Humans are honey badgers… well, some of us

As much as I love geeks, occasionally their lack of whimsy or imagination can be painfully frustrating. When things don’t fall squarely within the confines of logic or science, they must be denigrated and/or mocked until they fall into line.

Except that sometimes logic and science isn’t the point.

Sometimes there are things both fascinating and powerful that fall very much outside the realm of logic and science, and the human mind couldn’t give a shit that what it believes isn’t technically “real”. (And no, Lord praising will not be occurring in this blog post.) 🙂

Sometimes, where the inexplicable is concerned, humans are veritable honey badgers. Make sense? Replicable? No. And we don’t give a shit.

Over the past week or two, I’ve shared a couple of stories from others on the social webs, both of which I find fascinating for that reason. The geeks were all over the lack of science, which, given that one of the stories involved dead people, seemed kind of irrelevant.

In this story: The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills, over 100 southeast Asian immigrants to the US died in the early 80s. From nightmares. Now, of course, the story isn’t quite that simple, but I recommend giving it a read. Fascinating stuff. A really interesting illustration of the power of belief, community, and ritual.

In this story: The Truth About Hair and why Indians would keep their hair long, during the Vietnam War, Native American trackers whose hair had been shorn when they joined the military lost their skills. Is hair really an extension of the nervous system, or just an easy event to latch on to when the answer is more psychological?

Some things will fail testing. Some occurrences don’t fit into neat boxes. And hey, there’s always the observer effect.

And yet, we live with and are affected by the inexplicable every day. Doctors can tell an infertile woman that they can find no medical reason she can’t get pregnant. Doesn’t mean she’ll just say, “Oh, okay…” and conceive the next day. Or would it convince a suicide bomber not to detonate if an atheist pointed out that there is no proof of a G/god or afterlife? Doubtful.

As cool as science is, the power of belief and the inexplicable can be far cooler. Because you don’t have to stop where science has to. The imagination can take over and “what if” becomes your set of parameters. Of course, we’re humans, and I’m a realist, so I’m aware that we’d be as or more likely to use that to hurt people as to help them should we achieve miraculous abilities or understanding, but isn’t it the rule-bending and -breaking “what ifs” that give birth to true innovation?

I guess there is a branch of science where that stuff fits. It is called theoretical physics, after all. But of course it’s often not our own minds that hold us back, but the words from the ones around us. Kids are wild and creative and adventurous and not the least self-conscious… up to a certain age. That’s not accidental. Happens to grown-ups, too.

As noted, I’m not terribly religious, nor am I a patchouli-scented hippie, but imagining is interesting. Simply believing without having to tear things apart to determine how they tick is often a pleasant way to live. And horror movies would be rather few and far between if the existence of monsters had to be proven before they could star in films. There is plenty of ground between believing everything and believing nothing.

And besides, as Arthur C. Clarke told us, there’s a pretty good chance the magic is just technology, anyway. We just haven’t caught up to it yet. And this honey badger is okay with that, too.

Quite so.

Sherry sent me this link the other day: Cat turns into woman in P/Harcourt – 5 killed as cultists clash, which is a bit mind-boggling, any way you slice it.

However, even better, I think, was a line from the blog post of Neil Gaiman’s where she’d seen it:

It must be very interesting (or, in turn, quite dangerous) to live in a place where myth is still a living thing.

Something Neil could have said himself, really. Though I suspect he knows a great deal more about the subject than many of us.

Utterly fascinating to ponder, in any case. Especially if we remove the arrogance our western level of civilization wraps us in and consider that we’re part of that statement as well.

I mean, really, just look at the Stanley Cup Championships… 🙂

“…the dogs that pretty much aren’t going to do so well”

Given Reprieve, N.F.L. Star’s Dogs Find Kindness

I read this last night, and Violet posted it again this morning. It left me somewhere between crying and homicidal, which I think is a pretty reasonable reaction for anyone with a soul. That article is about what has happened to Michael Vick’s dogs since they were seized.

Having worked at a shelter, especially in an area with pitbull-banning laws in place, I know how huge it is that these dogs are even still alive. I know how much work there is ahead not even to make any of them adoptable, but just to make any of them functional.

It’s strange how I rarely hope there is an afterlife so it can serve as a reward for folks who do amazing good in this world. I do, however, find myself regularly hoping there is something beyond this realm where punishment more thorough, fitting, and eternal can be meted out on those whose crimes can never be punished to my satisfaction in this life.

Much like prison justice tends to take care of those who commit crimes against children, I can only dream that such a system exists for those who commit crimes against animals. We have responsibilities to those who rely on us for their well-being, and intentionally violating that trust and responsibility to commit long-term acts of torture deserves a very special place in hell.

I did, however, appreciate the last comment in Erin Shea’s post on the subject:

“My friend Dawn said it best today: I’m kind of hoping he is already the bitch of a large inmate named Bubba. And perhaps that they are in the process of prying his teeth out so that he is less harmful during forced mating.

Don’t you need opposable thumbs to carry the scythe?

So being an animal-loving type, and having had my Grandpa (who had advanced Parkinson’s) die in a nursing home, I found this story rather fascinating: Oscar the cat predicts patients’ deaths.

I am in full agreement with tales and speculations that animals can sense and smell things long before we notice. They tend to be rather more in tune with their cycles of life and death and states of physical condition than people are.

However, then, Violet, God love ‘er, forwarded this, just for me, because she’s as sick as I am and knows of my great passion for lolcats: Friday Cat Blog, Human Flesh Is Yummy Edition.

Oh my. 🙂

Thinking we’re “safe” is the first mistake

It is not journalism’s job to be safe

Okay, first, if I was Masi Oka, I’d be REALLY displeased with that image he’s got posted.

I also think he’s dead wrong. I don’t think any of us is “safe” from the text, sounds, and pictures that’re out there. I think anyone who thinks that media consumption can really be controlled anymore is delusional. We are at a point where a split second search can lay out before you atrocities ranging from the historic to the contemporary, from the imaginative to the mundane.

Continue reading “Thinking we’re “safe” is the first mistake”

Other People

“…and I get my nose rubbed hard and painfully in the fact that there are no Other People. It’s just us.” — Neil Gaiman

The company I work for has a sister office in Virginia. A number of the employees there are Virginia Tech alumni. HR in particular at that office has been looking for ways to respond to the massacre and show support, and one way they’ve decided on is to show “Hokie Hope”.

This relates to an ongoing tradition they have in Blacksburg of creating the “Maroon and Orange Effect” by lots of people dressing up in Virginia Tech school colours, often for sporting events. In this instance, they’re doing it for “Hokie Hope”, an expression of community and solidarity.

Continue reading “Other People”