Saturday, January 01, 2005

Though reasonably moderate with the wine intake last night, the 'Pede still got a bit stroppy with an acquaintance soon after midnight. A bit of background: I don't seem to have a mystical bone, or exoskeletal plate, or whatever, in my body, but I don't doubt that anyone who has had a mystical experience has perceived something real, in the sense that all thoughts and emotions are real. I've had similar moments myself; I just attribute them to the natural processes of the human brain, and frankly don't find them all that interesting.

Although I'm skeptical of paranormal claims, I usually sit back and contribute only a polite "Uh-huh" when I run into an enthusiast. But this one not only believes uncritically in psychic surgery, but went off on a twenty-minute rant about it. I finally couldn't take it any more -- I think I used the words "chicken guts" twice in one minute -- and she became somewhat annoyed with me. "I saw the video with my own eyes! A doctor saw it in person, with his own eyes"

Well, of course you did. I have no doubt that, if present at the scene, I'd have seen it too. That's what stage and close-up magic tricks are all about. When you investigate something like this, you need a professional conjurer to assess the scene. (A good scientist who knows how to do controlled experiments is helpful too.) It also drives me crazy when someone assumes that a person who lacks formal education (like the psychic "surgeon" in question) is incapable of intentional deceit or the skill to pull it off. Unschooled people can be plenty smart, ma'am. And people from all walks of life are pretty damned gullible sometimes. In fact, we often gull ourselves. We don't always even do it for profit or out of malice -- sometimes we do it with the best of intentions.

Anyway, that's when the 'Pede bit, although I tried to withhold the venom as much as possible. I really don't object to a bit of experimentation with alternative medicine -- I've been known to pop the occasional dose of Echinacea myself -- but the idea that God gives supernatural healing gifts only to humble unschooled mystics in remote locations makes for both incompetent medicine and piss-poor theology. (Several other people present thanked me afterwards for speaking up, although I think I embarrassed poor Rick with my vehemence.) Anyway, I referred this person to some of the later scenes of this film, and by the end of the evening, she still seemed to like me, but I'm shaking my head over this one.

The Bug House will be on semi-hiatus for the next week or so, although, like sluggish worker ants during a midwinter thaw, the occasional entry may pop up.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Not-quite-random thought: I don't know of anyone besides myself who never seems to get two consecutive haircuts from the same hairdresser. Most of the people I know have significant "brand loyalty" in this regard, but I don't. First of all, I almost always get my haircuts impulsively. That is to say, it usually happens that at about 3 PM, I get the idea that I can't stand another day without a haircut, so five minutes later I call some place, and by the end of the day, I've been shorn. I actually used to have a semi-regular hairdresser for a while, but the last time I was there, around September, she started a political argument with me. She also gave me a good haircut while arguing, but then again there's not really such a thing as a good or a bad cut where my hair is concerned. No matter what I do with it, it never looks the same on two consecutive days anyway. So I really don't think the person providing the hair-cutting service is the limiting resource, and it's just as well for me to choose a hair-care provider mainly by whether he or she adds to or subtracts from the stress in my life. The one who worked on me today caused no political consternation, but put entirely too much glop in my hair afterwards, which will probably require an unplanned nocturnal shampoo to avoid tweaking Rick's allergies. I really didn't want to stop her and lose the moment, though, because we'd gotten into a discussion about my work, and it turned out that she was a big-time insectophobe, so I had to do my pro-bug soft sell on her, and we seemed to be having a breakthrough by the time she was finished.

Not much else, except that it was great to see Gail today, and also nice that Joyce and her two boxers are here keeping Rick and me focused on tearing up the house (except for breaks for little time-killers like blogging).

P.S.: R.I.P., Kid Sally Palumbo. We'll miss you.