Weird (Credit/Blame)

I haven’t seen Shape of Water, I’m gonna start off by saying that.  But the film being nominated for, and then winning Best Picture has kicked off something that I really can’t stand.  It kicked off people being bewildered/upset by the popularity of something deem “weird.”

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the word “weird” is an adjective, defined as “of strange or extraordinary character.”  This is now t good, nor is it bad.  The characteristic of being “weird” holds no positive or negative judgment, and yet it is often used to dismiss the quality of something. This drives me crazy.

Why are people so concerned with what is or is not weird?  Do you really want Best Picture to be not-weird?  Or anything for that matter?  The antonyms to weird are “normal, regular, usual.”  Do you want a “regular” Best Picture?  Do you want to eat the “usual” meal? Or have a “normal” vacation, or party, or life, or whatever?  I don’t.

Variety is the spice of life, and yet we really like to surround ourselves with homogenization.  When will we overcome this engrained protectiveness against “weird,” and just start rolling with it?  “Weird” pushes us forward doesn’t it? The Wright brothers probably seemed weird to anyone around them, same with artists and scientists.  What good, or what growth and advancement has come out of normal?

Personally, I don’t think of weird as good, or bad. I think of it as interesting, as different, and with that there are some good things, and obviously some bad, but “weirdness” is not a measurement of quality.  Just like a blue car is not better than a green car (having a preference is ok, but one’s not better than the other).

Last thing that I want to say. I haven’t seen this film, like I said. And I am sure there are some legitimate reasons to love it, and some legitimate reasons to not love it, but weirdness should not be one.  Also, I get that people think it’s weird that a woman has a sexual relationship with a fish man, but is this only based on his looking grotesque, right? I mean people loved Beauty and the Beast, and while vampires may look he same age forever, there is something inherently creepy about someone over 100 years old falling for someone sixteen or seventeen. We can admit that right?

Unemployed Again

Alright, so the title of this post isn’t exactly accurate.  My day job, was a contract position, and that contract is now over, but I do still have my second job working as an editor at a small publishing company.  So I’m not unemployed, I’m just not making a living at the moment.

I was given almost a month’s notice that I was going to be finishing up, so for that I’m grateful, and honestly, working for almost 9 months at the company that I just left was really good.  They’re a good company that treated me really well.  So, I have no complaints about them, no resentment or regrets.

That being said, it’s a bit overwhelming.  I don’t like uncertainty, and while employment itself is most often uncertain, unemployment is a higher level of it.  Could I get a job that ends up being my dream job? Definitely.  Could I get a job that’s a step backwards? Definitely.  The potential negative is really bad, while the potential positive is really good.  That’s not exactly a comfortable place to be in.  But, comfort isn’t necessarily a good thing, comfort can breed complacency, and I don’t want that.  I want to continue to push myself forward, and so perhaps, this is exactly what I want.

My hope is that, like I did last year while unemployed, I can take advantage of this time not only to find a new job, but to build up Chocolate Diamond Media, to continue my own fiction writing, to continue to contribute to World’s Best Media.

Being unemployed last year was terrifying, and there were moments when I thought it would ruin my life, but I got more than 6 months with my son, to bond; and I was able to start this blog properly, and so I don’t regret any of it.  I’m going to go into a mental space that will have truly awful days, days when I won’t know if I’ll be ok, but I really think that I will also have days that will justify those, and I will be supremely grateful for in the future.

I’m looking for jobs, but my hope right now, is that I will use this time in such a way that I will not be reliant on others in the future.  Will it occur this year? Probably not, but I’m laying the seeds that will hopefully help me in the next five years, so that I won’t be sitting in an office staring at kind people who have to inform me that I no longer work there.  That’s the worst, because truthfully, I could see on both occasions that it happened, that they feel truly awful about what they have to do.  So, my hope is to get to a place where that’s no longer required, at least for me.

I will now ask you very kindly, and a bit shamelessly, to go Chocolate Diamond Media and subscribe to our blog for updates, to follow this blog, and to subscribe to our YouTube Channel, and if you’re looking for an awesome book to read check out mine here!  Thank you.

Awful Arguments

Do you remember when you had “vocabulary” as a subject in school? I remember, that we had to learn the spelling, and meaning of different words, and in first or second grade, the teacher told us that we couldn’t define a word with itself.  If I was asked what a shirt was, I couldn’t say “a shirt,” I had to say “a piece of clothing, made to cover the top half of your body,” or something similar.  Not too hard of a concept.

For some reason, people haven’t retained this idea, and what we get is circular logic.  It’s infuriating, because I’m seeing more and more of this circular logic pop up in discussions, and arguments.  The reason I’m writing about this, today specifically, is that last night I saw some of dumbest arguing I’ve ever seen, and I wanted to talk about it.

Circular logic, can make the argument of someone who’s premise I agree with, seem completely ridiculous and unintelligent to me, and if the opposing side has a more thought out argument it can make me think about the other side, no matter how much I disagree with the premise.  A couple of months ago, I wrote about Tomi Lahren, and Ben Shapiro being opposite ends of the arguing ability spectrum, and it’s kind of what I’m talking about now.

So, the argument last night, started when a friend of mine said, “I’m sick of this God out of schools shit. If you want to brainwash your kid do it your damn self. Don’t you know not everyone has your same beliefs,” on his Facebook status.  Of course, the pro-God arguments came in like a flood, and while some were reasonable, or were at least non-combative, there was one that struck me as particularly unintelligent, “So here is one for you all!?? If Jesus ain’t real why are so many Christians getting killed and persecuted for our belief? ? And why does the devil want to hide the truth from people if God ain’t real?? Think about it folks. Jesus loves you and died for your unbelief. Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are saying. All i know is i ain’t no monkey and didn’t come from a Ape. How ridiculous does that sound. Truth can make people upset it’s in our hearts.”

Now, I’ve heard very good arguments in both defense of God, and in defense of atheism, but this is certainly not one of them, but you can tell that this man doesn’t understand that.  It’s like a lesson in how not to argue.  So I want to break it down line by line, because really if everyone were able to make better arguments, and think critically, perhaps things would get better, or at the very least we’d be able to have intelligent conversations, so let’s start from the beginning of that statement:

“So here is one for you all!?? If Jesus ain’t real why are so many Christians getting killed and persecuted for our belief?”

Alright, so is this circular logic, not exactly, but it is poor logic, based on a hugely flawed premise.  Many people, of many different belief systems have been persecuted, that does not at all mean that they are correct.  In fact, some of these belief systems are in conflict with each other, so it would only be logical that they cannot all be right.  Now this point doesn’t disprove Jesus, or Christians either, it effectively provides no evidence or proof, and should offer no persuasion whatsoever. Now to the next line:

“And why does the devil want to hide the truth from people if God ain’t real?? Think about it folks.”

I think this is a kind of circular logic that only seems to happen regularly with the God/no-God argument.  In this way of thinking, the person is aware that their opponent or conversation partner does not believe in God, but for some reason thinks he or she does believe in the devil.  Now, I’m not an atheist, but every single atheist I know, believes there is no devil either.  It’s not that they think the exact same scenario is true, with the exception of God.  They’re not imagining Heaven run democratically by angels; they believe that this life as we know it, and in some cases science we have yet to explain, is all that there is.  No God, no devil, no angels, no demons, no Heaven, no Hell.  So, while this argument may not appear to be ‘circular logic’ at face value, it is in this manner. The assumption that the atheist concedes there is a devil, and the fact that the devil is trying to disprove God must in fact mean there is one, is in itself circular logic.

“Jesus loves you and died for your unbelief. Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are saying.”

Telling us part of story, whether it is a true story or not, does not prove the story to be true.  Repeating the reason Jesus died adds nothing to this argument, except for condescension, which leads into the second half of that line.  This isn’t at all an appeal to the argument, but rather a manipulation.  If you want to pray for non-believers, go ahead, I think there is a level of arrogance to that, but ultimately that’s your business, but posting your prayers into Facebook makes no sense.  Do you think God’s gonna ‘follow’ this conversation?  This is nothing more than virtue signalling, and perhaps an attempt to manipulate any doubt the atheist might have into feeling ashamed of his or her non-belief.

“All i know is i ain’t no monkey and didn’t come from a Ape. How ridiculous does that sound.”

While I wholeheartedly disagree with this line, it is the closest thing to a coherent argument being offered.  He (the author of this response is a male) actually offers something outside of the Bible, a secondary source.  Whether he knows it or not, he’s making reference to The Origin of the Species, and the theory of evolution.  I think there is an overwhelming preponderance of evidence in favor of evolution, but I can understand why if you don’t know much, this may seem illogical.  So, verdict on this one, I disagree with the point, but I’ll at least call it a point. Lastly:

“Truth can make people upset it’s in our hearts.”

Again, more virtue signalling, more condescension, no actual point, nothing new introduced, nothing new examined.  This is just a shitty comment to feel superior.

 

So what is my point? Like I have mentioned many times, I’m not an atheist, (in all fairness, I don’t identify with any particular religion either) but I’ve heard people make arguments that can make a lot of sense, on both sides, and I feel as if I learn more when I hear them, regardless of side, and I feel like I’m more complete.  When I see arguments like this (and it’s not just religious, unfortunately there are a ton of these dumb arguments in real life, and on the internet) we don’t gain anything, and you realize that the arguers are unwilling to hear anything.  There is no growth on either side, regardless of how great the opponents argument may be.  It’s stagnation at best.

So how do we fix this?  Honestly, I’m not sure that we can.  I have had these conversations on a variety of topics, and I say to people “no think about what you’re saying, trace it back a few steps, if you think Z, what was Y? If you then realize Y backs up Z, then what was W?  But the problem is, whether you believe in God or not, (or gun-control, or abortion, or the death penalty) and you’re using circular logic like this, it is likely that you have been brainwashed, regardless of your side.  Circular logic is what people often use when parroting back beliefs that were ingrained into them, and so they don’t require logic, or thought, they just believe, and that’s the opposite of intellectual, or honestly, spiritual growth.

I’ll leave you with a quote that one of the God believers in the conversation said, that I thought wasn’t necessarily a great argument for God, but was a great argument for thought and discussion:

“i have read the bible numerous time over my life and each time i get something more out of it, it told me to question everything, EVERYTHING!! it also says that one man sows, another man waters, but God provides the increase. Which from my understanding means don’t force your beliefs on someone, but we can have conversations about it and maybe we will both learn something,”

The Jesus/Christian Paradox

This post, despite it’s title, should not be offensive to anyone regardless of religious affiliation, or lack of religious affiliation.  So keep reading!

There is a thing that I’ve found myself referring to a lot lately, but I came up with the idea a long time ago.  I refer to it as “the Jesus/Christian Paradox.”  What it is, is when someone starts to get backlash, because their followers/supporters/fans are assholes, and not based on their own merit or lack thereof.  If you listen to most of what Jesus said, it’s pretty non-controversial, and while there are many amazing Christians, there are a few that are so irritating, that they make us not want to associate with the term anymore.  It’s not really fair to Christianity on the whole, but we feel the need to go far away from it. Like the Westboro Baptist Church, they’re just so far from what we consider reasonable, that we want to disconnect.

When I first came up with this concept, it was after having spent a few years disliking Joss Whedon.  For a while, I thought he was a talentless hack of a writer, and then I watched some more of his shows/films and realized, he is a talented writer, but I hate his obnoxious fans who would tell me how he’s the most brilliant and innovative writer because he killed Buffy.  He wasn’t the problem and it took me a while to realize that.

In the last year, I’ve referred to Boston sports teams (and I stand by it) as being guilty of this Jesus/Christian Paradox—most sports teams might be.  Then there was Oprah, after the week of talking about whether or not she’d be running for President, I had to explain to several people who hated her for it, that she hadn’t said anything, it was her fans that were driving the hype.

Now, it’s Black Panther.  I just watched a video about how the hype is dampening excitement for some.  I think the creator of the video does a pretty fair job of not blaming Marvel or the cast and crew for the issues.  It falls onto the fans, followers, supporters, whatever the term is for them.

We need to properly advocate for what we think is best, and I think being over-zealous, becomes a massive turn off for most, and ends up having the opposite result intended.  Jesus said things that can be appreciated whether you’re Jewish, or Buddhist, or Atheist, but we really don’t see that in modern society.  Christianity doesn’t seem to mean following Christ’s ideas any more, and is in many cases a status symbol, and a necklace you wear, while you attack others and use him as the excuse.  The Patriots play football well, whether you love them or hate them, they’re pretty good at the game, and for the most part the really obnoxious team members get weeded out, and they’re probably a bunch of otherwise average guys, but we think of the fans crying when they lose, or being assholes when they win (btw, the reaction I saw on Facebook after their Super Bowl loss was better than any other experience I’ve ever had with their fans).

So, try not to judge someone (or something) by it’s fans, but by its content.  At the same time, fans, try not to be obnoxious.  Ok?

Can Their Be Victims Without Perpetrators?

In the last 24 hours, I’ve read three articles about Aziz Ansari.  The first is the Babe.com article, in which a young woman accused him of sexual assault.  A second article, from The Atlantic, in which another woman discusses the events described in the first, and claims they are not sexual assault.  And finally, a third article from KatyKatiKate.com, in which a third woman explains that events like those described in the first article have happened to her, and while she hadn’t considered them sexual assault, that doesn’t mean they aren’t.  (I’m over simplifying all three, so please go check them out.)

With all three fresh in my head, I started wondering about victimhood.  I don’t mean that in this “I don’t like the word victim,” or “we’ve become a victim culture,” I mean legitimate victims.  In the past four months or so, we’ve had many victims come forward, and naturally, when something’s wrong we look for someone to blame.  Now, in all of the cases that I’ve heard that have popped up in the past few months there have been clear predators, anyone who’s defending Harvey Weinstein, or Kevin Spacey, is part of the problem.  I don’t know if Al Franken was as maliciously intent as those others, but what he did was wrong, and he needed to own up to it, and step down.

With Ansari, maybe he knew what he was doing was wrong, but this is definitely the most ‘grey area’ story that I have read in these past months.  So it got me thinking, assuming Ansari is telling the truth, and he didn’t get that she wasn’t into it, didn’t pick up on her non-verbal cues, is he a perpetrator?  If he’s not, is she still a victim?  I wonder if it’s possible for someone to be a victim without a perpetrator.

Let me run a scenario by you, something that I used to do as a boy, into young adulthood.  I think most would be hard pressed to call me a perpetrator in this scenario, but I’m not sure that doesn’t make others victims.  When I was 13, I was one of the tallest boys in my class, I already had some facial hair, and acne, and I was about 6 feet tall.  I was also the oldest in my class, and so I lumbered over many of the other kids, but especially the girls.  I constantly had crushes on the girls, and would ask them out regularly.  One of my problems was, that I didn’t know how to take a hint.

I would ask, “Do you want to go to the movies on Friday?”

Usually I’d get back, “Um… I can’t I have to… (insert polite excuse here)”

I didn’t get it, so I’d say “how about Saturday?”

Now, I just wanted at that point in my life, to go to the movies, maybe hold hands, or kiss them.  I knew about sex, but really hadn’t connected it with my interaction with girls.  I literally meant no harm.

But as a 33 year-old, I now know, that from a very young age, girls are warned about predators, and told about them, likely by that age they had encountered some to whatever extent, and so a giant kid, who they find creepy and unattractive won’t stop asking them out, is probably terrifying.  I think back, and I have to imagine, I was the physical embodiment of everything a young girl has been warned about.  Despite not having any bad intentions, or really any awareness of myself.

So were those girls victims?  Not of assault, but I think they were of harassment, definitely of intimidation.  How can anyone argue with that?

On the other hand, was I a predator?  I don’t think so.

It’s a level of nuance that I’m not sure this current wave of awareness has.  Obviously, if someone knowingly assaults, or intimidates, or harasses, they should be punished, and corrected, but perhaps there are the unknowing harassers and intimidate-ers, who need to be corrected, and educated, but not necessarily punished.

I think one of the fears that has come out, is that if we don’t listen to a woman, we risk falling back into the same old routine, and so we’ve taken that to mean that we must take her side against the person who made her feel whatever way.  There are cases when that is obviously true, but then there are cases like mine, or maybe Aziz Ansari’s in which you can hear the victim, have empathy, or sympathy, and help them make it as right as possible, and hopefully correct this going forward, but not necessarily have such a black and white stance.

What are your thoughts and opinions on these more nuanced stories?  Are my ideas way off base?  Let me know below in the comments.

Kicking My Addiction

Something that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on this blog before, is the fact that I’m addicted to soda.  Now, I don’t mean that in some flippant way, I mean it literally.  It’s not as bad as many other addictions, but when I don’t have soda for about twenty four hours, I start to get severe headaches, partly it is the caffeine, but I also assume it’s the sugar.

Right now, I’m in the middle of trying to quit soda.  I have successfully kicked the habit for months at a time, probably 5 times over the last six or seven years, once going nearly a whole year.  This time, I haven’t been doing it cold turkey, which I think has been causing me some problems.

You see, when it comes to soda, I have two drinks of choice, Mountain Dew (typically the blue ‘Voltage’ flavor, but really any Dew will do) and Coke (I prefer Vanilla, but Cherry is great, and regular will do).  This time, I’ve been avoiding those drinks, and thinking that having lesser sodas would help curb the headaches and fatigue that I feel without it.  So I have drank quite a bit of Sprite, and my work supplies me with all the Cheerwine (imagine a deliciously sweet soda version of cough syrup).  Yesterday, I had a Boylan Cola, with real cane sugar, and thought ‘well at least it’s real sugar.’  I have been using these justification tactics for a few weeks now, and the result has been lesser withdrawal symptoms spread out over a longer time frame.

In addition to trying to quit soda, I have increased my water consumption, which honestly is difficult, because I don’t like drinking water, but I’m finally starting to get to the point where it doesn’t seem like a chore anymore.

So I think that, starting tonight, I’m going cold-turkey altogether.  It will be a rough few days, but then it will be over.  At that point, the key is to not have soda when I’m out and about.  That is how I get pulled back in every time.  You know when someone says, “I stopped drinking soda six months ago, and now if I even have a sip, I can’t stand the taste?”  I don’t have that problem.  If I go six months without, and then have a sip of Coke, or Mountain Dew, it is the greatest taste I have ever had upon my tongue.  I’m not exaggerating.  One bottle of ‘Voltage’ after months of abstaining, and I will be buying a case, or a two liter.

I know this about myself, and this time I have to do better.  I don’t want the health issues that come with it, and so I am going to quit, and stay off of it for real.  If not, I’m going to write about it the first day I break this vow, and I hope you all will hold me accountable.

Have you quit an addiction?  What was it?  What method did you find to be the most helpful?  Let me know in the comments below.