We are all more alike than I ever thought…

Not much of a point to this one… I’ve already started working this morning, but while I wait for this humongous database to restore, I have time to write something short…

Lately I feel like I understand my fellow humans more than ever. It’s weird. Despite our upbringing, our locations and our beliefs, we are often so alike, it can be eerie. “Eerie” is probably the wrong word – I mean something with a positive connotation, but fuck it; I don’t have time to find a word that makes more sense.

This morning I shared this:

chat

And I got those reactions quite quickly. It’s early so there will be more reactions to come.

The other day I shared something like this:

Sometimes I reply with a really stupid comment and then I delete it because it’s so stupid but then I wonder if he or she already read it and I feel even more stupid for deleting it.

(Run on sentence deliberate.) That resulted in a massive number of likes and “You are not alone” comments.

I’m still not sure why I’m sharing this… not exactly. But it makes me feel good, it gives me hope, to know that we are often so similar. I spent so many years feeling lonely, so many years not fitting in. And yet there are so many people like me. If you’re one of them, maybe it’s good to know?

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Mysterious ways–Why do only some of us reject the religion of our birth?

This is something I’ve always wondered about… How come I rejected my Roman Catholic religious upbringing (along with all other religions), while others, including family members, did not?

The closest I’ve ever had to an answer came to me yesterday, while taking part in an online debate on a local atheist group. The debate had started with the leading question, “Is god male?” and then been side-tracked into a discussion about why Catholics pray to Mary.

I shared about my own experience at Sunday school. (Apologies to those who have read this anecdote before.) I still remember my first day quite clearly… I was six years old, and my father drove me there. I arrived two or three minutes late, and the teacher – affectionately known as Aunty Peggy, was leading the other children in song. They sang, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” and I immediately felt out of place because I didn’t know the words. Also I hated singing. Plus seeing people so fucking happy and cheery always left me with a knot of nausea in my stomach – yes, I was a miserable child at times. Anyway, that feeling of not fitting in only got worse over time.

The other thing that struck me as weird was that they prayed to Jesus. The son. I couldn’t get my head around that. Why pray to kiddo when DaddyO is god? At some point they explained the Trinity, one god in three persons, and then I was really confused. I couldn’t understand it, and with the realization that there was no deeper knowledge to understand, I figured the reason for not understanding it was that it was nonsense.

By the time I was eight years old, I had to do my first confession. And of course, I found myself not believing in that either. I didn’t tell anyone – because the answers given when others questioned things were not sufficient – I just sat there quietly in disbelief. I mean, if you can pray to god, why tell a priest your sins and have him pray for your absolution? That makes no sense.

By the time I was ten years old, I had a teacher named Patrick, a red haired Irish South African who was likeable and passionate about his religion. He not only drummed all the prayers and the creed into our little heads (and I can still remember them), but he was also passionate about apologetics. It was he who explained why we pray to Mary (something I never did despite knowing the words – heck, I still refused to pray to Jesus). He explained this so that we would be able to debate anyone who claimed that Catholics worshipped Mary. You see, we pray to her so that she can intercede to god for us. Kind of like a middle man, which happens to be the same role of the priest in confession. Likewise, I did not accept this because it made no sense.

So yesterday, while discussing this, the truth of the underlying psychology occurred to me… A couple of years ago there was a widely publicised study on our tendency to credulously accept pseudo-profound sounding bullshit. Sorry, I can’t find the quick take on it I read at the time, but I do love David Gorski’s writing…

What it comes down to, as I understand it anyway, is the way we respond when we hear statements that we do not understand. Most of us, when faced with something that seems at face value to be profound, tend to assume that it really is profound, even though we don’t understand. That is, we presume there to be some hidden wisdom that’s beyond our understanding, even if it’s pure bullshit.

I don’t do that. It amuses me because I always credited my father with helping me to learn to think critically. I always regarded myself as gullible, and I remember that throughout my childhood, I’d become angry (with myself) when finding out that something I had previously believed turned out to be untrue. And yet, the lessons on critical thinking from my father came when I was much older than six, eight, or even ten. They came when I was a teenager. So maybe I started out a critical thinker after all?

I do happen to understand most things I’ve been taught, right away. That’s my main strength. It’s why I’m a computer programmer – because I understand abstract concepts easily. But there is plenty I don’t understand. I do not get quantum mechanics at all. I struggle with relativity. Yet in those cases, it is obvious to me that there is knowledge I am missing, genuine hidden wisdom that I do not have. I understand that those subjects (and philosophy too) are subjects that I don’t get, but are also valid subjects. They are truly profound, unlike religious mysterious and dogma which I have been asked to accept without question and cannot do.

The point is, things like Mary interceding to god on our behalf, god having three persons but still being a single god, a priest praying for us at confession, the Eucharist changing into the “body of Christ”, and others, are obviously nonsense. I rejected all of those as a child simply because they don’t make sense. There is no hidden wisdom in any of those things… There is no special knowledge that anyone who studied their religious book, has gained. They just learn the innermost details of the shit that men made up about gods for thousands of years, while accepting that all those things are “mysterious”.

And that’s it. That’s why I don’t believe in god but my brother does. My bullshit detection skills developed earlier than his did, and maybe that’s why he is religious and I’m not, even though both of us have IQs well above average. (So we’ve been told.)


Edit… I do pity stupid people. Presumably there are plenty people out there who are stupid enough that they fail to understand most things. Such people would then tend to assume stuff like religion is true, because it’s just like everything else that they don’t understand. I suspect those folks are the theists who frequent atheists versus theists debate groups… judging by the quality of the “arguments” they make.

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The Flash Season 3 is absolutely ruined by plot holes and plot elements that make no sense.

So after watching Supergirl Season 2 with my son Josh, I decided to watch The Flash Season 3. He loves it. That’s what’s important, I suppose…

Warning… Spoilers. If you haven’t watched the show, you might not want to read this.

I hate it. It’s terrible. The plot makes no damn sense and there are holes everywhere. Recently I mentioned the plot holes in Supergirl, but they really didn’t come close to this. Also the show takes predictability to a whole new level. If my nine year old son could guess that Savitar is Barry Allen in some form (a time remnant, really??), then somebody fucked up.

Just a few…

  • The entire premise of the contrived drama is that Barry can’t change the future. A future caused by him changing the past. So can he or can’t he?
  • The poorly contrived drama is all about the impending (and obviously inevitable) death of Iris. And I write this without having yet watched the last three episodes.
  • The drama is further delayed by stupid episodes of irrelevant nonsense that do not further the main plot. Some villains are not properly fleshed out but feel like they were thrown in just to increase the episode count. Actually not some… all of them this season.
  • They could save Iris simply by having her go off somewhere on her own for a few months, without telling Barry about it. Maybe to visit her aunt Dorothy in Kansas. Or whatever… There are an endless possible ways to save her that they don’t think of.
  • In one especially stupid episode, Barry’s friends subject him to an experimental way of not getting any new long term memories. Because, you know, Savitar being a future time remnant duplicate of Barry won’t have those memories and thus they can defeat him. Of course it all goes awry and he gets amnesia instead, but even if that didn’t happen, there is no way this course of action could ever make any sense. And he’s totally OK with jumping in to a device that will fry his brain?
  • In that same stupid episode, when he has amnesia, Savitar forgets who he is too. Except he’s still there, in his armoured suit, but Wally West, who got his powers via Savitar, doesn’t have his powers any more. This is not a paradox. It’s just a mind-numbingly stupid contradiction. (If Wally lost his powers, why didn’t Savitar just vanish?)
  • Caitlyn turns evil for no apparent reason. There are plenty of good metahumans, but just because there was a version of her with those powers in another universe who happened to be a villain, does not explain why she’s evil here too. Cisco was evil too over there. And her backstory was slightly different in order to set up a different persona because maybe the writers thought things through a little back then.
  • Knowing that his future self will create Savitar by making a time remnant, all he has to do is… Not create a time remnant! Tada!
  • Edit: I nearly forgot this one… The way Savitar gets out of his speed force prison doesn’t make sense. Firstly, the characters decided they had to get rid of the magic stone that could free him, knowing that he had been trapped “somewhere” by future Barry. Predictably, that place could only be the speed force. Of course I guessed that but somehow they did not? So they throw the stone that can free him directly to him? Then, Caitlyn keeps a part of it, which prevents him from being freed. And Wally goes off all by himself and throws it into the speed force without realizing the consequences, without anybody being able to tell him why that will lead to disaster. Then Caitlyn is still criticized for keeping that piece of the stone. None of this makes any sense.
  • As in the example above, there were many cases where the characters could have helped each other, but they didn’t talk, don’t communicate basic facts to one another, and yet the main story is dragged out over way too many episodes.
  • Barry keeps on diving in front of other people to save them from metahuman attacks, especially those by Killer Frost. He could use his speed and move them out of harm’s way instead, but that would make sense. On the other hand, when people are shot at, he’s fast enough to run and pluck the individual bullets out of the air, presumably because it would be a problem if all his friends were shot dead. This is another contradiction, one where using his powers in two very similar examples is inconsistent, to advance the horrendously (not) thought out plot.
  • In season one, they were concerned enough about physics to explain that running up walls would be difficult, as enough speed would be required to keep from falling. Now Barry zig zags all over buildings as if gravity is not a thing, and Wally does too. (Wally, whose training involved running around in circles and then running around outside with the help of a man who knows nothing about his powers.) Yet when facing a villain, he stands around talking to them and waiting for them to use their powers.
  • And lastly, the question asked by my nine year old son: If Savitar is so fast, why doesn’t he just run over and kill everybody who can stop him? Maybe that’s a simplistic way of putting it, but it’s a good question… For example, in the episode where he sends Killer Frost to stop the scientist who will be able to build a device to stop him in the future, why not just do it himself? He’s so fast, he can literally be all over the city at the same time. He could kill her before any of the other characters exhale.

I still have three episodes left, and since Josh loves the show, I must watch it with him. For once, I’m dreading finishing a series.

If you think I’m being overly negative, here’s an article that I found via a quick Google search highlighting the plot holes. I didn’t read the whole thing because I haven’t watched the whole series, so technically I don’t know that Iris dies… except I do know because I’m not an idiot and predictable plots are predictable.

I repeat, if a child can see your plot holes, you fucked up big time. Thanks for reading.

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Are you waiting for Jesus to return? Don’t hold your breath because there is no situation that would satisfy your wait.

This is one of those things I think about every so often and have a good laugh.

Earlier I saw this question posed on an atheist group:

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately into the Bible. On a level that I never did before. And even assuming that the Abrahamic God exists I could not accept Jesus. All the false prophecies and misquotations and so on to “prove” Jesus as the Messiah.

I feel almost sorry for the Jews. It makes complete sense from a theological standpoint that Christianity is false. Does anyone else feel this way too?

This was my reply:

12-10-2017 10-31-34 AM

Maybe it needs elaboration?

Let’s play a little game… Assume all three Abrahamic religions are true. In reality, they can’t all be true at once, but don’t worry about that.

We start out assuming the Jews are right. Then, the Christians claim that Jesus is the messiah that they were waiting for. Let’s assume they were correct. To make that claim, they had to impose their own meaning on prophecies from the Torah, meaning that would never be accepted by Jews. Then, we are left waiting for Jesus to return. As a Christian, that is your purpose: To wait.

The Muslims go off on another tangent completely. While claiming to “accept” Jesus, they redefine who he was. So we have another Abrahamic religion, one that similarly can never be accepted by Christians. Just like the Christians claim they follow the god of the Jews and yet their doctrine contradicts its source material in such a way that their theology is obviously false and does not follow from the prophecies it claims to fulfill, so does Islam contradict Christianity. However, in both cases, someone indoctrinated into the respective religion will not realize the truth, since their indoctrination includes being taught their own holy text, which has already altered its own source.

But let’s take a step back. The Christians are waiting for Jesus to return. Under what conditions can that wait be satisfied? The answer, ironically, is none. The world has moved on in the last two thousand years. Most people, and let’s ignore the crackpots, do not credulously accept anyone who claims to be god. No matter how sincerely Christians might believe that their saviour is coming back, even if it were true (and it is not), if he actually came back, they would never accept him. And if anyone succeeds in making a strong enough case for being the returned saviour, in reality nothing will change. They’ll just be another charismatic human making claims while the world continues to move on. The best they can achieve is to start yet another Abrahamic religion. (Hey, at least this time maybe we can have a daughter of god?)

What this means is that as long as Christianity exists, there will be Christians waiting for Jesus to return. They will all die waiting, because there is no conceivable situation that would meet the criteria for Jesus being back. The Christians (and I don’t know enough about those other two religions to know if it applies to them too) are thus left perpetually waiting.

So what’s really likely to happen while Christianity still exists and believers carry on waiting for a man who will never come, is that the absurdity of the perpetual wait will become obvious to more people. The more years pass since the supposed life and crucifixion, the more absurd it becomes to continue waiting for Jesus to return. It might take a while, but obvious superstitious nonsense like Christianity is going to die a long and uninteresting death. Right now we have loads of Christians who try to persuade everyone that tolerance of other religions is an attack on Christianity, because on some level they might see what is coming. Theirs are the death throes of their religion. In reality, and apart from a few extremists and some crazy people, that’s all the death throes of Christianity will entail – some words from believers trying to prevent their doomed religion from fading away. But fade it will… into obscurity just like all the other religions that we call mythology today. And good riddance.


Interestingly, I don’t think Islam suffers from this same problem as Christianity. They’re not waiting for anyone to come back (as far as I know). Perhaps that makes Islam in a sense a more “pure” religion. A nonsense one of course, as it is all based on the ramblings of a madman who believed his creator dictated his holy texts in a cave, a religion that includes tales of a man riding a magic flying donkey and splitting the moon, but nevertheless, a religion that does not leave its followers waiting for a saviour who will never come. Thus if one looks past the obvious crazy stuff (that those indoctrinated into the religion will not be able to see anyway), it can be seen as a religion that gives greater meaning to its believers. Maybe that’s why Islam is the fastest growing religion, and is projected to remain that way for years to come? Maybe on some level Christians realize this? A religion that includes misogyny even worse than that practised by Christians… No wonder so many Christians hate them so. It is disturbing to think that this variant of the disease of religion is spreading, isn’t it?

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Funny how I tend to remember the good times and forget the bad times of addiction?

While taking a bath, I had an odd recollection of my good old days… This was around 2007. I remembered our lonely aged neighbour, exasperated at about 3AM, exclaiming in his impeccable British accent, “WOT’s going on?”

The sex was good in those days; so good it turned bad. We’d have a few hits of meth, and then begin. I’d delay my ejaculation but get a kick out of her frequent orgasms, and keep going until we were both exhausted, occasionally wiping off with a towel because she’d made it too wet to continue. Then we’d go to the bathroom, wash ourselves off, have a few more hits of meth, and go back to bed intending to sleep. But as soon as our bodies brushed against one another, the whole process would start again. Rinse and repeat. Literally. We only stopped when it became painful, and in my case that meant my body would eventually try to ejaculate even though by then there was nothing left, and it hurt. Sometimes we’d even continue after that. We’d go until we blistered and bled.

In retrospect, that wasn’t normal. Poor old Robin next door just wanted to get some sleep. The day after that exasperated plea, while I was at work he approached her to find out if anything was wrong, and of course it was a big joke to her. He’s dead now. Sorry Robin. At least you’re resting now.

When we weren’t having our insane sex marathons, we’d be tweaking and tripping on other things. I remember making flapjack pancakes until about the same time, around 3 to 4AM. Standing there in mid-winter in the kitchen, in front of the window wearing nothing but my underpants because I was overheating despite the freezing weather, mixing and frying hundreds of pancakes in the electric frying pan we had. I’d eat most of them as they were ready, some with maple syrup, some with apricot jam, and some with only butter. Eventually when I finished, there’d only be about 20 pancakes for me to share with her, but I’d eaten about 200 by then. Those were good times.

And yet, the good times didn’t last. Not only did they not last, but I had years of bad times after the good times, and in the end the bad times were more significant and lasted way longer than the good times.

The good times were from 2006 to 2008. 2009 was the worst year of my life and I almost died. I was clean for most of 2010. Then 2011 to 2013 were meaningless, wasted years. I didn’t have her any more, and neither of us had our son. I used alone, with the threat of losing him forever looming larger every day. The drugs did nothing for me any more. I’d be high and happy for about two minutes, then be miserable again. More dugs led to a quicker come-down and more severe depression. By September 2013, I had to admit that the drugs weren’t doing anything for me. I’d known for some time but procrastinated about stopping and reached the point where there was no point in using any longer. In fact, meth was no longer my thing, and quitting was thus easy.

And here I am remembering the good times… Why?

Don’t worry about me. I don’t yearn for those good times and remembering them isn’t placing me in any danger of relapse. When I first cleaned up, maybe it did. And I guess that’s really my point today: Don’t forget how bad it got, and how bad it will get if you ever go back to using meth. Not a point for me, but for anyone reading this who might be struggling… Never forget how bad it was. Never go back.

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Supergirl Season 2 home DVD review

After slogging through the entirety of Game of Thrones, I figured it was time for a child friendly series to watch with Josh, so I bought the second season of Supergirl which is available on DVD. Of course a review will be quite unnecessary to most people, apart from those like me who never watch TV, but buy or download series instead… Here’s my two cents anyway…

Overall, I enjoyed it. It has some not so subtle political views, and it is basically set in an alternate universe where Hillary Clinton became president of the US, and she is an alien, one where refugees are aliens rather than Muslims. And yet it is still somehow more sane than the real universe.

superman-tyler-hoechlin-supergirl-season-2

I’ll list some pros and cons.

Cons

  1. Calista Flockhart is still in it. Despite that woman’s popularity, she can’t act. I don’t like her skeletal face or the tone of her voice. Thankfully she’s only in the first two and last two episodes, but I’m not gonna lie – her presence was a huge con for me.
  2. Plot holes. Plot holes everywhere. I won’t list them all, but here’s one example: project Medusa, featured in one of the earlier episodes, has the bad guys using a Kryptonian device that targets and kills aliens… that somehow doesn’t target humans. Because, you know, we’re on Earth, so we are not aliens, and apparently we’re too thick to notice plot holes that make no sense.
  3. Tropes. Too many of them. Again, I’ll give one example (that includes three tropes): Her friend Winn is conned by a beautiful alien, and nobody notices their meeting is a setup. She did it because she needed to con him into helping her rob a museum, but only because the bad guys have her brother… And lastly she falls in love with him anyway.
  4. The episodes are a little too formulaic, with the exception of the penultimate one. They’re all exactly 40 minutes. 20 minutes in, things are looking bad for the protagonist and her friends and some sort of predicament is set up, but it all gets resolved quite swiftly with two minutes to spare for some cheesy dialog or a set up of perils coming in the next episodes…
  5. The script, though better than that of the first season, is still not good.
  6. Aliens. Aliens everywhere. Just like The Flash has metahumans everywhere, and that dreadful old Highlander series (There can be only one.) had immortals everywhere, this gets a bit much. OK, it’s not so bad as Highlander was, which had a new immortal in every episode. Also the aliens are integral to the main theme.

Pros

  1. It’s Supergirl! The stories are uplifting. In this universe, there’s a clear distinction between good and evil, and the good guys always win. That makes it child-friendly and fun; a pleasant escape from reality.
  2. The acting is mostly good, in spite of the sucky script.
  3. Although it is formulaic, what with her friends and other supporting cast making this less of a super hero show and more a “super hero with friends and little helpers” show, the main theme and subthemes fit together nicely. It all flows rather well from start to end and they tie up loose ends. I could suspend my disbelief and pretend the plot holes weren’t there.
  4. The biggest pro for me was the same sex relationship between the protagonist’s sister and a new cop character. (Although I had to ignore that this cop was everywhere, even in story arcs where she didn’t belong.) My son is at an age where he exclaims “Disgusting!” whenever he sees characters kissing romantically; it doesn’t matter if they’re the same sex or not. But it is good to see a homosexual relationship treated respectfully and as a normal, acceptable relationship. My son’s mother is currently in a same sex relationship (she was always bi) and even though she is far away, we speak to her regularly. This was a great help for me to help him understand that there is nothing wrong with being gay – he has picked up some homophobic ideas somewhere and I need to squash them quickly. (That relationship did feel a little forced at first. I mean, who figures out they are gay in their thirties? But after that, it was handled well.)

Neither a pro nor a con, but in the comics I used to own, Monel was Superman’s grandfather, and sometimes a time traveller. Now he’s from a planet that was a twin to Krypton and a love interest to Supergirl. But this was also part of one of the subthemes involved – prejudice and war, which did fit into the alien refugees main theme.

They’ve taken some liberties with the Supes cousins in this show. They’re a lot less powerful than one might expect. Not necessarily a problem since the limits of their powers in the comics have fluctuated over the years, and they do arguably need to be weaker for a TV show, but this does mean that they’re quite different to the movie version of Superman. And try explaining to a nine year old why Henry Cavill can’t be Superman in this. Marvel got this right after all, and in shows he’s seen like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, while the movie actors are not present, references are occasionally made to the cinematic heroes’ antics.

OK, so I’ve listed more cons than pros. Oops… But I did like the show, and so did my son. If they make a third season, I’ll watch it too. But they really need to kill off Cat Grant and her annoying pep talks.

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Some hate speech from religious people. Please help me in reporting it.

Check this out:

HateSpeech

So this past weekend, it came to light that someone who had posed as an atheist and befriended several of us in the most popular atheist group in South Africa, is actually not an atheist. She was in the group for months, knew about secular meetups, and duped all of us. Then she started this vile Freedom From Atheism group.

Several of us atheists were added there and I don’t know the full details of how that happened. I know only that I was added in disgust by a friend. I trolled the group for a short while over the weekend and then stopped.

The point is though, you don’t get to claim the moral high ground while calling for the execution of people who don’t believe the same as you. No seriously, a comment on another post claimed that atheists “can’t be good”. That fossilized chestnut, the implicit argument from morality.

Here’s the thing… Atheism is a response to belief. Not only does it make no claims, but it is not imposed on anyone. Secularism is a response to religion being imposed on everybody. The entire group, the concept itself pushed by it, is an example of a Tu Quoque fallacy, accusing atheists of imposing their “beliefs” on everyone, like a little child with nothing better to proffer than, “But you also do that!”. It’s pathetic, and vile.

There’s more of course. Some really crazy posts there – the usual stuff… accusing atheism about being “creation from nothing”, refutations of straw man arguments of science, and so on. But what really gets me is that we are not the ones who use beliefs to persecute anyone. You don’t see atheists claiming you can pray the gay away, or that black people are subhumans created to serve white people, or that traditional marriage is right because of hatred for same sex marriage. You see atheists criticizing the subject of the believers’ beliefs. That’s quite different to attacking people simply because they don’t believe what you do. If you can’t see the difference, you’re probably not terribly bright.

Obviously I reported that post I shared as hate speech, for what it’s worth. Some of my friends hijacked the comments there, but in the context of the OP and the original comments, it isn’t “just a question”. It is clearly hate speech and I hope that others may join me in reporting it as such.


Update

This has to be one of the most ironic Facebook comment exchanges I have ever seen, between a friend and a believer on a post of mine on that group…

DunningKruger

Yup yup… Mr Dunning Kruger… the twerp thinks he knows everything!

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