Our intellects give us human animals the impressive ability to model reality. The realities so modeled can even be the modelers themselves, as well as hypothetical realities which our models predict to be possible. Our models will always be imperfect and incomplete though, and forgetting this fact can effectively limit our minds within our own models and cause us to fail to perceive an aspect of the modeled reality which is not specified in the model. In this way, beliefs can be masks which prevent us from seeing the underlying reality. When the reality being modeled is ourselves or humanity, our beliefs can mask our deeper selves from our own awareness. Such unintentional masking stealthily occurs when an emotion happens to reinforce a belief yet is not actually a core component of the belief itself. In this case the emotion will reinforce our conviction in the belief without us even needing to be aware of the actual nature of the emotion behind the belief. Such emotionally charged belief is commonly seen in religious persons. For me though, it occurred in relation to my belief in the value of communication, and what that belief was effectively masking was my fear of loneliness. What I realized was that some of my idealistic attempts to communicate with certain persons at ill-chosen times were in reality very much motivated by a fear of loneliness. Realizing that my belief was unintentionally masking an emotion and therefore inhibiting my self-awareness enabled me to peer more accurately at the causality between my emotions and my actions, and to consciously confront the fear itself.
The atheist's beliefs are imprisoned within the current scientific paradigm of materialism. The theist operates outside of the limited paradigm of materialism, but the theist's beliefs are polluted by prior unmet emotional need which he/she transforms into a deity. Quasitheism is a formalized acknowledgment that there is indeed something beyond material reality, but does not go so far as to declare that this immaterial reality is a sentient deity, while still admitting that it could be something that we would call a deity. There are simply too many hypotheses that cannot be selected for or against within our current understanding. Quasi- is a prefix which basically means "almost", and I felt that it was the best available prefix to encompass the range of unknowns in the search for "divinity". Quasitheism could arguably be classified as a permutation of agnosticism, but what distinguishes quasitheism is that it definitively states that there is something beyond material reality.
In my adolescence I formed the belief that awareness was always the first step in personal growth; that without awareness no progress could be made. This core belief of mine has strongly shaped my interactions with people, especially when they needed guidance. People have thanked me for encouraging their awareness, but some of these same people have also suffered repeatedly from moments when I misguidedly pushed too hard towards awareness. I have come to realize that awareness is not required as a first step for all people; that in fact some people can intuitively move towards a state of higher quality without being aware intellectually. Just because my intellect is more honed than my intuition and so has been a more expedient tool for my own personal evolution does not mean that everyone is in the same state as me. By believing that awareness was always the first step for everyone I was really just misguidedly projecting myself onto others. I wrote the belief that awareness was always the first step for everyone on a piece of paper, and burned it in the Beltane fire, as a symbolic gesture reinforcing that I was removing that belief from within myself.
We will be celebrating my birthday this Monday (3-31-08) at the Necto. Unfortunately due to corrupt morality made into law, you will not be able to show up in your birthday suit. Blessedly though, the libertine dress-code for Factory Mondays would allow you to get away with wearing only a thong, electrical tape on your nipples, and footgear. This can be your modified "birthday suit", to help celebrate my birthday of course. (To clarify the notion of birthday spankings: subs receive a number of spankings equal to their new age in years, Doms automatically get to deliver a number of spanks equal to their new age in years, and switches can do both.)
Tiefling is a word which essentially translates to "devilish one". Tieflings are the demonic descendants which result when a sexual union between a demonic creature and a humanoid produces half-demon children, which in turn infuses those half-demons' descendants with demonic blood. In the Dungeons&Dragons game, tieflings are one of the possible races to which you can have your character belong. I found this hilarious interview with a tiefling and a gnome (though you might have to be geeky enough to be familiar with certain trivia regarding Dungeons&Dragons to fully appreciate it).
Contemplating the fact that simple equations like zn+1=zn2+c can produce the infinitely intricate geometries of a fractal can honestly fill me with a sense of blissfully superlative awe, more so than any church ever could.
The basic equation I cited above produces the Mandelbrot Set fractal, as well as the Julia set fractals. The Mandelbrot Set is essentially a map of Julia sets. If you would like to see a visual representation which dynamically and interactively demonstrates the relationship between Julia sets and the Mandelbrot Set, the program Fraqtive does a beautiful job. You would need Linux in order to run the Fraqtive program though, so...
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Update: There are now versions of Fraqtive for Mac OS X and Windows, though I have never run the version for Windows so I cannot personally attest to its stability or performance on that platform.
The divide between childhood and adulthood is the acquisition of [a degree of] autonomy. The goal then of parenting and education is to ultimately empower children with the autonomy that they will need as an adult. Many parents in our modern culture though try so hard to keep their children from growing up ["too soon"]. In such homes these progeny are treated as mere children right up until the day that they move out of their parents' home, at which point they are suddenly thrust into an adult world in which they are somehow expected to instantly function as adults, despite inadequate encouragement and training in their parents' home. A healthier approach to creating adults would be to actually encourage the child to become an adult, and to gradually grant the child rights commeasurate with responsibilities until the child has all the rights and responsibilities of an adult. In older cultures they concretely symbolized this transformation with rite-of-passage ceremonies to emphatically acknowledge a child's transition into adulthood, but our modern culture lacks adequate rites-of-passage. (Did you feel like a fully empowered adult at your high school graduation?) When imagining how a teacher could provide a meaningful rite-of-passage to a student (though not the final rite), I came up with the following document...
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Submission is an indulgence. Like any indulgence, it has its time and place. The fact that the fearful populace prefers to surrender responsibility to supposed "higher authorities" is what provides unscrupulous persons with the opportunity to seize that power and parasitically abuse it.
My friend Denny's birthday falls on the same day as mine, and my other friend Renee's birthday is the day before ours. (...And Denny and Renee happen to be dating.) We are using all three birthdays as an excuse to party on Friday, March 30th, at Denny and Renee's place. You will want to park in the public parking by the office just before you turn onto Lincoln Street. (If you are on her Friends List here is the link to Renee's LJ entry concerning the party.) Gifts are not necessary; your presence is gift enough. A potluck contribution might be a good idea though, since everyone will eventually get hungry.