Junior Caramels

I purchased and consumed a candy called Junior Caramels today.  I think I’ve seen them before, but they’re relatively new, and I’d never had them before.  After an extensive 4.5 oz. taste test the verdict is that the candy definitely is sweet and doesn’t taste horrible.  However, Junior Caramels are not as delicious as Milk Duds.  If, in the past, while eating Milk Duds, you have thought to yourself, “These are aright, but I wish caramel was softer and more gooshy,” then perhaps you would enjoy Junior Caramels.  Otherwise, I stay stick with the established chocolate covered caramel classics.

What girls want

I ruined the alliteration of the cliche referenced in the title for a reason.  I’m speaking primarily of the immature female population in this post, the more immature the better, excluding prepubescents.  I will speak in sweeping generalities and I want to stress I recognize they apply only over the population as a whole.  Things ranted in this post are not meant to apply to every single female.  On top of that, this is only my poorly thought out opinion, so please don’t get worked up about it, or anything.  Additional disclaimer, quotation marks are used in this post to indicate sarcasm.

The impetus for this post is the release of the Twilight movie.  I’ve never read the books, or even seen a trailer for the film, but I’m over immersed in it’s content anyway due to my female associates here in Anderson.  The Twilight series heavily features vampires in relationships with humans. This, coupled with TV show True Blood, I believe, is a conspiracy to take vampires and make them lame.

This is a travesty, since I particularly like vampires.  The older versions, anyway.  The sophisticated deadly menace, the roving gangs of immortal hedonists, super powered bad ass martial artists, all great.  What I fear Twilight and “entertainment” of it’s ilk are doing is twisting vampires into something else.  They’re motivated to do so because the changing ideal male from the young female perspective.

A long, long time ago, like, when my mother’s mother was young, girls just wanted a good looking guy who would bring home money, make a decent father, and wouldn’t screw around, and was bigger than the next guy.  Wild fantasies included tap dancing and baritones, maybe some slightly dangerous history.  Then the 60’s happened and women took over and/or men capitulated.  Sensitive men were the thing.  Basically pushovers that looked good in what they were dressed in and learned quickly when to speak and what to say was what girls wanted.

Now there’s a new generation, and their demands are upgraded.  Physically the guy needs to be cute.  In the ideal case this means muscly, but not huge.  Still, the guy needs to somehow be able to utterly destroy any threat.  He should think he’s a rebel, a free thinker, a deep, troubled soul, but he shouldn’t actually be any of those things.  He should be simple enough to manipulate that the girl always wins, but not so stupid that it’s never a challenge.  And in the wild fantasies he should have magical powers, allowing him to occasionally provide surprising gifts to his lucky lady, like immortality, or whatever Harry Potter can do, or, ya know, diamond necklaces and such that vast sums of money can buy.

So, this is why they’re twisting the vampire.  The vampire has always been a romantic figure.  Originally, it figured well enough into the female ideal.  When the total pushover male became ideal, the vampire was forfeited, because it couldn’t be used, to men, and they made it into a action star.  Now that the ideal has changed, the vampire is under the influence of the heavy spenders again, the teenage girl.  It just has to be tweaked a bit, into an angsty teenager with super powers.

It’s a sad day for vampires.  Or rather, tomorrow will be a sad day for vampires.

The ethics of killing babies

The value of life is, like most things, a continuum.  Coincidentally, the ethical ramifications of taking life is a continuum.  In this post I’m going to try to explain my ideas for how the ethical calculation should be made.  I think I’ve reached the conclusions I have through rational thought.

1. Life is good
I’m taking this to be an axiom.  If you disagree, uh… well, comment.
2. All life is not equal
This is obvious when comparing a bacterium to a human, but it raises the question of how life is valued.  There are three main factors in this calculation.

1. Quantity of life
This is fairly straight forward. The longer the organism lives, the more value on that life. So, all other things being equal, killing a young person is worse than killing an old person.
2. Type of life
This category is trickier. I argue that a bacterium is not less valuable than a man because a man is human, or because god says so, but because a bacterium lacks certain abilities. For example, a bacterium cannot feel pain, so killing a bacterium is not as bad as killing something than can feel pain, say, a human newborn, or a puppy. An organism that is not self aware would be less valuable than one that is. An organism that can have hopes and ambitions for itself is more valuable than one that cannot. These are just signposts on the continuum, and others could be added.  This category is the most important.
3. Relationship to others
A life is more valuable if it is valued by other life.  Murdering a pet dog is worse than murdering a stray, or a dangerous animal.  This means that those close to a person must be considered when deciding whether it’s ok to kill someone.  If the individual is of sound mind, they have the final say, but if they aren’t, then those close to the individual can make the decision.  If nobody is close to the individual, it falls to whatever organization society puts in charge… likely the government.
3. Quality of life can be measured
In order for these ethics to be applied, it has to be accepted that some measure of the quality of life can be taken, and standards can be set.

So why do I bring this up? First, I just like thinking about things, but mostly, it solves a lot of issues many people wrestle with. It also has some interesting implications.

Under this system, abortion is certainly legal. A fetus can’t feel pain for a few months, making it about equivalent to a bacterium, or a jellyfish, and there are no laws protecting them. Even after birth a baby is about the same a dog, so as long as it is killed humanely, it should be legal. Once a baby is self aware, it qualifies as a human with all the rights afforded, and cannot be killed ethically, barring special circumstances. This, of course, applies to anything alive, monkey’s, dolphins, aliens, not just human babies.

This frame of thought means assisted suicide, for any aged individual, is completely ok. If that individual judges its life not worth living, it is theirs to end. Obviously, one still needs to make sure the individual is not under any duress in making the decision.

It also provides guidelines for how to treat animals humanely.  Of course, it doesn’t solve all the problems.  There’s all kinds of ways we can disagree about what qualities of life matter more and how to measure the quality of life, but I think thinking about the subject with this mindset is better than what people currently do.  *shrug* Makes sense to me, anyway.

Blood

I donated blood today.  I just walked in between classes and was done in 40 minutes.  Fastest donation ever.  I took about 6 minutes with the needle in my arm, but the thing was pretty smooth.  I think it was about all I can expect from such a bureaucracy.  My blood pressure is just teetering above hypo-tension, in case you were curious.

I signed up for the marrow registry, as well.  I was the first one of the day, and apparently that’s the hard one cause after I was doing it basically everyone who saw me was doing it.

You all should donate blood and sign up for the marrow thing, like me.  I think if you think you have a belief, but won’t act on that belief, even when presented with an opportunity, you don’t really have that belief.  The belief in this case is that saving life is a good thing.  Are you a horrible person?

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Three things to start. First, I have not done any research into any factual events that inspired the movie, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, so I’m not speaking to those. Second, I’m not reviewing the movie for it’s entertainment value.  For me the film was tainted heavily by the following complaints, which I intend to keep brief, just because, but someone else might still enjoy the film.  Maybe.  Third, spoilers to follow.

The story of this movie tells is of a trial for a priest accused of negligent homicide because of the death of a young woman after she is put in his care, and after an exorcism is performed.  It does this by showing the events that lead to the death from both the prosecution’s side, and the defenses.  It sprinkles in some stuff hinting that the demons and stuff is really real, but there’s room for interpretation that the characters affected are just getting rattled by the case or whatever.  Overall this film tried to pull the whole “fair and balanced” scheme, to a blatant degree.  Several times in the movie they basically spell out that that’s what they’re doing.

Now, in actuality I’m very in favor of being open minded and deciding for yourself.  However, this movie is a cavalcade of all the abuses of this philosophy.  False dichotomies swarm from the script and no regard is given to prior probability. False assertions are made and unquestioned, straw men show up fairly regularly.  And the icing on the cake, is the argument that any doubt is reasonable doubt.  *rolls eyes*

Still, what they were trying most to do was make a movie that everyone could kinda grab something they agree with and feel good about, and therefore, hopefully like the movie.  They might have succeeded (although probably not for the likes of me, but for, like, 98% of the world) if it hadn’t been for the sentencing.  They took their desire to play both sides evenly too far.

In the end, the priest is found guilty of negligent homicide, but sentenced to time served, meaning he was free to go.  The jury and judge concluded that the priests actions directly resulted in the horrible death of a 19 year old, and also conclude that nothing should be done about it?  And the movie acts like this is a good thing?  Whether you agree with the verdict or not, you have to agree that given a guilty verdict for the crime negligent homicide, there should be some substantial punishment.  In the case of Me v. the judge and jury from this movie, I find the defendant guilty on 13 counts of moral bankruptcy, philosophical inconsistency, and general douchbaggery.

*shakes head*

Gifts

I have long been pained and confused by the love of gift giving, especially displayed by women.  I loathe gift giving so much that it ruins almost every holiday.  This is part of the reason I like Thanksgiving so much.  Most of the women around me seem to love gift giving so much they never stop doing it.  They’re thinking of gifts for people they’ve barely met, regardless of the time of year.  I’ve always known why I hate gift giving, but I think I might have recently come to some insights as to why other people, especially women, might like it.

Part of it is obviously just liking shopping in general.  I hate shopping, so I don’t want to do it for myself, let alone other people.  This is not a hinderance for everyone.  However, love of shopping doesn’t necessarily mean a love of gifting.  Actually, a lot of the people in my family seem to not like shopping very much, unless it’s for gifts.  Why?

I’ve always assumed the point of giving a gift is to get something the target will like.  As soon as I realized this assumption, and circumvented it, I came up with my new hypothesis.  I hypothesize it is because it is a socially acceptable way of acting on their judgments of a person, and “improving” the target.  So, if someone has “bad” fashion sense, maybe a gift of a “super cute” handbag will help them build their outfits, or if their taste in movies is lacking perhaps a gift of a few of your favorites will open their mind to the cinematic gold you perceive.  The ability to potentially fix the negative things in the world must feel so nice, and on top of that, you get to do it in such a way that the target thanks you.

Obviously, I don’t think women are the only people out there judging people.  I do think women are less likely to just accept people and not try to fix them, and also more likely to prefer the indirect method of expressing ones judgements.  Couple this with an increased love of shopping and my observations that women like gifting makes some sense.

An alternate explanation is that gifting is a form of evidence that you and the target really are friends, kinda like a validation.  If this hypothesis is true, and the observation that women like gifting more than men, then they would suggest that women require more validation than men, or that the whole effect is attributable to female love of shopping.

As is my custom with topics involving humans, I suspect this issue is complex, and likely a combination of the hypothesises above, and some not concidered.  I’m also prepared to believe that the gender shopping discrepency can account for most of the percieved gifting discrepency in the general population.  However, I think the first hypothesis, the one about fixing people, makes quite a bit of sense.  Maybe, if I keep that in mind, I can get through another Christmas.

I’m a jerk

I’ve been called a jerk so many times I accept it as true.  I have for a long time.  I just recently was wondering why.

Me being a jerk is undoubtedly a complex thing, with multiple causes from the perspectives of different people.  Further, my internal analysis of my being a jerk is undoubtedly biased and not really trustworthy for those who think I’m a jerk.  It’s my blog, though, so I’m gonna write what I wanna.

The first thing I think when I think about how I’m a jerk is how I don’t really think I’m a jerk.  If I knew me, I wouldn’t be thinking, “That guy is a jerk.”  Lets examine this further.

I do admit to saying many jerky things, most of them are in the pursuit of humor, though.  I think I get a lot of my jerk label from this.  Some people just aren’t cool with humor at the expense of others, even if that other isn’t them.  I don’t think this makes me a jerk, though.  I think it’s funny.  I think it brings laughter to the world.  I do it to myself, I think it’s fair.  This is a matter of opinion, though, so if you want to consider me a jerk for this, that’s fine.  I just disagree.

The next jerky thing I do is ignore and/or argue with most advice given to me.  Like, people who think I’m a jerk will say, “You should consider the feelings of others,” or, “You’re disgusting.”  That last one usually refers to a belch, or my clothes, or my hair, or whatever.  There’s a lot of advice about my looks I get that I ignore.  I bet people don’t like it that I don’t take their advice.  I mean, I don’t particularly enjoy how almost all my advice is ignored.

So, this brings up really two categories of my jerkiness.  First, my disregard for some of societies rules, like don’t belch.  I can’t really argue with me being defined as a jerk this way.  I think the word “jerk” probably has a connotation meaning something like, “someone who disregards minor societal rules.”  Now, I have my reasons, but that doesn’t matter.  So, thinking I’m a jerk for this reason seems legitimate to me, but I would argue that this is a tiny offense, and should be outweighed by my other qualities.

The second is my ignoring of advice.  This is also classic jerk behavior, but I think I deserve a pass.  The reason is that I’m not wrong.  The people giving me advice are.  Now, obviously, everyone reading this is going to think of examples when they’ve been the ones giving me advice and they obviously don’t agree, and obviously most people who don’t take advice would feel as I do, but that’s just my point.  Someone has to be wrong, so at least half of all advice should be ignored.  I don’t just ignore all advice given to me, I consider all of it, and take that which is correct.  Really, what more can you ask for?

I also brag a lot, which seems like jerk behavior.  Really this falls into the joke category, because I think it’s funny.  I think it’s funny because the bragging does not correspond to a feeling of superiority.  I can see how it would mostly only be funny to me, though.  Of all my jerk behavior, this is the one I think most deserving of correction.  I think quite highly of myself, but I don’t really need to point it out all the time.  Still, a couple things in my defense.  One, most of the joke bragging is bragging about things I clearly have no real influence on.  Like, how I’m skinny despite what I eat, or how I require little sleep.  Two, I have to defend myself when I can cause everyone thinks I’m a jerk.  😛 In seriousness, though this behavior does make me a jerk, I think it’s pretty minor.  And I have my reasons, again, that don’t matter.

The final jerk behavior I exhibit, at least to my own reckoning, is newly articulated in my mind.  It boils down to that I don’t keep my mouth shut.  I pipe up almost every time those around me say or do something I disagree with.  I’m constantly putting little crimps in people’s world views, dings in beliefs, it makes me fairly disagreeable, in the literal sense.  Even if I don’t actually put dings in beliefs, the fact that I try still qualifies me as a jerk.  But this is wrong.  This is not how the world should be.  The world is not divided into separate spheres where each person gets their own bubble to do whatever they want with, only joining with those around long enough to exchange compliments and pass over disagreements.  The world is interconnected and the mistakes of those around me will affect me and the rest of the world.  Sitting by and letting people believe the incorrect is the real jerk thing to do.  This category of my jerkiness I do not accept.  In fact, I argue this jerk behavior is one of my strongest character strengths.  I fight ignorance and illogicality as I can, with little support, and quite a lot of resistance, and I do it primarily for those other than myself.

I’ve not really argued against my being a jerk, and I’m not going to.  I am a jerk.  The point is I’m a lot of other things first.  Besides all that above I do many other things.  I share all I have with whoever wants it.  I specifically give things I enjoy to others if they will enjoy it more.  I help when asked, and when I obviously can even if I’m not asked.  I donate my blood, my hair, my time, my computer cycles, and when I get some, my money.  I’m on the list to donate my marrow, and if I die I’ve stated I want to donate everything I got.  I’m ridiculously honest.  I never do anything with intent to harm.  I conserve.  I write my congressman.  I forgive easily.  I take responsibility for my actions.  I never risk compromising these qualities by altering my mind with chemicals.

My point is the things that make me a jerk are trivial compared to the things that make me a good guy.  So, it’s correct to call me a jerk, but it should be more obvious, and is more correct, to call me a stand up citizen and friend to humanity.

I could start discussing the various cyclic loops in this whole subject of the jerk, but I think I should stick a fork in this post.  Gonna do some homework or something.