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About Justin_Case001

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  • Birthday 10/21/1985

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

  • Best Pony
    All of them
  • Best Pony Race
    No Preference

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    Lakeview Manor, Falkreath
  • Personal Motto
    Get busy livin, or get busy dyin!
  • Interests
    Figure skating, horseback riding, art, video games, fashion.

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  1. Appledash and TwiPie. I see what you did, there. This episode was basically ship names and meme faces. What's poning, ponles? Well, it was okay. Cute. But it was one of those where we knew exactly what was going to happen. Was there any chance that Pinkie wasn't going to f*ck everything up? And was there any chance that Twilight wasn't going to get obsessed with winning, hurt Pinkie's feelings, and then learn a lesson about having fun with friends being more important than winning? Lol. But I liked it okay. But it kinda grinds my gears a bit how they make the protagonist out to be a jerk for wanting to win in episodes like this. Y'know, on any show. I mean, I don't think it was unreasonable for Twilight to want to win, and I don't think it was unreasonable for her to be annoyed with Pinkie, considering that Pinkie (Celestia bless her carefree little heart) is literally incapable of doing anything like this without acting like a total buffoon. I mean, if you worked really hard to prepare for something, it's reasonable for you to be annoyed if your friend sabotages it. But I guess Twilight can't really get that angry considering that it's random partners. If they had a dedicated quiz bowl team, and Pinkie came along and destroyed it, then it would be totally reasonable to want her to get lost. I guess I just always take the contrarian position and sympathize with character's original plan. I felt sorry for Twilight putting in all the hard work and then getting torpedoed by the idiot teammate. But I still enjoyed it.
  2. Damn straight! Outlaws f... I mean, uh... ponies for life! So many people are all whipped up and worried that the moment the finale airs, the community and all that they've made will just vanish into the aether or sink to the bottom of the sea, never to be heard of again. Poppycock. I tell you, even if they had never made another Star Wars anything after Return of the Jedi, we'd still see a robust and active Star Wars community today. These things don't die. We'll still be here, and we'll still be creating and sharing. Sharing and caring!
  3. Another astute point. I've actually thought quite a bit about this exact thing. It does indeed seem that the universe isn't 50/50, but is worse, as you say. However, I don't see that as evidence of any deity. I think this evident nature of the universe can be readily explained by how species evolve. I did a piece on this awhile ago in which I explained one of my lifelong theses, The Default Position.
  4. Nothing would please me more than to reach a point where I don't feel the need to talk about religion anymore. Every time I write about it, I tell myself that it will be my final word, and that I will move on to other things. And yet, I cannot resist coming back to it given the kind of insanity I see on an almost daily basis. The other day, in the newspaper, I read an opinion piece by a local resident saying how America will always be a Christian nation, no matter how long time goes on for, and anyone who's anyone will turn to Jesus, the only path to salvation, and all others will be punished for all eternity. Although I personally don't believe in the idea of any sentient creator, I really have no objections to people believing that there is some sort of god, and some sort of afterlife. Simply believing that there is something, without presuming to know for sure what, seems relatively harmless. However, claiming to be 100% certain that it is your god, and your holy book, and that all others will be tortured for all eternity in hell is ludicrous. I'm not going to rehash why it makes no sense to believe literally in any one particular faith. I've done that to death. Instead, today I am going to argue why the character of the biblical god is not worthy of your worship in the first place, and why the entire concept of hell is monstrously unethical. First, let's recap what god's basic shtick is, shall we? He commands that we believe in him on no evidence. Clearly, if he wanted to, it would be trivially easy for him to give us proof of his existence, but he doesn't care to. It seems that having faith with no evidence is part of his test. He apparently values blind faith without critical thinking, questioning, or reasoning. He demands that we worship him, have complete faith in him, believe in one particular book, above all others, with no evidence, and surrender to him in totality. Compliance is rewarded with an eternity in heaven. Failure to comply results in eternal torture in hell. Yeah, so, that's the deal, apparently. Great guy! Now, it's extremely important to note that this picture of the afterlife isn't even what's depicted in the bible, and yet, this is the idea that most people seem to be walking around with. Most people don't even know what it is they believe in or why. The Hebrew bible and old testament don't even mention hell, and descriptions of it in other versions are incredibly vague, and do not speak of a realm of eternal fire and torment. The "lake of fire" that so many Christians refer to doesn't come up until the book of revelations. The modern, stereotypical concept of the fiery hell was cobbled together from pagan religions, Greek mythology, and various other scraps. The modern concept of heaven isn't really what's in the bible, either. Most people have this idea in their heads that when they die, their soul will be transported to some ethereal, blissful paradise where they will be reunited with loved ones and live in joy with god for all eternity. The bible doesn't actually describe anything like this, however. According to the bible, at some point in the future, the end times will arrive, at which point there will then be a final judgement, and the sinners will then be annihilated, and the believers will be reborn on Earth, which is to be restored into the idyllic paradise it allegedly was in the time of Adam and Eve. That's what the book actually says, but the vast majority of believers still walk around with these cartoonish images of heaven and hell in their minds. I'm not even going to get into how and why this version of the afterlife was made up, or why it persists, but let's just run with it for the moment. Most devout believers tell others that they will face eternal torment if they do not accept the biblical god and Jesus. This paints an image of a god who cares more about being worshiped than about how people treat each other, and who tortures and punishes people for simply not being convinced of the legitimacy of a particular book. They might be the nicest, most honest, decent, compassionate, altruistic, selfless people in the world, but because they weren't convinced that the bible is true, they face an eternity of agonizing torment. There is absolutely no getting away from it: such a god is a cruel, immoral, selfish, vindictive, petty, vain, narcissistic, manipulative, evil, barbaric, tyrannical monster. That's the truth, plain and simple. Only such a monster could torture and punish good, honest, kind people for simply thinking critically, and not being convinced of a particular religion. Moreover, there is no moral justification for hell in the first place. I submit that no finite crime, no matter how egregious and heinous, is deserving of infinite punishment. No matter how horrible a person's action in the mortal world, there would come a point when the torture in hell would exceed it. There would come a point when they had gotten what they "deserve". I'll be the first to admit that when I hear of evil being committed, I often wish an eternity of suffering on the perpetrator, but a few moments spent imagining what eternity really means should be sufficient to reach the conclusion that no mortal being, no matter how evil, is deserving of eternal suffering. Once again, finite crime is not deserving of infinite punishment. But even if hell were real, it should be reserved only for truly evil people, but so many would have us believe that the Christian god is one that inflicts infinite suffering on good, kind people just for not complying with his unreasonable demand to worship him with no evidence. Why would such a monster even be deserving of worship in the first place? Most devout Christians claim that morality comes from god. So... the ultimate arbiter of morality, justice, and wisdom in the universe is a vengeful monster who punishes all who even so much as question him by throwing them into fire and brimstone for all eternity? I could throw a rock and hit a far better role model than that. Which brings me to my next point: throughout all of history, without exception, when civilizations become more enlightened, they become less violent. Torture and casual murder as forms of justice are customs that are left behind as people grow more civilized. I already explained why I remain agnostic on capital punishment in a previous piece, but it's absolutely clear that as societies grow more enlightened, they begin to question and decrease the death penalty. I have no doubt that a futuristic, utopian society would have a restorative justice system, and capital punishment would be a distant memory. As we've evolved, we've learned that hurting and killing those who have hurt you, tempting though it may be, is wrong, and doesn't help anyone. Revenge never leads anywhere worth going, and every utopian picture of the future is one where humankind has outgrown the need for it. We mere mortals have figured this out, and yet the biblical god apparently tortures and punishes people simply because he thinks they deserve it. This supposedly omniscient, infinitely wise being is, I would argue, less morally evolved and enlightened than we are. There is nothing moral or wise about eternal punishment. I submit that an infinitely wise being would be beyond petty retribution. This vengeful version of the biblical god is a monster undeserving of worship or admiration, and yet it's the image that so many Christians have in their heads. The real kicker is that, as I said, these modern concepts of heaven and hell aren't even in the bible. They were made up, and this pernicious and ubiquitous idea of hell is used daily to poison and terrify young, underdeveloped minds. Teaching kids this nonsense often scars them for life. It's child abuse, plain and simple. A massive amount of religious people continue to preach the image of a monstrous god and a horrible torture realm, and they don't even know how, where, when, or why these ideas came about. I reckon that many Christians don't subscribe to the idea of the vengeful god, but instead believe that god is a nice, compassionate, and all around decent dude who rewards honesty, kindness, and compassion, regardless of spiritual beliefs or lack thereof, and only punishes actual cruelty. Although I will always argue that adherence to any organized religion makes no sense, a belief in this type of god seems relatively benign by comparison. If you think that simply being a kind, decent person is the only requirement for admittance to heaven, then you're unlikely to cause much problems for anyone. What I want to see an end to is the idea that eternal suffering awaits any who don't follow one specific book to the letter. I wrote this piece to discourage the hell meme. Stop spreading it. This is one meme that desperately needs to die. The idea of hell and eternal punishment for worshiping the wrong deity is probably the most insidious thing ever created by humankind, and I'm f*ckin sick of it. I'm sick of the fear mongering, threats, hatred, and child abuse, and I'm sick of opening my paper and seeing letters from my neighbors telling me that I'm going to burn for eternity. If you still believe in hell and a god who would condemn people to it, then ask yourself why, and where these ideas actually come from. Ask yourself if such a god is actually moral and worthy of worship in the first place. I'd wager that you're probably wiser and more ethical than your god is.
  5. Today will be one of my more counter-intuitive and possibly controversial ideas. I want to talk about what it means to be shallow in terms of one's character. What is shallowness, really? But before I dive into the depths, a bit of preface on the subject of free will is in order. In recent years, I have come to accept the fact that free will, insofar as most people think about it, doesn't exist. If you've never heard or read any lectures on this idea, you may find yourself quickly losing the plot, but that's okay--I find it takes awhile for these ideas to make sense. The basic premise is this: although we absolutely have the power of conscious choice and voluntary action, our choices and actions are all directly caused by our thoughts, and you don't author your thoughts. You don't actually bring your thoughts into being. You are not the driver or pilot of yourself that you think you are. You are not the author sitting at the desk in your mind, writing the thoughts of your life. Thoughts simply arise in consciousness. They spring into being. You don't create them; you are merely witness to them. With a little bit of practice at introspection, one can easily prove this to oneself. If you pay close enough attention to what it's like to think a thought, you will see that you don't create them, and don't truly have any control over what thought comes careening into consciousness next, even when it seems to be otherwise. I could go on at length attempting to demonstrate this, but I don't wish to get bogged down and run too far off the rails. The punch line is that because you don't author your thoughts, you don't actually have the freedom over yourself that you think you do. Everything you think and do arises out of a perfect crucible of prior causes stretching back to the beginning of time. Confused yet? It took me some time before I stopped being so. Hopefully you're still with me. To help you understand this idea a bit better, I recommend listening to this short audio clip before continuing: Now then, today I would like to argue that being concerned with physical attractiveness is no more shallow than being concerned with intelligence. This is quite a bold claim, and cuts directly against what most of us tend to believe, but I think I can argue this successfully. If you've followed me much at all, you might already know that I am a highly sexual person, and a great proponent of embracing and celebrating physical and sexual beauty. People who place a high degree of importance on physical beauty often take a lot of flak for being shallow, and I probably would too, if I actually went outside and talked to people... :/ In my country of America, there is an odd double standard at play when it comes to physical attractiveness. We live in a culture of mixed messages, where the media tells us that looking good and staying young is paramount, but we are also admonished to look at inner beauty and judge people only on their characters. Most people typically say that part of what constitutes being a good person is looking past outer beauty, and to pay little to no attention to what people look like. I think that even when people are concerned about physical beauty, they feel societal pressure to say otherwise because it's the "right" thing to do. It seems universally accepted that looking only at "inner" beauty is an inherently good, noble, and virtuous way to be. People who say that they care only about what's inside, even when it comes to their romantic partner, typically get pats on the back. What I am arguing today is that essentially every trait we could conceivably care about is largely out of our control, and thus, it is no more shallow to compliment someone's looks than it is to compliment their smarts. Here comes the part that many people really don't want to hear. Intelligence is pretty much entirely genetic. You either have it or you don't. From there, it comes down to what you do with it. You can use it, or not. Education--filling your brain with knowledge--will help you reach your potential, and early childhood environmental factors certainly play a role in facilitating this and priming the brain for the rest of it's life, but that's not really what intelligence is. Intelligence is your ability to understand and to think. It's not really about what you know, or how much, but about how you think. It's about your potential. This is genetic. You're either born with high intelligence or you're not. You can't really change your intelligence level in any deep sense. This is the uncomfortable truth that people don't want to hear, but it is a truth nonetheless. Your intelligence simply is what it is. What you can do is exercise your brain to help maintain it and reach your potential. You can study to increase your knowledge, you can perform various mental exercises to improve memory, and you can make new neural connections and pathways by learning new things. There's lots you can do to improve the brain, but this is merely sharpening up and honing what you already have. It's taking the brain you have and helping it be the best it can be. It's helping you to reach your potential, but it isn't really changing your intelligence. If you find yourself resisting this idea, let's look at the rest of the body instead. I probably don't need to spend a second convincing anyone of how genetics and exercise work with respect to physical fitness. We all know that genetics plays a major role in how your body will look and function. You're born with whatever build you're going to have--you get what you get. From there, it's again a question of what you do with it. Some people put on weight easily, others stay stick thin regardless of what they eat. But no matter what your genetics, you can always improve by eating a healthy diet and exercising. But this is about improving what you already have and reaching your potential. It doesn't change your genetics. No matter what your build, your genetics are either better or worse, relatively speaking, and that comes down to luck. It is conceptually no different when it comes to intelligence. You get the dealt your hand, and then it comes down to what you make of it. From a certain perspective, there's really no difference between mental and physical health. The tendency to differentiate our beings into the mental and the physical is a tad illogical. The brain is just another organ in the body. The gray matter between your ears is just that--matter. It's just atoms in there. Whatever happens in your brain--whatever you learn, whatever memories you make--it's all just a restructuring of atoms. There's nothing else it can be. It's not as if memories and knowledge are some non-corporeal energy that has no physical basis, some spooky magic floating in the aether. Whatever is in your brain is just atoms, just as whatever data is on a hard drive is just atoms. A hard drive basically stores data by magnetizing and demagnetizing billions of little particles. What happens in your brain is like an analogous process with wet goop. The point being that it's all physical, in a sense, so mental health is just another part of physical health. You just have to do very different things to exercise the brain versus exercising muscles. We have this tendency to refer to the body and the brain as these distinctly different and separate things, when they're really not. Genetics gives you whatever body you're going to have, including the brain. You either get good genetics for physical health or you don't, and you either get good genetics for intelligence or you don't. The rest comes down to use, maintenance, nourishment, and exercise of the given parts. So, from here we can see that you are no more responsible for your base intelligence than you are for your physical attractiveness. Both are determined by genetics. You can improve your physical health and athletic ability, as well as your brain's health, in the ways I described. You can also do things to improve your attractiveness, though these things are much more subjective. You can shave, trim, and style hair, file nails, sand rough skin, moisturize, etc. Whether it's intelligence, athletic ability, or hygiene, one can always improve oneself, but none of this changes genetics. The only way to actually change what you look like in any deep sense is to have some sort of invasive cosmetic surgery. Likewise, the only way to truly change your mind, to change who you are and how you think, is to physically alter your brain in some way, either by trauma or some type of hypothetical rewiring, such as switching which hemisphere is dominant, for example. Without opening up your head and tinkering with the goo inside, you can't truly change who you are, or your intelligence level. Of course, who you are changes in each moment because that's the character of life, but you're not truly responsible for that, either. It should be clear by now that when we compliment either someone's intelligence or their appearance, we're essentially congratulating them on being lucky. We're saying, "good for you for having good genetics." It's conceptually no different in either case. If someone has made good use of their luck, we can congratulate them on that as well, but that's just more in the way of luck. Noticing intelligence over appearance isn't inherently noble or virtuous, as people have no true responsibility for their intelligence. When asked what they look for in a mate, people will often take care to list "inner beauty" traits in order to appear a deep and better person. However, you're no more responsible for your intelligence, your sense of humor, or anything else about your personality than you are for your appearance. You don't choose or design your personality. You have no control over your likes or dislikes. You're no more responsible for your love of sports than you are for your height. You're no more responsible for your warm and caring nature than you are for your breast size. All of it is genetics, and then the ocean of prior causes that shape who you are. I wrote this piece in part as a self-defense; I resent being thought of as shallow simply because physical beauty is important to me. Any trait that we could conceivably care about is mostly genetic, and it's not wrong or immoral for us to want any given trait in a partner, or a friend for that matter. It's not shallow or immoral to seek a partner that you're attracted to physically. At this point, I want to make it abundantly clear that I care very much about intelligence and personality. In fact, those are far more important than appearance, and this is ridiculously easy to prove. You can be friends with an nice, ugly person, but you can't be friends with a pretty, mean person. It's simple, but really, that's all I need in order to know that "inner beauty" is far more important. To add a bit more, I'll just say that how we behave and how we treat others is far, far more important than how we look. I would never even imply otherwise. I merely submit that it's not shallow to be concerned with physical appearance as well. So, what is shallowness, then, if not paying attention to appearance? Simply put, shallowness is judging someone character based on appearance. Seeking out beauty isn't shallow, but treating people poorly on the basis of appearance is. Concluding that a fat or ugly person is therefore bad or stupid is shallow. Concluding that a pretty person is therefore good and smart is shallow. Determining someone's worth as a human being based on appearance is shallow. Systemically excluding unattractive people, or doling out more wealth to attractive people, is shallow. But choosing certain traits for the people we want in our personal relationships isn't. To desire physical attractiveness is to desire good genetics. To desire intelligence is simply to desire another variety of good genetics, and wanting good genetics for our partner is the prerogative of every human being. To be shallow is to judge someone's character based on appearance, and to then treat them thusly. To notice, compliment, celebrate, or be concerned with any trait we might care about, be it physical appearance, athleticism, or intelligence, is simply to say, "way to go on winning the genetic lottery." Desiring or seeking physical beauty is therefore amoral, and not shallow.