Afternoon InquisitionRandom Asides

Afternoon Inquisition 12.31.08

I’ve always found New Year’s to be an arbitrary “holiday”. For all practical purposes, it’s just another day, with no special attribute that makes it objectively superior for turning over a new leaf. I suppose it’s a good excuse to drink, but those aren’t hard to find on even the most ordinary day.

Humans’ love of round numbers has been documented and exploited (see $ *.99 on virtually every price tag…or the “10” commandments [why not 9?], etc.), and January 1st inspires many to start fresh, and change the things they don’t like about themselves/their life. And that can’t be bad.


Are you making a New Year’s resolution this year? If so, what is it? If not, why not? 

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  1. TeamBanzai beat me to it. That’s what I was going to say…Actually, I see no reason to make resolutions at New Year’s. I figure that if I need to make a life change, why wait? :-D

    I take New Year’s Eve as a reason to have fun, not in any real serious life-changing way. I think people like to use it for resolutions because it gives a convenient marker for the date of the resolution, plus it is a custom in our society.

  2. I believe in resolutions, but I do not believe in them on any particular day of the year. I tend to make most of my life-changing decisions in the summer. In the past I have resolved to: Not drink for a year (pass), lose 15 lbs (fail, but made it to 10lbs and kept it that way), not drive any more (pass), not fly any more (pass), not eat meat (fail), exercise more (semi-pass).

    Last week I resolved not to correct my wife’s mispronunciations any more. This one is still holding.

    Curiously enough last week’s SciFri had a guy on who studied New Year’s Resolutions. In his study 46% of the people made it to one year on their resolutions. That number is much higher than I would have expected.

  3. I resolve to lose 50 pounds, run a marathon, earn my CPA license, write a bestseller, win the Mr. Universe contest, and invent another sketical cocktail that is easy to make.

  4. Aren’t all holidays arbitrary in some way, though?

    I don’t usually do resolutions either. My only real resolution this year has to do with getting some order in my finances and personal paperwork, which is just a mess.

    Oh, and I really should get my US citizenship this year.

  5. Actually, I’m thinking that this might be the year I give up television completely. The digital switchover in February is the perfect excuse.

  6. @marilove

    I think this is why I originally picked summer. If I’m going to resolve to not do something than what better time then when I don’t feel like doing anything anyway?

  7. I resolve to be a Skeptical Atheist… Oh.. Are these resolutions supposed to be a change??? In that case since it will fail anyway I am resolving to be an Evangelical Christian..

  8. I thought we all knew there were originally 15 commandments, but Moses dropped one tablet.

    @davew: Wow, that’s higher than I would have guessed also.

  9. 1. Stop Drinking Alcohol for a Year
    2. Lose at least 20lbs
    3. Shave at least once a week

    1 and 2 probably stand no chance, but 3 is at the insistance of MrsS becuase I’m a lazy git I only shave about once a week, and while I think it makes me look rugged and manly, she thinks it make me look scruffy and sleazy.

    As a compromise, I am going to do exactly as she says and she is going to make sure I do exactly as she says. Hopefully “Relations” ;-) will continue to be as mutually benifical in 09 as 08. Hopefully.

  10. For 2008, I resolved to make it the last year I did “New Year’s Resolutions”. I can’t fulfill that resolution if I resolve anything this year, including resolving not to make resolutions.

    I’m not worried: my resolve is strong, and the only resolution I’ll be doing this new year is DNS.

  11. I stopped paying attention to New Year’s Day as a “new” starting point around the same time I stopped paying attention to my birthday. Any change worth making is worth making at the time you think of it. Putting things off until New Year’s Day is just procrastination. Setting yourself up for failure by resolving yourself to unattainable goals is a miserable way to start the new year.

  12. I don’t make resolutions on New Years’ Eve. When something needs to be done or changed, I do it or change it then. Or I procrastinate interminably. Either way, I don’t wait until January 1st to get ‘er done.

  13. @davew:

    Last week I resolved not to correct my wife’s mispronunciations any more. This one is still holding.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA. I do that too…..

  14. @Daniel: That was my resolution too. However the Mrs. still put in for a coupon from the government so I guess were getting a converter.

  15. Did I say Mrs? what I ment to say was Ms. MaidenName put in for a coupon. That’s it! my new years resolution will be to quit making an issue out of not taking my last name!

  16. I am not making a New Year’s resolution. The goal of such a resolution is usually some kind of lifestyle change (lose weight, quit smoking, etc.). But to make such a significant change requires real, sustained motivation, which doesn’t come from associating the resolution with an arbitrary date.

  17. @Kaylia Marie

    “I like the idea of a time/day to look back at what I have done and look forward to what I still want to do.”

    Me too. I call it “today.”

  18. @skepticalhippie: I’m probably not going to get anywhere with my resolution either. Last time I checked, the cable company’s pricing structure discourages people from just signing up for internet service. I’ll never concede to digital cable though, no matter how many incessant phone calls I get to “upgrade”.

    I’d guess that people probably make resolutions around the new year because it offers a convenient way to compute how long you’ve kept it, whereas an arbitrary date necessitates more calculation than the average person is capable of (I’d been doing X since St. Swithun’s Day…..that’s uhhh, Y months and Z days!)

  19. Deciding to do something for the sake of deciding to do something doesn’t make any sense. If we were going to do it, we would’ve already started.

  20. I am 100% awesome, so I don’t bother trying to improve.

    (My resolution is to have better self-esteem, and I’m starting early.)

    Happy Random Point In The Solar Orbit everybody. I’m glad they’re adding an extra second to 2008, so that I could spend it with you all.

  21. Went with DirecTV, so a converter doesn’t matter. Our TV is about 8 years old anyway. By the time it dies, the whole issue will be moot.

    @Masala: Please do! Even with the new Administration…

    @marilove: Where do you live, Phoenix? Houston? :-D Sounds unbearable.

  22. @skepticalhippie: The last name thing. The first time I was married I wanted her to take my last name. Now, meh, she could call herself moonflower or X for all I care. After a few more marriages you won’t care what last name she chooses.

  23. @Daniel: I switched from cable modem to DSL and told ComCast to bugger off about a year ago. No regrets so far. A converter box and some rabbit ears now allow me to get high quality digital TV for FREE! I still never watch the TV, though. Digital or not, it’s still crap! DSL is a bit slower than cable, but I really don’t notice much of a difference to be honest.

    I don’t do resolutions. I have exactly the right number of character flaws right now. If I fixed one of them, I’d just have to go out and find another. ;)

  24. I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions either. The whole concept has the whiff of frustrated good intentions about it.

  25. I’m very skeptical about New Year resolutions in general. They tend to be almost completely forgotten the same January 1st at noon.

  26. This post rings so true with me. I have to shamefully admit that I am a slave to round numbers. For example, I’ll never start anything “new” like working out or a diet on any day other than Sunday.

    I make and break resolutions every month. So today is no different; however, I still made new ones for 2009: cut down on eating out at restaurants, workout, and I’m going to run a marathon.

    We shall see…

  27. In response to those who talk about running a marathon, I’d’ve resolved to run at least a half marathon as I am already well on my way there (I do 8mi just about every Sunday, except for the last couple of weeks but then I started a new workout regiment that’s been kicking my ass in a very good way) so that seemed kind of pointless. If I choose to make a resolution it is usually something I intended to do anyway, I just make it to try to kick myself in the ass a little harder to do it.
    @Golden Girl:

    I have to shamefully admit that I am a slave to round numbers. For example, I’ll never start anything “new” like working out or a diet on any day other than Sunday.

    I tend to do the same. I don’t know why I must but I do.

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