The Power of Religion

Click here to read the full story that I’m going to talk about.

So here’s a quick recap of the story if you don’t want to read the whole thing. This 11 year old girl is very sick. She shows clear signs of diabetes (she was undiagnosed prior though) and she needs medical attention. Her direct parents make the decision that medical attention is not the answer, but instead they were going to pray for her. For weeks leading up to her death her condition worsened and despite other family members pleading with the parents to take her to the hospital, they stuck with their faith based healing. She got to the point where she couldn’t speak, eat, drink, or walk. The mother said that one form of medication would “take the glory away from God” while the father testified in court and said that the possibility of death never entered their minds. Doctors said that the girl would very likely have survived if she received medical attention at any point in the weeks leading up to her death including just moments before. The parents were convicted of homicide. This isn’t the only instance of this though, 303 people have died in the last 38 years because others opted for religious healing over medical attention.

This is absolutely ridiculous. Before I get started about religion, if someone in my family was on the verge of death and others insisted that we pray, I would say fuck that, I’m taking them to the hospital and you’re going to have to kill me to stop me. To stand by and watch is almost as bad as insisting against medical help in the first place.

I’m not religious at all (although yes some will say that’s a religion in and of itself but you get the point). I would say I’m agnostic because I don’t know and I think there could be a god, but if you had a gun to my head I would undoubtedly say no, there is not. I don’t have a problem with people believing in god. It’s just as believable as something appearing out of nothing. But in my mind, the idea that you think your religion is right and that the thousands of others out there are wrong is laughable. What makes Christianity any more credible than Hinduism or Taoism or any local African tribal beliefs? Absolutely nothing.

But most religious people would counter that by saying that’s exactly the point. There’s no proof, it’s all about having faith. It’s not based on science or real evidence, religion is based on faith. If this is the case, then what you truly believe will be 99% dependent on where you were born. There’s thousands of religions and if only one is going to be right, you have a terrible shot of picking the right one. You’re almost always going to pick the one that the people around you tell you is right so you’re more or less born without a chance (unless of course you live in the right area!). Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that religion can really help people. It can give people a purpose or help them deal with their problems. This is all just my opinion and it can be a great thing, but it can be equally (if not more so) destructive.

Back to the case. The fact that these people actually thought prayer was the best answer to say this girl’s life just shows the power of religion. It has these two so brainwashed that they essentially killed their daughter for no reason. They were fully capable of CHOOSING to have her live and they CHOSE to let her die. In my mind they should be convicted of homicide because that’s what they did. But if I was their lawyer I would probably plead insanity. Religion has these people so messed up in the head that they killed their daughter. And what’s even more messed up is that they would probably say that they did the right thing. How can you not say they’re insane? How is that any different from others who plead insanity? Well, I’m sure those who are actually insane have different brain activities or something, but if these people really believe that praying will save peoples lives then they’re clearly not fit to be raising a child.

This girl did not deserve to die.

Show me the comments!

My brother recently wrote this post about commenting on posts (I completely stole your picture idea). For whatever reason I don’t have that many active commenters but I (and Tom) think that commenting is a big part of the blogging experience and both of ours lack outside input. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d say over half of my posts get at least one comment but the comments come from a select few individuals. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think TC, Gourlay, Justin, Mark, Brett, etc. are all quality commenters and I encourage you all to keep doing so, but I’d like to see wider participation.

Seeing that one of my posts has a comment is a jolt of excitement (a small jolt, but still). As Tom said in his post, I imagine most people read the comments (I know I read the ones on Tom’s) because they’re fun to read. You don’t know if it’s going to be a positive response, negative, funny, serious, whatever. When a post of mine generates a comment regardless of what it is it makes me feel like my content is worth reading and that I’m doing a good job with this blog. The discussions that can ensue due to a comment are the real things worth reading. Sure I put a good amount of thought into my posts but that’s only one view point. Comments allow for others to get involved and critique ideas. My most recent post before this is a great example. Tom in general agrees with my idea and purposes his own personal twist while Bud plays a little devil’s advocate to both of us. Otherwise that post would have gone down with zero comments only to be completely forgotten about.

Good thoughts in general generate discussion. Who’s the greatest band of all time? There’s loads of discussion potential in that. I try to turn every good thought of mine into a post. If I’m doing a good job, that post (thought) will lead to a comment (discussion). Obviously this blog is not the best place to discuss extremely thought provoking ideas but small contributions nonetheless are very nice.

Alex said last night he sometimes thinks about comment but in the end usually decides against it for one reason or another, but mostly for fear of being judged by his comment. With these blog posts Tom and I essentially put ourselves out there everyday regarding as many different topics that we can think of, even those where we’re vastly uneducated on, to be torn apart by someone who knows what they’re talking about (if they so choose). It’s almost never that extreme but you get the point.

I think it goes like this. Once you’ve commented a few times you feel normal doing it and it’s not a big deal, even if the comment is just some stupid joke. It’s like my experience on Letsrun. I visit that site countless times a day and for years I never commented. Then one day I decided to and I grew more and more comfortable with every post. Now I post whenever I feel like it. Heck, I haven’t seen Justin in ~2 years and he comments on this blog just as much as anyone (thank you Justin!).

I don’t want to preach and beg for comments, but if the reason most people don’t comment is because they’re scared, well I just don’t buy it. It makes the blog more entertaining for all.

Experience > Education

I’m in the field of marketing which means I will be dealing with things related to advertising frequently. Last week I was filling out a form on a website to have our product listed and I had a few questions for my manager. There was one question at the very end that asked “Who are your competitors? (We use this to find the appropriate category for your company)”. I didn’t think twice and listed a few of our biggest competitors. My manager and I went through the form together and eventually came upon that last question. I asked if we should list anyone else and he told me to delete the ones I had listed and to leave that field blank. I was a bit confused but did it anyway. He then informed me that although they claim that field is used to appropriately categorize us, that is not the case.

What is the case? He told me that these companies will take our list of competitors, contact them, and essentially say “Hey, look what these guys did, you better do it too or else you’ll fall behind.” I never would have thought of that. That was a small lesson I learned that I will probably never forget, but that was only part of a greater learning experience that reinforced an age old message:

Experience > Education.

You cannot teach experience. There are certain things that you will never learn in a classroom, you’ll only learn them through the act of doing instead. Experience is more valuable than most things as it cannot be replaced by something else. You either have it or you don’t. Sure having a good education or work ethic can make someone a better employment option than another but experience is the kicker. This leads to another age old discussion, how necessary is college? I had a great four years at Ursinus that will never be duplicated. The environment you’re put in is unlike anything else, but in terms of setting me up for my future, I’d probably have taken experience over the education. Hypothetically, had I started full time at my current place of employment (assuming they’d hire me) I’d be light years ahead of where I am now in terms of what I contribute to the company. Will this change in the long term because of the education I received instead? Simply put, no, it won’t.

But this is nothing new. We all know that companies like to see that little piece of paper that says you got drunk and tried to bang the opposite sex for four years while attending class when you felt like it. Somehow that shapes us into the perfect specimen for employment. I understand this is an extremely broad generalization but you get the point.

All I’m saying is the more experienced I become, the more I realize how important experience is.

The Greatest Triple Jump Ever

This video likely shows the farthest triple jump in the history of man-kind.

But if you look at the record books you will find no trace of it. It’s removed entirely from history because the man stepped over the line by 11 centimeters, yet he broke the old world record by ~26 centimeters! This is the farthest jump that we have ever known, but a jump that no one will know because of a few little rules.

Now I’m all for “rules are rules”. You don’t waive the rule just because it’s a jump we’ve never seen before. The man fouled and he knows the rules of the game. The jump should not have counted in the meet. But as far as the farthest triple jump by a human goes, this is it.

So I’m wondering this; yes the jump should not count, I get that, but can this guy go around saying he’s triple jumped further than anyone in the history of the world? I think a lot of people would say no but I mean, he literally did. From where he took off to where he landed at the end was farther than anyone, yet if he went around saying it I think a lot of people would have a problem with that. How does this work?

I could see someone in 20 years saying “so and so is the farthest triple jumper ever” and if someone cited this jump they would probably say “well it was a foul, there’s no record of it.” Would you be pissed off if you’re Teddy Tamgho? I mean obviously a little bit but you just performed the greatest jump in the history of your event. He should no doubt be happy but he can’t walk away 100% satisfied knowing that people won’t count it.

This man has jumped farther with three jumps than anyone else ever has and he deserves to get credit for it.

Why Simon and Howard Rock

simon howard

As far as I can tell (and correct me if I’m wrong) but people used to watch American Idol for one reason and one reason only, Simon Cowell. This guy was American Idol. He was the reason people tuned in. When contestants started to perform in the later stages, no one cared what Paula and Randy said. Let me repeat, no one cared what Paula or Randy said. If Simon didn’t approve, the act sucked and that’s what the public thought. This guy was the man for one huge reason, because (and I apologize for the bolding and italicizing) he tells it like it isIf someone sucked he was ruthless with his review and if they were great he let them get their praise. I bet every single contestant on the 13 seasons of the show would agree that they’d prefer one compliment from Simon and two insults from the other two than vice versa.

I haven’t watched America’s Got Talent nearly at all but Howard Stern seems to have a similar effect. People value this guys opinion way more than any other judge because this guy tells it like it is. Simon may be a little more mean which makes people want to watch more but these two have something hugely in common; they tell it like it is. There’s a reason Howard Stern is worth $500 million and Simon Cowell is worth $320 million. I’ll also say this, they’re not the most important judges BECAUSE they have the most money, it’s the other way around. They wouldn’t be as successful as they are unless they’ve been acting this way their whole life.

This way of living is admirable. You’re not going to make the most friends and perhaps you’ll lose some important people along the way but it’s in the name on honesty. There’s a fine line between honesty and stubbornness but in my personal opinion these two wouldn’t have reached the level they’re at if they were way too stubborn. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure both are stubborn to even an annoying point, but when your honesty outweighs that then you’re doing something right. If people can get passed that personality trait and see that you’re a genuine person who is not afraid to speak your mind then you’re going to get ahead.

Honestly, imagine American Idol without Simon in the beginning. It would have been so freakin’ boring. Paula and Randy sugar coating everything so people didn’t have their feelings hurt. There’s no fun in that. For every 100 people that Simon insults, there’s one person who feels on top of the world and it’s a genuine feeling because they receive a genuine response. This is how people should be.

Musical Prodigies

I prefer to have more original content rather than stolen content but I made an exception for this. This took me as by surprise as possible.

Solving World Peace: Separating to Unite

I find it interesting how separating something into two sides is usually the best way to have them join together. I don’t mean have the two sides join together, I mean each side join together within themselves. One group of people is boring. There’s no sense of loyalty there. But once you start splitting things up people become unified. This effect can occur in surprising ways though. When you split up you find your enemy, but you and an enemy might join back together to go against another group as the groups grow larger. Sports and nations are by far the easiest way to look at this.

When I did workouts on the track with Jatin, I wanted to break him.
When Jatin and I raced against Haverford, I wanted both of us to beat Haverford.
When it goes to Nationals I root for Haverford over all the other D3 schools.
When it goes to USA’s I root for D3 guys like Symmonds and Leer over others.
When it goes to the Olympics I root for any American over other countries.

So someone who started as an enemy quickly becomes an ally as you move up the ladder.

So this is my theory. Right now the world is in more or less a state of war. There are so many nations with grudges against one another and so much war going on that we can’t possibly stop it all. Why does it stop at this point? Because nations are as high up the ladder as we can go. What we need to do is have one more rung of the ladder. A common enemy is the greatest way to join a group as displayed above.

We need aliens. Plain and simple. We need an intergalactic race to try and take over the earth and by this separating to unite law, the earth and all of its countries will come together as one. Now, these aliens can’t be too powerful because if they are then we’re just screwed (if they’re making it here though they’d pwn us anyway). We need a formidable enemy, sort of like when Goku fights Pikkon in the Finals of the Underworld Tournament after he dies. Someone who will make us pull together every resource we have in order to beat them. We’ll have no choice but to join together as one earth.

The problem is staying together after the enemy is eliminated. We’ll need to be under constant attack from these space invaders for centuries in order to keep the peace between ourselves. This is going to be the biggest challenge and I don’t know the answer just yet but we’ll take it step by step.



A Soldier’s Last Words

I don’t enjoy posting depressing things but sometimes it seems appropriate. It’s kind of long so I doubt many will read the whole thing but if you have 5-10 minutes to kill it’s worth reading in my opinion. This text is taken from the following link:

Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee, interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community leaders and and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects. In 2006-2007, Daniel worked with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) through his former unit in Mosul where he ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center. His official role was as a senior analyst for the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and part of Turkey). Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was 30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it.

I am sorry that it has come to this.

The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.

I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.

Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.

However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.

Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.

It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.

And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for

Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.

Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.

I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.

The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.

Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it

This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried

I am free.

I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me.

Daniel Somers”

Time Trial part 2 (mile)

A trip down memory lane. A picture of high school Sam (and Paul) as I Return to the 3200 (this is an XC race (he beat me)).

I’m going to be doing a 3200 meter time trial tomorrow. Once again I will give the closest predictor $10 so guess away via this blog, Facebook, or Twitter. I’m well aware that the 3200 is not nearly as glamorous as the mile and people who don’t know running that well will have no idea what to guess but I want to run it so I’m going to.

Once again I’ve been running about 40 miles a week, all 5-7 mile runs, with no workouts. Some runs will be really hard and others will be really easy. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be as in the same shape (if not better?) as I was in the mile time trial two weeks ago. I’ll have a watch, a clear lane one, and even a rabbit (thank you Slade) for the first and third 800. I want to go out in 5:05-5:10 depending on how I feel and see what happens from there. I want to set it up so that if I have a perfect day, I can break 10 (I HIGHLY HIGHLY doubt I do that, like 1-2%). I’d guess between 10:10-10:30 but it could be worse. At least now I have a better idea of my fitness and I know beforehand that I’m going to run it so I took today nice and easy.

Mentally it will be really nice having Slade for those two 800’s. If I can be on pace and then gut out the last 800 I’ll run a good time. If I can’t and I die so be it. I’m definitely not going to go out as conservatively as I did in the mile so the chances of dying in the end are way higher. We’ll see what happens though. I’m excited. I will say this, my back has been bugging me lately but I don’t really care and doubt it will matter tomorrow. If I have to take a few days off after tomorrow then that’s okay.

The most up to date predictions:

Mark 9:52
Nicole 9:55
Ali 9:57.69
Slade 9:59.99
Ryder 10:01.77
Laura 10:03
Imbemba 10:04
Drew 10:05.39
Liz 10:05.62
Vince 10:06
Yoko 10:06.3
Parsons 10:07
Seth 10:08
Alex 10:09
Tony 10:09.5
Jatin 10:10
Drowzy 10:10.10
Rudy 10:11.42
Pane 10:12
Sarah 10:12.55
Dels 10:13
Gourlay 10:13.69
Danielle 10:14.02
Francis 10:15.30
Jonny 10:15.69
Jamie 10:17
Dale 10:17.69
Amos 10:18.45
Jeff S 10:18.87
Tom S 10:19
Justin 10:32
Schmidty 10:40
Krista 10:52