Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Shrinking Church

Atheism is a growing force. It is defined by as "disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings." I know the argument has been made countless times by the faithful that Atheism is still a belief system, and thus not much different from any other religion, but until it is debunked, I prefer to believe in a Higher Power. God has been a great presence in my life and I feel bad for people who are missing out on that.

Truthfully though, I can understand the pull away from God. Mankind is evolving. We don't need a god anymore. We can explain away most all things formerly mysterious. The move to a self-actualized humanism is the next logical step in our moral evolution. We don't need all powerful beings forcing us to be good and explaining a sun rise. In fact, the religions of the world are seen as destructive forces instead of instructions on how to live a life of love. On the other side, in trying to stay relevant, the Message has been filtered and watered down to fit current trends and is now shallow and weak. Yesterday in church I was admiring the beauty of the building and the lack of people in the pews. It was like a bus stop for the afterlife, full of the elderly sitting quietly waiting for eternity. My cousin (who works there) was telling me about an ever-smaller budget and a decline in active members. The writing on the wall was sandblasted clean last month.

I don't know what this declining majority is to do. Faith has lost its appeal and church has little to offer modern man. I wish I had solutions, but I don't. All I have is the notion that the God I believe in has less need for us than we do for Him.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weekend Warrior

I understand why working people look forward to the weekend so much. Until two weeks ago, every day was a weekend for me. Now I have seen the other side and I want to go back!

In a way it's disgusting the way we live. I'm sitting at a desk that is littered with unnecessary junk. I'm going to bed early because I have to get up and drive to a job that I hate to prepare for a future I'm not so sure I want.

And I have a good life!

It's sad that I have to make conflict with trinkets and gainful employment because I have nothing else to be mad about. I'm not oppressed or hungry or cold or naked. Yet I feel emboldened to take on the "challenges" of living like a wage slave by posting whiny rants on the Internet like so many people gone before me. This has to be the end of humanity. We've so mastered our lives that our conflicts have moved inward.

But I'm not going to be the one to change it. The tides keep rolling, man keeps bettering himself. All that's left now is to conquer mortality, send it the way of God and the A-cup breast.

So what does a suburban, middle-class WASP like me do now? The only thing left to do: become a Hipster. . . . . .

Monday, August 10, 2009

College is a Waste

While at work today I got a text from my wife. She was outlining her debt scenario after three years of higher education. It's not what it should be. As a college graduate who now works at a crummy job that doesn't require a college degree, I wondered what exactly was all that time and money spent towards? Apart from a broadened mental horizon and a chance to slack off for four years, not much. I appear to be no more qualified than a high school graduate with experience. In fact, from my past month of job searching it seems that experience counts more than education. Everyone's got a degree. And unless you had someone to pay for it for you, chances are you aren't making enough to justify your liberal arts education. I know I'm not.

I like to run after work to clear my head and decompress. At the trail, I thought about the way the higher education system in America is a mess and thought of an alternative:

A school that rewards students for getting A grades. On top of base fees, say each credit costs $1,000. For arguments sake, lets say fees and housing cost $5,000 per semester, less if there is an option for off-campus housing. For a student taking 15 credits, that equals $20,000 per semester. Not cheap. BUT! If you refund students' money per A per credit, then there is the opportunity for school to cost only $10k per year.

Ten thousand dollars is still relatively expensive, but I'm picturing a very prestigious degree. To accomplish this goal, professors will be paid well, regardless of students' performance. However, to discourage easy grading, performance reviews will determine the professor's contract. These reviews will also make sure the professor is being fair as well. The goal is to make everybody work for what they get. As professors grade more rigidly, students are forced to work harder and the overall quality of education goes up.

I imagine I'm not the first person to think of this, In fact, some high schools have similar programs, but I don't want to just bribe kids into achieving. Degrees mean the same whether you got them with A's or C's. I'm just thinking by making higher education more like a market, a better system will be created than the one we have in place now. And by taking student's money up front, an investment fund could be set up to help cover costs.

Not like anyone reads this, so I don't know why I'm asking, but... any thoughts?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On Blogging and Social Media

With the recent events that took place here in Pittsburgh, I got to thinking more and more about the nature of social media. Truth be told, I never really was a fan. Facebook is only passingly interesting and twitter is a novelty that I predict will eventually follow other services into oblivion. Remember AIM?

I read the shooter's blog. I'm sure a lot of people have. It was interesting that his blogspot site was shut down by the time I got home to read it last night, but the text was transcribed on Did they buy that or just claim it?

At any rate, I'm wondering why we feel compelled to do things like blog and facebook and tweet. Is it just for fun? What are we looking for? I'm left thinking that the more superficially connected we are, the more likely we are to feel alone. The point gets driven home that even though we may have all these personal contacts on the web, we are alone when we step away from the computer screen. It's poetically ironic that this dude was reaching out to the whole world and was still being denied the connection he desperately wanted. It is a special case, the guy's world view was obviously skewed, but the fact remains that he had options. Did he ever post on if he wanted a companion so badly?

I think we get our minds made up on how things should be. The sheer volume of media coverage and opinions and reinforcement from all this extra social interaction can drive a person crazy. There are so many options and so many perfect examples of how things should be that we go nuts trying to choose what type of person we want to be and then trying to follow others' well-documented examples of taking that path to self-actualized nirvana. It's hard to be unique and comfortable with yourself when there are so many examples of how you're wrong or flawed.

I assume eventually we will adapt and evolve, but where does that put us until then? It's not an issue of regulating or dismissing social networking, they're here to stay. But what do we do in the mean time? How do we learn to balance our shrinking privacy and actual physical face-to-face connectivity with the growing pseudo-contact and relatability that social networking and modern media provide?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

After Two Days of 'Real Work'

I started a 'real' job on Monday. As of now, it sucks. Hard.

In physics, the faster an object goes, the more energy it takes to move it. This is because mass grows proportionally greater with speed. At a certain point, near the speed of light, there isn't enough energy in the universe (that we know of) to make an object move. This phenomenon was observed at my job. Too much mass, and not enough energy.

At least I got to go for a run after. The Montour trail is nice. It used to be a railroad and at one point you run through a tunnel. Near a stream I climbed a steep hillside, much to the bewilderment of a middle-aged woman with Bon Jovi hair.

There's always the possibility that tomorrow will be better.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Day in Brief

The only substantial meal I've eaten in the last twenty-four hours was a bowl of Raisin Bran at 4:00 AM. Purely coincidentally, I read a Digg-approved article on fasting and starvation this morning.

Last night, I lost in the ballpark of $250. Most was spent trying to regain the rest.

Today, Christina and I met my cousin and his girlfriend at the zoo. It was baby day. There were a lot of babies.

After the zoo, Christina ate Panera and I had coffee.

Since then, she's gone to work and I'm reading the Internet and TS Eliot in between.

Last night, when half asleep I tried to tell Christina that I could be a good MMA fighter because I'm skinny.

Earlier last night, I experienced a soul-punching lack of winning hands. But they looked good from the start!

For some reason, the northern border of the iris in my right eye looks and feels cut.