Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Seems to be a good time to post these, here (in no specific order) -

10. Wake up at a consistent time every morning, instead of kicking the alarm 35 times and having to rush to work.

9. Care about my appearance a little more and spend at least a little every now and then on new clothes.

8. Continue progress on the whole Martial Arts thing.

7. Meet some new people that like / can go out.

6. Finish at least 1 of my writing projects.

5. Finish at least 1 of my composition projects.

4. Reach a level on piano where I can play a venue professionally.

3. Donate more time to charitable projects.

2. Better make time for updating the blog, writing projects, and hobbies.

1. See what I am not doing well in my current relationships and improve on them.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fate's year of posts...

From Spyder from Average Jane.

Rules: Paste the first line of your first post for each month, starting with January 2007.

January - So, I'm joining the great and evil empire of google by using them for my blog.

February - A deathly silence stood between the Nazi officer and Wladyslaw Szpilman broken only by the sounds of the Third Reich's war machine.

March - NONE

April - 4/17/06 - the day I left home for the first time. I would return for a few days to gather my things, but this is the day I count from.

May - I went to a Missouri martial arts competition last weekend.

June - I can recount the vast majority of events that led to my leaving my home city and coming to KC.

July - I'll save the photos for when they are "preapproved", but I thought I'd take a few seconds to mention the wedding I went to yesterday.

August - So, this little gem has recently surfaced regarding the current policies in regards to the Jehovah's Witnesses.

October - If you've followed the trend in education, we spend a lot of money on anti-drug programs.

November - Back in yonder days of lore, my father purchased for me, a chemistry set.

December - Well, after a fairly cool day, I get home with a fecking headache.

... Hmmm.... Me thinks I post a lot of drama. Might make that my new year's resolution - less drama in life. But then, that'd make for a less entertaining blog...

Fed Up....

I'm venting here, so if you have a problem with that, go somewhere else. I'll probably realize this post is a drunken mistake tomorrow and pull it, so read it while you can.

For whatever reason, I had the piss poor fortune of being born a social person in an oppressive religious cult. I had the even further piss poor fortune of having core ideals directly opposed to that same religious cult. I was the kid always in trouble for 'being too friendly' and 'associating with non-believers'.

I am faced daily with the reality that I gave up friends and family so that I could be my own person. I don't talk about it much, but I also gave up a stable sex life as a married man. Yes, that's right, yours truly had romantic interests and waiting pussy. And I threw said waiting pussy away because I had these crazy ideas in my head that women shouldn't be treated like subservient pets, and I had no interest in dealing with the cult bullshit with who I slept with.

I've been told by many people that I shouldn't rush things. That I need to take time to work the cult out of my system. That building a life takes time. That I need to develop "interests". But, today, I would like to take this moment to say, as I sit up not able to sleep -

FUCK YOU ALL.

Yes, you read that right. I'm so god damn sick of living with the reality that I went from having people calling me daily to do stuff, from going out to movies every weekend, having to figure out what event to go to or not - to watching late night porn and browsing the internet.

Today, I got called to work for the weekend. I still kept my plan to go out late night Saturday. Why do I bother going out? Simply, I want to be the social person I used to be. To have a mile long contact list of people. To head out to house parties. I want to be ME. Somehow, my natural talents and day job have lead me to an environment with a bunch of introverts that have 0 interest in going out or socializing. I wish I was back in college and could do things over again. Actually, I wish I could start over in highschool and actually pay attention to the development of the bullshit games people "in the real world" play on each other.

Yes, I do regret my 'sheltered' life. I use sheltered there in quotes because I wasn't really sheltered. No, I lost my rose colored glasses early and have faced some of the most fucked up shit people in this country will have to deal with. Mine is not a problem of innocence, it's a problem of culture. So, measuring my progress - family (check), friends (nope), romantic interests (nope). I've managed, in a year's time, adopted family and some fucked up acquaintances.

The development of friends has seen slow but steady progress. Romantic partners? Well, fuck that. Frankly, I don't know what I want anymore. I'm just sick of women in general. Period.

My brother is currently in a relationship with a girl that won't admit to realizing how pussy whipped he is. It's disgusting. She controls every last thing about him. Might as well cut off his balls and put them on the mantel. She's become something of his fucking mom, and she, funny little bitch, tries to do the same thing to me.

Then, it's always nice when women I know go after other women I know. It doesn't matter about women, if you know 2 women, and they know each other, they WILL be catty bitches when discussing the other when they aren't present.

Then there's the "you can never win an argument with a woman" women. These are the type that I give a frustrated "yes MOM" to when they open their mouths. Because that's what they think they are. Or the 'princess' type who have had everything handed to them. They want a man with a paycheck so they can bankrupt him and move on.

I joke about 'going out for tail/etc...', but, I'm so fed up with things, that it's more of a self-forced "night out to stay social so I don't end up the creepy old dude". So, I go out, and have lovely experiences -

The "here's my non-number" - or the girl that doesn't have guts enough to tell you she isn't interested. Also known, as a game playing bitch.

The insecure chic that goes out, picks a guy, and spends the night "claiming" him from other girls just to make herself be the alpha female. She has no real interest in doing anything, and if she does, you probably don't want to touch her anyway.

The bachelorette party. Because EVERY bride wears the same 'suck a candy for $1' shirt, complete with dildo necklaces, and bitchy friends. "We don't want boys around because this is a girl's night thing," said by one of the bitch friends when not dancing with her, just nearby... First off, if she saw my cock, she'd know I'm not a fucking boy. No way the sub 5 foot whore could take the whole thing. Second, I'm asking for a god damn dance, not sex and a wedding ring. Girl, you ain't that hot, go fuck yourself with that dildo you're wearing around your neck. I'm glad you're friend's getting married, cause that's one less bitch to deal with.

The game sucks. It turns otherwise normal people into desperate losers, while the people that made it through give out the "don't worry be happy" fortune cookie bullshit. I'm sick of it all, I used to be able to fake a good time, but I can't even do that anymore. I've been to places that I "knew" where fun, but the fun is gone. And this is AFTER I decide that the purpose of going out is not for pickup...

So yea, fuck romance, 'cause there ain't anyone sane left on the market.

I just want to have fun and be around people while I start my new life, is that so much to ask?

I know that I've made a lot of progress over the past year, but I look at where I was before I left the cult, where I am now, and where I want to be - and feel like a god damn failure.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Say it ain't so....

The Chiefs....

I picked the wrong year to start following Football again.

Yes, we suck.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Deeply Disturbed...

Today I just finished a long conversation about the problems of a young woman. Normally, the heartaches of a late teen wouldn't bother me, but this was different. It was different because it wasn't just her story I was hearing, it was mine. And unlike mine, her story is nowhere near a happy ending. Indeed, hearing it has brought me to the stark and difficult realization that my story is by no means unique. And the even more sobering thought, it is that this is a story that often doesn't end well.

To hear that someone is being medicated for psychiatric issues is difficult. To know that those issues are being exacerbated by circumstance? To know that Doctors need to be made aware of these issues? South Park used dark comedy to show a facility meant to cure gays resulting in suicide. But this dark comedy is REAL. Today, I heard the cry for help of a young girl, on medication, viewed as mentally unstable. Leaving the Church nearly killed me. Literally. If it wasn't for an online community, that would listen to me yell, and shout, and cry, .... I know beyond any shadow of doubt I would be dead today. But through whatever providence, luck, or chance, or fate - I fell into the hands of good and caring people that lifted me up. Today, I am a respected engineer at one of the leading technology companies in the world. I like to think, that as I work at my job, I make people's lives better. That I contribute to society.

But, what about the people that didn't have that hand? What if I hadn't have had the blind luck to fall upon people that would open their homes?

I shudder with the sad knowledge that my life would be relegated to a statistic. One more young college student, socially maladjusted, a loner, problems with parents, good, conservative parents. Life was too much for him, so he killed himself. The obituary would call the death a tragedy - so much potential cut short. The parents would cry. The media might make a mention on one of their "stress of youth in today's world" pieces. All because there wasn't someone there. I don't have to imagine much here, because such obituaries have already been written.

This news today has awakened me once again. I can not sit by and watch while lives are destroyed and lost. If you have followed this blog, you'd know that leaving the Church for me has been an emotional roller coaster. Recently, the questions keep popping up in my head - who am I? What is my moral code? Where do I claim that this code comes from? How do I want to live? Who do I want to be? What do I want to do with my life? In working to leave the Church, I became something of a blank slate. No answers, but lots of questions.

I do not know the answers to any of those yet, but I do know, that under whatever moral code I have, it is my obligation to use my knowledge and experience to help those in my situation before. Someone needs to fight for people just starting out in life, the young adults out there.

We have a President that has selected a Surgeon General that has described being gay as a disease. And then we wonder why gay teens kill themselves? Even the most conservative of churches teach love thy neighbor. Don't they?

Here's what Jehovah's Witnesses have to say in an article dealing with Suicide, in the subheading, "No More Youthful Deaths":

Many youths who were once at risk have come to understand that drug abuse and immoral life-styles are nothing but a long and winding road to death, to which suicide is but a shortcut. They have come to realize that this world, with its wars, hatred, abusive behavior, and loveless ways, will soon pass away. They have learned that this world system is beyond redemption. They have taken to heart that God's Kingdom is the only real hope, for it will usher in a new world where not only youths but all obedient mankind will never have to die—no, nor even want to die anymore.
Is it any wonder that these sentiments lead to mass murder? Imagine what a young 21 year old has to think reading that, with their faith in doubt already. That particular Church would argue that suicide doesn't happen there. But they'd be lying.

So now, I face the very real question yet again - what can I do? It is time to draw a line in the sand, to lend a hand, and to speak out and make the medical community, political leaders, and public aware of the issues. For now, I write, but I think more can be done.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Really pissed off....

I'd say it was my own stupidity, but on some level, we shouldn't HAVE to be "smart". I left a piece of equipment in my car and this was the result:





I sometimes got lazy and placed the thing in my glove box instead of taking it in - but there are two parts - the mount, and the actual GPS unit. I never bothered messing with the mount. On the bright side, I think this qualifies as a 'first scratch'. I can rest easy now! The suck thing is that this is throwing my plans for the "adopt a child" Christmas gift program.

So, if the asshat that cracked my window is reading (and you probably aren't): I hope you're happy nuking the christmas hopes of a little kid. Fuck you, and I hope you get capped for selling a non-working GPS system to someone (cause that's exactly what you stole).

I will probably do the angle tree anyway, but just one kid instead of two - it really depends on how well the whole repair process goes with the insurance company. The (REAL) bright side of this all, is that I've gotten to see how cool my coworkers and friend's are by their response and readiness to help.

Joyful Solstice, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Beware the pointer! Arrays vs. Pointers

It's been a long time since one of those 'fundamental' programming ideas bit me. Thankfully, it happened on one of my personal projects, so I didn't reveal to anyone my stupidity.

Errrr... Damn.

Anyway, here was my header file:
extern unsigned int *vectors;

And, here was my (equivalent) .C file:
unsigned int vectors[512];

I was actually mixing languages here. In writing the header, I fell into the trap of thinking pointers are equivalent to arrays. They aren't. The C language creates confusion here because it let's us use array syntax with pointers, and arrays can turn into pointers. We can illustrate this very clearly -

Example 1 .....
char array[15] = { 0 };
printf("%x\n", (unsigned long) array);
printf("%x\n", (unsigned long) &array);
.....

versus

Example 2 .....
char *array = 0;
printf("%x\n", (unsigned int) array );
printf("%x\n", (unsigned int) &array );
.....

Take a look at the output of both programs, and you'll see the exact difference between arrays and pointers. An array without an index is nothing more than a constant pointing to the memory address the array starts at. In a very real way, it doesn't 'exist' as an array, just as a convenience for a block of memory. Here's the breakdown, with this declaration:

char array[15] -

array - is defined as a constant with a value of the address of the start of the array
&array - is the address of the first element

Using an array is a lot like using a statically defined memory address -
char* my_ptr = (char*) 0xB8000;

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Arrrggghhhhhhh

Well, after a fairly cool day, I get home with a fecking headache. I've been having headaches for a couple weeks now. I thought it was just the crud I had, but the cough/congestion has been going away and the headache hasn't. Today, I get home, and have the thought - "errr, glasses?"

I used to wear glasses until I passed the eye test for my license. My vision uncorrected is actually very good (20/20 to 20/40 depending on the day), but I have a astigmatism.

Well, I put on the glasses that I haven't worn for damn near a year, and IMMEDIATELY my headache starts going away.

Damn.

I think the problem is that I do a lot of driving at night, when my eyes are tired after the day. So, looks like I'm going to have to start wearing the frames again, at least for night driving.

I never made peace with wearing glasses, and so, putting them back on kindof sucks. But on the bright side, the migraine like headache will go away....

Maybe I can buy some cool frames to make me even more sexy.. :D

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I cry for the world...

... when a government the US supports does things like this:

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/11/17/saudi.rape.victim/index.html

I am at a loss for words. Why are we dealing with these people?

I sometimes wonder what the world would be like if someone went back and time and shot Abraham before he started the madness that is Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Then again, time has shown if we aren't going to kill each other over religion, it'll be some other random ideology. It'd be nice if we were actually killing over something with substance though, and not which prophet was correct or what the best Holy book is/was.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Church for the Secular Humanist?

Well, it's an interesting thing for me, leaving the cult, and trying to 'strike it out' on my own. It's nice to be able to manage my own time, make my own decisions, think for myself. No longer do I have to feel guilty about my research on Genetic Algorithms and their applications in computer science. No longer do I have to worry about converting people, or the amount of time I've spent out in the ministry. No longer do I have to feel guilty about watching R rated movies, drinking, or sexual behavior.

So, I have a lot more freedom.

Now, while I am not an 'atheist', at least as defined by the American Atheists (a definition, which I feel aids fundamentalist Christian arguments and damages other real atheists), I am also not religious. I do have faith in things 'more' out there, not material or physical. That said, I have little desire to join a religious group. I have even less desire to look at a group for an every Sunday type religious experience. Indeed, the whole idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But, part of me does miss the sense of community that I had when I was a member of a Church.

It seems that the skeptics community has given so much attention to arguing and fighting against the religious groups, that one of the major aspects of religion - the church - has gone unnoticed. Are regular group meetings good things? If not based on fluffy bunnies, faeries, and invisible men, what should communities be based on? Should their be ritual at these gatherings? What would the meeting be like? And, if you started doing this, what would keep it from being a religion, or would it be a religion just by virtue of doing it? After all, at it's most basic, religion doesn't require any supernatural belief.

In all honesty, I think most churches are so busy preaching various messages, that they forget one of the critical aspects that led to the importance of the church in a community in the first place - the town gathering.

I don't think there's any valid way to say that individuals have grown past the need for socialization. At our most basic roots, we are social beings. And, I feel, a culture that resists and suppresses desires for human interaction invites mental illness, education nightmares, and societal breakdown.

So right now, all I have is questions, hopefully time will give some answers.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Viacom - time to pay up

Three cheers for the writers!



Thanks Keith for the link.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Political Correctness Run Amok

Personally, I find the blatant commercialism around religious holidays somewhat disturbing. Not so much because of the commercialism, but because how much it reveals our consumerist nature. The old American Ideal of creativity and creation has been replaced with 'buy now, but more'. Now, if you pushed me to identify my religion, I'd say 'none' - and if you REALLY pressed for 'where I stand', I might tell you either Pagan or Humanist, depending on my mood.

On a basic level, I do think it's proper to at least respect other people's beliefs though.

And hence, as one of the non-Christian variety (well, maybe less Christian, depending on the time of day and phase of the moon), might I just say that I find the actions of stores like Lowe's, well, .... stupid?

What am I talking about? Take a look at lowes.com. Enter on the page "Christmas" for a product search... Now, see anything other than relatively decent priced items?

Wait for it...

Look closer...

You will discover, that the vast majority of items do not contain the word "Christmas". Now, to be fair to Lowes, I would wager that this very possibly is a reflection of the brand of trees/items they are selling and not of Lowes management (unless these are all House brands).

Even on days when I want to throw away all semblance of religion/faith in my life, I still find the idea of Holidays and celebrating past culture of inherent value. Christmas, if nothing else, can be a time of remembering the good of giving, the joy of family, the perils of overeating turkey, the annoyance of spoiled children, and the fact that family best belongs within at least a 2 hour driving distance...

At one point, my religious beliefs held that Christmas was not to be celebrated as it was an evil pagan holiday, which resulted in the deaths of many puppies and other small furry animals. I grimaced every time someone said Happy Christmas. I grew annoyed at the constant holiday songs and cheer.

Now, I welcome the Holiday, even if I am not a vanilla Christian. At what point do we stop asking for reason and become unreasonable ourselves? I'd argue it's the point at which we start trying to rewire culture for the sake of rewiring culture. I don't see people trying to rename the months of the year or the names of the planets to not reflect their cultural origins.

And, at this point, I really must ask, who exactly are retailers trying to cater to by calling it a "Holiday Tree"? What market share is gained? What stops me as a pagan, or follower of Cthulhu, or the flying spaghetti monster, from buying a Christmas tree and calling it what I want? Answer: nothing.

The real thing that's gained by calling it a "Holiday Tree"? Another cause for Christian idiots to point to about the 'War Against Christianity'. Not to overly cliched, but can't we all just get along?

Though, I will admit, part of me wants to put out an ad selling "Winter Solstice Trees", and see what type of replies I get...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Smart people sure can be stupid...

Article says overweight people live longer

Anyone see a problem with this article? Maybe buried somewhere deep inside?

We have group A of statistical data that says weight range A is optimal.

We have group B of statistical data that says weight range B is optimal.

Groups A and B conflict.

And I can't find where anyone asks the most valid question: if both data sets are accurate could it be the model that is inaccurate?

See article on fate percentage:
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/body-fat-measurement?page=2

Maybe doctor's could stop being idealogical snobs and consider that they might have been wrong about the whole BMI thing?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Chemistry Sets...

...

Back in yonder days of lore, my father purchased for me, a chemistry set. These were strange things, sold way back when, that let you mix chemicals to see "nifty stuff". All kinds of prearranged experiments. With a chemistry set like mine, you could do "cool shit" like make gun powder.

Well, I recently read an article about the endangered chemistry set. Thinking about it, I haven't seen them in stores for a long while. Going to a high school science fair will tell you a lot about the status of our country. I recall (very vividly, I might add), being told that if I made one of the classic 'volcanos' that I would fail. Now, that's about the highest level you get.

Even worse, I have seen 'computer science' science fair projects, the sum total of which amounted to purchasing various hardware components and building a computer. I could respect that, if it weren't for the fact that these hardware components were designed to be put together with a minimum of effort. When did a department store bookshelf EVER count for a shop project?

But, it's not only the forces of consumerism damaging the chemistry set, it's the government as well. Why would the government not want people purchasing these things? Well, 2 reasons:

1. The War on Terror
2. The War on Drugs

Yes folks, the little $80 chemistry sets with small amounts of dangerous chemicals can be used to manufacture drugs and explosives! Nevermind, we are talking about the same amount as a single sparkler or maybe a single pill of drugs. Forget the fact that a drug dealer would have to purchase a shop full of these things to get quantity. And just think, we are saving lives (or at least injuries!!!!) to children.

To quote a John Stossel, give me a break.

An unrecognized casualty of the wars on terror and drugs, our repression of experimentation, curiosity, and ingenuity strikes at the heart of the forces that propelled America ahead during the 20th century. By not allowing a youth to experiment and 'be a nerd', we are relegating the future of this country to that of a third rate has-been. Intelligence and curiosity, like so many other things, has become a packaged commodity.

It's funny, to watch a movie like October Sky, or read Rocket Boys, and realize that the creative spirit and drive there exhibited is no longer tolerated in our country. Being out in the work force, for a different industry, I never saw the damage done to the home experimenter.

Links:
http://12angrymen.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/endangered-species-the-chemistry-set/
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.06/chemistry.html

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Song of my life

So, for whatever reason, I've been in a writing mood lately. The move and the current family crises have seen to that. Oddly enough, a lot has me thinking lately. And this is as good a place as any to "think out loud", even if I risk being heard. As I sat at the piano today, I realized something interesting had happened to me as a musician. Indeed, it occurs to me that my time as a musician describes my life well.

For so much of my childhood, and into my teen years, I was trained in classical piano. Every note, every detail defined. My piano teachers were the strict type with quick rulers that slapped hands. I never excelled at it. Indeed, I felt myself to be average. I would sit, and force myself through a religious song, or maybe a piece of classical music. And, I'd work with the metronome. I never could keep the steady beat of the music. I never quiet "got" the sound of the classics.

And yet, I had a passion for it. I lived in a strange world, sitting and playing the piano. Music flowing from one of the most grand instruments. But it lacked ... soul. An interesting thing, a person so passionate about playing music, but who's music lacks feeling and warmth. Indeed, I didn't realize it at the time but I worked actively to remove it. If it wasn't on the page I didn't play it - or at least, I tried. I felt a failure because I would change the beat, slow down where I felt the need for a change, or swing the half beat notes. I tried to fit the mold of what I thought was 'right': all within detail, everything as written, no thinking for myself.

And seeing people 'break' the rules and 'fake it' pissed me off. They weren't working as hard as I was to follow the vision of the songwriter. I tried to fit into my image of a classical pianist. But I didn't fit. I didn't realize that the image in my head was wrong.

I never learned to fit into that classical world. But, people did recognize something different in me. The last piano teacher I had, sometime my second year in college, wanted me to learn. He played at baseball stadiums and concert halls. He sat me down with some beginner sheet music, removed the left hand part, gave me rules, and told me to make it up. I felt insulted, being told to 'fake it'. Because clearly I had no talent. Little did I realize that this teacher was complimenting me on my ability. My feeling. The very thing I was trying to remove.

I quit not long after, and stopped playing piano. At first, it was a slow process, I would stay away, then maybe play a song or two. Before long though, I couldn't remember the last time I played. A part of me died then. The thing I was most passionate about left.

The funny thing, looking at it now, is that my 'spiritual life' followed the same pattern. I went to the Church, followed all the rules I could, and did my best to fit in. The years I 'dedicated my life' or went into special efforts of increased service, I was also most serious about playing the piano. And when the music stopped, my faith did something of the same as well.

It wasn't just my faith either. I lived through the majority of college doing nothing more than going back and forth between destinations in a perfunctory act of existence. I had given up with the notion of trying to fit in. In a very real way, I was in prison - not allowed to explore the multitude of things I desired. Forbidden friends. Forbidden sex. Forbidden passion. Forbidden the ability to ask who I thought God was. Indeed, who I thought I was. My faith kept me in a situation with no way to break out. My finances tied up because of church service. No friends because of church beliefs. In the end, I had nothing to live for.

The music stopped.

Eventually a final call of sanity pushed me to the edge of collapse. My mind had no idea how to react to the prison I had created for it, so I began to fool myself. I listened to people that told me I was crazy, mentally ill. In all reality, I probably was. But, this wasn't an illness caused by delusions, it was an illness caused by recognition of truth. Eventually, the day that changed my life forever happened. I realized that I didn't have to stay in prison. I realized, that very real freedom existed outside the bounds of the Church. For the first time in my life, I was sane. And, in that one instant, I had what can only be described as conversion. For the first time in my life, I had faith. I did not know in what or who or how, but I knew it was there.

Of course, I still lived in prison. My living situation did not allow for this freedom - but it was there, in my head. I began to have interests again. And while, I didn't play the piano yet, I took the time to find my music books. I wanted again.

Eventually, I would meet several wonderful people. People that would take my hand, and pull me up and out of prison. As I came to Kansas City for the first time, I didn't realize I would call it home. I didn't realize the storm that would come. I just knew I needed to escape.

And escape I did.

Within the first few weeks of leaving my old home, music began to flow again. It was odd, playing piano. The notes and keys felt so unfamiliar. I had lost a lot of time. No longer could I scale up and down the piano effortlessly. I lost the robotic dexterity. Friends overheard, they said they liked what they heard. Before long, I tried out for a part in a musical. The music director told me the strangest thing then: something I never realized:

"You play with so much feeling, you really are a pianist and not just a player"

What is this? I didn't get how someone could say such a thing about my inept music. When I started working and got on my feet, I practiced more and more at the piano. And then, for some strange reason, I pulled out the 1st year book the teacher so long ago had given me.

I would try again, to remove the notes, and "Fake it". It felt strange, like riding a bike for the first time. I knew the rules, the chord structure, but the notes were no longer there. What was I to do without every last detail arranged for me?

I never realized it until a few days ago, that I now spend more time improvising and creating than practicing the written page. Indeed, I no longer have to force myself to improvise, and instead, have to force myself to read so I can learn new melodies and technique. I no longer work to master a given piece of music, but instead to learn new sounds and creations.

Oddly enough, even having to work at relearning technique - something I am nowhere near doing (most of my technical music is still far beyond my current ability) - I am a much better classical pianist. I never realized that part of classical music, an important part, is interpretation. Even when every note is out there, you must inject feeling into the song. It was an odd thing, in the middle of a piece by Debussy, to have this feeling that I knew what he was going to do next - like the soul of the long past musician was whispering in my ear. And that feeling happens more and more often as I continue to practice.

And so, what does one do without every part of their life written, categorized, labeled, and predetermined?

They live.

I sometimes laugh as people notice me, looking at the world with the eyes of someone so young, as if seeing everything for the first time. Some people go through their entire life without ever seeing anything. So, I celebrate this week, my second birthday. Because it is now 2 years since that rainy October day of conversion. October will be a special month for me always. You see, I started to live on October 22.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Go Go Earth Based Religion

So, I woke up in something of a mood tonight. Last night, I went out, celebrated, danced, had a cute girl gyrate against me, got really drunk, had a hang over cure, and crashed on the bed. This morning, I woke up at around noon, stayed in bed for an hour, then got up and walked over to pick up my car parked about a mile down the road.

So, I'm walking down, and enjoying absolutely *FANTASTIC* weather. Low 60's, with a very slight breeze. I'm wearing a denim jacket. Just a tinge of bite to the air, but the sun is shining so it feels warm. I take a turn into a residential neighborhood. The area is quiet, a few kids riding backs, but car noises from the main road are at minimum. The breeze blows the trees and the bushes, and I realize...

Damn, it's a nice day out, I should take walks more often.

I had promised myself to visit a local pagan group, to get a feel for what the "earth based" faith was all about. I've been once before, but I realized walking there, feeling in touch with nature and all, that it was Halloween, a very important time for pagans, and more than likely, they had some ceremony going on tonight. I smile, breath in the autumn air, and think "Why not?"

Of course, the old fundi in me at this time is protesting, "Nooooo don't go to the demon infested pile, you'll have your dishes levitate and clatter". I brush the old aside, and hit the web to discover that they are indeed doing a Halloween service. Yay! I head out, intending to get there a bit early, but am sad to discover that for some mystical reason my alarm clock was running an HOUR EARLY. Oh well, I decide to head in anyway, and walk up to the door of the small church area rented by the group.

I walk in, and nervously wait outside a set of open doors, somewhat scared to interrupt whatever ceremony that's going on. The Witnesses told me I was doomed for going, I don't want to mess with this nature deity as well - I'd be fucked on 2 counts then. One of the 'ushers' (for lack of a better term), motions me to enter and take a seat.

My immediate impression is that I'm in something of a Dungeons and Dragons religion. A blond gentlemen holds a large sword, asking people what they are doing to make the world better.

As I sit, the man faces me, sword in hand. "What service do you bring this Earth?"

I feel a strange desire to stand up and shout - "I am Andrew, King of the Kansas Citians, and I seek the Holy Grail." I decide to err on the side of caution though, figuring the guy DOES have a fucking sword on him, and I'm only armed with a jacket... So, I answer that I am a seeker of truth that desires to help others.

The sworded gentleman seems to respect my answer and bids me to enter the circle to be marked. I enter, and manage to lean down enough for a shorter lady to smear some blue paste on my face.

At this point, I'm rather disappointed by the lack of child sacrifice, beating human hearts being ripped out of chests, and positively no sex or nudity. Damn. As the lady smears the paste, she informs me that I can place something on the center altar/table thing to be blessed. I figure why not, I brought one of my decorative pieces of marble figuring this sort of thing would happen.

I place it on the altar.

Damn, I'm sure I'll have to burn that now, but wait.... fuck.... of course it won't burn if it's demon possessed. (Being stone might also make it be a bit difficult.. What was I supposed to do, oh yea, "God save my rock, protect me from the demons...")

Back in D&D mode.

Wow, the gifted Oracle of the center circle placed paste of constitution +5 on my face!

Back to fundi mode.

"God above, please protect me from this evil place"

New turn, liberal mode.

"Wow, this is actually pretty neat, a group getting together and encouraging individualism and free expression"

Wow, fundi mode happening again

"They are all going to be destroyed by God for their heathen ways"

Back to D&D mode

"I wonder if the +5 constitution paste will aid against McDonald's hamburger of Doom with -10 hp per turn."

Liberal mode

"You know, this is actually fairly cool, fuck off fundi and D&D"

The ceremony goes on for a while, I'm sitting the back, more passive observing, because I want to run if anything from the Exorcist starts happening. At the end, they pass around a chalice of whiskey

"Shit, I knew there was something to this pagan thing after all!"

The ceremony closes and I'm bid to pick up the rock I placed to be blessed.

"Wooooooohooooooooooooooooooooo, I have a rock +5 ward off evil" Damn, went into D&D mode again.

Honestly, I don't think it helped several people were wearing Halloween costumes.

Well, I *assume* that's what they were.

Ok, I have to go back next week to find out.

I can see the appeal of this particular faith path. People in these religions are generally good with whatever faith you take, after all, they have to face the social malice of not being of a given faith. And, there are a lot of different opinions as to what these nature based religions actually involved and so on.

The group was accepting, and the members I talked to actually had a strong belief system. It just happened that each of them was very personal to that individual.

And while I joke and kid about the clothing and so on, other faiths where uniforms that haven't changed for a lot longer. Who's to say a kilt and sword is any stranger than a priestly vestment and cross? I have a feeling the kilt and sword is a lot more ancient and traditional anyway.

In the event that my dishes develop minds of their own, or any number of evil things start to happen, I'll be sure to post back here. Until then, I don't know if I agree with this faith, but I do think it's at least worth respecting people that have chosen it - in the very least, they're creative.

I'm guessing that the claims of -5 ward of evil and +5 ward off evil claims of my prior faith and this recent ceremony cancel out and leave my rock, still, just a rock...

Or do they?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Please not Hillary....

I didn't really want to go here, but the news keeps coming in that Hillary is leading all the polls - for the primary, for the election.

For the love of $#@* Democrats, WHY HILLARY?

From someone truly not sure if his 2008 ballot will have a bubble next to a Democrat or Republican, why... why... why... WHY?!?!?!??!??!?!

Oh fuck me.

I don't want the same tired, partisan, politics run by a two face former white house inmate. At the end of the day, I guess it's time to realize - We don't pick the candidates. I don't buy the grand conspiracy theory, no sense making life more complicated than it is. But the sad truth is, the idealists never make it that far....

Life was easier when I didn't care about politics. Sad thing is, Hillary is probably one of the best out of the lot. New blood in the whitehouse? Never!

Here's hoping for someone I can feel slightly less dirty about voting for.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Funny!

You Are a Ghost

Mysterious, independent, and often unseen - you always do things your own way.
You are introverted, shy, and even a little secretive.
People are dying to know you better, but you're a difficult person to know.
A lot of your contributions to the world are left invisible and unfelt.

Your greatest power: Blending in really well

Your greatest weakness: Being too passive

You play well with: Witches

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kid Nation - WTF?

Has anyone been following this show?

I find it deeply disturbing. Not the so called exploitation of children, or the low number of adults around, but...

The blatant messages about the irresponsible use of alcohol

I don't know know if the producers of the show are attempting to make a point here. Or if this is just bad management, or encouragement... Or maybe, they are just behaving like their parents.

I like drinking. On my birthday, I went out with friends. Substantial amounts of alcohol and huge bar tab were involved. I do shots. I do strong mixed drinks. I do beer.

Still seeing impressionable preteens sitting at a "soda bar" drinking their troubles away. Doing "soda shots"... The faux party atmosphere. Seeing kids do it? Well, it's like hearing about 10 year olds giving each other blowjobs. Nothing wrong with the act, but, it's not yet time. Throwing these concepts at children invites all levels of crap as they grow up - alcoholism, etc... I really have to question a show on which I can see a 12 and 14 year olds doing shots. That they do them (near) correctly, well... it's bothersome.

As a society we need to develop some balance and show healthy drinking and partying. Going out partying and drinking and fun? It's cool until it bleeds over and starts interfering with living. Are we predisposing youth to a life of alcoholism when they go to a soda bar to 'drink away their problems'? What happens when the sugar water is replaced by something more potent?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

F*** Electronic Arts

So, Electronic Arts is the company behind much of PC gaming. They have an odd habit of buying up good game companies, and then leaching the name and developers to death, but that's not really what this is about. A recent flap has started about EA's move to SecuRom with the latest version of the Sims.

What does SecuRom have to do with anything? Well, on it's most basic level, SecuRom is a utility that makes it difficult to copy a CD in a usable form. And with that, EA is now installing 3rd party software without notifying users. This isn't exactly uncommon, most major vendors use one copy protection scheme or another. But, installing these tools is, I would argue, is unethical.

SecuROM is manufactured by a subsidiary of a company that has already revealed it has no qualms about installing harmful software on customer's computers: Sony. In 2005, Sony distributed music CDs, that if placed in the user's computer, would install software opening the user to remote access.

For a recounting of the Sony root kit scandal, check out Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Sony_BMG_CD_copy_prevention_scandal

The companies would argue that this software protects their revenue stream. I wonder how - copy protection software like this CAN and IS circumvented.

If you really wanted, any of the major games out there have been "hacked" to run already, or you can follow directions to make low level copies (the limitation being that you can't use those copies in a CDR drive..) So, if I want an illegal copy of the Sims, I can download it - provided I don't mind dealing with a few less than reputable groups. One might note, that as copyright infringement is ALREADY illegal, not much changed.

Which, begs the question, why does EA use this software?

The 'kind' answer is that management has its head up its ass. In any case, I can't escape the simple truth that 99.9% of users won't be able to make and use backup copies of game disks with this software, and that means if the CD is drawn on with a permanent marker by the toddler, or eaten by the dog, etc... they'll be stuck paying for a replacement disk (and dealing with EA directly), or (more likely) just heading to the store and buying another copy of the game. So,

Companies should be required to do 2 things -

#1 - Companies should not be allowed to install software on your computer that you don't know about - PERIOD. SecuROM, SafeDisk, et al are only the tip of the iceberg here. The problem has gotten so bad, that Microsoft and other companies, now provide tools to remove the software that other companies bundle with their apps, and install, not letting you know.

#2 - The packaging of software - IE, the box - should be required to include a clear marker that indicates what additional software that would be installed.

In all reality, while the low level nature of SecuROM can cause serious problems for your computer (leading even to a reinstall), it usually works just fine. The more disturbing thing to me, is that companies see the need to include this software when it's been proven ineffective against the people it's "defending" against anyway.

The disgusting thing here, is that Electronic Arts, and Sony, are removing a basic grant from the same copyright laws that they are using to license and prevent unauthorized distribution -

US CODE 117 -

(a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy.— Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
(1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
(2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.

Of course, the DMCA effectively voids that portion of the law...


In the end though, I'm glad that some people are getting it - there is a reason why the honor system works. So now, we see one of the primary advocates of this kind of technology, the music industry, selling music files on Amazon.com and Apple iTunes without any lock downs.

Come on, EA, shouldn't you be ahead of the old farts in suits? I thought you were supposed to be cool...

Still, life continues on as usual, and this will probably be disregarded as just another nerd's rant anyway....

Sunday, October 7, 2007

An anti-drug campaign I can get behind...

Edit: left out the link: http://www.myspace.com/heroindiaries

If you've followed the trend in education, we spend a lot of money on anti-drug programs. Programs like DARE, actually place police officers in the schools, where they talk about drugs and how bad they are for you.

And it's never enough. For some reason, kids are still going out, doing drugs. Looking at these anti-drug campaigns, we see one failure after another. The only question is as to the size and magnitude of that failure.

So, why now, am I encouraging yet another campaign?

Well, in all honesty, it isn't really an anti-drug campaign. It is simply a man telling the stories of the cost of addiction in his life - a life that many young teenage boys dream about.

I'm talking of course, about "The Heroin Diaries". Listening on the radio, you can hear the soundtrack to the book - but the book itself is much more potent - and gets at the real reason why these campaigns fail -

We are so busy creating reasons not to do drugs, that we loose the obvious truths associated around drug use.

Because, in the end, the truth is most drugs are not nearly as harmful as a Dare officer might point out. Even still, if we look behind the scenes at some basic realities, there is so much to say that doesn't require exageration.

Kids are smart, and sometimes, maybe all they need are the facts without the preaching.

So, more power to the Heroin Diaries - which I believe will do more to keep kids out of a very dark world than all the rhetoric about drugs are bad for you...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

So, self-hatred is popular now...

All right folks, I'm still trying to figure this out. Why is it popular to hate where you live?

I'm at work, having a conversation about my move here from Dallas, and why I like Kansas City a lot more than Dallas. Just a couple things I've observed while living here - less traffic, etc... And up comes the local self-hater. "Yeah, you might THINK traffic here is better than in Dallas, but just wait until something closes..."

I can understand the occasional "I live in misery" joke, but honestly people... Spoken by an immigrant into this area - if you don't like where you live, MOVE THE $@*& OUT. Kansas city is a great place to live. The climate here is temperate compared to Dallas or Houston - don't tell me about heat + humidity until you've been near Houston or had a nice wave of moisture from the coast come over when the temperature outside is already well above 100, without a "heat index".

I don't get people who just complain and bitch for the sake of complaining and bitching. If you want to be politically active by getting the word about REAL issues - then you are acting as a positive force. But frankly, I'm really tired of people dogging Kansas City just because they live here.

It's not just a Kansas City thing either, when I was in Dallas, people used to love to bitch about how much Dallas sucked. I really wonder how people make it through life, always hating everything about it. Maybe they love to hate?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Would I go back?

This question has raised itself a few times recently. Would I return to the religion that I left? It's a tricky question for me, because there is so much emotional baggage attached. There are times, I wake up, and I actually do feel inclined to put on a suit, and head to a Sunday morning meeting. Over the year, those times have reduced, but it still does occasionally happen. One of my friends recently stated to me, that they couldn't be involved romantically with an ex-member because of the fear they would have about them going back. I must admit, at times I have had this same fear in people I've been involved with.

But, would I go back?

It's a funny thing, my answer to that question has remained the same: No. However, my answer to the follow up "Why" question has.

Previously, my answer would have likely been some gibberish about doctrine, or child molestation, or blood transfusions, or the issues with biblical contradictions in the literature. But, when that question was so recently posed, those prior things never even came up.

Some things in life act as ground for you. That ground is a part of your life that you can look back at, and use to chart your course in the future. These are the things that our personal compass works off. A well grounded person has benchmarks that aren't trivial. They are solid fixtures around them. When making a decision about faith and God and who you want to be in life, the ground for that decision must be strong for that decision to be meaningful.

When I first came to Kansas City, a 23 year old boy, my ground was barely tangible. The reason why I couldn't go back? It just didn't seem right to be there. The arguments I could make in regards to the Bible and prophecy and all, did have solid facts around them. But, argument can easily convince people of things that are less than factual - and denial can work in to cause one to reject things they thought to be true. Sitting on a guest room bed that first night, the world spun around me, and I longed for the comforting embrace of familiarity inside the walls of my former church. I sobbed myself to sleep.

A lot changed after that night, and over the year that followed. I faced my father, and in doing so, I feel, grew into adulthood. I left home, worked, played, 'fell in love', made friends, did some stupid things, did some smart things, saw people, enjoyed new experiences, and made solid memories. As I did this all, I never realized how I was changing as a person, and the new things I was using to make judgments.

Why would I not come back today?

The first thing to come to mind is not some explanation of the Bible, some random fact about archeology or history, some piece of trivia. The first things that came to mind?

A (now) 4 year old boy, seeing me in the front door and shouting "Anwooo". Then, lunch on a Sunday after a 45 minute drive to see a newlywed couple. A phone call with the mother of that same 4 year old boy, and smart ass comments by her husband. A party for a friend moving into his newly purchased house. A wedding and all the guests that came. "My first love" with a strong and passionate woman. Christmas dinner with a coworker. Going to an Indian (near Pakistan India) Birthday party and watching the amazing mix of American and foreign cultures.

I look at these things, and they give me a much clearer view of the world around me. I once wrote that the perfect Holiday was not an actual day, but the collected memories that someone builds around Holidays. At one point, I felt like an outsider looking in, and while that feeling is still there, I realize now, that I have started the process of building a new life. I have been adopted into a wonderful and loving family.

So, why would I not go back? I only need to take a look at the people around me, my new adopted family to see why. It's not even a question. Any religion that would tell me that this family is something of evil or demonic has at that point shown itself so. Unlike what the religion said about those around me, they aren't selfish, immoral, backstabbing people. Yes, they aren't perfect. But frankly, the people in that old Church caused me far more harm over the years. When I saw one member of the Church, and listened to her cold comments, and realized what an icy Bitch she was, versus the person she portrayed herself as earlier... And when I hear talk of how I'm obviously troubled or evil by members of the Church.... All of these things, I see in stark contrast to the people here.

And the amazing thing, if I went back to the Church, these people here would still talk to me - but they would cry that I couldn't talk to them.

That is why I don't go back, and can not even begin to picture it happening.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The peril of smart pointers in C++

It's a general pattern I've seen in several large C++ code bases. Either through the standard std::auto_ptr, or from some custom contrivance, a block of code throws around smart pointers and memory allocations without really thinking about it. auto_ptr makes it easy to return a pointer, and then throw it away without worry because the memory will be easily deallocated. So, I find myself reading a lot of code like this:

class Rectangle;
...
std::auto_ptr factoryMethod();
...
handleRectangle(factoryMethod());

There are several annoyances to a good C++ programmer here, but there's also something very hidden and illusive that most people would never think about - allocating and deallocating memory isn't that cheap. Now, it's not a very expensive operation either, but handling a memory allocation off the heap can easily take up to 500% the amount of time as allocating off the stack - and that can easily increase if your code is doing a lot of it.

Using named returns provides an excellent alternative. In a few example blocks of code I tested with some speed critical operations, I tested a 6 fold increase in speed when using named returns versus passing around pointers. The use of a named return allows you to return and use temporary objects, without worrying about copy constructor calls.

So, in summary, the next time you are about to throw in a 'new' keep in mind that allocating memory using new (especially in a tight loop), is a LOT slower than just creating a new variable off the stack.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

No more studying for you!


So, this little gem has recently surfaced regarding the current policies in regards to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Probably a bit too late, as doing exactly this is what really "pulled" me out. Contrary to the beliefs of several others, it wasn't the internet. I read something in my personal research, and it slowly ate at the JW reasoning and logic until a 'straw' fell and broke the camel's back. The book I was reading?

Archeology and the Bible

In one of my fits of spiritual activity, I decided it would be cool to pick random topics from one of the Watchtower publications, and look up the references in the University bookstore. I looked up the references, started reading, and discovered that the publication had glossed over several points made quiet clear in the book. In fact, they had taken some points whole sale, and disregarded others. To make matters worse, the point they picked up and presented, completely conflicted with the logic provided for the other point. Hence I discovered, the great controversy of 607 BCE.

I would never have discovered the small fact that 607 was never presented in ANY secular environment, if I had not looked up the reference they provided. Surely, I thought, the reference was in error. It was, after all, a very old work, and maybe that theory had been changed. I went to the university bookstore, looked up several more books, and discovered that ALL of them stated a couple things, such as the secondary date 537BCE being somewhat uncertain (only stated in some earlier works I looked at).

It's worth noting that I didn't leave the JWs at that point, or when I discovered while out preaching about the membership of the WTB&TS with the UN, or when I saw the Dateline special on child abuse... No, even after all of that, I still believed. The reason I stopped believing? I had a cold slap in the face from life, and had to rethink things. Had I not been exposed to these things, I might have gone differently.

In the end though, that cold slap came directly from the Congregation/Church I was visiting. I might have left anyway, but the knowledge of those things made the decision easier.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Building a kernel par 1

I've decided to detail my adventures in building my own kernel here. First I should detail why, and the answer is two fold: 1 - I'm sick of the "source only no binary" approach in Linux, and 2 - it's a fun way of learning how this stuff works. Looking at Linux, it strikes me it's success is not so much in the amount of innovation, but the amount of functionality. The Linux kernel can do just about anything you need it to, scale how you need it to, even slice fries and juice fruit. Now, there is a lot of innovation going on now, but it's more coming out of commercial code dumps and work from the likes of Sun, SGI, and IBM.

My own kernel finally passed the huge milestone of having the full boot process and transition completed. That means at this point, the kernel loads itself, relocates to a good place in virtual address space, sets up the segment descriptor tables, and enables paging. Further, there is a full boot loader I'm using now that is tried and tested and works. Getting this to work involved a bit of pain and work with AS, and GCC. Now that I have that I'm working on the memory management subsystem, and ELF relocating/loading. The basic design is something that I might call a true "hybrid-kernel". The same service/driver can be implemented in user space or kernel space depending on need. To keep things simple, there will be a select few types of kernel space driver types. The intention is that if you REALLY need it, you can write a kernel mode portions of a user space service driver. The vast majority of user space services will use an L4 type approach. Only things that deal directly with hardware will be allowed in pure kernel space.

Unlike Unix/Plan 9, I'm taking the approach that instead of everything is a file, everything is a service, including files. Services are opened via the kernel. A user space program asks the kernel for a service using a URI, and the kernel then brokers the request to the proper device driver/service manager/etc... Every request has associated with it a context that is given to both the broker and the service. Once the service is opened, the user can contact the kernel to look up capabilities (or RPCs), and then send requests to the service (like ioctls). At this point, even files are services, and modifying the context can change how they are opened and accessed.

So, kernel drivers are implemented as services, and the kernel predefines operations that certain services are required to have.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I hate AT&T

I *HAD* fully intended on putting in a deposit and application fee for a really nice apartment on Saturday. I liked the floor plan, I liked the people, I liked the pool.... That decision is being thrown into a large amount of doubt by the utility company - AT&T. I have a Cingular/AT&T phone, it's been good so far. Of course, it was good before AT&T bought them.

Here's what I have now from Time Warner Cable -
- High Definition Digital Cable with Showtime
- High definition DVR w/ dual tuner, high def digital output
- High bandwidth internet access (measured at 6.4mbps)
- Digital phone service w/ Unlimited long distance and call waiting
- 1 Bill
TOTAL - about $130 before taxes

Here's what AT&T is offering if I move -
- Digital Satellite, no premium channels
- Non-HD DVR (no HD available), single tuner, requires phoneline, AV output only
- High bandwidth internet access (3.0 mbps rated)
- Phone service w/ 120 minutes long distance included
- Separate bills for each service
TOTAL - $54.95 + $5.99 + $59.99 = $120.93

So, the prices are roughly the same, and I get to loose high definition TV, 1/2 my internet access speeds for remoting to work, and the ability to watch lost and record one of my other shows at the same time. Where do I sign up?

AT&T - YOU SUCK - and you lost a very apartment complex a lease.

Anyway, the apartment is nice enough to make me ponder whether or not I want to nuke them on this issue, but I'm *really* leaning toward it. It's sad to, I *really* liked what the seemed to offer.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Hash Tables....

It's a fairly constant amusement to me the lack of forethought put into certain details when other details are obsessed over. A great example can be found in the realm of the hash table. Now, I don't want to rant about basic programming practice, but it's my blog so I can do what I want.

Here is the scenario: our intrepid programmer friend has spent much time developing a 32bit hash table key. Now, the hash key is in reality 4 characters, the last of which is least important and often duplicated. Satisfied that the hash key works well, our friend creates the hash class, and decides that 256 entries is a nice round number.

Thus happens the line of code: arrayindex = hashkey % 256;

In this case, the modulo has left nothing more than the last byte of the key as significant. The last byte of our hash key is the *least* important and most duplicated, so our friend has managed nothing more than to remove a few entries from a linear searched list.

That, however, pales in comparison to this blunder done by using a word-aligned pointer as a hash key. arrayindex = hashkey % 100;

Now, this code looks harmless enough, until you consider the small fact that 100 equals 25 * 4. The 4 factor cancels out nicely because the integer value of the pointer must be a multiple of 4, and at this point, the programmer has essentially created a 25 bucket hash table using 100 buckets worth of space.

The funny thing is - I found BOTH of these in real code. The point? If you are going to spend hours working on one portion of a data structure, keep in mind how the rest works to know if you are wasting that time or not...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Object Serialization....

AKA - how to do something very useful and possibly shoot yourself very badly in the foot at the same time. Now imagine this scenario:

class Foo
{
...
int i;
float fp;
};

That is serialized as such:
fwrite( &foo, sizeof(Foo), 1, fp);

Then later on in life, reclaimed via:
fread( &foo, sizeof(Foo), 1, fp);

Yes, this is very fast. Yes, it allows for interesting things like mapping variables to memory and so forth. But it really makes life difficult if a couple weeks down the road, after you have serialized objects floating around, you have the need to do something like changing "float fp" to "double fp". Let's not even consider the effects of having a virtual function inside our class...

If there is a need to read a large binary glob from a file, then the glob itself should be saved and read by the class - which would make my life MUCH easier here. Just imagine if I could do something nice and sane like:

Foo bar(stream_source);

Or

bar->ReadSerialize(stream_source);

Anyway, if you're going to work with a large amount of objects serialized to files, then please please please please PLEASE, consider that someone might need to CHANGE those objects later.

Grrrrr......

And there was much rejoicing!

I'll save the photos for when they are "preapproved", but I thought I'd take a few seconds to mention the wedding I went to yesterday. In my time, I have been to several weddings, but the one I went to yesterday will hold a very dear place in my heart. This was the first "worldly" wedding I went to. It was also the first wedding I've been to where I could just be myself.

After canceled flights and a 500 mile drive, Steve stood in front of Stacy and stated in clear, slightly tearful words, his devotion to a woman that "made his dreams come true". People from around the world stood in witness of the event, traveling anywhere from hundreds to thousands of miles. And as I stood watching the candlelit ceremony, the power and strength of the love reflected in that room overcame me.

This was nothing of the sterile void of the Witness weddings I saw before, where a pre-outlined talk is given talking about the basics of marriage. There was no need to glorify a man-made organization or it's "arrangement". No thoughts given about who could not attend because they were "not in good standing". No whispering behind the back of the bride because she had children. The children here were not an embarrassment, but an active and valuable part of the ceremony. Instead of removing the significance of the individual, we celebrated two people and their love for each-other.

And we rejoiced in song, dance, story, drink, hugs, and togetherness. I did not sit and reflect upon the meaning of marriage, but instead I found joy in a marriage that had already happened. The wedding was not an opportunity to preach about God, but instead a milestone to remember the point at which Steve and Stacy were united.

Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I witnessed a marriage.

Some Pictures:



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Some random facts about me...

Apparently, I've fallen victim to a 'tagging'. And now, I'm going to have to actually think about who to tag in return or I'm sure some disaster shall happen. I think this is where I tell about the bad luck runs and have all kinds of nasty mishaps happen....

Oh, anyway, Janet tagged me to post 8 random facts about myself! 8 random facts is easy, but 8 random interesting facts? Well.... Here goes...

1. I'm fairly certain that I'm the only guy in the history of time that liked (and owns) Phantom of the Opera, Ever After, and a couple other romantic comedies and "chic flicks".

2. I'm completely neurotic about emails and writing. I hate having to send any form of document (legal or otherwise) that I can't keep a copy of. Some reason, I always fear fecking it up. Even now, I'm pondering whether or not I properly did my taxes from 7 years ago, praying that they cross that mystical barrier before the friends from the IRS call. It's only really annoying when I have no access to whatever I sent off, so I can't check and make sure I didn't make some horrific mistake...

3. Entering kindergarden I still had difficulty with a great many things that were at my age level - I was actually placed in a "speech development" to learn how to talk properly, among other things. In 1st and 2nd grade things began to change radically. In 3rd grade, I became something of a child prodigy, writing my own "adventure" game for the PC. By 7th grade I knew assembly well enough to write my own assembler, a program to password protect the hard drive on my computer, and my very own bootsector on a floppy. For a final trick that year, I cracked fractal geometry and created my very own Mandelbrot renderer, which I used to save a BMP file I gave to the computer lab teacher. Needless to say, I had no life.

4. I was 6 feet tall by the time I was in 6th grade. This landed me in the very funny position of individually meeting several of the Harlem Globetrotters, as I happened across one on the way out of their show. The general reaction: hey guys, check out this kid, HE'S ONLY 12.

5. I have a background in child development and psychology and am qualified to teach High School in the state of Texas as soon as I fill out the paperwork. I swear, any day now, I'll get to it, I swear...

6. I lived out of my car and a friend's garage for a period of 3 months (mid May - mid Aug) when I originally came to Kansas City.

7. My brain is completely and totally split in terms of routine and organization and free floating ideas. I hate planned schedules, organized living spaces, and getting into a routine. At the same time, I'm extremely unlikely to change jobs - even the "temporary" assignments I've had in the past turned out longer than anyone originally intended or thought.

8. I'm a closet writer and have written chapters of novels, horror and science fiction and comedy short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, character sketches, nonfiction collections, music and music lyrics. Despite having collected a lot over the years, I have only shown people a select few of the things I've written. Writing to me is about as personal as sex - I put so much of myself into it that, I have a hard time hearing the often well meaning criticisms of friends. Probably has a lot to do with how I grew up, and the value placed on individuality by the people I was around. At one point in time, a series of technical tutorials I wrote on graphics programming had reached #1 in google page rank, and I received a fairly regular amount of email with detailed questions on graphics programming. I've done some editorials, but nothing I'd admit to now...

I'm going to tag .... Suzi!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hey guys, grow a pair...

So, I went to look up a copy of "The Dangerous Book For Boys" (will be delivered shortly, hopefully...). This book seems to hit a nerve in American society. Want to know why America is so out of shape today? I'll give an answer: blood.

We go home, and sit on our lazy asses doing nothing but clicking buttons on a video game controller. What happened to going outside, grabbing a skateboard or ball, and getting a bit bloody. We live in a sanitized world. Gone are the days when the toy dump truck had the razer sharp edges and staying out of trouble meant mom or dad didn't have to make a hospital visit.

The United States educational system is a profound mess at the moment - and having gone through teacher education and teaching I have some belief as to why. Teachers are obsessed with "discovery learning" and touchy feely bullshit. We don't rejoice in things that are "fun" anymore, we spend so much time being "safe" and caring about feelings.

Fun is demoing a thermite reaction outdoors, building rockets, and generally "breaking shit".

Even more interesting to me is the reaction of radical femanism to this book. Somehow the title "for boys" is bad. I hope that more guys stand up and say bullshit to this. It's time to go out, get dirty, and say "to hell" with mental health researchers that flat out - don't get it. Anyway, let's cut the shit and look at reality - the vast majority of males and females like different stuff. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with being a girl and liking boy stuff, and vice-versa.

Yea, maybe we shouldn't put on labels - but that doesn't stop them from being true. This book appeals to guys like catnip to a feline. We spend too damn much time feeling sorry for who we are.

I'm from German and native American heritage, and I'm proud of it.

I'm a male and proud of it.

I'm an American and proud of it.

Being proud of who you are doesn't mean you can't acknowledge the past and admit that there have been some nasty periods of history (or even present) about the group you came from. Anyway, it's time to have fun.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Memories

I can recount the vast majority of events that led to my leaving my home city and coming to KC. I can vividly remember a great many things about the past year, small details, life events, things I did... I can picture events, tell what was happening - even stuff I did while drinking and intoxicated.

But, the first 22 years of my life, I don't remember. I know various facts, but this is a recent realization that is disturbing me.

I can't visualize my own mother, but I can recognize her. I can relate facts and life experiences, but only in so much as a history book could supply a summary - and the ones that I can relate, feel disjointed.

I looked through a photo album, saw pictures of my past. I couldn't tell you one name in all the pictures I saw. I couldn't tell you what was going on in the picture. I'm not talking about one or two isolated events - I'm talking about my entire life before leaving.

I can't remember the names of my favorite teachers from Kindergarten until Highschool. I know 2 highschool teacher names - because I went back there in the time where my memories start. I can't remember the house I grew up in for the first half of my life, how it was decorated, or who my friends were. I can't remember the religious congregation i went to or the people there.

I can relate facts about the major portions of my life, but I can't relive or replay any of it. The only things I remember are extremely traumatic experiences or very important ones, and those are limited to a strict handful.

If you asked me to come up with a list of 20 important memories before college or before I started leaving the JWs - I flat out couldn't do it. I really don't know if that's normal or not. I don't know what record of events I should have... All I know is that with the exception of a couple days, I'm missing the first 22 years of my life... From that point on though, I can replay it all in my head, and I guess the important thing is I keep making new memories, instead of focusing on those lost.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Musings on life the universe and everything...

I went to a Missouri martial arts competition last weekend. We had hoped the tournament would be large, but there were only a few individuals in my division. Well, actually one individual... Still I had a lot of fun.

The whole experience has started me thinking about the things I've learned since I started Tae Kwon Do. The more interesting thing I didn't exactly learn in the class - and that's the interaction between the spirit and the body. Whether from physicality, or something otherwordly, it is there.

The mind has the power to make the body ill. Think about it enough, and you can give yourself almost any symptom you wanted. In fact, there is even a name for it - psychosomatic illness. It's visible in so many ways - like how the death of a lifetime romantic partner at old age will often see the other decline in health and die shortly after. Or on the positive side, how a cancer patient can recover from tremendous odds.

On the flip side, the neglect of the body can lead to depression, pain, lack of confidence. When are ill, it's easy for depression to creap in. And when the body comes into good physical condition - a lack of pain, capacity for accomplishing things, etc... - it can also impact the spirit.
Now, obviously you can have an illness that no amount of thought will overcome, or a depression that no amount of physical fitness will work through. But - even in the most dire of circumstances (or especially), the relationship is still visible.

So, I come to the conclusion now - the neglect of the body is the neglect of the soul, and the body is uplifted by the soul.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

4/17/06 - the day I left home for the first time. I would return for a few days to gather my things, but this is the day I count from. This was the start of my coming into my own. 2 weeks later I would become a man by telling my family I was leaving their Church.

The anniversary isn't here yet, but I've been reliving the events of the last year. This was the time period where things were so tense in the house you could feel the electricity in the air. My brother was kicked out of school, and I was apparantly setting a bad example by not going to church w/ the family. The Memorial of the death of Jesus Christ rather much marks the beginning of the whole chain of events. That happened this week of last year.
Anyway, this whole set of events got me thinking about a very complex question: what makes someone an adult? Or, in my case, what makes someone a man?

Our society seems to have defined this in terms of sex, but I think that has very little to do with it. A man could very well be impotent (from age or disease). Likewise, even young boys have the physical capacity for sex. That doesn't mean they are ready or that they are men.
Tribal customs often involved some sort of 'right of passage' or ritual to show that a boy or girl moved to adulthood. It's difficult to describe, but I went through something similar a year ago - and I look back now and realize the exact moment I was truly an adult. I already mentioned it earlier. It was the day I stood up to my father.

I remember clearly, standing in the kitchen. I had come home, and asked to talk to him. I told him then that I was leaving the house. I told him I was leaving the cult. I told him I no longer believed. I was ackward about it. In that instant I defined myself apart from my parents and became an individual. It's difficult to describe the feelings and change that came to me that day, but it made me realize some things.

Not every person over 21 or 18 is an adult - and there are adults that are younger than those ages as well. To be an adult is many things, and I've yet to figure out how to explain it all. Some people live their entire lives as children - and believe me, I've met a few.

An adult accepts responsibility for their actions.An adult can empathize with others.An adult is independent.An adult takes responsibility for what they do or don't believe.

If a person is in their 30s, and has simply reached whatever point they are in life by doing nothing other than following their parents - they are not an adult. This is not about rebellion - you could do every last detail that your parents wanted and be an adult. The question is - did you choose or did you let your parents choose? And that I think is how I reached current definition for an adult:

An adult is a person that makes their own choices and accepts the consequences of those choices.

In any case, I owe a debt of thanks to everyone that helped along the way - you know who you are.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gay Marriage...

The Republican sabre rattling over gay marriage continues to get louder and louder. A gay rights group recently stated: if marriage is indeed about the family unit, heterosexual couples should all be required to have biological children. This argument makes an interesting point, but there really is a lot more to marriage than just having kids.

A marriage allows a couple to enjoy spousal rights.

Some examples:
* If a spouse in a horrible accident, marriage allows the partner to make medical decisions for them.
* If a spouse dies, marriage sets up an inheritance.
* If a spouse is sick, marriage means that health insurance will often cover them.
* If a spouse is asked to testify in court, marriage protects the partner against their testimony.
* Marriage affects banking (depends on state in what ways/how)
* Marriage provides a mechanism for seperation, divorce, and division of assets.

Most of these things can be done through a convoluted combination of legal paperwork. But even then, there are large portions of things today that require family ties. Basic things like visiting someone in the hospital.

The current definition of marriage is completely tied to a Christian basis. A marriage must be between a man and a woman. A man cannot marry more than one woman or another man, and women have a similar treatment. The argument against gay marriage is that a marriage is about providing a family unit for children. If that's true, why is a marriage not defined by a couple having children?

The current definition of marriage is an establishment of Christian theology in government.

Destructing marriage in order to remove this establishment would destroy spousal rights across heterosexual couples creating an enourmous outrage. The denial of gay marriage by conservatives represents an attempt to prevent strong homosexual relationships from forming. By denying marriage, a homosexual couple can not have the legal benefits of family.

The problem with this debate is that marriage is more religious than legal in the eyes of many people. The second you mention "gay marriage", a person shouts "that's not what the bible teaches". But marriage as a religious institution has no place in government.

In short, the protections and complications of a bonded relationship between people span more than the heterosexual couple. If the government is going to recognize that specific case, then it should recognize them all even if it does not use the term "marriage". And further, it should recognize them all equally.

That conservatives fight over this issue is further proof they are not in reality conservative. A conservative government would have only a bare minimal law for civil unions or marriages to provide for basic spousal rights and freedoms. Yet again, gay marriage shows to me that the difference between republicans and democrats is the space between my genitals and wallet.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Willpower and dreams

A deathly silence stood between the Nazi officer and Wladyslaw Szpilman broken only by the sounds of the Third Reich's war machine. But even those sounds succumbed to the powerful melody that Szpilman began to play across the keys of the piano. The damaged and broken instrument came into perfect tune in the minds of the two men and sounded a flawless masterpiece. In that brief instant, Szpilman gave the performance of his life and allowed both to regain their humanity in the midst of the most inhuman of conditions.

The scene made for good cinema in The Pianist, but only worked so well because it touched on a larger theme. Many words describe the emotions that came into play there. One word that truly fits the whole situation is willpower. If you look closely, examples of willpower are all around, from Clinton moving to be President before his political carrier even started to a runner wining the race.

As children, we are taught over and over again that we can do anything we want. "Put your mind to it, and you could be the next President of the United States" - a phrase so repeated that it's cliché. As adults "reality hits" and we become jaded, speaking of practical limitations and only seeing the struggle. We loose track of our dreams and settle into a life of just living. It's happening right now, millions of people moving from point A to point B without thinking. It is only when people have dared to dream - stepped for a moment outside of the "real world" and looked at possibilities - when humanity has progressed.

The dream is only part of the whole though. The dream is the idea, and willpower is what makes the idea a reality. Without willpower there is no action. Without willpower, we let the dream die. Why do I write about willpower? Because lately, I've been so drained from constant efforts in all areas of my life that it's been difficult to continue dreaming. But today, I remembered the importance of the dream. Dreams let me escape a world of bondage for freedom. Dreams let me move across the country and make new lifelong friends. Dreams let me finally graduate college last year.

The interesting thing about willpower is that it requires the dream, and in turn the dream requires willpower. That I continue going to work and keeping my life in order shows willpower, but without the dream it has slowly fizzled. And so now, I have resolved to continue dreaming and urge everyone to do the same.After all, without hopes and ambitions and imagination, are we really living?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Hypocrites of the Month!

I've decided to keep a monthly "award" for groups or people that I view as highly hypocritical. The award this month goes to "Christ Fellowship Church" of Monett, MO. If you ever go in downtown Kansas City you might see them on the street corner misquoting scripture and carrying signs indicating your impending trip to hell. The Church itself is located about 3 hours South of Kansas City, and has only a small collection of followers.

This church (I use the term loosely) makes the following claims:

"The remnant is careful to observe only the commands and traditions taught in scripture. They refuse to impose anything on their brethren that Christ or His Apostles did not impose. They see liberty of conscience in differences of lifestyles, providing that lifestyle is consistent with the word of God."

"Before I move on I should give a word of caution. Many people believe they are 100% right, when in reality they are 100% wrong. Being convicted of something apart from biblical backing is simply nothing and cannot be relied upon."

"Therefore, before we ever take a stand that is going to have fellowship, family relationship or interpersonal consequences we must be certain we can support our position withoutany biblical gymnastics."

Well, from a Christian perspective that sounds good on a certain level. But does this Cult, er excuse me, Church live up to their own words?

How about this? Notice the lack of any referenced New Testament scripture from this "New Testament Church" (yeah, I read your website guys)

A mark of distinction as set forth in Gods great plan to have both man and woman. Why would we remove something, God places back on our faces everyday? You might say, what about fingernails? Fingernails will as a result of daily activity be limited in size. Facial hair on the other hand has no such natural limitation to growth or size.

If I read the old testament I see that only certain groups where required to have beards. If I read the New Testament, I don't really see any mention of shaving or growing at all. I challange any ready of this blog and any member of that church to provide me with a SINGLE New Testament scripture about keeping the beard untrimmed and grown out. But wait there's more!
"The shadows found in Gods laws in the Old Testament, can be seen to find literal fulfillment in the New Testament. Such is the case with outerwear. God commanded His priests to dress distinctly in the Old Testament, in the New; He requires modesty, chasteness and holiness. This obviously excludes, bikini’s, tube tops, mini skirts, tank tops"

Pictures of their women are are all similar - poofy dresses and head coverings (think Amish). Hey guys, doesn't the vast majority of clothing from ... I dunno ... the past 30 years also qualify as modest? Here's a question, is requiring someone to dress like a reject from the turn of the century "modest"?

Let's look at the definition, I see there are 3 in Webster:

#1 - "having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one's merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions. " - I'd say making a point that you look like Oliver Twist wouldn't qualify as egotism, but then the boasts of how morally superiour they are from those claims would rule that out...

#2 - free from ostentation or showy extravagance - uh oh, big word there, for reference ostentation means to make a conspicious show of either wealth or importance, I guess they kindof blew that one when they started claiming the purpose of their dress was to "create friction with the heathens" and then went on about how important it is to create that...

#3 - limited or moderate in amount, extent, etc - Well, I guess they got this one, unless I consider the fact that there is far more fabric there than in mos....

Hey, I'm not claiming that there's anything wrong if you want to dress like that or make it part of your religion, but don't you find it just a tad contradictory with the other things you have to say? Maybe just a little? A smidge? No?

-------------------

Alright, let's cut to the chase. I could care less if you want to teach that you should dress like someone for 1890s, wear a beard down to your toes, and act like a general jerk to your non-Christian friends. But the second you start standing on the street corner accosting me with a sign indicating that I'm headed straight for hell, and chanting messages to me as I pass by, you open yourself up to my criticism.

Here, for all you people out there so easily offended by my criticism of a church let me put this in huge letters to make my message clear:

The second you condemn others and try to inforce your moral code on them, you loose ANY right you had before to not be called on your hypocrisy, bigotry, and ignorance.

The instant you enter into the realm of public debate, you have lost any claim to innocence and the criticism you receive can no longer be ducked by claiming freedom of religion.

YOUR FREEDOM OF RELIGION ENDS WHEN YOU TRY TO CHOOSE THE PATH OF MY FAITH.

I'd like to give a hand out to my hypocrite of the month. Thanks for making the job of thinking Christians convincing non-Christians that they are sane that much more difficult. Please continue your gross distortions of the book you call Holy and alienate the rest of the world from your un-Christian "Savior".

Thanks for the tract guys, it made relatively great toilette paper.

A New blog for a new year...

So, I'm joining the great and evil empire of google by using them for my blog. Some part of me wonders if google is in reality just attempting to build some great AI that conglomerates all of human knowledge in an attempt to create some sort of skynet type super-intelligence, but then I just realize their another big company trying to make a buck.

I've had a few blogs in the past, but this one will be a bit different in that its going to be about current events, what I see going on, and hopefully a somewhat useful commentary for a few. In order to help you understand my motivations and the general theme of this blog, I'm going to give you a quick summary of my past year.

October of 2005 I went through a crisis of faith and realized I would leave the religion of my youth.

In January of 2006, the pressure to do more in the faith brought me to a breaking point and I had something of a nervous breakdown. I checked myself into therapy.

In February of 2006, this breakdown caused me to shut down even further, to the point at which all I could bring myself to do was travel back and forth from University activities to my parents house, constant pressure was applied for me to become more active in the faith.

In April of 2006 things finally boiled over and I made plans to leave the city for a week. When I left, my parents came to the realization that I wasn't playing by the religion's rules anymore by associating with non-members. An ultimatum was given that I shape up or leave. At this point I still did not have my degree finalized.

In May of 2006 it became obvious I could no longer live with my parents. Despite not having graduated I was forced out. I lived out of my car for a night, but then drove a few states away to live with a friend. He did not really have space for me, I stayed in his garage.

I was legally homeless for May, June, and July. Needless to say that made finding a job difficult. While I was looking for a job, I helped my friend out at his janitorial business cleaning bathrooms and office buildings.

In August of 2006, I had gainful employment and a new apartment. During the move in, I separated my shoulder and bruised the bone.

The month of September 2006, I again reached a breaking point. My family had became both hot and cold to me - threatening to shun me, shunning me, then welcoming me back. The religion I left takes a very dim view of ex-members, particularly ex-members with large and vocal disagreements. I managed to do the home and work thing, but let far too many things slip and slide by. My friends pushed me into seeing a therapist.

In October 2006 I met a wonderful woman and had a great time enjoying a "real" romance. I did a few foolish things, but finally let myself go a bit. Unfortunately, I was still living in denial and not seeing to things I needed to do in life.

November 2006 was the start of the holiday season, and I again went through a near breakdown. Luckily I had a few special people there that helped me hang unto reality. At this point, I pretty much stopped jumping online, the internet world just didn't seem to interest me anymore.

December 2006 saw my first Christmas, during which I got the flu and had a wonderful time with that through New Years. The Holidays represented something of a dark time for me, as I didn't have a real family to celebrate them with. My family is currently hundreds of miles away and doesn't have anything to do with me or traditional holidays. My romantic relationship moved to what I consider a very good friendship.

Which brings me to January of 2007. Once again I find myself facing what at times fills like a mountain of stress. I'd like to make clear to everyone here reading what I gave up in order to actually consider my faith. I gave up:

- the relationship with my family
- my home city
- all of my childhood friends
- my adult friends, with very few exceptions
- the graduate school program I had intended on entering
- the profession I had intended on entering
- my entire savings
- the vast majority of my possessions

After leaving your family, being abondoned by your friends, spending all your money (and then some), and loosing your possessions during a move, you rather find yourself wondering "Was it worth it?".

Everyday people are forced to make the decision to give up all those things, and the truth is that it was really a choice for me. I've been told before that a choice for freedom is the easier choice, but I'm not sure I believe it. People give up their freedoms to live the easier life all the time. I get a steady stream of letters telling me that God will condemn me for my choices, my actions, and my speaking out against His organization.

I find myself questioning my choice. Was it the right one? Have I really left God? Am I condemned for trying to find a different path?

Then I think about the other things of this religion. A religion that believes only 1 out of 1000 people are worthy of life. A religion that will shun a woman for being raped and becoming pregnant, but welcome a pedophile back into their midst because they can't "prove" their sin without 2 witnesses. And for the apologists out there? Don't blow smoke up my ass saying it doesn't happen:

A current good friend was sexually abused as a child while the organization did nothing.
A woman I love was raped and the organization shunned her.
My cousin was raped and gave birth and the organization shunned her.

These people all had an organization that claims to be of God fail them in their darkest hour. The shunning for rape is justified by claiming that "those women put themselves in the situation and were partially to blame."

I want you to imagine for a second, that you have been raped. Horrible isn't it? Now I want you to imagine you are part of an organization that you are not supposed to have good friends outside of. Now, I want you to imagine that your family are members of this organization as well. And finally, imagine that because you were raped that all of those friends and family cut you off and will no longer speak with you. They will no longer eat with you. You are unclean, a cancer to them.

That is the organization I left - the Jehovah's Witnesses. On the face they seem like a positive Christian organization. They hug children and kiss babbies. The real crime of the Witnesses is their complete failure to admit when they are wrong. It is in doing that that they perpetuate the greatest harms to others by refusing to recognize that harm and change to not continue doing it. When the organization is presented with evidence of the harm caused by their policy of controlled shunning and effects of child abuse, they continue to swipe it under the rug. They hide under platitudes and claims of moral superiority.

While the organization has done great harm, they are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of churches and organizations perpetuating ignorance, hate, hypocrisy, and bigotry. That is what this blog is about. I'm not anti-Christian. I'm not athiest. I just want to see some justice in the world and call people on their bullshit.