Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary: "Where was God?"

The Sandy Hook Elementary mass murders shocked and saddened me like nearly everyone else in the country.  It also exposed once again some of the ugly sides of our society.

For one, it bared the media's obsessive-compulsive need to report first, rather than report accurately.  There's simply no excuse for this failure; especially the colossal failures in those first few hours.  Is it no wonder that many Americans distrust the media nowadays?

For another, the predictable bunch of ideological opportunists seized  upon this tragedy to once again harp on their beliefs about gun control.  I will say here that yes, I do agree that there should be discussions about gun control and how easy or difficult it should be to obtain firearms.  However, there is the matter that the ones who speak loudest about the need for more gun control are curiously silent when it comes to our own government's failure of its own "gun control".  In order for these gun control supporters to have a decent level of credibility, they should be as outspoken about the failure of Fast and Furious as they are about the need for gun control in the private sector.

Then there's the matter of the NRA's silence once the shooting began.  The NRA often paints themselves as victims of aggressive propagandizing from their opponents, but then go silent during news events that involve mass killings.  The NRA could be adding to the discussion on gun control and how to keep firearms out of the hands of mass murderers such as what we saw last week, or at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater earlier in the year.  Their silence, as the saying goes, is deafening.  I'm not on either "side" of the gun control debate, and I won't get into my personal views on the issue right now.

Another ugly side that was exposed last week was our country's failure to locate, contain, and aid the mentally ill.  While there are different reasons as to why this occurs, there are at least two main ones: a lack of funding, and because certain people on the left are more concerned about the "rights" of the mentally ill than the safety of the society that must accommodate them if they're not institutionalized.  I know people on the left that are influenced by the reports of very real abuses inflicted upon the patients in mental institutions, but the solution isn't to set these people free, it's to reform the kind of aid and assistance that they're given.  Leftists must understand that the mental institution portrayed in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is not representative of how all mental institutions are run.

But the main thing that I think is exposed in tragedies like this is when people bring up questions such as "Where was God?"  Both believers and deniers of God ask this question, but they're asking the wrong question.  First, let's ask why these people ask this question in the first place.

For believers of God, they'll ask "Where was God?" because their faith has been shaken by these kinds of tragedies.  This indicates a lack of understanding of the nature of God, and what he can and can't do.  God is not a genie, granting wishes left and right.  I use the example of a parent giving a child every single thing he or she wants to explain why God sometimes doesn't answer our prayers (or as it is sometimes said, "God answers all our prayers, but sometimes, the answer is 'no'").  If a parent gives their child everything they want, and when they want it, will that child grow up to be a mature and well-adjusted adult?  I hope you said "no". 

So if a human parent telling their child "no" once in awhile helps in their growth and maturity down the road, how much more does that apply to God, the "ultimate" parent? The point here is that a mature understanding of God will be that believing in God isn't going to shield us from the ugliness and evil that exists in our world.

If anything, believing in God will make you more aware of just how much ugliness and evil there is in the world.  But a mature understanding of the nature of God will help you to recognize the ugliness and evil in yourself, and from that, gain a strength in fighting our dark sides, because you can't fix what's broken in your soul if you aren't aware in the first place that it's broken.  So believers in God who ask "Where was God?" during such times demonstrate their lack of strength and faith.

For those who don't believe in God, when they ask "Where was God?", they aren't looking for an answer, because in their minds, they know the answer: He wasn't anywhere, because he doesn't exist.  So why then, would they ask "Where was God?"  In their case, it's a rhetorical question; they ask because it's a validation that he doesn't exist, for if God did exist and he's supposed to be kindly and wish us well, then why didn't he save those children from that murderer last week?  In a sense, it's a form of mockery - why otherwise bring up a deity that they don't believe exists?  It's basically an opportunistic seizing of the moment to promote their own views - which doesn't reflect very nicely of them.

Accepting that a loving God would allow tragedies like Sandy Hook Elementary was probably the toughest part of believing in God that I had to overcome. Why does God allow such evils to happen?  Indeed, why does he allow wars, such as WW1 and WW2?  Why does he allow pestilences such as the Black Plague, or the smallpox epidemic that decimated a great majority of the Native American population when the Spaniards came to the Western Hemisphere?  Those other questions will be for another discussion; for now, let's stick to Sandy Hook Elementary.

The murderer was able to take advantage of a perfect storm of failures on the part of 1.) how he obtained the guns, 2.) that he wasn't institutionalized much, much sooner, 3.) that the school's system of defense was insufficient, and so on.  Before I go on, let me say here that the blame for this mass murder belongs solely to the murderer himself.  You will notice that I haven't said his name yet - and I won't do so now.  He wanted his name out there, I will deny him that.

Getting back to my discussion, the question of "Where was God?" is not the right question.  The correct question is, "Where were we?"  Where were we, when we had the chance to spot him, and then to stop him?  Granted, even with better methods of spotting and stopping mass murderers, some will still slip through the cracks.  No system of stopping mass murderers is ever going to be perfect, but that should not stop us from trying, and we as sure as heck can do a lot better than we're doing now.  But first, we have to come to accept the following:

When we ask "Where was God?", it's to keep from asking, "Where were we?".  It's blame transference, in other words; God is a scapegoat for our failures.

But if we really, truly, want to do a much better job of stopping mass murderers, then we need to put the focus on where it belongs:  On us.  We owe it to future generations to have the courage to ask the right questions so that we put ourselves on the road to find the right answers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Time for Madonna to rebel again - by aging gracefully

I came across this Before and After pic of Madonna yesterday, and to me, it demonstrates that it's time for a change for Madonna.

Ignore the piss-poor Photoshop disaster on the right, because it's very fake, and you can see how fake it is by comparing it to the pic to the left.  Had you dudes not seen the unretouched pic to the right, you wouldn't know that you were lusting after a woman who looks old enough to be your grandmother (and for some of you, she probably is old enough to be your grandmother!).

No, instead I'm going to concentrate on the picture on the left; of Madonna in all her wrinkled glory.  Now, when I say "wrinkled glory", I don't mean that in an insulting way, regardless of how I make that sound.  Instead, it's a compliment, as I'm about to explain below.

First, let me say that Madonna is said to take excellent care of herself.  Eats right and exercises intensely to keep herself in the shape that she is for her performances.  Mega kudos to her, and I mean that sincerely.  As women age, it gets harder and harder to maintain their body's shape and tone, and Madonna is one of the better examples of celebrities who don't let their "party" lifestyles consume them.

However, even the best lifestyle habits can't prevent the onset of aging, and it shows on the pic above.  While Madonna does what she can to help maintain herself in top physical form, the kind of lifestyle she leads takes its toll.  In other words, partying wears on a body!

On top of that, consider over the years, all the chemicals that she's put in her hair to changes its color back and forth.  There is also all the chemicals from the make-up she's put on over that same time span, and other chemicals that are used to take the make-up off.  Add to this the exposure to sun, smoke, and other unhealthy pollutants in the air that's she's been exposed to all these decades during her concerts, and you have the skin to reflect 3+ decades of wear and tear.

During her long career, Madonna has sought to be a trend-setter, a risk taker, and to challenge the ideas and impressions of womanhood in our society.  In that, she deserves credit for the kinds of good changes in beliefs and attitudes about women that she's helped bring about.

However, there's an annoying personality flaw of hers that she hasn't been able to shake in all this time: she knows of no other way to be "daring" than to dress provocatively.  Dressing provocatively and striking poses that would make little old ladies faint is one thing when she did this while in her 20's; still doing these same things while in her 50's - and looking all of her 50+ years - is another matter entirely.  There is such a thing as aging gracefully!

Take the picture above.  In one respect, I can admire the picture because it shows how her skin reflects the years.  I've discussed before on my blog about women and body image issues, and how they can often be paralyzing for some women.  Guys don't understand how much body image is tied to a woman's sense of self-worth.  Yes, to you guys, it sounds like women are too vain for their own good, and I could go on and on about the origins of these body image issues, but that would take another blog post just to cover some of the basics! 

Instead, I want to bring up body image issues as it applies to Madonna, and the potential good that she could do for society.  As I said, Madonna has made a career out of challenging the norm and dressing provocatively.  Now, however, the dressing provocatively needs to stop, because the woman is in her mid-50's!

Look again at the pic above, and you see that the shot is with her legs spread apart!  You can bet that the pic was heavily Photoshopped because otherwise, men weren't going to be turned on by a wrinkled woman spreading her legs.  They even Photoshopped out the wrinkles in her legs!  And while older women of the past might have been shocked by the young Madonna because she was posing in "unladylike" poses, now older women are shocked because she's an old woman herself carrying on like she's still in her 20s.

While I think the dressing provocatively needs to stop, there is something else Madonna could do to still be the trend-setter and risk-taker that she so desperately wants to recapture:  She could challenge the norm, but in a different way.  Like my post title says above, she needs to age gracefully.  She wants to be daring?  Then go with a new look that will challenge the way women look at themselves.

For instance, let her hair get back to its natural color.  If it's going gray, then let it.  And ease up a lot on the make-up.  Or even better, stop using it altogether.  Right there that will be a challenge and a risk.  The real challenge here, though, will be for her to learn how to dress in such a way that will be flattering for her new look.  She could help society - and women in particular - by accepting aging as a natural process that we all will eventually go through.

But the main thing is, she can dress in a style that flattering for her new look, but who said that it still can't be sexy?  Can one be middle-aged and still sexy?  That's my challenge to Madonna to find out.

Madonna, stop spreading your legs like you're 20 years old.  Stop looking like you still need to "put out" to get people's attention.  You already have it!  Instead, show the wear and tear that your body has gone through, and be proud of them as your battle scars of life.  Wear those wrinkles with pride.  Show that you no longer have to justify your existence by looking hot - you've done all that. 

Show that you're now at a stage in your life that you've fought life's battles, and have come out having not just survived, but thrived.  Women already put themselves through enough misery over their looks while they're young - why extend that into their middle age?

Be old and proud, Madonna.  Show the world that it's okay to age, as only you can.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who would win? Sylvanas vs. Elf on the Shelf

Unlike the previous time in which I just could not come up with an answer to the question of who would win in a fight between the Star Trek red shirts vs Star Wars stormtroopers, this "Who would win?" is easy!

In a fight between Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, the leader of the Forsaken and the Banshee Queen, versus Elf on the Shelf, who is Mr Dandy Fancypants, this would be a short fight - if it could be called that!

I mean, technically they're both elves, but that's the only similarity between them.  Look at them!  Sylvanas is ready for war, while EOTS is ready for - sitting!

Easy fight, fellas!  LOL 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Question that stumped The Mighty Andromeda!

You all know me and how I like to dig into researching to find out the answers to all kinds of questions.  I take pride in doing the digging into the books and cyberspace to find answers to the greatest questions of our age.

Now, however, I have come across a question that has me stumped in a way that I've never been stumped before.  And that question is:

Friends, I have no idea!  Theoretically, there wouldn't be a winner, because we all know that the Star Trek red shirts always die - but the Star Wars stormtroopers can't shoot worth shit!  They're shooting and shooting and shooting...

...and shooting,

...and shooting,

...and shooting,

...but miss nearly every damn time!

So what would happen?  You'd have a bunch of red shirts running around not getting hit!  My guess - and it's completely a guess - is that the red shirts will eventually take a laser blast to the head from a random ricochet; either from the stormtroopers' guns, or more fittingly, they'd take an accidental shot to the head from a random ricochet of their own phasers.  Either way would fit entirely within their tendency to die without compromising the stormtroopers' lack of ability to aim their guns.  Or the red shirts could die of exhaustion or starvation waiting to be shot by the stormtroopers!

But again, this is entirely guesswork.  This is a reverse of the classical irresistible force meeting the immovable object.  What we have here is a completely resistible force not at all meeting up with a very movable object.

I'm stumped, guys!    :-\

Help me figure this poser out!