Sunday, August 30, 2009

Be a Christian First, American Second.

As Americans, we often take many things for granted and when making decisions and forming opinions, we often misplace our priorities. I was speaking with a good friend of mine the other day and we were discussing different forms of democratic government ranging from republics to socialist states. He opined how he had not spent much time thinking about a social democratic type of government but his basis for forming the opinion was formed largely on the foundation of how many freedoms he had to give up.

So I went to the Bible (figuratively, I was driving, kinda hard to read while you're driving.)

I said "The Bible doesn't promise us any freedoms (politically.)"

Holy Crap what?!? You mean my freedom to do such and such isn't guaranteed by Almighty God in his inspired word? No. In this physical temporal natural world, there is no such guarantee, and our freedoms are provided only by ourselves and our government system.

This American view that we are guaranteed all these "freedoms" is something that is doing a lot of damage to what could be a great thing in this country. The political discord sown by the right through the Christian Right to the gullible masses is hindering bringing health care to the poor, something the Bible explicitly endorses. Doing it the wrong way you say? Well sure, the "right" has had all the opportunity in the world to do it "right" and has instead opposed providing anything to anyone but the rich, and especially not the the most needy, both of which the Bible explicitly condemns.

I just recently heard a pastor (not in front of church) talk about tired he was of all the "spiritual" people he knew up in arms simply because Obama is president. He was talking about these people going so far as to set up "safe houses every 20 miles" I guess so if we get universal health care they can hide from it or something.

Be followers of Jesus people. Hate your country, hate your freedom, hate your political party, hate your ideology all for the aim of following Jesus. A lot of people hate conservatives, a lot of people hate democrats, but when it comes right down to it, it's really hard to hate Jesus. Our english Bibles sometimes gloss over the fact that the word for "servant" in the New Testament is perhaps better translated as "slave" or "bond servant" which means nearly the same thing. Freedom is not our goal, freedom is not our salvation, freedom is not our reward, Jesus is. To be his "servant" is to be his "slave" and slaves have no freedom. So when Jesus gives you a government, make the best of it. Revolution is not a Christian ideal, it's Marxist, and Marx was not a Christian.

So no matter how many freedoms you think you may have to give up (not likely many or any) when we become a more (believe it or not, we already are quite a bit) socialized nation, just remember, it doesn't matter. Like my dad always said "it doesn't amount to a hill of beans." Because there are Christians in every country in the world, in communism, fascism, socialism, totalitarianism, monarchies, constitutional monarchies, Islamofascism, theocracy, democracy, republics, emirates, territories, dictatorships, and anarchies. And the last thing that really matters in the world is what Americans think because we've lost all the respect in the world we had earned, and no one gives a burning sh!t about what we think. But as Christians, some fantastic things can and will be done.

Because Jesus never bombed brown people.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Scooters and Flat Tires

It's hard to be on campus for any significant period of time without seeing a scooter with a flat rear tire. I don't mean broke down flat, I mean riding around with a really low tire.

I don't understand why people don't take care of the obvious. Though scooters get great gas mileage, I can only imagine how much of it they are losing by running around with flat tires. Additionally, the abnormal wear level is quite apparent and tires are not cheap.

This is just another example of something people need to pay attention to. We all must do our part to make the world a better place, and we start by simply doing things right.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Walking in the Valley

I was recently looking around the internet of some video of defamed christian comedian Mike Warnke because though he is a complete out and out fraud and liar, at least he was funny. I came across a video of him where he had just recently appeared on Jim Bakker's latest TV show broadcast from Branson. They were making small talk and then they said something that caught my attention.

They talked about how all their friends had left them when they "walked in the valley" and only Jesus stuck around to help them through.

They are both full of shit and here's why:

As you remember, Jim Bakker was in charge of a huge media broadcast and televangelistic empire. He also owned a big christian themed theme park. All this until he screwed a 21 year old church secretary. That and the tax evasion and the truth about how much money he and his wife were taking home from the ministry ended his tenure at PTL and landed him in prison.

Mike Warnke may or may not have a more dubious history, it's hard to tell. Claiming a conversion from satanism, Mike started a ministry based around his comedic tellings of personal anecdotes and some Bible stories. Mostly he could be described as a huge liar who is responsible for most of the fear of demons and satanism known in American Christianity today. The problem was, he was not collecting money for a rehab facility for victims of the church of Satan, no such facility existed. Although there wasn't a high profile sex scandal accredited to Mr. Warnke, he did marry five different women, not because of the biblical ground of infidelity, he was the adulterer. His end came from a Christian magazine's expose detailing how his claimed personal history was false, his stories untrue, and his money came directly from the pockets of his followers.

When I think of walking in a valley, I think of dark times in my life when I felt far from Jesus. I remember times of depression and listlessness. What I do not consider walking through a valley is lying, cheating, and stealing my way into prison and disrepute. That's called being a filthy bastard. And while Jesus loves filthy bastards too, he intends that they should admit their failings, ask for repentance, and change their life. I'm not so sure that Mike Warnke has done that. And Jim Bakker will always have done what Jim Bakker did.

Yes, when you do bad things, really bad things, and drag all sorts of people into it, your friends will leave you. But don't act all persecuted. The Bible talks about people forsaking you because of Christ, not because you're a bastard. If you are a bastard, your ass deserves to be left all alone in the cold. We can forgive you, yes, but forgiveness is not forgetfulness. Just because I forgive you does not mean I should let you back in my house. Just because you have paid your "debt to society" does not mean that you have paid your debt to all those you wronged and hurt and took advantage of.

So walk in your valley, and may Jesus be with you, but don't complain when all the people you were a bastard to won't talk to you anymore.

Do they really hate the poor?

I was talking to one of my setup guys Sunday morning about the pending health care bill and he was spouting off the typical disinformation that has been floating around lately. I was trying to explain to him how he was mistaken (with a growing amount of frustration as you might imagine) and I tried to use a metaphor as I often do. I know he has about a dozen brothers and sisters and so I hypothesized that he must know how difficult it is to obtain health insurance for that many people.

What happened next positively astounded me.

He though I was accusing him of being poor.

He really did, and not only that, but he took offense and completely refused to carry the conversation along any further. Now I'm a bit more educated on this guy than most because his family history is a matter of public record. I read his mother's book. I know for a fact that his family home was foreclosed upon several times while he was growing up. I also know he was fairly young at the time, so he may not remember, but all this is beside the point. Not only is being poor not something to be ashamed of, but as a Christian, care of the poor should be high on his priority list as one of the faithful.

As someone who did grow up legitimately poor, I am seriously concerned about the implications of this conversation. And I hope and pray (yes really pray) that it is not the case that conservatives hate poor people. And I hope and pray that this is not a growing trend among churchgoers. However, the disdain I see for the impoverished in our country gives me pain. And I hear it almost exclusively from the right.

The same thing happens in all sorts of situations. It's about dehumanizing the opponent so you can feel better about destroying them. From whom do you hear all sorts of arguments against the poor? You hear that they are poor because they are lazy (Limbaugh.) You hear about welfare moms driving Cadillacs (Reagan.) You hear about drugs and alcohol. While all of these things may exist, in reality the vast majority of the poor are working poor. They are people who have jobs and live in crappy apartments or homes, drive well used (crappy) cars, and still don't make much money. But if you can convince people that your enemy is a horrid filthy creature, than you can convince them that the horrid filthy creature will always be a horrid filthy creature, and even if you gave it a bath and a meal, it would still be a horrid filthy creature. Hitler did it with the Jews, so we know it works. The truth is, most people considered "poor" don't get welfare because they simply don't qualify. They are honest hardworking, poor.

It is completely disgusting to me to listen to people who were never poor talk about poor people. You people simply have no idea what you're talking about. I grew up poor and I know for real what it's like to take the abuse from people who have more money, are better dressed, and think they are generally better than you. I know what it's like to eat shitty government peanut butter. I know what it's like being cold, and being unable to turn up the heat. I know what it's like having to sleep in the same bed with your two brothers and piling all the dirty clothes on the top of the blankets because it's going to be really cold tonight. I know what it's like for the water heater to go out and not get another one until someone buys one for you. I lived in a house without carpet. I lived in a house without a phone. I lived in a house with an outhouse out back because there's no septic tank. When I was a child, just about the only time I saw a doctor was when I had severed body parts. Don't talk to me about poor people, because you have no idea what you are talking about. You talk but you are like a clanging bell. You are a neighbor's constantly barking dog.

And for the guy who got offended at the idea that he might be poor? You just swiftly exited the list of people I respect.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The L Curve

Throughout the nineties, incomes of most people grouped by education achievement went up. After the Bush Tax Cuts, everyone's median income began to go down (except perhaps those with Associate's Degrees.) This shows the continuing race to the bottom and the shipping of jobs overseas. During this time, the number of millionaires didn't increase much, but the amount of wealth accumulated by those millionaires increased dramatically.

While Americans are continually told that our country is the most wealthy, it is in fact not per capita. The truth is, each citizen of Switzerland on average makes more than what each American does by the equivalent of about $10,000.

But what is even more surprising is not the top 10% or even the top 1%, it's the top 0.000267%.
View this.
This is known as an L curve. You've heard of linear curves, parabolic curves, and exponential curves, but this is even better. Think of an L lain on its side. The side of the L sticking up is the income of the ultra rich. Yes, I know, L's aren't curved, but just stick with me. The best example of this is a demonstration of incomes as dollar bills stacked on a football field created by David Chandler.

"Chandler visualized the yearly income of each American as a stack of one hundred dollar bills (10 cm. = $100,000) and then arranged the stacks, slimmest to fattest, in a line that spanned the length of a football field. On his imaginary field, the stack of bills at the 50-yard line is 1.6 inches high ($39,000). At the 95-yard line, the pile reaches 4 inches ($132,000). It is not until the 99th yard line that the first millionaire appears (40 inches high). Then, just before the goal line, a line spikes up vertically to a height of thirty miles – over 4 times the elevation of Mt. Everest. This line represents the top 0.3% of Americans with incomes up to $50 billion dollars."

Please check out for a sweet graphical depiction of this.

I know most of you didn't grow up poor (but some did and you'll understand this better.) When you're rich, they give you money just for having money (this is called interest.) When you're poor, they take money from you that you don't even have just because you don't have it (this is known as insufficient funds.) And somehow the rich (read Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Bush, Cheney, Reagan, and every other politician you know) have convinced the more gullible of you that tax cuts for the rich actually bring in more money and stimulate the economy. And that raising taxes on the rich kills the economy and redistributes wealth. In fact, when the lower classes are more free from an oppressive burden of taxes, and not tied like indentured servants to their employers, they innovate and move up into the middle class where the real purchasing power is. And yes, it does redistribute wealth because instead of rewarding the rich for being rich by lowering their taxes, it removes the punishment for being poor by removing their oppressive tax burden. It gives the poor the freedom to move up on the social ladder because they can look up and see that the rungs aren't missing.

One last thing, Americans obviously don't know the first thing about progressive taxes. Let me explain it as simply as I can. If the tax rate on $40,000 to $49,999 is 10% (for example) and the tax rate on $50,000 is 20%, then if you make more than $50k here is how it works. If you make $49,999, you pay 10%. If you make 50k, then you pay 10% on $49,999 and 20% on $1. The rate doesn't go up the whole way if you make a dollar more. Thus people misunderstand Obama's tax plan. If you make less than $250k taxes don't go up, but if you make more than $250k, taxes only go up on what is above $250k. That $250k stays the same. Let me put it this way, if you make $20k, and you pay 5% taxes on that, you're paying $1000 which hurts real bad. But if you make $1,000,000 and you pay 40% taxes, then you still have $600k and you are not hurting at all. I'd much rather earn one million and pay 90% taxes than earn $20k and pay no taxes at all. This is the reality of the income disparity.

This is the reality that you need to think about when you choose a tax policy politician like I did when I voted for President.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Way Electric Vehicles Should and Will Be Done!

The biggest, and perhaps only problem beside cost with electric vehicles at the present time is range. Though 90 percent of all commutes are less than a hundred miles, or a run of the mill electric vehicle's range, sometimes you just want to go on a road trip, or to visit the in laws or something like that.

Enter the hybridizing trailer.
What this trailer does is add a small engine with a generator to the electric vehicle to make it in essence a series hybrid. The greatest part about it is that when it is not needed, it can be removed and stored. The Chevy Volt on the other hand includes the engine inside the envelope of the car which adds several hundred pounds of weight that needs to be dragged around when it is not in use. It would be better to use a trailer and to use that weight for more batteries to raise the car's electric only range to something a little more impressive than 40 miles. On the other hand, the Volt is very convenient in the fact that it is a stand-alone turn key machine.

Here, you can see a number of important parts. To the left toward the rear is the engine. From what I can gather at and other sources the engine is a 500cc Kawasaki Ninja engine which is very convenient because it is water cooled and produces good power in a small package. Toward the right rear is the radiator with electric fan. This is most likely powered by the engine's native 12 volt alternator which charges a battery to power its own starter and electronics. On the right side is the electrical box and controller, and in the front is the 9 gallon fuel tank. A very handy feature of this little trailer is its electronically controlled steering feature which steers the trailer for you when backing up since it is so small, you can't really see it in the mirrors.

This trailer has an output of around 20 kW DC which is enough to power the car at highway speeds as long as the trailer has gas. Because the engine runs at peak efficiency and constant load, it gets about the same gas mileage as the Toyota Rav4 gas version would. Look up the Tzero, it used the same kind of trailer, but was much more sporty.

If I were working on a project like this (and I certainly hope to some day,) I would do a few small things different for the sake of utility. Firstly, I would use a small diesel or turbo diesel engine specifically designed for generator duty to maximize efficiency and fuel economy and to be able to use biodiesel, the easiest and most sustainable biofuel to make. Secondly, I would make the fuel tank a bit larger, though how large, I do not know. On one hand, it would be great to have like a 20 gallon tank because I do make cross country trips from time to time, but there might be the possibility of the fuel going stale because not all of it gets cycled through between trips. Third, I'd build the trailer with some cargo space, or make the generator a unit that can be switched between trailers so as to be able to use the cargo space of a larger trailer. It would also be nice to be able to use the same generator as a back up generator for a home renewable energy system by simply plugging it in to your battery bank and hooking into the battery charge controller. I guess that would actually be a benefit for the large fuel tank as well.

These types of systems are how I see liquid fuel being used in the future. For most people, the trailer is only used for long trips, and it could be shared between families like sometimes I've seen done with a boat. You might go to your friend's house and say "Hey, I'm goin' to visit the family next month, can I borrow the Long Ranger?" "Sure bro, just bring it back with a full tank!" Or perhaps you could rent one from Uhaul.

Steps to electric cardom.

Would it have been worse?

The gospels make a number of references to punishment for sin being so bad that it would be better if the person were never born.

So I got to thinking, what if that concept applied to the abortion issue? What if, for those aborted babies, it were better that they were never born? What if abortion were the prophetic fulfillment of those verses?

Now I know a bunch of you are going "oh my gawd, what did you just say?" But just stick with me for a second. Don't get your panties all in a bunch yet.

Just set aside your preconceived notions and just for a second, act like what I said is a valid argument. Just for a second. What if for those aborted babies, it is literally better that they were never born? What if they were all destined for hell anyway? What if it were better that they never came into the world and now they are little babies in heaven?

I've never been particularly keen on the idea that unborn babies go to heaven, but I'm not against the idea. I'm not against it, but I'm not for it. But think, many, most, or maybe all the babies lost to abortion would have been raised by non-christian families, or single parents, and would never have become Christians and would have been destined for eternal punishment anyway. What if it were God's will that they be aborted so that he would not have to see that happen to them?

Now, please understand, I am completely against abortion, I've made that fact abundantly clear, but I do want to ask the hard questions. So answer the question, leave a comment. Let's discuss this, talk me down, tell me what you think.

What if it really is better that they were never born?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nissan LEAF

This is the Nissan LEAF.

This is part of the future of cars.  It is a Battery Electric Vehicle, or BEV.  It will give you about 107 horsepower or 80 kW.  With a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 87 mph, this car will satisfy about 90 percent of all trips made in the United States.  It has multiple charging options including the quick charger (currently every expensive) that can substantially charge the battery in 30 minutes.  

As I've mentioned before, the limitation in quick charging BEV's is not the car itself, but rather the incapability of the plug to keep up.  I did the math on one electric car, I don't remember which one, but it had a quick charge time of around 10 minutes.  That means for those ten minutes, it had to be pulling somewhere in the range of 250,000 watts.  As a comparison, my on-demand water heater pulls 28,000 watts at the most.

If you know anything about electric cars, you know that their most important benefit lies in their operation costs.  As far as fuel goes, you should spend less than one fifth on fueling an electric car compared to a gas car of similar size.  There's also no need for oil, fan belts, transmission fluid, air, fuel, oil, or transmission fluid filters, emissions systems, exhaust pipes, mufflers, or power steering fluid.

A few options I'm looking for in an electric car, the ability to accommodate a generator trailer for longer trips, and a minivan.  That said, I'm not in the market for a car, and hopefully, there will be a suitable electric or two mode hybrid minivan when our Corolla wears out.  By then, we plan on owning a few more children and a minivan will be necessary.  

Electric is the only future we can really count on.  Electricity has a multiplicity of sources including home generation.  The technology is here, the feasibility is here, it's just about getting the products here.  Myself, I'd be happy to buy the parts and build one of my own.  Fortunately, prices are coming down and with the Obama government being at least somewhat in support of EV's, there is light at the end of the tunnel.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Find some common ground in the abortion debate.

I was out mowing the lawn today and as usual, I was thinking of ways to solve problems in the world, because that's what I do.

So here's what I came up with.

The abortion debate as you know is a heated one, and I feel that most of the discord comes from both sides' unwillingness to actually do anything about the problem. Secondly, both sides are entirely unwilling to come together to solve the problem and are unwilling to make any sort of concession or give up any power.

First the democrats. The democrats need to stop fighting so much for choice and start fighting for social change. We need the kind of social change that tells a young woman that there are better options than killing the baby. The democrat mission statement or whatever it is says safe, legal, and rare. We have save and legal, let's actually work on rare now.

To get anywhere, the conservatives must give up control. What I mean by control is that conservatives seem to want to go about the problem by controlling everything, especially things they got no business controlling. They must give up the gay marriage debate. That single issue is the one that tells the rest of the world that conservatives (and by extension Christians) want to control you and what you do in your own private life. There is no scriptural basis for such a supposition. Sinners will sin, and Christians must allow sinners to do what sinners do. It is not nor has ever been our job to with the law correct others' sinful behavior. Remember, the major corrections meted out by Jesus were all directed toward the religious leaders of the day.

Unfortunately, the conservatives are not going to win this battle. You cannot legislate your version of morality. You cannot call someone immoral simply because they disagree with your version of morality. In case you have missed it, over time, governments and laws just about always trend in the liberal direction. It's the new, the progress, the adventure in people. We find new and better ways to do things, and so we do them in those ways. The old, the tried and true things will slowly pass away. The key is to work within the progress to affect positive change.

Do what's best, work together.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why so many Anti-Depressants?

Use of anti depressants has nearly doubled in recent years. Why? Well, availability, but there are other factors also.

I blame most of it on media and political scare tactics. If you watch the news in California, you'd think that the apocalypse was happening every evening at 5 and 11. Conservatives especially sell their brand using as much fear as possible, 9/11, terrorists, immigrants, gays. Be afraid!!!

A buddy of mine just sent me a link to a YouTube posting of "The Obama Deception." He said that he was up late at night worrying about what it contained. If I were apt to believe that sort of thing, I might be up late too, but this is only one conspiracy theory about a single group, the Bilderberg Group. The dude who made the film completely forgot about the other major conspiracy theory controlling the world group, "The Family." Don't forget them, they're supposedly in control of everything too. But wait, aren't the Jews in control of everything? No, no, it's Skull and Bones who runs the whole show. Um, I think.... The Illuminati?

Forget it people, there's nothing you can do to change any of this. Why worry about it? Will worrying change anything? Let's ask Jesus. That's a no.

The bible overtly states that God places our leaders in power, and that we are supposed to follow them. Does that mean we blindly do what ever the government asks of us like the Bush administration postured? Also no. We live in a democratic society that allows for freedom of dissent and for elections of politicians. So use your legally provided right to vote and protest and do so.

Like I wrote about before in the trans american highway post or whatever it was called, or the North American Union or whatever, none of this ultimately matters. The world is full of wicked people and wicked governments and they will do what they will do. It is our duty as Christians to live here and to go about the King's business. Remember, Socialism hasn't killed Christianity, neither has Communism, Capitalism (though it tries more covertly,) "The Family", Bilderberg, or Focus on the Family. If any of these nefarious organizations really is in control, you can bet the first thing they won't allow on our soil is war. When I look at the Socialism of Europe, I see better health care, better overall health, less poverty, and less death (everyone complains about government control and not being able to chose your doctor and everything else, but I've seen a different side, I grew up with nothing, American health insurance can't hold a candle to socialized medicine when you have nothing.) Atheistic Communism is a problem, but not one I see happening here. Anyway, I don't know where I was going with this.

The point is, all this is temporal. To the fear mongers, it has always been the end of the world, gays, the economy, communism, isolationism, abortion, global warming, taxes, who gives a shit. It's always been the end of the world, and as long as you keep listening to these people, it always will be and you'll always be scared. And you'll always be sucking down Zanax and Prozac. But you know what? I won't. Because I'm not scared. Forget peddling fear and conspiracy theories to me, because I'm not buying it. I'm not afraid. I can be just as useful for Jesus in a booming economy as I can in a recession. Capitalism or Communism don't make a difference. Hell or high water, you know where I'm going with this.

Just read the Bible people, why do I have to keep writing about the simple stuff printed right there on the page, "Don't worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough problems of its own."

Jesus lived in a society with a supreme powered far away Caesar, it didn't bother him.

Monday, August 3, 2009

100,000 Miles in a Toyota Corolla

It's been four years and we've passed that milestone.

So what's it been like? We could only have asked for a better car if we were richer. But a Corolla perfectly fits our family, and there could not be a more cost effective and reliable fit to our needs. It is literally the best car to have in our situation.

A long time ago, I did a simple cost comparison between a Corolla and a Prius and the Corolla came out on top, but that was with a gas price of $4. Of course, when prices go up, the Prius will be a better and better option, and newer ones get even better mileage. When the Prius gets plug-in capability, it will jump way ahead. There is also the option of the Matrix. The Matrix shares the platform of the Corolla, but because of reduced aerodynamic efficiency of a hatchback, it gets two less miles per gallon. To my eyes, those are the only real options beside going smaller as far as cars go. Someone at church just got the four door Yaris, and it looks really good too. Though it probably has a little less towing capability and less storage.

Someone did sideswipe my wife only five weeks after we got the car, so that got fixed. I hit something on the freeway that broke off the passenger side mirror. I bumped into a few curbs, an engine, and bumped the front end on the ground on a bad driveway. That last part actually created the most annoyance, the front end doesn't seem particularly strong, that's my only complaint, but you'd never know it if you didn't run into something. We had someone back into the driver's side front fender too. My bass amplifier rolled across the back seat and broke out the window.

Maintenance wise, the car has been a dream. I have used Amsoil in it since 500 miles, and so I've only changed the oil about six times. It still runs perfectly and the oil doesn't get black even after over 20,000 miles. I recently did some non routine maintenance, I added some freon to the AC which returned its functioning back to refrigerator quality like when we first got it. I also changed the cabin air filter which was way easier than I thought it would be. It was full of lint and leaves and dust. I think we are on our third set of tires, no complaints there. I think we need a new oxygen sensor though, it seems like it should get better gas mileage sometimes. But that's to be expected that this age. We've had to replace no lights, the brake fluid is still nice and clear, and I think we are still on our original radiator juice.

One complaint I have is I wish there were more control over the heat/AC system. I wish you had complete control over whether or not to use AC on defrost, or whether or not to bring in outside air. I wish those things weren't automatic like they are. I also wish the headlights were more easily adjustable. I was able to burn the original transmission fluid by pulling a heavy trailer over the great divide, but I changed it with synthetic, and everything seems to work just fine.

To save energy, I disabled the automatic feature of the headlights, that eliminated the running lights which I feel just wasted energy. So now we have to turn on the headlights manually, but it's the same way for every other car I've ever had, so I don't even notice. I added a hitch and wiring specially made for the application in the back, and that works great too.

A good car, I expect to do two more of these updates. Look for them every four years.

Where I Want to Go When I Die.

No, this isn't about heaven, it's about what I want to be done with my body when I die. Consider some of the ideas I have and think about what would be best for your remains when they become remains. I liked when Twain used "remainders" in Huck Finn.

So, one of the commonest ways people's corpse's pass in the the great beyond (or beneath) we all know if we've been to a funeral. The person dies, is confirmed dead by some sort of medical professional, is put on ice to allow time for arrangements to be made, is embalmed, placed in a nicely upholstered metal box, which is sometimes sealed, and then buried approximately six feet beneath the surface of the earth in some nicely mowed cemetery with a granite headstone, maybe foot stone that's carved or something. Or often times people are cremated, which is for the uninitiated, burned. For a good demonstration, burn a hamburger until it's ash. Just like that.

As a green person and a Christian (Christian first though,) I have a few problems with the status quo as well you know. My first problem is with all the pomp and circumstance of all the funeral and the big to do with grave markers and all that. What's the point of a grave marker or a tomb stone. It's to tell who is buried here, but why is that important? Do you think that people deserve to know where you were buried and what your name was and that you lived from when to when? Why? Who cares where you were buried? If you were important enough to be remembered beyond your family members, then you should probably be mentioned in a history book somewhere in which case, no one is still gonna care where you were buried. Headstones are pointless except to the overly sentimental. If you've been to a grave yard of any age, you'd know that. After a century or two, they're just rocks again. And for the funeral, buy some good booze, get some good food, and have a party. Remember me, then get on with your life.

The next problem is the embalming. Formaldehyde is a really nasty carcinogen and with our dead, we bury a whole bunch of it every year. That stuff can then get into water supplies. But what is embalming even for anyway? It keeps people pretty looking for a few days (or decades if done right) so we can look at them at their funeral. I'll tell you right now, I don't want a bunch of blubbering distraught family members gawking at my dead ass, so let's just skip that part.

And then we put the dead people in a steel coffin that is sometimes hermetically sealed. If the conditions are right, you know what happens then? The coffin explodes, throwing pieces of grandpa all over the grave yard. Ok, that's probably an exaggeration, but a sealed casket can pose some problems when the body begins to decompose. Really, what's the point? I'm dead. Dead things are meant to decompose and become part of the earth again. What's all this crap about "protecting grandma?" She's dead, she doesn't need protection. What a waste of money. What a waste of resources. What heights of self centeredness. Save the steel and build an electric car in my memory, if I were alive, I'd appreciate that a whole lot more.

So you spend $9000 on grandma so she doesn't rot, and a metal casket that will keep her from rotting, then what do you do but bury it in the ground where things have quite a tendency to rot? If you really want to keep grandma around, have her thoroughly embalmed like Rosalia Lombardo and put her in a glass case in your hallway. Let her scare the kids from time to time.

On the other hand, there's cremation. It offers some benefits in that the volume of grandma's remainders is greatly lessened, and thus her container. You can move her around, put her on the mantle, or drop her out of a boat or plane out to sea. However, to roast grandma to cinders, you'll have to expend enough fuel to drive a car 4,300 miles not to mention all that air pollution (most importantly mercury from her teeth) that you'll expel into the atmosphere.

What's the best option?

Let me explain the best option, and let me offer this as my last will and testament as it pertains to my burial. (I do have a will, and no you don't get anything.) There are two options, one likely being far more socially and legally acceptable. The first option would be to be composted like you all knew I was going to say. Composting dead bodies is quite simple, you split the abdominal cavity open and pack the corpse in rotted sawdust and allow it to decompose for a few months. This would have several benefits where it pertains to people's need for souvenirs. You could keep grandpa's skull (complete with his overbite) on a shelf instead of an urn. Other bones could be made into walking sticks or chandeliers with wondrous accompanying stories. And you could spread the resulting compost on your land to feed the next generation of raspberries, apples, or just grass. The second option would be a simple ecologically friendly (and most importantly cheap) burial, wrapped in nothing but hemp cloth or a simple soft wood box and then buried in the ground at a suitable depth. A suitably long lived tree could be planted as a memorial and it could feed on my nutrients for the next hundred years. It would probably be a good idea to have mercury amalgam teeth removed also so they don't pollute the groundwater. In both cases, I would eschew any sort of embalming or preservation other than freezing.

I know some of this may seem a little foreign to you, but think of how many of the humans that have lived on this planet are buried, rotted and forgotten in unmarked graves. Heck, Mozart was so poor that they just dumped him in a big hole with a bunch of other destitutes. The thing is, the Bible says that the dead are forgotten, and the memory of them passes away. And the most important thing is that I'll be dead, and I won't care. Not long after that, you'll be dead too and you'll have no need to remember me at all.

We're not that important in the world. It seems to me that all the practices and rituals we shroud death with in modern American culture are ways of trying to draw attention to ourselves, even if we're not the ones dying. It is proper and effective to deal with grief, to grieve and move on. If you're dead, you're dead, no amount of crying will change that. I understand that you'll miss me, and if you die first, I'll miss you. But I want for you to remember me by what I've done, and who I was, not just because I existed. If I was a good father, then mourn the loss of a good father, but if I was a bad one, then piss on my grave, go home and get on with your life in the comfort that I won't be a burden anymore. If I die first, I don't need a sepulcher for my widow to cry at endlessly when she needs to be finding another husband to take care of her. You know I'm utilitarian, I'll be dead, and I won't need any of this.

I'm not dead yet, but when I do die, remember me for the honest bastard I was, and don't sugar coat my memory. That would be a disservice to the honesty I strove to preserve in life.