where did we come from, why are we here, where are we going?

Correspondence between me and my auntie ____ (9 feb. 2009).

From my auntie:

Markii, I was thinking about you over the week end.  I have 3 questions I’d like to ask you and am looking forward to hearing from you!

One.  With your new knowledge I was wondering
.  What do you believe you were doing or where were you before your sojourn on earth.

2.  What is your purpose on earth?

3.  Where do you believe or think the human race will go when we die?

Thanks  love you so much.  Auntie ____

My response…

thanks for the e-mail, ____.  i’ll do my best to answer below…

One.  With your new knowledge I was wondering
.  What do you believe you were doing or where were you before your sojourn on earth.

that’s a great question!  many people have tried to solve it, but i think it’s unsolvable.  i do not know where i was before my sojourn to earth.  i don’t know if i even “was”, or existed.  it is possible that our consciousness we now enjoy only recently matured and came to be as our minds physically developed during childhood.  i find this to sound more plausible than the idea that we are hundreds or thousands of years old human beings with that many years of learning and education behind us and yet here we only know that which we learn here.  is our older and wiser self sitting dormant in our mind while the two-year old biological self now learns to eat food and drools applesauce out of his mouth/nose?  and a middle-aged person who was mentally fine can have a car accident or disease in the brain and lose many motor and thinking skills, and many times even having a complete change in their personality and habits [click link to left, and ‘save as’, to hear mp3 on this] as a result?  a car accident or mental disease affects the tissue and neurons in the brain which then change how a thousand year-old sentient behaves/acts?  to me it seems more logical that there is a machine, but no “ghost in the machine”. Continue reading

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Quotes Roundup- Fall 09

Dwight D. Eisenhower:

In preparing for battle, I have found that planning is essential, but plans are useless.

Kail Nielson:

A man who says, “If God is dead, nothing matters,” is a spoilt child who has never looked at his fellow men with compassion.

Robert Green Ingersoll:

This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves.

Dan Christiansen, BYU Student:

As a child, it seemed so simple;
Every step was clearly marked.
Priesthood, mission, sweetheart, temple;
Bright with hope I soon embarked.
But now I have become a man,
And doubt the promise of the plan.

For the path is growing steeper,
And a slip could mean my death.
Plunging upward, ever deeper,
I can barely catch my breath.
Oh, where within this untamed wild
Is the star that led me as a child?

As I crest the shadowed mountain,
I embrace the endless sky;
The expanse of heaven’s fountain
Now unfolds before my eye.
A thousand stars shine on the land,
The chart drafted by my own hand.

Sam Harris said that the timing of when young Earth creationists claim God created the Universe:

… is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue. [Link goes to The Onion]

Robert Ingersoll:

Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.

quotes roundup- SUMMER 09

every season i put out the best batch o’ comments that i’ve found in the last few months.  this edition may be my best yet!

Kirk Wilson

To say that the earth is only 6,000 years old is the mathematical equivalent of saying its radius is only 28 feet.

PZ Myers on an evolution-inspired school t-shirt:

Evolution is not a religion, no more than sky-is-blueism or gravityism or medicine or mathematics or their shop class. Would they shut down an auto repair class if an Amish family decried their heathen English ways? Pollitt is a pandering moron.

John Remy (from this personal, well-written post on his LDS ex-communication ritual):

Hopefully we’ll see each other as complex humans, worthy of compassion.  [there’s a lot of wisdom in these words!]

George Hrab:

Is sex with your clone gay or just extroverted masturbation? Continue reading

Multi-Level Marketing

today i was doing some research on Multi-Level-Marketing companies (e.g. MonaVie, Noni, Isagenix, NutraSkin, etc.).  living in utah county, (the most MLM-dense county in the USA) we’ve all been presented with MLM pitches- and we may have even signed up for some.  last year i met an older couple who had made tons of money in Vegas through a MLM they had done in the past.  The secret, they told me, was that the company marketed them as their golden couple and stuck dozens and dozens of people below them in their “down line” so everyone could see an exemplar of success.  they were very up front when they told me that they could not recreate those same earnings when they tried to do it on their own, after the successful MLM went bankrupt (as most do).  they even knew all the tricks of the trade and had experience- but it went nowhere when their only potential down line suddenly shrunk to the small number of friends and family they personally knew.

Note:  please use caution when sharing anything with someone who is involved in a MLM.  they very much act like “true believers” in the sense that they have faith in the potential of their MLM, are motivated more by feelings/personal testimony rather than hard evidence, and may take criticism very personally.  so proceed w/ caution when sharing with others- or don’t share at all.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a decision, In re Amway Corp., in 1979 in which it indicated that multi-level marketing was not illegal per se in the United States. However, Amway was found guilty of price fixing (by requiring “independent” distributors to sell at the low price) and making exaggerated income claims.[16]

The FTC advises that multi-level marketing organizations with greater incentives for recruitment than product sales are to be viewed skeptically. The FTC also warns that the practice of getting commissions from recruiting new members is outlawed in most states as “pyramiding”.[10] In April 2006, it proposed a Business Opportunity Rule intended to require all sellers of business opportunities—including MLMs—to provide enough information to enable prospective buyers to make an informed decision about their probability of earning money.

Another criticism of MLMs is that “MLM organizations have been described by some as cults (Butterfield, 1985), pyramid schemes (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997), or organizations rife with misleading, deceptive, and unethical behavior (Carter, 1999), such as the questionable use of evangelical discourse to promote the business (Hopfl & Maddrell, 1996), and the exploitation of personal relationships for financial gain (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997).” [18]

MLM’s are also criticized for being unable to fulfill their promises for the majority of participants due to basic conflicts with Western culture.[19] There are even claims that the success rate for breaking even or even making money are far worse than other types of businesses:[20][21][22] “The vast majority of MLM’s are recruiting MLM’s, in which participants must recruit aggressively to profit. Based on available data from the companies themselves, the loss rate for recruiting MLM’s is approximately 99.9%; i.e., 99.9% of participants lose money after subtracting all expenses, including purchases from the company.”[20] In part, this is because encouraging recruits to further “recruit people to compete with [them]”[23] leads to “market saturation.”[24]

Similar claims regarding profits have been stated by The Times (“The Government investigation claims to have revealed that just 10 per cent of Amway’s agents in Britain make any profit, with less than one in ten selling a single item of the group’s products.”[25]), high level “Emerald” Amway member Scheibeler (“UK Justice Norris found in 2008 that out of an IBO [Independent Business Owners] population of 33,000, ‘only about 90 made sufficient incomes to cover the costs of actively building their business.’ That’s a 99.7 percent loss rate for investors.” [26](case referred to is BERR vs Amway (Case No: 2651, 2652 and 2653 of 2007) which does list this as one of the points of objectionability: “c) because of the requirement that an IBO pay a joining and renewal fee and the likelihood that an IBO would purchase BSM there was a certainty that the Amway business would cause a loss to a large number of people (to the extent that out of an IBO population which exceeded 33,000 only building their business).”) and Newsweek (where it is stated based on MonaVie’s own 2007 income disclosure statement “fewer than 1 percent qualified for commissions and of those, only 10 percent made more than $100 a week.)[27]

hope this might help in some way!

gay parenting

hurray for an obama campaign.  boo to the propositions that were passed in a few states taking away the rights of same-sex couples.  today i watched 30 Days (with Morgan Spurlock).  the episode was on same-sex parents.   it can be watched on hulu or you can google elsewhere to find the episode.  i had to write this quick post because i never cry (very rarely, at least), but tears streamed down my cheeks several times as i watched this.  i cried when i saw how loving the two fathers were with their kids.  i cried when i contemplated people wanting to take away their right to parent.  i cried when i saw one of their younger kids brushing his teeth and it made me sad to think some would have him taken away from them.  i cried when i saw this woman (who was living in their home and against gay adoption rights) as her mind was torn left and right in order to deal with the cognitive dissonance caused by seeing these great parents.  i cried when i saw two adults who were raised in foster homes, as they showed what it was like to live in that environment and how much they would have loved to have had a home, even a gay home, to call home.  i cried when i realized what a noble thing these two men were doing as they adopted special needs kids and others without a home to go to.  i cried when i contemplated the millions of people that voted in favor of taking away gay rights.  there are far too many foster kids as it is now, and if gays cannot adopt that will only increase the number of kids who may never, ever have a home.  that saddens my soul and sickens my stomach.  i also cried as i saw this woman never change her beliefs even though she wanted to. she wanted to.  but she couldn’t go against her faith as it had been taught to her that she should champion a faith-based belief over empathy, knowledge and experience.  lastly, i cried because the woman was a mormon and she represented the unshakable bigotted ignorance of the LDS church and it’s primary involvement in supporting proposition 8.  i rarely cry but this is a sad day.

ps:  please take the time to watch the episode while it’s still available.

Quotes Roundup- Spring 2008

oops!  i’m a little late on this one, but…

every three months i post a lump of good quotes i heard/read during the season (click on the category ‘quotes‘ on my sidebar to see my on-going collection). so, here are the quotes i’ve rounded up during this year’s spring season!

the first bunch came from mike‘s blog:

Bart Simpson:

Phew I’m glad we came to our senses and worship a 2.000 year old carpenter.

Bill Hicks:

If I thought the Jews killed God, I’d worship the Jews.

Woody Allen:

If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.

Homer Simpson:

Suppose we’ve chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we’re just making him madder.

Homer Simpson:

I’m normally not a praying man, but if you’re up there, save me Superman! Continue reading