Superstition Lives in the Strangest Places

I was at a friends place a few days ago. He had a couple of friends there I did not know, and the conversation turned to gremlin bells. They talked for a few minutes about the where and the whats about one of these things and I was at a loss to what they were discussing, and finally I said “what the hell are you talking about?”

Someone pulled one out of their pocket for me to look over, and I tried and probably not too well, to hide my skepticism which was probably oozing from my pores, as I looked it over. I was able to muster something along the lines of “that’s cute.” Then my friend pointed to the one hanging from his Harley Davidson, and while I have looked at the bike a few times, I never noticed the little bell thingy hanging from the bottom of it. Sure enough he had a gremlin bell in the shape of a tiny hand grenade hanging there.

So, my obvious question was “what the heck are they for?” I was informed in short order about gremlin bells. I was told they keep the road gremlins from causing equipment malfunctions and other road hazards… I tried and not too well, to feign a mild interest in the subject, and all the while was a little dumbfounded upon the whole topic. I honestly don’t know the religious leanings of this person and his wife, they don’t have obvious religious symbols decorating their surroundings, and the topic of religion has yet to come up, which in my opinion is a good thing. So I have assumed that they are only slightly religious, if that. And I have seen no need to bring it up and possibly ruin my association with them. In other words, what I don’t know can’t hurt me. And I’d rather keep it that way. The thing is though…

You just never know what kind of weird little superstitious oddities might jump up and bite you in the ass when you are out there among the people you might know. I kept having the insane urge to ask them if any of them had ever actually seen a road gremlin, but managed to keep my ornery-ness in check. At least it turned out to be good blog fodder. I will leave it at that.

So, you think I’m crazy?

http://www.gremlin-bells.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=20

http://samhoustonpost95.org/Legend%20Of%20The%20Gremlin%20Bell.pdf

What do you think now? Looks to me like a good story to sell gremlin bells to superstitious monkeys. Sometimes you just have to roll with it and hope it doesn’t come up again…

Quote of the Month

I decided to make some time to get a post in, I have been awfully “otherwise busy” with life of late, and my blog posting has suffered from the malady. I didn’t even get a Quote of the Month in last month, for which I feel like a lazy scalywag. So, I thought perhaps I’d look for a good quote this time, and I figured Hitchens should have some good ones out there. While I was researching Hitch, I stumbled across this quote.

It is by of all people, Bruce Willis. Now I will have to admit I am a fan of Bruce W. I like every movie I have seen him in and would dare say some of those movies are classics. Even if I have seen his movies, I usually don’t mind watching them again if nothing else is on, there is just something about his characters that seems to ring true.

Anyway, the quote:

bruce-willis-on-religion

In my personal religious history, I have occupied several positions through the years, including vaguely favorable of religion (deist), to attempted acceptence of religion (wanna be religiot), to I’m not so sure about all of this crap (agnostic), to an out and out atheist. At some point in my agnostic phase I pretty much felt exactly and Mr. Willis does here. As I still do today.

The biggest problem with this quote, is that religions in general aren’t dying out quite quick enough to suit me. Though the latest numbers, according to new data samples is favorable. Perhaps in my childrens, grandchildrens lifetimes there will be a marked decrease in the influence of that ancient mind fuck known as religion. I can only hope for the sake of humanity, religion goes ahead and dies its painfully agonizingly slow death. With few if any around to mourn its loss.

Clearly There Must Be Something Wrong With This Study

I can’t quite put my finger on it, oh wait now I see it. This study does not jive with what any of my readers would already know. The study title and its claim?

“Nearly 70% of evangelicals do not view religion, science as being in conflict.”

http://news.rice.edu/2015/03/13/nearly-70-percent-of-evangelicals-do-not-view-religion-and-science-as-being-in-conflict/

Firstly if 70% of evangelicals do not see a conflict, then they are simply very good at deluding themselves. This must be the major determining factor at play here, which would offer a meaningful explanation for the result. You could probably throw in a questionable sample issue among other things that must be skewing things.

This finding is biased, or incorrect in some fashion. I have seen too much to clearly indicate that the claim here does not fit the evidence. When you have buffoons all over the country denying evolution, decrying climate science, screaming they didn’t come from no monkey, claiming fossils are of the devil, and claiming their magic book is factual, I think there is some apparent conflict with the study.

When you have an entire political party making outrageous claims clearly against the evidence, and then when questioned resort to “I am not a scientist” I think we have a problem with this study.

When you have an entire nation full of hateful, bigoted, homophobic, racist, assholes who claim their bible is the source of their inspirations, I think we have a problem with this study.

When we have potempkin village science pretenders with religious based ideologies, building enormous facades dedicated to the denial of science and evolution, I think we have a problem with the study.

Anyone want to help me look for a grant to do a better study?

EDIT:  Son of a bitch. I just noticed the study was done with a grant from the Templeton Foundation! Now I get it…

NUTHER EDIT: I left a comment there, I wonder if it will stay up?

AND ANOTHER EDIT: Since my comment hasn’t been posted yet (if ever) over there at the source of this bogus study, I thought I’d drop a rough recreation (didn’t save the original) of my post there, here.

“Please explain then the existence of AIG, The Discovery Institute, The Templeton Foundation, And the ICR.

Oh wait, I just noticed your study was done with a grant from Templeton. Case closed. Major fail.

Perhaps you should go back to scratch and start over. This time without using a grant from an institution dedicated to blurring the lines between faith and evidence based science.”

I got a shiny new nickel says my comment will not get posted. :)

 

Die Rockettab, DIE!

I tend to do a lot of surfing on the net, as I’m sure most of us do. Not too long ago I noticed on my Craigslist surfs that this popup was intruding upon my experience. Rockettab. I tried using its own disable option, that worked though only briefly. The next time I quickly sniffed it out through the control panel and deleted it.

Then of late everywhere I go Rockettab is back, and in a hugely offensive way. It is in 2×2″ blocks all across the top and right side of the screen, and it takes two clicks to “X” them out. Then when you go to another page, guess what? You have to “X” them out again. Needless to say this gets old quick.

So, I did a search to see how I could disable this obtrusive pest. I found a freebie download (which is where you usually pick up all the crap like this you don’t want on your computer) and in desperation downloaded it. I just ran the first scan and it found over 150 adware/malware items, which were quickly destroyed.

I feel like a movie supervillian! They are gone! For now anyway. Now I just have to wait and see if my freebie download has anything in it that proves to be an issue.

I remember when there was spyware, which tagged along and kept up with your computer comings and goings. Somewhere though spyware turned into adware. It doesn’t just see what you are up to, it keeps up with that AND uses that information to spam you with unwanted advertising. All over your computer screen. There ought to be some sort of consumer protection to keep us from having to put up with this kind of invasion of privacy. Perhaps in the future some congress critter will agree.

Oh, I used Malwarebytes Anti Malware. If anyone has any info or tips to share please do.

Old Diver Tales

As most of you who follow my little blog, well first thanks for that. My appreciation goes out to you who have deigned to put up with me even after you kinda got a handle on the type of guy I may be. Anyway, you know I have been a commercial diver for over thirty years. My job was harvesting freshwater mussels to be used in the cultured pearl industry. Thirty years of being a commercial diver leaves a lot of time for things to go wrong, and indeed it would take both hands and perhaps a couple of toes to count the close calls I have had. There were a few days I was damn lucky to survive, or too hard headed to give it up. Either way I figured I might share a few of my diving tales just to pass the time, and what the heck I need to get up off of my non blogging ass and write something.

There are a few kinds of diving I know of, SCUBA, Hookah, mixed air, and saturation. SCUBA you all should know about, it’s free swimming with air tanks, bouyancy compensators, and fins. You know the stuff you see in the movies. Then there is what I did which is called Hookah. Hookah diving uses wetsuits and air regulators just like SCUBA but you aren’t free swimming, and your air supply is in the boat or topside in some other fashion. The topside air is fed to you via a lifeline which attaches to your weightbelt. The mixed air deep diving, and saturation diving, are both way over my head (pun not intended, but I’ll take it) in complexity and risk. We will focus on the Hookah. It is what I know.

The Tennessee river is where most of my diving was done, although I have been to the Cumberland river also in Tn. And the Guadalupe river in Texas, as well as the upper Mississippi river in Iowa and Illinois. This tale happened on the Tennessee river.

The Tennessee river used to be a free flowing river meandering its way along through the valley it has made its home. Along came man who decided to dam this river up. When you dam up the river you hold water back and flood the entire valley. This makes for areas known as lake, and channel. The ancient riverbed channel is still there, it generally averages around 50′ deep, though you do see 60′ and 70′ holes. The channel is marked with river buoys and hosts a lot of barge traffic as well as big cruisers from time to time. All of the water that lies outside of the river channel is known as lake. The lake area is very wide in places and has shallow ridges here and there, with mud flats between them. The mud flats average 15 – 20 feet deep. You can find shell in almost any of these areas. Though their abundancy ranges all over the place, from a lot of shell to very few. It just depends where you are at.

This day I was working the river channel ridge. This ridge is right at the very edge of the actual channel, and was probably 7-8 feet deep where I was working. The current was very stale, hardly moving and very little wind. When you are pulling a boat along behind you on a day like this a light pull takes the boat a long way. You dig shells on all fours with a bag around your neck, and down between your legs. Where I was working the shell had thinned out, and I was trying to cover some ground and get further along the ridge, where I knew the shell would pick up again. So I was moving at a high rate of speed and all of a sudden out of the gloom of the murky water I saw a huge octopus of a stump in front of me. This thing was big and gnarly, and I was moving so fast I knew I didn’t have time to stop before I ran into it, which I figured would be fairly painful. So at that moment just before impact, I vaulted over the stump.

Well I vaulted right over the stump and the river bank into around 42 feet of water below me. My weight belt was pretty much my center of gravity at this point, it was doing its best to obey gravity, and I was merciless to stop it. I wound up going down backside first, almost horizontal, arms flailing to no avail, all I could do was ride it down. I don’t know if you have ever seen a movie or a cartoon depicting a long fall where the guy screams till out of beath, then screams some more. This was kind of like that only I wasn’t screaming, I was just tring to keep the pressure in my ears equalized as I fell and sucking in air like it was going out of style, I knew I’d hit the bottom eventually. After what seemed a very long time I did land on my backside. Still in one piece and with my wits in hand, I clambered up my line to the boat to take a little break.

After my blood presure subsided I moved to another location to finish out the day. Some lessons you have to learn the hard way. This one was fairly early in my diving career, fortunately I lived to tell about it.

There will be more Old Diver Tales as time goes by. This one ranks kind of low on the damn near died scale, but stay tuned, it gets better. or worse depending on your perspective. :)

Feels good to be writing something…my break wasn’t intended, life is busy, and the bug to write has just been cold. Maybe this will get me up and running again.

Quote of the Month

I almost pissed around and let this month get by me. I only have a few days left, so let’s get this done :)

I found this quote, and it intrigues me, as I have always kind of felt this way. I found out long ago that professionals in the mental health biz had an escape clause for the religious. If it is a widely held delusion it is somehow allright. This has always bothered me. The quote:

“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”
Robert M. Pirsig

While I tend to agree with this quote personally, no one diagnoses the religious as holding a delusional belief. They get a free pass.

So what is a delusion? Here are a few dictionary definitions:  A false belief or opinion.  A false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact. Or simply, the state of being deluded.

Let’s focus on the second one there, “a false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.” That pretty much accurately describes every religious person I have encountered, or heard about. But as I said the religious get a free pass from being categorized as mentally ill. Why is that? What makes a delusion an acceptable one? I think culture is the answer, but I don’t care for that excuse. Culture, “The arts, beliefs, customs, institutions, and other products of human work and thought considered as a unit, especially with regard to a particular time or social group.” I don’t see anything in there that should assume people can run around believeing all sorts of nonsense, or to freely allow one to believe in things non existant without question.

When I found out that the word delusion does not apply to religion, I thought about that and came up with this notion, it is from memory and not word for word. But here goes…

There’s a guy let’s call him Joe. Joe is Irish. Joe thinks there are leprechauns in his garden. He is always looking around for them, and quite sure they are there. Is this a delusion? I’m not sure a fanciful belief that leprechauns in your garden is a full blown delusion just yet.

Now, Joe’s belief in the leprechauns has grown a bit, to the point where he is actively looking for them. He is looking behind rocks and trees, and constantly peering out his window in hopes of seeing one. Is he deluded yet? I’m not sure but I think we are getting there.

Finally Joe is so sure of the leprechauns he is building traps trying to catch one. He is also talking to his pals at the pub about them. Despite his friends assurances that they do not exist, and the fact that he has never seen or caught one, Joe still believes leprechauns exist, and live in his garden. Is he deluded yet? Yes, I think so. But because he is Irish and the leprechaun tale is part of his particular culture, he gets the free pass from being delusional? I don’t think so.

Somewhere between having a fanciful belief and actually acting upon that belief despite no evidence at all supporting that belief, delusion has crept in. Joe is fucking delusional.  Being Irish is no excuse. The only reason no one will make this diagnosis is probably because of one of two things. Either the clinical professional suffers from the same delusions, or is fearful of the backlash that would be initiated from such a diagnosis. They are either complicit, or chicken shits.

This is my non clinical opinion.

EDIT: I am going to expand on this issue a little bit. I think one could consider my little story about Joe as a simile for 3 separate stages in the progression of a religious person. The first paragraph you could call a likeness to a deist. Someone that believes in an all powefull supernatural being of some sort, but has no affiliation with any denomination or group.

Paragraph two is the same person who has moved on to prayer, and perhaps associating with some denomination or group…

And paragraph three where the person is attending church regularly, following their rituals, and participating in group activities.

Picture Day!

Well more of a lousy picture day, I keep saying I gotta get a better camera…

I get to do a lot of driving lately, about 5 hours a day, back and forth to where my wife works. As some of you who have been with me a while already know she has totaled two cars in the last 3 years, and for everyones sake, and the sake of our current car, I have been doing the driving. She is too valuable to our family to risk a third incident. It is hard to find a good one (wife that is), and despite her driving exploits she is a good one :)

Anyway first up for your viewing pleasure is this:

DSC02222 (2)

First thing that comes to my mind is, one of these things has empirical evidence of its existence. So I suppose really it depends on who you ask. Next, and the pic quality goes down from here sadly:

DSC02223

This one, to me sounds like a cheesy come on from a gay Hispanic guy. But again I suppose it depends on who you ask. Next:

DSC02224

I don’t know if you can make out the signage, but it says and I quote exactly as it is spelled “Chose This Day of Whom You Will Serve” You can’t make this shit up folks. I am almost afraid to try and envision what lies inside this abode. Last but not least:

DSC02226

Again too blurred to make out what this says, it was shot through the windshield with the aforementioned crappy camera, it says “I’m Lord of all.” Not sure if this refers to the driver or his invisible friend. Either way it is kinda creepy. These signs should give anyone who reads this blog an idea what it is like living below the Mason Dixon Line.

I will keep my eyes peeled for more signs and things of interest as time goes along.