Sunday, August 13, 2017

the beginning, and the end

As a species we started believing in a world behind the world as a way of explaining what our early brains and early store of knowledge could not explain.  Why does the ground shake and the mountain explode?  Why does the sun come and go?  Why did the lightning destroy the forest?  We had big, curious, problem-solving brains.  And while those brains developed to keep us fed and sheltered and breeding, curiosity and a need for explanations are a result.  Organized religious belief may have developed as a way to organize tribes as opposed to a tyrannical bent for power and desiring to control peers.  The fact that it can be used for either is simply a consequence.

A consequence of united belief in something for which the leaders of that belief are not required to provide any proof whatsoever.

I feel that surely there have always been doubters as well, always been one hominid that considered the religious leader might not have any more knowledge about the subject than themselves.

It began innocently enough - this need for explanations.

It is not ending well.  Thousands of years have passed.  Our brains have changed and grown and adapted and are now stuffed full of information that has little or nothing to do with being fed or sheltered, or producing offspring.  There are many, many more doubters now - a consequence of unrelenting gathered information.  A demand for real answers, not comforting ones.  Our curiosity will never stop making us turn over rocks or look to the skies.  We are insatiable seekers of truth.

But there are many many others that have drawn a line in their knowledge.  They are satisfied with answers provided hundreds or thousands of years ago, even as they benefit from real progress and real knowledge and real advancement in every way.  Worse, they will bend current truths to continue to believe what comforts them, they will deny reality staring them in the face.  They will stop or drag back progress wherever they can.

It has happened many times before.

The historical precedent is what leaves me so hopeless in the present time.

I have maintained for years that faith is the greatest con of all time.  To consider belief in something for which there is no proof an actual virtue is indeed the greatest con.  And as it is proven, time and again, falling for one con makes you susceptible to another.

Humans are also filled with strong emotions.  A byproduct of our glands and the necessary need to care for offspring that are born helpless.  Sure, it sounds cold when explained biologically, in evolutionary terms.  But that doesn't mean that I don't value love.

It is our emotional response that convinces us that we are right, or experiencing something supernatural.  It is the emotions and emotional reactions of our own bodies that trick us into thinking there is something going on without.  That thing you feel inside you really is just that thing you feel inside you.

Awe and inspiration and uplifting feelings are wonderful goose-bumpy emotions.  But they are occurring within our own bodies, not without.  They are feelings, they are an emotional response.  They are not the whispers of spirits or gods or ghosts.  They are chemicals being dumped into your body by your body.  No, that is not a romantic thought, unless you're like me and find the fascinating truth it's own exhilarating reward.  It's not a romantic, emotionally-satisfying explanation for many, but it's true.  It's the truth.

All ideological beliefs that have no facts to support them are cons.  There are white supremacists now who claim to be atheists, but they are also driven by an irrational belief that they are somehow superior to people that differ from them in purely superficial ways. There are no facts to support that melanin is some kind of merit scale.  Oh, it's been studied.  Of course it has.  Because some hate-filled person with a lab coat wanted it to look as if they had the facts on their side.  But it never boils down to truth.  The argument collapses under scrutiny because, in common with all ideologies not based in reality, there is no argument on their side other than their feelings.  However, generally, white supremacy is associated with christianity.

How quickly will a conned person fall for another con?  How much money on religious trinkets is spent every day?  On tithing?  Just think of the money spent on religious jewelry alone all over the world.  When you feel that your relic has real supernatural powers, do you realize that the feeling you are having is happening inside you?  That you are the cause of that feeling?

For many of us, it is a horror to admit when we are wrong, but far far worse to admit when we've been conned.  It's traumatic, really.  And I'm afraid it will be our undoing.  That coupled with the astounding number of people that do not question the irrational beliefs they were brought up with, those that never think to question, those that follow quite blindly, those that are satisfied completely with being a part of a tribe and give no thought beyond that.

It is not the norm to question what you have been taught your whole life to believe.  But the consequences of irrational belief are not good for our species, these consequences are easily observable, and the astounding number of people not willing to see this or question their own beliefs when they do cause harm is very depressing indeed.

Aside from the immediate concerns of our species destroying itself over belief in the supernatural and/or the irrational, we are a species out of control in terms of breeding beyond the resources to support it.  This will also form our demise, if we do not succeed in warring ourselves to death first.  We are animals.  We have an instinctual need to breed.  And unfortunately, like many creatures on this planet, in crisis we tend to breed even more.  We are outstripping our advancements in food production, and destroying the very environments upon which our food production depends.  And we have to fight ideological belief in factless claims simply to try to save those environments.

I do not think intellectual heads will prevail.  I do not think the rational will win the day.  There are too many fronts on which our species is under attack by itself.  There are too many irrational beliefs slowing down any advancement to save our species, and the countless other species our species is currently wiping out.  I want to have hope, but I am looking at the numbers, I am looking at our history, and I am coming up with the same answer.

Bleak.  Yes.  What do I do?

I irrationally continue to fight.  I believe, with little facts to support me, that maybe something can be done.  I won't go down in acquiescence.  In spite of it all I like our species, I want us to survive, I wish for the future where we are flying off into space in the name of further knowledge.  Where we've come to some kind of Star Trek-ian unity on earth and have turned it all around to the betterment of us all.  My own irrational ideology.  My own belief in make-believe.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

immature choices

I don't know why I'm suddenly interested in romantic notions again at this moment, but it's true I've been thinking it might be time to go out there again.  I'm not exactly very smart with my own choices for love interests.

I've also been extremely lucky.  I've been married, and I've been asked to marry many times.  Luck of the draw.  I also think not really being motivated toward couplehood is in itself an attraction.  An aloofness that seemed to always work for me.

Except when it didn't.

Generally, I did not pursue couplehood.  The less-than-handful of times where I personally decided I cared for someone and was active in my pursuit of that end, I chose aloof men that couldn't tell me how they felt about me.  It was a disaster each (both) times.  Falling for a man that can't tell you how he feels about you when you yourself can't tell him isn't a recipe for romantic bliss.  Being the fearful one only works when you're with someone who can be brave.

So.  There were two men I was madly in love with, that couldn't communicate mutual feelings to me.  I think they felt the same way.  But there's no way to be sure.  The one I wasted the most time and emotion on (the one that started me blogging in the first place), did give me a couple of sentences at the time that conveyed his feelings were just as strong.  But that was it.  Neither could really profess.  I tried.  I think.  The other was pre-blogging days.  I believe I wrote about him in a journal mostly, and what good is that if I am the only one who reads it?  The point being, I don't know that I was much better at being in love with them as they were with me.  I think there were immature fuckups enough to go around with both in-love instances.

I bring this up now because it's on my mind lately.  I tend to think along romantic, or at least sexual, lines when I've been getting a lot of exercise and when I'm feeling good about myself.

I'm not an aggressor.  And the two times I was in love and being somewhat aggressive about it, I chose men that couldn't even tell me they loved me.  So I think I've learned that this isn't a role I'm comfortable in.

I'm not sure when I'll start seeing people romantically again.  But I do know I'm not interested in buried feelings, or buried expressions of feelings.  And as always, being romantically involved is not a goal of mine, nor is it necessary for my happiness.

But I am feeling the urge for closeness again.  I am definitely wishing there were more kisses in my life.  It usually starts with a wish to kiss - starts when I begin scouring my various tv sources for romantic movies or shows that have really good kissing scenes.  Once I am beyond satisfaction from third-person romance, I'll put myself out there.  Not sure how I'm going to do that, either.  These days there are a million new options.  But it's nice to know that I'm not over these desires.  Nice to know my fuzzy romantic heart is still beating.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

who's going to change the world?

Hilariously, but not really, someone has already invented the thing I wanted to invent.  I actually half expected this from the beginning.

In 2009, I watched an excellent lecture from Lawrence Krauss on YouTube that really awakened me to things I hadn't kept track of.  Scientific advancement - somehow I had forgotten that science doesn't stop, and my knowledge of latest achievements never was updated past high school or college.

It gives me comfort to know that out of my notice, the world goes on.

In 2009 I started the year working for a credit union at $10/hour, but ended the year at the magazine where I still work.  2009 changed many things for me.  In 2008 I had decided that I wasn't thrilled with the freelance life or certainly the bartender life.  The older I became, the more I found I didn't like not having a routine.  I didn't like late hours, I didn't like having no healthcare, and I really didn't like the lack of a steady paycheck.  But not having a routine really sticks out.  I longed for a set of necessary actions structuring my days.

In a lot of ways I feel as if I've never grown up.  That I am still very much a kid inside, still naive to many things, still staring wide-eyed at what all the adults around me are doing.  But I found this desire for a routine to be extremely mature.  It was like taking a step toward adulthood in a good way.  And hey, I was 39.  Probably a good time to grow up a little.

I'm slow to get there on a lot of things.  And with the climate problems we are facing, of COURSE someone was already in the midst of inventing something that I eureka'ed on in my own head.  I was late to the eureka.

Another thing that changed for me with time is my desire to leave something behind better than when I found it.  Since obtaining the steady job, regular paycheck, and healthcare, I've become more charitable.  I don't make a lot of money, but I found I could spare a little for charities I thought were extremely necessary and useful.  Now, I want to do more.

It's becoming as insistent a desire as wanting a steady routine.  I am sure our current political situation has something to do with it, but always having a keen interest in science and our species, I think this is what's been coming anyway.

What shape that takes is something I don't know at this point.  But there are too many things going on both inside my own life and without that are making this change imminent.

I long to write about what is going on with me personally.  I don't feel I can do that at this point - detail the drama and bullshit I have been forced into this year, and I'm not talking about our hijacked election or buffoon of a president.  My personal life has come to mirror the political crisis the whole country is in.  There's a huge amount of fodder for a writer here.  There's also a looming legal shadow, where if I want to remain in the right binds me to silence for the time being.

As the itch to do more strengthens, the drama and bullshit only nudge me further.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Dust Won't Settle

The world is no longer normal.  Maybe it's been building toward this for a long time.  Maybe we can blame Fox News for winning the right to lie to the public and call it news all those years ago.  Maybe we can blame isolationism, these echo chambers and bias bubbles we can and do now put ourselves in.  Maybe we can blame our education system, which republicans in each state has damaged for decades by systematically stripping away funding and by promoting a religious (fictitious) agenda (in which a good education is a real enemy).  

The real truth is probably as messy as this outcome.  One thing I have learned, is to distrust extreme answers - if an answer to a complex problem is extremely simple, that answer is most likely harmful to someone or something.  So the answer to this dilemma is as complicated as the dilemma itself.

Are we rolling into a fascist regime?  Not if those opposed to fascism can stop it.  Are protests and petitions enough?  Over time, absolutely, however here we have another problem:  we do not have that much time.  From an environmental standpoint, we are falling further and further behind on a problem that will become harder and harder to correct.  We are daily dooming our species and quite a few others - we are digging ourselves further and further down.

The global, horrified reaction to Trump is encouraging.  While the math at home is both astounding and (somewhat) heartening.  When you go by the numbers, currently the number of eligible voters is 231,556,622.  40% of eligible voters did not vote.  92,671,979 people were too disgusted or bored or disinterested to get to the polls.  Of those that did, we know that 62,979,879 voted for Trump.  That is a bit more than one third of the eligible voting public.  The rest of the public either voted for someone else (beside the 3 million more votes Hillary received than Trump, an additional 7,804,213 also did not vote for Trump), or they did not vote at all.

When I participate in the protests - which I will continue to do - I can't help but wonder how many people I see couldn't get to the polls in 2016.  I know, it's not something to dwell on, but it sucks that this truth keeps proving itself over and over:  most people are only motivated to action when things get very, very bad.

I have allowed the daily bombardment upon our constitution by the new regime in the White House to distract me. I've let trivial outside distractions divert me.  I've allowed myself to be swallowed by this monster that just keeps rolling out.  But no more.  After all, I don't think the roll is anywhere near it's finished and I can still get to work while it rolls.

I want to do more than march.  I want to do something real that is useful to our species.  I don't know what's going to happen next with the government in my country.  And I am committed to resisting any and all things fascist happening.  But I also want to finish what I've only just begun and keep moving with the online MIT courses.  So I go back to the books.  And I keep my eyes open and I read the New York Times every morning, and I don't consume questionable news.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The New Year Has Begun

We are six days into 2017.  There will apparently be a tRump presidency (though he has trouble spelling words like that himself), and the conservatives in charge are busy trying to kill women.  Because that's basically what those who oppose abortion want:  they want women to give birth or die trying.

They're trying to remove healthcare from millions.  They're trying to codify their version of chrisitanity.  They're trying to rake in more oil money, at the expense of the health of every living person in the future.

It's not easy watching all this happen.  There's something new to enrage a person on a daily basis.

I'm putting together my plan for this year.  I haven't solidified anything yet, and more than anything I need to get back into the habit of writing.  There needs to be as many sane voices as possible out there telling the world what happened before the world ended.