Bah, Humbug!

I heard on the news this morning that yet another “scientific study” has found that optimistic people live longer than pessimistic people.  Of course the researchers were not cited, nor were any pertinent details of the study provided.[1]

But regardless, I’m so sick of hearing this.

Yes, I think there is definitely a psychosomatic connection that has an impact on our general health.  And, I do think that people who like to grumble about being sick seem to get sick more often than those of us who don’t.

But come on, how is this even measurable?

How can you define optimism, let alone isolate it and its influence on years of a person’s life?

What does it even mean to be a generally optimistic person?

These studies have to rely on a lot of self-reporting, as well as a researcher’s interpretation of how people explain life events, and how they answer certain questions.  This is shaky ground.

Here’s a thought: Maybe “pessimism” is just a feeling people have when they think their life is lousy.  And maybe people think their life is lousy when they have a chronic illness.  And maybe people with chronic illnesses don’t live as long as people who don’t.

You play a dangerous game when you get involved with cause and effect.

I’ve never been called an optimist.  Though I prefer to think that I’m a realist, I’m sure that many would think me pessimistic.  And the last thing I want to hear is that I’m going to die sooner because I’m not one of the shiny happy people.

So thank you, “science.” Way to kick me when I’m down.


[1] A rant about how we blindly assume that anything done under the label of “science” is true will be left for another day.

We Believe in Nothing, Lebowski!

Note: I have to give credit where credit is due. This is kind of in reaction to Ryan’s blog. His question was why do people bother to call themselves agnostic? It seems like one of those PC labels that people use when they don’t want to say that they are atheists, because it “offends” people if you tell them you don’t believe in god. Oh, and I’ve given up on censoring all my foul language. You can blame John Goodman.

Now, at various points in my life, I have been accused of being (among other things) a nihilist, and it’s highly likely that my beliefs do fit under certain definitions of nihilism.

Nihilism can refer to different things. It can mean that values do not exist but are invented OR specifically that there are no moral values OR that life itself is without meaning or purpose.

And on some days[1] I likely fit under the first, definitely under the second, and probably under the third.

But can you really be a full-blown, believe-in-nothing nihilist?

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I Love Pop Music

I have awesome taste in music.

And because I accept the fact that musical taste is completely subjective, I cannot be wrong about this.

One of the things I like about my taste in music is that I’m not one of those people who say that they “like everything except [fill in the blank],” where that blank is usually filled in by country, rap, or techno.  I know for a fact that there exists quite good country, rap, and EDM.

The worst offenders of this type of music elitism are hipsters (of course) and anyone else who refuses to listen to pop music. Being that “pop” is short for “popular,” as a genre of music it is very broad in scope.  But usually hipsters and the like shun any music that is on a major label[1] or gets radio airplay.

At this point I cannot help but think of High Fidelity: “Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” But really I feel sorry for those who shun pop music, because it’s they who are missing out.

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Death by Disney

Stunt death claims 3rd Disney employee in 7 weeks

Maybe “Disney World employee” should be put on the list of World’s Most Dangerous Jobs.

I’m really not trying to make light of this situation. It just feels really wrong to me that someone’s life should end at the hands of a theme park. Most work place deaths occur in the transportation, manufacturing, agricultural and construction sectors.  The fishermen that I have come to know and respect from Deadliest Catch are facing a higher death rate than any other job in the country. (I don’t think that counts military personnel, but statistics from said field aren’t exactly public domain.) People who go into these professions know to some extent what they are getting into and must accept the risk.

But no one expects to die at the Happiest Place on Earth.

People shouldn’t have to die at the hands of other people’s entertainment. Especially for entertainment aimed at children. It’s not that difficult to amuse a child. You don’t need to have employees perform potentially dangerous stunt-filled stage shows to get children to have fun at your theme park, or watch your movies, or badger their parents into buying them your merchandise.

No one should have to die for Disney.

Note: Article shared via AddThis

Feel the wrath of the left hand of Burns!

In honor of International Left-Handers Day, I give you:

leftorium

Damned infernal gizmo. My kingdom for a left-handed can opener!
-Mr. Burns

It’s all here, and it’s all backwards!
-Homer Simpson, hyping the Leftorium

Left-handed ledgers! Now I can write all the way to the edge!
-Chuck Ellis (from the Springfield Collection Agency)

Ha ha ha. Left-handed nunchucks!
-Akira

Note: All quotes from The Simpsons Episode 7F23: When Flanders Failed.

The Clinton Effect

I feel like I should say something about this.

You’ve all seen the video of Hillary Clinton telling a student in Kinshasa, Congo that she doesn’t know what former President Bill Clinton’s view is on a Chinese loan offer to the government of Congo.  (See the video on Mark Riley’s site.)

People are criticizing Secretary of State Clinton for snapping, not being poised, even for having a “meltdown.”[1] People are also defending Secretary Clinton by claiming that she was jet-lagged, tired from traveling, etc.

Neither of these responses is very helpful.

First of all, so what if her tone was a little rude by uber-sensitive American standards? Claiming that she was tired might be understandable, but it trivializes the real issue.

Second of all, ignore the fact that the question was translated incorrectly and the student was actually asking about President Obama and that it was sorted out later, because Secretary Clinton didn’t know that at the time. She didn’t say this exactly, but she’s right: Former President Clinton’s view on this issue is completely irrelevant. She is the Secretary of State. She represents our nation on these matters. To ask her for the opinion of the President (or a former President) is to not recognize her as a diplomat.

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