Blog Flume

I am a multimedia designer and aspiring writer from Central Illinois who dreams of bigger things. You are entering the hub of my online world. Welcome. Make yourself at home, read some stuff, click a few things, maybe check out my online portfolio. And of course, if you enjoy your stay, please subscribe.

*NOTE* This blog occasionally contains coarse language. Please use discretion when viewing.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A rant regarding religion

OK, about the Teddy Bear teacher in Sudan... What the hell? These Islamic idiots are putting an innocent lady in a prison that's over 5 times its capacity? All for naming a toy Muhammad? Shouldn't the extreme overcrowding be an indicator that they JAIL way too many people for stupid shit like this? I'm sure that won't come off the way it's meant, cuz all they have to do in response is start killing moonshiners instead of jailing them. That's not what I mean. What I'm saying is: YOU HAVE TOO MANY STUPID LAWS!
So naming a Teddy Bear after your precious prophet is an insult? But it was good enough for President Roosevelt! He no doubt took great joy in being associated with a beloved childhood icon. You know what? SCREW your precious Muhammad! And I'm not talking about the stinkin' bear!
Now, I'm sure there are people of Muslim faith who are very sensible. But the problem is, when you think about it, the fundamentalists are really the ones in each religion who preach and practice the TRUE faith. The fundies are the ones that get all the bad press, but they are the ones who usually take EVERY WORD in their holy scriptures as LITERAL GOSPEL. Offshoots and watered-down versions of the faith are some of the people who take the positive parts and leave the negative. I know plenty of Christians who do not judge people, teach that God loves everyone, gay or straight, black or white, those who marry outside their race, powerful women who stand on equal ground with men, etc. But many of these things I was taught were abominations in the eyes of God. Or at least frowned upon.
If you're not going to buy into the whole book, why buy into any of it? You can't in one breath tell me that the Holy Bible is the word of almighty God and then turn around and ignore the parts you don't like. That's hypocritical. And it tells me that even YOU don't believe it! You can't honestly believe in the veracity of a document as a whole without believing wholeheartedly in each individual point contained therein, especially if it is the INFALLIBLE word of an INFALLIBLE God.
That is why, increasingly more every day, I am buying into the idea that organized religion as a whole is a very BAD THING. I don't give a damn WHICH religion. They all promote hate and intolerance. I know realistically we will never live on an Earth devoid of religion. For some reason, people are drawn to it like moths to a flame. Just remember, sometimes the moth THINKS it's a flame and it ends up zapping him to dust in a purple whiff of ultraviolence.
I also recognize that violent religious crusades and clashes help our planet maintain its balance by thinning out our numbers. Just as earthquakes, cancer, AIDS, etc. do the same. Everyone can't live forever. Dying is a fact of life, the last fact of life. If we all lived forever, we really WOULD be in danger of stripping our planet bare of its resources. If only there were some way to make sure it was the WICKED who were weeded out. Too often, the ones in power are corrupt and succeed in wiping out vast numbers of the innocent.
I guess the Earth doesn't care who she kills off, just that the numbers have got to be maintained as closely as possible. Just goes to show how cosmically unimportant we all REALLY are. And if THAT doesn't make you want to cling to some hope of cosmic significance, I don't know what will. That's why, deep down, man feels he needs a God who created him for a purpose. But He didn't. Because there isn't.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A horrible news item like so many others

See MY comments at the bottom. If you dare.
HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- The stepfather of a 2-year-old girl lost control and beat her to death because she wouldn't say "please" and "yes sir," an attorney for the girl's mother said Wednesday.

A body found last month in Galveston Bay is believed to be that of the little girl, Riley Ann Sawyers, though DNA tests are pending.

Her mother, Kimberly Dawn Trenor, and stepfather, Royce Clyde Zeigler II, were arrested Saturday.

Trenor's attorney, Tommy Stickler Jr., also said Wednesday that Trenor is pregnant.

According to court documents, Trenor, 19, told police she and her husband killed the girl in July and hid her body in a shed before dumping it in the bay.

Stickler said Zeigler, 24, was overwhelmed by his sudden fatherhood and didn't know what behavior to expect from a toddler. Trenor moved with her daughter from Mentor, Ohio, to Texas in June to be with Zeigler, whom she met online.

Zeigler wanted his wife to spank Riley with a belt when she failed to say things like "please" and "yes sir" or "no sir," Stickler said Wednesday. Zeigler didn't believe Trenor was doing it, however, because the 2-year-old's behavior wasn't changing.

The fatal beating happened after Zeigler stayed home from work to make sure his wife was following his discipline plan, Stickler said.

In her statement to Galveston authorities, Trenor said the girl was beaten with leather belts, had her head held underwater in a bathtub and then was thrown across a room, her head slamming into a tile floor.

Although the affidavit said the couple abused Riley over a four- to six-hour period, Stickler said it wasn't a continuous event. Instead, Zeigler grew increasingly enraged as he spanked Riley and she kept forgetting to do things the way he wanted.

"There was never an intention to beat Riley to death," he said.

At one point, Trenor wanted to call an ambulance but Zeigler wouldn't let her, saying they would both be arrested if officials saw her injuries, Stickler said. Instead, Riley was given some over-the-counter pain medication.

When Riley later stopped breathing, Zeigler performed CPR on her tiny body, Stickler said.

Neal Davis III, Zeigler's attorney, said Trenor's story isn't believable.

"She is placing all the blame on Royce, but I think that once the facts come to light, once the timeline's established and the evidence is combed through ... I think her credibility is gonna become a big issue," Davis said.

Trenor and Ziegler were arrested after investigators spent weeks trying to identify the girl they dubbed "Baby Grace," whose body was found in a plastic box floating in Galveston Bay. Riley's paternal grandmother in Ohio had called police, thinking a sketch of the dead child might have been the granddaughter she hadn't seen in months.

Trenor and Zeigler remained jailed Wednesday on charges of injury to a child and tampering with evidence. Bail was set at $350,000 each.


Okay, "INJURY TO A CHILD" and "TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE?" Is that the best we can do? How can justice be served for this little girl who was beaten bloody and thrown across the room into a wall if these are the best charges we can come up with?

"Injury to a child?" Excuse me, prosecutor, but is she merely injured or is she fucking DEAD?  Charge them with murder, for crying out loud! I just don't understand all this first-degree, second-degree, premeditated, manslaughter, bullshit jargon mumbo jumbo. A toddler was MURDERED by her stepfather while her mother stood by and let it happen.

"Tampering with evidence?" It's called CONCEALING THE BODY OF A PERSON YOU JUST MURDERED! ...TWICE!!! So after this little girl was killed, all she became was "evidence?" That's almost as sickening as the crime itself.

There is far too much leniency in our legal system. To use a
cliché, we should just call a spade a spade and get on with some REAL punishment in this country. I don't need DNA evidence in a case like this. But it'll be there. I don't need a trial. But there will be one. The guy admitted to beating the shit out of a baby! What more evidence and incentive do we need to execute this man? I'm serious. I just don't understand this country sometimes. Here's the complete record of MY trial:

"Mr. Ziegler, you are charged with killing a toddler. Did a toddler die as a result of the harsh beatings you administered?"
"Guilty. Somebody fry this asshole, please. NEXT!"

How can we let people get AWAY with shit like this? He'll probably serve 15 years. How UNBALANCED is that?! What, we should take pity on him because he got overwhelmed and snapped? Should we give him another chance? Maybe we should give him another baby and see how he does. That is BULLSHIT! He's a lowlife scumbag that should be executed painfully!

I know this kind of thing happens all the time, and I'm not going to go off the rails every time I see a news item like this, but DAMMIT! It just makes me ANGRY! My wife and I had to try so HARD to have our two children together, and I love them so much that I can't imagine the coldness it would take to snuff out an innocent life like that. I can sorta understand the mindset it takes to kill an adult that you're angry with, but why are there so many people killing and hurting CHILDREN? I'm almost ashamed I live in a country where shit like this goes more or less unpunished.

And don't even talk to me about Christian forgiveness. It's inhuman to forgive a piece of shit like this. Besides, it's not OUR forgiveness he needs, is it? It's RILEY'S. And she can't forgive him even if she would be inclined to do so, because he KILLED HER!

...Riley, there are some of us who recognize the tragedy that's occurred. What you went through was terrible, unfathomable and unforgivable. Rest in peace, little one. I can only hope you will be rightfully avenged. Hail Riley.

Don't hate on me... Middle-Eastern is the new Black

Okay, don't blame me. I'm just stating a fact. Since 9/11, we have been inundated in this country with the idea that people of Middle-Eastern descent are to be considered suspicious. Every day we hear something about "terrorism." Today I realized that all this prejudicial exposure has made an impact on me.

I claim to not be racist, but to judge people rather based on their deeds and attitudes. YES, I JUDGE PEOPLE! YES, I ADMIT TO IT! But I believe that I do so fairly, not based on their skin color, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, etc. However, as a white guy who led a pretty sheltered life, growing up in a small Midwestern town with very little ethnic diversity, I used to get nervous around blacks. Not around one or two, but if the black-to-white ratio in the room or area was too great, I'd be one nervous guy.

It wasn't my fault. It was the intolerant culture in which I was raised. Now I have grown up, forged relationships, had experiences outside my redneck hometown. I don't judge based on skin color alone. I can stop in East St. Louis and ask someone for directions without (too much) fear. I see that people are people. At least I thought so until today.

I ride public transportation. Just doing my part to conserve, both for the environment and for my wallet. So I'm on the city bus this morning and there are probably eight people on the bus at the time. It's about 6:00 am. At one stop, a Middle-Eastern man gets on. He has the lower half of his face covered with a wraparound scarf. He has a hood pulled over his head.

For a split second after I first see him, I get a flash image of one of those infamous beheading videos. I feel uncomfortable for a good minute, even though I know there's no logical reason to. First of all, I'm on a freaking BUS in Peoria, not an international flight to Afghanistan. Second, it's not even a CROWDED bus. If someone were going to hijack or blow up a bus, it wouldn't be one with nine passengers. Third, it's FREAKING COLD! Of course he has his face covered up! He's been waiting outside in the 30-degree darkness waiting for a bus! I know I'm an idiot for being uncomfortable, but I can't help it. I've been conditioned to by my newsmedia and my government, especially over the last six years.

Black men, rejoice! You are no longer public enemy number one. As long as there are tan-skinned people blowing shit up & killing innocent people, you should be pretty safe from public scrutiny. Even if you're a gangbanging punk who plugs a rival gang member every now & then, at least you love your momma and you're not a terrorist.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My 50th MySpace friend KICKS ASS!

Hooray! The father of death metal himself, King Diamond, has accepted my friend request! I am so stoked, you guys. For a long time, some poseur was pretending to be King on MySpace, but that's finally been sorted out & now the King has taken his throne and booted the impostor to the curb where he belongs.

The OFFICIAL MySpace for King Diamond is now run by the one true King. Not run by a label or a fan, but the one and only KING DIAMOND. I'm honored to be on his friend list and eager after 20 years of fandom to finally get the opportunity to see him perform live in April!

There are those bands & musicians that you like and will buy their albums every now & then. There are those you can hear on the radio or Internet radio and say, "Yeah, I like that," but never actually purchase any albums. There are those that you like and might download their entire catalog illegally. There are those you like while you are going through a phase or a mood, which you might forget about for years, then maybe come back to only to forget again a while later.

THEN there are the ones that, since you discover them, become a PART OF YOU. For some reason, these artists make such an impression on you, that you know you will go to your grave humming one of their songs. Their music permeates your soul. It is these artists that shape the lives of their fans in more ways than they can ever know. Their lyrics become part of inside jokes, they inspire poetry they'll never read, they inspire some to begin their own journey into music or some other creative pursuit.

For me, there are three main acts that define this in my life. Electric LightOrchestra, whom I have been a fan of since I first discovered them at about age 8; Manowar, whose "Defender" (FTW version) spoke to me in 1987 like nothing I had ever heard before--I immediately purchased all the albums I could find, joined the fan club, and my lifelong journey with the Kings of Metal began; also in that year I discovered King Diamond. The first KD song I heard was "Abigail." I was intrigued because, once again, I had never heard anything remotely like this, and it was CREEPY AS HELL!
I ran out & bought the Abigail cassette the next day, waited until nightfall, turned out the lights, put on the ol' headphones, and listened to the whole thing, pausing only once to flip the tape over. I was scared shitless by the end of that album. I switched all the lights back on & was too freaked out to sleep for a long time that night. I put the tape away & vowed to never listen to it again because there was something sinister about it.

Then "Them" came out. I heard the first two tracks on the radio the day of the album's release. The DJ instructed me before he played them to turn out the lights for atmosphere. I did so. Once again, the King freaked my shit out. I had tape-recorded the songs as they played, poor reception & all. I listened to them again right then. I was blown away. It was then that I dug out that Abigail tape to give it another listen. What had I been thinking??? This thing was a fucking MASTERPIECE! I ran out the next day and bought "THEM" on cassette. This time I had the added bonus of liner notes & lyrics sheet. Wow. This guy was a freaking genius.

After that night, I sought out old Mercyful Fate albums and vowed to buy each and every King Diamond album from then on. I painted my face and went as vintage King for Halloween that year. He was one of the very few pictures hanging in my locker at school. I was hooked.

The point is, now both the metal bands that helped define who I am are in my friend list. I think that's pretty fucking cool. Hey, guys- Thanks for the last 20 years, and for the back catalog before that. And, of course, all the great shit yet to come. You guys rock! I've only seen Manowar once live, but I hope that King is half as cool as them in person. Manowar was metal enough to hang out after the show for a meet and greet. It was one of the greatest moments of my life, meeting Eric Adams. If I could talk & shake hands with King Diamond, get an autograph, whatever, oh man that would be so awesome. Anyway, enough of me blowing my idols. I'll definitely let everyone know how that show is in April.

And a big thank you, hails and horns to King Diamond, Manowar... oh, and Jeff Lynne, too!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Illinois school prayer plan falls apart

Well that didn't last long, did it? What, four weeks or so? It seems there have been lawsuits filed (like we didn't know THAT was gonna happen) by free-thinking atheists who claim the "Silent Prayer and Reflection Act" is an endorsement of school prayer. A U.S. District judge, Robert Gettleman, has barred the moment of silence in a Chicago-area school district because the law is "too vague." He had no power to do so across the board, but it should be noted that there is no provision for punishment against districts who do not comply with the mandate.

School districts are being warned they should cease following the mandate, or they might inevitably face lawsuits from angry parents who don't want their children being forced to pray in public school. Two state representatives, one a democrat and one a republican, plan to announce today legislation that will strip the mandate from schools.

I think this might turn out as a victory for the secular side of society. If you ask me, it's a given that this mandate is going to be found unconstitutional. So, that means the state will likely revert to the original form of the law, which states educators "may" lead their students in a moment of silence for prayer or silent reflection at the start of every day. But wait a minute. If it's deemed unconstitutional for the state to require schools to participate, won't it be just as unconstitutional for schools to even participate once the law merely gives them "permission" to? If any district lets its teachers continue leading the moment of silence, that district is just BEGGING for lawsuits.

So we'll be back where we started, with the state of Illinois allowing teachers to lead a moment of silence in their classrooms, but everybody too chicken to actually take advantage of the law for fear of losing their job or facing a lawsuit. Why even have such a law? What made the lawmakers think the people were just going to take this kind of thing lying down? There is no purpose in passing laws that are this ridiculous. All they've succeeded in doing is drumming up controversy, pissing people off, further driving a wedge between atheistic and religious parents of children in the same schools, and igniting frivolous lawsuits that could have been avoided altogether.

Let's hope they see the error of their ways and get this law COMPLETELY stricken down as soon as possible, so we can go back to doing what we should be doing in school: TEACHING.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Part two: A theological quandary

Continuing my thoughts from the last entry...

Okay, after really writing it all down and thinking about it further, it started to click that maybe it's ALL a bunch of horseshit. I started thinking about this whole prayer, miracles and magic thing. I broke it down like this:

Either something is going to happen, or it's not going to happen. Any one thing that happens can be predicted. I can say right now, "Lord, please let my bus be a couple of minutes late today. I don't know if I can make it to the bus station on time today." There. My prayer has been sent to an imaginary man in the sky. Now, the bus will either (a) be late, as I'd prayed, or (b) not be late (that's either early or on time). Again, because we WANT SO BADLY as humans to believe in a higher power, if the bus is late, I thank the Lord for listening to my prayers and helping me in this time of need. If the prayer doesn't work, the failsafe kicks in. But what about this possibility: My prayer, magic spell, etc had NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on the outcome of whether the bus was late or not. If it was late, it was going to be late, no matter what I did.

How's this for an argument? Those failsafes are just our way to explain away the times when our predictions don't line up with the way things happen. THERE IS NO MAGIC and there is no real power in prayer. Shit's gonna happen the way it's gonna happen, and we can't do anything to influence it, aside from the physical things we can do as humans to influence physical outcomes. So what about the beloved aunt you saved from cancer with the power of prayer? Sometimes people have spontaneous recoveries for no explainable reason. Doesn't mean it's a miracle. Just means it's unexplained. Just like UFO's. Just because you might see an Unidentified Flying Object, doesn't mean you've witnessed an alien spacecraft. Just means you saw something you couldn't IDENTIFY.

The truth is, we don't want to feel alone. We are such an amazing species, the only one like it we know, that we can't STAND to believe that we all evolved by chance. And we hate to think that once we are dead, it's over. We are the only species with this high level of self-awareness, and so we MUST be special, right? As such, we must have been specifically CREATED as we are, right? So who created us? It could only have been an all-powerful, omniscient being who created us in his image. But guess what? Joke's on us. It is WE who created HIM (and all variations) to fit our needs.

I firmly believe that one must always be open to changing his mind. You are only as wise as the last time you revised your thinking. I've gone so long thinking that the human potential included things that might be dubbed "supernatural," that this is a BIG revision for me to think about implementing. That would mean I no longer consider myself an agnostic or even Satanist, but I officially go for the title of atheist and overall skeptic. But I can't go on using the power of magic once I've concluded it does not exist, any more than I could use prayer once I suspected it was to a God I doubted existed. Can I?

My theological evolution:

Ages 4-11: Baptist. Drilled into my head I must be baptized and saved to reach heaven. Afraid of the devil, but interested in such trappings. Intrigued by Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Price, Alice Cooper & KISS on TV, and legendary stories of "satanic" rockers like Ozzy, Judas Priest & WASP. Got a thrill like I was doing something immoral or illegal and I was about to get caught, whenever I would listen to a "forbidden" record or read something "satanic."

Ages 12-16 No affiliation, raised Baptist. Delve further into forbidden literature, movies, music. Still get a bit of a thrill when I see or otherwise experience something blatantly satanic. Decide it is bad and still to say away from it. Remove music and books from my collection that I find satanic and disturbing.

Ages 17-32 Agnostic/Satanist. Do not personally believe that a God is likely to exist. Probably a creation of man to explain the things he doesn't understand. However, I do not rule out the existence of God as a possibility. I still believe literally ANYTHING is possible, but so many religions in the world throughout history, it's quite difficult for us to know which are genuine. All those who follow anything but the one true religion are likely condemned to hell (or some variation). So why bother? I research various forms of Christianity, attend churches with friends, etc. Read about other faiths, obtain a Book of Mormon, read a little Hubbard, Satanic Bible, take a philosophy class in college... The Church of Satan is the best fit for me. I believe I have always been a Satanist and not had a label to put on it.

Age 33-? atheist. God DOES NOT EXIST. Magic does not exist. It's all up to chance, but we can influence some things by the way we deal with people, using conversation skills, suggestion, etc. Humans exist on Earth as a result of chance and natural selection. There is likely another race similar to us somewhere in the universe. There are likely MANY. It's also likely, given the size of the universe, that we will never have contact with them to substantiate this fact (barring some currently unfathomable form of transportation or communication). However, I still believe we are not as unique as we once thought. We were not created on purpose. We just like to think so because we are egocentric beings. Revolution in thinking? Everything "supernatural" is bullshit? I don't know if I'm ready to concede that yet. I still hope for proof of ghosts, psychics, hauntings, unexplained forces and powers, magic, even the power of prayer or the existence of God. At least if it's proven, it'll give me SOMETHING to believe in. I have no faith; I require proof.

My friends, I am in the middle of a philosophical dilemma. I guess it's best to stay on course, progress from agnostic to atheist, and perhaps maintain my satanic leanings. It's not like I practice greater magic regularly... I can still look at its benefits as a cathartic psychodrama to purge distractions and emotional roadblocks from my path in life. There need be no "belief" in the actual power of magic to benefit from the exercise of ritual. The ritual chamber is, after all, an intellectual decompression chamber meant to induce suspension of disbelief for the purpose of uncensored self expression and emotional cleansing of a sort. Satanism stresses lesser magic as the more potent form of wizardry. And lesser magic is really just manipulation through interpersonal communication. Even LaVey said that "the amount of energy needed to levitate a teacup (genuinely) would be of sufficient force to place an idea in a group of people's heads half-way across the earth."

Perhaps the whole idea of magic or prayer only serves to fortify one's belief in its powers, and thus in the entire belief system entailed, when it "works." Anything that increases your level of belief in that philosophy and gives you more reassurance that what you're doing is genuine, increases the confidence you have while casting that spell or saying that prayer. And the more confident you are in the casting, the more comfort and relief you will feel afterward. It all serves a purpose to make man more comfortable in his own skin.

Holy (or unholy?) cow. Dear reader, you have journeyed with me on a first-of-its kind (for me, anyway) philosophical meandering that has served to coalesce and eventually solidify a core belief that I now hold. If you've actually made it this far, I applaud you. Thanks for taking the ride with me. I think this whole "blog" thing is actually a great thing. There is no better way to get to know someone than by reading what is essentially a public diary. I enjoy reading what my friends post to their blogs, especially if they do a little soul searching. There are some things that are best expressed in monologue form. Conversation is wonderful, but sometimes it takes a more free-form, stream of consciousness method to get to anything REALLY vital. Another participant in the conversation can muddle things and take you on tangents you didn't want to touch.