The Masters of sexism.

This past weekend, golf fans had the opportunity to witness what some might consider their sport’s equivalent of the Super Bowl – The Masters at Augusta National Golf Course.  Unlike other “Majors” in golf (one of four “major” golf tournaments that occur each year), The Masters is played at this same course every year it takes place – and has done so for many decades.  And, like every other Masters tournament in recent history, a heated issue has come up once again – that women are not allowed membership at Augusta National.

It’s an issue people are often rather passionate about one way or the other, enough so to the fact that those against this policy managed to get advertising pulled from the event in two of the tournaments over the last ten years.  I’ve heard the arguments both ways, and I do understand why people stand where they do, on both sides.

Some of you less familiar might be wondering – how is this legal?  Well, unlike a restaurant or school, Augusta National does not run a for-profit business, and is not a for-profit golf course.  It is a private club, and like any other private institution, is allowed to do this.  Just as the girl scouts is granted the right to deny membership of males to its organisation, Augusta National is afforded the same right – though the primary distinction being that they own property that club members use, and the club exists mainly for the use of that property.

There is a primary misconception regarding this – women are actually allowed to play on this course as the guest of a member, and women have played this course.  If a woman golfer ever shows to be good enough to regularly play in the PGA, they easily could play in The Masters without any policy being violated.  However – they are not allowed to become members of the club.

As I said, I am ardently against sexism.  However – I don’t disagree that a private group that owns private land should be allowed to segregate in such a way… it’s not a business, it’s private people with private land.  It is akin to if I bought land and started a club that met there, and we had the choice of who does or doesn’t join.  I don’t disagree with the ability to do so.

What I disagree with – and this should be the real crux of the issue – is that they do have such a policy.  Yes, they are allowed to do this as a private organisation.  However – just because something is legal doesn’t make it morally correct.  Sexist jokes are allowed in our society – I still stand strongly against them.  The issue of whether or not Augusta is allowed to do this should not be brought up in any debate regarding it – what should be brought up is whether what they are doing is morally valid.

This is a golf course, not a club to discuss men’s issues.  The fact that they don’t allow women to join as members is at best quite backward, and at worst extremely sexist.  It is purely misogynistic and only reflects a general value of superiority based on gender held by its members.  No, it is not like the girl scouts in that sense – which seeks to nourish and provide a community for young women.  It has nothing in its charter, or its actions, that indicate in any way that this has anything to do with nourishing men and providing a closed haven for men to deal with male issues.  It’s purely sexist, and comes out of a purely misogynistic tradition that asserts that men are superior to women – just as men are supposed to be, according to our culture’s historical tradition, the “king of the castle” of their homes.  It’s a policy that comes out of a far more sexist age, and only exists in reflecting those values.  There is no established purpose whatsoever for this policy that would make any argument for it valid (and if it were a haven for men’s issues where they also happen to play golf, I’d feel differently).

On that alone, though it is not a PGA event – the PGA should not award points for performance in this tournament, and any golfer opposed to this policy should boycott the tournament for the very reason that the club that owns the course is sexist.  Just because they are allowed to do something doesn’t make it right that they do, and this should be the issue at the forefront – and moreso, how that reflects the values of our culture at large.

Personally, though, I say forget traditional golf – I’m all about full contact golf.  And yes, this exists.  Because I invented the rules.  It’s so awesome, seriously.


A question worth asking…


I highly suspect there is some kind of continuation after death that we probably as living beings are incapable of comprehending. It’s not something I ponder on much, and given the lack of any data pointing in any direction on the matter, I don’t feel I can present an adequate hypothesis in terms of what that specifically is.  However, much like the case with my previous post regarding UFOs, there is a market involving interest surrounding the afterlife – particularly, ghosts – all of which whose “science” is, in fact, a pseudo-science.

One doesn’t have to look very far to find this in culture – with the popularity of television shows such as Ghost Hunters, book stores having entire sections dedicated to the subject, and the fact that if you live in America you can almost definitely find a “ghost hunting” group within a 100 mile radius – there is no shortage of belief in this concept.  Unfortunately, however, when one applies reason and science to the matter – it is clear that despite all the claims and the supposed prevalence of such entities, there still remains absolutely no evidence to support such beings are present in this world.  In fact, much like magic tricks, what “seems to be” is often rather quickly explainable through science.

I don’t seek to make the claim that everyone who has had a “ghost experience,” particularly a very vivid one, is lying.  I’ve talked directly with people whom have had such experiences, and I wholeheartedly trust that they are in no way lying about the experience they’ve had.  However, unlike them, I do not assume it is ghosts – that there is a reasonable, viable explanation behind what they’ve experienced, no matter how bizarre the recollection is.

Unlike ghosts, Manbearpig is very real. I’m super serial, you guys.

Just as I stated that “I had my own experience” in the UFO post, I’ve actually had my own experience that most people would quite easily assume it was a ghost.  And, as some would assuredly argue with me that their testimony is clear evidence, my experience was extremely vivid.

This has happened to me a handful of times over the past few years, and still occurs about every six months – but the most vivid example was a case that others would easily see as evidence for ghosts (but since it had occurred prior and I’d done research, I knew exactly what was truly going on).  I was laying in bed, it felt as if some force was making it unable for me to move – I was paralysed completely, only able to control my eyes and breathing.  The energy of emotion was incredibly thick in the air, just this overwhelming sense of dread and terror surrounding me.  To my side, a shadow figure was crouched, just watching me lay there.  Mind you, this was just as vivid, if not more vivid, than any real experience I have during the day – this was all incredibly real to me.  And even knowing exactly what was going on, it was still one of the most terrifying moments in my life.  I started breathing erratically and as loud as possible, desperately hoping my girlfriend at the time would wake up and shake me back into reality.  And though it worked, even back to my senses, even though I could move and the figure was gone and I knew exactly what I had just experienced – I was still terrified -that is how real this kind of experience is.

If you’d never experienced such a thing before, and believe in ghosts, naturally you’d assume that’s what it was and leave it at that.  But I’d had that experience before (other times, there was just an evil presence in the room, or things going on around me that seemed malicious that I could only hear – all equally vivid), and knew what it was.  The first time, being sceptical, I refused to settle on it “obviously being ghosts,” and about two minutes of research led me to the answer.

What I had experienced is what is known as “sleep paralysis.”  For those of you familiar with sleep and dreams, while dreaming during the REM stage of sleep, any movement of the eyes in the dream actually physically occurs under the eyelids of the sleeping individual (REM stands for “Rapid Eye Movement”).  The body has a tendency to want to replicate the bodily actions in a dream fully, and in order to prevent you from acting out your dreams as you sleep, the brain actually releases a chemical that paralyses the body, preventing this from occurring (and there is a sleep disorder where the body doesn’t release this, and people actually do physically act out as they dream).

Sleep paralysis occurs when you’re either just about to fall into sleep, or just in a state of awakening – an “in between” where you are awake and can see your real physical surroundings, yet just asleep enough that your body is still keeping itself paralysed, and the brain is still producing dream imagery projected in what you’re actually seeing.  Just as a person who stays awake a week and starts hallucinating (dreaming while awake), this is a similar experience… except you simply cannot move.  Again, I will attest, such an experience is horrifyingly vivid.  This has been studied and is entirely grounded in science as to what is physically going on.  The “shadow figure” is actually a common hallucination in that state – and any case where a person claims to have been “held down” with a mysterious figure there, there is absolutely no reason to assume that it is anything but sleep paralysis (and if you have experienced this and want to avoid it – sleep on your side.  For whatever reason, it’s far more likely to occur when you’re sleeping on your back).  I’m sure I’ll experience it again, and I’m sure I’ll always be equally as terrified despite knowing this – which shows me truly how easy it would be to attribute this to something supernatural.

Of course, there are many types of “ghost experiences,” sleep paralysis only being one.  One huge contributor to ghost scenarios is a psychological phenomenon known as “pareidolia.”  This is an evolutionary trait which we have acquired – if you draw a circle, with two circles inside and a line, you see a face (despite it looking hardly like a real human face).  If you’ve ever looked at clouds with someone, and they point one out – you may see nothing in particular.  Suddenly they say, “that looks like a rabbit,” and immediately you see it.  Not only do you see it, but it’s difficult to see it as anything else.

Freud would say this is obviously a giant penis.

Pareidolia works both with visual and audio sensory input – it is our brain’s natural tendency to make order out of chaos, to see something identifiable in randomness (the “face on Mars” being a brilliant example).  I’ve personally experienced this watching the show Ghost Hunters – they’ll take an EVP (they record asking questions, and responses supposedly show up on the tape when played back), you hear the question, then you hear a guttural sound.  To me, it usually sounds like nothing other than random, guttural feedback.  Then one of the members of the team says, “Did you hear that?  He said ‘My name is Thomas’!”  Suddenly, it’s played again, text on screen where it is supposedly being said and I can clearly decipher that short sentence that I didn’t pick up until someone pointed it out.  Ghost hunters are especially prone to this, because they’re looking for an answer, and therefore their brain is actively seeking out some kind of phrase or answer.  But in reality, it’s still that guttural noise I originally heard – the sentence that suddenly can be noticed being my brain making order out of chaos.  This is a scientifically verifiable phenomenon.

On that topic, people who do go searching for ghosts most frequently cite such EVP recordings as “evidence” of such entities (in fact, it is confirmation bias.  They are looking for that to be the answer, and almost always refuse any alternative explanation).  One might note that it is quite odd to ask a question, directly followed by such noise – it seems as if it must be a response.  What these people are unaware of is the fact that most audio recorders used for taking EVPs naturally adjust the intake volume when a recordable noise (such as a voice asking a question) is picked up.  This is why even the faint sound of a distant car that your brain wouldn’t even think to observe will, temporarily, pick up such noise.  Noise that is scratchy, and guttural.  Notice how responses on EVPs are always short – there’s never a series of sentences, a full paragraph of ghostly speech.  This is because these devices re-adjust – it only records such noise very temporarily after someone provides solid volume of speech before reducing the audio intake back to the baseline.  If there’s a spot where you always get EVPs, I recommend asking it – in order to establish a neutral baseline – not to respond to the first statement.  It will, because it’s related to the recording device picking up random noise, not a ghost.  It’s not a response.  It’s an after-effect.

Pareidolia works in photographs, where people see faces, or in dark places where what you look at isn’t precisely clear (which is exactly why ghost hunting is far more “successful” at night, in the dark).  Of course, some times it gets a little more extreme, more bizarre and seemingly unexplainable.  You might hear, or see, something that isn’t so vague.  There’s even an explanation for that.  On a side note, photos of “orbs,” which ghost seekers assume is ghosts, are fully explained as light refracting off of dust particles… it’s as simple as that.

One thing I enjoyed about the show Ghost Hunters before it became popular is they were at least somewhat scientific, they did try to provide scientific explanations far more than any other ghost related show I’ve seen (watch the first season versus later ones, and it becomes clear how different the show became regarding how scientific the approach was, and the assumptions afterwards, likely due to wanting to increase ratings).

They, like other ghost hunters almost always do, used what is known as an “EMF meter.”  EMF standing for electromagnetic frequency, it records at its location how high such frequencies are.  While nearly all other ghost hunters used that as “evidence” that a ghost was present when it suddenly spiked (based on nothing but assumption), on the show they actually explained how high electromagnetic frequencies effect the human body.  Which is – they can cause nausea, a sense of dread, a sense of paranoia, and even go so far as to create hallucinations.  This is verifiable fact, and offers a full explanation as to why more “ghostly” things occur at specific locations with high EMF readings (which can easily be caused by shotty wiring or some other problem relating to anything nearby that involves electricity).  Logically, it’s far safer and logical to assume there’s something wrong with the wiring in the lamp next to you, than the presence of a ghost (considering the wiring scenario provides a fully explainable scientific explanation that we know occurs).

Probably the biggest contributor to ghost scenarios is the brain itself – we don’t give it nearly enough credit for how powerful it is.  Studies have repeatedly been done where people are shown a photograph or film for a short time, then asked questions regarding it.  Then, they receive misleading questions – such as “what colour was the car in the background?” when in fact, there was no car.  People answer with certainty… and in some cases, when told after that there was no car, refuse to believe there wasn’t and that they’re being tricked because they so vividly remember it (which is why witness testimony is the lowest form of evidence in science – it’s entirely unreliable).  This happens to every one of us in life, our memories are warped projections of what actually occurred, sometimes far more accurate than not – like how you can hear “two sides of a story” where both individuals are being totally honest as to how they remember it playing out despite contradicting one another.  It’s solidly proven that the mind is capable of producing both false memories, or memories that are inaccurate as to what truly occurred (with false variations), and in fact, this is common.

Actually, you don’t. At least, not with 100% accuracy.

Now, imagine a person in a scenario where they believe in or are even actively seeking ghosts, are susceptible to pareidolia (not knowing or accepting the concept exists), and are in a location with high electromagnetic frequency, and therefore, are physically subjected to deep dread and paranoia – possibly slight hallucination.  Take that, add in the fact that we very commonly falsely project what we remember (and in the case of ghost situations, would only amplify and justify the experience as being supernatural) – and you have a very real, very vivid experience.  One that can be entirely explained without anything supernatural involved.

I’d like to make a final point.  For those of you who reject what I’ve said here, who believe that ghosts are very real – and for the sake of argument, let’s say there is something going on there – why exactly do you assume what these entities are happens to be a disembodied, dead person?  Given the possibility, could it not be some kind of residual overlap of parallel universes (a concept that appears possible, though not yet proven or disproved in science)?  That would actually make more sense to assume, given that there is an argument to be made for the hypothesis of parallel universes.  Why not something else that’s weird or bizarre?  Why exactly does it have to be dead people, or some kind of demon, as opposed to something else that’s quite odd?  You have just as much evidence for ghosts as I do for those situations being related to parallel universes.  Just sit and think about that fact for a while.

Why the twelfth doctor must be a woman.

If you’re a Doctor Who fan such as myself, you may be aware that Matt Smith is leaving the show after next season, leaving the Doctor to move onto the twelfth (and, second to last until they come up with a plot device to make it otherwise) incarnation.  While in some ways I see this as unfortunate, as Matt Smith is great, moreso I see it as promising.

I feel Matt Smith got the short end of the stick – while he does an incredible personification of the Doctor, he followed a really tall order (David Tennant was certainly the most spectacular Doctor of the new series) – for me, in filling those shoes, it’s taken time to appreciate Matt, which, at this point, I do greatly – but the time it took strained my appreciation for the show. On top of that, upon the departure of Russell T Davies and with Steven Moffat now at the helm, I feel the show has fallen quite flat.  Where the previous companions’ storylines fluidly worked amongst each other in an even broader arc, virtually everything from the Davies era was abandoned (sans River Song, whom barely appeared), and replaced by something that just… lacks.

With the timing of Matt’s introduction, and the introduction of Amy Pond and Rory Williams, the storyline created for the show felt broadly disconnected from the previous four seasons.  This isn’t inherently bad, were it done well… but by my judgement… Moffat simply doesn’t produce as good of a product as Davies did.  The last two seasons of Dr. Who have felt far less colorful, far less energetic, and far less inspiring.  It’s actually the fact that Matt Smith is so epic at playing the Doctor that, to me, makes the show still worth watching.  The only thing.  He’s been its saving grace post-Davies and Tennant.  But I truly feel the quality of the show cannot continue to survive on that alone.

I have no expectations as far as the upcoming season goes – I don’t want to have high expectations and get disappointed, and seeing what Moffat has given us thus far… I see no reason to have high expectations.  I am, however, intrigued by the new companion who should come along mid-season, and hope that opens new, interesting, creative doors.  She’ll only get a half of a season with Smith, meaning “her doctor” will likely predominately be whomever Smith’s version regenerates into – her first appearance could give an interesting indication as to the flavour of the show in the following season or two.

However, I believe now, more than ever, would be the perfect time to finally have the Doctor regenerate as a female.  Not only would it be better than ever to finally do it, I see it as one huge opportunity that likely won’t come for a number of years afterward, that would breathe the fresh air into the show that it so desperately needs, seeing as it seems to be suffocating.  Can this show survive with another male Doctor?  Sure… but I’d wager it’s a much safer bet to have a quirky, personable female as the new lead, to bring a new energy to the show, and to really give it the revitalisation it so desperately needs.

The concept of a female Doctor had been brought up outside of the show itself since the 70s, and was advocated by some to save ratings as they began to dip in the “classic” Who series in the 80s – and the BBC wasn’t willing to take the “risk” at the time.  It was finally brought up in-story with Matt Smith immediately questioning whether he was female upon regeneration, and completely solidified as possible within canon when he mentioned a former friend/Timelord known as “The Corsair” in the episode The Doctor’s Wife – The Corsair having been a Timelord who regenerated in both male, and female forms.  Given River Song’s incarnations, it’s safe to say that a Timelord can regenerate across both race and sex… really, the only restriction being they remain looking Timelord (and no, Timelords don’t look human, humans look Timelord.  They came first!)

We’ve already caught a glimpse of what this could look like with the “Doctor Donna” situation, and I have to say, having a similar female character play the role like this would be spectacular:

Imagine – the new companion, beginning to form a deeper bond of friendship with this male character she only recently met, turns into a female.  Though still just friends, it would entirely shift the dynamic – and could easily make for some incredible character development and plot devices.  To go even further, have Captain Jack make a special appearance – his bisexuality mixed with this change in sex making for quite an interesting episode or two.

This concept is just begging to be used, and would certainly provide a great deal of creative energy to the series – and from what I’ve seen thus far, far more often than not, Whovians seem to be quite receptive to the idea rather than opposed to it.  And beyond all of this – I think it would be excellent for young female Doctor Who fans to have a character they feel they can more deeply connect with, and there is no greater fiction hero than the Doctor – who values solutions over violence whenever possible, and has an embedded moral fibre for justice rather than revenge.  The show desperately needs it, young female fans and women in general need it, and looking at Doctor Donna – I can only imagine it would be nothing short of epic.

Kiss the sky!

Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?

Why did the anarchist drink herbal tea? Because proper tea is theft!

Seeing as one use of this blog is general commentary on things in the world, I feel I should make it clear early on where I stand – after years of exploring political ideologies of all sorts since I was a teenager, I ended up settling on one political philosophy which – to me – makes the most sense and would be the most beneficial.  I am an anarchist, a green anarchist in particular.  I am also a pacifist, which largely has lent me to anarchism – seeing as essentially, all this means is I am against systems of hierarchy because they rely on violent coercion to function.

This isn’t to say I believe in political nihilism – complete chaos.  I believe in order, just egalitarian order, based on free association without violent coercion.  I believe in challenging all authorities in an attempt to recognise whether they are legitimate or not (I would argue, most are not).  Throwing molotov cocktails into a Starbucks (or general property damage) is also not something I subscribe to, and in fact, see it as misguided and more about expelling frustration rather than doing something proactive.  I believe by disassociating with the modern economy, forming local co-ops and basically refuting the legitimacy of the state – an entirely non-violent movement which harms no one and destroys nothing – not only would work, but is the necessary method.

While I will explore the topic further in a future post, I feel I should explain what green anarchism in particular is.  I am not a full scale anarcho-primitivist (against all technology and for a return to a hunter-gatherer way of living), though I am a “Neo-Luddite” of sorts in the sense that I am against virtually all technology, and against civilisation (which is defined by the rise of cities.  This means – I believe every landbase/social location should be, in every way, self-sustainable, and sustainable in terms of the environment).

I establish this because I feel it is important to understand the perspective from which I’m coming, in order to better assess the things I say on here.  Also to establish that my use of this blog is a matter of the social context in which I live and am addressing, and using that, rather than pretending some kind of green anarchist society currently exists.  Probably the first claim against me when I admit my philosophical position is that I am a hypocrite – here I am, someone against virtually all technology (as virtually all of it is bad for the environment due to being unsustainable with the planet to produce), using a computer, and the internet (which are part of the long list of things I think need to go).  However, I do not see this as hypocritical – being that I do live in this current society, in this current culture, I am of the opinion that so long as such things do exist, it would make the most sense for me to use them toward proactive ends until they no longer exist.  Just as I would not expect a laissez-faire capitalist to not participate in a workers cooperative in some kind of socialist society.  My thought – as long as it’s there, use it toward the most proactive ends possible.  Which is why I see no contradiction in blogging.

This leads into some deeper concepts I may address.  I’m sure posts will come along where I’m speaking of law, what laws “should” or “shouldn’t” exist or such things.  Again, this is a matter of context.  While ultimately I am for a radically different system of egalitarian order, I don’t live in such a society.  And as long as this society exists, I, then, think there need to be things within it until the day it ceases to exist.  For example, since we aren’t in an anarchist society, I advocate for minimum wage laws that are a living wage – because I’m addressing reality relative to what currently is.  And before anyone makes any assumptions – I do not support any mainstream politicians or political parties.  Right versus left in modern politics is an illusory concept, it’s all about how they can do best by those who fund their campaigns.  So I’m not going to be on about supporting candidates or parties, though I likely may advocate policies.

Think I’m a hypocrite if you like, I take no offence.  I simply see myself as pro-actively addressing what is, in the now, until a day when a more ideal society comes along.