Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Sensory Crossover - Whoa! Dude, I Can Taste Jimi's Guitar

Check out this blurb from the Synaesthetes (people who experience sensory crossover - like taking in music as visualized colors, etc.) derive benefits from this curious condition that "normal" sense...umm, -ites do not. This article, in particular, mentions the advantages synaesthetes enjoy as musicians (they taste music on their tongues!). Fascinating stuff:

My first question when reading this was whether we all, if perhaps in lesser degrees, are synaesthetes... I don't think I've ever "tasted" music, but I've definitely closed my eyes while listening to music and seen associative visuals and colors. And no, it wasn't an acid trip or something (although, joking aside, I actually read once that LSD does cause or enhance sensory crossover - please don't read that as an endorsement). Maybe synaesthesia is something different altogether from music-color associations on the back of your eyelids. I don't know, but it would sure be cool to be able tell everyone that you're a synaesthete.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The United Order, Anarchy, and Quakers

I was recently engaged in an IM discussion with a friend (who happens to be a Quaker) about the affiliations of certain "Christian" religions with particular philosophical and political ideologies. The Quakers, I found out from reading an excellent Wikipedia article, are closely affiliated with "anarchistic"-type systems (the real anarchism - not "punk," nihilistic, or other "rebellion" anarchisms). It's quite surprising how many tenets the Quakers have in common with the Mormons. They focus on a living Christ, as opposed to a crucified Christ. They believe that true Christianity was restored following a long apostasy. They believe in continuing revelation. They are creedless. And, early on, they referred to themselves (the membership) as "saints" (now, the terminology has switched to "friends," I believe).

I followed the "Wikipedia" link to "anarchism" and was fascinated by the very strong parallels to Mormonism's own "United Order" (on which the Wiki article leaves much to be desired). Anarchism rejects "involuntary authority including social hierarchy and coercive power." (Wiki article) Also, its ideas are "based upon voluntary cooperation and mutual aid." It's interesting, because "anarchy" has taken on a somewhat negative connotation; but, as properly understood, anarchism is actually a relatively valid (if imperfect) ideology. As shown in the Wiki article, anarchism comes in many different forms and systems. So it seems viable that the United Order really can fall within the definition of "anarchism." Perhaps it's a healthy mix of anarchism and communitarianism.

Like many (most?) people, I'm uncomfortable with the severely limited labels in American politics (liberal, conservative, independent). While most people probably associate with one more than another, they are too broad and constantly change in meaning. Conservative hardly is a term that espouses shrinking government anymore (depending, of course, on which conservative you ask). But, in a few years, that could change too. I know, while "liberal" seems to fit my political views better than "conservative" does, the label is a very imperfect one as far as my own views go. I like using "communitarian" to describe my position, but even that term is fairly broad (there are communitarians within both major American parties - just different emphases among them). So, maybe I'm a communitarian-anarchist-liberal-sometimes conservative-United Orderist-intermittently libertarian-Democrat?
Anyway, back to the United Order, anarchism, and communitarianism...

The View From Dostoevsky's Window

I took this photo from Fyodor Dostoevsky's window in his Staraya Russa home (about 60 miles outside of Novgorod). He wrote much of his later works in this home, including the bulk of "The Brothers Karamazov." I thought the setting and the visuals came together to make a cool picture

Monday, May 02, 2005

Social Security: Part Deux

I was watching a great Wolf Blitzer piece yesterday on CNN. He had two guests: Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, to discuss the current Social Security debate...

Of course, throughout this segment they were discussing President Bush's proposals for fixing Social Security. Senator Levin had a lot of criticisms for Bush's ideas, which quite honestly were sometimes well thought out and placed. However, something that really bothered me, and seemingly Wolf Blitzer as well, was the Democrat's total lack of ideas on the issue. Wolf Blitzer pressed Senator Levin multiple times in the interview on what the Democrat's thought we should do to correct Social Security. Over and over all Senator Levin could say, however, is what they 'would not do,’ which of course, was pretty much anything the Republican's had suggested. :)

At the end of the piece Wolf Blitzer essentially admonished Senator Levin by saying that maybe next time he could come to the interview with ideas of what the Democrats WOULD DO to fix Social Security, rather than focusing entirely on what they would not do.

I believe any intelligent person would arrive to the same conclusion I arrived to through that interview with Coleman and Levin alone (not to mention the daily rhetoric from the Democrats on this issue): the Democrats do not have ideas on how to fix Social Security. If they do, someone please tell them to stand up and be heard. Carrying on like Senator Levin did in that interview just looks like closed minded obstruction to me.

I will be honest. I have not yet looked enough into Bush’s latest proposals on Social Security (in particular those that were heard in his prime time national news conference last week) to form a solid conclusion. But, at this point in time, I feel the proposed cuts discussed in the news conference last week are a little too deep. Some cuts or delays in benefit, in general, are acceptable to me though. I do support the private account idea, but I need to work through Bush’s latest suggestions more before forming my own opinion on them just yet.