I Fuckin' Love You Guys....

Monday, March 26, 2007

Old School

A post by my old blogging mate MetroDad, in which he admitted to his love for Tears for Fears, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, et al, has got me reminiscing a bit.

I am a die-hard 80's fan, musically anyway. Especially after a couple of drinks - I can be found out the back, in our study, Gary Newman up way too loud, and dancing my 42-year-old ass off. I am going to be such an embarassment to my daughter someday.

Poking around in my archives, I came across this picture of me, circa 1987. My little brother was visiting me in California, and I was showing off my new bike. (Please note - I was not going for a ride barefoot! I was crazy back then - but not that stupid).

But how cool are the stone-washed jeans, the mullet hair-style, the aviator shades, and the "I'm 23 and I have a motorcycle" shit-eating grin on my face?

Good times....

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Outside Reading - "The God Delusion"

It's "outside reading", because I am in an on-line bookclub, but I just couldn't bring myself to read this month's book. However - my father-in-law gave me a copy of "The God Delusion", by Richard Dawkins for Christmas (I know - Atheism, on Jesus' birthday! I'm certainly going to hell now! - as if I wasn't going anyway).

I've read & re-read it now, and I've decided it is a fantastic book. I wasn't sure at first, because I was initially very irritated by Dawkins' habit of lashing out at critics and criticisms of which I wasn't aware. It was almost as if he expected his reader to have followed his career and the controversies that have surrounded it (which I haven't). But in going back & selectively reading the chapters, and filtering out all of his personal "chip-on-the-shoulder" complaining, I've been often dumb-struck at the power, simplicity, and logic of his ideas.

I've never really discussed my views of the meaning of Life, The Universe, and Everything with a lot of people; at least not in great depth. I've found that there always comes a point, in the conversations I've had, where I feel like the other person is just plain nuts, or that I am. I've also noticed that people get very (sometimes VERY) upset when their core "beliefs" are challenged. I put "beliefs" in parentheses because, as Dawkins explores very eloquently in his book, most peoples' deeply held beliefs are merely regurgitations of what they had their little heads crammed with when they were young. I've often wondered why some people, who were adamant that their religion was the One True Religion, couldn't understand that they would have believed something completely different (and just as fervently) if they had been born in a different time & place. Dawkins considers it a form of child abuse to indoctrinate children into their parents' religious beliefs before they have developed the capacity to reason - and I think he has a strong case.

He also effortlessly strips away the self-referential logic of most of the major religions, and lays out a set of interesting questions: Do we believe things because we really, really want to believe them? Do we believe things simply because it's been drilled into our heads for our entire lives that they are true - and we must not ask questions? Or do we believe things because they are true? Not "because we think they are true"; or "because we want them to be true"; but because they are true. Dawkins is very solidly in the latter camp - an evangelical atheist.

I've always considered myself an agnostic, or perhaps a "looking over my shoulder" atheist ("God, I do not believe in thee, but if you do exist - please do not smite me for not believing in thee..."). Dawkins has nothing but scorn for this type of thinking. Either you believe in an all-powerful magical being that lives in some "realm" outside the observable universe, or you don't.

It's only a matter of degree whether or not you believe that this being "listens" to your every thought, is ready to punish you in horrible ways for all eternity if you have some naughty ones, yet really loves you and wants to carry you off to heaven some day if you are worthy, and don't question his existence at all, and do what you're told, etc. I've had to seriously consider what it is that I do believe, and why, and what I plan on teaching my daughter....

A powerful book.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's Just That Easy!!!

When I was a pup, ages ago, I used to - now & then - get busted for doing stupid shit.

We'd steal beer from Jewel.
We'd get high in the park.
We'd "borrow" the neighbor's bike.
We'd, um, do strange and wonderful things with the Polish girl from down the block.

I was a complete pussy. I had this sense of right and wrong - instilled by countless beatings, a painful Catholic School upbringing, and a conscience.

I'd say "Yeah, Dad. It was me".

Grounded. Slapped. No allowance. "Double Secret Probation". No TV priveledges. You name it - I copped it.

But I always sort of held my head up high - because I thought it was, I dunno, noble to own up for my actions and take what was coming to me. Do the crime - do the time.

It was such a simpler age.

In a lot of ways, I feel proud of myself for that stuff.

I wonder what it's like to grow up in the US today. I can't imagine myself telling my Dad (after beating the crap out of the kid down the block) "I take full responsibility for that". Or, for stealing a bar of candy from our local store, "I admit - some mistakes were made".

Apparently - everyone thinks it's ok.

Kids today - huh?