Saturday, April 30, 2016

What I Think About Positive Racism - Response Saturday #14

The comments I received were insightful. It's hard to argue against the fact that differences exist between races, no matter how inconsequential or small. However, I do believe problems can occur if we assume those overall racial differences apply to everyone within that racial group.

As an example, I might say that those pursuing an English Major are mostly female, while those pursuing an Engineering Major are mostly male. It's easy to make the blanket statement that 'all English Majors are women,' or 'all Engineering majors are men,' but in most instances, that is not the case.

Now, obviously, if I told you I was an English major, you wouldn't automatically think me a woman. However, such things become more difficult when it comes to race.

We discussed in Tuesday's post about how studies show that, on average, black men can jump higher than white men. Regardless, I think it would be inappropriate to assume or make comment about this apparent racial discrepancy without any prior knowledge about the individual's abilities.

For example, if I was playing pick-up basketball, and I picked the token black guy because 'he jumps higher than the rest of us,' that would be wrong. I would be assuming something about someone. His race may produce better jumpers than everyone else, but that doesn't mean this pick-up basketballer is himself an example of that.

In that sense, we can say that our man should not immediately be placed under a blanket statement because of his race.

We may be able to acknowledge statistics as they are--that is, mere statistics--but we can't ever put individuals under the blanket of a statement. That goes for race, religion, gender, anything that classifies someone as a mere part of a group. When we throw people under the same blanket, we risk tearing away their individuality and what makes them them, as opposed to acknowledging them as a unique person in their own right.

So, sure. Maybe [American Minority] are better than [American white people] at [task], but that doesn't mean you should assume as such. Maybe your [American minority] [coworker/friend/relative] isn't actually good at [task] and wants to be known for being good at something else. Who knows? 

Either way, get to know them as a person before casting judgments based on the group(s) to which they belong. 

This Week's Top Comments

Friday, April 29, 2016

Thinking Differently is NOT Thinking Wrong

Our new Change and Cherish mascots make their official debut in this final scheduled Friday post! I'm calling them 'The Light-bulb People' for now. They're supposed to represent the concept of thought, inspired by the cartoons which often portray light-bulbs over the heads of characters after they have an idea.

As you can see above, today's two light-bulbs emit different-colored lights. This demonstrates that some people think differently than yourself. Yes, you, faithful reader. And, of course, I'm here to say that that doesn't make them wrong.

As I discussed in the 16 Personalities post, everyone has a different personality, and because of this, everyone has a different filter through which they view the world. For example, one person may be opposed to drinking caffeine, but another person may absolutely love to drink it. One of the most all-time popular Change and Cherish Blog posts revolves around tattoos. I mention in the post that Mormons don't generally get tattoos, but I don't think I'd get a tattoo even if I wasn't Mormon. I don't even like people writing on me, so a tattoo on my own flesh would drive me nuts. However, that doesn't mean I think every person who has tattoos are crazy or idiotic. And I shouldn't either way.

The same goes for philosophies, politics, and even religious beliefs. Too often we find people on different sides of a debate, unwilling to consider or seek compromises. I, myself, have been guilty of assuming a strong stance against something or other and refusing to see an issue from the other side. When we think about things like gun control, the best solution for all parties can rarely be found among extremist sides.

Even social interactions can be viewed through different lenses. Just because you like to go around and party and be surrounded by people, doesn't mean your introverted friends can't thrive doing something by themselves. They aren't wrong for liking their alone time.

I only bring this up because I believe many people often think to themselves, mostly unconsciously, "If you think or act differently than me, then you're wrong." Even worse, people sometimes go so far as to assume someone 'different' is automatically an antagonist to their beliefs and lifestyle. As an example, just because I'm a Mormon, doesn't mean I despise all other religions. Just because I'm a man, doesn't mean I despise feminists. Just because I'm a millennial, doesn't mean I like Bernie Sanders.

If I am careful to consider the fact that nobody has to be wrong, then I often find more peace and kindness in my daily life. 

I hope that everyone finds the same.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The End of Daily Updates

That's right, folks. Come May 1st, Change and Cherish Blog will no longer be updated daily. Some of you may have already noticed the header, which includes those ominous words Updates T-Th-S.

This decision was not taken lightly. I've been thinking about cutting down on the time I take to blog for months now.

But you may still wonder why.

For starters, two of the days in my blog schedule--Throwback Thursdays and Sunday Snapshots--were two days I intended to use as mild breaks. However, as time went on, I found my enthusiasm for producing these sorts of posts waning with each passing week. What made matters worse is that very few people ever actually read these posts.

For another thing, I felt like I was producing too much content. Some readers commented how hard it is to keep up with my posts. This proved to me that I was competing too heavily with myself, over-saturating my own market.

As I continued on with creating content, I began to take greater pleasure in creating unique and original artwork for the posts. However, the more time I spent creating these images, the less time I actually wanted to spend writing my actual thoughts. I believe the quality of my writing suffered for several posts just because I wanted to be finished.

In addition, I realized that this extra time was cutting into the production of my other creative projects, like Ama's Watch and all the extra work going into that.

Another time-consumer was my propensity for trawling social media sites like Twitter and tweeting my blog posts along with trending hashtags that sometimes only barely matched each other. I started this habit based on a suggestion from a major marketer to tweet my content seven times a day.

I started this blog for two primary reasons. First, I wanted a soapbox from which I could bear my testimony. Second, I wanted to build a platform that would direct people to my creative writings.

I realized that my non-stop production of possibly lackluster material was not going to be bringing in any new readers. What's more, my focus on drawing in new readers began to keep me from making my current, loyal fans happy.

So, yes. I'm changing my blog to a three-day-a-week schedule come this Sunday. Now you may ask what's going to happen on each of these three days.

Well, let me show you.

Fan-favorite Thinkjoust Tuesday will continue on unabated. I will pose what I posture to be a deep, thought-provoking question, and you all will answer via social media and the comments section. I will prepare a response to post on Saturday.

Thursday Thought will contain any random musings that don't necessarily require a discussion or response. In essence, the types of posts I used to write on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays will now be slotted into this one day.

Now with an official title (I'm sorry, I just couldn't find alliteration anywhere), Saturday posts will be devoted to responding to the things we all had to say about the discussion on Tuesday.

Really, though, just because I'm giving myself a more relaxed schedule doesn't mean I can't post more than three times a week. You may find me posting a post on Friday or Monday for whatever reason, especially if I want to respond to some crazy current event in the moment.

The important thing is, I want to produce content that both I and you guys can be proud of. Even more importantly, I want to focus on retaining an audience as opposed to grubbing for views.

I love you guys! I'll see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why I Blog

One of my good friends recently asked me why I blog. This is, in essence, what I told him.

I blog because I like blogging.

I blog because I want to practice my writing skills. 

I blog because I am trying to build an audience for my future creative projects.

I blog because I have things to say and I don't want to forget. 

I blog because I want to be honest, and if I wrote down my thoughts to myself, then nobody could call me out on my errors in thought.

I blog because I find my opinions often changed, and I want a place to look back and see where I've become a stronger person.

I blog because, on occasion, someone thanks me for the thoughts I penned.

I blog because I have a testimony to share, and I want others to hear it. 

I blog because there is beauty in this world, and I don't want to be afraid to capture it.

Much of who I am can be found in this blog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Can Positive Racism Exist? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #45

About a month ago, one of my good friends sent me a text message asking me a shotgun of questions all about racism. These questions ended up becoming the center of an hour-long discussion.

During this discussion, several of my colleagues threw around the phrase 'positive racism.' It was argued that certain races demonstrate a statistical propensity for certain activities. Examples included black NBA players being able to jump higher than their white counterparts, and Asians scoring higher on their math assessments on average. In the end, a majority of the participants in the discussion agreed that positive racism isn't a bad thing.

I am curious to see if the participants in this thinkjoust will come to a different conclusion.

I plan to use Saturday's post to offer my own opinion, as well as offer my thoughts on the discussion in the comments section.

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say about positive racism. Or, if you'd like, feel free to respond to the other questions brought up in the previously-mentioned discussion.

"Do you think it's okay to be a racist if you admit or acknowledge that you are one?"

"Can you be racist in a non-hateful way?"

"Is all racism bad?"

Monday, April 25, 2016

Spotlight Review - Nadia Khristean

As a male Mormon millennial, one of my personal crusades is to discover and laud clean and inspirational forms of modern entertainment. As it is, I often write reviews spotlighting these sources of entertainment, including the times I wrote about The Cultural Hall and Zen Pencils.

I've actually written briefly about Nadia Khristean before, back when I was writing all about Easter. Nadia is an up-and-coming YouTuber who produces inspiring and original music and accompanying videos. Her art focuses on addressing topics such as bullying, poor self-image, and abuse.

And her stuff is quality. If you go to her YouTube account and browse around, you'll find industry-standard film and music editing. Her lyrics are thought-provoking and engaging. I could easily see her becoming a big name in the Christian music industry if she isn't already.

I would write more, but spend the time you would have on a longer post watching some of her stuff. If you like my posts of introspection and gratitude, you'll like this.

Here are links to two of my favorites from her. Check her out and subscribe if you're into that sort of thing!

Check out Nadia's ...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Why You NEED To Go On Dates With Complete Strangers

Surprisingly, everyone seemed to be down for it!

And so many intrepid adventurers went seeking for dates and digits.

The thing is, everyone listed some sort of condition before expressing a willingness to actually go on the date. Some people were concerned their date might be sketchy or a creeper (which is a somewhat nebulous concept). Some people wanted an exact itinerary. Some people wanted their stranger date to be attractive, and some people didn't care either way as long as they, themselves, were armed.

Tinder was also mentioned in the comments as a basic illustration of this concept in actual practice. Since I don't have a smart phone anymore, I don't use Tinder, but when I was using Tinder, I formulated a technique that incidentally incorporated nearly every one of the concerns listed in your comments.

Obviously, if we both swiped right and talked, we found each other attractive. When setting up the first date, I never offered to pick the girl up. This was because I didn't want to have to ask for her address, and therefore give off that worrisome creeper vibe. Instead, I picked activities that could be held in a neutral, public place, like the local university. I also planned the dates for earlier in the evening, while the sun was still out, which helped keep the fright of the night down.

But why go on these sorts of dates at all?

As some people alluded in the comments, dates with strangers can be fun. There's usually a bit more of a story to go along with it, and the journey into the unknown can be exhilarating. As for my personal experiences, I obviously haven't ended up seriously dating any complete stranger I've ever asked on a date, but I've found some of my greatest friends from among such dates.

So go on! Ask a complete stranger out this week! If they say no, it's not like you lost anything, but if they say yes, who knows what will happen from there?

This Week's Top Comments

Friday, April 22, 2016

Confessions: Ornery at All Times and in All Things

So I pulled up to the drive-thru at McDonald's. There was a car at the speaker, the caboose of a line leading past the payment and receiving windows. I pulled in behind this last car. Excellent, I thought. I won't have to wait long.

But then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, the car moved forward. I drove up to the speaker and placed my own order. The guy on the other end was super nice and helpful.

But then the line ahead remained stagnant.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I'd been sitting in the line for over ten minutes, and I still hadn't even moved past the first step.

"Man," I said out loud. "What is happening?"

I hadn't expected a response. It was a rhetorical question designed to allow me to vent my frustration in a calm, controlled manner.

"I'm sorry," a voice said. "We just got a big order."

I jumped so hard, I smacked my head on the ceiling of my car.

Turns out, McDonald's' speakers are always on, thus allowing the order-taking employees to hear all my outbursts of thought.

I felt terrible immediately. I knew I must have sounded like an impatient, selfish jerk. I apologized profusely over the speaker, and then did so again once I met the guy in person at the payment window.

My thoughts on the experience were pretty simple. I was willing to voice my impatience and frustration by myself, to myself. The thing was, if I had known someone was listening in, I wouldn't have.

D. L. Moody defined character as what you are in the dark. In essence, this means that you are most you when you are all by yourself, not trying to impress anyone, not trying to please anyone, just being you, yourself, and you again.

I realized that even though I don't consider myself to be a rude and impatient customer, maybe I would be if I only had to serve myself. I don't know. Either way, I am now determined to do a better job making sure things like long lines at fast food joints don't cause me to act in a way I wouldn't be proud of.

Will you take the same challenge?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bravery - Throwback Commentary #66

Hey there! This is a commentary about the post I wrote on January 5 of last year. Click here to read that first!

I still don't really like going back to the early posts of Change and Cherish Blog. I think my abilities as a writer and a blogger have only improved since then. At the same time, I still think I produced some pretty good thoughts on life here and there.

One of these such thoughts are found in that original post, Bravery: New Beginnings. I point out that we see a lot of people begin things, but never complete them. Examples include semesters, novels, businesses, relationships, loyalties, ambitions, and desires, among others. We live in a world of unfinished endings, and when we finally face their counterparts, we're not sure how to react.

I say we need to cherish endings more. Every ending, even the death that awaits us somewhere in our future, signifies the completion of a great and overwhelming task and the beginning of yet another.

Isn't that beautiful?

I wrote that post at the beginning of a new semester. Now, it's the end of another. I'm taking this opportunity to pride myself on my victories and work harder to complete the things I haven't yet conquered.

Will you join me?

Hey there! This is a commentary about the post I wrote on January 5 of last year. Click here to read that first!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Why I Dislike Blunt Politicians

Certain politicians have recently been lauded for their bluntness. "We need a president who stops trying to be politically correct all the time," people say. "We need a president who says what they think and answers to no one."

In many ways, I agree with this sentiment. At the same time, I fear that America's dislike for extremely passive politicians has led us to glorify the other extreme, which is just as bad.

Figure A: Sole individual fights fire with fire.
Figure B: Sole individual gets fired.

We've all seen it before. Someone honks at someone else on the road, and they get flipped off. Someone expresses a contrary opinion, and their conversational partner condemns them for it. People respond to each other's rancor with their own brand of vile. 

I'm not saying every situation can be talked through. But if rebuffing and arguing is someone's first response to a tough situation, they're more likely to produce similar responses from their enemies and fellows.

Figure C: Sole individual attempts diplomacy.
Figure D: Peace is found.

Being direct and forthright gets things done, but if we combine these qualities with aggressiveness, we might lose ground in building international relationships.

And so we see our current presidential nominees spending time and resources taking potshots at each other. They rise to each others' baits, time and time again. One of these individuals may become President of the Union. I don't have faith that they will help our crumbling standing across the world.

However, if someone in the presidential race finally swallows their pride and seeks compromises instead of idiots among their opponents, I might have hope for this country yet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Would You Accept a Date from a Stranger? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #44

I'm sure most of you have been on a blind date, which is technically a date with a stranger. However, many blind dates are set up by trusted individuals in your confidence. Your friend knows this 'great person' who they can just tell is your future spouse, so you begrudgingly agree to give it a shot.

But that's not what I'm talking about in this particular post. I'm talking about a date with a TOTAL stranger.

They may be in your congregation. They may be a classmate. They may be someone walking past you in the street. You may even be familiar with their face and/or name, but nothing else.

Then they do something crazy. They call your number from the church directory. They pull you aside after class. They stop you cold in the street. They do the unthinkable.

They ask for a date.

You're obviously single in this scenario, so what do you say? And why?

Do you say 'yes' because you like adventure? Do you say 'no' because you're creeped out that they know your name, and you don't know theirs? Are you flattered anyway?

Let's talk about this. Leave a comment below!

Monday, April 18, 2016

16 Personalities - Why You Should Learn About Yourself


About a year ago, I went onto and took their test. I discovered the test considered me a Mediator.

I decided to return to the test during the middle of last month and discovered that my results had changed. The test then considered me a Protagonist.

Test Description

The test is based around the concept that there are 16 distinct personality types. Each type is represented by four different ratios.

The first ratio is extraverted (E) vs. introverted (I). The very first aspect of your personality that defines you is how you interact with others. Are you someone who thrives being by yourself, or do you like being around others?

The second ratio is intuitive (N) vs. observant (S). This ratio defines you by asking how you see the world and which types of information you focus on. An intuitive individual relies on imagination to come to decisions, while an observant individual focuses on facts. Are you someone who likes to turn to possibilities, or someone who likes to turn to what they know for certain?

The third ratio is thinking (T) vs. feeling (F). This ratio determines how one comes to conclusions and responds to their emotions. Thinking individuals rely on logic and rational arguments, while feeling individuals trust their heart. Are you someone who follows trains of thought to their natural conclusions, or someone who relies more on gut instinct when making decisions?

The fourth ratio is judging (J) vs. prospecting (P) This ratio is centered around how you organize and execute the details of your life. Judging individuals are more strategic in their plans, while prospecting individuals are flexible in their plans. Are you a planner, or do you go with the flow?

A fifth 'ratio' helps demonstrate our own personal confidence levels, but is not considered primary.

So the idea is, once you can identify which trait in each ratio is more dominant within your personality, then you can know which personality type you are.


Let's say someone considers themselves an introvert, who focuses more on details than speculation. They also make sure to consider every possible option before making a conclusion, but they're willing to make changes if something interrupts their original plans.

If that matched your description, congratulations! You're an ISTP, also known as a Virtuoso.

What's the Point?

"Cool, dude," you may ask. "Why are you telling me all this? You get a sponsorship or something?"

No, actually. See, I'm trying to build Change and Cherish Blog as a place where different people can come together and respect different opinions, ideas, and beliefs.

I think the biggest obstacle to keeping an open mind about these sorts of things is believing that others think in a manner that is incorrect. Perhaps this may be true in some psychological cases, but a majority people don't think incorrectly. They just think differently.

I linked to this article already, but the page about Energy (Intuitive vs. Observant) outright states that intuitive individuals struggle to understand observant individuals, and vice versa. And I quote from the sixth paragraph, "[Intuitive types] may even think that [Observant types are] materialistic, unimaginative, and simplistic, and [Observant types] may see their Intuitive conversation partner as impractical, naive, and absent-minded."

When you understand who you are through your own personality, you also learn about your own weaknesses, which are, in fact, other people's strengths. Even if you can't agree with the other person, understanding them will nonetheless lead to mutual respect.

We need more of that nowadays.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

What I Think About Torture

You don't need to look far to find my final opinion.

The answer is, torture is terrible.

Look, my original idea for the header image was to poor-man* Photoshop my face onto a picture of someone about to be tortured. You know, someone in a torture chair or something.

But everything I found appalled me. There really isn't any light torture out there, nothing casual enough to avoid offending every physical and moral sense you have. I can't believe some human beings can actually stomach putting someone through that.

I would throw up some links showing you the different types of torture I discovered exist, but I don't want to be responsible for any images that get stuck in your mind. If you want to research torture on your own time, do it at your own risk.

Of course, I'd already come to the conclusion that torture was atrocious based on just your comments alone.

You guys told me about Iraqi Republican Guards. You guys told me that torture doesn't ever yield useful information. You guys wanted the United States to be seen as the good guys.

I hope our presidential nominees listen to us.

This Week's Top Comments

*I don't actually own Photoshop, which means I have to rig a personalized system using at least three different programs.

Friday, April 15, 2016


HAHA symbolism.

In my last post about Mr. Trump, I mentioned I would soon discuss the possibility of a split vote within the Republican party.

See, the ongoing caucuses are an attempt by the Republicans and Democrats to determine which prominent members of their party should represent them in the presidential election. The party leaders could just choose their candidate themselves, but they instead seek the opinions of the majority. The thing is, if no one potential candidate gains enough of a majority vote within the political party, then we have what's called a 'brokered convention.' 

In essence, a brokered convention could mean that anyone in the party may be chosen to run for president, regardless of who was running in the race previous. The leaders of the party may pick a candidate from among the currently running candidates, or they may choose someone who hasn't participated in the race at all previously.

My description dumbs down the subtleties of brokered conventions, but it serves my purposes here.

Now consider that the leaders of the Republican party don't particularly like Trump. Want proof? Check this out. Or this. Or that. Or even this. There are many people at the top of the GOP who want Trump out.

The thing is, Trump fans are numerous and rabid. They want their man to win. And Trump has the power and money to continue campaigning under the banner of a third party. The media certainly love him, and they won't forget about him even if he's no longer the Republican candidate.

The thing is, people participating in the Republican caucuses are registered as Republicans. So what happens when a large chunk of registered Republican voters switch over to Donald Trump's third party?

This Q&A from Quora sums up the issue nicely. Let's just make things simple. Let's say that, in a typical election, 40% of Democrats always vote Democrat and 40% of Republicans always vote Republican. The remaining 20% remains undecided until the election.

But let's say Trump steals 50% of Republican party voters. The Democrats would still get their 40%, but with Trump supporters, Republicans, and undecided voters getting 20% of the overall vote each ... Odds are, the Democratic party has already won the election.

What if Trump's third party ends up creaming the Republican nominee in the final election? Are we witnessing the death of the Republican party and the birth of the Trump party?

Even worse, are we looking at a country that is governed by one majority political party?

It's no secret I don't like the bipartisan system, but a uni-partisan system is even more terrifying. And quite frankly, I don't care which party gains control of the nation. I don't want any of them to have that kind of power.

If you're curious to read my other entries in my series on Donald Trump, check these links:

Stop Talking About Donald Trump

Why Donald Trump Will Not Win

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Optimism - Throwback Commentary #65

You know, I'm pretty critical of my past blog posts. Even some of the posts from 2015 receive some mental criticism from me.

You see, Change and Cherish Blog is constantly evolving. I used to describe it as a returned missionary/spiritual blog. Then it became a slice of life/gratitude blog. More recently, it's become an author opinion/political blog.

There are probably more periods you could name, but the point is, when certain past posts don't fit in with the current period, I tend to shy away from marketing them.

At the same time, posts like Optimism: Major Injury Overreaction are helpful to me. Rereading about my enthusiastic reaction to an injury caused me to wonder how I would react to such a setback. Would I still laugh it off, or would I get frustrated and angry?

Whenever I return to a post outlining my weaknesses, it gives me the opportunity to take an inventory about where my character is.

So maybe these old posts aren't so bad after all.

Hey there! This is a commentary about the post I wrote on January 2 of last year! Click here to read the original post!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Final(s) Slam (2 Videos)

That's right, folks! We had another slam! Less of my immediate associates participated this time, but I still did!

The winners of the slam!

Obligatory soloist picture!

The master list!

And here's the text of my poem!

Disclaimer, right now, this slam poem is meta
I’m really sorry, guys, I don’t have anything betta

But I’m here to slam about slamming, and what y’all like
When we slam poets step up and spit into this mic

All I really need to make you scream
For you to clap and cheer and feel like you’re on my team

Is to say something I know you all with agree with
Like man, I hate to work the graveyard shift

There ain’t nothin’ better than a third date kiss
I never want to go to class, I think I’m gone skip

I hate waiting in lines, I hate parking fines
I hate it when my crush wants me to read their mind

I hate getting stuck in traffic behind the shuttle bus
I hate it when I see guys who ain’t chivalrous

Hillary’s a stepford-smilin’ mouth-flappin buffoon,
But where Trump truly belongs is a Fox cartoon

So then I leave the stage, and you think we’re in sync
But the thing is, I never really made you think.

That’s right, audience, I am calling you out,
You only like the taste of water from familiar spouts

I don’t have to be deep, I wasn’t even that funny
All that really matters is you think you think like me

But if I say something to challenge your minds
You sit there quietly, your arms at your sides

You talk about the refugees, with arms open and welcome,
But how would you feel if you had to let them sleep in your home

Maybe your candidate is the best for you
Are they the best for America, when you know what they’ll do?

You say you’re against police brutality
But if you saw it happen, would you leap in the fray?

You say racism doesn’t exist, that it’s come to an end,
But what about those racial jokes you told to your white friends?

You say you oppose the church and its stance on gays
But would you still be kind if a gay were your roommate?

And yes, I’m going there, you say you believe in Christ
But when’s the last time you were unconditionally nice?

Today’s society is all about (hashtag) #SoRelatable
Personally, I think that’s just a bunch of bull.

We are becoming more reliant on our similarities
We ignore the hard things because we like it easy

We don’t want our beliefs challenged, and we don’t to fight
For something we know to be true, or even to make something right

Because if we stand for something, we might stand alone
And standing alone is a fear that fills everyone’s bones.

But if we all stood alone, then we’d be standing together
And our burdens shared would be as light as a feather

So get off the hashtag, forsake the cliché
And make a promise to challenge yourself every day

yes, it’s uncomfortable to question all you believe
But you’ll be surprised by all the rewards you receive

You will find more respect, you will find more clarity
You can defend yourself from scrutiny and barbarity

Best of all, you’ll no longer feel awkward in your own skin
You will become an original, a will-be, not has-been

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Should the Military Utilize Torture in Interrogations? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #43

Torture can be a useful tool in uncovering vital information regarding enemy movements, intelligence, and positioning, among other things. Torture also tears down diplomatic opportunities and makes it difficult to convince enemy units to surrender.

Information gleaned through torture has saved countless lives. At the same time, some people feel as though torture is morally reprehensible. There are countless arguments for or against the use of torture. The question is, where should the military stand on the matter?

I plan to use Saturday's post to present my up-to-date opinion about torture. However, I want to gain a full understanding of the different viewpoints about this issue. My studies will include any arguments you deliver via the comments section below.

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.

For those of you as uninformed as I am, here are some recent articles discussing this very subject:

Ex-Abu Ghraib Interrogator: Israelis Trained U.S. to Use "Palestinian Chair" Torture Device

CIA Director John Brennan won't bring back torture, even if GOP contenders want it

United States of Torture: When it comes to "enhanced interrogation," Americans agree with Donald Trump

Death on the border: Family suing U.S. for "torturing and killing" Latino father at California-Mexico line, botching investigation

Ted Cruz Tells Fox America Has 'Never Engaged in Torture'

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ama's Watch: Now Available in Paperback ($9.99) & eBook ($3.99)

Just as the title says, my new book Ama's Watch is now available on Amazon! Click here to buy it!

Wanna know more about what the book's about? Check out this commercial!

Not much for videos? Here's the description!

Ama's Watch is a satirical medieval spiritual comedy about two bumbling assassins seeking justice for their people and the true meaning of happiness. 

When the benevolent king of Intus inherits seven corrupt advisers from his late father, the assassins Livens and Rubeus seek to kill every adviser in a single night. As they move from one target to the next, the assassins discover they misjudged the obstacles keeping them from success. It is not the members of the night watch, not the advisers' guards, nor even the personality-burdened advisers themselves. Rather, it is the assassins' own rambling conversations. 

The assassins' run through the city prompts discussions concerning everything from pie to the Goddess Ama, while the debate over which assassin is the other's hallucination proves the most pressing question. Even Livens' own self-doubts are tested when he ponders the meaning of happiness as posed to him by Caritas, the baker's daughter, who may know more about the advisers and even the assassins themselves than she's letting on. 

Ama's Watch features layers of comic, psychological, and spiritual depth, subtleties fans will research and debate for years to come, and a delightfully unreliable narrator who will sow a desire in readers to return to the novel after the explosive conclusion.

Not convinced it's an awesome book yet? Click here to read an excerpt!

And if you want to see where everything started, here's the link to the original Kickstarter!

Again, click here to buy Ama's Watch on Amazon!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Do I Support the Death Penalty?

Last Tuesday, I invited my audience to respond to me regarding the death penalty. I believe the response set a new record in regards to how many different comments I received.

So, after parsing through the comments and considering everyone's arguments, I found my mind being changed. See, before I wrote Tuesday's post, I think I was more for the Death Penalty than I was against it. Now, I'm more against the Death Penalty than for it.

I don't think anyone should face the Death Penalty for a first time offense, period. I believe our jails should be centered around the rehabilitation of inmates. If jails are struggling to properly rehabilitate prisoners, then the money currently being used to administer the death penalty to first-time offenders should be redirected to improving rehabilitation efforts.

Now, I'm hesitant to completely abolish the Death Penalty in the face of repeat offenders. Imagine a man who goes to jail for murder, leaves prison a supposedly reformed man, and then murders someone else. If he fooled his captors into thinking he was rehabilitated, then couldn't he do so again?

In such an instance, many believe keeping that man in prison for life is a cruel and unusual punishment. Perhaps killing the man humanely would be more merciful than keeping him alive?

I propose that we give the convict options. If a repeat offender faces either life in prison or the death penalty, let him choose which punishment seems more cruel and unusual. Maybe such a person wouldn't mind spending his life in jail. Maybe he would just want to end things.

But what about the methods of execution? As alluded to in the Tuesday post, the five methods of execution in the United States are hanging, electric chair, gas chamber, firing squad, and lethal injection. Some of these methods are perceived to be more inhumane than others, and therefore the more humane ones are often preferred. 

However, every single method of execution generally inflicts some sort of pain, even lethal injections, which include drugs that paralyze victims and therefore only mask the inmate's suffering. Let's be honest; if we're going to be administering the death penalty, we need to do so quickly, efficiently, and cheaply. We can't pretend like there's a 'humane' way to kill someone; killing people is killing people, no matter how little blood we see.

In summary, I believe prisoners need to be rehabilitated first. If they revert back to their old ways, then they need a punishment that will keep them from harming others. I balk at punishments that are more severe than the crime itself, and therefore only murderers (and their equivalents) should be given the option to choose between life in prison or the Death penalty. I believe that if a prisoner chooses the death penalty, they should not have to wait on a death row, but have their punishment administered quickly, as soon as possible. The prisoner should be able to change their mind on this matter at any time before the administration. The chosen method of execution should be cost-effective, regardless of how inhumane some may find it.

But what do you think? Do I have some good points, or am I off-base? Be sure to comment below!

This Week's Comments

Friday, April 8, 2016

You Can't Go Through Life Without Hurting People

No, not that kind of hurting people.

In my personal experience, I've found that the modern usage of the word heartbreaker has a negative connotation. Modern heartbreakers are people who try to get with as many different partners as they can. You're are of the appropriate synonyms.

However, the original usage of heartbreaker actually had positive connotations. A heartbreaker was considered to be quite the catch. When the heartbreaker finally chose a significant other, many individuals would be 'heartbroken,' not because the heartbreaker did anything to them, but because there wasn't enough of the heartbreaker to go around.

Yes, I'm aware many girls think all guys are tools. Many guys find girls nothing but promiscuous. But I do believe modern heartbreakers exist in this world. Those people cannot go through life without hurting people, albeit unintentionally.

"Ok, fine," you say. "So heartbreakers can't go through life without hurting people, but I can guarantee I'm not a heartbreaker. Nobody likes me."

You know, random reader, sometimes I feel the same way. But take a peek at this.

I once read a sentiment written by some wise individual that was posted to Facebook following its beginnings on tumblr. I'll paraphrase as best as I can.

"You know all those times when you admire someone from afar, and they never knew? How many times have you been that person for someone else?" 

You may think you know the effect you have on people, but you really don't. Odds are, there is someone out there who finds you an attractive and interesting person, but are just too shy to do anything about it.

Congratulations, you're a heartbreaker.

Even beyond dating, sometimes you just can't help but hurt people's feelings in other ways. I have met people who own the mentality that they "just want to do the right thing." That is so admirable, let me tell you, but always doing the right thing doesn't mean people won't still be hurt.

I honestly believe every single one of our current presidential candidates believes they are doing the right thing. All of them have offended or angered scores of Americans across the nation. You, yourself, have beliefs and principles and morals that may offend the sensibilities of those around you. I am not a smoker, and I have no desire to ever smoke, but I don't judge people who do smoke. It's just a thing people do. However, when I gained the trust of my coworkers while I worked at Sonic, a few grew upset when I refused to participate in their breakly ritual. "Just a puff," they said. "If you don't do it, then you're dissing my lifestyle."

I'm sure many of you have found yourselves in similar situations.

If you have religious, personal, political, or even moral standards, then you'll likely offend someone. Some people are even looking to be offended by people with different sensibilities than them.

"Ok, cool," you say. "You've convinced me. But what's the point?"

I've met some people who hate to hurt people's feelings. I'll admit, I'm one of those people. The thing is, this type of person often hold themselves back. They are so worried that their opinion or action might hurt someone else, they never do anything for themselves. They leap through life's hoops seeking only to please or ease someone else and their own burdens. They date people they don't really want to. They hide their opinions and beliefs in the face of scrutiny. They do things because someone else told them to, not because they wanted to do those things for themselves.

I think I've made my point. So here's my challenge for you today.

If you are worried about hurting people's feelings, don't be. Obviously, this world needs more kindness and tact, but there comes a point where you need to stand for yourself. Be that person. And while some people may turn away from you, the people who will prove the most important in your life will gather around you.

I've seen it.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Your Opinion About the New Year is Wrong - Throwback Commentary #64

Hey there! This is a commentary about the post I wrote on December 31, 2014! Click here to read the original!

For those of you relatively new to the Change and Cherish Blog scene, I really like ranting about New Year's. This past New Year's post is evidence of that.

What's funny to me is that the design for the 2016 New Year's post was inspired by the design for the 2015 New Year's post. However, as I reviewed the 2015 post, I couldn't remember the last time I read it. It seems the visual stuck in my mind a lot longer than did the content.

And the content for the 2015 New Year's post was pretty good. I enjoyed getting to know Bob Robert George and his addiction to breaking windows. It was great stuff!

In a way, I'm using this post to remind you to keep up my 2016 New Year's challenge. How are your goals? Are you well on your way to completing them? Do you need to refocus or realign your life to meet your goals? Are some of your goals less important than others?

As for me, I wanted to be accountable to you for my own goals, which I discussed in the 2016 New Year's post.

1.) I have examined and identified many of my own negative emotions. Overcoming them is a daily struggle.

2.) My physical fitness is probably on par with about 40% of my peers, but I have a long way to go to be on par with over 50% of my peers.

3.) I haven't missed a blog post yet, and I definitely feel as though they've become more relevant.

4.) Ama's Watch is going well, and I'm making sales on top of those I made directly through the Kickstarter itself.

5.) Still on track to graduating in August, though I'll still have 15 credits left to tackle come summer.

6.) I will be starting my career at Future House Publishing. The trick is figuring out a supplementary income.

7.) I have not finished any of my half-finished books. However, I'm really close to one (maybe 90% finished?).

How about your goals? Don't be afraid to be accountable in the comments below!

Hey there! This is a commentary about the post I wrote on December 31, 2014! Click here to read the original!