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"Absolute power doesn’t corrupt. It only enables."
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"People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves."

— Albert Camus

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Time travel explained…

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Scene from Looper, Sony Pictures

Theory 1:

You’re not allowed to change things in time travel. Every thing that happens is fated to happen and will happen regardless of what you try to do. Each person has only a single timeline which can “loop” back upon itself but never replace one or the other. So at any given point in time you may have multiple “instances” of a person but looking at the entire timeline, there is only one instance of a person that starts with birth and ends with death.

Let’s take an example:
Collin and Mary are driving along a road happily. Suddenly a deer appears, Mary screams closes her eyes and slams on the brakes but is unable to avoid it. Collin is thrown from the car through the windshield and Mary finds him dead on the highway.
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Mary, now grief-stricken continues on in time until she reaches a point at which time-travel is possible. She hops into the time machine to the point prior to the accident and then time-ports Collin our of the car and further into the past. History is changed right? 
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In time travel theory 1, because past Mary saw and witnessed Collin’s death, Collin has to die at that point in time. Even though future Mary seems to have saved Collin from his fate, events will conspire so that Collin ends up back in the car at the point of death.
In our fictional scenario, future Mary tells saved Collin about his untimely death and how she came back to save him. But now, destiny cannot be thwarted and fate takes over. Like the monkey’s paw, it’s inevitable that future Mary’s well-laid plans will go astray.  
Perhaps saved Collin now goes to sleep but inadvertently rolls over into the time-machine and jumps forward back to right before the point of impact and is now in the backseat. He sees past Mary close her eyes, he sees future Mary jump back and jump out the past Collin.
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The car hits the deer and from the backseat, saved Collin is thrown through the front window and dies.
When past Mary opens her eyes she sees Collin dead on the highway. She doesn’t realize that this Collin is a few hours older than the Collin that started the road trip with her, to her it’s the only Collin she knows. 
Future Mary wakes up and finds saved Collin gone. She rushes to the scene of the accident, fearful of what she knows happened. There’s saved Collin, dead in the highway. No matter how many more times she comes back to try to change the past, she can never prevent the events that she herself witnessed. Fate must be served.
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In this theory, we see that each person can only have a single time-line. There is no branching possibilities, if you did something in the past, that thing has to happen. It cannot be altered. You may think you alter it but whatever you are currently experiencing must occur. An individual’s time-line can “loop” back on itself and there are two instances of the same person visible at the same time but taking a macro-view that’s actually only one person. Each person is represented as a single line with an anchored beginning and end. No matter how many times you twist and loop the string it always ends at the same point.
Notice that this doesn’t prevent possible time paradoxes. For example, supposed Mary’s bringing back of time-machine technology is confiscated by the government in the past. They use that technology to develop time-travel in the future. This is the same time-travel technology future Mary uses to go back in time to try to save Collin - thus inventing time-travel.
Terminator series
The Terminator series of movies is an example of this theory. In the future, a sentient computer network called “Skynet” is being defeated by a human named John Connor. “Skynet” decides to send a robot from the future back in time to kill John Connor’s mother before he is born - thus preventing SkyNet’s imminent defeat. Lo and behold, events conspire so that *spolier alert* the very act of trying to alter the timeline ends up creating John Connor.
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Scene from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, TriStar Pictures

Later on in the series, we discover that the act of sending future technology into the past ends up creating SkyNet and the Terminators. The future is inalterable and all attempts to change it only serve to make the future more inevitable.
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Judging vs. Judgement

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There’s a difference between judging and making a judgement. Making a judgment is something we do every day. We decide what is wrong and what is right. We can look at an act like telling a lie, or stealing and say that they are wrong or right. We teach our children to have good judgement, to ultimately make a decision about what is a right or wrong act.

Judging, on the other hand, involves condemnation. When we judge someone we declare that the person is either guilty or innocent of a crime. Judging is personal. When we judge, we put on judicial robes and not just decide whether they are guilty of a crime, but we also mete out the punishment we feel befits the crime. 

Often times, you’ll hear people say “Who am I to judge?” and they shrug their shoulders. 

This is a way of saying that they absolve themselves of making a judgement about wrong or right. After all, who am I to say that something is right or wrong. It seems very humble and very wise -  but in fact, they are making a judgement. The judgement is that declaring something right or wrong is wrong and the right path is to shrug your shoulders and declare it’s all relative.

We ourselves might say “Don’t judge me!” 

What we mean to say is “Don’t tell me what I’m doing is wrong!” We have such an innate fear of condemnation that when we hear someone saying what we are doing is wrong, we instantly react defensively. Sometimes this reaction is justified, because the person who is telling you you’re wrong is not making a judgement but judging us. When we are being judged, we are being condemned. The look of disdain, the haughty voice, the “I would never do that” attitude - that’s the sentence the judge is passing on you - it’s your punishment as a criminal.

But let’s say you’re a drug addict and your lifestyle is destroying your family and your career. When your spouse comes to you in a loving way and says what you’re doing is wrong are they condemning you? Or are they making a judgement that your addictive acts are wrong and they want to warn you about them? 

It’s an incredibly fine line to walk between judgement and judging. Judgement is wisdom. But how can you exercise judgement without looking down your nose at the person doing the wrong thing? How can you not feel proud that you’re not a thief or liar or cheat? How can you not be happy that you are not like them?

The only way is if you have true humility.

If you realize that you are fundamentally no better than the other, if you recognize that all your right behavior is due to an accident of birth, if you know that you deserve the same verdict as the other… that’s where the fine line lies. 

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"We become what we think about."

Earl Nightingale

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"Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

— Leonardo da Vinci

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Love this arrangement of a classic scottish song

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Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism.

There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships.

The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship; be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles; is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story.

The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

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— David Foster Wallace

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Why God is offensive to everyone

There’s a good reason why if God, if he really exists, is offensive to everyone. A God that is extra-dimensional and personal will transcend human culture and understanding. If God is perfectly in sync with the values and understandings of a single culture then there’s a good bet that that particular God is not real at all but rather a power play of that culture to dominate other cultures.

But if God is a real personal God, then he will contradict all cultures in some way. There will be something offensive to each culture because such a God transcends culture.

So to Western culture, the idea of grace and love will be embraced but the idea of sin and judgement will be rejected as “backward” and offensive. 

To Eastern culture, the idea of communal church and judgement for wrongs will be embraced and the idea of pardon for sins and forgiveness will be rejected as “corrupting” and offensive.

If your God doesn’t offend you, then perhaps He isn’t real at all.

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"Health is not valued until sickness comes."

— Thomas Fuller

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Excellent article on the double edge of irony and it’s inconsequentialness from the NYT

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Milestones

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My oldest son is learning how to whistle. He’s also learning how to snap his fingers. Also, the monkey bars. And riding a bike. And he wants to be good at them all, yesterday…

I keep telling him to be patient. That he just needs to practice. That he should be okay with failure, and it will come with time. But it doesn’t help. There are so many milestone to hit and everything is extremely urgent for a little boy.

It’s startling to be reminded of how many milestones there are for young children. Counting to 10 is a milestone. Learning your ABC’s is a milestone. Riding a bike, packing a good solid snowball, being able to catch a bouncy ball on the first bounce. When you’re small the milestones are small and closely packed. Each week brings a new life marker to traverse and each challenge at first insurmountable and then quickly passed by.

As we grow older, our milestones come further and further apart. High school to college. Your first job. Marriage. Kids. Retirement. We have a much more difficult time surmounting the obstacles that keep us from our goals and maybe we might never reach that next milestone.

It’s stressful and unpleasant. 

Maybe we look back with nostalgia at our youth and how easy and commonplace the markers were to achieve.

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But that would be a mirage as nostalgia always is. I can see in my son, the strain of the next milestone. Wanting to whistle, to draw, to read, to climb, to swing - is a tangible stress. It is no less unpleasant than my struggles reaching my larger and harder milestones. It is no shorter for him than it is for me - he just perceives time to be much slower than me.

So I keep whispering to him that I love him. That no matter what, we can come back tomorrow and try again. I tell him through the tears of frustration that it’s okay to fail - because I love him no matter what. I remind him of how long it took him to learn how to ride his scooter. How we went out, just him and I, into the summer sun and practiced and practiced till he could glide like a bird on wing. I remind him about how he had to slowly and painstakingly build up hard callouses on his hands so that he could conquer the monkey bars. Sometimes I help him. Sometimes I let him struggle. Sometimes I urge him on. Sometimes I dry his tears.

Most of all, I stand by him, as he tries his hardest. 

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"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

Friedrich Nietzsche

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