March 2011 Archives

Today Sucks

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By "today" I don't mean the 24-hour period I'm currently experiencing. I mean the date. As far as I'm concerned, compared to the date ten days after it, the Ides of March is as pleasant and enjoyable as a champagne picnic with your true love on a deserted beach in June.


March 25, 1978: I lost six pints of blood from intestinal hemorrhaging. The reason I didn't die is because it was a slow hemorrhage and I didn't go into shock. Had that happened, I wouldn't be here now.

March 25, 2004: My dad had emergency open-heart surgery after having two heart attacks. Had he not had surgery, the next heart attack would have killed him.

March 25, 2010: My mom suffered the medical crisis that killed her 24 hours later.

Admittedly, some good things have happened on March 25--or at least one good thing. March 25, 1988: I first met Matt, my gay ex-fiance who remains one of my dearest friends. And there have been 40-odd March 25ths in my life where nothing especially memorable, either good or bad, happened.

But the fact that it's a date when I almost died, one parent almost died, and another parent began to die, is, to me, reason enough to feel fairly creeped out and weird each time it rolls around.

Tomorrow will probably suck more in certain ways, though I convinced a friend to hang with me for a while so I'm at least distracted a little from the fact that it's the first anniversary of my mom's death. Today my sister and I are going to spend some time together and do something so we're not just alone and freaked out all day. I also have a party to go to tonight, which I'm really ambivalent about--I don't want to stay home and fret, but I also worry that I won't feel especially social or cheerful.

I've been told it gets easier each passing year, but it's still weird, and there will always be dates at the end of March that just freak me the hell out.

Something New


People come to my house and laugh at my "quaint twentieth century technology." It's true: I am content with others' electronic castoffs, and I use them until they're 1) utterly obsolete, 2) well beyond repair, or 3) both.

I do this as part of my approach to "reduce reuse recycle." I don't care that I inherited my stereo from my little brother over 20 years ago. It still works. Why put it in a landfill when it still does what I need?

I also do this because I'm cheap. It's been almost four years since I bought my first laptop and I've been told it's time I replace it, but I don't really have the money for that right now, and even if I did, I would rather spend it on something else.

I'm also a bit of a Luddite. I admit it. I am. I miss my typewriter. I resisted getting a cell phone until being stranded in an airport during a disastrous trip made me see how useful they could be. When I did get a cell phone six and a half years ago, I bought the cheapest phone and cheapest plan I possibly could.

In Praise of the Male Body


I don't remember where, but about a year ago, I came across the blog naked men, happy women and added it to my reader.

I guess because it's a blog tending toward arty photos that could be praised as "erotica," it seemed more innocent and safe than certain other kinds of sites that publish photos of naked people, some of whom are doing stuff to other naked people. But at some point I realized that the images on it could be considered porn--and probably would be by most of the people I grew up knowing. Does finding one photo of a naked or nearly naked guy in your google reader once a week constitute a porn habit? It's a regular thing, but it's not exactly excessive or anything, is it?

We're Lucky that Error Isn't Eternal


How did I ever find anything out before social networking?

Here's a great link I picked up from a Facebook friend, on Why Bad Beliefs Don't Die. Pretty fascinating and enlightening stuff:

As far as our brain is concerned, there is absolutely no need for data and belief to agree. They have each evolved to augment and supplement one another by contacting different sections of the world. They are designed to be able to disagree.... When data and belief come into conflict, the brain does not automatically give preference to data. This is why beliefs-even bad beliefs, irrational beliefs, silly beliefs, or crazy beliefs-often don't die in the face of contradictory evidence. The brain doesn't care whether or not the belief matches the data. It cares whether the belief is helpful for survival. Period.

Don't skip the section on "Implications for Skeptics," which is mainly a really thoughtful guide for how to talk to true believers. It doesn't make it sound easy:

Skeptics will only win the war for rational beliefs by continuing, even in the face of defensive responses from others, to use behavior that is unfailingly dignified and tactful and that communicates respect and wisdom. For the data to speak loudly, skeptics must always refrain from screaming.

But there's considerable comfort and responsibility in all the difficulty:

it should be comforting to all skeptics to remember that the truly amazing part of all of this is not that so few beliefs change or that people can be so irrational, but that anyone's beliefs ever change at all. Skeptics' ability to alter their own beliefs in response to data is a true gift; a unique, powerful, and precious ability. It is genuinely a "higher brain function" in that it goes against some of the most natural and fundamental biological urges. Skeptics must appreciate the power and, truly, the dangerousness that this ability bestows upon them. They have in their possession a skill that can be frightening, life-changing, and capable of inducing pain. In turning this ability on others it should be used carefully and wisely. Challenging beliefs must always be done with care and compassion.


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This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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