Monday, September 15, 2014

Taylor Swift Revisited [But Not Really]

Hey, everyone. So, I know I wrote a blog "article" [partially/mostly] about Taylor Swift about a year ago (ffffffffuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhkk), but I'm a male, cis-het, Hispanic, American human who's not too proud to revisit a subject or reevaluate an opinion or belief in [the] light of new information. Ms. Swift was recently interviewed by the Guardian in promotion of her forthcoming fifth album, 1989. The interview is as chummy and softball as you might expect, but Ms. Swift also shows a surprising amount of introspection [which, yes, would have been any amount of introspection whatsoever, but ykwim]. It's like she actually learned [at least two of] the lessons [I felt] she needed to learn in the past year, namely, that "boyfriend-stealing," [and, therefore, one would assume, "girlfriend-stealing"] is "not a thing," i.e., no one can "steal" your significant other unless they WANT to leave you, and that feminism doesn't [or doesn't have to, or at least shouldn't] have anything to do with "pitting men and women against each other" (this is a critique of feminism that goes at least as far back as the suffrage movement, which, to me, seems to suggest that anti-feminists haven't come up with any new arguments in the past 100-150 years, but that's beside the point). Ms. Swift even adopts the "feminist" label herself! So, hey, credit where credit is due. And in this case, I'd have to say that credit lies with Lena Dunham for becoming friends with Ms. Swift, and, apparently, being a really good influence on her...

Another effort by Ms. Swift to promote her new album was to release a music video for the lead single, "Shake it Off." The song is about ignoring Teh H8erz™. Whatever. I honestly don't care, even though it was co-written by Max Martin, who is basically Satan to me, as a musician—and not in a good way—and I fucking DARE you to look up his previous "works" and tell me I'm off-base! Look—I always say [or at least think] that there's a difference between criticism and "h8in'"—that you can't surround yourself with yes-persons—that you can go ahead and tell "h8erz" to fuck off, but it would behoove you to pay attention to your critics just on the off-chance that they might have something constructive to say. Of course, I'm not sure that most people even HAVE H8erz™—that would require that there be people who give enough of a fuck about you to hate you, and I don't know you [probably], but I'm skeptical that that's the case. [201409171700 edit: I've just realized that, even if you, personally, don't have H8erz, it's still possible that you might fall victim to people who just spread out hate as widely as they can, or target people they see as "vulnerable." This is a slightly different circumstance, but it's still no better for YOU. Sorry.] Ok. On second thought, even though you probably don't have H8erz, if you ever want to ACCOMPLISH anything, you probably WILL have naysayers. But again, you have to learn how to distinguish between naysayers, who can go fuck themselves, and people who are just trying to offer you a realistic appraisal of the risks involved in whatever endeavor you're undertaking. You probably won't have time to analyze each individual voice to determine whether they're a naysayer or, um, the other thing, but you can't get caught in an ideological bubble or believing your own hype, and the only way to learn how to make these distinctions is through experience—where was I?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Confessions of a Former Paulista

I saw Ron Paul on bookTV recently. This got me thinking about all the usual Ron Paul issues. I must confess that, back in aught-seven, I myself was a junior Paulista. But our story today, dear readers, begins slightly before I "discovered" Dr. Paul.

I was raised under what you might call a typical conservative "fundagelical" Christian values system. My parents still operate under this regime of "thought." They're not exactly "single-issue voters"—more like "triple-issue voters": abortion AND Israel AND guns—but they're definitely conservative Republicans. So I grew up very conservative, myself. I often tell the "story" in youtube comments [sections of basically any video that even mentions Rush Limbaugh] of how, while being conservative, we were also relatively poor, and so, during the summer, my mom would take my brother and me [which IS correct pronoun usage!] to the PUBLIC PARK to get a GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED lunch, and I would sometimes bring my little battery-powered radio so I could listen to RUSH LIMBAUGH because [Alanis Morissette irony joke—THAT never gets old *coughcough*]! Then, in high school, I went through this phase in which I thought Bill O'Reilly was right about everything. I even read his book—The O'Reilly Factor! NOT Those Who Trespass! D= His book surprised me a little. From what I remember, he even made some [maybe not quite "progressive," but let's just say] reasonable points about how race, class, and gender really do still matter in this country. I could say more things about Mr. O'Reilly, but maybe some other time.

I should probably point out here that I've always been a voracious reader—I'll read basically anything I come across, including product labels and even the occasional end-user license agreement! So one time, I think around the end of '06/beginning of '07, after I had already been in college for a couple of years, I was doing some cleaning around the [parents'] house when I came across this pamphlet that was basically about jury nullification, but it was about some other stuff as well, so let's go down that rabbit hole, Alice—here, hold my hand. Everything's gonna be ok...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Religion is LIKE a Crutch, But...

[Trigger Warning (TW) for depiction of hypothetical use of a racial slur.]

When I was growing up as a Fundagelical Christian, one of the objections to religion I would hear sometimes was that it was a "crutch." Actually, I would usually hear this FROM religious people as an EXAMPLE of a criticism of religion that THEY [claimed to have] heard. They would then instantly dismiss it without really saying why. I don't even remember hearing [at the time] a full explanation of what it would mean for religion to be a "crutch"—the implication is that religion is for "weak-minded" people who can't handle the fact that nothing happens when you die or whatever. In the process of becoming an atheist, on the other hand, I don't recall hearing this argument [nearly as often] from actual atheists or critics of religion. That doesn't mean that there are no atheists who [have] use[d] this argument in some form. It just means that, for example, this particular "argument" [almost certainly] had nothing to do with my "deconversion." It's just as well, because it's a bad argument. It's clearly a strawman. It's obviously not fair to assert that all religious people are weak-minded and need some kind of collective hive-mind to do [all of] their thinking for them. However, as I implied earlier, this "argument" is kind of a strawman in both directions: On the one hand, there is no criticism of or argument against religion that I would consider serious that would incorporate such an insult, but on the other hand, it would be disingenuous for a person to say that not all Christians are complete idiots and then pretend/insinuate that they had defeated a claim that was in some way foundational [or even relevant] to atheism or anti-theism.

I see this as similar to the case of using the word "delusion" to describe religious belief. RationalWiki defines "delusion" thusly [emphasis added]:
A delusion is an aggressively-held belief that is demonstrably false. It is commonly (but not exclusively) the result of a mental condition, such as schizophrenia
The article continues:
Richard Dawkins, [in] The God Delusion [...] asserted that the question of God's existence was tied to the question of special creation, and then argued that since special creation has largely been demonstrated to be false, belief in God is a delusion 1
Of course, it IS true that many religions do incorporate these "aggressively-held," "demonstrably false" [or at least unfalsifiable] beliefs. And I realize that the article does mention that "delusion" is not "exclusively" attributable to a "mental condition." I also realize that having a mental condition could potentially contribute to one's "delusional" [religious] beliefs. However, we should be careful about associating religion with mental illness. In our [justifiable] efforts to characterize religion as an unreasonable system of thought, we shouldn't contribute to the stigmatization of or misconceptions about the mentally ill. If anything, "delusional" religious/spiritual beliefs are a "testament" to the human ability to compartmentalize contradictory thoughts & beliefs, which is not a bug, but a feature of the human mind-brain. It is also evidence AGAINST "intelligent" design [unless God is The Ultimate Troll, which, "according to the scriptures," He conveniently is (emphasis on the "HE")].

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Second Installment of Thread Translation

First installment/background/notation key here. Moving right along!! The following is [my attempt at] a translation of this thread:
VL: I want some [earings, in case you didn't actually click on the link! :O!] like these for my girlfriend!
EW: haha, why? Yeah, they are pretty! :D
VL: What do you mean, "why?"? THEY'RE FROM STAR WARS!!!
EW: Oooh! OK, they seemed [like it] to me. If you want to give me something like that, I will gladly wear [lit: use] it.
VL: I wish[*] there were "geek" stores where they sold them. :(
EW: They can be made to order. :)
VL: Where!? Let's go!
EW: mmm. I don't know. I'll [have to] look for a place.

[*] Literally, "Allah willing." The word ojalá is very old. It comes from back when Spain was still part of the Islamic Empire. Other such words are hola, and a bunch of words that start with al,(e.g., alcohol, algodon...)
Will our hero ever find awesome Death Star™ earrings for his girlfriend!? Ha! You'll never fucking find out, will you!? Anyway, hey, that was a lot easier than last time! Thanks for reading! And thanks for believing in me! XD "Regular" [in style if not in frequency] content coming soon!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

5 Years

Hello, dear readers! Today is the 5th "anniversary" of this blog. Sure, there was that ~3-year period in which I didn't post anything, but still. I didn't have all that much to say about it at this time. I mostly just wanted to point it out, because the unit of time known as a "year" and the number "5" are COMPLETELY ARBITRARY! That said, a lot has changed since I started this blog. I don't even think I was "all the way" an atheist at the time. That probably took another week or two. Today is also [close enough to] the 5th "anniversary" of the day I started to publicly identify as a feminist. I think I've improved as an advocate/ally for human/minority rights/dignity during this time, but obviously, I still have a lot to learn. Looking back on what I've written, there are times when I'm impressed I that I was that "forward-thinking" that long ago, but there are also times when I'm kind of disappointed in my former self or think, "Wow. That was 'unfortunate' to have written." I hope to write more this year because I do feel like I have kind of a lot to say and I just recently recalled that I've wanted to be a blogger for a very long time—even before I heard the word "blog," or knew what a blog was. ¡Hasta luego!/Happy trials!