Easter Sunday, Josh and Aishah on 20th April 2014

This morning Josh spent some time with us, and his great-grandmother again one last time before she goes back to Cape Town. But this time I didn’t get any photos of him with Muriel. Here’s this morning’s photos:

The morning started with an Easter Egg hunt.

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To the victor go the spoils.

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Despite the T-shirt, I don’t feel so super-strong with Josh on my shoulders anymore.

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Aishah with great-grandmother.

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Josh causing pandemonium on this computer. (Oh, apparently I have PowerDVD. Thanks Josh, I didn’t know that.)

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Playing outside.

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Brother and sister.

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Oh look! Someone left this cute little dolly on the lawn.

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The importance of understanding bad arguments

Yesterday somebody reblogged one of my posts, which is cool in that it means somebody identified with my issues, even though that one was in my mind personal at the time.

The original post was really written as a response to a personal email I received, though I tried to avoid addressing the worst things written in that email, which were really quite hateful. The point is, we do all at some point invoke enough anger in others that they launch an abusive ad hominem attack against us. When I wrote that post, I addressed some of the hateful things written without realizing that the original email was written in the tone of aggressive abusive ad hominem, and I really should have ignored it.

The other reason that bad arguments and logical fallacies has been on my mind lately was the publicity around the Oscar Pistorius trial lately. I’m not going to go into too much detail about my opinion here, but will state that I noticed a few logical fallacies and bad arguments used in the trial, all by the defence. Most notably obvious was the appeal to irrelevant authority.

I’d like to draw your attention again to the book of bad arguments online. It’s not only funny and entertaining, it is also clever and educational. If you understand all of them, you will have less cause to feel stressed whenever anybody uses any bad arguments against you, such as was used against me in some unfair criticism. You can also then be empowered to point out the fallacies in the arguments. Spotting those kinds of arguments is also very useful, and you need to be able to do so simply to be a better critical thinker. Much of those arguments are also used voraciously by proponents of pseudoscience, new age nonsense and other similar quackery.

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To be (honest) or not to be. Is that the question?

Sometimes I think my openness is like shooting myself in the foot. I keep asking myself whether I am making a mistake being so open about my recovery, if I should at least curb my openness a little selectively, or whether I should continue. So far it normally works for me, but not always.

I had two interviews today, both with recruiters, and both times I decided to be open about my past, with totally different results. This morning’s one was a show-stopper, while the man who interviewed me this afternoon was empathetic and encouraging, although he did express his feeling that I should rather keep it to myself, because it is nobody’s business. He also expressed great confidence in my abilities and that he was not going to disclose it to his clients. Recently another recruiter said something similar, and indicated that he thought I am too open about my past.

This is something I have struggled with for a while now… even in writing this blog, in that it forces me continually to identify myself as an addict. It’s a label that I have wanted to discard for a while, but at the same time, in order to ensure that I remain serious and vigilant about my recovery, it’s a label that needs to stick for some time to come. Or does it? I’m not always so sure.

Or perhaps I am conflating openness and honesty with oversharing? Maybe I can be open in some ways, including what I write here, but learn to shut the fuck up about it when necessary. It’s a compromise that needs to be made at some point, but I’m not too sure how and where to draw that line.

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Addicted to movies…

I seem to have a new addiction… to downloading movies. I must try to cut down though, and save my data… I decided to get Corpse Bride (which I found here) after watching this. (Heck, it’s probably more true to life than Pacific Rim.)

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It’s boring being at home

My most promising interview so far will only result in a possible assessment at the end of the week, after they have finished interviewing and shortlisting all candidates, so maybe I should update my CV on pnet again, to get some more recruiters… Still not too worried as I have one more salary coming, but it is annoying that this is taking so long.

Today is a big day for Aishah – her first time in crèche, though it’s only for half the day. Megan decided to go ahead with her training in the CBD, for that call-centre job. It goes on for a week, and is two hours each day. So after we dropped Aishah off at crèche, the same one where Josh used to go, I dropped Megan off for her training; then came back here. I can’t sit in town and wait for her for two hours – even though I did wait that long on Monday because of both the interview and her therapy session, two hours in one long stint is too much. I’m also happy that Aishah is spending just about half a day at crèche because she will have to be in one anyway, once both of us are working, and this way she can get used to it gradually.

She is an adorable little girl, and although she will only be a year old on May 20th, she seems slightly advanced for her age. She often stands by herself now, and although she isn’t quite walking properly yet, she does take two to three steps now and then. She also gets to see her brother twice a week, and all is going well there. She’s a clever little devil… if she plays with anything that she is not allowed to play with, like a mobile phone, and you take it away, even if she doesn’t appear to be watching, she always knows where you put it. She’s also learned to pretend to be innocently preoccupied with other things while on her mission to retrieve the forbidden phone. Her mobile had to be removed from her camping cot a couple of months ago already after she learned how to unclip it and get the whole thing into the cot, and now she has abandoned the idea of removing the nappies from the bag that attaches to the side (and hangs on the outside of the cot), preferring to get the whole bag instead. She’s also learned to open and unpack drawers. (And repack them, though not terribly well.)

So although I am concerned about my job, and being at home all the time is not good in some ways, my home life and relationships are the best they have been for a long time, and I am in love with this adorable little girl. So overall, life is good, and it will be even better soon.

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Lunch last Sunday

I don’t know why I like this photo… actually I think it’s the background, something about the (lacking) lighting and the dark red hue makes this a good photo. (And also there are no other recent photos featuring both Megan and I.)

This past Sunday, we had lunch with a distant relation of Megan (her mother’s cousin – don’t know what I should call her), who took a few photos. Most of them came out quite terrible, but for this one, after I Photoshopped it a little to fix Aishah’s red eye and my red nose, which has a couple of marks, unnoticeable in the day, but they shine like LED’s when lit up by a flash in a dark restaurant. This was taken at the Red Chamber in Hyde Park.

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I’m running towards nothing, again and again and again and again and again and again

I downloaded the Cure’s Show the other day. I used to own the double-CD, but I found the converted laserdisc version on a torrent site, which was really cool, because it was never released on DVD. Also, I remember buying the CD and being really disappointed that it didn’t contain this song, which was always one of my favourites. (You can’t be a Cure fan and not love this song.)

So I converted part of the concert into mp4 and uploaded it to YouTube. Now you too can see my favourite version of A Forest.

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The real Johannesburg

Today my interview (which went very well) was only at 3:30PM, so I started the day by driving Megan to a place in the Johannesburg CBD, for a meeting with a (call centre operator) recruiter, to try getting her a job. Then after that I took her for her monthly session at Phoenix House SANCA, and waited so I could drive her home. She’s still paranoid after her experience with being mugged recently, so public transport is not a good idea for her again just yet.

While I waited this morning, I sat there long enough to really think about the place, and so I took a couple of photos. I was parked in Von Wielligh Street, as the appointment took place in a building at 155 Commissioner Street, at the junction of those two roads:

155Commissioner 

It occurred to me as I drove there past all the annoyingly arrogant ANC electioneering signs, the ones that promise to move South Africa forward… but never mind that our president spent hundreds of millions of taxpayers money on his personal home, which is surrounded by abject poverty, look at what the centre of Johannesburg, the heart of our “foremost African city”, looks like:

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I took one photo out the window, and then later opened the window to get another two clearer shots. And yes, that’s my fucked up side-view mirror in the first shot… somebody trashed it and then twisted it around several times so that the whole thing needs to be replaced… so I taped it up and then forgot about it a while back.

You can’t see it too well, but that building across the road from where I parked is a deserted and abandoned monstrosity, one that appears vacant with most of the windows smashed, except the ground floor is being used as shops.

In the first photo, directly above my broken mirror, across the road is a crèche… In the middle of this slum, I saw two well-dressed men taking their children into that crèche. While I sat there, I saw three people narrowly avoid being run over by taxis (and one truck), and there is rubbish scattered all over the pavement.

After the dark bit above my mirror, there is a sign denoting a college, but you can’t read it on my blurred photo. There are many people scurrying about, as they make their way to and fro, going about their business, mostly going to work. But these are not the average middle class people like me. They get up at the crack of dawn, taking hours to commute to work by taxi, working long hours for little money. The other day I blurted out my salary here… I shouldn’t have, I suppose… I should be grateful that I do earn above average, but these people, all these people who I watched through my window, will never earn anything like my salary. Yet many of them support our corrupt government, one that doesn’t even care that these people exist, other than when it’s time for them to vote.

Anyway, that is the real Johannesburg, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

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Another movie worth avoiding, Pacific Rim

I must admit that I never really wanted to watch Pacific Rim… My first impression was that it was kind of stupid; I mean, aliens rise up from the sea, then mankind fights them by constructing giant robots?

I should’ve gone with my gut feel this time, but since I wanted to use up my data, and couldn’t think of any other sufficiently hyped movies from last year that I hadn’t already seen, I made the mistake of downloading it, hoping that it might be worthwhile entertainment. It was not. Honestly those sectors of my hard drive were consumed better by random data. My first impression was correct, only I hadn’t guessed how bad it really was: Humankind fights giant monsters with giant robots, involving running around, punching and kicking them. The plot revolves around two “pilots” who get to mind-meld, a term I thought belonged to Mr. Spock of Star Trek, and then go into the drift, a dream-like shared mental state that’s kinda cool in a cheap and poorly thought out sci-fi way, but then they control the robots physically, flailing around and looking rather retarded, strapped in ironman-like suits inside the Jaegers’ control rooms. Hey… if the technology is so advanced that they can enter each other’s minds, why can’t they just sit still and control the wannabe autobots mentally? Preferably remotely?

Besides all the faults with the plot, the movie was also slow-moving and really quite boring, with no actors who really shine, but a couple who stick out for all the wrong reasons, either for being overly campy, or over-acting (Ron Perlman)…

And the last scene, if you haven’t already gotten up and walked out after the music started, really sums up the whole stupid campy movie. (He was chewed up and swallowed a few minutes before, in the only scene that actually managed to be funny… Not that funny is what one would expect them to aim for.)

 

Yeah, this is a movie to be missed, or if you have seen it, I suggest you try to find a way of wiping it from your mind, just as I will wipe it from my hard drive.

Interesting that once again, my view of this is totally different to the favourable Rotten Tomatoes one… loads of positive reviews there, with nothing about the weak storyline, mixture of campy, wooden and overacting, yet not a single good performance. It seems that all too often the so-called critics choose to find faults with some movies, but do not see the glaring faults in others. Carrie is an example that comes to mind… they criticized the movie for “bringing nothing to the story” compared to the 1976 movie, as if the old movie was made today, when really there is no comparison between such a corny old movie and a new one. Unlike Carrie, this Pacific Rim piece of shit has no performances that give any illusion of reality. When you watch it, you feel that you are watching a movie – nothing feels real, and the visual effects may be impressive but they do not give the impression of scale that was obviously intended, and the actors attempts to portray all manner of emotions feels wooden. Which shouldn’t be surprising I suppose; aim a movie with a children’s story plot at an adult audience and that’s what you get. I just wonder why the professed experts do not see it this way.

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Torture

Since the accidentally purchased surplus of mobile data I have expires at midnight tonight, I’m downloading movies and music until I use up most of it. I highly recommend The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, as well as Carrie as mentioned earlier in the week. (Ignore than bad Rotten Tomatoes ratings.) I must still watch Primer and Pacific Rim, and Maniac is downloading right now – looking forward to that one most of all.

Check out the first 6 minutes of manic:

 

But the title refers to my suffering right now… because the Selena Gomez album is busy playing… and it feels like some kind of sacrilege that my internet data has been spent on her… never mind the pain this is to my ears… Ouch! But I had to do it to make my other half shut the fuck up. Seriously, Ms. Gomez is easy on the eyes, but her voice is flat despite the Auto-Tune.

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Interesting cherry-picking scientists indicate Jesus had a wife, and in so doing selectively believe some Gnostic scriptures but not others

NBC Science news brings us this interesting article that “proves” that the historical Jesus may have been a married man.

Actually my title is misleading; it’s not the scientists who are doing the cherry-picking, but it is of interest that these beliefs are part of Gnosticism, and not the canonical Christian Bible. That’s right, the same Gnosticism that teaches the world was created by an evil God. So even if this is true, it will never be acceptable by traditional Christians (because if you believe it, you have to consider that other Gnostic beliefs might also be true), as it just adds more contradiction to an already highly contradictory narrative. Obviously this is why the early church rejected the Gnostic gospels. Of course I, as an atheist, find this all very amusing.

Update: Michael Heiser doesn’t believe this… and his explanation makes sense.

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At last, a good interview…

Today’s interview went very well, and so I have to go back for a second interview, probably next week, with the company’s director, which will then be followed by an interview at their client, to see if I fit their “company culture”, with the seal of approval from the man who interviewed me today. So hopefully this one will turn into an actual job offer. (I think it will.)

The reason I was so taken aback by my current employer’s new take on my contract, in terms of my not having to complete it, was the way they went about it… Tuesday started with their “key account manager” walking around showing us photos on his mobile phone, of the laptop returned by Tondi, the business analyst who left recently. He showed that the computer is damaged and unusable, and complained how she will have to pay for it.  I saw that laptop on her last day, and it was not damaged at all, and I happen to consider her a friend, who is a decent person, and one who I highly doubt is capable of such an unnecessary malicious act, especially considering she has a new job already, but would not be the type of person to jeopardize her last salary from the “body shop” that employed us.

Then later on in the day, I got a call from the HR person, who worded the conversation as “Unfortunately the situation has not improved, and the client no longer wants you on premises”, as if I had done something wrong. The fact that their current sprint involves no work in c#, and there are no tasks relevant to what I was employed to do, is neither my fault nor my problem. This is despite what they told me about giving me a certificate of service and so on. I really feel that these people are unethical and can not be trusted.

Anyway, I am still waiting for my March salary, which I will only receive on April 15th; followed by my April salary on May 15th, so I should still be fine, and not having to finish my contract there is better for me in the long run.

Also the fact that they know about their new employee, who is certainly on drugs, and do not care, is reason for concern. This is a company that employs contractors just to fill their resource slots, but does not look after the contractors at all. This has been an eye-opener for me, as I didn’t know that these sort of companies exist. Most places where I have worked before at least go so far as to pretend to give a fuck.

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These flowers will always die

In the second week of February 2000, I so eagerly awaited the imminent release of The Cure’s Bloodflowers album, which was due to be released on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, that when my father died suddenly on February 13th, his 57th birthday, the shock was impossible to get over for a year after, and I only listened to that album once. But now I listened to it again. Here’s them performing the title song, and it is a beautiful song.

Maybe this is appropriate now, with the death of one job, and rebirth of the next job. (But I’d be happy if GoldenRule died too. Ja, that’s one grave worthy of some bloodflowers, or maybe a bloody piss.)

“this dream never ends” you said
“this feel never goes
The time will never come to slip away”
“this wave never breaks” you said
“this sun never sets again
These flowers will never fade”
“this world never stops” you said
“this wonder never leaves
The time will never come to say goodbye”
“this tide never turns” you said
“this night never falls again
These flowers will never die”

Never die
Never die
These flowers will never die

“this dream always ends” I said
“this feeling always goes
The time always comes to slip away”
“this wave always breaks” I said
“this sun always sets again
And these flowers will always fade”
“this world always stops” I said
“this wonder always leaves
The time always comes to say goodbye”
“this tide always turns” I said
“this night always falls again
And these flowers will always die”

Always die
Always die
These flowers will always die

Between you and me
It’s hard to ever really know
Who to trust
How to think
What to believe
Between me and you
It’s hard to ever really know
Who to choose
How to feel
What to do

Never fade
Never die
You give me flowers of love

Always fade
Always die
I let fall flowers of blood

Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Roger O’Donnell, Perry Bamonte, Jason Cooper

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Last post for today

And just when I thought the shit couldn’t get much worse, I’m now told I don’t have to be here anymore, and that I should leave. Heck, actually maybe it just got better. I have printed out my interview details for tomorrow, so besides my time sheet, there’s nothing more keeping me here.

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Checking for news updates from the lunatic fringe

As mentioned earlier, my debt is getting out of hand, although I hope that I can still fix it… Later I will sort out a couple of affidavits to say that nothing in my place is owned by me; it all belongs to my mother and Megan… Don’t know what I’ll do about the judgment yet though. But hopefully it can still be sorted.

Anyway, whenever I’m feeling down, I head on over to YouTube, because there are always thousands of delusional idiots posting news that makes me feel better. I haven’t decided yet if this is some cruel streak, some aloof snickering condescension, or what exactly it is, but somehow it does make me feel better, and that’s what matters.

I’ve written before about the YouTube user who called himself “Courageous Nerd z”, who posted such fascinating news as:

  • The world would end last February
  • Prince William is the anti Christ.
  • other crazy shit.

Well, finally the poor fool’s account was deleted. Seemingly the fool deleted his own account, but a YouTube search for his name is still entertaining

  • This guy posted a video where he takes a little over 5 minutes to say more or less “His channel is gone and I don’t know where it went.”
  • This conspiracy theorist tells us that his account was removed by the NSA, and it’s part of a dastardly plot by the US government. It might be worth seeing what else this nut has to say, as he is well-dressed and well-spoken. He comes across as a normal guy, not slow like the one above, who believes in some pretty bizarre conspiracies. Very entertaining.
  • This guy shows us some of his scientific research… The video details the conspiracy theory of fake snow falling in the US. It’s actually a parody of conspiracy theorists, which you can tell by his name, Dr Uranius Brown, which I assume is a cryptic reference to shit. (i.e. remember the kiddies one-liner and pun from the ET movie? Uranus)
  • And this is just sad… The one and only word of wisdom comes to us from a guy who calls himself Chemtrails (i.e. he believes in a really dumb conspiracy theory). He states the obvious truth: User “Courageous Nerdz” deleted his own account.

The list goes on… There are thousands of people who really thought that the nonsense posted by that lunatic alone was really news, and there are thousands more delusional people just like him, posting nonsense about the end of the world, the illuminati, reptilians among us and chemtrails. I thought that chemtrails was such a dumb conspiracy, it surely has only a handful of believers, but sadly that is not the case. Mick West over at metabunk has written an awful lot to debunk that theory, and it seems sad to me that this is even necessary… Anybody who has ever lived near any place with heavy air traffic should know that contrails often are persistent, yet the crux of this conspiracy is the pseudoscientific claim that contrails never persist, which is obviously untrue. (In fact, the science behind why contrails do persist, which involves them actually forming a type of cloud, is interesting, and it baffles me that the conspiracy theorists do not see this.)

Perhaps the question should be: Why does this make me feel better? Shouldn’t I feel even worse, knowing that so many of my fellow humans are fucking morons?

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And the shit got worse, as predicted

I knew it, alright. When your day starts badly, it always gets worse… A little while ago I was notified of a judgment and pending attachment, presumably for non-payment of a debt, on my old car. The problem is, after I pay my normal expenses each month, I barely have enough money left to buy food.

I just logged into FNB now, and my bank balance is –R26 109.43, which means I have an “available” balance of –R109.43. Since these are just numbers, I don’t care who knows, so here goes… My gross salary per month is R45 000. Net is about R33 800. In other words, my bank balance goes positive only on the day I get paid, and as soon as I pay my expenses, I have nothing left. I can’t even afford to pay all my expenses, so I have to juggle them and decide what has higher priority. (My overdraft is R25 000. So I do have an available balance for a few weeks, but after the expenses that must be paid, as well as food, petrol and other day to day expenses that need to be paid, even the available balance is gone, and the debit orders that dribble through after that always take my account beyond the overdraft limit.) It’s fucking depressing.

So as I search for a new job, I’m asking for R50 000 a month. Just an extra R5 000. Like it’s going to make any fucking difference. Even assuming I get what I’m asking for, this still sucks in a big way.

From what I’ve seen and heard from recruiters and others here, it doesn’t sound like my salary is that low. It might be slightly below my real market value as a senior developer, but not by much, so I really can’t ask for much more. Of course being the only one in the house working makes it even more stressful, but it’s not like I mind… and yet another income right now would be handy.

Maybe it’s time to turn to a life of crime? Sad smile

Update: Crisis averted! The SMS was just a threat from a debt collector; I should’ve known. So I’ve made an arrangement to make a payment on the 15th when I get my salary, and there is no judgment.

Posted in Despair, My life, Non-addiction, Recovery, Work | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Shit and miss

Programming assessments and interviews can be hit and miss, but this morning’s one really took the cake. This could be a bad start to a bad day. Firstly, last night I ate too much cake, and started the day with an upset stomach. Then I had to drive all the way to Centurion for the test/interview. Driving a long way when your stomach is shouting at you is never fun.

Then the test… Generally programming assessments come in one of two flavours:

  1. A paper test, consisting of questions about programming theory, maybe with some pseudocode, and maybe some SQL questions… some simple to moderately complex queries. Best case scenario here is a test that has the majority of questions about object-oriented programming, and .Net, C# programming in particular.
  2. A proper development test, consisting of either using or creating a database, then writing a program to access the data, as well as do some other stuff. Perhaps it might even involve writing a two-tier or three-tier application. This is what most programming assessments involve, and the reason I always refer to them as hit and miss is that they may sometimes ask about technologies and frameworks I have never used, or hardly used, but normally I manage to do well anyway. Best case scenario is that they allow a choice of what project types to write, and then it allows them to judge me based on what I am good at, and look at the quality of my code.

I normally do well enough with either of those types of tests, unless the technology or framework is a complete mismatch with my skills. It’s then often followed by a technical interview (or best case scenario is they skip that interview completely), and finally an offer.

But today I came across a third type of assessment. The questions were all based on databases, starting with defining an ERD model, on paper, then writing a query to create a multidimensional CUBE (which is a type of development I have never done and know nothing about), followed by SQL questions using data model you were supposed to have defined. Not one programming question, nothing about programming theory or .Net at all. That is, it didn’t even test anything that I am good at, or actually consider a key skill.

So I walked out without even writing my name. Then got back in the car and drove to work. The car, still reeking of my excessive flatulence earlier, took about half an hour with aircon on full blast just to smell normal.

This time my interviews have been terribly frustrating; few of them follow the normal pattern, and even fewer have turned out to be at places where I would like to work. Nothing has yet turned into an offer, although there is still one that is hopeful from last week.

It’s some small relief that my stomach seems to have settled down, but still, so far this is literally a shit day.

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Just a little comic relief

The week before last, I was just about to leave work on a Thursday or Friday, when I decided to check Facebook, and found a moment of inspiration that could not be ignored… So why not share it with some readers here, rather than just my Facebook friends?

Somebody shared this, and in my mind’s eye, I saw right away how the image begged to be edited.

Sometimes we need a little magic...

 

So, Google images to the rescue… Sorry this is a little crude; I was already late and needed to get home, but my sense of duty demanded a two-minute Photoshop edit:

Magic my arse!

There, FTFY!

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A book of Bad Arguments

This is old news, I know, but I am slowly going back through old posts on metabunk, and just came across it now. It’s a cleverly written illustrated look at bad arguments and logical fallacies. (Much appreciated by skeptics, scientists and atheists everywhere.)

The cover image below links to the book online.

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And here’s an excerpt. (I’ve split it into two images so you can read it here.)

BadArgumentsP12

BadArgumentsP13

 

My favourite bad argument actually… When arguing against theism, anything can be misconstrued as a straw man, since you have to argue against the existence of something for which there is no evidence. (i.e. A theist can call anything you say a straw man, since there is nothing for you to argue against. This is also ironic.)

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The devil didn’t make me do it

Just last week, I read a sorrowful tale written by a woman whose husband had used meth for many years, and she eventually left him. The story was “raw”, similar to what I used to write when my experience with active addiction was still fresh, except she somehow blamed the devil for her husband’s change from good to “evil”.

It’s an easy mistake to make, attributing all the evil that someone does to the devil. But that’s not the way I see it. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say that the drug is evil.

I understand addiction all too well, and even though we, in recovery, are not capable of doing all those terrible things that we do in active addiction, it’s just not right to say that the drug is evil, or that the devil made me do it. We can’t stop by ourselves, but we know very well what we are doing. While it may seem that our loved ones get in the way, and to some extent that is true because our focus is not on them, but on the only important thing at the time, which is getting and using the drug, that doesn’t mean that we are not responsible for our actions and our choices.

Likewise, even though we are not able to control or manage our lives, we can choose to get help from others. We can choose to enter into recovery, and not to hurt our loved ones anymore. I daresay it is the only choice to make, and any addict who fails to make that choice is absolutely and personally responsible for that failure.

Meth brings out the worst in us; and when we are high and we chase our personal pleasure in the myriad of ways that we do, it amplifies the worst parts of our minds, that baser sex-obsessed part that normally only comes alive for a few moments in the midst of normal healthy intimacy with a beloved partner.

That part of the mind exists in all people, but when you’re high on meth, that part that we all like to pretend doesn’t exist comes to the fore and hangs around for a long time. It’s a part of us we all pretend doesn’t exist, as we court the opposite sex in a “cultured” way, hiding behind words and customs that are really only a superficial pretence, but when addicts are behaving on impulse alone and the pretence is removed, others do not like what they see.

I’m not going to write about evil perceptions versus reality today, because that gets too complicated and someone like the woman who wrote that article will not benefit; it’s too far removed from her reality. But what I would like to share with you is this: Evil lies in the heart of man, not the devil, and not the drug.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I finally watched the Carrie remake yesterday

Last month, I ran out of mobile air-time and data, thanks to not buying enough, so when pay-day rolled around, I made sure it wouldn’t happen this time, and accidentally bought too much of both. Actually what caused the excessive data was that they added some new data packages to the FNB web site, but didn’t update the Vodacom web site straight away to enable it to reflect the balances of the new types of data bundles. So after I bought 5GB and it didn’t reflect, I bought another 10GB. Anyway, it expires on 12th April (and I can’t fathom why data I paid for should expire if unused), so I used some of it this past weekend.

I downloaded the entire discography of The Cure (All of which I used to own.), some Nine Inch Nails, and one movie so far, which was the Carrie remake. If you haven’t seen this movie, I do recommend it. I think it lived up to the tone of the book really well, better than the original Carrie movie did.

Actually I can hardly remember the book, as it was the first Stephen King book I read, and I was twelve years old at the time. (I didn’t enjoy the book at the time, because it did not live up to my expectations of what I thought a “horror novel” should be about, but I carried on reading Stephen King all the same, and was glad I did.) Anyway, in the new movie, the acting was good all round, and I thought they brought it up to date quite nicely, since obviously there was no internet or YouTube back in 1974, so the story played out as if it happened today. I did not enjoy the original movie, or any movie more than a few years old really, as the acting back then was truly bad… acting has changed a stack in the last couple of decades, and people on screen seem more true to life than they used to. I find almost all old movies boring.

Also, the story is, of course, quite clever. As a twelve-year-old, all I saw was a sad story about a girl with telekinetic powers, who happened to have a religious fanatic for a mother. But as an adult, I see that like all Stephen King’s work, there is something more to it than that. He took that old clichéd tale of the ugly duckling who blossoms into a beautiful swan, overused in a billion-and-one other movies, and turned it on its head in the climax where the pig’s blood is poured over her, ruining her make-over moment and happiness in an instant, turning her into a monster who gets her revenge hundreds of times over. It’s not classic horror or the ugly duckling’s make-over of all those stupid teen movies anymore, but a wickedly twisted black celebration that mocks both clichés. Maybe I need to read the book again.

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Josh’s 6th birthday party

Here are all the best photos I took today.

My mother with Aishah:

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Batman (Josh) on the jungle-gym:

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Josh with his birthday cake. (I have blurred the other visible faces in case anyone else doesn’t want their children to appear here.)

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Aishah’s first experience of balloons:

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Gift-opening time! None of these photos of Josh came out in focus, as my phone struggles in the evening, but these of Aishah getting a hold of some of big brother’s presents are cute…

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Posted in Parenting, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged , ,

Some random photos

I’m hesitant w.r.t. whether or not I should admit this… since as a developer, I am regularly assumed to “know everything about computers and all IT-related stuff”… Not true, but a curse that all of us in IT have to contend with from time to time.

Anyway, the other day Megan asked me to copy an old photo onto her phone, and so I did. Now I see it somehow got synched to my phone as well, and I have no idea how it got there! I thought it must be via my “SkyDrive” or “OneDrive” or whatever they call it now, but no, it wasn’t that.

Anyway, there are no photos of Megan here. Understandable perhaps, since she objects to my posting photos of her. However, since all the photos I am going to post are already online elsewhere, and a determined searcher can find them if they really want to (e.g. searching for my name on Flickr), she can’t really object to these.

So for a change, instead of posting new photos of Josh and myself, especially for those who don’t know us, here’s a chance to see what his beautiful mother looks like.

This is the one that mysteriously found it’s way onto my phone: (It’s from 2008 or maybe early 2009.)

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Here she is with a very young Josh:

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With a slightly older Josh, who had a cold and a runny nose:

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And lastly, a close-up of her face, taken in July 2008:

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Tomorrow is Josh’s birthday party, and I will probably be posting some new photos of him, either the weekend or on Monday.

Posted in My life, Parenting, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged , | 2 Comments

I still don’t have a new job

It’s getting more than a little annoying… I’ve done several interviews, but still don’t have anything yet. Of the interviews, one that was looking hopeful was a third interview that never happened… one where they cancelled it less than an hour before on the day, due to one of the interviewers having a personal problem, then never rescheduled.

This morning I had a very good interview, but it was all the way in Centurion. It didn’t take long to get there though… I left home at 6:30 (normal time), thinking it would take an hour to get there; then arrived at 7AM, a full hour early for the interview – which didn’t work out too badly as it gave me plenty time to read up on the company – and be able to ask relevant and intelligent questions at the right moment.

Then this afternoon, I had an interview with a recruiter, which turned out to be a waste of time. The recruiter decided during the interview, that his one and only suitable position would not suit me… at a small company with a Greek boss who tends to shout at the people. (The recruiter is Serbian, and has the attitude that Mediterranean people are difficult to get along with.) Actually he’s probably right – last time I had a manager with that type of personality, things did not go well.

My current employer pays me a little after the current month… I submit my timesheet for the previous month by the 1st (at the latest), then get paid on the 15th of the month. So I still hope to get a new job by May 1st, then get two salaries that first month. But I can survive even if I only start a new job on June 1st, unless I go mad sitting at home, of course.

Meanwhile, I still have some work to finish here. I have promised to stay as long as necessary today, to make sure it works, so that the tester can test it tomorrow.

Posted in Non-addiction, Work | Tagged | 1 Comment

Josh’s sixth birthday: 02 April 2014

Not many photos tonight… We spent the evening with Josh, and he saw his great-grandmother once again.

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Posted in My life, Parenting, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged ,

More on the Noah movie

I see that Dr Brian Mattson’s review of Noah has attracted a huge amount of attention worldwide, and my path to it through Dr Michael Heiser’s blog was but one of many.

He received so much feedback on it, it is absolutely clear that his criticism was correct, and he has responded to the feedback twice, the second time in this post where he embeds a video with his response.

And he’s right; the fact that religious leaders have not noticed the twisted Gnostic subtext of the movie, where God is evil and the serpent is good, is deeply disturbing. Yes, I now need to watch the movie, for all the wrong reasons. It is funny as well, and supports my own ideas that so-called ministers unknowingly encourage selective belief, by cherry-picking Bible passages that suit their purposes, then use them to launch happy-clap sermons that are even further removed from the source material, which is utter nonsense. The type of stuff you get to hear in churches is bullshit that has been abstracted many layers away from the religious source material, so much so that so-called men of God can not even recognize when a movie presents a hideously twisted version of their own religion.

Posted in Evil, Funny, Non-addiction | Tagged , ,

Noah might be worth watching after all

I just read a couple of posts that give an excellent insight into the new Noah movie. This is a surprise… this movie is not what you might think it is.

If I were still a Christian, I would most certainly not watch this movie, and in fact I would be appalled that so many stupid Christians have endorsed it without understanding what it is really about. This is not the Noah of the bible that is familiar to most. This movie is based on Gnosticism.

Check out:

  1. Michael Heiser’s post on it.
  2. And this post, to which he refers.

Michael Heiser is a skeptic as well as a biblical scholar (and Christian), one who regularly quotes from the ancient texts in great detail when others have misrepresented it’s meaning. Here’s a quote from the second article (which was written by Dr. Brian Mattson):

Except that when Gnostics speak about “The Creator” they are not talking about God. Oh, here in an affluent world living off the fruits of Christendom the term “Creator” generally denotes the true and living God. But here’s a little “Gnosticism 101” for you: the Creator of the material world is an ignorant, arrogant, jealous, exclusive, violent, low-level, bastard son of a low level deity. He’s responsible for creating the “unspiritual” world of flesh and matter, and he himself is so ignorant of the spiritual world he fancies himself the “only God” and demands absolute obedience. They generally call him “Yahweh.” Or other names, too (Ialdabaoth, for example).

This Creator tries to keep Adam and Eve from the true knowledge of the divine and, when they disobey, flies into a rage and boots them from the garden.

In other words, in case you’re losing the plot here: The serpent was right all along. This “god,” “The Creator,” whom they are worshiping is withholding something from them that the serpent will provide: divinity itself.

The world of Gnostic mysticism is bewildering with a myriad of varieties. But, generally speaking, they hold in common that the serpent is “Sophia,” “Mother,” or “Wisdom.” The serpent represents the true divine, and the claims of “The Creator” are false.

I’m surprised that others have not picked up on this. This is a movie where Yahweh, the Jewish God, is evil, where fallen angels can be redeemed, and Adam and Eve were not beings of flesh and blood until they ate the forbidden fruit. This is a movie based on a belief system where the Serpent is the good guy.

If I were still a believer, I’d be insulted that this movie has been so misrepresented as a “Biblical Epic”. I may watch it after all now that I know what is really going on (but I will be viewing it as a fantasy movie), but be warned, if you are a devout believer… This movie is not what you think it is.

To clarify, if you watch the movie and you don’t know about the Gnostic/Kabbalah subtext, you’re probably going to come away from it confused. Why does everyone worship the same God, even the bad guys? Why does Noah turn into a homicidal lunatic? The answer is that he is becoming the image of God, who is evil. It’s only when he gets back the serpent’s skin that he gains redemption, because the serpent in the Kabbalah is Sophia/Wisdom/Mother. Is this really the Noah movie you want to see?

Hmm… I noticed that Heiser’s post was published on April 1st, so I hoped for a moment that I’d been fooled by an April Fool’s joke, but alas, the second one to which he referred, was published on March 31st. There is a joke here, but the joke was perpetuated by Darren Aronofsky, the atheist who directed the movie. And the joke is on the Christian leaders who endorse it without realizing that they are endorsing a movie with such a twisted subtext. (And the reason that scholars of ancient religious text are so insulted by this is simple. Anybody who studied in seminary school should recognize this stuff. It is disturbing that so-called Christian leaders can endorse it, since it reveals an embarrassing ignorance on their part. And I am an atheist. I should not be the one to have to draw this to your attention.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , ,

Forgiveness

Today is Josh’s sixth birthday, and I will see him later…

I started writing a post that focused too much on the past, with a picture of back then, contrasted with a picture of us now, but today, it seemed too negative. The past can not be changed, but the future is yet to be realized, and focusing on the bad will just bring more bad. One has to be positive and optimistic. With that in mind, I see that somebody got here after searching for:

How do I forgive my recovering meth addict?

Forgiveness is not as easy as one might think. Examine the reason you want (or need) to forgive… It’s not about what your addict love one did, it is really about you, about your feelings that were hurt, and about your trust that was lost.

You can’t just snap your fingers and make it go away. You also can’t just say “I forgive you” and then expect it all to be OK, because it doesn’t go away quickly. Saying it too soon might just give them a reason to brush it all off, leaving you with no closure and a pain that stays with you for years to come.

What I was told in rehab, and what I wrote the first time I took on this subject, was that forgiveness is a process, one that you have to work on. Now, I don’t believe that anymore. I forgave too soon. (In context, I have an addict loved one who hurt me, in many ways. I thought I could make her recovery easier at the beginning by forgiving her to take away her guilt and ease her conscience, and then take on the pain myself; thought that somehow it would spare her.) Just saying “I forgive you” achieves nothing. You need to work through your pain, and I really don’t know how to do that, because I have not done it.

On the other hand, the person in recovery is not the same person who did all those terrible things. You need to understand that the addict became a monster, and did nothing with the intention of being malicious… they were just doing what they do to get their drug, which equalled survival in their mind, and you got in the way. This doesn’t justify what they did, but it does make things difficult, because that person in recovery is no longer capable of doing any of those things. But the pain lingers regardless.

Also don’t confuse forgiveness with trust. You should not trust them, even in recovery. Trust will return by itself. When they have been clean for a few years it will come back naturally. Do not make any effort to trust the person, and if they bring up the trust issue, it could well be an indication that they are manipulating you and can not be trusted.

Hurt feelings do eventually heal with time, and what has worked for me is to focus on the good things, the here and now, and the future. Concentrate on your relationship now, you can’t fix the then, but the now is under your control. Living in the past leads to dwelling on the past, and keeps your pain alive. What works for me is gentle optimism, and even though I am also cynical and skeptical of everything, an overall optimistic attitude as well as hope for the future, makes it easier. Perhaps then forgiveness will no longer be important.

Posted in Advice, Recovery | Tagged | 1 Comment

Acupuncture: A Placebo effect that works?

Interesting reading, this. The writer muses over a linked article’s conclusion that acupuncture works, even though their study reveals it is probably only a placebo effect in action.

It is interesting to read about the study nevertheless, though the conclusion baffles me a little. If it is just a placebo effect, does that mean homeopathy is OK too? (Sure it’s harmless to administer nothing but water, but in my book, it’s quackery that shouldn’t be paid for. I’ve been meaning to write about homeopathy for a long time, but never gotten around to it.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

The Observer Expectancy Effect

Recently I wrote a little about the so-called Ghost Box, here and here. It is in principle a radio-scanner, picking up fragmented audio from different radio stations (without ever tuning into any of them properly) as well as plenty of static and noise. So called ghost hunters then use it to “talk to the dead”. They then make videos of their conversations, and many people are fooled into thinking that there really were ghosts talking to them, because they add subtitles, and the subtitles confirm what the ghost-hunters think they heard. When adding such subtitles, they actually create an effect similar to pareidolia, called the Observer Expectancy Effect.

Today, while reading a post on Metabunk, I found a comment with the best example of this I have ever seen. This is exactly the same as what really goes on when watching a ghost hunter’s video of their conversation’s with a spirit box:

Posted in Funny, Non-addiction | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Evolutionists vs. Creationists

In the last few months I’ve learned a great deal about skepticism, thanks to reading several “skeptic” blogs. But often they harp on arguments that I didn’t understand: evolutionists versus creationists.

The reason I didn’t understand what they’re on about is that I’d never heard of creationists. Here in South Africa, even though a religious upbringing is virtually unavoidable, there is no threat of not being taught about evolution in school.

Actually I suppose there is a paradox if you believe in both, but let’s not go there today, shall we? Most theists simply fit both into their pocket of selective belief and go on… If I understand correctly, creationists don’t just believe that a god created the world, they also insist that the planet is only a few thousand years old. In essence, theirs is a type of science denial, of gargantuan magnitude. They choose to deny a body of evidence so large, it simply boggles the mind.

It’s really sad that the Bill Nye vs. Ham debate that so many made a fuss of, ever happened.

It’s ironic, America has brought us some of the greatest minds, in all walks of life. Some of the most respected skeptics (and note that I prefer the American spelling of this word) are American, some of the greatest thinkers. But it seems that great nation also has many millions of people whose intellect, after summing it all together, approaches but does not quite reach the level of retarded.

Is it any wonder that American atheists regard theists as stupid? I don’t think so.

I think they must be the same level of idiot who complain everywhere about Obamacare. Go to any article online anywhere, whether it is UK-based science news, a bit of Australian archeology news… whatever… and you’ll be guaranteed to find hundreds of stupid yanks complaining about Obamacare.

Too bad natural selection allows only for survival of the fittest/strongest. In a perfect world, morons would not live long enough to reproduce.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Appearance changes…

I’ve been getting sick and tired of seeing the same image for this blog background and the image control I used in the menu, so I changed them each to another image, also of one of my paintings. (I still haven’t gotten around to painting again. Maybe one day…)

I hope the black and white version of the lioness with cubs is easier on the eyes than the baobab tree silhouette was.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

One more hit (of questions and answers)

In today’s blog stats, I found two questions that I’ve answered before in one way or another, but I’ll address them here again.

What’s in crystal meth that gives you energy?

Absolutely nothing. You’re so screwed.

How to know if your husband is on meth

For once I’ll skip the Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions approach…

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Oh dear, I gather you’re asking because of either of the following:

  • You already know the answer, and you’re looking for confirmation.
  • You already know the answer, and you’re in denial.

I’m sorry, but you surely know your husband well enough to know if he is using meth. His symptoms could be any of: (in no particular order)

  1. He fidgets constantly. Or talks non-stop, scratches, twitches, fiddles, jerks, rinse and repeat…
  2. His pupils are dilated.
  3. He is acting like a zombie, doing something repetitive for hours but making little progress, or he’s started doing many different things before abandoning them all without finishing anything. (He’s tweaking.)
  4. He overreacts to everything, like a three-year old girl throwing a tantrum.
  5. His libido is like that of a teen gorilla, and he’s demanding sex 7 or 8 times per night, on a slow night.
  6. Or he’s not interested in sex at all. Not with you anyway.
  7. He disappears for days at a time and you don’t know where he is.

Seriously, you know if your husband is on meth. Now what are you going to do about it? I can’t advise you much there, but your options should really depend on what he says when you confront him… If he is honest, maybe you can get him help and support him; if not, well, you know what to do, as difficult as it is.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, Recovery | Tagged ,

A short introduction to Humanism

This past weekend, a friend on Facebook shared a video that gives a short introduction to Humanism. Check it out:

 

BlindFaithThat same friend has made a similar journey to myself… Having started out as a devout Christian, he too went through the difficult path of letting go of his religious indoctrination, a few years before I did. And as he did so, he published a book. (The image alongside links to Blind Faith, his book on amazon.com).

 

He even came up with a tongue in cheek 12-step plan to quit religion!

Daniel Loxton, of SkepticBlog, whose latest book I still eagerly await for Josh, is also an atheist in his personal capacity, as well as a skeptic, one who identifies himself as a Humanist. He has written and spoken much on this subject, and here is one of his articles.

Anyway, I have struggled some time with how to explain my (lack of) beliefs. I wasn’t aware of the stigma associated with “atheist”, but I suppose I should have been. That stigma does not seem to be attached to the Humanist label, thus it seems to be a better way of explaining what I believe in.

Of course I do not believe the negative connotations of atheist are justified at all… Oftentimes the religious seem to label us sinners, forgetting their own nature! Morals and a tolerance for others, as well as virtues that we can be proud of, are part of society through law, not religion, though the line between the two may have been blurred for a long time. As an atheist, I do not have the option of delegating the responsibility for my actions to Christ, saying that he forgave me, therefore you can not punish me for my “sins”. I have no excuse to treat women as objects, or homosexuals as inferior, or “black” people as sub-humans, or people of other beliefs as slaves. Those are all behaviours of the religious, not atheists, and certainly not Humanists.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , , ,

Oh my goodness: Monty Python Outtake

Somehow I doubt that there are too many who know the lines of this one…

Posted in Funny, Non-addiction | Tagged

Josh on 29th March 2014

We had a great day with Josh today.

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Posted in My life, Parenting, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged

A strange conversation

I was more than a little taken aback today, when I received a call from my therapist from the out-patient program. I’ve written about these events before, but to recap, our court order, with which we need to comply before reunification with Josh can proceed, has two clauses: (Our sentence, so to speak.)

  1. The participation in an out-patient program.
  2. Parenting classes.

I made the mistake of trying to do both at once, which didn’t work out at all well, since they both involve taking time off work. After I realized it was a mistake, I had to pick one of them to participate in until completion, and the other would have to be postponed temporarily.

Since the parenting classes started first, and we’d waited two months for them to begin, even though they turned out to be a generic NICRO course with a group, it was a no-brainer that they would be the one to continue now, since the out-patient SANCA program, which happens to be the better of the two programs in my mind, can be started at any time.

Megan carried on with both programs at once, and although I couldn’t attend the therapy, or the NA meetings of the program which are for patients only, I did attend the family meetings with her, and drove her to and from the meetings, which were after office-hours. That involved sitting in my car for an hour twice every week while she attended meetings.

I thought that by participating as much as possible, even though I couldn’t do the course “proper” right now, it would surely count in my favour. I’ve even been doing my drug tests there, although they are more expensive than other places, just because I know the court recognizes SANCA tests.

Yet now that I want to continue with the course, the therapist told me that I can not do so, because I have been clean for too long. Huh? Yes, I’ve been clean for a while now, but without participation in any program (until recently). According to the accounts of many recovering addicts, I have not been doing recovery “properly”. She wouldn’t even give me a chance to speak on the phone and was completely unwilling to listen to anything I had to say. (I have to admit that I do read people quite well, and what I read from her now is that she is really not suitable to be my therapist.) Or maybe it’s just a misunderstanding, but this is like a slap in the face… How can I be punished for being too clean? Anyway, she did concede that I may be allowed to return for an assessment again, and so I shall do so, this time bringing a letter of reference from the social worker and a copy of the court order and I hope that is proof enough that I qualify to do the program, even though I am clean.

I don’t know whether to be frustrated or to laugh. This just seems too silly.

Posted in Recovery | 5 Comments

An unpleasant look at the reality of a famous exorcism

This is an example of what possession is really about: a fatal mishandling of psychosis or perhaps schizophrenia.

I must confess that I do not like the site that I’m about to link to… It contains overly gratuitous gore and violence, and in my opinion, when any site goes too far in any such direction, no matter what they say the real reason for their fascination obsession is, there is some kind of perverse sexual fetish going on. In other words, there is a sick perversion in the mind of the man who created this site, and I was glad when I heard of his arrest last year.

However, I believe this article does highlight how dangerous it is to give in to ancient superstition, and assume that someone is possessed by the devil rather than treat their obvious psychiatric problems. This was a particularly sad case, as the girl died after suffering for several years. It was even made into a movie: The Exorcism of Emily Rose. So go here to read the grisly truth. It is really unpleasant, so don’t read it if you don’t have a stomach for this kind of thing. (But stay away from the rest of the site. It is really gross nightmare-inducing stuff.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

Memories of Lester

Mick West over at Metabunk.org has written a clever bit of his thinking around the types of conspiracy theories

Unfortunately he forgot all about the science deniers conspiracy theorists, but he did remind me of our dear departed (but not missed) colleague, Lester. (Maybe that’s a bad choice of words – Lester is not dead, but was fired from here.) Not only was he a right twat, he also believed in many conspiracy theories.

Lester appeared to be keen to believe that aliens walk among us, but the surprise for me, and the one that he was truly passionate about, was his disbelief in HIV. I’d vaguely been aware that our previous esteemed idiot president endorsed the view that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, and it was a very harmful and dangerous view for government to have, because for a while it prevented the distribution of anti-retroviral medication to the needy. (Unlike our current esteemed idiot president, who was quoted in saying that he protected himself from HIV after committing rape by having a shower.)

It amazes me that anybody can be stupid enough to believe in such tripe, but sadly I kid you not, HIV/AIDS denial is real. I made a huge joke of it while he was still here, and regularly manipulated him into annoying the hell out of our scrum master and the rest of the team, by bringing up the subject every so often before leaving them to go for a smoke break or lunch. And when I returned, he would still be going on, lecturing them on how HIV does not cause AIDS. And somebody would be showing him microscopic images of the virus they’d found online, only to have him dismiss it as fake.

But this is a serious subject, sadly started by a real scientist with some unreal beliefs: Peter Deusberg. The level of denial the man believes in is absolutely absurd, if you look at it a little closer… he actually denies the entire family of microorganisms to which the virus belongs, and the implications of this denial is dire. Here is an article about the various campaigners for this type of science denial, which highlights how the fact that they are dying off doesn’t stop the remaining deniers from this suicidal disbelief.

Posted in Conspiracy Theories | Tagged

Yesterday Megan was mugged

This is my second attempt at writing this post. It has too much of an emotional effect on me for coherent thought or writing, it seems. Hopefully I won’t throw this one away.

Yesterday Megan went to Phoenix House for her drug test. She met a friend, whom she knows through NA and her out-patient program, and they had lunch together at Wimpy. Then as they walked together to catch a taxi, some little prick ripped the ear rings out of her ears.

She was in shock and traumatized for several hours afterwards, as well as very upset because those were her birthday gift from me last year, and cost just under R2000. For me, it is upsetting when something like this happens to anyone I love and I am not around to do anything about it. I’m also not good at sympathizing and being there for her; not as good as I would like to be.

I even wanted to drive her there for her test yesterday… Recall that I started the day with a meeting at GoldenRule, and I wasn’t sure if I would be returning to the office afterwards (based on what happened to previous team members) so I had expected to go home afterwards, then drive us both there for a test. (As it happens though, I prefer if we are tested on different days, because it is even better evidence that we are both clean. By that I mean, it would be very difficult, probably impossible, for us to test negative on different days if we were doing the stupid thing of using together and trying to “beat” the tests.) So I was shocked to hear about the mugging… yet another curve-ball to hit me on the head and eject the illusion that I have control of our lives.

It’s easier if someone tries to mug me, although the last time that happened, five years ago in Cape Town as I walked through a dicey area in the middle of the night to buy drugs, I was probably asking for it. Still, having been held at gunpoint when I worked part-time in a bank in my twenties, I had decided then that it would never happen again. Thus when it almost happened the last time, rather than being afraid and powerlessly frozen from doing anything to defend myself, I was calm and ruthless in my defence, which included elbows to the faces of the two would-be thieves as they grabbed me from behind, and then the smashing of one of their heads against the ground, with great force; before running away. (And those idiots chased, but they don’t know how lucky they are that they didn’t catch me.)

That doesn’t even come close to what I would do to anyone who hurt Megan, or Josh, or Aishah, or even my brother, despite our differences. If anyone hurts anybody I care about, and I know who that person is, I will drop everything and make that person’s life unbearably painful for a few minutes, before I find some way of removing all four of their limbs, cutting out their tongue and stabbing out their eyes…

Or maybe not. But that’s what I’d like to do. Of course the reality is that when any of our loved ones are threatened, it never happens when we can do anything to help them. And that’s why this is maddening: I feel helpless, and I don’t like being helpless.

Posted in Evil, Recovery | Tagged

Drug Test results 28th March 2014

We’ll be seeing Josh tomorrow, and here are my latest test results, for the record.

KMBT_C454e-20140328085858

Posted in Recovery | Tagged | 1 Comment

Real life personality tests validity questioned, while pondering a fictional personality test

I’m not doing much at work, and it’s frustrating. Worse still, there is stuff that I could be doing – not work, but researching a few technologies that I have noted will help me in my search for a new job. But today I am too lazy. Too lazy to think about what I should be thinking about, but not too lazy to read and think about other stuff that I find tangentially interesting, and then writing about it here.

I always get a kick out of reading something by a respected writer, journalist or scientist that corroborates my own feelings about a topic, especially when it agrees with something I wrote recently myself, so today when reading Alan Boyle’s take on personality tests, We’re All Divergent, it fluffed up my ego quite comfortably.

He uses the movie, Divergent, as a platform to criticize the human pigeon-holing fascination with personality tests. Our fascination with personality tests, and the categorization of people into pretty boxes of personality types, has been something I’ve disliked for some time, and this, as well as my disdain for stupid polls in general, was the reason for my relatively recent mock personality test post. Although I didn’t approach the topic seriously, his article does a great job of addressing my skepticism for such tests and my thoughts behind the joke, which I tried to imply but did not write.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

A smartphone app to help keep you sober?

NBC Tech News brings us a report of an app to help alcoholics

Actually I didn’t read much past the first two lines. Maybe I’m getting old fashioned, but I don’t use my phone for anything besides being a phone. Megan drives me crazy with her constant interaction with her phone… I can’t watch a (hired) movie with her anymore, because she is so fixated on the damn phone, she misses plot-critical scenes from every movie. I find myself constantly telling her to “Watch the movie! You missed something…” and it spoils my own enjoyment every time. Never mind that in general, when you interact with your phone and social networking constantly, you disengage from the people around you, and retreat into your own introverted virtual world. I hate smartphones.

Thank goodness no such app could be created for a drug addict… Ding Ding Ding… You are approaching a drug dealer… Sorry, but if you need an application to tell you that you just walked into a bar, you are already fucked.

Relapse is a gradual process, with lots of indicators to tell you and your loved ones that the end is nigh, and when you get to that point of actually obtaining your drugs (or alcohol), you’ve already reached the point where nothing is going to stop you. And I mean nothing.

So please don’t get such an app and hope that it will help you. Expecting it to achieve anything at all is naive and surely an indication of a profound misunderstanding of how to approach recovery. Sure, a smart GPS or something to tell you as you approach a dangerous area might give some (false) sense of security, but there is no app in the world that’s going to detect all the subtle indicators of an approaching relapse. If you must use your smartphone, rather use the calendar and have a structured, disciplined schedule, maybe shared with your support system; then any deviation from your plan indicates a possible reason for concern. (I don’t do that… I hate calendars and schedules almost as much as I hate smartphones. I like chaos, but don’t recommend it for everyone.)

Posted in Recovery, Relapse | Tagged

I broke a record, in the process of not burning this bridge

I just came from a meeting with GoldenRule, my current employers, regarding the end of my contract here at their client. It went well. Of course nobody but me will really appreciate that, but anyway… this is something of a record.

I am the only member of this team to make it through to the end of the contract, then leave on good terms with a good reference. Up until now I had been looking at it as some kind of cruel punishment that they want me to finish my contract, but I have been shown a new perspective on it. Realistically, my contract is ending, the c# work (which is what I do) is drying up here, and they know I have been looking for something else, so I can’t be bitter about them not renewing my contract at the end of the year’s service. I should also be happy that they want me to stick around and finish it, because they didn’t want anybody else in the team to stick around.

So I had a good meeting, in the form a friendly chat with the HR person, and was given the opportunity to raise all the issues I have here, and she already knew about many of them. So at the end of April I will finish up here, hand over this laptop and receive a certificate of service and a good reference. This has been a difficult chapter, but the first such difficulty that I managed well, and did some work that I can be proud of, and I am glad that I didn’t burn this bridge.

Now I just hope that one of the interviews I’ve been doing turns into an offer, so that the next chapter can begin.

Posted in Programming, Recovery, Work | Tagged ,

Josh 26th march 2014

Not much of a photo tonight…

WP_20140326_002

Posted in My life, Non-addiction, Parenting, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged

A skeptical look back at my own first paranormal experience

One of the issues I have had for many years is insomnia, of the variety that involves taking a long time to fall asleep. Although it’s not as bad as it used to be, it was long enough last night for me to think about and preplan writing this post.

Firstly, it is important to realize the relevance of the “paranormal” experiences that I am writing about. These are my earliest memories, and the events took place in a house where I lived when I was between one and three years old. They are key to my perception of the supernatural, and the memories of the events as well as the feelings those events evoked in my young mind, leading to nightmares for years afterwards, had a profound affect on me and are the basis for my interest in all things supernatural, such as ghosts, psychokinesis (and while we are here, check out this nonsense new age tutorial on how to develop telekinesis), poltergeists, the occult, and so on. Ultimately this is what led to my interest in horror books and later movies.

Recently, I even wrote one of my earliest memories from that house as a “horror scene”, right here on this blog. It was my first attempt at writing anything of the sort, and since I am not and never will be a descriptive writer with flamboyant use of language, I had to cheat a little to make the story interesting… Thus I wrote the story in the first person, from the point of view of a three-year-old child. (I don’t know how well it actually worked; although several people liked the post – nobody commented.)

Here’s the house as it is today. (It still looks the same.) Just to spice up this post with a pretty preview image in Facebook.

SpookHouseLarge

Before I examine my memories of the events there, I have to admit up front that there are things that happened there that I can not explain:

  • Objects that moved by themselves. This includes my toy box from my linked post, and the bathroom light, which switched off by itself. The light was left on for me, because I would wake up and need the toilet in the middle of the night, but could not reach the light-switch, and I was afraid of the dark.
  • Another object that moved by itself, although this is not something I remember. (Hence I list it separately.) My mother used to make jam and one day, she removed a jar from the fridge… As she took it out it dropped, as if pulled from her hand, hit the floor, and then flew across the room to the far wall. On this day there were electricians working in the house, who heard her scream and came to look, only to look at her suspiciously… She believed they must have come to the conclusion that she picked up the partially broken jar after dropping it, and threw it across the room.
  • Dirt that came back. There were places in the house that were filthy, and you could clean them, but after returning there later, the filth would have returned as though it had never been cleaned.

I can not and will not even try to “debunk” any of the above, except in the case of the first one, which may be related to my other memories. The most disturbing experiences for me were the other things that I remember… And in my linked post, where I tried writing the memory of one night as fiction, I did refer to one of the things that I saw there.

The most common experience for me there, which happened almost every night, was what I at the time named the “Huggu Puggu”. That was my childish name for the entity, which appeared as a black book on the wall above my head, and would drop down to hit me on the head, then shoot back onto the wall, accompanied by a hideously cruel laugh in a man’s voice. I described it as baritone in my story version of that memory, for lack of a better word. Every time it happened, I would run to call my mother, who would put me back to bed, and assure me that there was nothing there. But the scariest part of all to me was that even as she walked back down the passage to her room, it would already be back on the wall, as if to taunt me.

The “hauntings” were so severe, I developed a paranoid fear of sleeping with my head on the pillow… that is, I associated my head on the pillow with being woken by a blow to the head, and it took months, after moving from that house, before I could overcome that fear.

I also remember, my night-light, which was an ornate wooden ornament with a light-bulb and shade, would sometimes, in the middle of the night, have a small snake draped around it. The toy box opening by itself only ever happened once, shortly before we moved from that house, but that was a very disturbing event indeed.

What I’ve written about is the same as I have been telling people for many years now. Although my parents didn’t believe me at first, other things happened to them and they eventually did come to believe me and take me seriously, and came to believe that the house was haunted.

But there’s a catch

I don’t remember any of that anymore.

I now can only remember remembering those events. I remember discussing it as a child with my late aunt Mercia, who believed in all things paranormal. Somewhere along the way, I became indoctrinated into Roman Catholicism, and although demonic possession is not part and parcel of your average Sunday Mass, there are many Christians who do believe in such things, and my young indoctrinated mind was given an answer: Satan, demons, ghosts… Evil! These are all artifacts of the religiously indoctrinated mind and the way it perceives and explains what it can not understand.

Somewhere along the way, my memories of memories got all mixed up with preconceptions of the supernatural and the paranormal, preconceptions not based on what I actually experienced anymore, but external factors like the faith of others that was hammered into my innocent child mind.

Steven Novella has written an enlightening post about false memories. The gist is that when our brains recollect our memories, they assemble them from bits and pieces of information that have been stored. Not only are those stored fragments fallible, the process of actually assembling the memories can change them. It is our nature to put them together so that they form a pleasantly flowing narrative. What this means is that my memories of memories, with all the external factors influencing them, form a narrative that can not be trusted.

It turns out that when I stayed in that house, I was precisely at an age where vivid and scary dreams are common. There’s actually one memory of a memory that stands out as particularly dreamlike… I recall that on one occasion, when the black object moved down, I was awake, and got up in bed, in a push-up position, resting on my hands. Then instead of it hitting me on the head, it stopped short, levitating in the air, and as it returned to the wall, a wind blew my pyjama-top right up… In retrospect that seems more like a dream than reality, and if that was a dream, all my experiences there could have been dreams.

Admittedly, there were things going on in that house that we could not explain, but fanciful leaps to demons and poltergeists are leaps that can only be made by people whose beliefs are already that way inclined. I didn’t go running to mommy to tell her that somebody had come back from the dead to clap me on the head… I told her that the Huggu Puggu, a childish made-up word, was in my room. Somehow I, an over imaginative three-year-old, was able to convince them that something was amiss in that house, but at the end of the day, that’s all there really is to the paranormal – there are things we don’t know – and any explanation of these things is no better than the thinking of an over-imaginative child (with a lot of religious baggage).

To summarize, I do not believe any explanations for anybody’s “paranormal” experiences are any different to mine. There are no stories about the paranormal that are any more compelling than mine, despite what you might think. If only others could keep an open mind, and open means consider all possibilities, not only the fanciful ones that you would like to believe (unlike the writer of that telekinesis tutorial who encourages you not to be skeptical). If you have experienced the paranormal, examine your memories of it a little more closely, taking your beliefs, your culture and whatever preconceptions you may have into account. You might be surprised at what you find.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gotta love these directions

I’ve had a few bad interviews. I don’t know how this one will go at 12PM, but at least I won’t lose my parking. (Parking is bad here – drive anywhere around that time and you have to park at Randburg Square up the road, then use the shuttle service to get back to work.) I also appreciate that Google maps’ directions are smart enough to recommend walking if the distance is short enough.

185OakAve

And another (almost) amazing coincidence

The 12PM interview was only really an introduction, to a consulting firm, and the real interview will be at 12PM tomorrow, at their client, an insurance firm.

But here’s todays amazing(ish) coincidence… The interviewer’s surname was Sloane, and my second interview today is in Sloane Street. I choose to see this as a sign from the gods of good jobs that I will get an offer soon. (My god’s name is Prince Pareidolia.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

More skeptical reading

Today, my interviews are at 12PM and 3PM. (I once, in 1992, had to endure a heated one-sided argument from a linguist who insisted that my usage of 12PM rather than 12 noon is wrong… Yes, it is technically wrong, but language evolves with time, does it not? So excuse me if you are a linguist and you disapprove of 12PM.)

Anyway, since my interviews are only later, I’ve been reading articles that interest me again, and now I would like to introduce you to them. I have especially been enjoying reading articles by scientists and skeptics. The only reason I didn’t become a scientist myself was, and I am ashamed to admit it, my extreme laziness. I got into programming a roundabout way because of my laziness and indecision (w.r.t. what to do with my life) years ago, although I am happy to be a programmer now… it is complex enough to be intellectually challenging and stimulating as well as an output for my creative side. But now into my forties I find that I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and reason that I lacked in my youth. Reading the words of scientists whose writing has broken through to the mainstream is one way to increase and improve knowledge, which happens almost by accident while simply enjoying reading, while reading the words of skeptics also engages my couch skeptic within and allows me to be passionate about science and critical of pseudoscience as well as other nonsense.

This internet-connected world is so full of rubbish, pseudoscience and ancient relics of religious superstition, taking a step away from it all and learning about science and nature and other intellectual pursuits that are based on reality, not fiction, is enormously rewarding. I highly recommend that we all do this more often.

Today I direct you to another two articles written by Dr Steven Novella on Skeptic Blog.

A couple of my favourite quotes from the first article linked above:

The author then leaps from this poor and tortured analogy to the conclusion that therefore human languages developed because of the language-like structure of DNA. Such fanciful leaps are a hallmark of pseudoscience.

And:

Here we have claims for what would be several stunning breakthroughs, none of which are supported by a paper trail of peer-reviewed replicated research. He is not building his castle on the sand, he’s building it in the clouds.

Here’s a lengthy quote from the second article linked above, which makes a point, in criticizing Chopra, similar to what I have written about in the past, that you can not use science to disprove the existence of an “unfalsifiable” God. (Forgive me for cherry-picking this to suit my agenda.)

Where many skeptics, myself included, disagree with Dawkins is precisely in treating “the God hypothesis” as if it were only a scientific question. I say “only” because certainly it is possible to treat any supernatural hypothesis as if it were in the realm of methodological naturalism, and there is general agreement among skeptics when approached in this way the only reasonable conclusion is that there is no credible evidence to support the conclusion that any god exists, or that the laws of the material universe need to be extended to account for any alleged supernatural phenomena. If you frame God as a scientific hypothesis, it can be scientifically refuted. Looked at another way, the psychocultural hypothesis is a far better and more parsimonious explanation for belief in God than the actual existence of such a being.

The big “but” is that not everyone believes in God as a scientific fact. Some people choose to have faith in an unfalsifiable god, one that resides outside the realm of science. Once someone’s faith has retreated outside the realm of science, then science is no longer the tool by which one should address such faith. Logic and philosophy are now more appropriate, but you cannot say, by definition, that an unfalsifiable God can be scientifically proven to not exist.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Nag a ram

Hahahahaha! Sorry, this is probably old news to the rest of you, but I didn’t know until now… If you Google anagram, it spell-checks and asks you, “Did you mean: nag a ram”? It made an anagram of anagram.

Here’s what the South African Google server does, but I see the .com version behaves the same.

nagaram

Posted in Funny, Non-addiction | Tagged , , ,

More messages from the Ghost Box

Two interviews tomorrow, but here I still sit, having failed to get any more interviews today after the one was postponed, and having failed to get myself thrown out of here. I suppose it should be some small solace that they still want me here ‘til the end of my contract. Oh well…

I found an even more interesting article about the Ghost Box Fraud, this time on the OCPRS blog (Ontario Catholic Paranormal Research Foundation). OK, so I’m not too clear on what a “Catholic Paranormal Researcher” actually is, but many skeptics are also religious, so don’t hold the writer’s personal beliefs against them – there is no bias in this article anyway.

What interests me is that a Mr Frank Sumption, the inventor of the Ghost Box, responded personally to this one. He responded twice in the comments, maybe more but I lost the interest to read any further down… He is not the most coherent of basket-cases.

I still think it would be cool to write my own Ghost Box Software, even though it’s been done before. I’m just struggling with what to name it. I’m thinking of something to do with Nephilim (Ja, still thinking of Mr McCoy) or maybe some weird combination of pareidolia or Aleister Crowley… maybe an anagram. Anagrams are cool, but people are terrible at spotting them… Back in the day, I used to play Diablo II online with a ridiculously high-level Amazon, whose name was Iris Colt. Nobody, and I mean nobody… ever caught on that Iris Colt is an anagram for a certain bit of female anatomy that many a man has failed to stimulate.

Anyway, just for laughs, here’s Frank Sumption’s comments on the article I linked to: (His points about research are moot… The box clearly is just a radio scanner, and plays fragmented bits of radio transmissions that came from the living. If there were any truth in that or EVP, why can’t the dead or the aliens or whoever the fuck the idiots think are talking, just speak to you directly?)

So why preach to the choir? The only people interested in the BS explain it all away articles are the skeptics that don’t accept anything anyway, but seem to require almost constant reenforcement of their intellectual superiority. Easier to explain it away than do any real research, after all–American–science has all the answers, all is known and all had been discovered. Just keep repeating that, out loud if at all possible.

BTW, I can’t mass produce the junk, that’s why there is only a few out there. Plus the fact is, it is only one method of many that supplies a “raw audio”, but not having done even a second of research, you wouldn’t know that! Raw audio being the bits of speech music and noise that the entities use to form thier voices. Tell a room full of people that just heard the same thing out of the box it was just their imagination.

As far grieving requests go, I ignore those. It’s been my experience that you can create the voices you want to hear. More debunker fodder perhaps, but we are spirit, and these EVP methods can just as easily pick up our thoughts.

The use of the box that I recommend is to record, do not ask questions, as this biases the mind to create/look for those answers, then listen from tape—yeah analog tape is what I prefer. However, this is always ignored in favor of the more accepted ghost hunter BS, run around the dark and try to catch something. I still don’t know how to dial up up a spirit! The box, BTW, is a frikin’ radio, the tuning is swept, and the sweep can even be done by hand, nothing magical about “the box”.

So, go ahead with your false assumptions, and disinformation–it ain’t gonna matter. So, jump up and down like all the rest of the skeptics do and call me names–yeah, that’ll make this all go away.

Frank Sumption

And his follow-up:

I would try to explain the box, but as usual with all these paranormal expert twits, y’all have it all figured out, know all the answers, nothing left to dsicover, all is known, just sit back throw out these idiotic statements and idiots eat the crap up! So, you think you’re gonna be a frikkin’ zombie inthe after life, no awareness, no thought, not capable of any actions. Try doing some real research on EVP and messages receved by all electronic means going back to when electricity was invented, then tell me how you know so much FN better. Absolutely frikkin’ clueless! Who’s making money on this fraud? You fuckdorks in the paranormal!

Posted in Funny, Non-addiction | Tagged , , ,