Be Weary When You Say “Apparently” Or “I Believe”

Anyone that either knows me in person, or has read my posts on this blog, will know that I have a fairly hair trigger with respects to some aspects of existence. It’s a part of life when one finds themselves continuously submerged in a sea of stupidity coming from  nearly ALL aspects of life. It’s hard to be (I quote comedian Steve Hughes) “Intelligent with a temper”. 

Steve has a bit about causing a row at a family function due to critically examining something or other on television  (“Why are these people dancing?!” I believe was the scenario). One of my closest and oldest friends has a similarly hilarious  story due to seeing a “So you think you can dance” spot at a family gathering. I have a similar reaction whenever I am watching something and see some new show about some group of jerkoffs raping the earth of some natural resource or another for quick cash, or the latest varient of Duck Dynasty. A program that I am proud to have never watched even a second of. Even before I found out it was all a  fake crock of shit. 

And don’t even get me started on music. . . 

You’re culturally intolerant!“.

Maybe.

But a lot of culture consists of overhyped and glorified garbage, a shameful representation of human intellectual progress. If this is the best we can do, then maybe the idiots who say “bring on the comet!” are right. Fuck saving this doomed, earth raping and self absorbed species.

There was once a time when I thought of the VAST majority of society as stupid sheepish morons (mechanical animals, to borrow from Marilyn Manson). And there are indeed, many that are. And they make themselves quite noticeable once you learn the signs. Both fortunately AND unfortunately (if their presence can not be avoided). Though I once thought that most people are stupid, I’ve since realized that stupid may not always be the right way to describe a/the majority. Though not stupid, many are just . . . tuned out. 

I have grown less trigger happy with the stupid label than I once was, partly due to acknowledging that most people have strengths in diffrent areas. For example, the philosopher or mathematician that knows nothing about how to fix a broken vehicle.

For one, ignorance should never equate to stupidity. And second, its GOOD to have people in specialised careers. Attention divided between multiple feilds of study/performance will likely lead to lackluster overall results. 

Most people tend to be not stupid persay, but what I call average. Many are just not as interested or concerned with what facinates their smarter fellow citizens. Though a problem that needs to be tackled in some contexts (politics, Climate Change and other important  policies), its not an issue in others. The ability to think critically is really all that matters. Since this one skill helps protect you from almost any form of trickery or bullshit.

I also have to take into consideration the ddistraction factor. Common tenants of a culture like its religions, sports, gaming, pop culture  tend to act as intellectual opioids. But even if many people are aloof in many ways,  I have found some to be open to new information. It’s nice when you make them realize some tidbit or another that is apparent to you (such as how reality TV is rarely based in reality, or the insane amounts of sugar in foods).

Every little bit counts.

Being distracted is one thing. However, what annoys me more are statements prefaced with either “I believe” or “apparently”. Because what follows more often than not tends not to be factual, sensible, or otherwise worth hearing.

I am not talking about religion, spiritually and anything really related to that end. Though it could be correctly argued that such are also un-factual or non-sensible in different ways, I generally will not say my piece about another person’s beliefs. Unless they are potentially harmful to the person (or others), or the person is viewing ME from atop a soapbox, I am generally content to let everyone conduct themselves as they please.

Though both “aparently” and “I believe” have acceptable contexts, they are at times used annoyingly in others. Mainly in a context wherein the information to debunk the statment is easily available. 

A common example for the word aparently is, anytime someone tells you something they heard about some topic. 

For example, “I heard that microwaving food is dangerous because something happens to the food, and it becomes dangerous”. When I hear this, my typical reaction is to reach for whatever internet enabled device is handy and do a quick query. The VAST majority of the time, I get my answer in seconds, to under 2 minutes. Which is often “Bullshit!”

I often come across this when out for coffee with a group of friends of mine. These things are said, and usually accepted without a second thought. Something that could be overlooked 15, even 10 years ago. But these days, when a wealth of information is just a tap away for almost everyone, its no longer acceptable. 

I would like to think its just an unfortunate habit left over from days before the mass proliferation of the internet into day to day life. But seeing all the obvious bullshit that even millenials share on social media, there is obviously a deeper problem. We are allowing ourselves to be to blindly trusting. Which is terrible, in an age of a digital version of the wild west with ever more complex and sneaky ways of taking advantage of the foolish and the ignorant. 

So, no matter how legitimate the claims looks . . . check. I’ve yet to find one that checks out. Even an innocent looking one about a U-boat in the Great Lakes turned out to be untrue. It looked so foolish a story to fake (whats the point of faking THIS?!) that I almost didn’t bother checking it. But I did. And im glad I did, since I saved myself from the embarasment of sharing a fake story.  

It only takes a second. Open up a web browser and pop a few choice terms into a search engine.  Make this a habit. 

I will now move onto belief. Or more, people saying “I believe in blah . . .” or “Do you believe in blah?“. 

With this, again, I am not really talking about religous arguments. What I am speaking of usually involves more generalised phenomena than ideology (though the 2 can be attached, such as religion and god/deity). People often ask questions like “Do you believe in Ghosts/Nessy (Loch ness Monster)/Big Foot/Demons etc”. Its a question that didn’t really bug me before. But I have been bothered by it in recent years. 

I guess its because the whole concept of believing in this or that, has largly been lost for me in recent years. If I were to take the typical atheist black and white “Its a yes or no question!” route, than yes, I am atheistic towards / do not believe in many or all manors of mythical manifestation. But it goes beyond that really. Though indeed a rational position held by many, its still far to simplistic for my liking. There is more to life than the soley black and white shades observed by the average intellectual simleton. 

I am not a believer or prevayer of myth, or what can not be yet explained. But that is not the end of the story. First off, a worldview like “these things do not exist. End of story” is not one I go for, because I am sensitive to the obvious burden of proof entailed by it. Many choose to ignore this. But I try to be more careful than commiting the same fallocies as my intellectual opposition. Quote all the Hitchens you want, its still a positive claim. 

Though I do not believe in  any phenomena of supernatural nature, I also do not write entirly write it off. The best way to explain it would be to say that I just leave those questions unanswered, and move on. These phenomena (including the big one, the deity question) do not affect my day to day existence in any measurable way. As such, I feel no need for a concrete personal conclusion in these areas. 

Even though this seems to be a much less rational position than I once held, I have become MUCH more skeptical than I once was in one important area . . . proof and/or evidence. Lets use Ghost hunting shows as n example. 

There was once a time when I let alot slide, in terms of these shows. I didn’t really criticize many of the findings, and in truth, didn’t find many probems with how it was all conducted I put a lot of faith in the teams and production companies of the show’s. Like everyone else. 

Not anymore however. I try to avoid the shows if at all possible (they hurt my brain). But if I do find myself watching one for some reason or another, I always find myself looking for logical explainations, or more importanly, trickery.

For example,on one of these shows there was a claim of a door mysteriously opening on its own. And, big surprise,the door opened whilst the team and production crew were nearby. The first thing I noticed was that the shot of the door didn’t include both the bottom or the hinge side of the door. 

Why does it matter? 

Because the room that the film crew was in was darkened. The room that the door conected with was a brightly lit hallway.

This image shows exactly why that bit of camera trickery is important. A solid mass moving the door, perhaps? And I don’t mean a paranormal one either. 

To close, it pretty much all boils down to society being far to complacent in taking many things on faith (be it verbally regurgitated bullshit, or evidence of paranormal/weird phenomena). Though possibly an unconsious habit of old, there is no excuse for it today. 

Posted in Opinion, Various Commentary | Leave a comment

The Reluctant Atheist

A month or so ago, one of my Facebook friends posed a question in a status update. If memory serves, he went through a few examples of both Christian and Islamic bigotry and persecution (towards others), ending the post by asking “What have you done today to help eradicate religious extremism?”. That was not the exact wording, but it was something similar. 

In truth, I would have to say, nothing. Both in the context of that day itself, and generally. In fact, the last I even pondered the topic of religious matters in any depth was when I answered some questions for atheists I found on Twitter back in early July. 

Part of it was boredom. When you have been beating on a given topic that never really changes for YEARS, one can’t be faulted for losing interest. 

A major recent factor was being fed up with explaining or justifying myself to people (mainly atheists). I do not have to call myself ANYTHING (an atheist), nor does anyone else. If that knaws at your craw, look up the word religion in the dictionary. Such behavior can be interpreted as indicative of a religious group. 

Anothet factor that drove me to leave the debate, was the realization that not only was I (and others engaging in irreligious arguments) not making any headway, but I may also be doing more harm than good. 

Years ago (when in the middle of my fray into the atheist debate) there were people that recognized the futility of my actions. They told me that I was not changing anyone’s mind. But I (like many others) just cast them aside. Figured that they didn’t know what they were talking about. I am an atheist on a crusade to change the world for the better! 

6 or 7 years later, I would find myself in agreement. Though I don’t know how they came to that conclusion the time, I had arrived there on my own. And not because I figured out that it was wrong to ask such questions, or because I decided that people should be left alone in their beliefs either. 

It all boils down to logic. I don’t mean reason VS irrational belief either. It’s more, the concept of logic has become largely useless, since anyone can slap the label on some mental conclusion that they have reached. Whether it’s involving a deity, paranormal phenomena, chem trails, homeopathy or anything else. Anyone can claim them as logical conclusions. Wrongly, yes. But besides the fact that most people in online debate do not grasp the word in full (me included!), if your tact is based around a concept that is in itself misunderstood, it’s already lost. You can’t focus on the topic (whatever it be) without further entrenching the person, because it’s as logical to them as secularism or atheism to an atheist. Upon further delving, you will likely also find a flawed understanding of concepts like evidence, proof and others.

If any pattern that can be developed in the mind can be labeled with intellectual buzzwords (Logical, reasonable, rational, nuanced etc), than the words are are not all that helpful. 

In recent months, I have realized that all of those various busswords do not really be a part of the conversation anyway. You do not need to label yourself as locical, rational, nuanced etc. Nor do you need to describe your argument as such. Because an argument (or a person!) that is truly logical, rational, nuanced, free thinking . . . will be obvious. The views and arguments will speak for themselves. 

In fact, I would go as far as saying that these unessesary labels of intellectual superiority only serve to limit ones intellectual potential. Like how religous dogma often prevents people from giving any other argument credance, intellectual buzzwords can do the same. If you already consider yourself a logical, rational, nuanced freethinker. . . why would any other argument matter to you? 

Not to mention that your dealing with an individual that has likley known nothing else, and has not been exposed to anything else (depending on their external environment). Though one may plant a seed of doubt, chances are better that you will only further empower them in their delusions. Particularly with the religious, since they are told by the great book of fairytales (whatever volume of their chosing) to expect resistance. 

Just go to any debate on YouTube between an atheist (or any  secularist) and a theist and read the comments. Chances are that (aside from  trolls and fanboys) you will notice a couple of patterns. Those on the  side of reason will (obviously) be in line with person of reason, often unquestioningly. And the people of faith will also often only be more emboldened and empowered in their position. If your lucky, you may also see a philosopher pointing out flaws in both sides . Often times only to be torn down by  ignorant but persistent fanboys. 

Ken Ham V Bill Nye 

Sye Ten Bruggencate V Matt Dillahunty 

John Lepp V Aron Ra  

That is just a sample of all that is out there in terms of debates (Matt Dillahunty alone has hundreds just associated with his show\podcast The Atheist Experience !). I used to listen to  debates fairly regularly. Not so much anymore, but I will listen once in a while (depending on who the participants are). 

It’s hard to listen to debates, when you don’t really believe in the concept anymore. Debates do not change minds. They just cater to a like minded crowd. Some that are on the fence may be pushed over. But they are by no means the rule. And truth be told, I am unsure if the small number of doubt seeds planted and minds changed by a debate is worth the vastly bigger number that only become further entrenched by it.

 This is not to say that I would attempt to stifle such debates (I would not). Its just something to  take into consideration. 

The past couple years has seen a lot of change for me. My search for something to call myself has largly been unsucessful. And in truth, always leading back to the same answer.

Which brings me back to the title. The reluctant atheist. 

Many stumbling into this may have thought they were about to read a (heartwarming?) coming to reason story. To those people . . . sorry🙂 . You came for a story, and instead found your whole way of thinking be dissected. 

Just kidding . . . im not sorry. As is the common irreligious montra, no ideas are sacred. To to an atheistic hangout and discuss how I dont get atheism. 

Anyway, my search for something to call myself (even if just for the purpose of conversation) brought me all over the place. From agnostic, to apatheist, to nothing for awhile. And not it seems, it bas brought me right back where I came from. Albeit with a bit of a twist. 

If I were asked a question about my beliefs, I would likley say that they are atheistic. Because really . . . that is the closest parallel, if I had to pick one. 

Why not just call yourself an atheist?

Simple. 

To be an atheist as they are commonly known, is to be associated with shit like this:

https://youtu.be/bDGuRf10mhA

https://youtu.be/d8wiDbnu4XI 

Though I do not like to toot my own horn, I will lay it out straight. The amount of thought I have put into this area clearly dwarfs that of many others, including some of  the intellectuals within the secular community. As such, its to my benefit not to  be associated with the likes of David Silverman, or other ideologically driven individuals. They do not promote unity, or represent freedom of thought. Their intolerant views introduce resistance into a much needed cohort of american (and really, any other) society. Causing a waste of energy in facusing on what secularists don’t choose to all themselves. As opposed to extending an olive branch and encouraging the whole community to unite for the common good. 

As such, my religous views are atheistic. But I do not explicitly call myself an atheist. I feel no need. Atheistic tells  you all you need to know. I do not drop to mu knees for any deity or entity. 

To return to a question posed at the start of this piece (What have you done today to help eradicate religous extremism?), I have to change my answer. 

I have not directly done anything, really. One can criticize for that. 

What I do focus on however, is arguably much more important. I shine a light on intolerance in my own house, the secular community. We have much more power  to bring about positive change as a unified collective, than as a split faction. The secular community VS the religiously tainted world is much more powerful than the current state of affairs, Atheist Vs the world/secular non atheists. 

Posted in Opinion, Religion & Atheism | Leave a comment

Its Been 10 Years

Recently, an old friend that I have not seen for 3 years ended up in town for a few days. I have known the guy since grade 9, and our friendship has weathered many storms. Truth be told, a couple he may not even know about. The person that I am today, and the person I was even as few as 2 or 3 years ago, are drastically different. Though it may be hard to believe.

I didn’t have the tendency to view many situations as rationally as I do today. I was not as aware of my habit of holding permanent grudges as I am today (a family trait). And I was far more bothered/affected by events of my past than I am today. Either way, whatever the shit that happened, it’s all water under the bridge now. 

Being we met in high school, he reminded me of an anniversary of sorts. It has been 10 years since high school graduation. Since my graduating class started its journey into the real world. 

With some classmates from our year (over some beers), memories were exchanged, stories were told. Everyone could not believe that it had already been 10 years. 

Well, besides me. 

I was well aware of the date, and the progression of time. As the years have gone by, I knew. Though I didnt exactly keep a chronological tab in my mind (1, 2, 3 years), I was aware. The shit that happened back then, combined with my lacking in self awareness of flaws in my very structure, ensured it. Though I have managed to largely purge most of it from my mind by now, it has long been a personal sore spot. 

Though I say high school in a general sense, the worst of the problems were thoughout my grade 9 year. The first was a forced relationship with a former grade 8 classmate and friend in another high school. And after that, came the other mess, the cyber bullying campaign. Though seprate beasts for most of the year, they would eventually culminate into a massive cluster fuck that I almost felt powerless to do anything about. Almost. I go into the ordeal with a bit more depth on my about me page. 

As it happened, time would end up helping to correct both problems (though not heal the scarrs, it would seem). The cyber bullying stuff settled down eventually after restrictions on anonymous posting were added (and people just lost intrest). And the relationship disolved after I became more observant and realized that I was not being threatened by 5 or more, but rather, was being decieved by 1. 

Compared to the previous year, tenth grade (and onward really) was a breeze. My environment was fairly neutral. Though there was some strife  happening here and there, nothing really sticks out. Certainly nothing that even came CLOSE to the previous year. But despite this, high school would still be a weird place for me. 

The grade 9 mess ended with me being behind in many diffrent subjects (since I quit caring after awhile), which meant repeating some subjects. I now realize that the situation ended up retarding  me in more ways than just academically. But as with most people, education got the most attention. 

Due to the reputation I had earned a year previous, and due to being held back, from the 10th grade on, I tended to identify with the younger newcomers (some being friends from middle school) more than with my own (future) graduating class. 

There are of course, exceptions. People that I may not talk to often, but people that remain just as important now as they were then. Hell, even a friend that was in a largely diffrent (and more popular) crowd than I would end up contacting me years later, with just as much respect as we had when we talked more (grade 8). Granted, the fellow was pretty hammered. But if alcohol just magnifies what’s already present in the psychy, I’ve nothing to worry about.

But aside from those examples, my interaction with my own peers was . . . fairly limited. 

Most of my high school career was spent playing catch up. Or at least, spent TRYING to. A battle that I at some point between grades 10 and 11, eventually just gave up on. I instead opted to complete a minimum (if that) of what was required, and used school as more of a social gathering place than anything else. 

Given that trajectory, it’s no surprise by the time my grade 12 year rolled around, I opted for (for the most part)  just not bothering. I had taken a job training course over the summer and now had a full time evening job. I was 18, out of the home I grew up in (that’s another story in itself). I had the freedom to just say “Fuck it!” and not attend school. 

It started with morning classes, after conflicting with 4 to 12 shifts. Some people can pull that stuff off, but aparently not me. Those classes I was not to fond of anyway, having 2 slots in a row of math back to back. Then went business, keyboarding, possibly law (forget if I ever took that). Business was so boring that I once fell asleep. I hated keyboarding because I could never master the proper methodologies, and thus keep pace. Oddly enough, since my main hobby involves so much typing.  I don’t type properly on a keyboad persay, but I don’t exactly hunt and peck either. But moving on, the only class that I kept for the whole of the year, was English. A class that I also ended up failing. 

Though many of my classmates graduated that year, needless to say, I didn’t. It would bother me a bit in the years that followed. And anger me a bit, knowing what bullshit ended up culminating in me missing that milestone along with my peers. But the most bothersome part was not missing that ceremony however. It was not having a yearbook for that year, the year of my peers. I have the yearbook from my first year hell, and every inconsequential year afterwards.  But not the most important one, the one that celebrated my classmates (and more importantly, my FRIENDS) first important milestone in life. 

The yearbook committee (if memory serves) had aparently run out of copies. I would later hear that some people got more than one. Nothing like a little salt into the wound. 

I would be back the following year for another attempt at the grade 12 diploma. But my attendance didn’t last beyond maybe 2 weeks. Not only did I have work and other social activities outside of school, I just didn’t see the point anymore. In my mind, I had a job and I was making money. What do I need to go to school for?! 

It didn’t help that most everyone I had known had either graduated or transferred to other schools, so I was mostly alone. A feeling that overtook me one day to the point that at lunch time I ended up just clearing my locker and walking out, never to return as a student. I threw away all the school work I had, viewing it as a reminder of bad things. Plus it was a feel good gesture. Here’s what I think of your fucking homework! 

Though I went 3 or 4 years without a diploma, I would eventually earn it though an off campus program set up by my school. A program I only joined after my former principal bugged me into signing up for it (figured, why not). I guess you could say that I had already become very bitter in life. Though I didn’t even have the paper yet, the diploma meant little. It may be a milestone, but it’s no key to sucsess. Not nearly as important as its hyped to be. 

That was 2011. 

Though I wanted to burn them, my transcripts now sit in my safety deposit box. My diploma sits in my bottom drawer, under clouthing that rarly gets worn. My yearbooks sit in a box of various crap I don’t often take out (though, again, I’ve at times pondered burning them). And though I had them up until this spring, all my old high school printed t-shirts now lay somewhere in the landfill. Worn out and unfitting anyway, I don’t know why I kept them for so long in the first place. 

Back at the beginning of this post, I expressed that I disagreed that it was hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since high school. I guess for those that have moved on with fond memories of the period, I can understand this. Though I wish that was the case for me, one has to work with what cards they have been dealt. Rather than finding guilt and regret in the typical “High school is the best time of your life!” narrative, one has to make their own reality. 

And I have been doing better, at least for a couple years. Though I once held an attitude  similar to that of my dad (“I am the way I am because of *insert experience here*!“), I have gotten better. If bitterness is a paralytic, there really is no better anecdotial example than my dad. I see what he does to other people (myself included), and I see the duress that he causes for himself. Its not something that I want to find myself doing to other people. Even if some people aparently can not be helped, one can still try to help themselves.

My introduction to philosophy (of all things) has certainly done more than anything else to put my past behind me. It has not exactly had a positive influence persay, in the way that one would likley think. The thought processes involved have not made me happy , or even more positive. Though a bit tricky to describe, it involves me being able to mentally (in most contexts) completely withdraw from the fray, and just observe. 

It gave me a far more worldly outlook than the typical self centered one that I had before. Picture any particular argument anywhere in society, on any subject, as a physical debate or conversation (say, at the local bar or pub). Most seem to feel the want or the need to pick one side, and that is where they stay (unless they are convinced to the other side). 

To be me, is to be standing aside from either group. Just listening and observing. After awhile, I may accept points from one side or the other, or both. Or I may just walk away without taking anything. 

One example of such a topic is the God/deity question. The concept has no bearing on my day to day life, so who cares. For reference, though religion also really has no bearing on my life, I understand it’s  destructive consequences elsewhere in the world. As such, though I consider many religions to be some of the most evil products that humanity has ever created (along side WMD’s), I completely disconnect that aspect (religion) from the deity. 

Another example is abortion.Its a decision for one or 2 people, possibly the family. It’s not my business. 

I am not sure what one would call such a world view. Some may call it an agnostic position, a middle ground. Though I  used to, I hesitate with that analysis being that I typicly tend to view myself as being on the outside and looking in (as opposed to between 2 factions). Some may call it (being an outsider) a contrarian position. But even that doesn’t really fit. Being that I have not really been CAST out of any faction , and I don’t exist just to differ from whatever is the status quo. I just . . . do what I do. 

It may sound like a fairly benign worldview, but the problems come in the difficulty in communication (about things that matter, anyway) with almost anyone else. Even if something is crystal clear to comprehend, you often can only can get so far when explaining to others. I can (usually correctly) argue that I am the logical or rational one in the conversation. But even that is moot, being that even people with a complete misunderstanding of what the words mean can say they argue logicly or rationally. They (logic, reason, rationality, freethinker, nuance) are merly  intellectual buzzwords. People that truly comprehend the  meaning of the words do not need to use them as label’s.

All in all, though this philosophical stuff is the cause of much frustration (it made it clear how much of societal discouse is based around silly  dicotamies, and where we as a collective, are headed), there are benefits. Besides being a distraction to personal strife, it helped to broaden my horizons. Even if it’s mostly in the sense that there are much bigger problems than my weird anecdotial bullshit experiences.

Perspective is everything. Even if I have various bullshit in my past that still has lingering effects to this day, not only could it be worse, but there are also far bigger issue’s. Big issue’s that I haven’t a clue where to even begin with even STARTING to mitigate. But none the less, ide rather know than not.

With this worldview/mindset (not sure what to call it), also comes an air of understanding that  I (and likely most people) previously lacked. That whole stepping aside and viewing a situation from a distance thing . . . it has helped put to rest quite a few old grudges. 

Some, after realizing that I was likley just being silly. For example, I once was quite resentful of a friend of mine for (in my eyes) taking a girl out from under me in a 3 day span whilst I was working. I felt that way for a couple years at least. But I eventually got over it. Not because of forgiveness. More because, it was just me being stupid. I would likely never had asked the question anyway. And in all seriousness, it be a lie to say that she was even my type anyway. She’s indeed in the spectrum. But she’s far from the ideal zone. 

Another way that this new mindset has helped me is by starting to look deeper into problems or situations than just what is most obvious. Rather than focus just on the symptoms, find the source. 

Take the whole forced relationship from grade 9. It made me angry and vindictive for YEARS. Because at face value, it really was a horrible situation. I would find out many years later however that despite being my aggressor, my ex was also the target of an aggressor. Their aggressor being, an extremely intimidating and immature older cousin. 

No, it didn’t excuse the actions taken against me, persay. And it didn’t really help me in repairing the various bits of damage left over from the mess. But what it does do, is help to make the situation make more sense. Sure, one should not deal with their problems by helping to push a 3ed party damn close to the great abyss. But it’s an easier action to digest as a coping mechanism. 

All in all, it has been quite a journey since my noon hour exit from high school life just over 9 years ago. Even if most of the growth ended up happening in the past 2\3 years, progress is progress. The fact that I had even been reminded of this high school stuff is growth in itself. This stuff isnt even sitting distantly in the back of my mind. It is (or WAS, it seems) as good as forgotten. 

This reminder caused a bit of emotional turmoil for me recently, however. Not due to what bugged me in the past (regrets of missed opportunities in high school). I more, suddenly realised how little I had accomplished in the years since. I have spent a vast quantity of my life doing little more than spinning my wheels. 

On paper, I live a steller exsistance. 3 longstanding former employers, working for a 4th presantly. For the most part, I have been a sucess in every job I have ever held. Aside from 1 (but who gives a shit about telemarketing. Even I hang up on them!). Aside from work, my life is mostly squeaky clean. 

And yet, it all means nothing really. 

I have never EVER held a job that I liked. Or more importantly, a job that I ever felt myself to be secure in. For one thing, my entire resume is based on me having a professional and sucessful background in customer relations. Which is hilarious, because I hate people. I don’t give a FUCK about them or their  trivial first world problems often stemming from their own stupidity. To be fair, this career has done alot to color this perception. But even if I look outside my work experiences, a WHOLE lot is left to be desired. 

But by now, stupid and unruly customers are just part of the background noise. It happens, and there is not much to do about it. What does make things worse however, are incompetent higher ups at all levels (from the managers office to the boardroom). I have had otherwise tolerable jobs go COMPLETELY sour due to stupidity over my head. Be it idiodic rules and regulations made from a boardroom far from the reality of the sales floor, or working under lower managers that are idiotic, incompetent or assholeIsh (often all of the above). Even if I dont ever start out with an employer in such circumstances (I have left jobs after the 1st shift upon detecting similar environments), so far, it just happens. One or 2 years in, a change of managment occurs somewhere up the chain. Always resulting in the tolerable eventually becoming “I just dont give a FUCK anymore”. 

Found these on Facebook just today

For me so far, this has been the rule of thumb. Apparently its time I started my own business. 

Outside of work, in all honesty, I don’t really do much either. Partially because most of the people I am most comfortable with in social situations no longer live here (they are flourishing in greener pastures). Another is,  a lack of motivation to even attempt to put myself out there. I guess that its just not worth the effort. As bad as it sounds, I often spend so many hours dealing with people that I  often just don’t feel like interaction of any kind in my own time. A certain family member also adds to the mix by (unknowingly it seems) expecting me to visit them practically daily (that’s a whole other story . . . ).  But mostly, its just me. 

A few days ago whilst laying in bed listening to Three Days Grace’s One X (which was part of a youtube playlist), 2 things happened. The first, was a sudden rush of realization over how little I have accomplished. And the 2ed, was the urge to vanish, get outta dodge. I felt like shuting my phone off, getting on a bus or plane, and just going . . . anywhere. Not even tell ANYONE my intentions . . . just leave. Likley not even permanently. But for a fairly long time. A month, maybe more. 

Of course, I would quickly end up bating this idea aside. I have obligations. Though I dont really care about the employment factor (you can work anywhere), I do have a family member with health issues that I help out. Its not as cut and dry as it is for most people my age. Also, bills. Running off may feel good, but at the expence of good credit?

One thing is certain however. I need a vacation. Where it brings me . . . who knows. Just as long as im gone. Even for just a little while.

This has taken a dark turn. My life has been (and realistically, IS) riddled with all sorts of bullshit of all types. Some of it, typical run of the mill problems of a first world citizen. But there are some challenges that seem unique to me. Things that one can’t really discuss with anyone. Yet, things that have an ever present and continuous (and at times, caustic) impact on daily existence. In short, its surprising that it took so long to go this dark. 

But it is not all bad. 

All of us eventually come to a time of life when we realize that all we amount to be, may not match all that we would LIKE to be, or all that we THOUGHT we would be by now. 

For me, its really neither. I never really had high hopes, dreams or goals to begin with. A previous math teacher of mine (back in grade 9, I believe) once warned us that if we go though life without having any any goals, you may find yourself being 30 and still pumping gas. Of course, back then, that didn’t mean anything. I never thought I would make 18 (let alone 30). But none the less, here I am. 2 years removed from the cautionary milestone. 

Looking at almost everything in life in a negative way tends to be just, how I am. There is a bit of a pattern within my family (starting with one grandparent) that seems to show itself in the descendants in the form of a negative outlook on life, hoarding, or even some obsessive compulsive (or at least OCD-like) behavior. All to various degrees, with some being quite obviously affected, and others seemingly unaffected. It could also be that some have learned to recognize these traits in themselves, and thus are not bound by them.

Either way, I can’t kick myself to much for not getting as far ahead as I could have. Or (lets be honest), I should not be kicking myself for not going as far as fellow student A, or buddy B. Everyone has diffrent baggage in life. And everyone has a diffrent way of handling things.

But outlook is also important. 

If a person refuses to see anything but negativity everywhere, they will eventually end up in a self fulfilling prophecy. Keep in mind, reacting negatively to a negative situation is not the same thing. Its healthy to say “What the FUCK?!” when warranted. However, “I will never get anywhere, so why even bother?!” . . . not so much. 

You can be a prisoner of your victomhood. Or you can be a captain of your new life beyond your stormy seas. It may take a long time for some to get to that crossroads. But it all eventually boils down to this. 

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Patriotic Self Importance

It happens whenever some disaster like this occurs. If an airliner leaving France bound for Egypt crashes halfway to its destination, even though 580 people from both nations perished, it will be the 2 Americans / Canadians / Brits / whatever that get the most recognition at home. 580 families in mourning, but we have to outline the 2 most alike ourselves. 

It’s a tragedy when 580 people perish in an unfortunate situation, PERIOD. There is no need to add insult to injury by insinuating (even if unknowingly) that people more alike you have more value. 

Just my two cents on a phenomenon that has always happened, and is likely going to keep happening. Just keep this in mind, next time you see this article. 

Posted in Opinion, Various Commentary | Leave a comment

Milo Strikes Again / Crowd Funded Lawsuits

Ah the hilarity.

Sometime ago, I decided to comment on the Milo ban, mainly due to the  internet losing its collective shit. So many people shocked at social media censorship, and seemingly unintrested in a realistic solution. Because it’s easier to  convince multi million dollar companies to give up their internal sovereignty for the collective good

Just another day in the realm of social media.

I had (in a previous post) noted that high profile and fairly well to do free speech advocates like Milo Yianopolis should put their money where their mouth is and invest in the platform that they desire. You know, the liberation solution!

As it turns out, no such contribution was ever made, to my knowledge. Of which I am not surprised. Particularly considering this next new bit of information.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/breitbarts-milo-yiannopoulos-raised-100k-for-charity-deposits-it-in-his-bank-account/

I remember him speaking of this campaign in a few places, months ago. But I had (like most everyone else aparently) forgetten all about it, until now. I likley thought it a stupid campaign at the time, but this certainly throws in an interesting twist. A twist that, it seems, could even be punishable by law. After all, fraud IS illegal.

Not to mention how this whole thing plays right into one of my criticsms of both anarchism and libertarianism. People generally tend to be far to self serving to be trusted in doing what’s right for the collective, if they may be affected negatively as a result. Thanks Milo for the anecdote!

Speaking of legal action, it seems that the whole Milo Twitter ban was about more than  just unprovoked censorship. For more on that, on to Secular Talk.

https://youtu.be/CjUfJj2id3E

So, Milo was being a bit of a dickhead. Or as some would say, being himself. But he didn’t purposly threaten, sick, or otherwise direct his fans onto Lessie’s Twitter. That said however, reposting fake tweets posing as words of real people IS libel.

One would think a journalist (of all people!) would know this. But aparently, even I give people to much credit.

Crowd Funded Lawsuits

On the same topic (lawsuits), I have noticed a new trend that bugs me of late. That is, YouTube personalities using crowd funding as a means to aid their legal defence funds. This pandering also utilized the whole free speech bandwagon, with the funds presumably going into accounts meant only for funding possible suits against issuers of false DMCA’s.

First off, some background.

As many know, YouTube videos can be monetized. Meaning that every time you see an ad over a video, the creator gets a bit of a cut. Or if you share a copywrited work of an artist that has their intellectual property monetized, they (the owners of the IP) get a cut. This is why many privatly posted songs by artists often come with ads.

When you have a monetized channel however, you have to be careful of outside intellectual property, or the YouTube system (designed to prevent users from profiting from registered copywrited material) will trigger a warning. First off, the offending material must be removed. And as a result of the incident, your channel may receive a strike. Get 3, and your channel (along with all the work you put into it!) is gone.

Another way in which a content creator can receive a DMCA takedown notice is if a copywrite owner goes diectly to youtube. In which case the same process would go forward.

Being that YouTube relies  heavily on an algorithm in its automated issuing of notices on IP owners behalf, problems do occer. Another big issue comes in abuse of the system. Either issue usually rests in either the system or an IP owners misunderstanding of fair use.

In its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. In other words, fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use qualifies as a fair use, then it would not be considered an illegal infringement.

 

http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/

It’s a section of the law that I have utilized in the past. Even seconds ago.

Either way, both auto and manually generated false DMCA’s can cause a youtuber a lot of grief, considering the ease of filing a claim but the difficulty in fighting a claim. So difficult is the end result (aparently) that some creators are turning to potential lawsuits as a way to stem the tide. Though there is not much that can be done about the YouTube algorithm (other than hoping it improves), the manually filed claims can warrant a lawsuit. Unfortunately that costs money. Which is where we come in.

Those that file false DMCA’S are stomping on a creator’s right to freedom of speech and expression, so they should be punished! And were going to be the ones that get the ball rolling! That is, with a little help from you.

Therein lies my first problem with this.

Many of the personalities doing this kind of stuff are more than just people that create videos and content alone. Many operate podcasts and other types of shows, but most importantly, many also sell various types of wares. Which would make their channel a brand, and all of it a type of home business.

If you do not already know where I am going with this, most businesses (small or otherwise) do not directly outsource their operating costs \ losses to the public. First off, I’m not even sure if that would be legal. And even if it was, who would give?

I suppose it all depends on the business. If it’s a small mom and pop store being attacked unfairly by a big entity, people may be sympathetic (and give to help the fight). But otherwise, I would not think people would be interested. When it comes to lawsuits, this is where liability insurance comes in. As for operating costs (minor AND major), this is why it’s good business to have an account set aside just for that. Drop 5 or 10% of the profit margin in regularly, and major costs should inflict have less of a blow.

When it comes to YouTube, I doubt that there is insurance for false DMCA litigation. Though that would be a great insurance product  (available for any content creator, and funded by the premiums of all creator’s, alike any other insurance company), it does not yet exist. Which is unfortunate. But if it can’t be insured, then it should be considered a cost of doing business. Like electricity, bandwidth, equipment and the like, DMCA Litigation should be accounted for with the same regularity and importance as any other regular operating cost. If the notice is indeed false and a lawsuit is filed, then you will likely recuperate costs anyway.

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/responding-dmca-takedown-notice-targeting-your-content

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/fair-use

Another interesting detail comes from this webpage.

http://www.calaborlaw.com/how-much-do-lawsuits-cost/

The various associated costs (at least $10,000) are not as interesting as this part:

If you’re lucky, you won’t be paying any of the above costs yourself. Many lawsuits are funded by the lawyer, not the plaintiff. These are so-called contingency fee arrangements where the lawyer pays some, most or all of the costs and fees associated with the lawsuit and invests their time without charging the plaintiff. In return, the lawyer takes a percentage of the recovery from the lawsuit if you win (but they get nothing if you lose). So the lawyer ends up assuming most or all of the financial risk of the lawsuit.

In most cases, contingency fee lawyers aren’t going to want to invest their time and money into a case that’s frivolous. If they did, they wouldn’t be in business for very long.

It would seem to me that a false DMCA takedown suit would be a piece of cake. Though there is indeed a lot of ambiguity in terms of what constitutes fair use, there has to be a fairly set standard by now. Otherwise how would one EVER resolve these claims?

Going back to lawsuit costs, I recently stumbled across a GoFundMe campaign raising money for a lawsuit to fight several false DMCA takedown notices from the same entity. The thing has (so far) made about $64,000, with a set goal of $100k. Which makes one think . . . Jesus! Unless copyright cases are highly different than other typical cases, that seems at minimum of 30k more than necessary. 

Yet another podcast I heard (also asking money of its listeners to pad it’s apparently new legal fees account) called it (if memory serves) the DDOS Litigation Fund. Which peaked my attention, being that DDOS has nothing to do with copyright.

For non techies (or non-viewers of Mr Robot), DDOS (or designated denial of service) refers to a type of online attack. The goal is to flood a given server or destination with so much traffic (generated by a botnet consisting of thousands of compromised machines) that the server goes offline, or the destination becomes unreachable. 

I have seen this tactic used against live podcasts, or guests of said podcast’s. If they do not protect themselves by using a VPN and a fake (usually) Skype account, it’s (apparently) fairly easy to get their IP address and knock them offline (or at least severely throttle them) by flooding them with traffic. Idiotic attacks implemented by people like the Ashley Madison hackers. People that feel that whatever their grievance happens to be justifies the act. 

Either way, this is more an issue to be dealt with by an ISP than it is an issue of litigation. At least one ISP in my area offers DDOS protection and mitigation, so the service is likely available (though possibly for a fee). Which again, would be just another cost of doing business. 

Maybe I am being a bit to nitpicky on the language, but it is out of suspicion. Many people take the good word of their idols on faith, so I consider it a duty to look behind the curtain that the blind rarely see. It is worth it to nitpick why a podcast would need a DDOS litigation fund, when the name makes no obvious sense? Yes. The person may mean DMCA Litigation. In which case, why not name it that? 

It is likley plain as day by now, but I do not trust (and would not give to) around 99% of crowd funding campaigns. I also refuse to give to damn near ANYONE running a patreon account.

 I don’t care of you feel your effort deserves financial reward. I refuse to use ad blocking software (I consider it digital freeloading), so you get your little piece from those interactions. However, unless you are adding more to the public discourse than just more chatter, I feel no need to financially support your work. I would make allowance for creator’s that make meaningful contributions to society (for example, education resource videos). But if it’s primarily for the self, it’s not worth my money. 

In all honesty, I am fed up with crowd funding.

I have said this before (1 and 2) . But it is increasingly worrisome how much the ignorant are willing to finance both fantasy and whim. I would argue, at the expense of other (more pressing) social needs. For example, is 64 to 100k best utilized in a DCMA Litigation account of a YouTuber (no doubt earning interest!), or in disaster response and recovery? 

Louisiana is under water. I figure the residents of that already impoverished state deserve that cash a whole lot more than a business that can’t be bothered to factor in ALL its operating costs. 

I understand that most of these donations are small, unaffecting in personal budgets ($5 or $10). But as much as I agree that it’s your choice in how people spend their money . . . I wish people would be more careful. Even if they do not get swindled by a Milo type, or throw money into a money pit that no one wants to acknowledge, there are always better recipients.

I will personally put my money where my mouth is by making another donation to the Canadian Red Cross. $25 to the general relief fund. My words may mean little, but at least I can lead by example.

Though Milo had no comment as of publishing, he later downplayed the move as a consequence of being so busy. Though enough to appease his following, I do not share in the sentiment. 

If the excuse is not having a charity to handal such donations, the obvious answer is to create one. If time is a problem (of which I HIGHLY doubt. You can pay people to do the work), put the money aside. In an account with which has total transparency. 

Since school is in session, the grants are no good for this semester. Which means it will be minimum 6 months, maximum a year, before the money is even used. All the while no doubt earning interest in Milo’s account.

If there is ANYWHERE that interest should be going, it’s towards the grants and the affiliated charity. 

Posted in Opinion, Uncategorized, Various Commentary | Leave a comment

If You Lose Your Mind Over A T-Shirt, You May Be A Moron

https://youtu.be/XolUobxQYqE

Ah, Adam Buckley (aka A Dose of Buckley). How your weekly doses make me laugh. And cry. 

First, the source of all the fuckery. 

How OFFENSIVE! This makes me LOATH him! Metallica must be embarrassed to have their brand so widly tarnished! 

Nope. Wrong on all 3 accounts. 

1.) I don’t give a rat’s ass about attire. 

2.) I think it’s cool if he is expanding his horizons. If he decides to take his career more in a rock or metalic direction as a result, even better. 

3.) The band (well, James) actually lists this situation (Bieber showing off their wares) as one of his favorite things of 2015. At #10, mind you. But still!

The kid is using his platform to show respect for Hetfield and Metallica’s work. It’s a positive for everyone. But of course conformist metal fans have found reason to piss on a good thing. 

Insert here, the comments, the social media posts, and worst of all, the articles. All throwing up a wall of judgement and contempt towards unlikely metal fans. Something that bugs me due to the stupid factor. But something that bugs me more, due to the nature of metal.

 Unlike the typical inane Bieber-esk garbage that takes up so much space on the airwaves these days, one can often find real meaning and substance to metal. Sure, pop can dole out feel good and positive thinking. But metal rips the bandaid off. Something of a  necessity in an age when the digital world increasingly allows us to build a cocoon of positivity around ourselves, no matter the consequences. Be they personal, like delusions about obesity being healthy leading to potential problems when complications occur. Or more large scale, like some society affecting event sneaking up on an unsuspecting populace. Like climate change, political turmoil, Brexit, or the 2016 Donald Trump V Hillary Clinton showdown. 

Pop fans may migrate to metal and learn something in the process. Or they may just love the music. In the same way that I can love Rammstein without knowing German. 

Either way, it’s silly to shit on new fans of metal just because they are or were bliebers , or Kardashians, or what the fuck ever. Even if it is a phase, who gives a shit. It’s funny that I even have to say that. Being how many metal fans claim to be non-conformists , or as one put it, the anti-society .

 Fuck if I know how they reconcile living in the very same grid as the rest of us, yet claim outside status. Even I don’t even take my individuality that far. But I suppose the skewed understanding of what it means to self sufficient these days is a whole other topic in itself. 

Another aspect of this that I want to touch on, is clothing. This idea that metal clothing is for metalheads only. And that any other use is unpermitted, and otherwise deserves disdain.  

First off, the obvious. Fuck off and leave people alone. 

As for the more productive answer, there are many reasons why someone may choose an article of metal oriented clothing BESIDES them being a fan of the band depicted, or being a fan of metal in general. 

Metal clothing tends to sport eye catching designs. Maybe that is the appeal. Or maybe (like me!) it’s less about the design than it is about the type of clothing. T-shirts and hoodies, popular as metal clothing, are also popular in general. Maybe they were chosen for that reason. Chances are the person may shop at 2ed hand places, and (also like me!) may own clothing related to sports, events, destinations and other things outside of personal interest. Personally, I love the 2ed hand store. You never know what you will find. 

As for getting annoyed with talking to people wearing metal related clothing only to find that they are not metalheads (to reference a comment on the Buckley video), broaden your horizons a little. It’s hard NOT to take you as anything more than a conformist moron if you feel that not sharing that ONE SINGLE BOND is enough to end the conversation. 

In fact, as an extremely introverted person, I would rather not have people just come up to me a fair amount of the time. Sometimes one just  wants peace, to blend in. Which puts an interesting twist to this problem. Do some people avoid looking the part of a metal head just to escape the social contract that often comes with it? 

Either way, metalheads tend to be known as intolerant. This type of behavior certainly does not help it any.

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To My Pseudo Freethinker Friends 

If you want me to regard you as a freethinker, please avoid posting stuff like this. Though it is a well utilized term (misused 95% of the time, in my opinion!), I do not need one to tell me that they are a freethinker to figure it out for myself. In fact, when I see someone calling themselves a freethinker, I often get the impression that they haven’t a clue what the word even entails. And it’s funny how often this assessment turns out to be correct. 

Particularly atheist’s. There is more to seeing things clearly than embracing a secular form of ideology that often borders on the religious. Though the term is not necessarily contrary to an atheistic stance, it is certainly not a rule of thumb. 

It’s a useless label that should go away. Since adopting it can lead to the paradox of the free thinking, close minded moron. 

Posted in Opinion, Religion & Atheism | Leave a comment