Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Atheist Reviews - A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman

I just put down A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman, and I must say that it did not make my top list of books people must read. The book goes through how different cultures and era's expressed their love, why men like the Indy 500, and women tend to like horses, the love of children, pets, and how love can ruin, or fix lives.

The best part of this book was the history section. It seems to me that the way we express love is a sort of evolution of a memeplex, sort of like religion. In this book it is apparent that ideas about love, such as homosexual love, marriage ceremony, beauty in youth, and infidelity, are not new. The only things that have changed are the cultures. What does seem to be a luxury, according to her book, is romantic love. She cites many times in the civilized world, where women were traded like objects to create social bonds. Many cultures even today marry their women to young (or old men) without the women even knowing about it. The men then have a right (according to certain laws or social constructs) to possess the women, and to force the women to bear his children. While this sounds frightening, it does not seem unthinkable. We as americans have the right to choose who we love (but unfortunately we do not have the right to choose who we marry), and this right is a luxury that has been given to us. Many religions and cultures give that right to the parents, and I can easily see why.

For people unfamiliar with the struggle between parents and their children I would ask you to read these previous posts to my blog:

My Mom's Problem With Taboo
Mom Discriminates Against Atheist
Mom Thinks I Smoke Pot
Mom Steals Shoes and Rips Jeans
Mom Finally Decides To Put My Clothes Where They Go

This is somewhat an issue of control and freedom. Parents in many cultures have controlled their children for so long while the children were young, that when the children grow up it is difficult for them to let go. As a matter of fact, many parents choose to cast their children out of the household for disobedience. This is normal in american culture as well, or else the saying “As long as you live under my house you will obey my rules” will not make any sense.

While this book was very insightful, and the facts contained within it were interesting, there were certain portions which I found overly poetic. The author, as a teacher of english, took great lengths to describe scenes poetically, and sometimes, in my opinion, she overused metaphors to the point where the book was sickening.

Compared to the Orchid Thief, which also gave factual information, this book does not stack up. Some of the best parts of this book is when the author spoke about her own personal experiences. She spoke about attending surgeries to children with cleft mouths and noses, and about her own experiences with love for horses, or about her friend who was interested in seeing a psychiatrist for issues involving love. Sometimes explaining the natural history of a particular set of emotions is better explained when ones personal experiences are used to do the explaining, although I perfectly understand why she felt the need to add other cultures in the book.

When she spoke about other cultures I was a bit disappointed. The cultures she spoked about seemed like “other”. Like their love practices and rituals were not our love practices and rituals. It is true that whenever a girl gets married in the U.S.A., she doesn't shave her hair to be less attractive to men, but the emotion of belonging with someone, or to someone still stands. In truth I see more in connection with the various cultures of the world than I see differences.

And to those who do not have the freedom to choose who they love, because of religion, sexual orientation, culture, or societal norms, I simply say this: The zeitgeist through time has been such that this country as a whole, has become gradually more accepting. Accepting of black people first as non slaves, and then as truly equal (in terms of legality, although I believe racism still exists), accepting of women in politics, the workforce, and as equals in the home, and accepting of multicultural relationships (legally, if not completely socially at this point), all point towards a trend of acceptance, which I hope will continue.

There was a time when women could not vote in this country. When our founding fathers founded this country, the idea of a women voting was preposterous! Now the idea of ending women suffrage will be equally preposterous. I soon see a day where the same will be true of homosexual marriage, atheism, abortion, and even marriage between different religious, and cultures. My mom has often said that my girlfriend, Donna, seems like a nice girl, but she would prefer if I had fallen for Puerto Rican girl. These ideas of preference stem from culture. Donna's culture seems foreign, and while my mother doesn't fear Chinese culture (per se), she is apprehensive of ME changing MY culture (something she need not worry about, since it is too late to save her cultural heritage through me - I proclaim to be a member of the human race long before I proclaimed to be Puerto Rican).

Overall I give this book a 5 out of 10. For it's factual information, and it's acceptance of biology and evolution as a means to explain human behavior. Not many authors would do that.

Also this author openly claims to be religious, and agnostic. This brought upon some confusion for me towards the end of the book. She sees her connection to the natural world as a sort of a religious experience. I think this is a mirage. These connections occur in the neurons of the mind, and while it is wonderful to marvel in the beauty of evolution, and gemstones, and mountains, appreciating nature is and always will be very different from a religious experience. Religion implies that you need faith to believe in something. Faith is belief in the absence of evidence. You marvel at nature because of the overwhelming abundance of evidence of it's beauty. You marvel at how every living organism is the result of millions of years of evolutionary history, and you recognize their patterns as beautiful and valuable! Not simply because they are there but because they exist in our world and at this point in time. Is nature chicken soup for the soul? Yes. But I would run away as soon as I see someone praising God for the wonderful mountain, or tropical bird he has created. Evolution of the landscape, and of species is what created it all. Science not God.

Religious agnosticism is an oxymoron, and I will end with this:

Love is the greatest power of all. It tells me that even though I disagree with most of society on various issues, I can still appreciate all individuals as people of this earth, and as the result of millions of years of selection. We ourselves (as postulated by Diane Ackerman) are museums.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Atheists Mom has a Problem with Taboo

Have any of you ever had a threesome? Like many of you, I have not either. Recently while reading a natural history of love, I came upon the knowledge that fantasies of threesomes are actually normal amongst guys. I had a feeling such thoughts were normal, but I didn’t know for sure. The book actually claimed that there might be some biological reasons why guys dream of threesomes, specifically, straight guys dreaming of threesomes with two woman. The first reason is that sperm is cheap. Women are expected to be with one man, and try their best to hold on to him for the sake of raising kids (because eggs are costly). However, the strategy to increase fitness, for men, would be to have as many matings as possible. Two (or more) matings at once would definitely meet this goal (fantasy?). Another possible reason for these dreams is because they tend to be thought of as taboo, and things that are taboo, such as cheating on your wife, role playing, toy play, and public sex, tends to make such sexual experiences more exciting. This may be why the rate of infidelity to so high.

But why would I be talking about orgies with my mother? It seems like a weird topic to be talking about with someone outside of my age group (and definitely awkward to talk about with the person who gave birth to me). It all started when my sister was getting ready for a night out on the town with her girls.

My sister is 20 years old, and she is very outgoing. She is never single, however, she does break up with her boyfriend(s) often. She, like my mother, are both very emotional people, and they are easy to upset/fluster. They also have a sense of pride in themselves and their culture. Whenever they go somewhere they have to dress to impress, even if they aren’t going anywhere extravagant. In some cultures, once a woman settles down she is expected to purposely tone down her attractiveness to other men. Usually this is done by dressing conservatively or by not being as outgoing. This, unfortunately, is not the culture my sister (or my mother) have adopted. Instead they always dress to impress, to the discomfort of their significant others.

My sister, who I will refer to as Tiffany from now on, was getting dressed to go out with one of her girlfriends. She was getting dressed, doing her hair and figuring out what shoes to wear. She came into the kitchen and asked me if I wanted to have a few drinks and play pool with her and her friends. While I would normally jump at the idea of hanging out with people I have never met before, especially people in my age group, I declined. Currently my relationship with my girlfriend is going fine, and I wouldn’t want to do anything to mess it up (I love you Donna :) ).

After declining, Tiffany started talking about how good she looked, and how she was so hot. In reality, her ego is sometimes bigger than I think it should be. For someone who has not accomplished much, and for someone who has so much acne, it was surprising to hear her praise herself. I don’t know exactly what psychological, or biochemical process is giving her such high self esteem, but whatever it is, I want some. I wish I had as much confidence as her. I know there is a bulge in my belly (years of fast food), and I find myself less attractive or accomplished than many of my peers, so my self esteem is not as high as hers. I do not have low self esteem, just not self-praising sense of arrogance that seems to be common in my family (and possibly in my culture, as Puerto Ricans commonly show in the Puerto Rican parade). I think I am best described as humble (as my mom believes I am).

Tiffany then started looking at her butt, and talking about how big her butt was. This was supposed to be a compliment to herself, and I know many people reading this might not necessarily understand. Many cultures prefer their woman thin; anything that jiggles might be a problem. In Puerto Rican culture there is a certain amount of jiggling that is necessary to be considered attractive. Many people refer to this as junk in the trunk, what I call the J-Lo effect. A woman who is a healthy size with a small waist/big butt, is considered “bien quidada” (well kept/healthy) as opposed to fat. While complimenting herself I thought it appropriate to point out the obvious.

“My butt is bigger than yours” I said to Tiffany, half as a joke.

My mother looked at me quickly. My statement was true. My stomach was not the only place where there has been a noticeable weight gain since I started college. My butt has also grown. I am not particularly proud of this, but I think my girlfriend likes my butt, and my statement was factually true, so I decided to point it out. I am also much taller than my sister, so proportionally there might not be much of a difference, but in absolute size, I believe there is.

“Eww that’s gay” said my mom, not realizing how insulting she is, to both herself and Puerto Rican people. It really grinds my gears when people call comments that have nothing to do with homosexuality, gay. Many people used to do it in high school, and I always used to be called gay and fag, even though I am straight. It is insulting not to me, for being called called gay, but to gay people. I don’t mind being called gay now. I have known many gay people, especially after going to college in Vermont. They (mostly) have an excellent sense of style, and are some of the most intelligent, and helpful people I have ever met. Calling my statement gay also makes no sense. If I had said, “Well I saw some cute guy with an ass bigger than yours”, then I would understand how the statement is gay, but stating a fact about the size of my butt, in relation to my sisters was not gay. In fact, I might even go as far as to consider it science.

Homophobia is not a trait I share with my mom. I am open about my acceptance of gay people. I have no problems with them, and I think they make some of my most loyal friends. I can never invite my mother to meet them though, not because I am ashamed of them, but because I am ashamed of her! This battle with my mother, and my individuality has been long! If you would like to read more about it, feel free to click here, here, here, and here.

I decided not to fight with her about her statement, although I really wanted to. I might have been scarred if I were more sensitive, but even worse was the way someone may have felt if they were gay and in the room. I decided to let it slide to avoid conflict. If you have been actively reading my blog, then you know this isn’t the first time I let something like this pass.

But then I decided to answer my moms statement: “What is wrong with me having a big butt? Donna likes my big butt!”

And them mom said the unthinkable (and un-logical) “Oh, what is Donna gay?”

Well unless I was born a female, and I am unaware of it, no I do not believe that my girlfriend is gay. Either way, I am a male, and males having relationships with females are the norm in society, so I cannot see how my girlfriend, liking her guys with a nice round butt would be gay. If a guy can like a girl with a round butt, why can’t it work the other way around? Of course this logic doesn’t seem to work with my mother. She prefers simple ideas and she hates anything that does not go along with societal norms. 

I find this awkward. One of the greatest facts of life, one of the only reasons people have evolved is because of variation. People have different interests, cultures, races, sexual interests, gender identities, and even different ideas and definitions of family and love. They make the world colorful (sorry for anyone who is offended by this). I like the world to be colorful as opposed to my mother, who prefers things to be black and white. To her the LGBTQ community is to be shunned because she disagrees with it, and because she doesn’t find it normal. I see this type of memeplex (or memeone) all the time, and I can only hope the the dynamic zeitgeist continues it’s trend towards acceptance of pluralism.

This wasn’t always the case. In ancient greek life older men were expected to find younger men to have homosexual relationships with. One of the things they adored, along with philosophy, and strength, was beauty. Not having sex with a young man they found attractive was insulting! Quoting a Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman:

“In Aristophanes’ The Birds, one older man says to another: “Well, this is a fine state of affairs, you damned desperado! You meet my son just as he comes out of the gymnasium, all fresh from the bath, and you don’t kiss him, you don’t say a word to him, you don’t hug him, you don’t feel his balls! And you’re supposed to be a friend of ours!”

Food for thought, Plato and Socrates also have had homosexual affairs.

But for some reason it has become taboo in traditional Puerto Rican culture, not only to be homosexual but to even talk about it. Like religious ideas, homosexuality cannot be spoken about. Why do I compare it to religious ideas? Well because when I started to question the existence of God my friends told me that it was blasphemy and I shouldn’t. Why? Because it was holy. But why can’t I question things that are holy? Because I just can’t. In other words, it is taboo. Well if religious ideas are too taboo to contemplate, then I consider myself quite a maverick, and quite an atheist.

I quickly thought of the prospect of Donna being gay. All of a sudden, I thought it would not be so bad. Perhaps, if Donna were gay (although I know the probability of her being gay is very close to zero), then just maybe I can fulfill every mans dream. The dream of 2 girls with one guy. I mean Donna is my girlfriend, and I know if she was gay, she might not want to break my heart. However, I would also understand her need to explore her feelings for woman (if she had them). Inviting another woman into the bed with us would be a perfect answer to the problem. I should have kept it as a thought though. I replied to my mother.

“If Donna were gay, that would be great for me!”

She was immediately agitated. She told me how girls having sex with girls is wrong, which I disagree with. If a girl wanted to have sex with another girl, then there is nothing wrong with that, provided of course that both woman were consenting to such activities. In my opinion, the population on this planet is too large for people to be against homosexuality anyway. They are part of the solution to our problem. She went on to explain how it wasn’t natural. I also disagree with this. A recent published review paper actually showed how MOST animals participated in homosexual relationships and behavior, including dolphins (click for link). I always told my friends that we had something to learn from the dolphins. 

She also said that having such a relationship would be something I would regret. I disagree. I think such a memory would be something I would cherish, something to check off the to do list before I die. Possibly something both Donna and I would enjoy, provided my performance was satisfactory for Donna. Of course this is less of a concern when there is someone else helping to please Donna.

However, like I have said before, in this household my mother thinks she is always right, and any arguing with her eventually leads to an argument I could never win, because she is an unreasonable woman. Mom plainly said to me, that if Donna were gay, what would make me think she and her girlfriend would want to have sex with me. Now I do not consider myself to have low self esteem but this is the equivalent of saying not only am I unfit physically to be attractive to two woman at a time, but it also takes away a bit of my manhood. The common taboo dream we all share but so rarely fulfill. 

Can I live in this household when it is so apparent that my mother not only wants to take away my style, and privacy, but also my freedom of thought? For the second time, I cannot help to think of the truth within the slogan- live free or die.

I looked at the various homeless shelters in NYC today. How surprised would they be if my mother brought me to the brink of moving out. A college educated 20-something, who has done research for Harvard, begging for food on the train. Collecting change to play his chances in the NY State lotto. 

Think it is too far fetched to happen? I am actually looking at the ratings of shelters right now. And as the commercial says, “Hey, you never know”.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Defeated by a Mother – Style is Freedom

She has really done it this time. My mother has taken it upon herself to throw out some of my shoes! Most of my shoes in fact! I found a bag on the floor in the living room with most of my shoes in it. Sneakers, boots, and other shoes as well.

Apparently she went into my room to “clean up” (although I think she was looking for Mary Jane again), found my shoes under the bed, and decided they needed to be thrown out. Why? Well to her she said they looked old. Most of those shoes were less than 2 years old and all of them were less than 4 years old, so I don't really know what she is talking about. But what do you think? Do you think they look old?

In my opinion the old excuse is just a way to impede upon my freedom. She is doing it purposely because she doesn't like my style.

Just last summer I purchased a pair of puffy “skater shoes”. I know she doesn't agree with the skater style but I purchased the shoes to walk around Petersham Massachusetts when I was doing research in Tom Swamp. These shoes were special because they were my first pair of skater shoes, and the most comfortable pair of shoes I ever brought. I don't know the exact name of the sneaker (I was never interested in names on clothing), but I think these shoes were still good.

Any normal person will tell you these shoes are perfectly fine. They have no holes in them, they are comfortable, and they still have a few more years of abuse to go through before they can be considered old. Not only that but they cost MONEY. My money. The money I earned last summer. If she was throwing out clothing she had purchased for me, it would be one thing, but she is throwing out clothing I purchased for myself.

And for what? Again I believe it was to take away my freedom. Style is Freedom. My style is not gangster like she wants it to be. So by taking away my style and buying me jeans which are (purposely) too big for me, she replaces my style with hers. She has also brought me sneakers that I would never buy myself in a million years. Older people reading my blog might be saying “Your so ungrateful you have a mother that cares; count your blessings; when I was your age we never got anything new unless our clothes were broken”. To this crowd I say, why fix it if it ain't broken? I like my style. In my lifetime I have met more diverse array of people than my mother has. Not only because I have been to college, but I notice it when I speak to her. I am more accepting of other peoples cultures and religions than my mother is. All my mother knows is NYC. She has been living here for so long that she forgot that there is a life out there. A world that not only has gangsters but business people, artists and musicians. And most of them wear clothes that aren't too big for them. Clothes that fit. And names on clothes aren't important to them. Whatever is affordable and comfortable would work!

NYC is like a prison, and she is trying to institutionalize me. Large jeans, baggy shirts. Gangsta clothing. Why? Well I can blame her religion for one thing. “Honor your mother and your father”. I will honor her when she decides that I have a right to wear clothes I feel comfortable in. Sometimes I wish I would get shot. Especially in my gangster clothes. Then I wouldn't have to wear them, and I wouldn't have to deal with her trying to stress me.

I mean, seriously, what is wrong with these sneakers?
Except for the glare from the lens of my camera the only logical answer is absolutely nothing. She has even taken it upon herself to go one step (excuse the pun) further.

She has taken my jeans that were ripped and CUT THEM INTO SHORTS. Most of the jeans I had are now shorts. Impromptu shorts. Not even real shorts one would buy, but shorts with ragged edges where the cuts are made, which are uncomfortable and itchy, and in some cases above the knee (when I sit down). I hate it here. Jeans with rips in them were my style. On a normal day I would go out with those jeans. I would enjoy the breeze they brought to my leg, and yes I even enjoyed MAKING THE RIPS MYSELF! She has taken away not only my style, but my art.

Has anyone ever seen Cloverfield? In the beginning of the movie the guy has a camera, and he doesn't know how to use it well. He is shopping with his girlfriend, and while walking through the streets of NY, he points his camera down. Guess what, HE HAS RIPS ON HIS JEANS!!! He is a young man (somewhere between 25 and 33), and he gets to choose his own style. To anyone who gets to pick their clothing, and wear it comfortably without their mother cutting their pants, throwing away their shoes, or looking for drugs in your dresser, I ENVY YOU.

Style is freedom. And I choose to live free or die. How am I going to go into a job interview with baggy jeans, brand new (shiny) sneakers, and a shirt with some dumb design, and expect to be taken seriously! A plain shirt, fitted pants, and shoes that show how hard I work, and my long history of walking around the streets of Manhattan are much better attire to tell my story.

Her religion teaches her to be proud. Separate things that are clean from those that are dirty. Light from dark. So even though we are so poor, that her limited ability to pay rent has kept her in the projects for 2 months, I still have to look like a gangster who has 100 dollar sneakers, and jeans meant for Santa. This is her proud mentality. She has 3 credit cards, and while they are not all maxed, I ask her, why doesn't she cut one? Why does she not just pay the most expensive one, and get rid of it to cut down her expenses?

She likes to be poor, and not have money. This is my only conclusion. Her taking away my style, my freedom is more than a statement against me, it is a statement against my future. She was looking to see if I had drugs in my room, but now I understand why. It was not because she wants me to be clean, it is because she wants me to sell the drugs to make money.

When I get a job I am moving out. Somewhere far far away, and I will be happy in my humble home, if I never see her “too proud to let your son be himself” face again.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ghetto Windowsill Gardener Finds Petunia Seeds

A few weeks ago I showed you pictures of my girlfriends petunias, and my spider plants. As you may have noticed, the petunias were in bloom, and when a plant is in bloom, it usually means that the plant will produce seeds (if it is a self seeding plant). I wasn't sure if petunias fell into this category, until I found proof.

Now, just to remind you of how the petunias look like (pink) here is a picture:

And as you can tell, I am growing the plant on the windowsill, and it seems to be doing well (although I break branches by mistake every once in a while). I water the petunia every other day (as needed), although I forgot to water it for a few days. The plant reacts quickly to drought. I have noticed its leaves drooping, and leaves closer to the base of the plant (older leaves) turning wrinkly and drying out.

I have also been informed by Ernie DeMarie in my previous post, that these plants are prone to being attacked by spider mites! Ever since that information I have been vigilantly looking at the plant closely, to ensure no herbivores graze upon my girlfriends precious petunias.

These petunias are also important because of where we got them. They were obtained during an event at UVM, during our last year at the University. The ALANA student center put on an event and there was a petunia at each table. The people who put on the event told the people who were at the event that if we wanted the plants, we could take them home. Donna (my girlfriend) did. So now I have to take care of it.

While closely examining the plant one day I noticed a small dried seed pod.

I am actually surprised that I did not find this seed pod earlier, being that I was looking so hard, but I did find it, and I decided (after realizing there were seeds in it) to put it in a zip lock bag.

Now before people start shouting like mad in the comments section and start sending me emails about how paper bags were best for storing seeds, I must say, I KNOW. I know paper bags help keep the moisture out, and so if I use them I could have greater seed viability. I know that seeds in plastic bags are more prone to fungal attack. And lastly, I know that small paper bags are better because they are easier to store and write on, than big zip lock bags. The reason I used a ziplock bag is because I have no money for paper bags, and because this is Jonathan's Ghetto Windowsill gardening, I have to improvise whenever possible.

So I took a sharpie to a ziplock bag and threw it in my small fridge. Since that day, looking for petunia seeds on the windowsill has been a common occurrence. I have been storing all the seeds in one bag, however if you have the money I recommend putting the seeds in small paper bags, which are easier to label and store, and will protect your seeds better. I have been getting so many seeds that I actually made a video about it:

So there you have it. Nail clipping off the petunia seed pods, and opening them up to obtain the seeds was fun, now if only I had some way to grow them (and possibly) sell them. I am willing to let small plantlets go for cheap, and if you want a bare root spider plant, I am willing to sell them (I have about 20). Please contact me at jmejia1187@gmail.com

Now, I know I promised you all an update on my big spider plant, but that would just have to wait a bit more. You would never come back to read my blog if I gave you everything you wanted now. So stay tuned, more plant updates coming soon!

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Atheists Dream

So I was lying in bed last night and I had a strange dream which involved UVM, Good Asian Drivers, Nick Negrete (whom I met in college), Julie Kwok (also from college), and Julie Le (someone who I haven't seen from my days in middle school, but who is my friend on facebook).

The dream started off, as such weird dreams often do, with me lying down in my bed. I had taken a nap earlier in the evening because I had a headache, but with the help of The Body Shops' scented oils, I had relaxed enough to fall asleep. When I woke up, it seemed to be very late, but in the distance I could hear the music of Good Asian Drivers, whose CD is coming out soon (and they will soon be performing in NY for the album release part). If I had money, I would buy the CD, available here (click the link).

But back to my dream. I heard the slam poetry of Kit Yan, and I decided I needed to get dressed and go to the show, which apparently was taking place upstairs. I got out of bed, and put some boxers and pants on. Yes, it is true, I sleep naked, but I am usually clothed in my dreams. It seemed real because when I woke up in my dream, I was naked! Anyway, I quickly put on a pair of jeans, and a plain T-shirt. My room was dark, but since I was heading out I didn't bother to put on any of the lights.

I left my room, which did not resemble my room in reality at all. For one thing, the room was big, and I was sleeping on a queen sized mattress (extravagant, I know). When I left I noticed a staircase leading upstairs, and Julie Kwok was there on the stairs heading up. She asked me if I intended on seeing the show. I told her I did, but I had to use the restroom. She disappeared behind the door on the top of the staircase.

I made my way to the restroom, which seemed like the restroom in a dormitory. What I mean to say is, it wasn't MY restroom. It belonged to everyone, and as such, I had to wait, but not long. When I arrived at the door of the restroom, I saw Julie Le, who told me to go with her to the show. I said I would, but that I needed to really pee. She said I needed to go then, since the show already started and she didn't want to miss anything.

Suddenly, Nicholas Negrete came up behind me, and told Julie Le that if I needed to use the restroom, I should just go use it. He then led me to the restroom door, and I entered it.

I woke up from my dream soon after, to the morning light, and my 7 a.m. alarm on my sidekick. It was weird. Why would Nick know Julie (from H.S.)? Why would all of us be in the same place now that I graduated from college? Nick is in California now (I believe), and both Julie's are in NY (I think, but I can be wrong). Good Asian Drivers are touring around the country, and they will come to NY on the 25th of this month. But nothing in this dream makes sense (except for me needing to use the bathroom).

I normally do not have dreams, but when I do, I try to analyze them. Could it be that my biological needs in real life (shelter, safety, and a sound job to obtain my place in a social society), are holding me back from enjoying the concert of life? Could it be that I should call my friends and make plans to hang out (since both Julie's asked me to go to the show)? Could it be that Asian woman (both Julies again) are calling out to me in real life (Donna), but my Latino heritage (Nick is latino) is somehow holding me back from what I really want?

Why did I have the dream in the first place? I think it has something to do with the fragrance oils. I looked up incense on Google and apparently some types of incense have psychotropic effects I didn't know about. Go figure.

If you have any interpretations or insight, do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

Friday, June 19, 2009

An Atheist Sees Orchids in Union Square

14th Street Union Square is a famous shopping area in NYC. There is a park, a bookstore (the Strand), a place to buy comic books and figurines (Forbidden planet), many eating locations, and places to shop for clothes. There are not many places to sit and use the internet for free in NY, but Union Square has free internet in the park! I have often gone to 14th street to hang out with my girlfriend, Donna. It is one of my favorite places to hang out in the city, but when I saw Orchids on 14th street, I was shocked! There weren't just one or two, there were many!

The park is a popular place for the farmers market. Every once in a while I will go down and see vendors selling cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables, many plants, and even clothing! I have often looked in envy at all the plants I could not afford, and thought how wonderful it would be to grow orchids professionally. Of course I would need a greenhouse (or to work for someone who grows orchids, and already has a greenhouse). If this is you, please contact me, here is my resume.

14th street also had a Virgin Record store which went out of business on June 14th, 2009. The last week Virgin was open I traveled there a lot. The prices were slashed down to 80 percent off everything in the store during the last days it was open (and 90 percent off for the last day). I wonder what will replace it? Virgin was a huge store, and any company would be happy to claim that prime real estate area on 14th street.

However when I left Virgin last week, I noticed there was a farmers market, and one vendor was selling orchids. I could not help but stop by and take pictures. Here they are:

Now I know there is mostly Phalaenopsis, but I assure you, there were other orchids too. And this was only one vendor! There was another vendor selling nothing but orchids.

I fully support people growing and selling orchids in the tri-state area! Many older people sometimes complain to me that young people are only interested in looking good, and on image. I think that notion is incorrect. Many times young people have nothing else to focus on. No passion for anything, so they use their energy on themselves, and on exploding at older people who don't understand them. If there were programs which taught young people about growing plants like orchids in the city, then I think young people might gravitate towards it.

As a matter of fact, I was drawn towards carnivorous plants in high school, and during college I actually did research on Sarracenia purpurea. And yes, I was born and raised in the city. Of course I was always an odd ball, but shouldn't there be programs for oddball students? In truth, I believe such a program would keep kids out of trouble. However, I don't think political figures would be very adamant about starting horticulture, or gardening programs for kids in the city. This is a shame. Because people have lost faith in these students, it seems like many of these students are also losing faith in themselves. Many do not make it past high school, and even less make it to college. In this sense, I understand why some young people complain about older folks. We should all spread the love of nature, no matter what our age is!

Orchids in Union Square may sound weird, but it shouldn't! Orchids in Union Square should be a common occurrence. And educational programs about these plants should also be a common occurrence. The current Biology curriculum is fine, but if you teach a biology class without any plants or animals in the classroom, it is like teaching a fish about air. They will just not be interested in something they cannot relate to.

So, people who read my blog, what to do about the lack of knowledge on various plants in NYC? Well if your reading this, the only thing you can really do is start your own program, or educate yourself. I will take the first step. Everyone who reads this blog should read The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. I believe reading this book might give people (including young people) a reason to care about orchids. Who knows, maybe I may even start a trend (carnivorous plants will also be included, when I obtain some).

There will be updates on the plants I have at home, and on my mother, who recently has taken away my right to walk the way I please (stay tuned for more on this)!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fear Me If You Dare - An Atheist Wins One!

My mother has done my laundry again. I have kindly asked her not to, but I have been going to Manhattan a lot recently, and my laundry has been piling up! I have no problem with her doing my laundry, but I do have a problem with her snooping around my room. Today I am actually doing my own laundry, but a few days ago I came home to find that she had washed a few things.

I came back from Manhattan, after having a nice day walking around with my girlfriend, to find my clothes neatly folded on the bed! It was amazing, like the fairy creatures who clean came when I wasn't there, and decided to leave me a nice present. In college I had to do my own laundry, which gave me a sense of pride and self dependency. It also gave me a sense of responsibility, but most of all, a sense of privacy. I didn't have to worry about leaving things in my pockets that she could potentially find, or about letting the pile get bigger, because I knew I was the one who would (eventually) clean it all up! In previous posts I have spoken about finding my clothes neatly folded and placed in my dresser. I have spoken to my mom about it and I think she got my message: that my privacy should be protected as long as I am in this house. Here are my clothes that found folded:

Apparently my mother was watching my clothing closely. I believe she now knows better than to go snooping around through my things. And if my previous talks with her didn't get the message through, then my boxers certainly did:

“Fear Me If You Dare!” says my Puss in Boots - Shrek boxers. It is an interesting concept to come to terms with. My mother has no real reason to fear me. I will never hit her, or purposely go out of my way to cause her to be scared. However the message is clear that she has to “dare” to do something (like snoop through my dresser), to obtain a “fear” of me (fear of me finding out what she has been up to, and confronting her about it).

However, I dare to fear here also! As the person paying the bills she has the right to kick me out (I am 22). She also has the right to tell me what to do (in the sense that I should not be using too much electricity to run my laptop, or take too long in the shower). I have no problem with her telling me these things (to clean my room, or to wash dishes), and if these were her only arguments then I would be completely fine. She has not impinged on my freedom, and she has not stopped me from doing the things I love doing (my windowsill garden is doing great!).

But at this point it is apparent that I need to start doing my own laundry before going out to Manhattan (and before I come home and find out that mom has already done it) because the only way I can get her out of my room is not to give her a reason to go into it! So, today I took it upon myself to clean my clothing!
With generic laundry detergent at hand I ventured forth into the world of doing laundry in a non-efficient home laundry machine! With this out of the way only a few questions remain:

Will she be proud and see that I have taken initiative?
Will she try to find another excuse to come into my room?
Will I ever find a job?
Do I have any updates about my spider plantlets and petunia?

And will I post any more cool videos of underwater creatures giving birth?

Find out next time on Jonathan's World!

(PS, if something is in a different color, then it is a link)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Atheist Asks - What Plant Is This

The question has been haunting me since my days at UVM. What is the name of this plant? It was being grown at the University of Vermont’s greenhouse. Every once in a while there will be free plants to take home outside the greenhouse. I have obtained a few plants that way, but most of the time they died in my dorm room. Maybe because it was too cold, or too dry (I often did not sleep in my own room). This plant seemed tolerant of abuse (although I have been taking good care of all my plants since I came home). To my surprise these plants were laying on a ledge bare-root in perlite and water with a sign letting everyone know that they were free. I don’t know if they were cuttings or if they were grown from seed. I spoke to Colleen, the greenhouse manager at UVM, who gave me a pot and some potting soil to put 2 small plantlets in. I was growing them in my dormroom, unaware of their needs or even their name.

However horror soon struck one of the unfortunate plants. I moved from Burlington, Vermont to Soundview in the Bronx (the equivalent of moving from Hollywood to south Detroit in terms of safety), and during the move my moms boyfriend, Eddie. accidentally broke one of the small plantlets. I didn’t know what to do, so I took the small plantlet, which had been accidentally cut off from it’s roots, and placed it in water.

I do not drink tea at home, so this Nightmare Before Christmas teacup set, given to me by my lovely girlfriend, was perfect to place the cutting in. This was roughly 4 or 5 weeks ago. I kept on adding more water to the cup whenever I saw it was in need of some more. I guess my vigilance paid off! I pulled the small cutting from the water recently, and there were so many roots!

I don’t know what this plant is, but it certainly seems easy enough to grow (and possibly even easier to propagate vegetatively). The plant looks green from the top but the underside of the leaves is a greenish purple color (not red!), or just plain green in some cases. It is obviously a dicot, and has an extraordinary ability to root quickly (from no roots to roots the size of the plant in about a month). I have no idea what color the flower is, but this can be remedied (somewhat) by knowing what type of plant it is (if I get a response to this post). Here is another picture for identification purposes:

I do not have any pots or potting soil to place my cutting in, however, I do have four Nightmare Before Christmas teacups! If you know what this plant is, please let me know! I am willing to mention you in my blog (give you props, and give props to any website, or company you may have), just to tell me what this plant is and to give me some information on it. Knowing what color the flower is may also be a plus. You can email me at jmejia1187@gmail.com with pictures and information, or just click reply below.

On another note, my spider plantlets (taken from the stolons of the mother plant) are rooting well. Look forward to more updates (and plenty of pictures) on this in the future.

One last thing. Have you ever seen a seahorse giving birth? Here is the video of the week. I will also be posting one of my own videos soon!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

An Atheist in a Gourmet Mickey D’s!

Walking through downtown Broadway (lower Manhattan), I actually found a fancy McDonald’s! I was so surprised. They had a McDonald’s gift store, and above the door there were two musicians (one on piano, and I can’t remember what the other was playing). The chandeliers, flowers at each table, and big lilies at the windows were an added plus. Even the restroom looked nicer than the normal McDonald’s restrooms. The McDonalds I am talking about is on 160 Broadway.

If you have never been to a nice McDonald’s, then I definitely recommend this one. I felt comfortable eating at this McDonald’s, and it reminded me of some of the nice restaurants in Burlington, VT. The food was the same as any other McDonald’s. Big macs, fries, happy meals, and chicken sandwiches. What made this McDonalds different was the ambiance.

I have been beaten to the punch in recommending this Mickey D’s in particular It appears that the Travel Channel has recommended it already (as stated in this plaque placed outside the McDonalds). I don’t mind discovering this little taste of fast food randomly. I rather enjoyed the experience of something so familiar, but so different. Jazz-like music, fancy lights, flowers. This McDonalds is definitely a date spot for those without a job (like me).

Now I normally wouldn’t recommend a restaurant in my blog, but I decided to do something different today. Also, I realize my blog entries are a bit random. One day I am talking about my mother coming to terms with my atheism, and the next day I am talking about what plants I am growing. This makes it difficult to follow what I am actually doing. My last blog entry was just my resume (still looking for a job, click here if you need to see my resume). While I can make a schedule, I think the various topics keep me, and the people reading my blog, on our toes (and now we will be on our feet as we all charge forward to order a Mc. Chicken in lower Manhattan). But that is just the way life goes. Randomly.

Oh, and a bit of a disappointment. I recently discovered that my picasa account only allows me the opportunity to upload a certain amount of pictures. I have been using picasa to get my pictures into my blog. So I had to delete some older pictures. Some of the pictures I deleted were of my spider plant, so one of my older posts now has empty spaces in it. My pictures were not uploaded to blogger because they were too big! I need to find a new way to upload pictures, that is unlimited in capacity. Oh, and because the pictures were deleted from my blog, I will be posting more plant pictures later (to make up for it)!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Jonathan Mejia

1715 Lacombe Ave Apt 4a · Bronx, NY 10473 · (646) 249-1132 · jmejia1187@gmail.com


University of Vermont, Burlington, VT               May 2009

Bachelors of Science degree in Biology, GPA 3.35

  • Relevant Classes: Environmental Science, Ecology and Evolution, Organic Chemistry, Fundamentals of Calculus I&II, Genetics, Molecular and Cell Biology, Biological Anthropology, Behavioral Ecology, Elementary Physics, Basic Statistical Methods, Community Ecology, Biology of Ferns, Plant Growth and Development, Plant-Animal Interactions, Evolution, Speciation and Phylogeny, Pollution Ecology, Toxicology
  • Dean’s List Fall 2005, Community Builder 2008



Researcher, McNair, University of Vermont               Summer 2008 to Spring 2009

  • Participated in field research of my own design under the guidance of Aaron Ellison and Nick Gotelli
  • Studied prey invertebrate availability in Harvard Pond for Sarracenia purpurea and web building spiders
  • Prepared and presented a PowerPoint presentation on my research to my peers
  • Calculated summary statistics on invertebrate communities in Harvard Pond
  • Prepared an article on my summer research published in McNair Scholars Program Research Journal
  • Presented a poster at UVM Student Research Conference (April 16, 2009)


Researcher, Harvard Forest, Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA               Summer 2008

  • Participated in field research studying the relationship between carnivorous plants and spiders
  • Collected and identified invertebrates caught in pitfall traps
  • Prepared and presented a PowerPoint presentation on my research, at Harvard Forest
  • Reviewed literature relevant to my research


Research Assistant, eBioMe, University of Vermont               Spring 2006 to Spring 2009

  • Worked under the guidance of Nicholas Gotelli on an NSF funded research grant
  • Field research on carnivorous plants and ant communities in New England
  • Identified New England bog ants to species
  • Calculated summary statistics on carnivorous plant measurements
  • Presented PowerPoint presentation on my research to my peers


Lab Assistant, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, University of Vermont               Summer 2005

  • Prepared media for bacterial cultivation
  • Inventoried laboratory chemicals


Research Student, Helix/EPSCoR High School Outreach Program, UVM                Summer 2003

  • Participated in a study on the effects of genetically modified corn on European Corn Borers
  • Worked with a partner on scientific research
  • Grew European Corn borers and Bacillus thuringiensis on modified agar media
  • Reported results in front of a live audience at University of Vermont
  • Certificate of Achievement



  • Microsoft Office, Statistical Programs (R and S plus), Math and Bio Aptitude, Bilingual (English, Spanish)
  • Reliable, Detail Oriented, Communication (Written, Verbal, and Presentation Skills)



  • Treasurer, UVM Juggling Club (Fall ‘07-Spring ‘09),
  • Vice President, Horticulture Club (Fall ‘06-Spring ’07),
  • Mentor, Alana Student Center Peer Mentoring Program (Fall ’06- Spring ’08)


References presented upon request

The City Of Atheists, oh I mean, Ember

So I just finished reading The City Of Ember, and I could not help believe that there were no truly religious people in the city. It should have been called a city of atheists, mainly because religion did not seem to be the norm. There were some people who were called “Believers”, but they believed that the people who built the city would come back to save them. This was an interesting idea, because they knew the city was built a long time ago, and the builders thought of just about everything the people of the city would need. Food, light, shelter, a school, a mayor, and even instructions to get out. The belief the believers had does not equate to the belief of many religious people because religious people have no evidence that God exists, while the believers do.

While this book doesn't support atheism outright, it does support socialism. Everyone gets a job at the age of 12, and every job, no matter how boring or mundane, is done to benefit the city. Some people are messengers, some work to fix pipes, and others work to keep the generator (powered by water) from breaking down. All of the food is supplied by the city, and also the electricity, and water. The housing seemed free (at least no one was complaining about paying rent) and it seemed like people were allowed to retire once they got old enough (the main characters grandmother, who died, didn't have a job throughout the entire book). This city was self sufficient, and although canned food almost ran out, and there was corruption in the government, the people were mostly happy with the way things worked.

The only thing I would disagree with in the city of ember was the manner in which people were given jobs. They had to choose the jobs out of a hat, randomly. I believe there must have been a zero unemployment level, but at the same time people were not given jobs according to their skill. This was odd because, if all the people who were good with machinery were working on maintaining the generator, I am pretty sure they would have figured out how to fix it. Also, doesn't it make sense to have people do the jobs they are good at? If I had a job that I was good at, I would hold my head up with pride. In ember, if you were particularly bad at a job, you were given a new job in 3 years, randomly (again). This would never work in America. People care too much about status, and are too materialistic not to take advantage of the system.

As for atheists in the city of ember, I don't think they would have been seen as abnormal, as they are in todays society. I believe they would have been seen as regular people who work for the city. This common thread is what seemed to keep the city together. Everyone was afraid of the darkness. Everyone was afraid of the generator going out or running out of food. But because everyone was in the same boat, they all cared much more about each other. They all tried their best to reduce waste. And they all did the work they needed to do.

We do not need, as a society, to lock ourselves up for 200 years to achieve this. We all have a common thread. We all are human, and we all live on earth. This should be enough for us to not pollute, and to help our neighbor whenever possible. And if someone doesn't have a job, but wants one, then I am sure the people of the world should be available to help that person find something within the realm of his capabilities. Why? Because if you were in their situation, you would want someone to help you! It is a altruistic idea, but without altruism, all of our fitness would go down, and no one would be safe.

The City of Ember was a good read for younger people but not for me. If your 16 or younger, I highly recommend it. For us 20 somethings, I believe we need books with a bit more bite! While the fantasies of a futuristic society called ember, might be fun to entertain, the cities function as a whole had too many problems to work properly in real life.

Speaking of real life, I am currently looking for a job. Click here to see my resume.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

Today I went to Central Park and I just finished reading The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. It is mostly about a non practicing religious man who refuses to pay his taxes in a time of the Mexican American war. He went to jail for one night (his aunt bails him out, and he is set free in the morning), but during that night he reflects upon the events of his life.

The central theme of this book was the way a man should think. When I say man, I mean mankind. Many times in classes we are taught what to think, but seldom are people taught how to think. Nowadays when students watch hours of 2 minute commercials, and with our materialistic society, it is difficult to truly spend some time contemplating the real value of things. Thoreau was a naturalist (by trade) but in the book he was accused of being an atheist (YAY!) and a transcendentalist. I prefer the former, but at least transcendentalists were thinking about life a bit more than the normal Christians were. The ideas of transcendentalism came from Harvard University and the church.

Thoreau spent the night in jail for not paying his taxes during a time of war. He refused to have his tax dollars pay for rifles and bullets. This is interesting because today the U.S. government gains a lot more taxes than it did in the 1800's. I suppose it the government might listen to someone who pays taxes but is a pacifist, and requests that his specific tax dollars not go directly towards funding a war. Obama seems like the kind of guy who might understand that position. But then again this is the U.S. government we are talking about here.

But the idea is definitely interesting. If the recession got bad enough, there wouldn't be enough tax dollars to fund a war. There isn't even enough tax dollars to fund the war currently. This is interesting to me because these are American dollars. I believe a polls should be taken of the American people (possibly during the 2010 census) to ask them if they agree with their tax dollars being spent to kill off Iraqi and American soldiers in this war. I know many of the people who are actually being killed are terrorists, but some of them are actually civilians too. If the Christian majority in the U.S. were truly Christian, they would most certainly stand their ground on the idea that we shall not kill.

Of course, the Christians in our country love to bear the name "Christian" without any of the rights of responsibilities of being Christian. This is fine. I mean, as long as it is not THEIR children dying right?

Thoreau also has an interesting idea, in the middle of his novel, which intrigued me. As a naturalist, he believed that nature was the ultimate teacher. That no matter how much one could learn in a classroom, it could never be more than one could learn actually studying out in the wild. After studying Sarracenia purpurea at UVM and Harvard Forest for the last 4 years, I definately agree. The information I gained in the field definately stayed with me better than the information I learned in a classroom. However, I must admit that in the classrooms I obtained a more diverse education. While I would have preffered to take all of my classes in biology, some classes like Introduction To Fiction, Introduction to Poetry, and Creative Writing were definately worthwhile.

I read The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail in two days. It is a quick play, which does not occur in chronological order. I recommend that people read this book now, in a time of war. Overall it probably will not take most people a long time (depending on how fast you read, it will probably take you 3 hours tops). However the message is important. As long as we Americans are funding the war with our tax dollars, we are directly responsible for the war in Iraq. This makes me glad that I am currently unemployed. However I like socialist organizations, like the public library, fire department, post office, and police. I like having them around (and paying for them with my tax dollars!). So if you do have a job (so I can contribute to society), perhaps you wouldnt mind looking over my resume.

Friday, June 5, 2009

An Atheist Grows Plants in Soundview, NY

I am starved for some biological satisfaction, and I am not talking about the type of satisfaction a woman can provide. I am speaking of the type of satisfaction an orchid grower commonly feels when purchasing something they have desired, for a long time. I just read The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, and immediately afterward I twittered “Finished reading the orchid thief, amazing and disappointing at the same time, like sex.” The entire story built on the amazing potential of one plant, the ghost orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii). However the author failed to see one in bloom in real life, postulating that the idea of one in bloom was sufficient, and when one is actually seen in bloom, it may be disappointing. I disagree. The truth is always more interesting than fiction, or even our preconceived notions of an object, or a plants grandeur. And if for some reason we cannot see how great something is, perhaps we need another person’s perspective to give us a closer look.

But I want to first stress upon you what I mean when I say “biological satisfaction”. Many people reading this, who may be religious, may be asking themselves “what does he mean?” I am pretty sure atheists will have a better idea of the concept. My satisfaction lies in the ability to feel connected to the rest of the world, not as a human, but as a biological entity that shares this planet. This is difficult in NYC where there is an apparent lack of, not only green plants, but also wildlife. In an earlier blog I spoke about finding carnivorous plants in the Botanical Gardens, however this is a special location, and an exception to the rule. Many New Yorkers may argue that there are enough wild pigeons, rats, and roaches to go around, and perhaps someone as educated as me should consider advocating an extermination of wildlife in NYC. However it is difficult to feel connected to the rest of the world, as a neighbor, if you never see your neighbor.

I grow plants to satisfy my need to feel connected. I have been in the Bronx for only a short period of time, but in 3 short weeks, with my limited horticultural supplies, I have had some success. I mainly want to speak about my spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). This may seem like a common house plant to anyone who knows anything about plants, but as I said earlier, the truth is always more interesting, and perhaps we need another person to bring up the subject to give us a closer look.
Me taking a closer look at my spider plant

At first glance it looks like just a regular plant, but I would ask that you look at the picture above again. If you don’t see what I see, then perhaps I am blocking your view. Here is a better angle:
I must admit, even after taking a class called the Biology of Ferns at UVM, that flowering plants inspire me most. The ability of a sexual organ to look so sexy might not give you appreciation, but if your sexual organ was like this flower, you might be reconsidering your opinion (if anyone, after reading this is considering dressing their sexual organ up like a flower during “play time” I would love to hear your stories – jmejia1187@gmail.com). And all the way to the left, we see the result of vegetative propagation. The spider plant is creating small plantlets. These plantlets can be potted up once they have rooted, or placed in water to induce quicker rooting.

If this were the only baby on my spider plant, then I would have nothing to write about, but as these next pictures show, the plant has been asexually active (let the science nerds laugh at that one).I took it upon myself to clean my newly acquired spider plant; to cut off all the parasitic plantlets and set them up to root in water. If anyone is looking for cheap (50 cents a plant) spider plants let me know, I will promptly mail them to you after receiving 2 quarters. At last count I had about 26 of them. Just for the record, I placed them in bottled water containers with the tops cut off.
While they may seem small and helpless, as you can see, the parent plant has greatly improved (in the sense that it is more manageable and less cluttered).

I doubt the flowers will set seed. I am uncertain as to whether this is a self-seeding species. I know the flowers have both pollen, and a stigma, but I am unable to tell if the stigma is receptive (although large amounts of plant sperm has been deposited on my finger). I tried to self the plant manually (for what it is worth).

For spider plants, self-seeding would seem un-advantageous, since they have such an uncanny ability to produce clones of themselves. It would appear to me, to be more favorable for the stigma to be receptive on the flower before the pollen is released since it would seem redundant, and a waste of energy to produce seeds when clones are so easily produced along the plants stolons. If anyone with knowledge on a spider plants sexual organs can give their input, email me at jmejia1187@gmail.com, and I will quickly feature you and your email in the next post to my blog (pictures are also appreciated). You may also email me if you’re interested in obtaining some of the baby plants I have for sale. Don’t worry, my munny is heavily guarding them.
Of course, small pleasures such as a plant in flower is common to someone who grows plants. (Not to mention other pleasures common to people who grow plants for purposes other than their flower). However plants are the gifts that keep on giving.

Speaking of gifts, my girlfriend took a plant from the Alana banquet awards at the University of Vermont. While I have not been able to give her back her plant after the move, I have been able to get it to flower again (this plant flowers too easily if you ask me).

Notice it’s trumpet shape, or it’s shade of pink. These things not only bring color into my room, but also an appreciation for life that hardly anything else can give. It is something that is not often taught in science classrooms (or in religious sermons). However I believe it is important for anyone who is campaigning to reduce greenhouse emissions, save endangered species, and protect our environment. People do need to care for something other than the human race to be able to save the world. I have written previously about people who only consider humans in their pro-life arguments, but have no emotion when it comes to slitting a cow’s throat for dinner. I am not a vegetarian, but I am also not pro-life. I am pro-world, pro-wild, and anti-human influence on every living species on earth.

How should I end this? Well another picture of a flower may be nice:
But I really want to end off by saying 3 things:
1. I am still looking for a job (click for resume)
2. The plant madness is addicting, I shall proceed with caution!
3. The Orchid Thief was a great story, but not on my top ten list. Read it if your wondering how something natural can inspire you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

An Atheists View on God's View on Abortion

I must first start off by saying that I do not believe in God. People who read the title will obviously become confused, however, what I will try to conduct here is a thought experiment. After the recent death of Barnes George R. Tiller, a doctor who provided late term abortions, I thought it was only appropriate to contemplate, if there were a God, what would He do?

Of course there is no real way of knowing what God would do in a situation where he was confronted with people who performed, or had, an abortion. This is because God doesn't come down and speak to people personally. He has never been spotted on the corner of 42nd and 3rd handing out information on what to do about people who believe in the right to life over a person's right to choose. So there are a few ways, as an atheist, and an amateur philosopher, to hypothesize, what might be going through a hypothetical creators mind when events such as the death of Dr. Tiller occurred.

Just a small point to make, I will be focusing on a hypothetical God as outlined in the bible. The rules and demeanor I would assume for this God come from the actions of the God Yahweh in the bible. The reason I have chosen this God's views as the hypothetical God to focus on in this post is because:

1. He is the God most people are familiar with and
2.He is the God that most people think have the power to do something about he abortion issue.

One hypothesis may be that supporters of "God" are closest to him, and know his will better than anyone, so they must know what "God's Will" must be. When I see articles like the recent one in the LA Times, it is obvious this hypothesis is false. God, being all powerful, all knowing, and all loving wouldn't perpetuate the killing of babies with the killing of adults. Of course I am only talking about the God of the new testament, who commonly spoke of loving ones neighbor and turning the other cheek. The God of the old testament was worst than Hitler, killing off thousands of people and civilizations in the name of the Jewish God. Because He had promised the Jews so much land that he would commonly tell them to go into a village and kill every living thing in it.

This is seen even in the times of Moses, when he came down the mountain with the ten commandments and saw God's people worshiping a golden calf. God swiftly had his people killing each other in an attempt to purify themselves.

And when the God of the old testament wasn't telling people to kill each other, he himself was doing the killing. In the story of Noah's Ark, God plays favoritism and chooses Noah to build an Ark. After the Ark is built and all the animals are saftely upon it, God quickly starts a huge storm which kills everyone on land, who was not in the Ark, and every living creature on land who was not in the Ark.

We again see God commiting genocide in the lands of Sodom and Gomorrah. Again God plays favoritism and decides to save one person in these Villages, Lot and his family. Lot's unfortunate wife turned around to look at the destruction of the exploding city, and was transformed into a pillar of salt. Of course, Lot was one of those cool guys who don't look at explosions.

So perhaps the God of the Old Testament would kill off people because of their abortionist views, but the God of the new testament certainly wouldn't. It is also important to note that the God of the Old Testament was the same God that gave the commandment Thou Shalt Not Kill. In this sense, the people doing "God's Will" and killing off these abortion clinic doctors would never be graced by God enough to enter the "Kingdom of Heaven". But of course, because there is no God, and there is no heaven, all we have are a bunch of murderers and dead bodies (not to mention the mothers that may desperately need abortions without any safe place to turn to).

Of course the God of the new testament was a cool guy. Jesus often hung around prostitutes, and murderers. He often forgave people for whatever they had done in the past and was loving to everyone. I believe that if Jesus was here he would be on the side of pro-choice. The reason is because Jesus thought there was a righteous way to live, but he also believed that whether you lived that way or not was your choice. I never heard of Jesus killing anyone because they did not believe in God. So if we want to be just like Jesus, we should all be pro-choice.

However there is another hypothesis I am neglecting. The hypothesis that God IS doing something about the pro-choice movement. He certainly hasn't come down from heaven and made any great announcements, but he has said something by NOT coming down and making a great announcement. He is basically saying that he doesn't exist or he doesn't care. In which case pro-lifer's should not shout in the streets that it is an abomination to kill a zygote.

If the only excuse you have for being against abortion is your religion, then you need to look closer at what God really wants. Do you not think that if God had something against a woman's right to choose that he would do something about it? And don't you think that if God were going to do something about it that it would be more peaceful, and loving than anything a person could come up with? Of course many religious people are extremely uncivilized so when letter's are produced that threaten people because they perpetuate the right to a woman's choice, then I can only say that this is what we have come to expect.

Of course there is another argument that does not rely upon a persons religion for why we should be against abortion. That argument is that all life is precious. That the pain a fetus (or zygote) receives when it dies is enough to stop abortion in it's tracks. Of course I have to disagree. A fetus would need a fully developed nervous system to feel pain. In the case of abortions, a date could be set on when it is thought a baby has a nervous system advanced enough to feel pain. Of course, if the argument is that living things shouldn't feel pain, then the pro-lifer's should also be strict vegetarians, as I am sure any fetus given an injection to die slowly feels far less pain than a cow does when it's throat is slit. They should also campaign for the rights of chickens to live (I am not sure at what level a young chicks nervous system is formed, but I do believe that eggs are still okay).

However the pro-life movement for some reason stops at humans. It does not consider any other species right to life. This is not surprising because these are the same people who go hunting every summer. They believe (and the argument becomes a religious one again), that God gave people a special right upon this earth. This is sad, for what they do not see is the more we kill the things around us, the less likely we will be able to persist in the future.

Now, my argument seems one sided, but I am not calling pro-lifer's evil. I am not saying they are stupid or that they deserve to die. As an atheist I have strong moral standards against demeaning people, and against resorting to ad hominem attacks. Every LIVING person has the value of their mind. And because of this value, I will give a link to some pro-life advocates views on why abortion is bad.

It is my hope that you see this list, and see their hostility towards the other side.

In my opinion it is not anyone's business to dictate how individuals live their lives. Nor how they treat the lives of the parasites within them (and yes, babies are parasites in the literal sense of the word). I think this is the biggest civil rights challenge of the 21st century. Dealing with people who believe they can impose their views on others. I think the focus should come off from pro-choice and pro-life arguments. It should come off from pro-gay and anti-gay marriage arguments. It should come off from an atheists rights to be free from religion vs peoples rights to have freedom of religion. All these groups - Woman's activist groups, pro gay marriage groups, and pro atheism groups, should work together on a new and bigger campaign. Perhaps it could be called - If you don't like what's going on in my house than stop being so damn nosey, campaign. Or the freedom to live life according to your own views campaign.

In this way the only right that can be taken away from people is the right to tell other people how they should live. This would make everyone happier, even the anti-gay marriage, antiabortion, anti-atheism crowd. The only reason they get so upset is because they are out protesting in front of abortion clinics, and in front of places where gay people marry. Jesus believed in spreading the word of God, but he did not believe in hating people who had a different opinion than he did. For some reason people seem to have forgotten what the word love means. We should all be loving our neighbors no matter who they are. If they happen to be gay, and your anti gay, then try your best not to see them, or move. You have no right to protest in front of their houses, or to tell them how to live. If "protesting" behavior continues, then I would love to see homosexuals in this country set up an anti-straight campaign. If straight people have the right to tell gay people how to live, then it should go the other way around too.

Atheism is also included in the argument. Luci, who replied to one of my blog posts said "Becoming an atheist means committing social suicide; you are now being judged more than a criminal is judged." Of course I am not a criminal, I am an American. Unless some new thought crime law was enacted that I don't know about, I have no reason to believe there is a God. And people should stop judging me because of this view. We should get together sometime, atheists, homosexuals, and abortionists. We can form an organization (another name for it might be AHA, Atheists Homosexuals and Abortionists). We have power in numbers and our main goal should be that no matter what your views are, as long as they do no harm to any living person (who is already born), then you have the right to live your life free from people who believe they have the right to dictate how you live. Until such a law is enacted American soil will be in a perpetual state of unrest.