Monday, November 30, 2015

JZ Murdock, who? A brief biography.

Who exactly is JZ Murdock? Who am I and why do I hold the beliefs that I do? How were they formed? Why does it even matter?

Well, it very well may not matter. I won't go into all of it, but perhaps some of it.

I am a writer. Not unlike many of us I have lived various lives, I have saved a few lives. I'm happy to say that I have gotten this far and have yet to kill anyone. Though I have had my moments when it may have been justified.

I am a published author (since 1990) with print, ebook and audiobooks available. I've studied screenwriting at my Western Washington University where I got a degree in psychology and I worked for years at another, the University of Washington. I'm still working on my screenwritings and I've started working again on film productions.

Cover art by Marvin Hayes
I wrote the horror sci fi book, Death of heaven. But why? How does someone come to be so against religions to even write a book titled as this one, where the "h" in "heaven" is lowercase. That "h" actually has more to do with the story than my personal beliefs. I spent the first half of my life surveying, studying, even though a university psychology degree going back into the origins of religion. How it came to be, how it could come to be.

Across the humanities and sciences, across the evolutions of religions, until I found what seemed the most reasonable explanations and I came to find it is simply a form of thought that can be far better achieved for whatever it has offered humanity through other and far better formats not requiring a deity or any consideration of ridiculous and far fetched fantasies.

Religions were invented by men. For all the good that religions have achieved, because of their format and structure they have allowed, at times supported, and overall allowed and put great evil upon the world.

For every point that theists point to how great religions have been, it all could have been achieved in a far more rational, safe and sane way; undercutting those claims of necessity, reality or relevancy by theists. Humankind has been addicted to religion and it's high time we grow out of our childhood mythologies and into our rational adolescence as a whole.

The story I devised in Death of heaven is quite a story and not for the faint of heart or the simple minded. It is a complex and hybrid tale told in a unique way, multi-layered with multiple-dimensions. An unusual book of fiction that I'm rather proud of. Aside from the obvious, there is nothing in that book that hasn't been done to humans or humanity by religions or the religious, at some point through our history.

I am against killing and humans causing other humans misery. Especially if it is through some form of belief, faith or religion. No one should ever die because of a religion. No one should ever die or be maltreated because of a belief system. Especially not one founded in myth and magic.

More Hard Hitting Words From The Dalai Lama About The Mass Brainwashing Of Society

If you've visited my Facebook page you'll notice a certain attitude against terrorists and abuse by one human or set of humans against another and that might make you wonder. How did that ever come to be? I've been very vocal against terrorists since 9/11 to a point that some have worried for me.

But we have to speak out against injustice and ignorance, foolishness and stupidity.

Light kills evil. Silence fertilizers it.

So how did this all come to be?

I had a pretty good but at times rather rough childhood. Partially because of ADHD. My parents weren't highly educated but bright people. Though my father was an electrician. Not a dumb guy but then, I didn't grow up with him after three, I only got his genes for the most part. My mother was kind of flaky at times but a loving if not occasionally somewhat nutty woman, though with a great sense of humor.

I got into trouble a lot. I got grounded a lot. So eventually I found books and the public library, including the adult section in fifth grade and then books by Aristotle and others. Something that was a great benefit to me overall but a great detriment in trying to fit into the 1960s as a child.

Some adults back then started to think I was nuts because I would say things that the world and history has long ago judged correct and brilliant. I remember in fifth grade saying something once and my stepfather, a harsh guy who wasn't my biggest fan, had said was stupid and asked where I hear that from?

I said, "Aristotle." He asked, "Who's that." Somewhat stunned at his ignorance and trying not to embarrass him and in doing so feel his wrath, I simply said, "A guy from 2,000 years ago." To which he responded, "He's an idiot."

Taking a chance and trying to restrain my irritation in  having already read what a boon to humanity Aristotle had been I said, "Maybe so, but people all through history, [I hesitated, then pushed it further knowing I was justified] all around the world have based how we think on his words."

That ended that particular "discussion". From that moment on I realized I was learning more than he knew about and it spurred me on. While he realized from then on I was someone to be even more wary of.

Some adults around that time started asking my opinion in making decisions in their own life as they thought I seemed for some reason to make a lot of sense. But not the family. Never my family who only thought as my sister liked to put it, that I was "weird". I was. I thought I was weird too. And I couldn't figure out why any adult would listen to me. A kid. I knew I must be onto something.

The downside of my childhood were all mostly mental issues really. Berating from those who didn't understand me, from teachers I couldn't satisfy, from a stepfather who according to my mother was jealous of me and found me a pain in the ass.

Having a father who was out of my life from when I was three and we were living in Spain didn't help things. I used to daydream he would come save me from my life.

Our mother picked up this new guy on the way home from Spain who got his jollies for years after in berating me so I learned to stay out of his sight whenever possible. After Spain, after spending a couple of years around our east coast family, our mother dated around and finally settled on this guy and married him.

They had a kid when I was five and brought him back to where I was born in Tacoma, Washington. Even though our mother had been born in Brooklyn, New York. Tacoma for me once we had left, was a place I never wanted ever to go back to. Certainly not after experiencing Spain, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.

When we returned to Tacoma in 1960 it seemed even worse than when we had left.

The museum we had visited in Philly had a giant human heart you could walk through the ventricles of. They had a hands on moon exhibit where you could experience what it was like to walk in a lighter gravity. In Tacoma we went to a museum and it was in an old square wooden building with square glass display cases containing artifacts. At first I thought it was some kind of a bad joke. It was light years behind the museum science displayed on the east coast at the time.

We moved each year so I had trouble making friends and got to realize it was useless to anyway as I knew they wouldn't last. Much like a military brat but stepdad wasn't in the military. He just had trouble finding a decent job on a new coast after his having been a big band leader. I always felt sorry for him about that, even though we pretty much hated one another.

Mom had forced him to stop playing music. Who does that? And drinking. She never allowed him to spank us as his anger was too disturbing and she said he didn't know his own strength. I thank her for that. But that meant she was the punisher and would use his belts to whip me with when I was bad. But he's dead now. I recently sprinkled his ashes in the River Liffy in Dublin at my sister's request and against my personal desires.

I got taken down to a Karate dojo in 1965 by my mother because said she was tired of groups of boys beating me up for my big mouth. I'd had a big mouth because I hated seeing injustice and I spoke out whenever I saw it. I can't stand bullies, or people pushing their will upon others. Occasionally I took a beating for it, but it never stopped me speaking out. Not to this day.

My saying "Screw Al Qaeda, screw ISIL, screw ISIS, or screw DAESH", isn't a new thing with me.

They are all slim. Terrorists are scum when they kill, maim and abuse non combatants and they deserve to be called out about it. Their pathetic needs do not weigh a thing in light of the innocents they murder. Just as do the politicians and rich who abuse their status, as well as conservatives, Republicans, or anyone on the other side who abuse through their actions. But then too, there is only so much time in a day. I find I simply can't avoid speaking out when I see abuses.

Something that did however make my childhood... difficult.

I had been taken there earlier and turned down as the Sensei said he didn't take on children. But then we heard he had started to and she took me back. That led to my learning Asian philosophy and to pick up an orientation on how to kill quickly and in so learning that, in also having gained a responsibility to protect others from a confrontation with me to protect them from being killed.

In having gotten grounded a lot I discovered science fiction which opened my mind quite a lot. I'd be sent to my bedroom as punishment but after a while, whenever I got told that I had to try not to look happy about it. Because I would go from being outside or playing in the house where I would get into trouble to going to my room and traveling the universe. I always read only the best and they had good solid ideas to found my young personality on.

I got used to things seldom going right for me. Or of being my own worst enemy in my curiosity or lack of care in being punished for trying new things. I got in trouble in third grade once for repeatedly jumping off the roof of the house. The fall was fantastic even if the sudden stop at the end was a bit of a let down.

In getting poor grades in school I mostly got used to not living up to the standards of my older straight A sister. Years later I heard a CEO give a talk to us in college saying that he preferred solid C students over straight A types. Because he said, when an A student type failed they took it hard, but C student types were used to it and just pushed on through it. That was me.

I got to where I thought outside the box because I had to.

I also had an older brother, seven years older who we seldom saw but who always questioned things. I learned over the years from many of his mistakes. Things I would have done, that he did first, suffered for it and would share his experience to help me avoid duplicating his mistakes.

Our grandmother taught me to always listen to those older and more knowledgeable and not be like many kids who don't listen to their elders, to people who have done it all already. Why not build upon other's experiences and save myself the trouble, to put me further ahead of those who don't listen? That made a lot of sense to me.

My grandmother, my mother's mother, was a great benefit to me in learning critical thinking. She told me when I started reading to always finish a book once you start reading it. Just be sure before you crack that cover that it is a book you want to read.

To this day I can count on one hand the books I haven't finished reading. And I've read a lot of books though I always seek out the best authors and for that matter apply that to anything I did. I have my mother to thank for always seeking out the best teachers in anything I wanted to learn. Grandma taught her to choose experts wherever possible. And I've had more than few.

From that I learned to finish whatever I started and to learn the best forms available and possible.

In eighth grade I started in Civil Air Patrol. CAP is an official auxiliary of the US Air Force. It teaches its young cadets Aerospace technologies and search and rescue of downed small\light aircraft. I took ground school toward a pilot's license in junior high.

We learned base support in taking care of aircraft that flew to locate downed aircraft and locate survivors. We learned communications in two way and HAM radio in how to run radios professionally. We were taught first aid, first responder training. We learned LSAR, Land Search and Rescue techniques, how to travel in the mountains, to locate aircraft and crash survivors and find your way in and out, how to climb cliffs, and so on.

If my mother knew half of what we did she would have had a heart attack. After my first meeting I was told to learn the manual as next meeting they had just received so many new kids I would be in charge of a "flight" of them, half of that squadron. I taught them how to drill, to march in order.

I was raised in a blue collar Union family, Teamsters, as democrats. We were Catholic. Liberals I suppose. But it was a positive life affirming environment which I've only come to appreciate of late as I have learned what Republicans and conservatives are all about and I find it rather distasteful, based in a strange kind of reality that seems to fit only the rich.

My mother had said I was "gun crazy" as a kid in eighth grade. Which may be reasonable when you are adventure loving, mostly stupidly fearless and grew up watching 1950s and 60s cowboy, military\war and cop shows and films. With Vietnam on TV during dinner almost every night a gun seemed like a pretty good idea, even though I grew up in a suburb.

So mom called the police department to ask what to do about me. They suggested getting me access to burn out on my cravings and to learn how to handle guns safely with authoritative and appropriate respect. They suggested a civilian who had a gun club for kids who reloaded cartridges for the Tacoma Police Department to save them money.

They let him use their firing range downtown for his junior gun club and said he was well liked and highly respected and reputable. He was yet another in a long line of men who were second fathers to me, filling in where both of my "dads" had failed. It was in that club that I got my craze under control and learned how to shoot, handle firearms properly and see them as what they are. Tools, not toys. Eventually I got my high school sports letter from being three years on the Lincoln High rifle team.

During nights in high school I worked at a drive in theater where my step father worked as assistant manager. As long as I kept my grades respectable (no one expected As or Bs), I could keep my job and have some pocket money, and then a car in my senior year. I eventually became snack bar manager and worked the box office. I started there picking up the garbage on the field in ninth grade each day after the previous night's showing.

I had what three neurosurgeons said was a nervous breakdown and ended up in the hospital in twelfth grade. They said from what my mother told them it had to do with the tension in my home life and that I needed either to figure out how to deal with it or simply move out. They gave me a prescription of valiums and sent me on my way. I moved out the week after graduation at seventeen into my own apartment, having started a job the day immediately after graduation.

I was up for that job with another kid. I got the job because he wanted to go to graduation party and I underbid him saying I could start the day after graduation, thus killing my going to the Ocean Shores graduation celebration. I later found out that the kids that did go, got corralled by police for a caravan of drunk kids, hanging out of car windows driving around and their parents had to drive the couple of hours to the shore to get them all. So in the end I pretty much got the better deal.

Then I got very sick with bronchitis (something I got about every year) and the doctor required I stay away from the open garage doors of the drive in's snack bar for a month. So I lost my job in a rather underhanded way because the new manager didn't like how my employees listened to me over him. I've received that kind of loyalty from employees ever since, all through my life including in the military.

So that's about it. There is of course a lot more and where I was headed after high school. I've written a biopic, a true crime screenplay about a week in my life after high school where I was a bodyguard for the first (and not last) time, for a stip club waitress who witnessed a mob murder. I have titled it, Teenage Bodyguard. It was a well known murder in 1974. The waitress had a different story that the official one that holds to this day and I may be the only one with the true story of what really happened.

I graduated high school hating my K-12 school experience, because of ADD mostly I suppose. I decided I would graduate and be done with school and never have another thing to do with it. Happily, my life changed, I changed, and I ended up at a university after the Air Force. Eight years to get through four years of college. But then my Vietnam era benefits paid for college, something that otherwise would, could, never have happened.

I was actually talked into going to college by two high school friends who said they could get me into pledge their Zeta Psi fraternity at the University of Washington. But my mother said they simply didn't have the money for that.

There is a wonderful true scene where I spent a night there at the Zeta Psi house in Seattle during the Christmas season so I could take the SATs the next day. There was hardly anyone there, every one being home for the holiday break. The frat Secretary and President knew I was there and found me and pulled me into their room. We sat on the floor and smoked pot and listened to Simon and Garfunkel and talked. In the end I did miserable on my SATs and the UW wouldn't let me in anyway.

So I screwed around after high school from seventeen till twenty, through the nightmare of my little brother's death via cancer and into my engagement to my first wife. But I had no job prospects.

So at twenty I entered the Air Force as Law Enforcement. The other forty nine guys in my flight were from seventeen to nineteen and called me the Old Guy. At twenty, I was being called the Old Guy. Except there was one guy older than me at twenty four who had been a teacher. We called him The Teacher and Crazy for joining at that age. But he said he wanted to teach, in the Air Force.

I got booted out in basic because of flat feet but talked them into letting me stay. Demanded it actually as I was pissed off I went through so much of basic training only to lose my job and my slot. The base foot doctor, a Colonel whom I was bitching to about this liked me for some reason. So he told me to select another job.

I chose Flight Simulator Technician and as backup, Parachute Rigger. I had been a SCUBA diver since 10th grade and started skydiving just after high school. But I just missed the primary job and ended up as a parachute rigger. A field where they were nicknamed, "panty packers". Everyone seemed to have a nickname. "Riggers can pack anything" they told me.

Before I left the military I joined the OSI. That is a book unto itself. And it could have gotten me killed.

I got out and floundered for a year doing nothing, which I now see as a healing period. My older brother whose house I was staying at, talked me into using my military benefits and so I entered college where I found that my teachers believed I had a knack for writing. I had only planned on getting a two year degree but my girlfriend (another long story) wanted to get a four year degree.

So we petitioned universities around Washington state, visited all the campuses and both decided on Western Washington University where we eventually got our B.A. degrees in Psychology. UW turned me down yet again. They said not to feel bad because even straight A students got turned down. By this point I was extremely close to a straight A student, but not quite.

At WWU our Psychology adviser in the department eventually told us we were in the top 1% of the top 1% of all psychology students in the country. The head of the counseling department literally begged me to go into counselling as he thought I had a real feel for it.

I knew I couldn't emotionally handle dealing with other people's problems day in and day out and would eventually kill or drink myself to death if I had to take on other's miseries. And I wasn't a drinker, not after high school. By the time I turned twenty one in fact, I had pretty much tired of bars and drinking.

So yes, I'm a progressive type and have always been liberal in my approach to life, much more fearless than our conservative types from what I have seen, who seem to me mostly to be rather fearful people.

I see life for what it is, a calculated risk. Not something to hide from. Not a venture where you can take from others, or to have much that I don't need that costs others in taking from them, and so on and so forth.

I see this planet as a spaceship we're all riding on.

A world we owe something to for living on it. I don't think I have any right to impose my will on others unless they are harming others, or possibly themselves. Conservatives are like that, ISIS is like that, Republicans lately have been very much like that.

As the put it:

"Average Americans need to be more informed about what is going in the country, but also where to get their information. The argument isn't about holding a liberal or conservative ideology, it's about facts that are based on truth and not information based on twisted logic. Americans need to learn to dig a little deeper to find honest reporting, not just believe something that falls in their lap at the expense of a billionaire funded think tank or news organization."

I think we owe it to ourselves to be as honest as possible, not to lie, even if it is at the cost of our beliefs. If your belief is wrong, why are you holding onto it? Let it go.

We have many who don't care about the truth, just twisting things into their benefit. Sadly many of them don't even realize they do that. Critical thinking has become a victim.

I grew up testing myself. I've had plenty of opportunities to.

Someone once said if you run from your fears you'll run all your life from them. So I've tried to discover them and face them down. I also got the testing of myself out of the way at a fairly young age. Something I've seen adults doing sometimes late into life, much to their detriment and that of others around them or under their control.

A good man knows his limitations I was told and I've found many times in people making mistakes in life where they simply didn't know themselves, don't know their limitations. They incorrectly, over or under expect failure or success.

What I've found is many times, most of the time, when I go up against what I'm afraid of or when I take a (calculated) risk, it nearly always seems (against all reason sometimes) to work out in the end. If you have an accurate assessment of yourself, you can achieve great things. But one has to balance life and family, quantitativeness with qualitativeness.

If you give in to your fears you never find out what you can achieve.

Therein for me lay the defect in conservative thinking.

Want some irony?

My older brother has become a conservative and a small businessman. From having been a1960's hippy type, I have no idea how that happened. Other than he was mostly raised by his own father. Of my four siblings, we all had different fathers, except for my one still living younger brother where we have different mothers but grew up separately. He's the genius artist in my family. We didn't grow up together but I'm happy to say now we are great friends.

I think that gives you just a small idea of who I am and where I get my attitude and orientation from. I was raised Catholic, I was head altar boy at one point. I'm now what some would call an atheist, a humanist, perhaps a pantheist. Since the concept of God came after one not existing, I object to being called atheist as it means against something and one cannot be against what wasn't there to begin with.

I have learned that Aikido (I'm on the board of directors for our local non-profit Aikido dojo) and the Buddha Dharma (Buddhism for Westerners) has helped me a great deal. I'm not a ritualist though and I reject any religious orientation in my Buddhist thoughts. I became a Freemason years ago to see why my grandfather was one as well as a Shrine. Getting a degree in psychology has given me free therapy and helped me achieve a kind of cohesins in life. Raising two kids also gave me a wealth of reasons to be alive. To see them grow and become artists, musicians and free thinkers themselves.

I spent much of my twenties being bitter about my childhood until I realized to simply let it go (though there was nothing simple about doing so). To see things in the right light, makes life so much more worth experiencing. To want love over things, is so much more worth the effort. And to leave a positive legacy, such a rewarding pursuit over that of wealth, power or notoriety.

In the end I have only this to say to you all. Do your best in life to do no harm. To leave things better than you found them. To know that religion is never a good enough reason to kill but to kill those killing for the purposes of their religion are sometimes necessary. That killing is seldom necessary, though sometimes it is in order to survive but if you avoid it as best you can and still survive, you should have no guilt, only regret in not having seen a better way sooner to have avoided it.

May prosperity seek you out in many ways and may you deserve any gifts it bestows upon you.

Cheers to you all! Sláinte.

Life is risk. Calculate it. Risk it. Live.

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