markwmcginnis blog 2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Killing is Fun? A Short Essay


That seems to be the message. Look through the movie and TV guides. People with guns killing other people. We entertain ourselves watching this. It must be fun … we spend billions on it. Violent entertainment is nothing new; it was in the Colosseum and probably the cave.

Am I standing on a tall soapbox shouting down to the offenders below? Oh no, I stand among the seduced with thousands of images of blood soaked bodies dwelling in my memory banks. I recently went to the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. I enjoyed it. What did I enjoy? — the action, the plot, the acting, the cinematography … and the guns, the guns killing people, many people. I am used to it. I have been seeing it all my life. It is just a movie, a TV show, a computer game. With the later you get to become the shooter (but it’s just a game).

“Saturated” seems a good word to describe our culture’s relationship with violence. We are saturated with violence. There seems to be a competition in recent decades of how to make entertainment that is more shockingly violent than what preceded it. While the violent entertainment I have experienced is a part of of me, I am not going to shoot anyone and most people are not. But about 81 people in the United States are killed by guns daily. Every day, day after day. When 26 people, most children, die in a massacre such as Newtown, people notice, as they well should. But day after day those 81 die too.

There were about 9000 murders with firearms in the US in 2011. There were less than 60 in United Kingdom, 19 in Australia, 11 in Japan. To look at it another way, the firearm deaths per 100,000 people were the following: US 10.1, UK .25, Japan .07. Sane gun laws account for much of this astounding difference.

What allows Americans to accept this daily carnage? I can conjecture that we have been desensitized to violence. That by entertaining ourselves with violence daily, we are more ready to accept to the real violence that is part of our daily national life.

The forces impacting violence and guns in the US are many and complex. Violent entertainment is just one. Tragedies such as Newtown wake us up and will hopefully effect some change in our current gun laws that allow so much suffering.

As for myself, I am going to limit my violent entertainment. In a consumer society such as ours, if you do not buy it, it will go away, and it has been said that if you want change — start with yourself.


A Short Essay: Naturalism & Atheism

(note: It does seem a strange time of the year to be writing on this topic but a request for input came from my Unitarian/Universalist Fellowship and the following is the result)

For some time I have labeled myself as a naturalist, using the term in a bit larger sense than some have in the past. I believe all, from the largest to the smallest, is a natural process — from the unfolding of the universe, or universes, to the organization of sub atomic particles and waves and everything in between. Nothing is SUPERnatural. Human beings, as a small but interesting piece of this vast natural cosmos, are limited creatures. We are limited physically, mentally, and yes, even creatively we are limited. There is no way we can expect to have anywhere near a complete understanding of this system of which we are a part. It is a noble undertaking to try to expand our understanding, and I revel in my small endeavors and greatly admire those who have added so much in the past several centuries.  But I do believe that what we can understand can only be done so within our natural limitations.

It is a very common wish of human beings to want to fill this very uncomfortable gap in our understanding. God or gods have performed this task ably since consciousness evolved in our species. Theism can be used to fill in all unknowns and justify any social and moral structure desired by those in power.

In my view of naturalism I see great beauty, inspiration, creation, destruction, and unending change. It would be very easy to deify this process, but I feel it would be just one more comforting illusion. I can live with the understanding that there is much that I do not know and I cannot know. I have come to accept that my form of naturalism is atheistic. I do not believe in any form of god. But I do believe in this glorious unfolding process of which I get to play my role — so tiny, but oh so important to me.

Belief in a deity can offer many kinds of support to an individual and a society. For those who wish to follow a theistic understanding of life, I can only hope they do not wish to force their way on others. Theism in all its many forms has imposed many blessings and sufferings on the people of this little planet. I hope that in the future we see more of the blessings.

whitman 18-lr
Whitman #18, acrylic on 300lb paper, 8″ X 8″, 2011, Mark W. McGinnis

21-28 Snake River Basin: A Testimony in Painting

The following eight paintings are my most recent additions to my Snake River Basin series. All but the Boise River painting are located in central Idaho, most in the Sawtooth Mountains.

srb-springs on payette river (lr)
Springs on the Payette River, South Fork, acrylic on 300lb paper, 2012, 11″ X 14″, Mark W. McGinnis
srb-boise river near 9th st bridge (lr)
Boise River Near the 9th Street Bridge, acrylic on 300lb paper, 2012, 11″ X 14″, Mark W. McGinnis
srb-payette river, south fork 2 (lr)
Payette River, South Fork 2, acrylic on 300lb paper, 2012, 11″ X 14″, Mark W. McGinnis
srb-boise river near 9th st bridge test
Redfish Lake Creek, acrylic on 300lb paper, 2012, 11″ X 14″, Mark W. McGinnis
srb-redfish lake-lr
Redfish Lake, acrylic on 300lb paper, 2012, 11″ X 14″, Mark W. McGinnis
srb-pettit lake-lr
Pettit Lake, acrylic on 300lb paper, 2012, 11″ X 14″, Mark W. McGinnis
srb-big wood river-lr
Big Wood River, acrylic on 300lb paper, 2012, 11″ X 14″, Mark W. McGinnis
srb-big wood river near headwaters-lr
Big Wood River near Headwaters, acrylic on 300lb paper, 2012, 11″ X 14″, Mark W. McGinnis