History Can Be Fun (Especially when I Create It!)

The basic meaning of “have your cake and eat it too” has been lost in the wording. What is trying to be conveyed is, “you want to eat your cake and still have it when you are done.” (That’s not funny!)

I was hoping the saying meant. You want to halve your cake and eat it two. Basically meaning, you cut your cake in half and eat the two pieces in two separate sittings. (That would have been funny!)

Here is my story breaking down the origin:

A long, long time ago…

I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. Wait a minute! I think those are the lyrics to Don McLean’s song American Pie. (Sorry about that!)

There was a time, a long, long time ago. Chevys and levees played on the radio. No cell phones, just twenty thousand lights, swaying on a Saturday night…alright. (I think I screwed up again. Those are definitely the words to Five For Fighting’s song Slice!)

Once upon a time, the world was under the rule of one mighty king. The king, whose name has never been uncovered, had all the wealth that a person could wish for. He was a stern, but fair ruler. Most of the towns inside his massive kingdom were prosperous and peaceful.

There was one exception; a small town, near the outer rim of the kingdom. The people were hardworking loyal subjects, but their location created unimaginable hardships. Most families failed to get the proper nutrition, but everyone did their best to  ensure that no one starved to death.

The king wanted to do his best to help these people, but he didn’t want to create an atmosphere where laziness became accepted; a daily ration was given to his poorest subjects and nothing more. The caring king ordered his advisers to put in motion a five-year plan to improve the quality of the soil. With better farmland, the people would finally be able to provide for themselves.

In the meantime, each month, the king would hand out cakes to ten lucky families. These families were selected by the advisers and each clan was chosen based on their execution of the massive five-year plan.

The cakes were delivered to each home on the first day of the month. (Hence the famous song by Cleveland rap group Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony!)

The fortunate families had two choices. They could cut their cake into pieces and have their easiest meal. (Hence the saying “piece of cake,” when talking about things being easy!) This was truly the only option, because these were hungry people who couldn’t afford to pass up any meal.

The second option was to keep the cake for the entire month in order to receive a grand reward. Any family which managed to save their cake was invited to the castle for a massive dinner with the king. (Hence the term “a king’s feast!”)

Sitting down to dinner in the king’s castle was the ultimate prize, but an impossible dream. The longest any family held out was thirteen days. (Hence the number 13 being unlucky!)

On the twelfth day, the man’s best friend, Thomas Jinx, was heard guaranteeing that his buddy would be the first man to save his cake. (From that day forth, the name Jinx became synonymous with a curse!)

After the infamous Jinx incident, the chosen families no longer attempted to save their cakes; there was no point. Everything changed a few years later. A man named William Spender vowed to save his family’s cake for the entire month.

The Spenders land contained a small sliver of fertile land which provided enough extra food to share with some of their neighbors. Due to Mr. Spender’s generosity, his family was chosen to receive a piece of cake. Spender anticipated receiving the cake and he prepared accordingly. For a few months, he stored away some food to be served during his month-long wait.

As predicted, the Spenders were able to save their cake and the king sent a coach to transport the family to his castle. The Spenders thought they were going to see a large amount of food, but they were not prepared for the gargantuan meal.

William’s wife, Elizabeth, mentioned how difficult it was to save the cake. “The journey to your castle was the longest ride of our lives; it took all of my will power to keep from eating that cake.” Elizabeth said.

“Women are impossible to satisfy. It would appear that your wife would like to have her cake and eat it too!” The king said. (Hence the famous saying!)

Another first occurred during the long journey. The trip was the first incident in which children were heard asking the world’s most annoying travel query. Repeatedly, they yelled out “are we there yet?”

This incident is also the origin of the famous oxymoron “save like a Spender!”

***OK! We all know “save like a spender” is not a famous oxymoron, but it can be! (Let’s all do our part and make it happen!)***


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History Can Be Fun

I received these great facts in an email from Jessica. I found them to be amusing so I decided to share.

Thanks Jess!

Where did “piss poor” come from?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot. And then once it was full it was taken and sold to the tannery… If you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor.”

But worse than that were the really poor folk, who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot…

They “didn’t have a pot to piss in” and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500′s

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.

Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children; last of all the babies.

By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.

Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof…

When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.

Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.

Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.

Hence: a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren’t you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.

Hence the rhyme:

“Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old”.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.”

They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat. Those with money had plates made of pewter…

Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death.

This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous. Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust. Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey.

The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.

Hence the custom; “of holding a wake.”

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave…

When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, “saved by the bell,” or was considered a “dead ringer.”

And that’s the truth!

I always wanted to know the origin of the saying “to have your cake and eat it too” came from. I discovered that there is no colorful story so I decided to write my own. CHECK BACK TOMORROW TO READ THE TALE!


Misinformed Children

When it comes to being creative and pushing the envelope, I’m all about allowing artists to use their creativity to entertain their fellow human beings, but there has to be some accountability. As a society, we need to educate the children before we poison their minds with ridiculous notions. Although I am an atheist, I think religion can play a role in setting a moral foundation for the youth of the world. (Just as long as we allow children to find their own way once they realize that religion is nonsensical!)

Abraham Lincoln is one of my favorite presidents; I believe I ranked him in my top five, in a previous post. (You can read the post here: President’s Day.) There are many reasons to choose Abraham Lincoln as a favorite. First of all, he wore a great top hat. (You’re definitely a complete ass if you don’t respect a man in a top hat!)

Lincoln is famous for his Emancipation Proclamation in which he set out to free all slaves, but failed miserably. I say he failed because the number of slaves freed by the document was a total of zero! (I would explain, but I think people should do their own research!)

That being said, Lincoln is responsible for ending slavery so he is a man to be admired. Lincoln also was assassinated which clearly means he was a man of great honor. (No one was trying to assassinate President George W. Bush!)

Lincoln will always be named when people talk about their favorite president’s; he is on the five dollar bill and the penny, so his memory isn’t going anywhere. Unfortunately for the children of the future, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, will forever be remembered for something which is completely ridiculous.

Thanks to irresponsible Hollywood big wigs, Abraham Lincoln will be remembered for his tenacity as a vampire slayer. “WHAT?” Yes, you read that correctly; Abraham Lincoln will forever be known as a vampire slayer.

I’m sure most people have seen the advertisements for the new movie and chuckled, but this is not a laughing matter. There will come a day when those of you who have children will ask about a favorite President and the answer will seem reasonable at first. Once you delve deeper and ask, “why;” you will be floored by the answer. Your innocent, dumbass of a child, will say, “I like Abraham Lincoln because he killed all the bad vampires!” I wouldn’t wish such a moment on my worst enemy, but there is no turning back; the film will be released soon and history will forever be tainted. (As a History major, I cried when I walked into the movie theatre and saw a poster for the Lincoln vampire movie!)

Do your part and help educate a child by not watching this abomination!


An Extraordinary Woman

On Monday, we attended the Pan African Film Festival, held at Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza 15. Our cousin, filmmaker, Guenny Pires invited us to watch a film by a Brazilian director. The movie is called Let’s Make a Toast (Vamos Fazer um Brinde) by Director Sabrina Rosa and producer Cavi Borges.

The film is a about a group of middle-class Brazilian friends who meet for a small New Year’s Eve party. We enjoyed the movie which was a wonderful look into the daily lives of average Brazilians, but we didn’t realize the impact of the film until the question and answer period. (We actually witnessed history!)

It turns out the movie is the first film which was directed by a woman of African descent, in Brazil. We learned that the Brazilian film industry has a long way to go as far as diversity is concerned. Prior to Sabrina Rosa’s movie, people of African descent in Brazil were always depicted as poor or gangsters. Sabrina Rosa made the conscious decision to create a film with a cast of predominantly African actors.

These are the cast members!

     She wanted to show the world that Brazilian Africans lived normal lives, outside of the infamous favelas depicted in films such as City of God. We also learned that Sabrina Rosa and her producer Cavi Borges are members of a group which teaches young African Brazilians how to create their own films. Their hope is to provide a place which will cultivate the talents of future filmmakers. (She is literally making the world a better place!)

Following the screening, we joined the filmmakers, at a nearby lounge, for some drinks and a little conversation; very little conversation since the women do not speak English very well. (We had to step it up and dust off our Portuguese!)

Overall, the night was a great experience and we hope to return to the festival, this weekend, in order to watch a screening by a British comedian who we also met during the night. (I’ll write about the film, if we are able to attend!)


My Automathography

**No, I didn’t invent the word!**

My favorite subject is History. To be honest, I would say history is number 1 and Anthropology is 1A. (“If History is your favorite subject, why are you writing about math?” I’ll tell you, ye who asks too many questions!) I am writing my automathography because math was always my favorite subject as a youth. I actually didn’t like History until I enrolled at Seton Hall University. What changed? The History taught in high school is sugarcoated; they leave out all of the great details. College History is the real deal—straight, no chaser! (“I thought this was a math piece!” Sorry, I tend to tangenterize! **No, that’s not a word!**  ) Back to the math!

St. Patrick’s School in Roxbury, Massachusetts was the sight of my introduction to the wonderful world of math. I found the subject to be a very challenging and fun! (Yeah, math was fun! I love helping my nephew with his homework! I guess he enjoys the tutoring as much as I do, because when I mentioned my plan to move to LA in the New Year, he said, “You can’t go! Who is going to help me with my homework?” One of life’s wonderful moments! **I’ll give everyone a second to compose yourselves!**)

***********ONE SECOND***********

     At St. Patrick’s, I excelled in math. Through the third grade, I was very quick to understand the lessons and finished the handout sheets effortlessly. In the fourth grade, Mr. Fallon noticed how easily I grasped the material, and after a few months of one on one lessons, he decided I was special. No, not the special you hear from your mom. “It’s ok Billy, the other kids don’t sit with you during lunch because you are special!” I wasn’t that kid! (It’s funny, Mr. Fallon thought I was special, but he was the one who was special. Mr. Fallon taught me that I was better than everyone else. Just kidding! His encouragement will remain with me forever! If you have an opportunity to influence a child, do so!!!)

While my classmates were learning math, Mr. Fallon arranged for me to have access to the computer lab, where I utilized the higher-level reading programs. During the fourth grade reading lesson, I walked upstairs to Mr. Devitt’s sixth grade math class. This was the arrangement for the remainder of the year. (Anyone lucky enough to have met Mr. Fallon will remember his ball trick! [NO, you fucking sick bastards, not that kind of ball trick. I know it was a Catholic school, but he wasn’t a priest! YOU KNEW THAT WAS EVENTUALLY MAKING AN APPEARANCE IN THE BLOG!] Mr. Fallon held a ball in his right hand as if he were handing it to you, then, when you reached for it, he would quickly throw the ball to his left hand and shake your hand with his right! I fell for it every time!) ** Did everyone figure out the fact that I am trying to win back some of the people who were repulsed by this week’s controversial posts!**

Everything changed the following school year. Sr. John Mary was disobliging. The very thought, of a student skipping her didactic fifth grade math lesson, filled her with rage. (I’m not kidding, she had anger management issues. While in the fourth grade, we often heard her yelling at an unlucky student, and Mr. Fallon would say, “Be careful! Sr. John Mary’s on the war path!”) She would not allow for me to continue with the seventh grade math teacher. The entire fifth grade was a complete joke. She was always angry because I finished her tests in less than ten minutes; she attempted to send me back to my desk so I could double check my answers because, “math is not a sprint!” I was never the type to comply so I defiantly left the test on her desk and returned to my seat. I knew she was savoring the day I would make a careless mistake, but it never happened; I always ended up with 100%.

The highlight of her year occurred during the fractions lesson. (These are the types of instances people never forget!) SR. John Mary was teaching the class how to read fractions. The final problem was the fraction ‘nine over two.’ She called on me and I confidently said, “nine twos.” OH HAPPY DAY!!! She made it well known that I was wrong. This was the blunder she had been praying for. The nun went on and on about the proper way to say the fraction, “nine halves.” It was classic. “Class, we never say nine twos! Everyone knows it’s halves. Where did you learn that? This is why people can’t go around skipping grades!” (Knowing her, she probably did say the grades thing, but I can’t be sure. I added it to help the story!!!) I allo0wed her enjoy her moment of glory but, during the next test, I was sure to finish in less than five minutes. You guessed it…100%.

I know it seems like I’m making Sr. John Mary out to be the antagonist but, other than math, we got along famously. St. Patrick’s holds a Christmas talent show each year, and every grade performs a song. The teachers usually allow their students to select the song, but not Sr. John Mary. There was no option; “MY CLASS SINGS ‘VIOLET IN THE SNOW’!” (I still know most of the words!) There was a boy named William in my class, and he was a member of the choir at his church. William wanted to sing something soulful so he could display his great singing voice. He pleaded with Sr. John Mary, but there was no way she would break her tradition. (She yelled at William every single day leading up to the show.) The one day I remember as if it happened yesterday, was the time William decided to add his twist to the song; it was his effort to spice things up. The incident happened during the chorus: (Sr. John Mary lost it. We laughed for weeks; super hilarious!)

“So many years ago, in Bethlehem, a baby came, like a violet in the snow.”

Williams twist:

“So many years ago, (Uh huh! *clap*) in Bethlehem, (OK! *clap*) a baby came, (Oh yeah! *clap*) like a violet in the snow. *(Uh huh *clap*)”

The kid had ADD so he was incapable of self control. I know teacher and student butted heads on a daily basis, but it was too long ago for me to remember the stories. It was a great addition, I thought. The regular version never seemed the same after Williams rendition.

In the sixth grade, I passed the entrance exam for Boston Latin School and left St. Patrick’s. (The true Latin School!!!) The higher-level of math was challenging, but I continued to enjoy the subject; it was interesting and easy to understand. Somewhere along the line, I lost my love for math and focused more on sports. I graduated from BLS and attended SHU, in New Jersey. I was extremely unfocused, unless you are talking about partying, and sports. (I won the intramural championship in basketball!) I registered for the required amount of math courses, but I barely paid attention and didn’t apply myself. I attended just enough classes to pass the courses.

Statistics is probably not a challenging course, but wouldn’t know; I barely attended, and when I did, I couldn’t focus. I figured, I could take some notes, read the book, and teach myself the material. I must say, I did a pretty good job except for… The teacher spoke with the thickest accent. I could barely understand fifty percent of what he was saying. (This was the reason I didn’t pay attention.) My notes were far from copious, but I did write down anything which seemed important. “Valence” was the most important word in the semester. (I still have the notebook, Valence is on just about every page.) In class, I would glance through the book, but I could never find Valence. This should have been a red flag, but I wasn’t too concerned. “I’ll be ok for the exam!” I thought.

Fast forward to the day before the exam. (Procrastination plays a major role in my life!) I cracked open the book and proceeded to cram. I taught my self as much as I could but, for the life of me, I couldn’t find Valence. I couldn’t believe it! How was it possible to write a book about Statistics and not mention Valence at least once? I barely passed the exam, but I continued to be bothered by the book’s omission of Valence. A friend of mine was in the class so I asked him about Valence. “What the hell is that?” He questioned. Turns out, there is no Valence. The teacher was saying Variance the entire time. Un-fucking-believable! They should give me my money back for that course!

I decided it was a waste of money to continue paying the high tuition cost, and transferred to the University of Massachusetts at Boston. I changed my Major from Business to History and never thought I would take another math course. I decided to buy The Godfather by Mario Puzo during my sophomore year at Seton Hall and developed an affinity for writing. I read several more of Puzo’s novels and loved his style. (If you haven’t read The Godfather, DO SO! For those of you who are religious, Puzo’s The Family is a great way to learn about the private lives of the popes! For those of you who are not religious, Puzo’s The Family is a great way to learn about the fucked-up private lives of the popes!)

Philosophy always peaked my interest so I decided to take ‘Intro to Logic’ during my first semester at UMass. To my surprise, I discovered logic was basically a math course. I loved the challenge of solving the complicated proofs. (When I say, “I loved…proofs,” I mean I loved proofs! I often found myself searching through the text to find problems to solve during my free time. I also spent time creating my own proofs. I don’t know what it is about the subject, but logic is fun and exciting! I even re-solved problems by applying different rules.

“What do I mean?” Let me explain! If I solved a problem applying Modus Ponens (MP), Double Negation (DN), Distribution (DP), and Tautology (Taut), I would then attempt to solve the problem applying different rules. Maybe using Simplification (Simp), or DeMorgan’s Theorem (DeM) could be a possible alternative! See what I mean? FUN!!!) The class was difficult for most of the students, so the professor often graded on a curve. Usually adding a thirty-point bonus question to every test. I ended the semester with an average of 110%. (I have the tests in my room!) I thought logic would be my last class involving math, but I was shocked to learn about the UMB requirement for all freshman, ‘Quantitative Reasoning.’

Even though I was a senior, I had to complete the course. It was in this class where I was asked to write my automathography. (The first draft was less detailed than this one!) The professor read my story and said, “I think this course may be too easy for you, do you want to take the higher level?” Uh let me think, I have four other courses this semester; I don’t mind the mulligan. (It’s a golf term!) The course actually turned out to be quite interesting and I’m glad I didn’t make the change!

For me, math is a subject which must be practiced continually in order to become a master. Once a person stops practicing, he or she begins to forget how to solve simple problems. (I hated checking my work with a passion!) Which was my most challenging math course? Hands down, I’ll say the 9th grade at BLS; Ms. Roberson had a donkey! Concentration was not an option! There are a few rules which I will never forget. The Pythagorean Theorem (a squared plus b squared equals c squared. I can say that in my sleep!) Also, I will never forget the rules for the ‘order of operations.’ P.E.M.D.A.S. better known as, please excuse my dear aunt sally!

Am I a nerd? I guess!


Where Are All The Dead People

“Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is—for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know.” – Socrates, from Plato’s ‘Apology.’

[No, the quote cannot be applied to the belief in “god.” I know he doesn’t exist!]

Death is a taboo and frightening topic. In the past, I was terrified of dying but once I came to grips with the fact that death is out of my control, it became easy to deal with my own inevitable expiration. No one truly knows whether, or not, there is life after death; we are free to believe as we please. One of the most interesting classes I have ever taken was ‘The Anthropology of Death’ with UMass Boston Professor Alan Waters. Studying the different ways cultures handle death, gave me a new perspective on the subject; I no longer fear death. (I’m actually looking forward to discovering what happens. *No, I’m not suicidal!*)

To me, the funeral practices of Christians borders on the ridiculous. (Yeah, I said it.) I don’t understand how people can spend their entire lives believing in “god” and heaven, but as soon as someone dies, it’s the worst thing that ever happened. Reason would dictate that death should be celebrated; the family member is in a better place, RIGHT? They definitely got it right in New Orleans. *I recommend that you, yes you, look up the different ways death is handled throughout the world…AMAZING!*

I don’t want to seem insensitive, but I can only voice my true opinions. (Anyone who knows me understands that I will give my honest opinion, regardless of feelings. I know there are those who think I am a jerk, but I’d rather be an asshole then fake, any day of the week. **I never care about hiding my opinions, which will be evident during next week’s ultra-controversial post.**) I tend to leave emotion out of most circumstances, it serves no purpose other than to cloud judgment. (Unless I’m drunk, but that’s a different story.) I can understand how losing a close relative can be devastating, and life changing, but it is a natural part of life. Obviously, the emotion of the actual funeral is too strong to be denied, and I have even broken down in the past, but I can’t see myself crying on any other day. Spending days, months, or even years, weeping over someone seems nonsensical. If you honestly think about it, people are either, in a better place, or they no longer exist. Wakes should be parties in which family and friends get together and celebrate the memory of the deceased persons’ life. When I die, I want family and friends to throw a party and play nothing but Cash Money Records. If there is no life after death, I won’t be able to witness the bereavement process, and if there is, I will haunt anyone who doesn’t at least listen to one CMR track. Oh yeah…No Mass please; that would just be offensive!!!

I admit that my way of thinking may be the result of me being heartless but I might just be right, and maybe those who oppose my views, do so because they lack reason…you never know! I just can’t see the point of missing someone, dead or alive; people need to learn how to just move on. With my late cousin Kevin, there are times when I am watching Sports Center and I’ll reach for the phone after seeing that Notre Dame suffered a loss in football. That’s not missing someone, it’s simply something that is routine. Like most beliefs, people refuse to change because that’s what they’ve always done. (I understand that some people who have lost loved ones may have a problem with my way of thinking, but I will not change my beliefs to avoid being offensive. In fact, I am offended that people allow emotion to block their ability to use reason. I guess the fact that I am an atheist and my background in History causes me to see the world from a unique perspective. ***Again, this will be evident during next week’s controversial post!***)

Losing a loved one can be a difficult situation to deal with, but everyone has to go through it at some point in their lives. The afterlife differs by culture but, for the most part, people agree that there is some form of an existence after death. I guess these beliefs continue because no one wants to think that they will cease to exist. It is comforting to think that our ancestors are watching over us from some unknown realm, but the more I think about it, the less I am inclined to believe in an afterlife. (Plus, isn’t the thought of ancestors watching over you all the time a little weird. If you say “No,” think about your dead loved ones watching over you the next time you are having sex…that’s creepy. Same thing goes for “god.” He is supposed to be omnipresent, right? To me, that’s perverted; “god” is nothing more than history’s biggest peeping-Tom!)

I previously wrote about my belief in spirits, but I can now understand that the mind is capable of altering our perception of reality; we see and hear exactly what we want to witness. This is not a topic that I am completely certain of because, although I understand that logically there can be no afterlife, part of me still wants to believe that one exists. (I can just picture meeting up with Kevin and boasting about the many accomplishments of former Gator’s quarterback Tim Tebow.)

The more I understand that my previous belief in the afterlife was based on the fear instilled in me by the teachings of the Catholic Church, the more I recognize my beliefs were false and founded on the weakest foundation.  The concept of an afterlife is ingrained in people through religious, and cultural beliefs. The fear of death, causes one to believe in an alternative in which he or she is able to continue living. Mortality is real, and immortality cannot exist; it is unnatural. Generally, most people who believe in life after death do not believe that insects, or plants, share the same fate as humans. I’ve never heard anyone say, after stepping on a spider, “May your spirit be rejoined with your ancestors.” ***That would be ridiculous, right?*** I find it amazing how culture can turn the absurd into fact. Can you just imagine a world without religion? We would all be forced to question conventional thought, instead of simply believing what is told. [I apologize in advance for this tangent, but I’ve always wondered about something. Religious belief usually is passed down from parents. Does anyone ever imagine how their lives would be different if the people who conquered the land which you originate from, belonged to a faith other than yours? I am Cape Verdean, which means that my family is Catholic because the Portuguese colonized the Islands. What would life be like if the Muslim armies were able to conquer CV. Isn’t it amazing that people believe so strongly in a faith that they didn’t even choose? I would be more inclined to respect the faith of someone who studied different religions, before "believing." There is another question which has always fascinated me. How does a woman, strong and independent, agree to believe in a faith which views her as a second class citizen? Funny, the things people learn once they begin to ask questions! Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I will borrow from him and say, the unexamined faith, is not worth believing!]

The brain is a powerful organ which has yet to be fully understood. If our belief in something is strong enough, we can convince ourselves that it is true. The mind will actually create “hallucinations” to validate our desires. People see ghosts and experience unexplainable occurrences, but I believe they are just a figment of the imagination. People will pray for some result, and when the prayer is answered their belief in “god” is strengthened. As far as prayer is concerned, I think there are many instances in which people pray and get zero results; they seem to forget those prayers, or they explain them away with ridiculous claims such as, “it’s not ‘god’s’ will.” I think that anyone who believes in "god" will actually be affected by that belief; it has the ability to change their lives, but that doesn't mean he actually exists. The mind is great!


     When I studied Haitian Vodun (voodoo), I learned that the people of the culture are truly affected by the practice. It works because Haitians believe in Vodun, and scientists cannot explain the phenomena. Victims will go into trances and can be controlled by others; it's basically a form of hypnosis. All of these unexplainable cases have to do with the mind not "god." When humans reach a point that we have a better understanding of how the mind works, "god" will no longer exist; there will be no fear of the unknown.


     I have had many occasions in which I blackout after drinking too much. People tell me all of the things that I did, and at the time they were under the impression that I was coherent, but I clearly wasn't. I think there has to be some correlation between belief and mind stimulation; people can trigger the part of the brain that alters perception. This is evident in the cases of stigmata, which happens to people who are ultra religious. They believe in Jesus with so much conviction that they experience what they want. The brain's power over the body is far greater than we can comprehend. A hundred years from now, humans will have a better understanding of how the brain works.

Sometimes people can hear and see things that are not there. I know that those of us who come to rely on our cell phones, tend to hear the phone ringing whenever we leave the room. Or we hear the ringer, even with the phone at our side; it has to do the fact that people judge their level of importance, by the number of calls they receive. I can remember being a child and often hearing my mother yelling my name, when I knew she was at work. There are also the occasions in which I think I see something but, when I look again, it disappears. It is easy to misconstrue these instances as proof of a spiritual existence, but the fact remains that they are simply the result of the mind creating exactly what an individual wants to experience.

I hope dead people continue living in another capacity, but I honestly doubt it!