Archives

In Case This is It…Maybe, Maybe Not…One Can Hope.

Well, the suicidal election of #45 has come to this. Our president is off his rocker, or maybe high-chair. He’s just gotten into a pissing contest with Jong Un, and the two infantile national leaders just might do us all in in their mutual rage.

So, whether this is resolved sanely and safely by adults, or results in any of a number of other more or less pleasant outcomes, I’ll offer my thoughts on a worst-case such outcome, and why it doesn’t really bother me as much as it might:

I live in the home town of the largest US Naval installation on the East Coast. As such, it’s part of a designated nuclear strike zone in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

So dying in a nuclear holocaust seems pointless, but kind of abstract for me, so I’m rather stoic about it. Am I afraid? Yes, of course. But I don’t see how it helps, so I don’t let it bother me. Not for this. That’s because if and when the end comes, no evacuation will be possible in the time available, So I see no reason at all to worry about it, as worry would adversely affect my mental health, and so spoil the existential quality of what few minutes might remain of life.

Certainly, it would be a waste, would be pointless to die that way. but I see no reason that life must have a point outside of our own autonomy, that point, that meaning which we give it of our own choice, our own making.

But, the end will be swift and relatively painless due to my proximity to the base. Once the flash lights the sky up, that will be it for me, and I shall cease to exist.

The real tragedy would be the lives of the survivors elsewhere, who lose friends, family, loved ones in the targeted zones. They are the ones who must pick up the pieces of their shattered world, mourning the deaths of those they loved and moving on. Or at worst, lingering on in life while slowly, painfully dying, whether in the will to live and rebuild, or from the global consequences of a massive nuclear exchange on the human physical makeup.

I’m hoping that’s less likely than it may immediately seem with the current news cycle, but it’s the outcome for the survivors elsewhere that I think of whenever this comes up.

My life has meaning to me, meaning which I give it, not the authority of ancient texts of stories and Iron Age ritual purity laws. Stories can be very compelling to us humans as storytelling animals, but stories alone are not proof of anything real.

And that meaning will remain, along with my enjoyment of simply being alive, right up until the sky lights up.

So If you survive and you knew me, mourn not. My life is simply that – mine and no one else’s. Mourn instead for those others who live and must survive in a shattered world knowing the loss of those they knew and loved.

If you are among the survivors should the worst come to pass, then be brave. Move on. Do your best to rebuild what incompetents and lunatics have destroyed. You are still here, and in a way, lucky. Maybe, just maybe, you can change the world while rebuilding it. And make it a better world than the one that was lost.

Dropping the Bomb

Hey, guys. Many of you might have found out about James (the Amazing One) Randi’s recent ‘coming out,’ and it gave me the idea to open up to my incredible readership in revealing a little something that hasn’t been mentioned in great detail in the past, though I’ve occasionally alluded to it from time to time.

Some of you may have suspected it from my writing style, some from my early comment responses, others of you already knew, to more than just a few this may be a bit of a surprise, and some probably just won’t give a crap…

No, I’m not gay — not if any of my ex-girlfriends have a say in the matter — but I do harbor a rather bothersome medical condition that I’m not particularly proud of, nor especially happy about, but which I’ve seen no reason to hide in person, and as of now, here…

I’m schizophrenic.

This condition is one of the most debilitating neurological disorders known to Man (or Woman for you readers of the fairer sex), and something that I have struggled with ever since my early twenties.

My particular condition is one of a family of related disorders, having nothing to do with ‘split-personalities’ as they are popularly termed (That is actually referred to, if I recall correctly, as Disassociative Identity Disorder, an entirely different class of condition) in the media, and this is one of the many reasons among others that I’m a skeptic, since keeping better in tune with reality is a Good Thing™, as this enables me to stay out of trouble more easily than would otherwise be the case.

Is skepticism effective for combating mental illness? I would venture not by itself, and I recommend to others with mental illnesses that you stay on your treatment plan and follow it scrupulously, just to be on the safe side.

You are not alone.

For me though, skepticism is a useful adjunct to my basic treatment. Learning to think clearly is always a good thing with or without a problematic condition.

Few with the more extreme variants of my condition can benefit from skepticism, and many often require physical care as well. But fortunately my illness is mild enough and sufficiently amenable to treatment to allow me to function in daily life and do the things I enjoy, like post on and administer this blog.

I consider myself lucky, to the extent luck actually exists, that I got treatment for my affliction during the early stages before it became too advanced, otherwise I would not be typing this into my browser window for you all to read.

Pushing the ‘publish’ button for this entry was not an easy decision, but a necessary one. Some things are important enough that they need to be said. The Randi-Meister was a big factor in this…

As one of those ‘fervently dogmatic, pseudo-skeptical, pseudo-intellectual (and according to one recent commenter, ‘unread’) debunkers,’ there is no point in pretending to be what I am not and can never be — perfectly normal, ‘just like everyone else’ — since the truth should always be paramount.

Hence this post.

I have little doubt that this entry will be used as a convenient source of ammunition by those online who’ve expressed impatience towards my ‘attitude’ as a skeptic, and that’s fine with me — as long as any disagreement between me and others remains bloodless and gentlemanly — including disagreements with those I’ve annoyed in the past. And believe me, I’ve annoyed quite a few…

For the past couple of decades, I’ve worked at a vocational rehabilitation business as an administrative assistant, only retired as of last December, and this has helped immensely in my personal growth and experience in the workplace.

The people I met and knew there, clients and employees, will always be a reminder how much stigma is still attached to mental illness in this country, as well as others. They will also be a reminder of the incredible resilience of human courage, hope, and ability.

I plan to diversify the subject matter posted on this site to include advocacy for the rights and well-being of those with disabling psychiatric conditions, both like and unlike my own.

I’ve so far immensely surpassed where I was when my illness first popped up some years ago, and I plan to do better still, helping others like me as well. You, my readers both locally and around the world are an absolute joy to write for, and this blog is a wonderful journey & learning experience for my Troythuluness.

Let’s travel and learn together.

Like it says in my collector’s edition copy of the Principia Discordia— Fnord.

A skeptic ‘fesses up

I’ve got a bit of a confession to make: I’ve had my moments as a larval skeptic, and I’m not out of the chrysalis yet… When I first got into the skeptical movement some three and a half years ago, I was, like anyone involved with something novel and interesting, just a wee bit more excited about it then than I should have been.

In my newbie enthusiasm, I have said things on this blog that I am not particularly fond of recalling, things I no longer agree with which make me cringe when I think about them. Have I dismissed believers as though they were all idiots or lunatics? Have I criticized unfairly? Have I attacked faith itself and not merely taken its excesses to task? In many of my earlier posts, perhaps I have, often without meaning to, and in doing so shamed myself by contributing in my small way to the condemnation of other skeptics to ‘permanent minority status,’ as Carl Sagan once put it.

I have, over time, acquired a much more comprehensive view of those who espouse certain… non-scientific doctrines and concepts, and they are at least as diverse as skeptics, and almost certainly more common.

As a former religionist, I do not consider religion itself to be the evil that the so-called New Atheists make it out to be. There are far too many people I know, good, caring people who practice a religion or spiritual tradition, Old or New Age, who are not zealots. Many are steadfast supporters of science and reason, and express opposition to religious extremism in politics. These are people who I think the world of, who have done nothing but wish me well in my endeavors. Certainly they and the traditions they practice deserve more respect than I’ve given.

Regardless of its benefits and drawbacks, its gems and its warts, religion will be with us for some time, though individual traditions may rise and fall with the march of history. It is not my place to take away from people that from which they draw solace. I restrict myself to commenting upon its fallacies and excesses. Faith in moderation is not the enemy — my problem is with extremism.

As a former paranormal believer, I do not wish to dismiss those who still are as universally crazy or stupid — there are many brilliant, articulate, sane and well-educated believers in the paranormal and fringe-topics. While this alone does not validate their beliefs as true, nor their views correct, it does mean that I need to treat them with respect as individuals, and avoid hasty generalizations of them in my commentary. If one cannot respect those one disagrees with and even criticizes, one is not a skeptic, but a bigot.

In my experience, many of the paranormal and fringe-science proponents I’ve dealt with play by different rules of logic and evidence, some with none at all that I can discern, and these discussions are rarely constructive — often we have wound up talking through each other instead of to each other. But some employ the same thought-processes and reasoning as I, and these discussions have been enriching to say the least. Not all believers come from Mars.

It has sometimes been frustrating to me, and at other times instructive, but in any case it’s something to learn from, and illuminating with the insights it imparts and clues it reveals about the thought-processes of some believers. I’m not psychic — I can’t get inside peoples’ heads and read their minds directly, and I don’t know of anyone who really can — but I can learn a bit on how they think by listening to what they say, online and in person…

…And this blog is at its heart a learning experience — so learn is what I’ll continue to do. Fnord.

In Memoriam: My Grandmom…

On this date, early June the 9th, 2009, my family lost Dorothy Emma Darick, my real-world persona’s maternal grandmother, at the august age of 84 after a month in the hospital following a period of recovery from an illness. Our family lost a cornerstone of tradition and wisdom on the one hand, but on the other, she is finally at peace and will be reunited with her husband, my late grandfather, Warren Darick, at long last. This is as it should be. She leaves as her legacy her children, her grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, and all the love she showed us over the years with her guidance and insight. What awaits her now? Many believe they know, but this I do not, and cannot, as I neither have nor can claim any special powers or abilities, no supernormal perceptions with which to know. She has embarked on the ultimate mystery, as one day I myself will, as will we all. The wheel turns, the seasons change, and so ends an era with perhaps the bravest woman I know. She fought long and hard with the Reaper, never giving up as a lesser person would, and relented only after what can only be called an epic struggle for life despite her suffering. If only my vile troythuluness had such strength! At her funeral, I finally had a chance to say my goodbyes, and I’ll say them again here, before the yawning electrons of cyberspace, one more time: Farewell, Grandmom, and whatever awaits you, whether eternal sleep, or eternal life, take care…