I am sort of an anomally. I have become quite the skeptic over the past few years but for all my questioning of my religion I find that my personal experience leads me to continue believing. I know that personal experience is weak evidence at best and there could be confirmation bias involved but the fact remains that I still believe (cue The Call). I espouse evidence based medicine, mock homeopathy, seriously doubt chiropratic, and in general argue for evidence over anecdote. As a side note, the pedant in me wants to point out that the plural of “anecdote” is “anecdotes” but that anecdotes are indeed data even if they are considered weak evidence. I actually don’t find believing in a religion to be contrary to my other positions at all.
Most of the hardcore skeptics I know, and I don’t consider myself hardcore, generally remind me of the people that they mock. One of the things conspiracy theorists end up with is a feeling that they hold knowledge that other people don’t, a false feeling up superiority if you will. Skeptics, of the hardcore variety, seem guilty of this as well albeit coming from another angle altogether. There is a sense of knowing what is best for everyone and espousing it loudly that permeates the skeptic movement, at least from what I have seen. This is no better than those who think they have special revelations or information that sets them apart. The skeptic’s claim of being “backed by evidence” really doesn’t amount to much except a valid appeal to authority in most cases. Even in cases where the skeptic is right the attitude is generally enough to put off the unwashed masses. This is a topic of conversation among the skeptics I read but it seems the arrogant side usually wins by simply being dicks until no-one wants to play with them anymore.
With all that said there are some topics where the skeptics are completely right. The evidence shows this beyond a doubt. Medicine is generally one of those topics. I can freely admit this even though going to a medical facility causes me to have a panic attack. My fear of doctors isn’t based in reality at all. I also know that doctors are human and do make mistakes and while those mistakes get hyped by the press and other factions they are still saving more lives than they are harming. Every human makes mistakes and doctors are in a position where their mistakes can kill people but they are also in a position where they save lives. We are living in the healthiest time in human history and that is due to science. When you combine the advances in medicine and hygiene alone you can account for our increased life expectancy. This doesn’t mean that I agree with doctors all of the time or that I blindly accept medical advice. If it were something major I would consult multiple doctors because, as stated ealier, doctors make mistakes and out medical system allows me to have multiple opinions.
Speaking of the medical system; right before I signed out of my social networking sites, and this might have had something to do with it, SCOTUS upheld Obamacare (I am using that moniker for no other reason than it’s short). This prompted my more conservative friends to have a collective aneurysm and my more liberal friends to gleefully gloat. I am opposed to Obamacare because it doesn’t actually fix anything. It’s thousands of pages of half-measures and impotent regulation. I am opposed to government control of healthcare but that doesn’t have a singe thing to do with why I think this is a bad law. This law will only make things slightly worse and end up causing all of us to pay a little more. It won’t actually fix anything. While I can disagree with my liberal friends on the mechanisms that will fix health care in this country I think most of them can see this isn’t good law. At least once they finish throwing poo at the conservatives. As for my conservative friends the collective anuerysm wasn’t pretty. I saw everything from hardcore Christians posting Penn Jillette quotes to claims that this law is paving the way for the Anti-Christ! Both sides of the debate turned in to raging immature poo flingers. I don’t know if it’s calmed down at all but I certainly don’t miss it. Frankly I think this law will have precious little impact and both sides will be dissapointed in the end. It’s not going to bring the ecomony crashing down around us and it won’t be saving all the poor folks either.
What a nice deviation from my original topic! Before I get too far off topic and start ranting about 9/11 truthers, flouride conspiracy theorists and so on I’ll close this one out with some simple observations. A good dose of skepticism is healthy in today’s world but like anything in life too much of it can be dangeous. I can pat myself on the back a little bit for keeping my mouth shut on the fourth as I heard someone talking about taking her infants to a chriopracter and having “fluid drained” to prevent ear infections. In the end I was likely happier for not having said anything and didn’t piss anyone off. There is a time and a place to be a skeptic out loud and there’s a time to bite your tongue and have another cocktail. The world would be a better place if all the skeptics learned that. I am still working on it so forgive me if someone brings up homeopathy and I develop a speech impediment that involves me yelling about water a lot and using vulgar language.
Have a great Friday!
For years I didn’t understand boys’ or girls’ nights out. This especially went for married couples. Why would you want to go somewhere that your spouse wasn’t technically allowed to go? What purpose could it serve other than to divide? Why would you need time away from your significant other and if you actually needed that time wouldn’t it better to work on your relationship rather than to go out with guys or gals? I really didn’t get the concept at all. I still don’t in fact but I do know that it serves a purpose. I know this because a couple of weeks a go I talked some of my friends, a couple of married guys, in to a weekly boys night out (it remains to be seen whether it will actually stay a weekly event or move to bi-weekly) and it was cathartic. These are not friends that I don’t get to see often. In fact, the initial group consists of the two guys who are the hairier halves of the couples that Michelle and I hang out with the most.
I can’t explain why it was so refreshing or why it brought me the clarity that it that. I would have expected it to swing a little the other way since our boys’ night currently consists of going to a bar and all that entails. We drink, smoke, and play the jukebox, and generally talk about whatever is on our minds. To me, as I write this, it doesn’t seem that much different than a normal night out save the fact it’s just those of us with external dangly bits; however, the fact is that the outcome is different. Sure a normal night out is relaxing and fun, I could almost argue that I have more “fun” with Michelle around, but for some reason that I can’t define this is different. When I say I can’t define why it’s different I really mean it. I have no clue at all. I have made some observations but most of those are in relation to my original position on the boys’/girls’ night out.
First and foremost I have realized that this isn’t about me spending time away from Michelle but rather spending time with myself. I am not sure that makes a lot of sense and it sounds kind of hokey to me but, at present, that’s most clear language I can use to describe it. I used to go out without Michelle a lot because she didn’t drink and with her social anxiety she didn’t like being around a lot of people she didn’t know. Now she goes with me just about everywhere and that’s awesome as far as I am concerned and I wouldn’t want to change that at all. We go to shows, bars, friends’ houses for game nights and so on. Most of our entertainment is spent together by design and we both like it that way. So why do I enjoy boys’ night so much? It’s not like there’s a filter I use when I am around Michelle that I let down when I am out without her. If you know me outside of the intertubes you know that I say what’s on my mind and generally don’t filter anything. So being out with the boys doesn’t give me a chance to act differently and I can assure you that I don’t. We don’t talk about things that we don’t talk about at other times and locations. The guys involved right now are already two of my best friends and have been for better than two decades so it’s not some getting to know my friends better sort of deal. The reason for the overall effect is an enigma to me.
What I do know is that after both of these boys’ nights that we have had so far I have been more clear headed, more productive at work, and more relaxed in general than I was before and moreso than when I go out with Michelle and we do the things that we normally do. I certainly don’t want to change out usual activities but I think adding in this middle of the week boys’ night makes a difference. Luckily for me, my old lady is on board and is happy that I have discovered this little sanctuary, so to speak. I have suggested that she plan a girls’ night with her friends but that hasn’t gone anywhere yet but I really hope it does. While I can’t explain the psychological reasons that boys’ night does anything at all for I know that it does and I know that I am looking forward to it tonight. Of course I don’t have to work tomorrow so tonight’s boys’ night may be a little more, shall we say, wet than the last two. There’s a jukebox waiting for my dollars, a bottle with my name on it, and a bartender waiting for my tips. Maybe it’s the simple ritual of men meeting, maybe it’s some esoteric ideal, maybe it’s all bunk and maybe the reason doesn’t matter at all but whatever it is happens tonight!
If you want to meet up with us then send me a text and I’ll give you the location. This isn’t some exclusive club and I am interested in seeing if this is a “the more the merrier” sort of thing or if there really is bond between the guys doing this that causes the effects I have seen so far. So text me and become part of the experiment.
It was a bit cathartic when I signed out of my social networking sites just before midnight on Saturday. I was with my wife and four of our best friends Dermot, Laura, Lee, and Sarah. I didn’t make a huge deal of it and there was no real ritual to it but there was still a sense of relief. We talked and sipped cocktails until the wee hours and had a rather grand time, as we always do at the Connor’s house. The next morning however I discovered what a habit Facebook had become when I awoke and grabbed my phone, ready to check in on my friends. This motion was repeated at various intervals during the day but since I had removed the icons from my home screen I was instantly reminded of my decision. I want to say that this was habit and not addiction as I never felt like something was missing or I needed to get on Facebook, or any other social networking site for that matter, this was simple habit. Once I remembered what was going on I didn’t care that I wasn’t getting on. I really didn’t feel like I was missing anything. This morning when I woke I merely went to Google News to see if there was anything interesting. I don’t think this will really be all that hard. As you can see the title of this post is quite apropos as none of what I have type really means all that much but as part of my hiatus from social networking I have promised myself I will write more here in my own little corner of the web.
In order to find the time to parse thoughts in to a coherent set of words, sentences, and even paragraphs I am trying to use my bud ride in to work to write more. The WordPress app for Android allows one to compose local drafts so I don’t even have to use my phone as a hotspot if I am not commenting on things that need to be linked. This allows me to write a draft and look it over in a couple of hours after I have finished it and before posting. Not that I am good at proofreading my own work, quite the contrary in fact, but it gives me a chance to make sure I am at least keeping my thoughts in some sort of order. Incoherent or less than cohesive rambling is something that I worry about since I am, in essence, forcing myself to write instead of only writing when I have considered a topic at length and want to bang on the keyboard and produce a piece on a singular topic. Now that’s not saying I couldn’t be incoherent on a single topic but I feel the chances of that are lower than when I am writing because it’s time to write.
And now comes my least favorite part of public transportation. I am now crowded in to my seat by a rather large woman who has apparently bathed in perfume and has no respect for boundaries such as the end of her seat and the beginning of mine or even the beginning of my body! Luckily this is not often an issue and if it was I would likely cease using the bus to get to work because as much as I am a physical person when it comes to my friends I also don’t like having another human being pressed against me for 30 to 45 minutes while the waves of perfume wafting off of them slowly give me a throbbing headache. The thing is that I am not a small person but I do fit in the seat on the bus. This time I wasn’t the last open seat nor was I near the front of the bus so it is inexplicable why I am now pressed against the window and can barely type. The lack of consideration for others is something you can see every day when you take public transportation. Some days it completely amazes me. I would guess that some of this stems from our society becoming too casual but at this moment I won’t be going in to that; rather, I will be closing up my device and trying to defy physics and make my mass fit in to less area that it does at current. It is too cramped to continue writing at this point so I will just be done.
This is a crosspost of my upcoming piece on 9b
UPDATE: JOHN CONTACTED US AND LET US KNOW THAT DUE TO THE RESPONSE FROM THE FACEBOOK POSTINGS THE RENT ON HIS PRACTICE SPACE WAS ALREADY COVERED!
So thank you all for that. I know that those of you who saw the links last night stepped up and so does John. We considered not posting this but you know what, there’s always next month’s rent on the horizon. So we are posting it anyway. I’ll say again that John has covered his practice space for this month but in my opinion you can’t show your appreciation too much!
I normally don’t crosspost stuff between the sites I write for but this one is important enough that I want to get the word out to as many people as possible:
One of the things I love about writing for 9b is that it is a way to support the artists that provide me with entertainment, escape, and so much more. It doesn’t seem like much some days but it’s something. Then every once in a while a situation comes up and gives us an opportunity to support the artists in a more direct manner. This takes many different forms and whether or not it’s a cool Kickstarter campaign for a band we love or a band in need of help because some asshat stole their gear we try to step up to the plate and help them out. This call to action concerns 9b favorite John Moreland. We have written about many of his releases and loved every last one of them.
Last night I was up too late browsing Facebook and noticed that Mr. Moreland had posted a link to his Bandcamp page and asked for a little help this month as he needs to cover the rent for his practice space. I posted something about it and AIV jumped in, posted as well, and asked me to write up a little something this morning and so here we are. Music is a hard business and sometimes an even harder life. Shit happens to the best of us and sometimes we gotta ask for a little boost and this is no different. While I can’t personally go re-buy any of John’s stuff until tomorrow I know AIV grabbed the catalog last night so the 9b staff is personally putting our money in to this because it is a righteous cause. This is chance to directly help out a man who writes prolifically and does it well. A chance to directly affect one of the artists that we here at 9b have stood behind since we discovered him.
What we are asking is that you open your wallets and head over to John’s Bandcamp page and pick up an album or two, they are actually priced so reasonably that you really ought to grab the whole catalog, and help out a really good guy. If your love of music is anywhere near the level of the 9b staff then you won’t hesitate to jump on this chance to help a musician. The kicker for me is that he’s asking for help covering the cost of making music. There’s not really a Kickstarter option to “Help me pay rent” so he turned to the community via Facebook. We want you to show him that the community really does value the artists. On top of the warm feeling in sub-cockle region you will also get some great music out of this.
Off you go now, it only costs a little bit and it won’t hurt at all…
So I have been thinking a lot lately about wanting to write more but instead I end up posting a quick link on Facebook and moving on to something else. Every once in a while this sparks a conversation but for the most part it’s just tossing out random ideas and snippets. I sort of feel like I never get to finish a thought before the next one has taken over. This is, at least I think it is, because I am overloaded with social networking and have let it become my primary outlet. Now don’t get me wrong here, I like social networking but I think I need to detox a little bit. I want to write here and write more than I do on social networking. When I see a piece of interesting news I want to ponder it, form an opinion based on evidence, and then possibly post something here. So in order to see if this actually part of the problem, however large or small, I have decided to take the month of July off of from social networking. No Facebook. No twitter. No Google+. Now this little site automatically posts links to FB and has some comment integration so maybe it won’t be a complete disconnect but I won’t be signing in to any of those sites.
I am not sure if this will help. I am not sure if I will be able to go the whole month, being the curious bastard that I am. But I am sure I need to at least give this a shot. I need to get some of the passion back in different aspects of my writing and I am hoping this is the first step towards that. I have had some ideas percolating for a while but never seem to find the time to get them sorted in to something coherent. Maybe the snippets of time I won’t be spending perusing everyone else’s lives will give me that little bit of extra time that I need. Maybe it won’t do anything for my writing and end up being just a test of willpower. Maybe it will be something else entirely. Whatever it is I figure it’ll end up being better than the status quo. I have to shake things up somehow.
I am doing this for the same reasons I have started doing a boys’ night out with a couple of friends. I didn’t have any time for me at all. Since Michelle started enjoying going out and being social I have ended up with no personal time. Now that was a hard one to figure out. How do you come to the conclusion that you need time away from your wife? The simple answer is that it has nothing to do with her. I love going out with her and we really enjoy ourselves. My conclusion was that I needed time for me and while we enjoy going out together, me needing some time for me doesn’t reflect on that at all. Hell it’s not even about it being at a bar but rather about it being time set aside specifically for me. I didn’t realize how much I need that.
I am doing this for the same reason I got a little froggy at the bar the other weekend and tried get two different guys to puff up their chests. I have a lack of challenge in my life right now. No everything is not perfect. No I haven’t made all the changes I want to make. The fact is that it’s all on track and when it gets off course we correct it and keep going. We have a workable plan to get the house fixed up. We have a workable plan to get Michelle her Honda Pilot. We have a workable plan to get my truck fixed. My job, while enjoyable, consists of things I am good at and while that is satisfying in its own right it doesn’t challenge me very much.
All of these things add up to some kind of something missing. I am not entirely sure what it is but it seems to me that I am missing an outlet that I used to not only love but rely on for various things. Writing here challenges me to think things through. Writing about music challenges me to go outside of my comfort zone and experience new things. Writing about comic books challenges me to not forget that there are crazy and wonderful things out there in the world. So this is one more thing that I need that I have neglected. Not all of those things are related to social networking really but it seems to be one things that takes up an inordinate amount of time with not a whole lot of return. I know that after July, regardless of it goes, that I will spend less time on social networking and hopefully more time taking care of the things in my life that I need to take care of.
Well I will sign off for now and herd my heathens to bed. I hope the few of my readers that left have a great evening.