Tuesday, September 26, 2006
  If you don't go to a chiropractor, you Will DIE!

First of all: Blogger Beta never remembers me and keeps on making me have to log in. That is irritating.

But more interesting is the health and safety fair I went to this weekend. It was sponsered by the local hospital, though it was a city event. This explains some of the booths there.

I got a free spinal screen. Basically it involved a little doohicky with two paddles that had three electrodes on them, to be placed on either side of my spine. Gadgets are cool. I like them a lot, so of course I did it. I gave the baby I was holding to my daughter so I could stand up straight.

They only did the screen on my neck. It looks like they'd go down the whole back if one could disrobe in public.

What it was supposed to do was measure the electrical activity, and it was supposed to fall within certain parameters.

Everything checked out except on the left, some vertebra, I'm not sure which one, but it controls the muscles of my shoulder and arm. It had too much activity going on, by a lot, according to the computer read out. It is also the one that controls my heart, and she was concerned. Very very concerned.

Because, you see, Jackie Joyner-Kersee recently died of a heart attack, and when they did the autopsy on her, they found a horrible subluxation right at the vertebra that controlled her heart. So even a very fit person, like me, should be worried. Then she told me I should look up the Winsor Autopsies.

Wow. That is scary stuff. Maybe I should go to the chiropractor.

Except that, well... Jackie Joyner Kersee is NOT dead.

Her sister in law, Francis Florence Griffith is dead. Mistaken identity? Perhaps, but she died of asphyxiation from having a seizure, not a heart attack.

What is also interesting is that they didn't pick up on the very real and irritating pain I often feel in my right shoulder/arm. And which arm do you think I'd been holding baby in? If you guessed the one that had 'too much electrical activity', you are right. I'm not sure if that has any bearing on it, but it certainly makes it so the "test" isn't very convincing to me.

There was another chiropractor doing a different kind of spinal screening, but it looked too involved and I had three impatient kids with me. So no more razzing the chiros.

Anyway, sorry for the long wait here. I have some short stories to submit and one I haven't begun that has to be finished by Oct 1.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
  Avast! This be not for the lily-livered

I am nerdier than 80% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Arrrrr, I be not the nerdiest buccanneer pirate that be here. I be not finishin the landlubbers school, nor be my computer's RAM so hardily sufficient to qualify, and I be cozyin' up to that blasted scallywag privateer, Gates.

Monday, September 18, 2006
  Impractical Magic

Dear Marketing Executives,

Just because I like Lord of the Rings and occasionally purchase books from the Science Fiction Book Club doesn't mean I believe in crystal healing, or finding a best friend with numerology, or cleansing diets, or any of the other wacky things out there.

Thank you,

The Granola


You know those books you can get page by page. The pages are cards that you collect with hole punches in them, and you are supposed to put them in the special binder you get if you subscribe to it. It is just another way to "monetize" content. Sometimes it might be interesting if it is about a TV show and has pictures and bios - that is, if you are around 12 or so.

Other common ones are recipes. These are a little more useful.

I got a sample pack recently of something to do with spirituality. It got thrown away before I could get a good look at it, but I got an interesting impression.

People crave spirituality, but they don't want the discipline of honest inquiry; integrity; and moral, reasonable, or common sense action.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
  Religion and Human Organization

Humans are not solitary animals. They naturally organize into cooperative groups. It isn't so hard to see the advantages of social grouping, whether derived from evolution or by design of God or both. Early on in our history, the very survival of the species depended on this kind of behavior, and it is still to our advantage today.

A number of situations drove early social organization. Early in our history, humans were part of wandering tribes, held together by familial bonds with a hierarchy. As tribes grew and exchanged members, hierarchies began to require something more than paternal or maternal dominance. Tribal interaction was also an ongoing problem. In order to succeed, the tribe needed organization that both met the needs of its members and made the tribe successful compared to its competitors.

By whatever means this happened, what seems to have occurred was a specialization of authority: temporal authority and spiritual or mind/body authority. Chiefs and Shamans. Sometimes the two were combined in one head, but very often there were those who were good at leading the people to success, and those that were good at leading the people to some kind of understanding that made the world manageable.

As civilization matured, so did this system of chiefs and shamans. Religion had the role of outlining moral behavior and stabilizing a society even amid the upheaval of war, famine, governmental collapse, or any other catastrophe that could fall upon the society. Religion caused societies to transcend their original goals: that of gaining territory or resources. Instead, societies with highly developed religions tended even more towards cooperation.

It was something that temporal leaders learned to take advantage of. By utilizing this influence, leaders of groups from primitive tribes to empires learned that they could use religion to gain more power. It is a problem that has plagued the natural development of the relationship between the human and divine since the dawn of time.

In modern terms, it gives us Islamic Terrorists. It gives us religious pundits who use their followers to lift themselves up, gaining their self worth from worldly acclaim and using their influence to grow their membership, to increase profit, and grab power. It gives us plain religious bigotry, and other bigotries rationalized by usually misunderstood religious doctrines. In the history of western civilization, we have the Crusades, the Inquisition, the burning of heretics, the need to flee homelands in order to worship freely, etc. These are all evils that have the involvement of organized religion.

These are what secularists point to when they say that the true evil is organized religion itself.

What is not realized is that this problem with social manipulation is not inherent in religion, but is a flaw in the human character. It is the reflection of our primitive, natural past where our survival depended on our ability to acquire or maintain territory and resources. In all of the examples listed, the primary causes can be reduced to political figures using religion to gain power. Secondary causes would be fear of "other tribes" – a natural response that would increase the survivability of a local gene pool.

What happens when we take religion out of the equation? Exactly the same thing: The Great Purge in the Soviet Union where approximately 28 million people were killed*. Cambodia. China and Tibet. The systematic discrimination of religious views in many institutions of higher learning in the United States.

The fact of the matter is, when humans organize themselves, there is a high likelihood that they will pick a scapegoat group to act against. It is one of the most primitive ways to power.

The purpose of religion is to provide a check against those kinds of destructive behaviors by teaching people doctrines that call for civilized behavior. All moral laws that govern society today have religious foundations. All concepts of ethical behavior derive from philosophies that are either implicitly religious or originated from religious thought.

Religion is the sire of science, literature, ethics, and just about everything that elevates us above our natural origins. Religion is the Apple. It's Pandora's Box. It is the elusive meaning to the question that has haunted us since the dawn of intelligence: Why?

Without religion, we would still be living in packs, struggling for subsistence living, not thinking beyond the next day and not knowing our true potential.

Next: The shape of modern organized religions
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
  Phishing for Phools

Ahhh, phishing scams. These can be through email or instant messaging. Sometimes, it is over the phone.

Had a lovely one a few years ago allegedly in regards to my Paypal account. It stated flat out that it had to verify personal information. Warning bells clanged in my head. I checked the URL of the link. Sure enough, it wasn't directed towards the paypal server. It could be a virus, but curiosity overcame my fear and I clicked on the link. Turned out that it was a straight up scam seeking my identity, not my computer's soul. It was amazing the amount of information they asked for: Full name, birthdate, social security number, bank account numbers.

How many did they send out? If only one person in 10,000 fell for it, they probably had at least 100 identities.

Got one from a Chase imposter this time. I wasn't brave enough this time to click on the link, but I did look up the info on it.


Here is a clue about how to detect these things. The obvious one is that the company you have an account with will not initiate information gathering over the computer. If you recieve an email that leads you somewhere asking for all kinds of information that you think is from a company you have an account with, it is a scam. Companies that have your sensitive information do not send mail requesting you to 'confirm' that information.

But another good clue is where it is actually coming from. Listen up a bit class.

Let us take a domain, say "wwwDOTrespectedcreditcardcompanyDOTripyouoffDOTcom"

com is the Top Level Domain. Lets make a rough analogy to help things. You could call this a street or city or maybe a state, or a country.

ripyouoff is the Domain Name - this is the key here. The name just to the left of the Top Level Domain is always the actual registered domain name and this is where you will go. In our analogy, this would be a house.

respectedcredicardcompany - while in our thinking, being first (after www, of course) would mean precedence, this is untrue in domain names. This part of the URL is a sub domain. That is, it is a part of the Domain name. There can be more than one subdomain in a URL. In the analogy, this part would direct you to a room in the house.

So are you going to the respected credit card company? No, you are going to a house called Rip You Off, and in that house is a door with a sign, paint still wet, that says "Respected Credit Card Company" which leads into a room with con artist who will take you for all you have.

But lastly, if in doubt, call the company you allegedly got an email or instant message from. Your safety is important to them, because identity theft hurts them as well. They'll tell you what you need to know.
Monday, September 11, 2006
  September 11th

To all those fathers and mothers, wives, husbands, children, siblings, friends, partners; to all those that lost, may you be comforted and lifted up in your grief on this day.

To all those who departed on that day, may they find rest.

To all of us, may we leave the anger behind and find peace. May we choose the proper action if our brother refuses peace, and may we do it with love and mourning rather than victory.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
  LDS Skepticism

Jared* at the LDS Science Review has an interesting article on the encouragement of skepticism by LDS leadership.


The article is pretty LDS centric, being an LDS blog. In speaking about interpreting claims of divine revelation, we are told to reject it if it is contrary to (among other things) "known facts, demonstrated truths, or good common sense."

Following the spirit of the advice, one could easily expand it to any special claims made by people, especially those where the person making the claim has some advantage to be had if you accept their story.
Monday, September 04, 2006
  What does blogging mean to me?

Sarabeth, of "I was once HP" just tagged me with this meme.

1) Are you happy/satisfied with your blog's content and look?

I actually have two blogs, and the answers are different for both of them. I'm more particular about the content of Testing the Cultural Divide, and I'm pretty ready for a change in the look there. But here is where I'm more relaxed. As a result, the look of the site doesn't concern me as much. I'm pretty happy with the content of both of them though. I do need to spend some time on the sidebars.

2) Does your family know about your blog?

They do. In fact, I've gotten every female member of it to start one. I think it is a great way to keep in touch with family when one doesn't live close.

3) Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?

I'm not embarrassed at all. I want more people to read it. It has always been a public venture. Of course, I don't post much of my private life on either of my blogs.

4) Did blogging cause positive changes in your thoughts?

In my thoughts... hmm... I'm not sure blogging has had that effect on me, except perhaps my enjoyment of posting. But maybe it has. I started blogging partly because I had so many words and phrases that had accumulated but had no home that I was actually getting irritated. Now, I have a couple of places for them.

5) Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or do you love to go and discover more by yourself?

I do like to go discover more by myself, but I've barely had time to write in my own blogs or even read all that are on my blogrolls now. So mostly I just open the blogs of those who comment. Comment here, so I can visit you!

6) What does a visitor counter mean to you? Do you like having one on your blog?

I really like having a visitor counter and seeing where people are from. Like Sarabeth, the blocked addresses are interesting, but I tend to think they are probably disguised spambots.

7) Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?


8) Admit. Do you think there is any real benefit in blogging?

For me, there is. I'm a writer who hopes to get published by a brick and morter publisher. Blogging both hones my skill and is a place where I can gain an audience before I even publish.

9) Do you think that blogger's society is isolated from the real world or interaction with events?

The society isn't isolated, but individual bloggers may be.

10) Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it's a normal thing?

Both. Except, it depends on what kind of criticism. I love constructive criticism. I actively seek it out for my fiction.

11) Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?

I hate politics, so I typically do avoid political blogs. I don't think they are good sources for unbiased knowledge about what is going on with governments and society.

12) Were you shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?

When and where?

13) What do you think will happen to your blog after you die?

I really should make hard copy of it. Any maintenance of it would probably be forgotten, as my husband doesn't read either of my blogs.

14) What do you like to hear? What song would you like to link to on your blog?

Star Trekkin across the universe!
On the starship enterprise, under Captain Kirk!
Star Trekkin across the universe!
Only going forward now 'cause we can't find reverse!

Okay, back to reality, where I still can't find reverse. Like Sarabeth, who tagged me, I love U2. I tend to appreciate intelligent lyrics and interesting music from just about any group, except country. I've really tried to like it because a lot of people I like do, but it just kind of grates on me.

15) Five bloggers to be the next "victims"?

Clark Bartram
Ketchup Queen
Sunday, September 03, 2006
  Journey to Belief (Conclusion)

(part 1)(part 2)(part3)(intermission)(part 4)(part 5)

For the second time in my life, (the first time was, as it is for many a young person taught the Bible, young earth creationism) something that had been taught to me by people whom I loved, admired, trusted and respected turned out to be wrong. If I could not trust feelings to bring me closer to the truth, then what could I trust? What, then, was the Holy Spirit?

I realized at that point that people have had those same kinds of feelings for many a false thing. They've had much, much stronger feelings than I ever had for beliefs that completely defied logic and reality. They've martyred themselves for these false premises. And yet, the feeling, the joy that brings one to tears, is inconstant. It cannot be trusted to yield truth, only a good emotional experience.

If there was a Holy Spirit, how could I know I was learning through it, then?

These questions bounced around in my head for quite a long time, but it was only when I stopped being upset about my personal, emotional deception - when I realized that I wasn't living life at all, even though I had that life in such generous terms, that I began to understand the answer to my question.

How could I know I was learning from the Holy Ghost?

Because it will illuminate Truth.

A journey appeared in my mind then, of my own past, of instances and thoughts I'd had. These were thoughts that I had never been able to forget. They reverberated in my soul, ringing through all the years of my life. Some of these thoughts were for very specific situations and did not seem to show a big picture at all. But many thoughts were leaps of knowing where the pieces of the puzzle did not merely fit together, but the joining of it seemed to glow with rightness. All in all though, those intense experiences did not happen very often. I can count them on my fingers. But they were real.

Then another thought entered my mind:

Tread carefully. Real Truth is precious and rare. Most of the time, you can't really know a thing. Like the evolution of man, the thought continued. The theory is sound, the pieces we have fit it, but we can never call it knowledge simply because we never observed it. Should we have the chance to observe it, we'd be surprised but at the same time it would make perfect sense and fit even better into what we'd already observed.

It isn't about whether I'm right or wrong. My worth should not tied up in that. If something I've learned turns out to be wrong, even if I thought it right for 70 years, then I must let it go and I cannot tie my self identification up in it. If I don't have enough information, then I should file the subject under "need to learn more before I should have an opinion".

Yet we can't really leave our emotions completely out of the equation: that would demolish important things like compassion and love, and our plain enjoyment of this fascinating puzzle. But we must be careful of our emotion. We must evaluate not only the data, but our motives in believing the things that we do. I can experience emotion because of my beliefs, but my emotions should not be the reason for my beliefs.

It does take careful study, no matter what we think of the matter. And we should look at all sides. We can't dismiss God so easily, really, but neither can we believe in God easily. It is something that should never be taken for granted. Truth, mostly, is that we can't know a lot of things right now, but we're expected to try to learn as best we can, with our best observations, with our critical minds, and even sometimes with our hearts.
A Mormon housewife who loves truth, science, rational thought, and reasonable action.

My Photo
Location: Utah

Granola is a mix of things: grains, nuts, bits of dried fruit, maybe some coconut. There's some fat in it, and it's a good source of fiber to keep those arteries and colons clean.

June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / April 2007 /


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