A tea and death metal fuelled frenzy!
Sorted all the books in my living romo
room
Got all of the random crap out of my living room
romo too
Swept living room
Used CLR (soap scum+calcium+lime+rust remover cleaner) to clean my shower. That too awhile and a lot of elbow grease.
Cleaned my sinks. Kitchen and bathroom
Cleaned kitchen counters
Did the dishes
Cleaned my water boiler gizmo
Cleaned the fridge so it’s now spotless inside and out
Boxed sorted books that I’m getting rid of
Put ‘keep’ and ‘keep for now’ books away on shelf
Cleaned window screen in bathroom
Emptied trashes
Anti-flea sprayed the other room just in case.
Made dinner
Organized my creative area
Replied to prospective lodgers, set meetings for Thursday and tomorrow
Checked litter box, emptied the pan that catches litter when kitty paws are coming out of litter box.
Cleaned bathroom floor
Cleaned toilet
Cleaned pantry shelf
Fought off depression
Exercised for half an hour
Resisted urge to reactivate facebook
Dealt with intense loneliness (successfully!)
Arranged design meeting with friend
Socialized with new friend
…all accomplished in about 6 hours. RAWR!

Although the sharp edges of my previous postings no doubt serve to convince the faithful that I am deeply unhappy and angry at ‘god’, that is not actually the case. I’m not angry at any of the thousands of deities man has postulated–I just have a wounded mind. 

Depression is both discrete from grief and not reliant on having a rational source. If I may be forgiven for flippancy, I would say that depression and anxiety are the Tillandsia of the emotional spectrum–they root in little or nothing and remain obstinately hale with only the very slightest support from real-world events.

As Andrew Solomon mentions in his excellent commentary on the subject, (found here) depression is not unhappiness but rather the absence of vitality. A crushing enervation and bone-deep chill which siphons the zest and enjoyment from those who suffer it; known by the sufferer to be nonsensical, irrational, and baseless but inescapable nevertheless. I’ve been dealing with it for a long time, and the best strategy I’ve been able to find thus far is to recognize that it’s in some part external and focus exclusively on self-care. The obvious disadvantage to this strategy is that it tends to rapidly corrode one’s work or school performance, and there’s nothing quite as delightful as depression spiced up with guilt and anxiety.

My trouble tends to be that I want to analyze and solve problems, and depression is a bottomless pit of problems that cannot be rectified. The only winning solution can be found in Wargames. The only winning strategy is not to play. It sounds like giving up, you might say, and in some ways it is, but if one’s brain is constantly keening in agony and screaming that nobody cares, nobody loves you, nobody ever will, and you don’t deserve to live… It might be a good thing to avoid trying to sort all that out right at that moment and have a sandwich because you know you haven’t eaten yet and you really ought to.

All I’m saying is that god isn’t going to make you that sandwich.

 

 

the next time you see one of us walking down the street, take a moment to look past the posture and the haircut. if you could see inner worlds, you would avert your eyes from the terror, horror, and pain that suffocates us with each breath; surrounded by the ghosts of bloody, haggard comrades who march with us. none of us ever said it, but each of us pledged the same solemn oath: I will never forget you.

think before you speak–we already know that it isn’t OK, and it probably never will be. nothing can replace the missed birthdays and lost loves, and we’ll never forget holidays tinged green and tan and brown and black, and the forlorn slices of dry turkey in cheap cardboard trays. disposable–just like us. we might be monsters to you, but the blood in us is red just like yours. if we never speak of the things we’ve done, it isn’t because we don’t care, it’s because there is no way you could possibly understand where we’ve been and what we have seen.

we are wracked by the shadows of war. gripped by the inescapable and terrible intimacy of minds trained to trust nothing and no one but the men and women who also wear the uniform, cursed with hands that will forever reach out in the lonely and insomnia-riddled hours of the night not for the touch of a lover but for the slick, cold solidity of a rifle.

if you dared look within us you might admire the spartan austerity of souls which have been hammered flat to ensure a good field of fire–survival is everything and leaves room for little else. we are demanding for reasons that kept us alive, our comrades safe, and all of us working until the job was done. we were never perfect but we tried like hell at it, exacting and draconian and ferociously loyal.

you think of us as brainwashed, and perhaps we are, but I wonder if you have the strength to stare into oblivion and feed yourself, mind, body, and soul into cauterizing flames and burn away your weakness. we knew service was pain and blood and death, but we kept putting one foot in front of the other until there was nothing left but cigarettes, booze, and nightmares.

we tore ourselves apart, and not a one of us will ever be whole again.

you’re welcome.

So that lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. It turned into a mental health break too. I guess I’ll have to explain that in more depth, but suffice it to say that when I say “mental health break” I really do mean it in more than a “heavens I was overworking myself a bit” sort of way.

Partially as a consequence of shifting priorities, I think I will shift format a bit to include a bit of evidence in contradiction to the frequent claims of the religious, spiritual, and those persons who insist on referring to their theological convictions as a, “relationship”. (If it is indeed a relationship, I cannot help but note that it bears more resemblance to a stalker who happens simply not to be stalking a person who is demonstrably extant in reality.)

This is a somewhat long-winded way of saying that I think I’ll include posts about other things rather than confining myself exclusively to books and the ridicule of the ridiculous. There is, after all, no better refutation of the nonsensical position that one cannot be satisfied in life without believing in space pixies or what have you than evidence of a life lived well in the absence of such frippery.

 

In any event, my apologies for the long absence, those few of you who actually read this. 

Well, you’re partially right. Christianity is only a general term that is inclusive of all non-Jewish, non-Islamic Abrahamic religions. One is a “Christian” if one is a follower of Christ. In that sense it could be a philosophy without being a religion, but ONLY if you do not hold any beliefs not based on evidence and hold no supernatural beliefs with regard to the nature, purpose, and cause of the universe.

You’re *almost* right. Religion is just philosophy that has hardened into dogma–so all religion is philosophy, and indeed much philosophy is religion. However, there is a difference that clearly demarcates the difference.

A philosophy is a manner of mentally modeling reality. It’s not so much a thing as it is a process; so for example a philosophical Christian would start with the things Jesus was reputed to have said and examine them and try to clarify the model of reality so presented, and try to act increasingly as an exemplar of those characteristics.

Hold onto your hats; we’re about to go into dangerous waters here. Now Christianity for example, is a larger blanket term representative of an infinite and fractally nested set of sub-sects, each of which interprets things differently and acts differently because the other data they have is different and the only commonality relates back to the notion of a person named Jesus. It is easier, however, for you to say, “I am a Christian” and stop thinking than it is to do the hard work of pinning down exactly what that means, then figuring out how to put it into practice and express it to others. So the term, “Christian” is useless except as a starting point.

The tricky part is that because philosophy is just a $5 word for “method of looking at information and the associated processes that allow you to do something with that mental map” we lose track of the fact that it is possible to have MULTIPLE philosophical positions simultaneously.

For example, I am an agnostic atheist and a skeptic. This means that while I do not claim to know there is no god and are no gods as an absolute (agnostic modifier), neither have I seen any evidence for their existence, therefore I do not hold a positive belief in them (atheism) AND I will demand evidence in proportion to the degree to which a claim runs contrary to my mental model of reality (skeptic).

Sit down, and keep your socks on, this might blow them off: it is actually possible to be a Christian, an agnostic atheist, and a skeptic all at the same time, if we are strictly confining the term “Christian” to mean “person who attempts to use the putative words of the supposed Jesus as a basis for moral judgments” because for example, when we read that ‘Jesus’ said to “love one another”–one can agree on a philosophical level that affection for others on a generalized level will tend to lead to increased cooperation and other related benefits while also not believing that there is a creator God.

The trouble we run into is that “Christian” doesn’t actually mean that in common use. It means a person who believes in the divinity of Jesus (zero evidence) which means there is a creator God (zero evidence) who judges us (no evidence) and possesses certain qualities (effectively no evidence). The line of demarcation in philosophy that defines “religion” is just that: claims about the fundamental nature of reality including claims about the cause and purpose that are based on zero replicable evidence.

Essentially philosophy is the name for the study of systems of human thought. Religion is the side that explores human dreams, emotions, and desires without caring about what is actually true–the goal of religion is to fabricate a framework that allows us to ground our emotions, irrespective of objective reality. Science is the side of philosophy that deals with objective reality and cares about what is true, where “true” means, “what is observable”. Science cares about things being replicable, logical, and useful.

I might then say that you are religious and non-skeptical, because you care more about retaining the sense of being grounded, you care about justifying your feelings but not about what is true. The trouble of course is that because we are human, we all have something of both sides in us–you don’t EXCLUSIVELY care about your feelings, reality does poke its head in to see you occasionally. Same for me, I occasionally do wish things were different than they are. The difference comes from the preponderance of action and thought.

In general, humans only accept things into their mental model if those things reinforce that mental model. If this was not how it operated, we would not be able to model behaviors and make useful predictions. Our brains are constantly on the lookout for coincidences that we can causally link to events and actions. Unfortunately this causes many humans to mistake correlation for causation. E.g. People who are on fire tend to be running around and screaming; ergo running around and screaming must cause people to be on fire. I choose the example specifically to expose the cognitive mechanism while being ridiculous enough to not convince you.

If for example you lost your keys, prayed to find them, and then found them, you might conclude that God answered your prayer and helped you find your keys. Judging by thousands of years of objective evidence this cannot really be the case, even judging by the evidence of the past 10 minutes worldwide it can’t be the case. It is a cognitive mistake because your brain, always helpfully searching for causal links, has mistaken correlation for causation. In effect, the cause of the prayer was your own distress, and you looking for your keys was the cause of finding them. When we give up–frequently correlated with the prayer–we let go of the temporary mental model we had of the area and we very often find our keys!

It has nothing to do with the prayer except that the two are correlated. Experimentally, we can find that if we are convinced we have searched in a location, we will exclude that location from our search. Upon giving up (correlated with prayer) we let go of that mental model and begin to address reality. So when someone says, “let go and let God” what they actually mean in real terms is, “drop the flawed model and address reality”.

Religion is exclusively formed from these flawed models. It is why religion is, “fossilized” philosophy–because a religious worldview insists on ignoring data that doesn’t fit the model. In the case of Abrahamic monotheists–Jews, Sunni, Shiite, Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Pentacostals, etc etc etc–each took a book of allegories and fables written in the Bronze Age and have fossilized it into their own particular flavor of dogma.

“Christianity” as a broad category is laughably simplistic and stupid. Not because “Christians” are bad, unintelligent, or stupid–but because they are attempting to address reality with flawed data and receive constant reinforcement which attempts to prevent them from altering their mental model to a closer congruence with observable reality. Why do you think religion requires faith and belief?

Any philosophy that requires faith or belief is a religion and must be excluded from the government because it cannot be traced back to objective evidence and therefore cannot be agreed upon by everyone. Only things that can be universally agreed upon belong in government. Ergo, religion-which by definition REQUIRES faith–has absolutely no place in government.

(Look at the constant fight theists put up attempting to legitimize young Earth creationism and “intelligent design”–theists manufacture false controversy because it is the only way they can continue to pretend that their fossilized dogma has any relevance or truth to it.)

All sorts of exciting new adventures have been occurring in my life as of late, and I find myself embroiled in the tasks of quieting all of that down, getting a new car, and finding gainful employment. Believe it or not, there is not a large market for people giving their opinions–though you would not be able to tell by looking at the American media. 🙂
Sporadically working on articles while I job hunt, etc. and will get back to work once all that settles down.

Just as I thought life might return to its former level of roller-coaster hijinks, a pubescent Bambi look-alike left off reading Russian literature just long enough to decide that life was no longer worth living. This paragon of quadrupedal excellence made a lightning-fast decision: death via the right-hand side of my bumper and hood was preferable to facing another post-modern deconstructionist essay on Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. It was one short leap for Bambi, and one comparatively simple calculation involving a 1134kg of car moving at 80.5kph before braking madly for ~.5s (call it -~8kph?) resulting in a simultaneous giant headache for me and a giant leap for Bambi. To the right, off the hood of my car. (Bambi’s leap was augmented by about 5700 N for anyone curious)

All of this has given me an interesting and mandatory look into the economics of automobiles, and through that a look at some of the problems that have become systemic in the U.S. (probably elsewhere too.) I need not be a scholar of Marx to tell you that capitalism is insane. However, rather than diverging into a useless rant on how communism is a superior economic system and that the lumpen proletariat will rise up against the Imperialist oppressor and the state will wither away and we will all be borne away to paradise in the arms of our new-found communist paradise… Not only has it been taken care of already by countless other dewy-eyed students of liberal arts colleges, (UCSC represent!) but plenty of other people as well, (hi, Vladimir Iyich Ulyanov.)

This is the kind of thing that runs through my head lately. We have to be able to make the distinction between the theoretical model of a system that exists in an ideal vacuum and the reality of it as we have implemented it. So of course that means that I have to be able to make that distinction when I speak or write about the subject to avoid raising the hackles of the rabid defenders of the various economic models. Not that said rabid folks are really even that much of a problem in the grand scheme of things; they at least care about the topic, even if they have invested a comparatively small amount of time and effort into educating themselves about the subject.

No, the biggest hurdle is the mass of people who are ignorant and ignorant of their ignorance. None of these folks is necessarily stupid–but if nobody ever educated them in critical thinking, economics, and government, they start out and will likely remain easily led sheep whose fervor can be nurtured by sound bytes and directed by aesthetically pleasing and vapid talking heads to vote however is convenient for the people with the most money and the least scruples. Unfortunately it seems as though even those people who are interested in doing the right thing are generally drawn into the game, joining the arms race that they are all but guaranteed to lose.

I doubt if any amount of angry, angsty undergraduates is sufficient to change the world if the world is coasting along on its own course and constantly receiving reinforcement in the form of ignorant or apathetic people whose ability to think critically has been starved or beaten into submission by human necessities like a place to live and food to eat–and a job in the present economic system to provide them. The youth of the world sees that the sleeping mass needs waking, but what they cannot wrap their heads around is that the sleeping mass probably did not start out asleep, but more than likely gave churning through the morass of activism a shot and gave up in disgust.

My message to the young (as I am SO elderly myself) is this: do not make the assumption that all you must do is make people aware of something to suddenly trigger the same epiphany you are undergoing. That is easy, emotionally satisfying, and almost completely useless. The project that will make a real and lasting difference is going to involve hardship, discomfort, and misery. We have to push the roots of education through the artificial barriers thrown up by unscrupulous politicians, moneyed interests, and people who have given up and would rather cherish their comforting illusions–treating the symptoms and not the disease.

Even if someone could overthrow the U.S. government, completely dismantle all of the corrupt portions of it, and maintain an absolute mandate by force of arms or popular support–it would last only so long as that unifying force kept it going. The answer is not revolution and destruction but re-imagining and education. Perhaps you will attack me for being too vague. My response is that walking this Golden Path is like walking any other; it is a task that must be undertaken by many and not by only one. There surely will be trailblazers and people who will scout the ground in advance of the main body of civilization, but each individual person must learn to keep their eyes open and carry the responsibility for recognizing the blazes, checking their maps, and putting one foot in front of the other safely.

The fix is not a hero or heroine who will save us from ourselves, show us where to step and coddle us to protect our illusions. The solution to our problems, and indeed most human problems, is for individual people to educate themselves to the point where they can predict the results of small changes in their choices with a fair degree of veracity and use critical thinking and communication to combine their individual efforts to solve difficult human problems. That sort of rampant individualism that claims that everything must be done by the individual is not only nonsensical but actively retards this process, to the benefit of amoral people.