And thus it was declared, “Month of the Skepchick.”
Plenty of happy news this morning, Skepchickal readers. For starters, the battle of girl vs. machine has ended at last, or at least hit a lull, with girl on top. Did I just type “girl on top?” Yes, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t just do it again. Google hits are about to quadruple.
The Skepchick home base is now upgraded, high-speed, and wireless. The wireless works so well that I wish there was more than one room in my 300 sf apartment. I even finally obtained Skype, which is apparently a lot more like AOL Instant Messenger than I thought, meaning that it won’t be long before I’ll once again be ignoring the messages of people I knew in high school.
So what’s all that mean? Well, it means that I’m now just about ready to begin regularly appearing on the New England Skeptical Society’s podcast, the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe! If you’ll recall, I was on a few weeks ago and had a lot of fun, so we figured I might as well hang out a bit more.
But wait, there’s more!
A slight reworking of one of my earlier blog posts appears in James Randi’s newsletter, Swift: How I became a Believer (for a Moment). It’s a little longer and a little more thoughtfully written — generally I just write these blog posts off the top of my head with no editing, which is really the only way I can maintain my post-a-day habit.
Oh, but we’re not finished yet!
Pick up the Skeptic Magazine that just hit newstands to see a short article I wrote about the 2005 Ig Nobel Awards.
And of course, you can still grab the latest Skeptical Inquirer to read an article by Amanda Chesworth on Skepchicks.
I know what you’re thinking: “But what have you, Rebecca, done for me lately?” I’ll tell you, darling reader — I gave you this:
The Animal Liberation Front vs. 50 Happy Deer
What do you do when you’re an ignorant environmental terrorist just trying to release a bunch of deer into the “wild” (where more than a few will undoubtedly meet long and painful deaths), but the deer don’t want to leave? Apparently you just damage as much property as possible, spray paint some barns, and get the hell out of there.
Said the owner of the deer farm:
I would love to invite them for a cup of tea and explain to them what we are trying to do here.
The whole point of us setting up our deer farm in the 1970s was that we weren’t happy with farming systems and wanted to change things for the better.
We think it’s the Animal Liberation Front because they scrawled ALF over everything.
Assuming their cats were discovered uneaten, I think they probably guessed correctly.
When the fences were snipped the deer did not make a bid for freedom from this “ghastly prison.” They stayed contentedly where they were. Even if someone had chased them out they would all have come back.
Maybe ALF is trying to communicate the message to the wrong party. I envision a new campaign focused on educating non-human animals the world over on how, exactly, they are being repressed and mistreated.
Love the writing. Glad you are back on top.
"I would lay in bed at night and just try to imagine nothing. Not space, not blackness, just nothing. An infinity of nothingness scared the crap out of me, and seriously brought to mind the question that I think many of us struggle with eventually: what's the point, then?"
And here I thought I was the only one that did that. It still bugs me but when I try to explain it my friends give me that "you're a nut" look ;)
Forgive me for asking about the post on JREF here, but did you ever reconcile the feeling of "imagining nothing" and what the point of existence was?
Chris — I did, in fact. It turns out that the point of existence is banana-stuffed French toast from the restaurant down the street from my apartment.
Okay, that's not an entirely serious answer. An entirely serious answer would take up a whole essay (and more), but there is a grain of truth in the not entirely serious answer. I guess that right now, I'm just working on accepting the fact that if there is some grand point to it all, I'll never know it. Making the best of what we've got, exploring the universe, loving fully and passionately, and eating as much banana-stuffed French toast as possible — that's what convinces me to keep getting out of bed in the morning.
Alas, as I come out of a religious background into a more skeptical and rational world view, I find myself sighing deeply and agreeing with the Chan (zen) adepts: Life has a point?
The fact of the matter is that we're just a tiny part of a universe so vast and so old that we can only comprehend it in abstract terms. There is no being that looks and thinks basically like us running everything, there's no cosmic force based on our own ideas of morality keeping everything in balance. In the grand scheme of things, we really don't matter too much. But who cares about what matters in the "grand scheme of things"? Who cares what we'd look like in the eyes of the Universe, if the Universe had eyes? Why does it matter what the Universe would think of us, if the Universe could think? We have eyes and we think, and to each other we matter a great deal. Is that not enough?
I agree with Diguana. I find it pretty arrogant of some religois people to assume that "the creator" cares so much about a dust mote floating in the vast blackness of space.
I too thought I was the only one who tried to imagine nothingness. But then I realized every time I tried I was just placing myself as a passive observer, that no matter how I tried to exert my mind, I would always need to be present to comprehend the nothing. After that I determined that it was impossible for me, and I think for humans in general, to understand a lack of existing—so I've just accepted that I will never understand, never fathom what it means to 'simply not be'.
As for the meaning of life, well, I've always wondered why I needed to have a reason for life—then I realized I was asking 'why am I asking why?'. After the irony died down a bit, I went and had some chocolate cake (well, to be honest, that's the pleasant answer; you don't want to know what really happened).
Now that I've intellectually sobered you, let me just totally ignore your sobs and direct my attention towards this blog's superstar: supposing someone wanted to contact you through email, Rebecca: how might they cajole you into sending one along to them [so that the spambots don't pick it up and deluge you with offers of free access to adult webcams (hey, I can help with the google hits too!)]?
Superstar? I like the sound of that.
You can reach me at [email protected] . I'm used to the spam by now. Bring it on, Spam-Holes!
Please note that though I read every email that goes to that address, it sometimes takes me a while to actually reply to it. Also, I'm also prone to share those emails with the world, so if you want to send something sooper-seekrit, best to mention that in the letter.
I guess I should figure out a way to put a bio and contact info in this blog thing, eh?
Imagining nothingness. It's been a while since I tried that. I love the way your brain usually sort of trips over itself when you try to imagine things like the infinity of the universe, then wondering "but what lies beyond that?".
The subject of nothingness and infinity are also a great way to get people to make funny faces the moment their brain makes that proverbial skip. You know, the moment they realise they will never be able to imagine that concept.
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