time, something that had been the case going back many years but which definitely got worse in my teens. I remember there was this one song, Crazy All Around (by Christine Glass), that I heard on a Christian radio show and really liked, so I got the CD. Once during a car trip to church on some weeknight with just me and Dad, I got the chance to play my CD in the car, and I was hoping we could enjoy the song together and connect through a shared experience of it. He was quiet for most of the song, but it got to a line near the end “Felt the angel bend and kiss me/ran away and hid in fear” and he exclaimed “What the hell is this!?” I was deeply disappointed; once again I felt like I’d tried to share my feelings, my unique experience of life, and I was rejected. I remember feeling, “Really? Is there nothing I find meaning in that’s pure enough for you, that you can appreciate the beauty of without picking apart any small hint of worldliness you find?” After that, I gave up hope of being able to connect with him through music.

At some point, I don’t know when, I developed a dislike for the song and never listened to it again.

Sexist Medicine

Medicine has a long, sorry history of focusing on men. Happily, that seems to be changing, with a number of new studies coming out that examine how the medical experiences of men and women differ (and not just for the sexual differences). This article surveys some of the recent research on how the immune system of women differs from men. It appears that women tend to have immune systems that respond more strongly and quickly to infections, which is thought to perhaps be tied to childbearing (in order to protect a nascent life inside of you, your body has to be more aggressive in stamping out infection). Unfortunately, this may also be the reason that women suffer disproportionately from auto-immune diseases, which result from an over-enthusiastic immune response. It also appears to mean that women react to vaccinations differently than men, perhaps only needing half the dose (or so) that men need. As more studies are done on these differences, it’ll be interesting to see what comes up.

What are we to make of the current Democratic furor over gun control?

First of all, I think it’s clear from this past Democratic primary that the Democrats are oligarchs who think that elites should pick an elite to rule us. Additionally, their approach to this current gun control thing seems really confusing, if your model for their motivations is that they want to make Americans safer. Do they want to ban literally everyone from having assault weapons? Even the police? Even the military? If not, then there are exceptions. Who should be exempt from the ban? Do we expect they’d exempt security guards, perhaps those who had a background check from the FBI first? The shooter in Orlando was both those things, and he was trying to become a police officer. So it’s not clear that any of their restrictions would have actually prevented Orlando. In that case, what’s the point? Unless as elites who want to choose other elites to rule us, they would like to make a class distinction between who should have these powerful weapons and who shouldn’t…

Further, they rejected several Republican proposals to increase gun control: a proposal to ban people on terror watch lists, but only after a court review, a proposal to only ban those on the no-fly list (which is about 1400 people), and a proposal to increase funding for background checks, which is one of the current shortfalls of the system: background checks are required, but there’s no funding for anyone to do them. Why did they reject them? Unless they’re more concerned about making a good show in an election year than actually doing anything.

Additionally, the Orlando police have admitted that a number of the casualties that night were due to the police fire. There were four or five officers who opened up at the shooter with their fully automatic weapons when he came outside, but unfortunately they weren’t very good shots. They killed several people when their bullets went through the concrete wall. Why did the police need automatic weapons? Wouldn’t a sniper have done a much better job? If the argument against assault weapons is that they only point of them is to kill a lot of people, since there was only one shooter, there’s no reason the police should have had assault weapons.

Even the military falls under this argument. We don’t fight wars against battle lines where you’re trying to kill as many of the enemy as possible. The wars we’re fighting now are against guerrillas, where we want to target one person out of many. What’s the point of assault weapons? If all they’re good for is killing a lot of people, no one should be using them any more.

So using the logic that many are trying to use against civilians having assault weapons, I don’t think the police or the military should have them either. If we want to ban them, let’s really ban them, but don’t turn a blind eye to police and military violence and then pretend you care about people.

I thought it’d be fun to do a semi-regular summary of some of the interesting articles I come across (inspired by Challies’ A La Carte). Here are the articles I’ve appreciated recently:

 

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: OMG! This Man is Looking at Porn by Dawn Hawkins

This article illustrates one of the methods used by anti-porn crusaders to shut down free speech. Without exaggeration, this person (Dawn Hawkins) saw a man looking at porn on a plane with his iPad and she reports him since “it was probably child pornography.” No concern for truth, just trying to demonize her target using any plausible accusation she could grasp.

 

INFJ: Least Likely to be Who You Think They Are

Amusing and intersting article on the INFJ type of the Myers-Briggs personality system. Most articles on INFJs are like unique this, tortured soul that, beautiful unicorn blah blah blah. This article paints a more realistic (and occasionaly sarcastic) picture of the INFJ, while offering some useful insights (particularly for the INFJ’s relationship with logical thinking). [Note: I know Myers-Briggs isn’t scientific. That doesn’t make it useless; it just limits how seriously one should take it.]

 

The Democratic Party derailed Bernie: How the establishment has worked to discredit Sanders’ movement

Reveals that much of the online hullabaloo about “Bernie Bros” and other denigrating terms for Bernie supporters has been driven by the pro-Clinton Super PAC. This won’t be surprising to anyone who’s been the target of pro-Hillary troll attacks, but it’s good to have the whole story laid out in one place. And it contains a good take-away for everyone on any side of an issue, a quote by Glenn Greenwald (which can be true even for non-self-centered people):

Self-centered people always think their own group is free of trolls because they’re never targeted by them.

 

Democrats Embrace Secretive, Flawed Terror Watchlist in Fight Against Gun Violence

As unfortunately is usual, the Democrats have reacted to social problems in the wrong way, and are pushing for policies that will increase centralized power and make it easier to strip liberties from those who are disliked by the powers that be.

 

Sacramento Baptist preacher praises Orlando shooter, says all LGBT should be mass murdered

Per the quote from Greenwald above, it’s good for us to remember that it’s not only some members of Islam that call for violence against LGBT people (and others), but that there are Christians that do too. Our goal as Americans should be to oppose violence from anyone, instead of trying to stereotype one group as a shortcut while giving our own group a pass.

 

Parenting Is Now Officially Impossible

GREAT article from Time about how cruel and ruthless many on the Internet are towards parents who make mistakes. I can’t help but wonder what percentage of these outraged people actually have kids. Once a person has kids, you discover how impressively difficult it is to keep them out of harm’s way 100% of the time, yet people who want to “shoot the mother” of the child who fell into the gorilla’s pen (for example) seem to have little understanding of this. Maybe people who don’t have kids shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion on how to raise kids.

 

Doable Homemade Doughnuts

We’ve tried to make donuts at home on several occasions, but they never came out great. This recipe for apple cider donuts was delicious and easy to follow!

 

Do You Suffer from Memory Blindness?

How sure are you that your memories are accurate? Do you think your memories can be manipulated by another person? This fascinating article describes how it’s possible to manipulate the memories of other people (and the implications for law enforcement).

 

Can Neuroscience Understand Donkey Kong, Let Alone a Brain?

An intriguing examination of the current methods of neuroscience as applied to a simple CPU. It turns out that applying those methods to a CPU tells us very little about the higher-order behavior of the CPU. When you see what kinds of conclusions about the CPU result from these methods, you gain a greater appreciation for how to weight the results that come out of neuroscience today.

Living a Fantasy

A study has been done that suggests that children raised in religious households are less able to distinguish fantasy from reality. This morning I was wondering how this could help me understand some of the particular quirks I’ve noted about myself in contrast to other people. Ever since I could remember, violence in movies has felt unsettling to me. Actually, unsettling isn’t the right word–the feeling is more that my existence feels fundamentally threatened. A similar feeling occurred also in English class when I started going to public high school (newly out of being homeschooled) and I had to read disturbing literature (like The Yellow Wallpaper or The Handmaid’s Tale). I remember after reading some of those things, I felt a black dread inside that I couldn’t shake and had no idea how to handle.

As I’ve gotten older, the reactions have mellowed (to the point where I kind of want to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale), but I still find it hard to watch movies or TV shows with cruel violence (either physical or psychological). Even with books, I generally find myself more comfortable with young-adult fiction than adult fiction, because I find the raw emotion in the adult fiction to be overwhelming (as an example, I thought I Am Legend told rather an interesting story in an interesting world, but it left something of a black feeling in me after I finished, with the result that a lot of time has to go by before I try reading something like that again).

I feel like my reactions to these things could come out of an extremely-delayed development of the ability to distinguish fantasy and reality (although it could partly or fully be due to other things, like being a Highly Sensitive Person or the like). I think perhaps due to my fundamentalist religious upbringing (combined maybe with my staying at my parents’ home until I was almost out of college), I’ve had a hard time distinguishing between “threats” to myself from horrifying situations in literature and media and actual threats to myself from the objective world. It’s not that I couldn’t tell any difference, obviously–that’s why I think I felt a conflict about these feelings. I knew there was no real threat, yet I felt like there was a real threat, and I didn’t know how to understand that conflict.

Potentially this inability to distinguish fantasy and reality could explain some of my other quirks that result in my being mocked in social situations, too. One that comes to mind was an instance when I had been reading about the bacteria that live in your mouth, and why it’s important to spit out your mouthwash after swishing it around (even if the mouthwash was inherently edible, e.g. oil pulling)–the idea is that you can harm yourself by loosening the bacteria from your teeth and then ingesting them.

Around that time, I ended up eating a rather large quantity of Swedish fish, and then I rinsed my mouth out with water to dislodge the pieces that stuck to my teeth. I was lazy, so after swishing the water around in my mouth, I swallowed it. Shortly thereafter, I developed an extremely painful feeling in my abdomen, and I had to leave work early. I told some of my coworkers that I thought it might be due to swallowing the water I used to rinse my mouth (instead of just blaming it on eating too much sugar at once, which in retrospect seems more reasonable). That haven’t stopped making fun of me for that since. I wonder why I stuck on that rather unlikely explanation at the time instead of putting more weight on the more acceptable idea that eating a large amount of sugar can hurt you–perhaps it’s a lingering effect of a delayed ability to separate fantasy and reality.

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