*we put the "mmm" in communism


This is the personal blog of Tim. Here, Tim writes on anything he has enough inspiration to finish a post on. That usually ends up being matters of science, pop culture, technology, religion, and philosophy.

This blog is around nine years old, which is over a third of Tim's current age. Back in 2003, it was called "Of Tim: Tim's life - or lack thereof", and it was as bad as you might expect the blog of a freshman in high school to be. Tim hopes that his writing is a little better, these days.

Tim welcomes any input that you, the dear reader, might have. Comments are very much appreciated, especially if you have a dissenting opinion. If you'd like to learn more about Tim, you might want to see his facebook or google+.

Also: Tim is a very avid consumer of various sorts of music. You may be interested in his playlists!

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This first week of classes at IC has been amusing on a number of counts, primarily in what I observe in other students, as well as in the teachers.

The whole environment seems to ooze this aura of academic enlightenment. That is, the teachers seem keenly aware that they're being looked to for enlightening ideas, and the students seem eager to show that they're internalizing this enlightenment. There's this sense that education - namely, this education - is the saving grace of the world, that this institution is a bastion against the ever-rampant forces of ignorance, and that within these walls, salvation might be found that cannot be seen elsewhere in the world, all for a mere $40,000 per semester. Enlightenment isn't free, silly.

If you hadn't guessed, I'm just a little skeptical, and perhaps a bit cynical, too. Thus far, I'm thoroughly enjoying my classes and it's good to be around people my age for once. Still, I find myself smirking. Very few of my teachers have held any job outside of academia, but they espouse their subjects of choice with such zeal that one would think they found the solution to their life's problems in the subject matter they're disclosing. Similarly, the students (and teachers) around me seem impossibly homogeneous, intellectually. I understand enough of sociology to know that birds of a feather flock together, socio-economically, but the similarity in thought and expression between my peers is, well, frightening. One student poses a neatly packaged answer to the professor's question from a classic postmodern relativist standpoint, and five others follow suit to affirm over the next twenty minutes. Professors seem to fancy themselves as avant-garde by tossing in some burns on conservative politics, or by declaring their disdain for standardized testing. It seems like a very expensive celebration of our world-view, rather than anything particularly challenging.

It's not so much that I disagree with their statements (though I do, particularly with the students), but I find it all more distracting than anything else. I appreciate the effort put into being challenging, in offering new and surprising views of the world that I've never encountered before - but I'm starting to doubt that I will find that here. The lack of genuine variety in methodology or thought processes seems inescapable - what else would one find in a college that fosters a culture of semi-subtle elitism?

It's not nearly so bad as all that, and much of what I'm saying is conjecture at this point - I've only just had a week of classes, after all. But my gut is usually quite good at identifying such patterns.

"Education is a kind of continuing dialogue, and a dialogue assumes, in the nature of the case, different points of view."
Robert Hutchins
posted by MC Froehlich at with 1 Comments
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The feeling I got after registering for all of my classes and such was pretty similar to how I felt when I was on the plane to England. New beginnings, and whatnot.

Intro to Ethics
Social Change
Psychology Lab
Intro to Logic
Definitions of Normality
Proseminar in Motivation (no idea what a proseminar is or how it's different from an amateur seminar)
Orientiation to Psychology (just a 1 credit course on careers is psych)

I am excited.
posted by MC Froehlich at with 1 Comments
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In general, I'm a terrible gift-giver and the Christmas season is always a little embarrassing for me. I can rarely think of a gift I'd like to give, and I'd much sooner give nothing than resort to a gift card or sommat. I'd rather be thought a miser than uninspired or generic.

Once in a while, however, I do find something that I want to share with another person. An Awesome Book was such an item, and I purchased one for each of my nephews. I also enjoyed the author's short description of his book.

Something that brings me to despair very quickly is those moments where I feel very alone in my convictions. It's fitting that I should feel this way after the events detailed in my previous post, but depending on which corner of the internet that I lurk in, the situation can feel very hopeless. Between the hum-drum catastrophes of every-day news and the endlessly pessimistic and self-righteous commentary that follows, it's hard not to feel helpless and unimportant. A popular decision is to embrace that feeling, too, that one person truly can't make a difference in light of such ridiculous circumstances. This resignation, of course, is a verbose excuse for laziness.

This is the attitude I was attempting to address in scones. It's a common scene to see people complain about the status quo without recognizing their part in creating it or contributing towards the solution to the problem. If this weren't already bad enough in real life, these tendencies are amplified by a factor of ten on the internet. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise when we value independence as highly as we do. If we are as independent as we believe we are, then we cannot influence each other as much as would be necessary to drive the change we wish to see. It's a good thing, then, that we are wrong.
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Every night, I step outside to assess my situation. The stars are mostly unsympathetic to my questions, and I can't blame them; thousands others have groped for answers under their dim light, and I doubt I am all that different from my predecessors. It's comforting to imagine that on a night like this, somewhere in the world another man is stepping onto the balcony of his apartment to stop and consider just what kind of man he is, and that he will be looking at the same sky that I am. Perhaps Socrates did the same thing, shivering in his fruity little toga as he watched the moon wax and wane in precisely the same manner as it does for me. He probably didn't have any trip-hop to listen to while he did this, though I'm certain he would have liked some.

The timelessness of the universe is shocking, to me. When I consider the earth, it feels so tumultuous and unstable. The trees around me can only count their years in decades, but the stars above have watched for eternity. The stars are so overwhelmingly countless. Consider this picture of the Great Orion nebula. Look at all those goddamn stars. Each of them in their own solar system, most of them larger than our own. Millions of planets and moons, asteroids and comets whose light is unfathomably old. How would Socrates feel, considering himself in the glow of such ancient entities? I am but one person, standing alone upon a stretch of snow, in a city of thousands, in a state of millions, in a country of many millions, in a world of billions. Though Socrates' world was so much smaller than mine, his sky was just the same as mine, give or take a few supernovae.

I often consider how my understanding of such realities changes with my philosophy. When I began to conclude against Christianity in England, the first question I asked of myself was this: what does it mean to look at the stars as a Christian? What do they become, when I deny Christianity? More importantly, who do I become?

In my brief time off between Christmas and New Years, my family went down to Pennsylvania for our first gathering with my mother's side of the family in a few years. Inevitably, my aunt probed me about my experience in England, and when I revealed that L'Abri's tireless encouragement of asking questions and embracing doubt led me to conclude against Christianity, a three hour battle ensued between myself and the whole of my family (or at least, my grandparents, parents, aunt, and uncle). I dearly love a good debate, and I enjoyed the challenge quite thoroughly, but the attitudes revealed throughout the course of the discussion were exemplary of why I've left the faith. I should make it clear that I love my family, and that our disagreements have not left me bitter or feeling any less fond of them, but I'm also of the conviction that they're wrong. And so the discussion went forth.

A key argument for my father and grandfather lay in the idea that Christianity is responsible for the majority of modern progress, and that Eastern societies have only succeeded once Christianity entered into their culture (they cited China as an example, lol). In particular, they cited democracy as a Christian invention. Christ's focus on human equality, they argued, was a new idea and is the primary reason that modern democracy is able to succeed.

I was quick to point out democracy existed long before Christ's time, but I focused more on pointing out that it could be argued far more easily that Christianity ended up stifling the rise of democratic government because of the reign of the church in the dark and middle ages. Which brought my aunt and uncle to argue my next example of infuriating thought: Anything that might seem to be a negative product of Christianity, was brought about by false Christians.

Around this time, I started flipping out a little. It was about two and a half hours in and this was an argument they'd brought up repetitively, and each time I pointed out the incredible convenience of labeling anyone that makes your faith look bad as false or confused. Although I can certainly recognize that more than a few folks have taken up the label of Christianity with devious purposes in mind, they seemed to stress that true Christians can do no evil, that any evil that might seem to be a product of Christianity was actually a product of sin. Furthermore, at several points they attempted to distinguish Christianity from religion. When I pointed to the Crusades or the Inquisition, they claimed those were products of religion, and not Christianity. These were impossible arguments to overcome, and I confess that my temper flared just a little in the face of such ridiculous defenses.

A third attitude that left me vexed was the notion that science is ultimately futile. This came up when I was arguing that science offers new ways to understand ourselves as humans, to pinpoint why we are the way we are, rather than dismissing crime and malevolence as sin and exploring no further. They scoffed, however, citing how scientists are constantly contradicting each other and releasing studies that invalidate research released just weeks prior. My attempts to explain the scientific method did not seem to satisfy their qualms with this cycle.

The discussion ended on the topic of homosexuality. After attempting to explain the important discovery of the role of genetics and environment in determining sexuality, my grandfather simply stated that "Science has shown all homosexuals to be liars", at which point I shook my head and bowed out - further debate would most certainly have led to regrettable words. My father later came outside to commend me for my performance, a gesture which speaks much to his credit.

After all this, I'm left feeling quite strongly that if Christianity were true, their faith would not produce such convictions. I believe quite firmly that the truth will set you free - but I do not see freedom, here. A faith that produces the belief that "circular reasoning is okay if you're right" (a quip from my father, during this debacle) is not, for me, intellectually honest. God would not grant us intellects of truth and logic if he did not intend for them to be fulfilled.

There's a lot more to say on the matter, but I'll leave it at that, for now.

"In truth, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross." - Nietzsche
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