One of the silly things I tweaked on a few years ago…

This one still mesmerizes me.

I’ve reached that time of year where I am approaching another year clean. It’s a strange time when I remember all kinds of things. Most of them are bad – I remember the worst of the times in addiction, and I think about the people I met in rehab who have died in the years since then. But rather than write about that, I’m choosing to write about one of the odd things I used to tweak on. I rediscovered this yesterday.

My “jack of all trades” application, the one that does so many different things, also has a dialog to customize the Windows logon background image. It doesn’t work any more, because this was for Windows 7. The dialog that does it also looks like crap now, because it was a “glass” dialog, which displayed mostly transparent in Windows 7. Here’s how it looks in Windows 10:

CustomLogonScreenDialog

The dialog does some fancy drawing, and paints the selected image in the screen area of the monitor shown on the right. Those monitor images were made by me in Photoshop, to look like my two monitors on my table, except I changed the Samsung name to be “Romy”.

You won’t find monitor images quite like that anywhere else, because I drew them from scratch, of course. And it did take a considerable amount of time, because I am a programmer and not an artist, but that’s not the weirdness I want to focus on today… The weird bit is the image I took so long to create. I still find it mesmerizing to look at. This one:

Overcooked

You don’t want to know how long I tweaked on this stupid image. I don’t even remember.

I do know that I started out with the original Windows 7 logon image, then used a blue overlay, set to exclusion mode. (Yes, I excluded blue from a mostly blue image.) Then I did some funky shit with the colours, hand drew the birdy, leaves, a “sun” and some “planets”, and finally hand-painted some of the other curvy lines that aren’t in the original. Those curvy lines and the highlights/shadows on them… they became the object of my tweaking brain.

It does look sort of “pretty”.

But then I think to myself, I tweaked on this image for weeks when I should have been working on getting my son back. That’s what meth does – it fucks with your priorities. I was Nero as Jerome’s world burnt, fiddling away on stupid shit.

My story ended well, of course. But it was touch and go for a while there.

Posted in Addiction, Methamphetamine, Recovery | Tagged | Leave a comment

Who needs spider-sense anyway?

Last weekend I took my son to see Spider-Man Homecoming. My take on the movie: It was OK. Spoilers ahead. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie.

spider-man-homecoming-international-header-240591

Full disclosure: I stopped reading comics in 1984, when I was 12 years old and started reading Stephen King.

…But until that time, I grew up on comics, and Spider-Man was one of my favourites. I can’t comment on fan favourite villains like Venom because he was created after I stopped reading comics, but I did love my Spider-Man comics, most of which were from the 1970’s, and of course I had some from the early 80’s. So I went into the movie with high expectations. (Don’t do that.) Vulture was always one of my favourite villains.

Don’t get me wrong – I liked the movie. I didn’t love it though.

Another disclosure: I fucking hate Iron Man. I enjoyed the first movie, but found the sequel stupid. And the third one? Well, that didn’t even qualify as stupid, what with hundreds of CGI Iron Man suits flying all over the show. So for Spider-Man to have a costume made by Tony Stark, a costume that talks to him with an AI more advanced than anything we will have in the next hundred years or so, it felt more than a little cheesy.

The movie had some good points.

  1. Michael Keaton is always great. I don’t think I’ve seen a movie where I didn’t like him. He has a certain charisma that always shines, and he plays a villain particularly well. You even get to sympathize with him, despite him being the bad guy, and he kind of redeems himself in the end.
  2. Some realism in situations I always wondered about, even as a child. Like, when Spider-Man is in the middle of suburbia, he can’t be swinging his way anywhere. Also, if he climbs a really tall building, it’s going to take a mighty long time to reach the top.
  3. Tom Holland was excellent in the role; I’ve no complaints there. He’s playing a character the right age, and it’s set in high school.

And it has some bad points… My issues are mostly with the plot, and with the character of Spider-Man himself. No amount of good acting can fix these issues.

  1. That stupid fucking costume. He’s supposed to get fucked up, and I expect his costume to be in tatters by the end of the movie. But he always bounces back.
  2. He operates alone; in fact it’s his isolation and guilt at the death of his uncle, and his loneliness, that makes him so loved. Fuck this Uncle Tony shit. (OK, they don’t call him “uncle”, but still.) In so many comics, the end would be a large panel… lonely Peter sitting atop some monument or gargoyle and feeling abandoned. That’s what makes Spider-Man great – that’s why we identify with him because he’s just an ordinary guy who gained amazing powers, who doesn’t quite fit in. And although he triumphs anyway, his life is a struggle. The Spider-Man I knew was isolated, his personal life a mess due to his devotion to an unreasonable and unforgiving, punishing aunt, and nobody knew his secret. With his great powers came not only great responsibilities, but also depressing isolation.
  3. His snarky attitude is another facet of his character. They got that right in Captain America: Civil War. It’s missing in this movie.
  4. Two love interests. Why? I’m just gonna put this out there… If Zendaya was obsessed with me, I would not even see other girls. They’d be fucking invisible. But somehow he doesn’t notice her. She’s beautiful and smart and he doesn’t really see her. I’m watching it and going, “What the fuck is wrong with you, Peter?”
  5. Liz’s father just so happens to be Vulture, and he figures out Peter is Spider-Man while driving them to the homecoming dance. Oh, for fuck’s sake! And don’t tell me about the Osborns in previous movies… Yah, it’s a similar problem, but that shit was straight from the comics. It wasn’t a twist but was something every fan knew and so the fun was about finding out how that happened.
  6. Tony Stark offers him a position in the Avengers at the end of the movie. It makes no sense because he’s still in school. It also doesn’t follow that Stark would do this. Of course he doesn’t take the offer, but it felt like the whole scene was just there to add in a so-called “Easter Egg” – the costume he turns down in the process. I don’t know what costume it is but I’m guessing it’s something from after 1984 in one of the many comics I never read. And they put that scene in despite the fact that it didn’t make sense in the plot.
  7. No spider-sense. Maybe they’ll include it in a sequel, and +1 to the director for not trying to one-up previous spider-sense sequences from the other Spider-man movies, but this is a part of the character that’s always been there. They kind of used the senses of his magic costume instead, but yeah… that stupid fucking costume again…

Overall, I did like the movie. And my son who is nine years old liked it too. But he didn’t love it either. He loved the older ones, and when I got home from work yesterday, he’d just finished watching my DVD of the Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Also worth mentioning is that the poster hanging up outside the movie theatre featured the same image I used in this post, and Josh commented on it before we went in. He said it “looks animated”. And that’s a problem.

Posted in Movies | Tagged | 1 Comment

Is addiction a disease? (I don’t think so.)

My opinion is that it isn’t. I’ll present my argument, but first, here is the meme that brought the debate to my attention yesterday:

choiceordisease

My Facebook comment was this:

When I used meth, I made not one choice, but thousands. For example, I chose to buy my drug, I waited for 2 hours for the dealer to show up, then drove to buy a 12V bulb and plastic pen to make a meth pipe, then cut open the bulb, then used when I was alone and had the opportunity. I chose to use every time, despite thousands of opportunities to choose otherwise, and then four years ago, I chose to stop using.

12 steps are bullshit. I was never powerless over my addiction. That’s a copout, and when you believe shit like the 12 steps, you never take responsibility for your choices. It’s easier for it to be a disease, because then you aren’t responsible. The more difficult but more rational path for me was to admit that I chose to use despite considering the awful consequences. It also means that I could move on with my life easily – I don’t “work” on my recovery or repeat the same meaningless 12 steps over and over – I just live my life.

Every consequence, every bit of the behaviour when on drugs, falls into the normal neurological expected behaviour of your brain on drugs. There is no disease.

People don’t seem to like my anecdotal words… which makes sense I suppose, so let’s try another angle. Consider this analogy:

Let’s say you really don’t like being wet. Wetness is a problem to be avoided. But for whatever reason, you go for a walk in the rain. You really like walking in the rain, so you do it more often. Every time you do so, you end up getting wet, and you really don’t want to be wet, but you keep on walking in the damn rain.

What’s going on there? Well, I think we can all agree that such a person has some sort of a problem with a compulsive behaviour leading to an undesired consequence. We can also agree that whatever that problem is, being wet is a consequence, and not the problem itself. Yes, it’s a silly analogy, but its purpose is to separate the behaviour from the consequence, because when it comes to drugs and addiction, we don’t have a clear distinction and that, in my opinion, is where the confusion lies.

In addiction, we use drugs despite horrendous consequences, and we tell ourselves that we “can’t stop”. Some of those consequences happen to be effects of the drugs on our brains.

My argument is really simple: The effects of the drugs on our brains are within the parameters of expected, normal effects. Even the hijacking of the brain’s pleasure/reward system, which sets our “threshold” for the perception of pleasure so high that we can only feel normal if we continue using drugs. This leads to dependence on the drugs as our brains go into allostasis under the effects of the drugs, which leads to all of the behaviours related to addiction.

Take the drugs away for long enough, and all those effects on the brain are reversed. Without the dependence, when the pleasure/reward system of the brain returns to normal and homeostasis is achieved, the addiction-related behaviour stops.

So where’s the disease? In my analogy of getting wet in the rain, it was obvious that being wet was a result. I see the behaviours related to addiction as the same thing; the results of using drugs. Thus the behaviours related to addiction are the results of dependence on drugs, because of the normal neurological response of the brain under the adverse conditions drugs cause.

I believe that those who claim drug addiction is a disease are conflating the results of using drugs with the compulsive behaviour of addicts. They’re pointing to the results and calling it a disease. But those results are expected. Once you become dependent on drugs, behaving the way you do is perfectly normal. Simply put, they’re just consequences of a brain on drugs, a normal brain. There’s nothing wrong with the brain. Hence there is no disease.

Of course not everybody manages to stay clean. So it isn’t that easy to stop, and for some, it appears that just taking away the drug for long enough isn’t enough. Even so, what you have then is a compulsive behaviour. I’m not qualified to give advice on how to treat compulsive behaviours, but it seems to me that this is a problem for psychologists. And if you have a psychological disorder, you don’t necessarily have a disease. You might, but I have not seen clear evidence to support this. I have read arguments where the writers claim to have evidence, but it isn’t clear and there are other experts who disagree. Until there is real evidence and not the opinion of biased experts, it isn’t enough for me to decide one way or the other. And the default position for “I don’t know” for this atheist and skeptic is always going to be to presume the claim is not true.

I’ve tried to steer clear of 12 step programs and all that nonsense today, but for the record, if you have a disease, you certainly don’t treat it by going to meetings and talking to people who have the same disease. I know there is more than one camp claiming that addiction is a disease… those who follow 12 step nonsense tend to accept it,  just as they so credulously accept other things – and then claim that it can be “treated” but can’t be cured. The other camp realize that 12 step programs are not based on evidence, but still repeat the claim that addiction is a disease. But diseases are not vague or undefined things. If it is a disease, those who maintain that it is should be able to define specifically how the brain is diseased (and not normal but operating under stressful conditions as I believe), and while they may not be able to supply a cure, they should at the very least be able to define what exactly the disease is.

Posted in Addiction, Methamphetamine, Recovery | Tagged | 7 Comments

It’s too easy to judge addicts, but we shouldn’t.

Every so often I’m reminded how we judge addicts. We all do it – look down on them because it makes us feel a little better. Even I did it last week; shared a meme with an image that was trending on Facebook, of a girl with a trolley more or less attached to her, and some condescending text about meth. Now I’m sorry I shared it.

People used to judge me too, and write me off, but last night I was reminded of some stuff I achieved on meth. I was looking around on my hard drive because it’s getting full and I need to delete some old files, when I found a backup directory, a backup of my old drive from a few years ago, because I gave the drive to my ex…

It contained a lot of evidence, not of my drug use, but of the results of my tweaking on the computer. Besides the movies and downloads, there was also some source code I’d forgotten about.

I’ll try to make this as simple as possible, but that isn’t easy. I’d written my own video player, in c# using DirectShow. It’s not great, but it works, and it works pretty well. But it only plays video files directly. At some point, I was interested in playing DVDs too. So I found source code that I could use, a tutorial with some sample code on playing DVDs from c#. The only problem was, my video player code was “tightly coupled” to the form that uses it. So the form, which should just be the user interface (with the buttons to play and so on) included all the code for playing videos. Not only that, but it does some funky stuff with background threads, for example so that if you click “next”, it already knows all the files in the directory. Plus it has features like frame stepping and player speed that aren’t necessarily implemented in the DVD player code.

So, to change my player so that it could play files or DVDs, I had two options:

  1. Use inheritance. This would involve defining a base “player” class, and having two derived classes. One would be the file player, with all the existing code moved to it, and another would be a DVD player class.
  2. Define a “player” interface. This interface would contain the definitions for all the stuff the player did, but only the definitions. Then I’d have two implementations of this interface, one with my existing code, and another for DVDs. (The DVD player would then not implement the methods or properties that were specific to the file player, or at least fail gracefully at those things.)

Apparently I decided on option two. “Apparently” is quoted because I was so high, I don’t remember any of that. But it’s there – I found that I went as far as defining the interface. Then I stopped there, because it would be a couple more days work to refactor my code, and then implement the DVD playing code, as well as having some way (an “abstract factory” probably) of deciding an runtime which implementation to use based on what was being played. The bulk of the work would be the refactoring… There’s a lot more that I’m not mentioning, such as the peripheral details around the two kinds of players. The file player has a concept of play lists, which involves relative paths to the locations of files on disk, and it can also persist the starting position (and ending position which allows for playback loops because I was tweaking) within files, while a DVD player would need to be able to navigate a menu system, and switch between different tracks. The code for the file player to “know” the difference between playing files in a list verses playing whatever is in the directory, is messy. Not to mention repeat modes… on reaching the end of a file, it must decide, based on the repeat mode, whether to go to the next file, or repeat the file, or if set to repeat the whole list/directory, decide what to do then based on the index within the list/directory (and lastly if super-duper tweaker pervert porno repeat cumshot loop is engaged, repeat that part of the file when it gets to the end of the section, or check if there is a loop to repeat when loading a new file. Sigh… Tweaking leads to strange complications). That shit would be complicated to refactor, and even on meth I was too lazy to do all that.

The point is, I did some hard-core programming shit on meth. This is unfinished code, but I have had the dubious “pleasure” of working with some less talented programmers over the years, programmers who were incapable of doing what I could do when I was on meth.

Don’t judge people just because they’re on drugs. Being an addict doesn’t make anyone stupid, although it certainly does lead to them doing some stupid things. (For example, writing video players when you’re tweaking on porn – then not actually watching the porn but rather going off on a tangent writing a fairly feature-rich video player.) While you’re laughing at people and putting them down, there are some good people out there who just made some bad choices. Some of them are more clever or gifted than you can imagine, and a little empathy goes a long way.

Another way addicts are often judged, and sorry if you’ve read what I’ve written about this before, is the so called “faces of meth”, photos shared online with the pretence of it being about deterring others from using meth. It’s never about that. It’s about laughing at people less fortunate than yourself. It’s also about missing the point.

I won’t share such images myself, but I will state an example. I remember seeing one of those images of a girl who supposedly used meth for ten years. She was a pretty girl, probably about seventeen in the first image, then more or less a year older in every subsequent image. But here’s the problem: The first image, where she looked pretty, was a police mug shot. She was arrested for drug possession and prostitution, and was probably already living on the street. Do you see where I’m going with this? In the before image, she was probably already using meth for at least five years, maybe longer. And as for the rest, they were pictures of a woman living on the street, most likely using multiple drugs, including but not limited to meth. Once you get to the point of living on the street, meth is soon out of range of what you can afford, unless of course you happen to be a career criminal. And of course, career criminals and long time prostitutes have more factors affecting their appearance than the number of years they use meth.

Edit: This needs to be expanded on… Career criminals and the people associated with them, who are committing crimes for their drugs, don’t have normal lives. Contrast this with normal people who happen to be addicts… who still go home to their houses where they shower, brush their teeth, get dressed and go to work every day. (And then maybe party all night and every weekend, sometimes disappearing for a day or two each month after they get paid.) They’re nothing like those pitiful looking photos you see in mug shots online.

So while you look at those photos and laugh at the subjects in them, you miss that most addicts look nothing like those people. Most addicts are working normal jobs, and you would never guess they’re using drugs. People might work while using for up to twenty years, before they reach that point where they can’t work any more. And it’s all too easy to judge them while you have a drink every day, or do cocaine occasionally. You might find yourself judging them even after you’ve already become one of them. And when that happens, you might realize as I did, that those “photos of meth” are not a deterrent at all. They’re one of many ways to misunderstand how widespread and dangerous addiction really is, allowing you to see addicts in terms of stereotypes rather than reality.

Posted in Addiction, Methamphetamine, Programming, Recovery | Leave a comment

Some annoying loaded questions for atheists

So recently I saw this shared on Facebook:

LoadedQuestions

This was the original text:

A close relative from my hometown area contacted me this morning. This person said that they have been watching my page for sometime and have recently had severe doubts about the existence of God. Below is a summary of the questions asked. I thought it would be great if my FB Atheist friends could share their opinions to show the light (so to speak).

Note that all those questions are loaded with assumptions. My friend who shared it mentioned being open to honest questions. Are those questions honest? Maybe I should give the benefit of the doubt and take them to be so, but while they may be honest, they certainly don’t make any attempt to understand what atheism is before asking. (I’m sure that sounds reasonable, until you consider that this is how people debate all the time. They ask us questions and attempt debate without knowing what atheism is. How can you debate something when you don’t have a clue what it is?)

To me, the questions don’t seem to come from someone who has doubts, which contradicts the quote that came along with the OP. My answers below are thus not directed at anyone who has serious doubts about the existence of god… They’re the sort of answers I give when debating someone who strongly believes. Maybe I’m being unfair, but the below is how I deal with people of faith.

Perhaps it is worth noting that I didn’t come to this position overnight. When I was about 16, I stopped believing in god. Letting go of a belief in a soul or afterlife took years. So don’t take this too hard if you are somewhere between belief and disbelief as I was for so long. I try, in my answers below, to address not only the questions but also the assumptions that are loaded into those questions.

As an atheist, what do you believe?

Atheism isn’t a belief system. It isn’t some polar opposite of belief in whatever god you believe in. I don’t believe in any gods, or a soul, an afterlife, or creation, because there is no evidence to support the claims that any of those things exist. Religion makes claims. Atheism simply rejects those claims. As an atheist, I’m standing over here pointing at you and saying, “Nope, that’s bullshit”.

The burden of proof lies with those making the claims. But instead of those who insist that their gods exist making any attempt to prove it (because they can’t), they ask us who don’t believe to explain ourselves. That’s backwards. It’s only this way because religion spreads by indoctrination, by brainwashing children to believe before they are old enough to think critically. So instead of intelligent debate, we get religious apologetics, which seeks to rationalize reasons for believing despite zero evidence, often by bad arguments and logical fallacies or assuming that other things are evidence for god, and we get loaded questions like these, asking those who take the rational approach to explain why they don’t believe what you assume to be true.

What happens when you die?

You no longer exist. There is no evidence for a soul, an afterlife, or a creator. Just because you assume those things to be true does not make them so. As an atheist, I not only do not believe in any of those things, but it’s also not like I connect the idea of a creator to an afterlife. Those things are assumptions you make when you buy into your specific religion.

Not only does the burden of proof mean you need to prove that the god you believe in exists, but also, you need to provide evidence that a soul exists, which means there should be some way of showing that something other than our brains are responsible for our thoughts and awareness. Then, you need to point out why your god is the right one, instead of one of thousands of other gods that were claimed to exist, and establish why worshipping your god is a prerequisite for the afterlife that you assume exists.

To quote Louis C.K.

“What happens after you die?” “Lot’s of things happen after you die – they just don’t involve you.”

Why are we here?

Why should there be a reason? This question is not honest. When faced with difficult questions such as, “Why did your god let millions of innocent people die?”, you tell me, “The lord works in mysterious ways”. So because I don’t buy that, because I don’t accept this magical placeholder for the unknown, the origin of which should not be questioned – unlike the universe – I don’t have a purpose? And you do? What is that purpose?

Just because you claim a deity created you and everything and everyone else, does not give you a purpose. There isn’t a reason and your assumption says more about you as a believer than it does about me as a nonbeliever.

Where do morals come from?

They come from laws, in societies that have evolved where breaking them is detrimental to us an a species on the whole, because upholding those laws is an advantage to our survival. But ultimately they come from us empathising for one another. Ironically, this argument from morality has been made since before man created your god, and will likely still be made at some point in future when belief in some other god is popular and your god has been relegated to myth just like Zeus or Odin.

Edit: My friend Gareth explains the empathising better than I do. He commented the following answer to this question on the original Facebook share: “Evolutionary programming. You feel protective toward babies because you are programmed, and that programming is so deep that you feel the same way toward kittens.

No doubt believers will then credit their god as being responsible for that evolutionary programming? Go ahead and assume that, but know that you just made another claim that isn’t supported by evidence. Also, it’s the same as taking the “works of god” to be evidence that god exists… To take the things that you assume god did to be proof of god is circular reasoning, as the premise of your argument assumes the conclusion to be true.

Furthermore, if a creator was responsible for some kind of objective morality, then all religious people would have exactly the same morals. They don’t. OK, so maybe all Christians since the beginning of the religion have identical morals? Sorry, no. OK, so maybe all Christians in all parts of the world right now have identical morals? Sorry, no.

Just because you credit your god with morality doesn’t make it so. And morality existed before your god’s teachings were written. Of course, in that case you can claim that god-given morals existed before then since “god revealed himself to us”. Really? Well, in that case, we come back to all religions being equal. Why then, do Christians tell me I have to accept Jesus, and Muslims tell me I must accept Allah? If every religion is the result of god “revealing himself to us”, as some of my Christian friends tell me, then maybe they ought to stop insisting other religions are wrong. You can’t have it both ways… As it happens, when you believe in things that contradict each other, and it makes you uncomfortable enough to pretend those contradictions don’t exist, there’s a name for that: Cognitive dissonance.

Why is it that I, as an atheist, have no reason to prejudice against gay people, or transgender people, or people who practice different religions? And also, I have no reason to believe that women are inferior. Even though I’m male, I’m a feminist because there is no reason for everybody not to have equal rights. And even as a white South African, I believe that white privilege and systematic racism is wrong and must be opposed, because it is the decent thing to do. Why is it that without any god, I have better morals than so many Christians? Maybe it’s because I learned my morals from my parents, my peers, and common decency? (Just like the bigoted fucks, but my parents and peers were not assholes like theirs.) Maybe it’s because morality is subjective?

How did the universe begin?

I don’t know, but then neither do you. I don’t pretend to have an answer.

I don’t have a magical placeholder in place of “I don’t know”, call it “God”, and insist that its origin can’t be questioned. How did god begin?

If you insist that god is eternal, then all you have is magic that isn’t allowed to be questioned. It makes no logical sense. You have no more an explanation than I do, but you just don’t know it, and because of indoctrination, you think that belief in god answers everything. It doesn’t. Actually there’s a name for this kind of flawed logic: Special pleading. If everything needs to have a creator (or a cause), but god doesn’t, then your conclusion violates the premise of your argument.

If god doesn’t need a beginning, why not the universe too? It could be a loop. Big Bang. Expand. Cool down after many billions of years. Collapse. When everything in the entire universe has been swallowed by black holes that then merge, there is no longer any mass. Without mass, time no longer exists, and the size is once again minimal. Next Big Bang. The loop repeats. I’m not saying that this is the answer, but the point is, inventing a god that the origin thereof by definition may not be questioned, simply moves the unknown that the god placeholder replaces, into a dogmatic solution that doesn’t solve anything.

Aren’t you afraid of going to Hell?

No, not in the least.

Like the first question, this one is loaded with assumptions. Threatening an atheist with Hell is like telling an adult that Santa won’t give them Christmas presents, only worse. It’s beyond absurd. We see through your religions. We understand that belief in gods does not explain anything about where the universe came from, does not give you better morals, and does not give you purpose. If you believe it does, goody for you! I’m glad that your belief gives you some sort of meaning and that your false comfort makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Just don’t project that shit on me and others like me.

Posted in Skepticism | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

My annoying and scary dreams

Every night I have long and vivid dreams, many of which are nightmares. I don’t often remember them, but since this one stood out, I thought it might be worth sharing…

So imagine this scenario:

  • You wake up in a soundproofed van. You’re naked and shackled at the feet.
  • Beside you is a woman (let’s assume you’re male), also naked and shackled.
  • To the outside of each of you is a diving knife.
  • You receive one instruction from your captor: Fight to the death, and you will be allowed to live. Refuse and you die.

Sounds similar to those awful Saw movies? I don’t know how similar, because I only watched the first one. Anyway, I figured this was a dream, and woke up right away, but that didn’t stop me from thinking about the awful dream. What would you do? And what if the situation were slightly different? No knife, but the instruction to rape her and live… refuse and you die. Would you do it?

I wouldn’t, but I don’t know what I would do. I tried to think about escape, cooperation with the other victim, etc. Of course, there’d be no guarantee that your captor would set you free even if you complied.

Oddly enough, this was in a way simpler than my normal nightmares. In them, I don’t figure out it’s a dream, and they go something like this:

  • I’m at work. I have to develop an application of some sort, and demo it by the end of the day.
  • If I miss my deadline, my job is on the line. (Totally unrealistic, but that’s the reality in the dream; so I’m stressed out and believe it’s real.)
  • To finish the application, I must solve an incredibly complex and contrived, impossible problem.
  • But the nature of the problem is like this: For every step I make towards solving it, three new problems arise, all of which are just as mind-bogglingly complex as the original problem.
  • Each of the new problems leads to even more problems.
  • Each of the new solutions I come up with not only lead to exponentially increasing more problems, they also undo all the work on the previous and original problem.
  • So it works out that the more I concentrate and the harder I work, the further I get from solving anything.

And that is one of my normal nightmares. I can’t explain just how much that sucks. Upon waking from such a dream, I feel like I haven’t slept at all. I wake up tired from concentrating and trying to solve unsolvable problems.

Incidentally, the above is kind of how it feels to write computer programs under the influence of methamphetamine. Maybe the nightmare is inspired by memories of tweaking… I don’t know. But I hate those dreams. At least I don’t have using dreams any more. I haven’t had one of those for several months.

Posted in Methamphetamine, Recovery | Tagged | Leave a comment

Grateful Recovering Addicts are like Humble Christians, All For Show.

I’ve mentioned before that I am not a grateful recovering addict. Did I mention that I despised, back when I attended meetings, when somebody introduced themselves like, “Hi, I’m Jackass and I’m a Grateful Recovering Addict!”?

They remind me of my Sunday school teacher from back when I was eight years old. She was like, “As Christians you must be humble, like me. Look at me – I’m so humble. I got bags of humility. Humility even comes out of my ass!” OK, she didn’t say that, but that’s what came across. Luckily I knew what humility is; otherwise I might have confused it with arrogance.

You might retort that she didn’t mean that she was humble, but that we must be humble like Jesus… So when was he humble? Was he humble when he went into a church and told the preachers how to do their jobs? Was he humble when he told twelve men to abandon their wives, children and parents, to follow him? Was he humble when he made the outrageous, unfalsifiable and arrogant claim, “My kingdom is not of this world”? No! Assuming he existed at all, that guy wasn’t humble.

Gratitude in recovery is just like humility in Christianity. It’s something we’re told we need to have, by others who claim boastfully to have it. I’m not saying there aren’t genuine recovering and former addicts who are grateful. If I watch an interview with Dave Gahan… the guy is grateful, and humble. He’s smart, wise, and oozes gratitude despite his success. But he doesn’t shove that gratitude down your throat and tell you that you’re no good because you aren’t grateful and humble too.

When someone boasts about their gratitude, as they do in meetings, I can’t say whether or not they are grateful. And I don’t care if they are, because it isn’t about gratitude. It’s about them, about them being boastful. “I’m so grateful. More so than you. I’m so grateful. How about you?”

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of pride, some arrogance, and even a healthy dose of narcissism. We all need to love and believe in ourselves. Just don’t pretend it’s something else, because that’s fucking annoying. And when you tell someone else they need to be grateful, just like you, you’re not doing them any good.

Some of us aren’t grateful, and that’s OK. I decided to clean up from drugs. I used whatever resources were at hand to achieve my goal. I am not grateful to those resources for doing what they needed to do. They served their purpose, and that shit is over and done with. No need for gratitude.

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