Archive for March, 2010

Bryan’s Cigar List

Want to know what real men smoke? Well, your brother Bryan is here to help.

I’ve smoked a wide array of cigars. And here are some of my favorites. I’ll order these in 3 price grades: Low  ($6 – $15 per cigar),  Mid ($15 – $20 per cigar), and Pretentious Douche ($21+ per cigar). Except for my take on the Davidoff, the descriptions are taken from the cigar’s official websites:

Low:

  1. Ashton 8-9-8 – (Mild) Ashton 8-9-8 Natural cigars are blended with only the most select, fully-aged Dominican tobaccos capped in silky, sweet-smelling Connecticut Shade wrappers. Patiently handcrafted at Tabacalera A. Fuente in the Dominican Republic, Ashton cigars are marvelously mellow and creamy for a truly luxurious smoke.
  2. Kristoff Ligero Robusto – (Medium) Assembled with only the finest master blenders of cigars today, the Kristoff Cigars are made with the spirit of Cuban Cigar making in mind. The entire line is fashioned with only the best Cuban-Seed tobacco from Nicaragua. The wrappers are Habano Cuban-seed. The Fillers and binders are both Nicaraguan and Dominican. Because of the quality of the construction and tobacco used in making the Kristoff line of Cigars, each cigar is a model of cigar perfection. The wrappers are smooth – yet have a rustic, flavorful look. The Corojo Kristoff has a corojo wrapper and the Maduro Kristoff has a Brazilian wrapper. Most avid cigar smokers taste coffee, pepper, and toffee in these cigars. The draw is nice and the burn on the cigar is even. These are truly great cigars that are meant for aficionados. A true taste of cuba in cigar legal in the USA!
  3. Oliva Connecticut Series Torpedo – (Mild) Oliva Reserve Connecticut cigars offer you the rich, earthy flavor of prime Nicaraguan longfiller tobaccos balanced by a silky, mild-tasting Connecticut wrapper. Starting with a mellow, nutty base, the smoke is incredibly creamy, then smoothly builds into a pastiche of sweet wood flavors, notes of coffee and a light dash of pepper in the mix. Presented in 5 popular shapes, these are great ‘start your day’ cigars that can be enjoyed anytime. One of Oliva’s best cigars to-date. Order some now.

Mid:

  1. Ashton VSG Torpedo – (Medium) For those who desire a powerful and intoxicating flavor with a complex rich finish, look no further than the Ashton VSG. The VSG is blended exclusively for Ashton by Carlos Fuente Jr. using 4 to 5 year old aged Dominican tobacco taken from the finest and most fertile plants. The distinct flavor of VSG comes from its wrapper grown on a private estate in Ecuador owned by the Oliva family where this proprietary wrapper leaf is grown for the Fuente Family exclusively for Ashton VSG. The leaf is taken from the higher primings and matures slowly by sunlight filtered through the region¹s natural cloud covering. The result is the rich intoxicating wrapper which has made the Ashton VSG the most in demand cigar on the market today.
  2. Rocky Patel Decade Torpedo – (Medium) Perfection takes time. For the Rocky Patel Decade, it’s the perfect blend 10 years in the making. The silky Decade showcases a gorgeous, dark Sumatra wrapper surrounding a secret blend featuring only the finest tobaccos in the world. The result is a rich and toasty medium- to full-body smoking experience. Complexity, balance and elegance earned the Rocky Patel Decade ratings of 91, 92, 93 and 95 points – an instant classic.

Pretentious Douche:

  1. Ashton ESG 22-Year Salute Torpedo – (Medium) For twenty years, Ashton has worked tirelessly to produce one of the highest quality, most consistent cigars that are sold anywhere. To celebrate twenty
    consecutive years of increased sales and overall growth, Robert Levin and Carlos Fuente Jr. have teamed up to create the Ashton Estate Sun Grown, or ESG for short. Such a special occasion called for a very special cigar. The ESG uses a unique Dominican wrapper grown on the Chateau de la Fuente farm in the Dominican Republic. This wrapper has never been used on any other cigar. The blend is the creation of Carlos Fuente Jr. who is a master blender and has created the most sought after cigars in the world. With ESG the bar has been raised once again.
  2. Davidoff Millenium Blend Churchill – (Mild-Medium) FUCKING EXQUISITE!

As you can see, Ashton is one of my favorites.

All of the above are great for any occasion, but I only occasionally smoke the “Pretentious Douche” category for obvious reasons.

All of the above also have some good tastes when combined with various spirits. Whiskey, Scotch, or Wine are always good companion drinks. They cleanse the palette to allow for a more tasty smoke with each puff. Scotch in particular.

Speaking of which, my drink of choice as of late has been Scotch, about which you can expect a post coming up soon.

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Bryan’s One Word Game Review: Bioshock 2

Meh.

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Jon Stewart is a God Among Men

I’ll let this video speak for itself:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Anchor Management
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-march-3-2010/anchor-management

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How I Made Dad Proud

After reading my dear friend Chuck’s account of his colonoscopy, I was reminded of an event that will forever be etched into my brain.  Although Chuck still has that portion of his brain intact that allows him to edit himself, sparing you all from the horrid details of his excrement adventure that day, I am lacking that function.

I was probably 14 or 15 years old when I had an excrement experience that will be etched into my brain until the day I die. It was summer and I had been on the picnic circuit for days — my colon was crammed full with burgers and dogs, BBQ chicken, chips, and all the other gastronomic delights that can be found at summer picnics at the Jersey shore. It had been at least four or five days since I had released a grunion, and I could tell that when the time came, it was going to be a workout.  Finally my water broke, and I knew that delivery was well on the way. I retired to the bathroom, sat, and prepared for battle.

The pressure was intense. I grunted and stretched my cheeks as wide as possible and tried to force the rabbit out of his hole; but I was unsuccessful. It felt as if it had a head on it from all of the back-up behind it. I pushed and hoped that my distressed sphincter would open wide enough to allow the thing to pass.

Now ten minutes in to the ordeal, I began to sweat and breathe heavily as it finally started through. I rested my head against the wall, gripped the bowl for dear life, and kept squeezing.

And then — it was moving! The head crowned and I could feel it starting to pass faster. It was exhilarating — one last grunt and the behemoth was out.

I was both afraid and extremely curious to look into the depths below at what I knew was lying beneath the water. I sat for another minute to regain my composure and slow my breathing to a normal pace. When I reached back to wipe my distended hole, I was amazed that there wasn’t any blood or hanging organs, and only very light skid marks. Another swipe or two and the paper was clean; so I stood and got my first look at the monster.

I couldn’t believe what I saw. On average it was as thick as a can of soda, and about 18 inches long. I could tell the length because it had fallen across the hole and didn’t go straight down it.

I flushed, hoping it would break and go down, but lady luck was being a bitch that day. Only the paper went down. The creature simply spun in the bowl like Satan’s Spirograph, leaving circular skid marks around the porcelain.

I tried in vain three more times to flush it away, but it wouldn’t leave. So I did what any 15-year-old would do: I got my dad.

Dad came in, looked in horror into the bowl, looked at me, looked into the bowl, looked back at me, and said, “Oh my god, are you OKAY!??!”

We shared a chuckle and he disappeared, returning armed with a piece of wood. We were laughing hysterically as he broke the beast into pieces so that it would flush.

Finally, Moby Shit disappeared into its watery grave.

To this day, more than 20 years later, my dad and I still laugh about it. I have not been able to reproduce that masterpiece since.

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My Dainty Wife – Cherish Mundacity

Love is weird. . . . a good weird.

Last night, while staring at my wife, in what would otherwise be a mundane moment, an overwhelming thought came over me.

She, in her dainty way, held the menu for the pizza place down the street, trying to decide what she wanted. Her elegant fingers held it with both hands, as she sat cross-legged, head tilted to the side ever so slightly in that way of hers.

The thought that came over me was that there is nothing more precious than my wife. How is it that a moment so mundane can place your mind into such a serene place? You’d think it would be when she’s dressed in some sexy way, but it isn’t. It’s the mundane moments that make love grand.

Just like Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting says:

. . . that’s the shit I remember: wonderful stuff you know? Little things like that. . . . The little idiosyncrasies that only I know about: that’s what made her my wife. Oh she had the goods on me too, she knew all my little peccadilloes.

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Mass Effect 2: Even More Awesomer Than the First

Yes, I know “awesomer” isn’t a word.

I finished this one last weekend after being utterly addicted to it for a just over a week.

It’s from BioWare, so it’s all about the story.

I think the best part of the game is that you get engrossed in the story and your character. I know that sounds cheesy but aside from the combat, you get to be a Jack Bauer-James Bond-type character where you have to do some pretty bad ass things to get the job done.

There is a Paragon/Renegade system, like BioWare had in the first one, where Paragon actions are “good” actions, like letting someone go rather than killing them, or helping an alien in need, or Renegade actions, whereupon you kick someone out of a window for being a douche bag, or things of that nature. The more of each you do raises your Paragon or Renegade score and then that opens up more dialogue (story) options as you progress. But Bioware really seemed to take it the next level in this game where you will need to take renegade actions, which I think is more realistic than in the first Mass Effect.

Remember you are often dealing with the scum of the galaxy, so you deal with scum using . . . . let’s call it a . . . . “no nonsense” approach, as a Renegade (hint, hint). You have two members of your crew who have a nefarious past, and you are trying to gain their loyalty. As a matter of fact, most of the game is building the loyalty of your new crew. How else do you build the trust of a fellow renegade? By being one, you silly goof!

Jack (one of the characters with a nefarious past) is one of my favorite characters and there were several places in the game where she (yes, she) makes comments about your Renegade actions that make you really feel like a badass.

The plot centers around you recruiting a crew and building their loyalty, while working toward the end goal of fighting an enemy called “The Collectors.” Your crew all have a story and quests for exploration, but BioWare, as usual, has done a fantastic job of interweaving these crew-quests with the main quest-line, and I found myself riveted. Along the way you upgrade your armor, weapons, biotech, and ship. You do not need to upgrade your crew’s armor this time, which I found to be a pain in the ass in the first one.

You can choose one of six classes. I chose the Infiltrator class.

The combat is third-person squad-based, but don’t let the squad-based part of it scare you. There are three basic commands you can bind to shortcuts that make it easy and fun. You can also pause combat and queue actions. Getting used to it is a breeze, and my only advice is to use the usual suppress-and-flank tactics in third-person shooters. As an Infiltrator, it was so much fun to use your team as a distraction to suppress the enemy, sneak up on their flank and unload a rocket on them.

The progression system is “resource and looting”-based this time, where you have to attain a basic piece of equipment, and then go mining (which is a mini-game by itself) to increase four different types of minerals to upgrade your items. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you master it, you can really upgrade your items quickly.

I found the end-game quest to be fantastic. I found myself cheering. I don’t want to spoil anything, but take Jack with you on your team. She is quite the badass.

However, I did buy the Collectors edition and I was quite disappointed in the Normandy Crash Site quest. Big waste of time.

Overall, I really have no complaints about this game other than the Normandy Crash Site quest and the initial adjustments to the mining mini-game.

Superultrafantastic game.

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Your Colon and You

Several years ago, I had some pretty bad heartburn.  Antacids were my best friends.  Figured the reasons were that my diet sucked, I ate too much, and I was overweight.  Turns out, I was right.  Oh yeah, I also had acid reflux.  So my gastrointestinal doctor gave me two choices: either go on medication to control the acid, or lose weight and exercise.  Now I’m one of those people that really tries not to take every medication that man has ever created.  I have to be in serious pain to even pop acetaminophen.

So I opted for the second one, you know, that “lose weight and exercise” silliness.  A couple months later, I was on the medication, and never looked back.

Now every couple years, the good Doctor refuses to refill my prescription that turned my life around, and wants to physically see me in his office.  Demanding as all hell.  So two years ago, he was going over my chart and we realized that I was quickly approaching 40.  He smiled and said to me, “Normally I recommend my male patients to get a colonoscopy at the age of 45. But because of your family history, I want to see you at 40.”  I smiled, shook his hand, and cheefully said, “See you next year!” and left.

I turned 40, and avoided calling him for the entire year.  But, when I turned 41, a few revelations hit in a blur:

  • Over the year I found out that colon cancer also ran on my father’s side.
  • A former coworker, years younger than me, is battling colon cancer.
  • I had walking pneumonia for over a month and a half, and finally realized that my health was not of the same ilk as Clark Kent.
  • My latest prescription ran out, and my doctor wanted to see me.

So I sucked it up, called and went in to see him.  The colonoscopy was scheduled, and they handed me all the informational paperwork that I would need.  I didn’t glance at any of it until a week before the procedure.  I was in fear.  Not of the procedure itself, hell I’d be knocked out, they could play spades on my ass for three hours and I could care less.  No, I feared “the cleansing.”

Now, I don’t normally mention brands by name, but I have to give credit to two absolutely amazing pharmaceutical creations that can alter a man’s existence in profound ways: Dulcolax and Miralax.  I had heard of Dulcolax before, and figured I wouldn’t be introduced to that until I was happily into my 60’s and stopped up like a bathroom sink in an all-girls dorm.  But Miralax… never heard of it.  But I can only imagine they named it for “Miracle Laxative”, because I can tell you, there is no doubt in my mind that there is some kind of divine power in that bottle’s powder.  I was surely cleansed of evils.

I also was not allowed to eat any solid foods from the evening before the cleansing. So my lovely wife did the shopping for me and picked up Jell-O, ice pops, plain chicken broth, and a variety of drinks that could be mixed with the Miralax to make 32 ounces of the deity drink.

So the day before the procedure is the Cleansing Day.  I plan to go to work for a half day, and leave in the early afternoon to head home.  Working an hour from home negates starting these festivities at work.  It could get messy quickly, and my truck has cloth seats.  I arrive home a few hours before the party starts, down some more water, “eat” some Jell-O and chicken broth, and start to plan.

As this whole thing is all new, and generally people don’t talk about things such as this over lunch, I have no clue as to what to expect, so I plan for the worst.  I charge my iPhone so I can have email and gaming access.  I place my Kindle in the bathroom’s magazine rack for a good read.  I get my laptop charged, and put a tray table in there for it.  I put on sweatpants for the easy off, and put on sneakers so I have good traction and speed for my inevitable sprints.  I… Am… Ready.

So right on time I do as instructed and pop two of the pills and down 8 ounces of the god drink.  I slam the glass down, in beer-chug-winning style, and smile.  Bring it on.

Now, I am expecting something earth-shattering within five minutes of this.  At ten minutes I start looking at the clock.  I feel fine, normal.  At 20 minutes I’m starting to pace.  At the 30 minute mark I have to swig another 8 ounces of the jesus juice.  Forty-five minutes in, I’m checking the status of the laptop, reading material and the supply of TP again.  At the one hour mark, I have another 8 ounces, and am starting to feel disappointed… and terrified.

I have now had the two laxative pills and 24 ounces of a concoction that promises “A completely different kind of constipation relief.”  Seriously, how absolutely horrifying is this situation?  At this point I’m considering grabbing some duct tape from the basement and wrapping it around my midsection to prevent some kind of catastrophic explosion.  My imagination had me sprinting up the stairs, awful things happening to me, turning around and seeing my two children’s panicked, aghast, crying faces… my wife running and scooping them away yelling “Look away!  For all that is holy, LOOK  AWAY!!”

But nothing.  No cramps, no odd sensations at all.  Despite this, I am still afraid to sit down.

Not ten minutes later, all of that changed.

A strange sound came from the lower left of my abdomen, definitely below my stomach which had ceased it’s hunger growling several hours before.  It was almost the sound that a baby makes when it is straining to reach for a rattle you are dangling over it’s head.  Almost cute.  A feeling of euphoria came over me, as I realized that soon it would start, and would not end my life in a fecal-filled explosion in my kitchen.  Only 15 seconds after, another sound, this time that of a small child who is unhappy that they will be getting brussel sprouts for dinner instead of chicken fingers.  Euphoria soon changed to concern because that not-too-cute sound was accompanied by a slight cramp.

I was on the move, not waiting for further developments, but being proactive and planning ahead.  I was proud of myself.  I reached the top of the stairs without incident, and stood there relieved that my overactive imagination was proven wrong.

What happened next was that I was assaulted by a strange vibration in my abdomen, accompanied by what could only be described as the sound of an industrial dishwasher draining it’s waters into the sewer.  I was no longer proud.

I made it, and I will spare you those details that follow.

As I returned to the downstairs, I realized it was time for the last 8 ounces of the miracle of miracles.  For the next two hours, I checked a lot of email, played a lot of games, and did some serious reading.  So I consider my time there very productive.  At times I thought of the scene from the movie, Dumb and Dumber, where Lloyd spikes Harry’s drink with laxatives, and we see Harry’s bathroom time.  It wasn’t far off.  I recommend seeing the movie several times.

At a few minutes before 8:00, I again returned to the downstairs, my children already down for their slumber… how I missed seeing them.   Now having that “not so fresh” feeling, I looked at the instructions again, and realized I now had to take two more Dulcolax pills.  Those sadistic bastards!

My evening was spent like anyone would spend it after a full beef fajita burrito washed down with four beers and topped off with a dozen Buffalo wings.  Although, my beef fajita burrito was chicken broth, my wings was quivering Jell-O and my four beers were the cups of divinity.

By bedtime I was in much better shape, and I was able to sleep peacefully.  When I awoke my guts still had some fun with me, and I was rather amazed I still had any fluid in my body.  Because of morbid curiosity, which drives a good portion of my life, I got on the scale.  In a 24-hour period, I lost almost five pounds.  To me, that’s impressive.

The hour-long trip, and the procedure itself were very benign.  I’m hoping the two polyps they removed also come back the same way.  BUT because they did find some, that means I get to go through this every three years now.

I think in 2013 I’m going to go for six pounds!  One has to challenge oneself, right?

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Rant Alert: If You are Not an Expert, Then Shut Your Cake Hole

I am working my way through How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities (Audiobook) on my iPod. As I listen to it I can’t help but think about the News “experts” who claim to know how to fix the economy. Most of them haven’t even taken so much as an Econ 101 class and they make mind-numbing statements such as, “All we have to do is cut taxes and that will fix our economy.” And, they usually say it in this condescending tone like we’re all idiots for not coming to the same conclusion.

I will be the first to admit that I am no Economist, but one thing the aforementioned book has taught me is the basics of what Economists have to consider as part of their research, and it is mind-boggling. I have concluded, as a result, that if you don’t have your PhD in economics, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about and should shut your fat cake-hole.

But it’s not just on the News, it’s in everyday conversation, and it’s not just the economy, it’s everything else too. Health Care, Global Warming, and the “big whammy”. . . The Bible.

Yes, I went there. Pause for awkward silence.

If you’re a fat guy and you find yourself saying something like, “All we have to do to fix Health Care is . . .” – Stop right there, and start by getting on a treadmill every once in a while, you fat fuck. One main reason Health Care is broken is because assholes like you eat enough Cheesy Chili Curly Fries throughout your life to kill a small village and then wonder why the fuck you have sleep apnea and colon cancer.

Another example of pure idiocy: There was a “Doctor” on Fox News who said, “Exercising Makes You Fat.” I’m not kidding. His “reasoning” was because a new “study” had “proven” that people get hungry after they exercise. That may very well be true, but, Doctor Asshole, don’t forget that exercising speeds up metabolism and most people smart enough to exercise are also smart enough to eat a banana instead of downing an entire fucking bundt cake.

His advice? Don’t exercise. Just keep sitting on your ass watching Fox News so you can mainline their right-wing propaganda. And for the record, I don’t watch the left-leaning MSNBC either for the same reason. I will think for myself, thank you very much.

So you think man-made Global Warming is a conspiratorial hoax, huh? If you really believe that, then that only means one thing: you don’t trust scientists. If you don’t trust scientists, do me a favor – turn off your computer, sell your mp3 player, sell your car, sell your TV, and cancel all your utilities. You are hereby banned from using anything science has created for the rest of us rational human beings. Have fun reading about those right-wing conspiracies by candlelight, asshole.

Another set of “experts” are preachers who attempt to interpret The Bible by going back to the “original greek.” I am not sure when this practice started, but I’ll bet some asshole preacher somewhere along the line said, “Hey, we’re really getting killed on all these contradictions in The Bible, why don’t we just tell people when they call us on it that ‘if you go back to the original greek, that’s not really what it means’.” And now every evangelist and down home preacher spends their sermons attempting to “translate” Greek Biblical phrases to their audience. And you idiots eat it up like those aforementioned Curly Fries.

Suckers.

It’s kind of ingenious in a way, but still, nonetheless deceptive.

Do you know how long Biblical scholars spend on learning these languages and matching them up with historical occurrences? Do you know how many painstaking hours people like Bart Ehrman spend on trying to figure this shit out? A lot more than those preachers spend on those damn pamphlets from some church organization that “translates” “original” Biblical texts.

And I’ll break it down for you, Biblical Criticism suffers from the same downfall in “proof” that Literary Criticism has – you can make a case for downright anything and fool idiots into thinking it’s true. You can make a “translation” from some Greek word and have it mean just about anything.

That’s why they do it, dear Christians.

It’s getting hard these days for a freethinker like myself to trust anything I read or hear with all these “experts” spouting their shit. I sometimes lock myself into my house, pour myself a glass of my finest scotch, light up an Ashton ESG, and educate myself.

Some of the aforementioned “experts” should do the same.

The world would be a better place.

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Where Have All the Cartoons Gone?

I have an two year old son, and years from now when he is getting ready for school or just getting home from school, I wonder what will he will be watching? In the good old days, I woke up to Gobots, the poor man’s Transformers and as I got a little older came home to the original iteration of Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Let me state now that I still watch cartoons, so much like the 45 year old who tries to tell his kids that he still listens to the popular music of the time, I am trying to hold on as long as I can.

With my son turning two we are starting to get beyond just Sesame Street and moving on to other more “simply for fun” cartoons along with the standard educational stuff. I have got to tell you, it is pretty bleak out there. Dora the Explorer and Diego can’t light a candle to He-man and She-ra. Don’t even get me started on the reboot of the TMNT and Transformers cartoon franchises.

The major issue that I see is the ever-widening gap between kids cartoons and adult cartoons. Easy there boys, I am talking about the difference between things like The Wonder Pets and the recently released movie Nine, a visually stunning tale from Tim Burton. (A quick side note, this movie sold me on how awesome Blu-ray players are, check it out.) The animation was fantastic and the story was able to keep up.

I believe the rift began to form in September of 1992, the dawn of Batman the Animated Series helped along by Bruce Timm. I was 13 and along with turning me onto comics for the rest of my life, the show was ground-breaking. The animation was almost like reading a noir-style novel and Batman’s presence alone, voiced by Kevin Conroy, was enough to hook me. Here’s the thing, I could have been 13 or 36 and it still would have been great. It brought Batman back to life. Once company execs realized they could start appealing to people with disposable income, the rift began.

By now the middle-ground cartoons are gone. We’ve got Bob the Builder on one end and Family Guy on the other. Stewie may be a baby, but I don’t want him talking to my son. I used to visit Best Buy every Tuesday for the new releases, but with the family bills I can’t show up every Tuesday any more. One Tuesday I can guarantee I will be there is when Marvel and DC release there new animated feature films. The Avengers, Wonder Woman, Doc Strange, they have all been good, but in no way can I watch them with the kids. They can be incredibly violent like the Wonder Woman release or just be way too dark like one of the Batman releases which would give some grown-ups nightmares. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed all of them, but for kids, no way.

As I get older I realize one of the more enjoyable experiences is sitting around with the crew, having a few beers, and reminiscing. You talk about what you did when you were younger. We all grew up watching cartoons. I am just wondering if for my son, years from now will they argue about what cartoon was the best when they were all average.

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Finding Fideism (Fuh-day-ism)

I recently finished Martin Gardner‘s “The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener”.

Gardner is a Fideist, which describes anyone who uses faith to come to certain truths. William James, John Dewey, Blaise Pascal, Soren Kierkegard, were considered to have some Fideist tendencies

I am of the opinion that there are two ways of interpreting the world around you: either through faith or through logic and reason. I am way on the side of the “logic and reason” part of the spectrum. I don’t believe in ghosts, angels, the Lost City of Atlantis, heaven or hell, or the vast majority of conspiracy theories.

The book was intriguing to me because I don’t use faith in my life, for anything except trustworthy mundane information that sane and reasonable people accept on faith. For example, I do not doubt the existence of the city of Paris, France even though I have never seen it. That I accept on faith.

So since this book was a description of the use of faith in life, I approached the book with some healthy skepticism.

All in all, for the most even-handed description of our existence in this universe, this is the book for you. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I can understand how it’s possible for reasonable people to take certain things on faith, or at least treat some of “the unknowable” with some healthy consideration or agnosticism.

Gardner does not give any credence to the God of Abraham or any man-made gods. He is a Fideist. He believes in God, but that this God does not really have any real interest in human affairs. God is simply out there, and there is wonder in considering the possibilities of the unknown. His writing is very matter-of-fact and states that we have to know that our understanding of the universe has limits, and therefore a healthy consideration of a world we cannot access is possible. And that this consideration should not turn you into a raving lunatic.

I’m talking to you, Fundamentalists.

I should point out that Fideists assign a high value to science and reason, but consider the possibilities. There are no faeries, no angels, no ghosts to a Fideist, because those things are supposed to be observable in the “natural world”. Fideists (or at least Gartner) go beyond that natural world and say that there may very well be a world beyond this one that we simply don’t know, or can’t know, and is at least worth considering.

What I got from the book is that I am more agnostic about the unknown than I thought. For example, I believe that when we die, man, that’s it. You rot and turn to dust. No Pearly Gates or fuckers playing harps on clouds. No “standing before God or Jesus [or enter deity of choice here] for your judgment”. That’s it, auf wiedersehen, good-bye, sayonara, it’s the end, close the book and all that.

I still hold true to that belief, but according to Fidesim, you can’t say that definitively. I still believe it, but I think a Fideist might say that life after death is “unlikely, but possible”.

I can respect that, provided one keeps a healthy sense of indifference to whatever one considers. One should not waste their time on fanciful hopes such as life after death.

Make this world a better place.

Next book: Lost Christianities by Bart Ehrman.

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