Is salt good or bad for you?

After reading this post, I’m not so sure. It raises the possibility that too little salt might be even more dangerous than too much! I just so happen to like salt, and sugar, and pepper, and chillies, garlic, oregano… and a quite few other spices, but mostly salt, especially if it’s because I’m eating bacon. Preferably piles of the stuff. ‘Scuse me – I have to make myself something to eat…

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Sometimes I overthink stuff too much

Sometimes I overthink things – sometimes simple things that don’t deserve much thought invested in them at all. And then I overthink the overthinking… It’s really quite silly. I wonder how many of us do this?

Case in point, the title of yesterday’s post was “Alone at last”. I put far too much thought into those three words, and then last night as I lay in bed, I thought about it even further, thinking that my intention for the title probably failed, and anyone who read it missed the wordplay. I like to play with words, but the problem with wordplay is that it’s easy to miss, so I figured that having it in the title would draw attention. How did you read it. Here is what I intended – ambiguity that could be read a couple of different different ways:

  1. Irony. It says the opposite of what I really mean. It implies a positive when it is really negative.
  2. Risqué. “Alone at last” is a cliché that’s commonly used to imply that two people are alone together, at last… and can get up to some mischief. The sexually suggestive innuendo was supposed to work as click-bait, inspired by so many others who write titles just to attract page-views.

But last night it occurred to me that my little wordplay was surely lost on most, who just assumed that my title was supposed to be positive, which it wasn’t.

See what I mean? That’s an awful lot of thought for three words. Thought that could have been devoted to something more important. Oh well…

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Alone at last

Well, somebody and her daughter is now on a little “break” from being here for the next five days. I’ve made the two posts where I wrote about my feelings and this messed up relationship visible again (after removing them at her request), with the following update as an introduction for each, and all references to her name changed.

Updated 17/08/2014: I have been asked not to write about a certain person in my life, based on her need for privacy and her misconception that her life somehow doesn’t effect mine. While her wish for privacy may be valid, it is childish for her to presume that she does not effect me. Much of her effect is positive, but there is also the negative, the fact that I am now attached to a child besides Josh, a child that she may remove at any time if she decides to leave, and yet she still expects a great deal from me while living this facade of a relationship. This is extremely difficult and a huge burden on me; that she expects all the trappings of a normal relationship without any commitment or loyalty from her side. I’m undecided as to what I should do, if anything, but in the meantime I have decided that the two posts affected will remain here, with this introduction (and some edits) and that I will try to refrain from writing about her in future. That’s the best I can do, but it is a tall order

I hope this doesn’t come off as childish. Does it? The point is, I find it difficult to live with somebody whom I love, and not know for sure if this relationship will ever return to something like it once was. Being in a one-sided relationship is unfair (although I should be accustomed to it by now), and emotionally difficult to endure. On the other hand, I am more stable and confident in myself as far as recovery is concerned when she is around.

Does that make me co-dependent? I don’t think so… because I miss her daughter more than her, to be honest. Having that adorable little child here keeps me focused on family. She keeps me motivated; and most importantly, she doesn’t allow me to succumb to the inevitable and overwhelming feelings of depression at not having Josh here with me. In the past, the depression was too much to cope with, and the only way to escape those feelings of failure and depression (with a good measure of persecution thrown into the mix) was to use. But the most severe side-effect of using was to forget all about Josh, all about obligation, all about consequences, and also about everything else that should have been important. I never want to forget again.

Maybe this week alone will be a good thing. I’ll still visit Josh as usual this evening and again on Wednesday, and there is some work that I need to do – some less important work that has a lower priority than that which I spend my working days on, but which will be of great benefit in the long run. And some time to myself can be a good thing.

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Why is skepticism important?

This talk by Daniel Loxton at TAM 2014 answers the question in a rare and beautiful way.

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Vitamins are great if you like to piss all the colours of the rainbow

Something I’ve been saying for years… Vitamin aisles in the pharmacy are a great place to waste your money on supplements that are most probably completely unnecessary, yet so many people believe in them. My mother takes vitamin C every day in the mistaken belief that it will save her from catching a cold. I know of many others who have similar misconceptions, and reasoning with them is impossible. They tell me I talk nonsense. But c’mon, when last did you hear of somebody who died from scurvy?

The truth is, every time I’ve ever taken vitamin supplements, all that I ever gained is colourful urine. These things are called micronutrients for a reason – you need them in minute quantities, with your food. This article on the science-based medicine blog seems to agree with me.

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Write about yourself, she says!

A couple more posts are now marked private, so they can no longer be read by everyone. I may edit them and then make them visible again. This is immensely frustrating… I am writing about myself, my life and my recovery. Anyone in my life who makes it so difficult is very relevant to this blog, but I will respect her wishes and remove those posts for now. In half an hour, Josh’s sports day begins. So hopefully this weekend will be a better one than it has been thus far, starting soon…

Update: Now I hear the sports day is cancelled because of the rain. Maybe this will not be such a great weekend after all?

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My neuroticism and my logic somewhat explained

Updated 17/08/2014: I have been asked not to write about a certain person in my life, based on her need for privacy and her misconception that her life somehow doesn’t effect mine. While her wish for privacy may be valid, it is childish for her to presume that she does not effect me. Much of her effect is positive, but there is also the negative, the fact that I am now attached to a child besides Josh, a child that she may remove at any time if she decides to leave, and yet she still expects a great deal from me while living this facade of a relationship. This is extremely difficult and a huge burden on me; that she expects all the trappings of a normal relationship without any commitment or loyalty from her side. I’m undecided as to what I should do, if anything, but in the meantime I have decided that the two posts affected will remain here, with this introduction (and some edits) and that I will try to refrain from writing about her in future. That’s the best I can do, but it is a tall order

Please note that I am referring to neuroticism, “a fundamental personality trait characterized by anxiety, moodiness, worry, envy and jealousy”, not neurosis.

The subject of she-who-should-not-be-named’s learner license came up again… she was supposed to go to her friends on Thursday/Friday, but they weren’t able to pick her up, so it will have to be from Sunday afternoon. They have suggested that she stays there for the week, to help her study.

She will never understand how this effects me… Firstly, the less serious effect is that it will completely disrupt my routine. I am a creature of habit, and I like my routine: Waking up first, then waking she-who-should-not-be-named so she can get Aishah ready, then taking Aishah to crèche and going to work, and ending the day by picking her up from the crèche, and finally spending some time playing with her in the evening. (As well as adorable, she’s a clever little girl. It’s always a pleasure playing with her, and at one year and three months old she’s already an avid hide-and-seeker, ball thrower and sweeper… Her newest toy is a small broom.) Any disruption to my routine causes chaos in my life, and that theoretically puts my recovery at risk. (Not that much of a risk, granted. I am not going to relapse because of it, but it will cause me some distress.) Of course, we don’t even have a proper relationship anymore and she-who-should-not-be-named needs to have friends and a life, so it would be selfish for me to stop her.

The other effect is a return to my being neurotic. This one is hard to explain, but after so many years, and being wronged so many times, even though I know I should be able to trust her by now, those feelings of mistrust, and then anxiety, jealousy, and worry, are quick to return. Again, nothing I can do about it; it’s just difficult to deal with.

But that’s enough on that subject… My other subject for the day is my logic. Is it normal, I wonder? It seems normal to me, but don’t we all think so of ourselves?

The same logic that causes me to mistrust she-who-should-not-be-named causes me to doubt other things (like God, but I’ll get to that in a bit), and it came up in a rather comical argument we had two nights ago, an argument that seems to explain some part of the difference in logical thinking between her and myself.

We have been watching several series, to which she-who-should-not-be-named has become somewhat addicted. (It’s a harmless enough addiction, though it can be annoying when she watches so many episodes in one day.) One of the series I downloaded was Sleepy Hollow Season 1, which I enjoyed more than her. She asked me if season two is out yet, to which I replied two things: “I don’t know. As far as I know, it isn’t.”

And so the argument began. She does not understand how I can say both that I don’t know and also that as far as I know, it is not true. But that’s simple logic. You must have a default position, an initial value that you assume until proven otherwise. I didn’t mention my mistrust for her – that she has proven so many times to be untrustworthy, I must assume that is still the case. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Also, I’m conflicted. My brain tells me that I am wrong to mistrust, but my heart, my feelings, say otherwise.

So I explained it thusly: I do not know that there isn’t a 47 foot giant standing on the street corner (playing with a car-sized gargantuan yoyo that he purchased in Cloud Cuckoo Land), but as far as I know, there isn’t one. I do not know that there isn’t a mermaid splashing about and frolicking in the apartment swimming pool, but as far as I know, there isn’t one there, and I don’t plan on taking the time to investigate.

I do not know that there is a God, but there is certainly no evidence for one. Yes, many people believe there is, and some wrote that shit down thousands of years ago, but that does not effect my initial position. (The God of your bible only created the Earth anyway. The people who wrote that shit down didn’t know about the rest of the universe. So either God also didn’t know about it, or more likely, he doesn’t exist. Surely if he were real, he would have made them write shit that makes more sense.) I must assume that there is no god until someone proves otherwise. (That’s never going to happen.) My logic is sound. Hers is broken.

Come to think of it, many people believe that aliens seeded man’s existence. Even my colleague would like to believe this, but doesn’t quite. Here’s the thing: If you believe in a literal, physical god, he’s certainly not from around here, so whether you believe in aliens or not, by definition he must be alien. Of course most people don’t believe in a literal, physical god – they believe in an unfalsifiable, spiritual god who is not part of our physical realm, and thus can not be debunked by science. Of course there’s a huge issue with their logic too: If he doesn’t exist in the physical realm, and is not of the physical realm, how the fuck did he create it?

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On addiction, depression and the untimely death of Robin Williams

I was shocked yesterday when I heard about Robin Williams’ suicide. Shocked, but not surprised. The truth is that for whatever reason, he was on my mind a couple of days ago, and I had intended writing a post about him anyway. Now I’m glad I didn’t. I’ll write a little of what would have been in that post, but now my tone is, of course, quite different to what it would have been.

My starting point was an observation, from a television  interview with him years ago, I think just after Mrs Doubtfire was released. I remember thinking to myself that this man is a genius, he is gifted, he is great at what he does, but something is also clearly very wrong. Nobody can be so funny all the time, and evade all the serious questions, answering them with jokes instead. Nobody can be so quick-witted, and say things that go over so many people’s heads all the time. I remember thinking, this man has problems, and he is also clearly very high.

Now I’d like to draw your attention to two articles. The first is an homage to him by a fellow comedian, Jim Norton, on time.com. Norton acknowledges his own battle with addiction as an introduction, and mentions how he “always feels a more intense sense of loss when a fellow alcoholic or addict commits suicide”. He does not directly refer to Williams’ addiction after that, but it’s all there if you read between the lines. The tone of the article does well to convey his feelings of sadness, that someone who was so loved by so many, could so hate himself.

This article on CNN.com buries the truth in a statement well into the article:

Williams made at least two trips to rehab for drug treatment, including a visit this summer, and he underwent heart surgery in 2009.

This summer… That’s telling.

Williams was not a stereotypical drug addict, the way most of us expect addicts to be. We think they are losers who never amount to anything. Thus most would never recognize him for what he was, or ever be able to comprehend the battle he fought, and ultimately lost, with the beast of addiction. The truth is, addiction takes the best and the worst of us. It does not discriminate. Many of us fight it, but we don’t all win. This should be a warning to us all, how terrible an affliction it is; how it can drive a man who is loved my millions to have such little self-worth, that he can take his own life. Robin Williams should still be with us. But I fear most of us will not see this warning for what it is.

Posted in Addiction, Recovery | Tagged | 8 Comments

Why is it that reasoning with some people can be like talking to the wall?

Updated 17/08/2014: I have been asked not to write about a certain person in my life, based on her need for privacy and her misconception that her life somehow doesn’t effect mine. While her wish for privacy may be valid, it is childish for her to presume that she does not effect me. Much of her effect is positive, but there is also the negative, the fact that I am now attached to a child besides Josh, a child that she may remove at any time if she decides to leave, and yet she still expects a great deal from me while living this facade of a relationship. This is extremely difficult and a huge burden on me; that she expects all the trappings of a normal relationship without any commitment or loyalty from her side. I’m undecided as to what I should do, if anything, but in the meantime I have decided that the two posts affected will remain here, with this introduction (and some edits) and that I will try to refrain from writing about her in future. That’s the best I can do, but it is a tall order

Why must people be stubborn, getting an idea in their head and then sticking to it, regardless of any reason not to do so, when presented with one? I’m thinking of she-who-should-not-be-named here, but it doesn’t only apply to her.

She is no longer working… It turned out that her contract was only a temporary one, for reasons known to the company that are irrelevant here. They did give her an excellent reference though. But anyway, rather than looking for a new job immediately, which is what she should be doing, she insists on staying home and learning for her learner’s license (to drive). I wouldn’t mind that if she were really studying it, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

In the meantime, I am paying the fee for Aishah’s crèche. It makes sense not to take her out of crèche as she loves going there. She’ll often run to the front door and wait for me to let her out, as soon as she realizes I am ready to leave in the morning, and she no longer cries when dropped off there.

But instead of actually studying for her learners, she-who-should-not-be-named took the advice of friends who told her that the only place where she can still do the written test is somewhere called Langlaagte. Everywhere else, it is now done on computer. They can get the paper, so she will end up spending a night there at their place before booking the test, and again before writing it. All this to cheat.

According to her, it is too difficult for her to study… so she must go out of her way to write the old written test. But how difficult can it be? As a programmer, I know exactly how the test would have been set up. It is divided into three sections: the vehicle controls, rules of the road, and traffic signs. All that would have been done is to create a database of questions, of the same quality as those in the original paper test, and then programmatically select a number of questions randomly. That is, if you study, it won’t be any more difficult. It just eliminates cheating by having copies of the test papers, and no two people ever write exactly the same test. Of course such a system can also automatically mark the tests and export the results, so this saves them having to mark the tests manually.

(Actually it is still possible to cheat such a test. Doing so would require knowing somebody on the inside who could run a SQL query to export the questions and answers, and then studying all of them. Of course it would still be easier just to study the rules of the road and so on… and then be able to answer the questions by applying your understanding.)

So why go to so much trouble to cheat? You need to know this stuff to be able to drive safely anyway. Yet she is too stubborn to study properly. (It’s really not difficult. I passed mine first time – OK it was the written test but I didn’t even consider cheating – after studying the book on the same day of the test.)

What further frustrates me is that these people live in Eldorado Park, the meth capital of South Africa. They don’t use drugs, and she-who-should-not-be-named has been there before, the day before a drug test so I know she didn’t use (and won’t use) but that’s not the point. I see no reason to go to such a place, ever… There is surely a high probability of bumping into a using meth addict there, whether it is while going to a shop, or being exposed to friends of these people, who do use. Going to such a place where drugs are so rife is a stupid and reckless thing to do, if you don’t have any valid reason to go there.

Last year, it created some creepy situational irony when she-who-should-not-be-named was mugged of her expensive earrings, while traveling to the rehab where she attended therapy and did a drug test. Now she has even more expensive earrings that I bought her a few months ago, three tones of gold (yellow, rose and white – and she didn’t even know that such gold exists so I had to take her to the jewellery shop where I purchased them to prove to her that this was really gold). I doubt that all addicts are as ignorant as she is, and someone could see her and rip them from her ears, to sell for a measly R100 or so, less than 24 times what they are worth.

Yet I have no choice but to go along with this. Like so many people, once she gets an idea in her head, there is no way of talking her out of it. I ask again, why must people be so stubborn?

Update (Who’s your daddy?): Maybe it’s worth mentioning that those friends of she-who-should-not-be-named might be her sisters. It’s a long story… involving neither her nor her mother not knowing who her father is.

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Blog-racing. My new obsession.

 Madness. This must be some kind of madness.

So I wrote two blog-posts today, neither of which are particularly good, one on each blog:

  1. Everything is AWESOME on here… A tongue in cheek look at the Lego movie as a metaphor for our screwed up society.
  2. How to force (hack?) kendo-ui grid to display the correct date on the other blog… A solution to work around a bug in the kendo-ui grid, related to one of the annoying development tasks I worked on today.

And now I sit, in between development tasks, switching between two tabs of the browser, where I have the dashboard for each blog open, comparing the number of views of the two posts. (This blog has just slipped behind, with 59 views, while the enemy has 64 views.) Yes, I’m racing against myself, like some kind of fucking loon! Aaargh! WTF is wrong with me?!? Then to make matters worse, I should be on my way home already, and instead I am writing this drivel!

Seriously, I hope I am not the only person who does this…

Update: And the winner (for view count yesterday) is the other blog, with 104 views. This one only got 74 views.

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Everything is AWESOME

If you have small children, you have no doubt, like myself, seen The Lego Movie at least once by now… I still can’t make up my mind if I love or hate the movie, but I must acknowledge how clever a movie it is. I’m not referring to the graphics, and how everything is made out of Lego, but the story.

I recall from my youth how people sometimes read all kinds of weird and not-so-wonderful things into children’s stories. When I was around 12, someone wrote about the Smurfs being incestuous occult figures… Papa Smurf uses magic, and there is only one female adult Smurf, who presumably is mother to all Smurfs. (Hello, never mind that it imposed adult knowledge onto a children’s story, and introduced an appeal to consequences and false dilemma.) It makes me wonder if anyone has read anything subversive into the Lego Movie. The thing is, there is plenty to see there if you look for it.

Emmet is an ordinary guy, a carbon copy of everyone else, who blindly and obediently follows the rules. They all sing the same song, Everything is Awesome; they all do the same thing every day, and end the day by watching the same comedy on TV with the same joke that isn’t really funny, “Where are my pants?”.

The parallels with us “sheeple” are hard to miss. We may not listen to the same song over and over, but we do listen to music generated by the music industry, a huge money-making machine. For example, Rihanna, who is so popular with so many people. (I admit, I do like one or two of her songs, but not more than that.) The truth is, almost all her music is the same song, over and over again, with the same subject: Sex, or at least the promise of sex.

And as for the TV show, it reminds me of something that almost everybody loves, except for little old me: The Big Bang Theory. I’ve heard people say how “true to life” that show is, and they discuss what is essentially the same stupid jokes broadcast over and over again. They carry on about, for example, the character Sheldon, super-genius, as though he really is one. Even watchmojo.com made a video about geniuses in television shows. But the truth is, he is playing a stereotype. Who says geniuses have to be skinny effeminate little men with squeaky voices? [1]

We soak it all up, just like Emmet in The Lego Movie. So there’s some really clever writing going on there. I don’t believe it is meant to be taken seriously, but I do think it is deliberate. That is, the writers took some inspiration from actual modern society. Whether they are poking fun at us for our religion, and Cloud Cuckoo Land [2] has some hidden meaning too, or they are poking fun at conspiracy theory culture, they are poking fun. And it is funny.

I think, in some ways, conspiracy theory culture is not that different from my mind-set… They’ve recognized that we are a brainwashed society, and that we should question our reality. They just question the wrong things, and come to the wrong conclusions. We are not being controlled by our governments, or the evil Semites, or the Illuminati, or the Reptilians. (I believe that CT’s, besides being crackpots who see weird conspiracies not realistic at all, perceive the world in terms of their pre-existing beliefs. So it’s not too far-fetched for them to leap to conclusions involving demons or aliens, and question authority rather than their preconceptions of gods, demons and aliens, as well as their own religious as well as cultural upbringing.)  We are indoctrinated by our religious upbringing, and we brainwash ourselves with our nonsensical beliefs. We are slaves to our culture. The fact that much of society has now realized that something about the way we see the world is off-kilter is a good thing. Everything is not awesome.

[1]: Not that there is anything wrong with being a skinny effeminate little man with a squeaky voice… But I associate that with a campy gay man, not a genius. Not that there is anything wrong with being gay, camp or otherwise – but I do struggle to see why anyone should perceive any correlation with high intelligence.

[2]: I’m really temped to refer to Heaven as Cloud Cuckoo Land going forward. Too bad most people will not get the reference. (And it will soon be dated anyway.)

Update: Damn. I see that Cloud Cuckoo Land was already an allusion that I didn’t get.

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Good movie, bad movie – A review of two recent home movies

We hired and watched two movies in two days, and the contrast between their quality is so great, I feel compelled to write reviews of them both.

Ritual (2013)

(The heading above links to the trailer.) This was the worst movie I have seen for a long time. It’s supposed to be violent, shocking and suspenseful, but the movie-makers failed to deliver the goods on every count, which turns out to be the only shocking achievement.

The acting was bad; the script was poor; the female lead character is named Lovely. I kid you not. Imagine a scene where, to build suspense, the filmmakers let the audience in on a not-so-little secret… that there is something of interest in one corner of the room. Then, they pan the camera this way and that – up and down, left and right, round and round and back again, then twist a little this way, that way, and pan some more… Eventually, ten tedious minutes later, they get around to revealing the corner that you actually want to see. The end result is not suspense, it is boredom on a level that no other movie can produce. Every scene becomes predictable, and the occasional violence does little to maintain your interest, let alone scare you even an iota.

Imagine that tedium applied to every instant in the movie, and just for good measure, throw in dialog that has no relevance whatsoever to advancing the plot, or the characters’ backstories, or anything else that provides any meaning to this dreadful waste of viewing time. Take my word for it. Ritual is a movie to miss.

13 Sins

Here’s the trailer:

 

I was seriously doubting my judgement in choosing movies to hire, and then by choosing this, I proved myself not to be an idiot after all.

I won’t give anything away, except my initial impression of the movie from the cover blurb before hiring it: This one reminds me of The Game, with Michael Douglas. What would you do, if offered more money than you could ever otherwise gain in your lifetime, by committing 13 offenses, starting with something simple?

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Remember kids, Ginseng is great for your virility, because the root kind of looks like a phallus

Just a quick one today.

Maybe it’s my age; maybe it’s the stress at work; I don’t know… but I often wake up feeling tired, and it’s all downhill from there. Since I work in an office tower that’s attached to a shopping centre, it seemed like the logical choice would be to head into the shops in mid-afternoon, and purchase an energy drink.

I tried one of those Monster energy drinks, and wondered why it didn’t do anything other than leave an unpleasant taste lingering on my tongue for far too long… Then I looked at the ingredients and remembered something I read years ago… OK, so there are a few different varieties of energy drink (with slightly different ingredients), but what struck me as dumb about the one I bought was that it featured Ginseng as a major ingredient. And we all know that Ginseng gets its reputation, primarily for boosting men’s virility, because the root is shaped vaguely like a phallus, right? Fucking brilliant, so why should I expect that any of the other ingredients actually do anything?

Bottom line, my solution to having more energy in future, is to try getting better quality sleep. I won’t waste any more money on energy drinks, and I suggest we all do the same.

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A milestone of sorts

Actually this is a tad premature, and I can’t remember the exact date, but nevertheless, next month will mark a year since Megan returned to my life, and it will also mark one year clean together. That’s something several people, including myself, did not think possible for a while. But we’ve made it. (That is, we will make it next month.) There was also a time for me when even a month’s clean time felt like some kind of impossible dream. Now it’s nothing, so I have no issue with writing this a month early.

Perhaps we should celebrate with a bottle of bubbly? I jest, of course, but the simple truth is that the idea that I can not drink is one of the many things they “taught” to us at rehab that I don’t  believe. I’ve never been a drinker, never had a problem with alcohol, and so I am quite content to have some champagne twice a year with meals (at Christmas and New Year’s eve), safe in the knowledge that the warm feeling it leaves in my tummy is the only consequence.

I believe that the idea that we (i.e. recovering addicts) can not drink is an example of the nocebo effect. That is, it is harmless, but if you believe that it will do you harm, and you take a drink, you will then go out and act out what you believe will come about. That is, it’s not the alcohol that harms your recovery (and possibly leads to relapse), it’s the belief that this will happen. Life is what you make it.

But let’s not spoil this occasion by documenting all the things about a conventional approach to recovery that I do not believe. We actually spoke about recovery last night, although briefly – for less than a minute. Megan posited that I don’t take recovery seriously. She’s not the first person to say this, so this next bit is not just for her: Just because I don’t approach recovery the same way as you think I should, doesn’t mean I am not serious. Just because I don’t believe the same nonsense that you believe, doesn’t mean that I don’t care. I take both life and recovery very seriously indeed, and my perspective is just a little different to yours. Just because you do not understand it, does not take away its value.

There is much more for me to say, but it deviates from this subject and this milestone, so I’ll leave it for another day.

Posted in Addiction, Meth, My life, Recovery, Relationships | 1 Comment

Hate speech should never be tolerated

A couple of days ago I posted a video featuring James Randi questioning the Bible. What struck me when viewing that video on YouTube was the very first comment, by a pissed off religious homophobe. So rather than reply to the fool as others did, I simply flagged his comment as hate speech. Now I can’t see it anymore.

I visited that YouTube page again now, and I can still see the comment if I am not logged in, but as soon as I log in, it disappears. Good enough for me. I don’t know exactly how this works, but maybe if enough people flag comments, the accounts can be closed. These people need to be silenced. There is no need for the opinions of a few bigots to spoil your online experience.

Anyway, I see the fool made another comment, so I captured some screenshots showing you how to flag comments, in case you don’t know.

  1. Mouse-over the top right-hand corner, and click the little circle with the down-pointing triangle that appears.HatredGoodbye01
  2. Click the Report spam or abuse menu item.HatredGoodbye02
  3. Tick the appropriate radio box, and click Continue.
  4. There you go…HatredGoodbye03

There is no reason to tolerate those kinds of comments. Surely we could all recognize that this is a homophobe making an ad hominem attack. Don’t reply and thus encourage people like this. Always flag them and move on. I take a few minutes to peruse the comments of each video I view, and flag all the haters and spammers. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside…

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

Keep your eyes on the road

Not what I planned to write this morning, but two accidents in two days have changed my mind. (Actually this was yesterday morning – but that’s as far as I got in the draft because work demanded my full attention from early on.)

The two accidents in reverse chronological order…

Yesterday, just as I walked out of the crèche where I dropped Aishah, as I walked up their driveway towards their car, I heard a crash coming from immediately in front of me (in the main road parallel to the service road where the crèche is located) in Louis Botha Avenue. As I looked up I saw something hitting the front of a brand new BMW. At first I thought about those damn reckless BMW drivers, thinking they “own the road”… but it’s best not to generalize. It turned out I was wrong. The BMW driver was a victim in this accident, someone who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Actually he was driving safely, and was more than two car lengths behind the car in front of him. Had he been closer, it could have been much worse.

There have been road-works going on there for several months now. It turns out that the workers dug a channel, about half a meter wide, across the road, then filled it with sand, much of which blew away. The driver in front of the BMW, in a hatchback, the make and model I do not know, drove over the man-made pothole too fast, and may have bumped the car in front of him – I’m not sure. The result of his reckless driving was that somehow his entire front bumper became detached, in one large piece. After it detached, instead of getting stuck under his wheels, it flew up over his roof, and collided with the front of the BMW behind him. This all happened in less than half a second.

The previous accident was on Sunday, in the same road as I live. I went to Balfour Park, the local shopping centre, to buy milk tart to have with tea. I got there just after the accident happened, whereupon I found a motorized scooter smashed into several pieces right beside the entrance.

So why am I writing this? As I drove to work yesterday, I observed not one, but two women putting on their make-up as they drove to work. WTF? Texting is bad… we all know that, but anything else that takes your eyes off the road is just as bad. I don’t care how well you think you can multitask – when you’re looking at your ugly mug in your rear-view mirror, you might see what’s happening behind you, but you’re not looking in front of you, nor to the sides, nor… You get the drift. (But just in case you do not… Accidents happen quickly. If you’re paying attention, you might be able to prevent a potential accident. That’s when someone else causes it. You definitely shouldn’t be so distracted that you cause an accident yourself.) Why not wake up ten minutes earlier, so you don’t have to risk your life, as well as everybody else on the road with you? Nobody gives a fuck how good your make-up is when you’re in your coffin.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

Questioning the Bible

Due to some issues at work today, I was too busy to blog even in the early morning, and am too tired to write what’s on my mind now, but am never too tired to watch interesting videos. Check out this one where James Randi asks some interesting questions of that old rag of Christian mythology, the Bible.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , ,

Another dumb search for me to mock

In case you don’t already know, every so often I look at the blog statistics, particularly the search queries that brought readers here. They’ll generally be “hits” due to something I already wrote, which then matched the search engine search. Of course search strings also might match by accident, or they might inadvertently reveal something about the motivation of the searcher. Sometimes that’s enough for me to write something else, usually to make fun of the searcher. (Always tongue in cheek of course, as I used to be one of them.)

This one has been in the blog stats for a while:

boyfriend is a paranoid meth user

So what is your actual question? There are a few possibilities I can think of, in terms of your reason for searching, but none of them are good. I was going to list them all in bullet form, from least to most likely, but I’ll spare you that mockery today, and just write the least and most likely instead:

  • Least likely: Your boyfriend uses meth and you don’t… What are you doing with him then? Meth doesn’t only make him paranoid. It makes him suspicious, unreliable, unstable, it makes him tweak for hours or maybe days on stupid repetitive tasks, and it also makes him horny – probably enough to act out his sexual fantasies – with or without you, which probably also means it’s time to have something done about that itchy vagina of yours because those STDs he’s passing around are nasty. And maybe it’s time for an HIV test?
  • Most likely: You both use. You think your boyfriend is paranoid, because he is paranoid, but that should really be the least of your worries. It’s easy to see the madness in others, but not in yourself. Truth be told, you are as fucked up as he is and you just can’t see it.

Enjoy the rest of your trip… And when you’re done, maybe consider getting some help. Internet searches won’t fix this, by the way.

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

Why recovery is difficult

Firstly, I need to introduce this with a warning to other recovering addicts, especially those in early recovery: My approach to recovery is not “standard”, assuming such a concept exists. I hate NA meetings; I don’t believe in the 12-step plan; I don’t have a sponsor; I do not believe in God and in fact am more than just an atheist – I lean towards being an antitheist atheist; and I avoid all other addicts, even those in recovery, if at all possible. (Except for Megan; I can’t avoid her but we never talk about addiction, or recovery, or the past. Well, I bring up the subject(s) sometimes but she refuses to engage me on it.) I’m not saying that my way is the right way, because I don’t believe for a moment that there is a single “correct” approach to recovery. So my warning is that you must not assume that everything that I state is correct, or that everything that you are taught in rehabilitation is correct either. Do not approach recovery with a closed mind. Question everything and everyone, because even the so-called experts with their rigid approach to recovery and their insistence on that being the only way to do it, are fallible.

I am still required to complete an outpatient program, before getting Josh back, and my employer knows about this, but I haven’t gotten around to starting it yet. There was another program that I did complete, but this one remains. Ironically when I do reluctantly attend meetings, I can’t help but participate, and even enjoy doing so, but that’s not the point.

So with all that in mind, here is my subjective opinion on why recovery is difficult, and also why getting out of active addiction and into recovery in the first place is almost impossible. I take my proverbial hat off to all recovering addicts for getting into recovery in the first place. You are in the minority – I’m pretty certain that most addicts will never recover.

Edit (for update and clarification): Regarding my statement above, “I’m pretty certain that most addicts will never recover.” Yes, I know my title uses part of the NA literature, We do recover, and this post is somewhat negative, but that’s the way I feel. I believe that most addicts will never even attempt recovery. And of those who try, we might not all make it. (I have no idea what the statistics are.) I hope that we all can recover though, and by all I mean all who attempt recovery. But the fact is, most of the addicts I knew back in active addiction didn’t even know that recovery was an option, and I figure it is likely that way everywhere.

I also don’t normally care to mention my clean time anymore. My reasons for this are not relevant to this post. But since my current clean time is relevant, I’ll mention that it has now been more than two years since my last hit.

I believe that most people who are not addicts themselves will never understand this, but I’ll try to make them understand, to the best of my ability, anyway… To understand active addiction, you need to understand this: Once an addict has used a drug every day for a few years, they really do need that drug. I’m not going to say that they think they need it. They fucking need it! The drug becomes as important as the air you breathe; the water you drink. Having a hit of your drug of choice before doing anything at all becomes no less important than putting on your clothes before you step outside.

In active addiction, there is never a matter of making an intelligent, rational and logical choice… You don’t ever weigh up two options… say for instance remembering your mother’s birthday and buying her a present, versus buying drugs if you have run out. There is no choice. Since the drug is essential for survival in the mind of the addict, it will always come first. If there is enough money left afterwards for mom’s birthday gift, then she gets one. No choice is made, and no harm is intended. Obviously that approach to everything in life leads to disaster, but you shrug it off, as long as you get your drug, because it is more important than anything else.

So getting out of that situation, and into recovery, is impossible to do alone, no matter how good your intentions. You will always go back to the drug, because it is more important than anything else in your life. The drug is life.

So once an addict gets help from other people, and gets into rehab, which results in a few short months clean time, does it all go away? No, of course it doesn’t! The fact is, the first few months clean, you just manage to convince yourself that this is only temporary… Deep down you still believe that you need the drug, and that you will continue when it is safe to do so.

But it is never safe.

One of the reasons I don’t like the twelve step programs is that they, with their “just for today” approach, allow the addict to stay in that state that they were in during rehab. They don’t deal with their real underlying issues, but instead take solace in not being alone, but remain in that temporary clean state, while deep down the need to use never really goes away. I’m being unfair, I suppose, because at the end of the day, however you manage to stay clean isn’t important, as long as you do manage to stay clean. But I do not believe in 12-step plans, and I do not believe that they do anything to justify the huge amount of work we are supposed to invest in “step work”. I’d rather play with my son, or do my work, or do anything else that is useful in my life, than believing in any false sense of fellowship that does nothing for me when I go home, or place faith in a fictional higher power when there are important people and activities that are far more useful to me. I also don’t believe in making amends. What’s done is done.

The point is, after years of using, that inner need to use never goes away completely. It’s like an excruciating nagging itch, while walking in public. You can’t scratch that itch without sticking your hand in your pants and making an obscene scene, but as soon as you’re alone, you’ll scratch until you bleed.

My major downfall when I first started recovery was to try to suppress that need. I tried to pretend that it wasn’t real, that I didn’t really want to use. Then when things went wrong (and they always do) I wasn’t able to cope with them, and went straight back into active addiction for a time.

Now I don’t supress it. I face it. When I want to use, although it happens far less frequently now (but it does happen), I don’t try to push it away and pretend it didn’t happen. I imagine the consequences of what would happen if I did use. I imagine the guilt that I’d feel after taking that first hit, the guilt that comes too late. And then, I feel that guilt, even though it hasn’t happened. It makes all the difference; feeling the guilt before it is too late, and it takes the craving away every time.

There are other difficulties in recovery, of course, and I don’t mean to trivialize them. You have to deal with the consequences of active addiction for a long time after cleaning up; deal with all the damage done to relationships; deal with financial consequences, and this is not even taking the normal difficulties in life after starting over into account.

But there is light at the end of this tunnel. When things go wrong for me now, the desire to use is never the first thing I feel. Time does make a difference, and it appears to get easier when you have been drug-free for a while. But it is important to keep in mind that the deep-down need to use is always there. Pretending that it isn’t is suicide, at least in my mind, so it is imperative always to be aware of the danger of giving in to that nagging itch.

Update: (Unusual for me to do this… I haven’t published yet.) Megan saw this post and asked me what it was about. Apparently she never craves. Good for her. So maybe I’m wrong and that nagging need to use is not the same for everybody. But to be safe, it’s probably best for us all to assume that it is, and always be prepared to deal with it.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, My life, Recovery, Relapse, Relationships

Josh at Social Services family preservation event 01 August 2014

This morning we had to attend an event hosted by Social Development at a high school in Johannesburg. It was a tedious affair, and not the best waste of my valuable work time, so I wasn’t in the best of moods. The social worker gave me a letter explaining how I had to be there, but as usual, she doesn’t seem to understand that regardless of whether I had to be there or not, my work deadlines, volume of work and the pressure on me to get it done remains the same. (Edit: Actually the work-pressure increases because my deadlines don’t move.)

Then, at the end of the event, Josh saved the day. A couple of African dancers were shaking their asses on stage, when many others, several of them children, including Josh, decided to join them. His dancing skills may be nothing to boast of, but he accomplished something that I certainly can not (I’m far too shy), and made the whole day worthwhile. I caught it all on video, but since it was taken on my mobile phone, you’ll have to rotate your screen (or your head) to see it nicely. (Edit: Never mind… I see YouTube detected which way to display it somehow.) At the end, one of the dancers holds up his hand, and the crowd cheers, making this a special memory…

Posted in My life, Parenting, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged | 1 Comment

Could intelligent aliens exist, and other interesting questions

Every now and then, I get blown away by someone else’s writing, and it is always a pleasure when it happens. I love reading, far more than I enjoy writing, and when I find something that is written well enough to be interesting, informative as well as easy to read, which is rare, I’m always glad because it is a great opportunity to learn from others wiser than myself.

Yesterday’s post was liked by one other blogger, and I’m especially enjoying his writing style, which is so different to mine. Though I read a fair amount, my writing style is always mostly simple and direct (apart from my annoying habit of over-using ellipses – sometimes even on purpose when I want to break the rhythm and force the reader to reread something), because my vocabulary is not so great. So check out his most recent post on his opinion of whether or not other intelligent life exists. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. (And so ends my blogging for the day…. Time to do my work.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged | 2 Comments

Magic isn’t real

Yesterday, as I drove to pick Aishah up from the crèche, this is how a conversation ended:

Me: Magic isn’t real.
Her: Of course it is!
Me: Magic isn’t real.
Her: Of course it is!

You might say that I didn’t try very hard, but I am a little weary by now. So many times, so many years… so many beliefs in so much nonsense. It all gets a bit too much.

The context of the conversation was a series that we’d been watching together, Witches of East End. I downloaded season one on Sunday, and we finished watching it last night. Megan had complained that the magic in the show is too far fetched and impossible, unlike real magic.

How many people believe that magic is real? I know I’d like it to be real. When I was a child and my father drove us through Cape Town, I used to like to look out the window at the mountains and the ocean, imagining myself flying, soaring like Superman over them, rising up slowly and swooping down at enough speed to give me a great rush of adrenaline. I wished it could be real, and I wanted to believe that I could fly. But that didn’t make it so.

I’d love to know what Megan thinks real magic is… The truth is, and I know this is a bad example because most people are religious, belief in magic is no different to belief in God. You can delude yourself into believing that you have a personal relationship with your God, even though he doesn’t actually exist. You can convince yourself that your god answers your prayers. Likewise, you can delude yourself into believing magic is working in your life. You can see all the signs you want, proving that it is real. But that doesn’t make it so.

Seeing signs of your god, or magic, is just motivated reasoning. The truth is, there is no magic, no psychics or mediums are genuine, astrology isn’t real, all “evidence” for the paranormal is either blurred photos that people who want to believe in convince themselves is real evidence, or hoaxed. Sure, if you look around you will find many believers in magic, many experts who can tell you all about your aura, your chakras and the astral plane. They have gone too far down that rabbit hole and convinced themselves that it is all real, even though there is not a shred of evidence for any of it. They’re more similar to people who devote their entire lives to a god that doesn’t exist than most people will ever care to admit. They really do want all those things, including magic, to be real. But that doesn’t make it so.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , ,

Hidden Posts

In case anyone notices that today’s post disappeared… I have been a little insensitive to someone by writing some stuff that I shouldn’t have – so those posts will be removed until further notice.

Posted in Uncategorized

The magical powers of crystals, a bronze age paradise and an ancient matriarchal civilization that ruled the land through the wise vibrations of the sin wave

Oh, this is just too funny not to share. Jason Colavito wrote an hilarious review of an article published on the Graham Hancock website. It’s a crazy mishmash of several different lunatic fringe theories and new age nonsense all thrown together and mixed into a psychedelic potpourri of preposterousness.

My title tries to paraphrase the lot in one line, but falls dismally short… trust me. (“Sin wave” is not my misspelling, by the way.) That people can believe in such madness never ceases to amaze me. My original motivation for my interest in all things related to the lunatic fringe was altogether another matter… Back in 2006/07, Megan went through several phases of interest in Wicca as well as the “healing power of crystals”. I, as her other half, had to support her in her mad pursuits, and “research” all the crazy shit. Despite being an addict who used an awful lot of methamphetamine every day back then, I was never quite deluded enough to believe in any of it, and so I spent an equal amount of time printing out the garbage as well as skeptical material debunking it. Yet I never succeeded in making her see that it was all bullshit.

Anyway, I do find it endlessly amusing that so many people believe in nonsense that is so crazy, I couldn’t even be stupid enough to believe in it while I was drugged out of my fucking mind. Seriously, read the article that breaks down this madness. It’s so funny, it really is quite sad.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , ,

Josh at the park on 26th July 2014

Just three photos this time. Josh was with us on Saturday for lunch and supper. While Megan scrambled to get supper ready, since he had to be back at Abby by 6PM (and didn’t make it, so Josh ended up eating McDonalds for supper), I took him to a local park. This meant I had to spend too much time running after him, and ended up dead tired. But as always, he is worth it…

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Posted in My life, Parenting, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged | 1 Comment

Some searches for me to mock

It’s that time again. Megan is baking some scones – something I always appreciate. We don’t have cream, so I will go buy some as soon as she is done. In the meantime I had a look at the blog stats, and some strange searches that ended up here. Why not respond to them in my idle minutes?

meth and sleep apnea?

Er, you are confused. Meth makes you stay awake. You don’t have sleep apnea – you’re just high. Get some help.

meth intimate relationships

I’m skipping the searches to do with meth and porn, because I wrote about that before.

Meth destroys your relationships. It doesn’t enhance them. It makes you high, as well as horny. It makes you and your partner promiscuous, as well as paranoid. Your partner may well end up cheating on you, but whether or not they do is not important, because you will probably think that they are. (Because it makes you paranoid, stupid.)

Seriously, sex on meth is like masturbating with a partner. Sex is not supposed to be all about yourself and your own pleasure, but on any narcotic drug, that’s what it is reduced to. Whether or not you include porn doesn’t really matter… although it usually starts out that way. Porn can be a great way of spicing up your sex life if you watch it together, but after the drugs destroy your relationships, the drugs and maybe the porn (that’s not stolen or sold) will be all you have left. You need help.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A solar storm nearly destroyed Earth two years ago?

Hmm… Another site to add to my growing list of sites that publish nonsense. How good is your capacity to think critically? According to news.com.au, the planet was nearly plunged into the dark ages two years ago by a solar flare. (Notice how much the article body contradicts the title? It goes from nearly destroyed to plunged back into the dark ages.)

You shouldn’t have to be a scientist to figure out that this is more than a stretch. Last time I checked, this planet still had a magnetic field. (And if we didn’t, like Mars – where the planet core that creates one has already cooled down – solar flares would have “blown” our atmosphere away a long time ago; so to put it into perspective, electromagnetic disruptions are not what needs to be feared. And our planet’s core is going to be doing just fine for some time to come.) Retrospective fear mongering… that’s got to be a new one.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , ,

Drug tests and false positives

Hmm… I didn’t see this site before.

Interesting one, that. My cold came back, and I have been taking my prescribed Advil CS again, which will give a false positive for amphetamine. (I stopped taking them yesterday though.) What I do find interesting though, is that it appears there are better tests that can be done in a laboratory. Those tests, unlike the cheap ones that we can buy in pharmacies here, will never give false positives. This makes me wonder why it is that the SANCA tests here are recognized by the courts, when they use the same cheap, unreliable tests that we can buy ourselves. I put it down to ignorance.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged ,

A belated thank-you, and some fun with eternal damnation

Three topics today – all related to atheism.

I’ve written before about my journey into atheism (too lazy to link to those posts now, but they are all tagged with atheism, so they should be easy to find), but there was one key moment I left out.

Wind back the clock to my high school days… I think I did mention that at fourteen years old, I was confirmed as a Roman Catholic, which oddly coincided with my own growing doubt. But I still believed. One day, when I was sixteen years old, I had a conversation with a girl named Meri. She was different to the rest of us, having grown up in a different culture in Finland (or was it Sweden? I don’t remember). She was an atheist. She scoffed at religious belief, and mocked it, much as I do now. She argued with me against religion, and I don’t know why – maybe it was her argument combined with my own growing doubt – I don’t know, and even though everybody else laughed at her and what she believed, I took her very seriously. By the end of that short conversation, my beliefs had changed radically. I continued to think about what she said, and in less than a day, I’d gone from somebody who could not comprehend disbelieving in God, to somebody who could not comprehend believing in God.

I still pretended for a few years, still went to Mass, even read my bible – something I’d never done as a believer, oddly enough. But when your eyes have been opened, when you have removed your selective belief blinkers, the bible is an awful book to read. You see all the stuff that your indoctrination has taught you to ignore as you rationalise it away. You see that it is a lot of nonsense.

Thus I’d like to thank Meri, somewhat belatedly, for opening up my eyes. It took me more than twenty years after that to admit publically to being an atheist, but that little talk we had in 1988 was the defining moment for me, the moment when my faith disappeared.

This is the reason I write about atheism occasionally. I know that we are “belief engines” and form a world-view when we are very young, and most of us can never change our world-view after that. But I did. I don’t know why, but if I could change my beliefs, then others can too, which makes it worth writing about.

My second topic is atheism in recovery. (Though I don’t have much to say on it today.) It is difficult, more difficult than I generally indicate. The problem is, belief in God, or at least a higher power, is an integral part of the twelve steps. It’s all very well that others in recovery always say that you don’t have to have a belief in God; because they say so while they do believe. They have often found faith in God, and while that may be an excellent crutch for them, it will never work for me. So whenever anybody says it, I find it insulting. They don’t even realize how condescending they are, or that they assume I will find God. It’s never going to happen. The irony is that if anybody deserves condescension, it’s those who would believe in such delusional nonsense. But such would not achieve anything useful.

Lastly, I’d like to make a point about eternal damnation, which is likely something you don’t think about if you have your selective belief blinkers on. If you believe, you’re likely to simply ignore that your religion teaches that you might not be saved. You just conveniently forget to think about that part. If you’re not a good Christian, or if you are a member of any other religion, or even if you were born somewhere such that you never heard of Jesus (even on another planet apparently, according to Ken Ham), then you are doomed to suffer forever.

Forever. Do you even know how long that is; do you comprehend it in years? I don’t. We typically live less than one hundred years. Yet we are taught that we will be damned not for one hundred years, not even for hundreds of years, or thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions, or even hundreds of billions of years. No, we are damned for ever and fucking ever. That is beyond absurd. But it’s OK… just carry right on, not thinking about it. That’s what you do as a Christian, right?

Posted in My life, Recovery | Tagged ,

Let there be shite

I’m sorry – I really just can’t think of a good title this time. Last night I read a fascinating post by Don Prothero, where he summarized his talk, about the mind of the science denier, from The Amazing Meeting 2014. (Wish I’d been there.) This is a partial quote of two paragraphs:

We are not rational computers, but “belief engines”, who form a “world view” or “core belief” early in our childhoods, and then fit everything we see or hear or read to conform to our pre-existing beliefs, or deny or ignore it if we can’t.

These habits of the brain are known as “motivated reasoning.” They include cognitive dissonance (when we find a fact that clashes with our deeply held beliefs, we find some way to rationalize it away or deny it, rather than accept it and change our world view), tribalism (our core beliefs are largely inherited from our family, friends, community and local culture, so they are an artifact of these things, not rationally choosing what to believe), confirmation bias (our brains remember the hits and forget the misses, so we can hear important facts that contradict our core beliefs and ignore them), cherry picking (where we pick a tiny fact or quotation out of context that seems to support our beliefs, and ignore the rest that doesn’t), and other kinds of motivated reasoning. From this, it’s clear that in most cases, bringing facts and evidence to the attention of a believer does no good whatsoever, since they cannot allow it to change what they want to believe.

That, in my opinion, is a great explanation of why indoctrination works. If our world-views are formed when we are really young, and then more or less cast in stone from that point, and we are then reinterpret everything in terms of that world-view, it is surely an accurate description of the way indoctrination of the very young into religious beliefs essentially brainwashes them into being unable to see how absurd those beliefs are. I know many people who simply refuse to see reason. No matter what I or anybody else says, they perceive everything in terms of their belief, to the point of reading something entirely different into my words, than what is really stated.

This also made me think a little of Ken Ham’s strange beliefs about aliens that Steve Novella wrote of recently. What it comes down to, is Ham believes that only we are saved (as long as we accept Jesus), but the rest of the universe can therefore not be saved. That is, even if there are millions of other Earth-like planets containing life in the universe, only we can be saved. God doesn’t care about any of the other races.

Sounds absurd, doesn’t it?

Or maybe not as absurd as you might think. Maybe you have been indoctrinated into Christianity, and you perceive everything in terms of your indoctrination? A typical reaction of such a person to seeing how large the universe really is, is to say something like “Look at all these marvellous things God created. He is truly great.” Except you’re missing a bigger point, one that Ham, whose fundamentalist literal interpretations of the Bible has realized: The god of the Bible was not concerned with the universe. He created the world, and everything revolved around the world, which is the centre of everything in the bible. The heavens are up above. Hell is below. The stars exist only as guides, little lights up in the sky to point to impending events, such as the birth of Christ.

The truth is, you can only choose to believe in the bible as well as science if you employ selective belief; if you choose to perceive selective bits and pieces of reality in terms of your religious world-view, then ignore the rest. As a Christian, you are supposed to believe that all other people of all other religions are damned. Ham just takes it a little further, and applies this absurdity to the whole universe. (But if you are a believer, it should apply. And that should be one of the reasons for realizing that it can not be true.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , , ,

Apparently aliens can’t have salvation because Jesus didn’t save them – according to Ken Ham

If you haven’t already read Steven Novella’s recent post, Aliens are Sinners, please do so…

Although he doesn’t state it directly, it comes across loud and clear that believing in gods up in the sky is something our ancestors, who knew no better than thinking we are the centre of the universe, can be forgiven for – but for modern man to believe in such nonsense is absurd. Creationists views are the funniest, because they try to apply ancient beliefs about man being the centre of the universe to our modern scientific view. This is why I was so angry the other day, when a Facebook “friend” shared a joke about atheists which used a straw man to accuse atheists of the arrogance inherent in theistic belief.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , ,

Blogging about blogging, and some of the content that ended up in my mind’s cutting room floor

The story I linked to yesterday, and some recent comments on one of my posts, has motivated me to write some of the stuff that I recently left out of recent posts, and also describe how I plan my posts.

The truth is, I often wonder about my writing competence. Do I have a gift for it, or am I just lucky to hit on topics that people would like to read about, in my random written ramblings? I don’t know how other people plan and then write their content, unless somebody tells me (which they haven’t) but I do know how I plan my own posts. Maybe this will seem familiar to other bloggers?

Firstly, I should mention that I do sometimes write off the top of my head, without any planning at all. But this is rare. Normally if I do that, the post will be emotionally motivated, so it’s a response to something I’ve seen or heard or read, and it’s written to convey my feeling, be it outrage, anger, pain, or some other emotion. Those posts will often contain more of my dry wit than usual, which is a risk. I can be funny, but being funny is difficult. It’s too easy to miss the mark when aiming for sarcasm, and hit the facetious, childish, insulting or stupid mark instead. Such a post, if it goes wrong, can drag down the quality of everything I write, making it all seem arrogant, pretentious and presumptuous.

Normally everything I write is carefully planned, and prewritten in my head. (And this is where I wonder… Do other bloggers do the same?) I’ll think of what I want to write the night before, or maybe while I’m driving, for example.

My “posts in my head” are then quite detailed. They always contain the introduction, almost word for word, and the conclusion, if there is one. Further, they contain most of the paragraphs that the final post will contain, at least down to the key concept of each paragraph. I also frequently plan other lines or witticisms that I know I will include, but may not know where in the final structure of the post they belong. I make no effort to commit any of it to memory. Fortunately it comes back to me when I write. Filling in the actual words comes effortlessly once I know what each key concept is. I liken it to writing a computer program… When solving a programming problem, I know and understand the problem I want to solve, and before I write a single line of code, I know what my solution will be. I don’t know what the various classes (the abstract objects definitions at design time) will be called, or what their methods, properties and events will be named. I don’t know exactly how I will code discreet little parts of the program, but that doesn’t matter. Those are implementation details and they just flow without much effort once I sit down to code. Writing a blog post is the same.

Of course what does happen is, sometimes when I sit down to write, a concept that seemed simple yesterday grows more complex and important today. Also, I don’t like my posts to be excessively long, and some paragraphs, with their concepts that may have changed a post’s tone completely, sometimes need to be omitted.

For example, yesterday’s post about the time I almost witnessed a suicide was to have another paragraph, describing a conversation when I arrived at work. The first person I told about it asked me why I didn’t try to save her. I felt guilty that I couldn’t save her, but ended up omitting this because I managed to convey that guilt more effectively without mentioning the conversation, in my second-last paragraph. It also included a nod to the conversation, in the form of an imagined prayer that she said to herself. (The conversation was with a very devout Christian.)

My recent post about atheism and morality had a great deal of my planned post omitted. My opinion on abortion has changed several times over the years, and although it is now similar to the way it started out, I didn’t think that needed to be written. (Irrelevant.) I once gave a friend money for an abortion. The thing is, I didn’t believe that she really wanted it for an abortion – she came from an impoverished background, while I, at that time, had money to waste. I thought she was scamming me for money, but gave it to her anyway, because I thought she needed it more than I did. Try as I might, I could not find a way of making that relevant to the rest of the post, so it had to be left out.

So fellow bloggers, how do you plan your posts? Similarly to mine, or completely otherwise?

Posted in Non-addiction, Writing | Tagged

Some geek humour

I love geek humour, and I love sarcasm when it’s done really well. OK, I guess not all my readers will appreciate this, but I find it hilarious. The other day, Raymond Chen wrote a funny anecdote about how one of his colleagues debugged a line-of-business application for a package delivery service. He included some brilliantly and deliberately cheesy metaphors to a set piece in a movie, when describing the chaos that ensued. It’s well-written and funny, as his writing often is. But for whatever reason, some people were not happy, and criticized it rather harshly. So now he rewrote the post, labelling all the embellishments and so on. The amount of sarcasm and the effort he put into the follow-up post is sheer genius.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

The time somebody committed suicide right beside me, and I turned and walked away

It was 1996, and I was 25 years old. (Actually it may have been a year or two before or after – I don’t remember – but it’s not important to the story.) I worked at a place called Plessey SA, now called Tellumat SA, and I used to take the train to work.

Here’s where it happened:

Suicide_Spot

As my workplace was situated almost equally between two train stations, I disembarked at the safer of the two, Retreat station (near the top of this map), then walked the rest of the way and crossed over the railway line just before getting to work. What doesn’t show on the map is that the track isn’t guarded – it’s just on some bushy badly maintained land, but on the other side of the road running parallel to the track on the right, it’s the middle of suburbia and there are houses all the way along there.

I always walked quickly, and was on my way to catching up with several slower walkers, but hadn’t quite reached them yet, when I reached the point where I needed to cross the railway track.

But to my dismay, a woman was making it difficult for me to pass, which was getting urgent as a train was approaching. There was only a narrow pathway through the bush where I needed to cross, but the woman, who looked like one that we called a “bag lady” in our childhood, was wondering around, slowly and deliberately, and appeared to be intoxicated, immediately in front of me, blocking my way.

Eventually I got a gap to pass, and as I did so, she laid down on the track right beside me. She lay on her stomach, with her head on the Tellumat side, and her legs sticking out on the other side. The train was approaching fast by this point, and only then did I realize what she was doing.

As I passed, she looked up at me, and we made eye-contact briefly. And the look in those eyes was so sad… It was a look of desperation, confusion and resignation all at once. I tried to think of saving her, but the train was less than twenty meters away and approaching fast. So fast, it was irresponsible of me to cross the line so close to it. I thought about trying to pull her to safety, but estimated that I had less than two seconds to do so. Had I tried, I might not have succeeded. Maybe she would have pulled me down, and I was afraid. My own survival instinct kicked in, and so I did the only thing I could think of doing: I turned. I walked on as fast as I could. I did not look back.

I was less than ten meters away when I heard the awful sound, a sound that is hard to describe. It was like something between a gunshot and a thunderclap, but brought with it the terrible truth of what it did to that lady’s body. One moment she was alive, and the next, she was not. I don’t know if it was only her mid-section that was minced and dragged for several meters, whether her arms and head were left mostly intact on the one side – her legs mostly on the other, if those parts were spun around and dragged with the rest, or if they shot out in either direction, as the train cut her to pieces. I didn’t want to know.

But everybody walking in front of me, who I had almost caught up with, who had not seen the old woman lie down in the path of the train, all of them – and there were several – turned back to go and gawk. Like gawkers around an accident scene, they all went to have a look. I tried to tell them not to, but I had no words.

I wouldn’t say that this has haunted me, but it is something that I think of occasionally. What did she think of in those last moments? Was it all about bringing herself to do it, or was there a moment of hope when our eyes met? Sometimes I wonder if she said a little prayer, something like “Please God, give me a sign. Show me that somebody, anybody still cares and then I won’t do it.” And yet I did care for this desperate stranger. If only I had realized what she was doing a few seconds sooner, maybe I could have tried to stop her. But I realized too late, and the risk of trying to save her was too great. She was already on the track, and the train was right there, looming in front of us, bearing down on both of us as I crossed the line, and hesitated when our eyes met.

It’s weird that years later I became depressed. I even threatened suicide once or twice, but the truth is that was just a cry for help. I never even thought it through; never thought about how to do it. I can not imagine a pleasant way to kill yourself, but neither can I imagine a worse or more unpleasant way of ending your life than by laying down in the path of an oncoming train. (Maybe it’s different if there’s nobody left who cares, and you don’t care about your corpse having any dignity in a coffin.) But if you must do it, please don’t take your last moments to look into the eyes of some random slob who will forever after wonder if he could have saved you.

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

Apologies to the random guy I dissed on Facebook

I’m not having the best day. Sometimes it seems we spend too much time bickering… Jerome, take the garbage out. Jerome do this. Jerome do that. What’s the time? (Hello, you have a watch and two mobile phones. You figure it out.)

So when I logged on to Facebook earlier, to find a stupid share that disrespected atheists, with a caricature of Richard Dawkins and a message that atheists are “the most illogical people in the universe” because apparently we are so selfish we think the universe is about us, I could not help but point out that the straw man purported by the line was the exact opposite to atheism. It applies to theists, who think that we are so special, the one and only creator somehow sent his son here as one of us. I then further pointed out how illogical religion is… “Ja right… virgins give birth every day”… before thanking him for reminding me to unfriend him.

Nothing I said was out of line, but it was unnecessary. The person who posted the stupid joke was a nice guy, someone I met in rehab when I started there late 2009. I haven’t seen him since then and so he was just another name in my Facebook friends. Not anymore, and he obviously doesn’t consider it any loss.

Funny how easy it is to take out your anger on people on the internet.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged ,

Am I the only one getting tired of all these insults to intelligence shared on Facebook?

Lately I’m seeing a lot of these shared:

1391831_540967022653854_321407078_n

For fuck’s sake… It’s a trick. They always follow the same pattern:

  1. It’s an absolutely trivial series that a child can solve. (In this case, as the number on the left is incremented by one, the number on the right increments by eleven.)
  2. Then they leave out one.

Duh – the answer is 68, right? Wrong, obviously. If the bottom number on the left were 116, which they left out to trick you, the answer would be 68. But since they omitted 116 and went straight to 117, the answer can only be 79.

The completely made up statistic that only 20% of people will get this right on the first attempt is obviously completely made up, but I guess that many will get this wrong because we are all really good at seeing simple progressions, but might solve it too quickly without noticing that they left out the next number in the logical sequence. I’m willing to bet that they never do this sort of thing in an aptitude test because it is a dirty trick, designed to use your aptitude (that allows you to solve puzzles quickly) against you.

It’s counter-intuitive. If you have a higher IQ, you’ll probably recognize that this is a simple puzzle, and then solve it too quickly, getting it wrong. So if you got it wrong, don’t worry – it means you are too clever for these simple tricks. (I got it right. Therefore I am stupid. Drat.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

Atheism and Morality

Due to my time constraints for blog-writing, and my tendency to hate sitting on a post for more than a few minutes, I can probably barely scratch the surface of this contentious topic. But I’ll try to scratch it enough to reveal some value.

Last night I was thinking of the moral dilemma that is abortion, and how little my views on it have changed since I began calling myself an atheist. I’ll get on to that in due course, but to put it in context, this can not be addressed without considering the broader subject of morality in atheism, in general. The reality is, my morals have hardly changed since I let go of my belief in God. Well, they have changed a little, but for the better. This is in stark contrast to the views I often encounter according to the perception of the religious, who seem to think that atheists lack morality.

The truth is, religion by its very nature is elitist. For example:

I am the way, the truth and the light. No one can come to the father but through me.

Ignore any errors there, as that was from memory. Also ignore the fact that I doubt that, if an historical Jesus existed, he even said that. The message in all Abrahamic religions is clear. Only we get to have eternal life. Everyone else is doomed. Thus by its very nature, religions marginalize others, and believers see others, who believe in other religions, as inferior. Most religious people don’t realize it, because they have their selective belief blinkers on.

In fact, most racists find ways to justify their racially exclusive beliefs using religion. That’s just one example. Colavito has identified many in fringe history and conspiracy theory culture. (I suggest reading him… Unlike myself, he is an actual writer.) As someone who opposes the belief in any god, as well as the moral superiority of a religion – as an atheist – I believe that we are all equal. That is, we humans are all the same and have the same rights. It doesn’t matter if we are male or female. It doesn’t matter what colour our skin is, and it doesn’t matter what our sexual persuasion is.

Some atheists call themselves humanists or secular humanists. I don’t know enough about humanism to be able to call myself one. I don’t know if it is a worthy label, or if it is a euphemism, a way of bowing down to those who would see atheism as a poor moralistic choice. All I know is, I can’t call myself “secular”, as I feel it might give the wrong impression of atheism being a religion. Atheism is not a religion at all.

Getting back to my motivation for writing this: abortion. The first time I really thought about it was in my school days. For whatever reason, a girl in my standard 8 biology class brought up the subject often. She was overly emotional about it, and I guess I know what that really means. Her argument in favour of abortion went something like: “When I was conceived, I was just a bunch of cells. Therefore I was not a living person and abortion is not morally wrong.” Though I was not yet out of my shyness and did not yet express my beliefs to anyone, and if I did, I probably would have screwed it up, as I did not have the ability to express myself terribly well, my response to her at the time would have been “What more are you now? You’re not special, you’re just a bigger bunch of cells. So if I kill you now, it’s also OK.”

The gist of my argument has not changed since then. The sperm being formed and recycled every 48 hours in my testicles do not constitute life. I think Monty Python did a great job satirising that idea in their song Every Sperm is Sacred. But the moment a sperm cell is combined with an ovary, in my mind that is a human life, albeit one in a very early stage of development. And destroying that life, is murder, no matter how you try to spin it.

Sadly that was all the time I have for this topic. I hope I have done it justice.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Should Be Higher

I just saw this on YouTube… Wow, Dave’s voice is still amazing live. I also saw in an interview from around the time Delta Machine was released, that Dave Gahan was over 15 years clean at that time. Dave, you are an inspiration…

 

Posted in Recovery | Tagged , ,

Saying your bedtime prayers (is just one method of religious indoctrination)

I visited Josh last night, and as usual I stayed until he went to bed, then said goodnight and left the room while Abby got him to say his bedtime prayer. (In yesterday’s post on my personal life difficulties, I forgot to mention this one: Having religious delusion imposed on my child when I would not want it. This is a topic that theists don’t understand – they just brush it off because they can not comprehend the harm in religious indoctrination, since they are already brainwashed, but this is a topic that every atheist takes very seriously.)

This reminded me of a search term that brought somebody here recently: Methods of religious indoctrination. When I first saw it, I thought… Whaaaat? You want to start a cult? Then I realized that it probably resulted from a search engine because I have written about this topic enough times by now, and the person searching was probably someone like me, someone who only relatively recently discovered that religious indoctrination exists.

It occurred to me last night that Josh probably knows all about the Virgin Mary, as did I at six years old. It’s a clever trick of indoctrination: Teach a child something that they can not possibly understand, and drum it into them when they are young, as well as teaching them not to question it. At six year’s old, I knew all about the Virgin Mary, but I didn’t know what a virgin is, and I didn’t know what sex is. Instead of being explained the truth, I was bamboozled with nativity plays and all sorts of childish over-simplifications of the story.

And there’s another method of indoctrination right there… nativity plays, children’s bible’s, Psalty Songs for little praisers… By the time the children reach adulthood, they are brainwashed into accepting absolute nonsense without question. Try teaching an adult who never heard of Jesus that 2000 years ago, a virgin gave birth to a demigod. The holy spirit came upon her… (And inside her?) They will think you are out of your mind. But an adult who has been brainwashed with nonsense since their childhood, and bamboozled with all indoctrination’s tricks at stopping you from actually thinking about it critically will just go along with the ride, and continue to accept the nonsense they have been taught all along. In fact, rather than think about it critically, they’ll just go along with being bamboozled some more, through tasks like bible study, or pursue their personal relationship with the Lord.

Come to think of it, I was never good at being a happy clapper. I said my prayers as a child, but not out loud. I figured that if God knew how many grains of sand there are on the beach, and how many hairs on my head, and how many cuckoo clocks failed to chime every hour, he could hear my thoughts anyway. It only occurred to me much later, if I were to create a universe, why would I give a damn how many fucking grains of sand were on any random planet, or why would I care when some little snot-nosed brat cried to me that her big brother told her she had a nose like a doughnut?

By the time I reached adulthood, I’d already decided that anybody talking about their personal relationship with Jesus had serious mental issues, and anybody who spoke of walking with the Lord was not the sort of person I cared for. Atheism was the only way for me, the only path away from this madness. It wasn’t an easy one, because all those methods of indoctrination introduce excessive amounts of guilt when you try to let go of them. You can’t just discard years of brainwashing instantly; it’s a difficult process that takes some of us longer than others, but it is so worthwhile. I only hope it’s not too late for me to repair the damage that has been done to Josh, in teaching him all this shit.

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

On my life’s difficulties

We all have our difficulties in life, and we all have to learn how best to deal with them. That’s just part of life, and I think that how you deal with your difficulties depends on your personal maturity and the way you perceive your difficulties, as well as your understanding of why they are there. I also think that dealing with them maturely results in a better quality of life, and happiness. I’ve been avoiding writing about my personal difficulties for a while, but maybe it is time to share some of them…

Yesterday, while I was at work, the social worker visited our home. I hope she was happy with what she found, and I hope that this means our reunification with Josh is finally on the way to being a reality.

Having him staying with someone else, Abby, my brother’s ex-wife, is sometimes a difficult pill to swallow. Sometimes it seems that she thinks he will always be with her, and doesn’t want to make any effort for his reunification with us to be easier. Recently she held a joint party for Aishah and her 11-year old at her parents’ house. It was a nice gesture, but in a way I thought it might have been a mistake. While I was in earshot, she was discussing the schooling of the children with her friends. They were arguing over which schools are the best, and Josh came up. Even though I was in earshot, she spoke as if he would always be with her, but that isn’t the first time she has been so carelessly insensitive.

She also refers to his cousins as his brother and sisters, and makes no effort to encourage him to understand the truth, as well as prepare him to live with us again. A few weeks ago, I got scolded by her for telling Josh “not to call Chris Daddy”… which is really odd, because nobody told him that. Megan told him not to call Abby Mommy, but only in the context that he often calls Megan “you”, although he calls me “Daddy”. Although it’s convenient visiting Josh nearby at Abby’s place, in a way I preferred visiting him at Chris. Chris would never say one thing and mean something else… like me, he always says exactly what he really feels, and although sometimes he can be a jerk (also like me), he can be trusted.

We also had to hear that Josh wet the bed because we had upset him with what we said (which included my telling him that his cousins are his cousins – not his brother and sisters). But I look at it differently… he always asks when he can come live with us, which we cannot answer directly. That combined with her not being on the same page as us, and not doing enough to prepare him for coming back to us, is very upsetting indeed. The situation is upsetting, but by contradicting his parents, even though he wants to return to us but has no say, is in my opinion what truly upsets him.

However, I do not want to contradict Abby, because having the adults bickering or telling him different stories will ultimately not be in Josh’s best interest. So I do my best not to rock the boat, and make sure I am on the right path to having him back with us. But it is extremely difficult. I constantly have to hold back my anger, telling myself that it is not justified and must not be expressed, and that doing so would only cause harm.

Also, in a way I can see where she is really coming from, although she will probably never admit it. She has become attached to Josh. I know all about attachment. I have become very attached to Aishah. She’s not my biological daughter, but as far as I am concerned, she is my daughter, and I love her as much as I would my own. I don’t ever want to lose her, and this is something I need to talk to Megan about. At some point, I want to adopt her, so that if anything happens to Megan, I don’t lose Aishah. I believe that will be the best for Aishah, but for the time being, I’m not dealing with this difficulty yet…

To end this on a more positive note, Aishah has picked up an endearing new behaviour. She’s become accustomed to our morning ritual, and she knows that the last thing I do every morning, before taking her to crèche, is put on my jacket. So if I put on my jacket any other time, she becomes highly agitated and upset, thinking that I am going somewhere but not taking her with me. (I have no choice but to pick her up and comfort her, or else she won’t shut up.)

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

Yet another strange and crazy dream

I’m not one of those people who believe that there is any meaning in dreams, but sometimes I wonder where they come from. I mean, this one has nothing to do with anything on my conscious mind. Also, in my dream-world it is customary for me to forget that people in my life have died, so when I dream of them, I don’t question them on why they are there, or what it’s like after death. (Are the roads paved with gold? Are there sweet old ladies handing out tea and chocolate cake on every corner?)

So, the dream started with me mostly in the role of little red riding-hood, without the wolf. I was walking through the woods, to visit Grandma (pronounced without the D, more like grammar). I found myself at a park bench, on the phone with my Aunt Mercia, who informed me that Grandma had died. I became highly upset and cried quite a bit, and insisted on knowing when exactly this had happened. (For whatever reason, I forgot that Grandma died around 1994, and Aunt Mercia more recently.)

My aunt wasn’t very forthcoming with any information to my emotional outburst of questions, and the more she spoke, the more confused I became. Eventually I resigned myself to wait for her at the park bench, which in the meantime had become a bus stop.

From there, I departed on my bicycle, on a winding mountain road, off to meet my parents. It was a difficult road to cycle, and my cycling skill had apparently dwindled in the years since I last rode a bike, evidenced by the aged people and children who cycled past me constantly.

At last I came to a church, where I parked my car. (It’s a dream; the sequences of events don’t make a lot of sense.) There I met my parents. Apparently this church held the weekly ANC meeting that grandma always attended. (My father died in 2000. Grandma never supported the ANC.) We were all very sad, but also commented on the guest speaker and his wife, who were Afrikaans and white. We joked about them being token whites. Never mind that we are also white, and the meeting looked more like a regular Catholic Mass. I also had some strange introduced memories. Apparently in the dream, I always remembered the Creed having a verse about Grandma and us collecting her Sunday Missal. (Of course Grandma was from my mother’s side, and wasn’t even Catholic.)

Our attendance was cut rather suddenly, as dad got hungry, and in the middle of proceedings wandered off to the back of the church where they had free snacks. I became embarrassed when a woman approached us, and explained to her that my grandmother had died on this day, and we were attending her weekly ANC meeting. The woman, who was blonde with an old beehive hairstyle, proceeded to ask me a strange question, something to do with whether my brother knew where I was and would be able to fetch me. I don’t know exactly what she asked because I’d decided that she was stupid, and hence didn’t listen to the second half of the question. Of course I answered her with “Yes”, because the best way to get idiots to go away is always to agree with them. (It really is.)

I walked outside, and abandoned my car after starting to walk in the wrong direction. Then I found myself at a house I don’t know, which I entered using my house keys. (Perfectly normal in the dream.) I was supposed to be fetching something there; but I don’t recall now what it was. I tired to phone my mother, but the UI on my phone was something I’ve never seen before. It featured an endless scroll and looked more like Facebook, with nothing other then spam. Suddenly Christmas rolled around, and I received many Christmas messages. I also got two phone calls from my girlfriend; not Megan, but another girl called Kegan that I only dated for about two months several years ago. I ended both her calls mid-sentence because her voice was annoying. (It really is.)

Then my mother showed up, as I walked away. I tried to call her, but had no voice. She was fuming with anger; then saw me anyway, and lambasted me for not calling her, and not answering any of her calls, even though I had tried to call, and hadn’t received any calls from her. At this point I knew that my father was dead, but it didn’t occur to me as unusual that he was in the ANC meeting/church earlier. And so I woke up, wondering what the hell that was all about.

Posted in My life, Non-addiction | Tagged

Flu vaccinations… What’s the use?

Oh dear… The internet connection at work is broken, and here I am using my mobile connection, because I had already decided to write this. I’ll try to keep it brief… (It’s more or less the only time I get to blog at work; I’m the first to get here and I’m too busy to blog later.)

First of all, let’s get my context for questioning flu vaccines quite clear… I do believe in vaccinations, and I know they have saved countless lives and eradicated at least one disease: smallpox. What I’m questioning is flu vaccinations. Just how useful are they really?

Earlier this year, we took Aishah for her one year vaccinations. While we were there, Megan got her flu shot. I made a big joke of it at the time, boasting that I have never had a flu shot, and I don’t believe in them. It seemed the joke was on me last week, when I got a bad case of the flu. (My main reason for questioning flu shots is, I hardly ever get sick. If I get flu once every 5 years, that’s a lot.)

But now, Megan has the same flu. So now she had to take a day’s sick leave, which she didn’t want to do as she is nervous about losing her job. There’s a doctor almost right across the road from us – I told her to go there. But anyway, I do wonder what the use is of flu shots if you can still get a flu anyway?

I’m still not 100% well. The worst of it is over, but I am still phlegmy and unsure if I am still infectious enough to pass it on – hence I did not visit Josh yesterday. The interesting thing is, the doctor across the road, Dr Dave Kaplan happens to be a director of a rehab nearby, and when I asked him for advice regarding cold medications and false positive results for drug tests, he gave me some advice that I had not anticipated: Firstly, he’s not sure if modern urine tests will detect amphetamine in the case of cold medications, but just in case, he advised me not to go go anywhere near being tested if I thought it might. I didn’t visit Josh yesterday, because I was uncertain if I would still be able to infect him, but I did test myself for curiosity sake, and tested clear. (After stopping the prescribed Advil CS on Friday.) But this advice was not what I expected to hear. However, I will see Josh this week, probably by myself if Megan is still ill.

Update: In case this is not perfectly clear… Dr Kaplan’s attitude to testing is this: “As director of a rehab, if someone comes in and tests positive for any reason, I will think” [that they are using]. Not what I had expected. But also, I have been tested on the same day as taking Flutex before, and the results were negative, so maybe all this possible positive results thing is just me being paranoid. It is a big deal though… Nobody wants to get a positive test result when they aren’t using, because it introduces all kinds of nonsense… i.e. unnecessary mistrust.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged , ,

Turning off those stupid Windows Live Calendar notifications

I’ve got to admit, for a computer programmer, it is pretty dumb that I didn’t know this, but I see I was not alone…

What I’m talking about is those annoying birthday reminders that have been driving me nuts for the last two years, since I bought my first Windows phone. I didn’t even know where they came from… But recently Raymond Chen wrote a great post on how to switch those notifications off.

I’ll repeat just the relevant details here, as they apply to me:

  1. Log in to calendar.live.com
  2. Click the gear icon on the top right, and go to Options.
     CalendarOptions
  3. Choose your birthday calendar… Here’s what my options page looks like:CalendarOptions1
  4. Then turn off the notifications like so: (It’s on by default)CalendarOptions2
Posted in Advice, Non-addiction | Tagged

Homesick

For no particular reason, this song was on my mind when I woke up this morning. I hadn’t listened to it for many years, but it was my favourite of the songs on The Cure’s Disintegration album. Those words, as well as the tune, have played back in my mind so many times over the years, yet the song is just as fresh, as well as haunting, every time I hear it.

I can’t find the performance of it I used to own on VHS, and I can’t remember what that concert was called, so for once my memory has failed me. If anyone can remember it, please let me know… It’s one that came out around 1989 or 1990, where Robert sings the chorus at the end a little higher. I think it was during their tour for Disintegration but I’m not sure. Here’s one I did find though. The Cure are always great live…

 

Update: OK, this is insane… After watching this video again, I decided the quality is simply too good for me not to download the rest of this performance. At 7.05GB though, it’s half my data. (Still, last month my data expired and wasted 5GB.) I found the torrent here.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , , ,

Oh My…

Via a Facebook share by George Takei… The image below links to the article, with another 19 of these unintentional spelling errors by children. Some of them are very funny.

18_5

Posted in Funny

I hate being sick, yet it sickens me even further that pharmacies sell drugs that will not make me well.

I’m back at work, after being off for two days. (I left around 10AM on Tuesday, and by the time I got home, had a bad fever.) I went to the doctor yesterday, and he put me off work for just the two days, so here I am again. Still sick, but less sick than I was. Does 875mg of amoxycillen sound like a lot?

Before I went to the doctor, I visited the local pharmacy (in the mall where I work). What amazes me about this place, is they have a whole isle dedicated to homeopathy… How can that be right? OK, I admit that I have no credentials in medicine or pharmacology, so anything I write on this topic will be no more than my subjective opinion… But guess what? That makes me as qualified as the homeopaths.

I often hear of people talking about “Big Pharma”, and sometimes they like to share their nuggets of wisdom on Facebook. But let’s get some things straight…

  • Real pharmacology involves actual research. That means scientists, teams of them, carving out careers in researching better medicine. That also means paying all those salaries for all those years of hard work, and patents on their discoveries, which are earned by years of hard work.
  • Homeopathy involves zero research. (Oh, there might be some pretence of research, but that really doesn’t count.) That means no real scientists, because no scientist is going to try to frame the evidence to suggest that sugar and water can through some magic, cure all diseases. So “Big Homeo” is all pure profit. No research means they can just focus on packing their sugar pills, bottling the water, and marketing it all to look as pretty as can be.

Seriously, it’s sinful that people can get away with selling us sugar and water. It’s maddening that I can go to a popular pharmacy, and they have very little real medicine that I can purchase without a prescription from a doctor. If only something could be done, like the warning you get on cigarette packs… Why not have a warning on all homeopathic medicines?…

Warning: This substance has been proven to have zero effect beyond placebo.
Posted in Conspiracy Theories, My life, Non-addiction | Tagged | 3 Comments

Beware: Cold medications often contain pseudoephedrine

The pharmacy didn’t have Flutex, so I bought this instead:

FamuCaps

But if you do regular drug tests and use something like this… beware: This will give a positive urine test result for amphetamine.

I’m not too worried though, since I will at least know why. But unlike the street drugs, this will only give a positive result for 48 hours. I don ‘t have a choice though… I must work, and I can’t do so with my nose running constantly.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged

Just a couple of quick rants

I have a nasty cold… runny nose, cough and headache, which presumably I caught from Aishah, who has a runny nose and oral thrush. I also have a major deadline today, and so I’m waiting for the closest pharmacy to open for me to get some Flutex. (Luckily I work in office towers that are inside a shopping mall.)

In the meantime, I Googled incel… Remember yesterday’s post? Some disturbing stuff there, including the fact that “CoAlpha” forum members (i.e. losers who can’t get laid and bitch about it online) would have made the guy a hero, if only he hadn’t killed so many men along with the women.

Here’s the thing, you stupid misogynistic fucks… (pardon the pun that doesn’t actually apply to you… haha), if you hate women, then how the fuck do you expect them to date you? Really losers, I think it’s time you found some man love with each other.

In other news, 24 youths ages between 14 and 16 have died here in South Africa this winter, in bush initiation schools. For those overseas who don’t know what that is, it’s a culture among native people here, where to enter manhood, the youths get circumcised in the bush. Not terribly hygienic, obviously, since so many of them die. The government is trying to address this problem, but people can be stubborn and cling to practices that are ingrained into their culture. It’s really sad that this should happen in this age, but it does. Frankly, I can’t understand how anyone can believe that they become a man by having any part of their penis cut off. I feel more manly, having my whole dick…

Posted in My life, Non-addiction | Tagged , , ,

(There is no place for) misogyny (AKA incel) in modern society

This is something that came to my attention a couple of months ago, and I have been meaning to write my feelings about it since then.

I read this article about a 22-year-old gunman who killed six people in Santa Barbara earlier this year, and it genuinely shocked me. It wasn’t just what he did that is so wrong, it was also what he, and many others, believed about himself, and women, that was such a shock.

He wrote a “manifesto”, in which he complained bitterly about the various women who rejected him. He was part of an online community of men who felt that it was unfair that the women they desired didn’t just open their legs for them. (My paraphrasing.)

These men call themselves incel, involuntarily celibate. There’s a disturbing online underground of them, who indulge in blog-writing, joining forums, and going to PUI (pick-up-artists) websites, who promise to help them bed the girls of their dreams. The murders were the final act of that one disturbed individual when nothing worked.

Here’s a quote from that article I linked to – which itself quotes another “former incel blogger”:

This condition is the fault of women who do not exercise their right to choose partners appropriately. “I simply don’t think women understand the costs men deal with having to be the one to shoulder the burden of serial rejection,” writes a “former” incel, echoing the self-pitying mantra of Rodger’s manifesto.

By rejecting men, it is women who bring misogyny on themselves. The same blogger explains: “Misogyny is not innate. It’s bred. And each new generation of overly indulgent, ego driven, overly empowered, and narcissistic crop of feminism indoctrinated woman who relegates the bulk of men to the sidelines of incel-ville while riding the ponies breeds it like mosquitos after the rain.”

Involuntary celibacy is “dangerous and needs to be resolved,” the blogger concludes.

What?! There is some deep irony here… +1 for being able to string together a few words to form some fairly decent prose, but being able to write doesn’t make your argument correct. There is narcissism involved here, but not on the part of the women. Those who are narcissistic are the men who expect that they somehow deserve to be selected. They do not consider the women at all, but think that for whatever reason, they automatically deserve sex. This is wrong for too many reasons.

Ever heard of sexual selection? In most modern societies, apart from a few places where arranged marriages still take place, despite the fact that ours is still a male-dominated society, when it comes to choosing a life partner, it is the woman who gets to choose. If you are an obvious misogynist, no woman in their right mind will ever select you. And thinking it’s all about sex is really a symptom of the fact that you don’t perceive them as anything other than objects anyway… Sex is just one part of a healthy relationship. If you are ineligible to be selected, unless you pay for it or commit rape, you will surely die a virgin, and that is exactly what you deserve.

There is an implicit assumption going on in the minds of these men, that is revealed by their own label, incel. That is, there is no such thing as involuntarily celibate, because this assumes that you deserve sex from whomever you want, but it was never your choice to begin with. If women don’t select you, it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with them; it means that there is something wrong with you.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , | 3 Comments

How square are you?

Somebody shared this on Facebook the other day… So I reshared it. I enjoy simple puzzles almost as much as I hate stupid polls. What surprized me was that few people seemed to get the correct answer. How many squares do you see?

Actually I don’t know what the right answer is. I only know what my answer is, and I’ll write it below.

10153712_10151995344811314_819160146_n

My answer is below. Just see how many you get first…

 

 

My answer, trying to explain as I see them:

  1. Obviously, the whole thing is one big 4×4 match square. So we have 1.
  2. Add all the little squares made of only 4 matches (1×1). 9 of them. So we have 10.
  3. You can easily see how the large outer square breaks into 4 quarters (2×2). So now we have 14.
  4. Add the middle one, which is the same size as the quarters (2×2), made of 4 of the little squares that we counted in step 2. Now we have 15.
  5. Lastly, if you start in the bottom left-hand corner, there’s another one with a size of 3×3 matches. So there are definitely 16 squares.

Did I miss any? The most popular answer seems to be 15, but I can clearly make out 16. Are there any more?

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , | 2 Comments