Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Please send good vibes

Icepick/T/my Darling Boy's mom is being admitted to the hospital with an undiagnosed infection and abdominal pain (appendicitis is one possibility). If you have any to spare, please send prayers/positive thoughts/good vibrations toward Orlando. She's almost 80, so we're concerned.

Thanks. I'll try to update later.

UPDATE on T's blog here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

There Goes My Street Cred

As a follow up, I took the below referenced "Sublime Philosophical Crap Test", and my results are below.

Let me just say "Huh?" I'm pretty sure this wasn't covered in my Intro to Philosophy class in Junior College.

Your Score: R-A-O

You scored 44% Non-Reductionism, 88% Epistemological Absolutism, and 55% Moral Objectivism!

You are an R-A-O: a metaphysical Reductionist, an epistemological Absolutist, and a moral Objectivist. What does this all mean? Well, keep reading to find out.

Metaphysics: Reductionism (Monism or Positivism) In metaphysics, my test measures your tendency towards Reductionism or Non-Reductionism. As a Reductionist, you like to cut away the metaphysical fat as opposed to multiplying concepts and entities like so many baby rabbits. The two broad categories of Reductionists that my test recognizes are Monists and Positivists.

1. Monists do not cut away the metaphysical fat so much as they just put the meat into a grinder and synthesize the fat into the meat. They tend to condense particular things and ideas into a Unity or Absolute, in other words. If you believe that reality is ultimately a unity and that mind and matter both exist but are simply two different ways of looking at the same substance, then you are a neutral monist in the sense of Spinoza. If you believe that reality is ultimately an Absolute because a whole is more than just the sum of its parts, proven by the fact that we can never have knowledge of a particular thing unless we also grasp its relations to the ultimate Absolute or whole of reality with which it is bound up, and if you feel that this Absolute is characterized by Spirit or Mind, and not matter, then you share the same views as Hegel and even Plato to a degree. A monist--because he or she believes that reality is a Unity or Absolute--tends to synthesize all particulars into universals, deny the reality of matter (Hegel) or mind (Spinoza, sort of), and so on. These concepts are all cast into the meat grinder and come out as a unified whole. Famous monists include philosophers such as Hegel, Spinoza, and Parmenides.

If none of the above sounded like you, then you are most definitely the other type of Reductionist. 2. Positivists, unlike monists, do not synthesize two apparently competing views into one--instead, they do away with one of the views, that being the one that cannot be empirically verified. A positivist, then, cuts away the metaphysical fat as meaningless conjecture about nothing in particular. He relies primarily on a tool called Ockham's Razor to shave away these ideas. Ockham's Razor states that we should do away with any hypotheses that needlessly multiply explanatory entities. For instance, in regards to the dispute about the existence of universals, a positivist tends to adopt the position of nominalism--which is the belief that only particulars are real. A universal is only a linguistic construction we use to put particulars into groups--meaning we can reduce all universals to the sum of their parts, that being particulars. After all, we can never have empirical experience of "whiteness", only particular things that are white--nor have we ever observed the universal "mankind", though we can observe individual men. On the mind-body problem, a positivist will be likely to do away with the concept of "mind", reducing it to a material product of our brain functioning. This position is often referred to as the Identity-Theory, because it equates mental states to states of the brain. Clearly, a positivist tends towards a materialistic outlook. Positivism will also revile any idealist conception of reality, which maintains that the world of experience and perception is merely a phenomenal world, whereas the "real" world lies underneath experience and is fundamentally unknowable. A positivist will tend to do away with the idealist hypothesis as needless and unverifiable. Well-known positivists include Carnap, Ayer, and Wittgenstein.


Epistemology: Absolutism (Rationalism or Pragmatism) My test measures one's tendency towards Absolutism or Skepticism in regards to epistemology. As an Absolutist, you believe that objective knowledge is possible given the right approach, and you deny the claims of skeptical philosophers who insist that we can never have knowledge of ultimate reality. The two types of Absolutists recognized by my test are Rationalists and Pragmatists.

1. Rationalists believe that the use of reason ultimately provides the best route to truth. A rationalist usually defines truth as a correspondence between propositions and reality, taking the common-sense route. Also, rationalists tend to believe that knowledge of reality is made possible through certain foundational beliefs. This stance is known as foundationalism. A foundationalist believes that, because we cannot justify the truth of every statement in an infinite regress, we ultimately reach a foundation of knowledge. This foundation is composed of a priori truths, like mathematics and logic, as well as undoubtable truths like one's belief in his or her own existence. The belief that experiences and memories are veridical is also part of the foundation. Thus, for a rationalist knowledge of reality is made possible through our foundational beliefs, which we do not need to justify because we find them to be undoubtable and self-evident. In regards to science, a rationalist will tend to emphasize the foundational assumptions of scientific inquiry as prior to and more important than scientific inquiry itself. If science does lead to truth, it is only because it is based upon the assumption of certain rational principles such as "Every event is caused" and "The future will resemble the past". Philosophy has a wide representation of philosophical rationalists--Descartes, Spinoza, Liebniz, and many others.

If that didn't sound like your own views, then you are most likely the other type of Absolutist: the Pragmatist. 2. Epistemological Pragmatists are fundamentally identified by their definition of truth. Truth is, on this view, merely a measure of a proposition's success in inquiry. This view is a strictly scientific notion of truth. A proposition can be called true if it leads to successful predictions or coheres best with the observed facts about the world. Thus, for the pragmatist, knowledge of reality is possible through scientific reasoning. A pragmatist emphasizes man's fallibility, and hence takes baby-steps towards knowledge through scientific methodology. Any truth claim for a pragmatist is open to revision and subject to change--if empirical observations lead us to call even logical rules into question (like quantum physics has done for the law of the excluded middle), then we can and should abandon even these supposed a priori and "absolutely certain" logical rules if they do not accord with our testing and refuting of our various propositions. As a consequence of this, a pragmatist doesn't feel that scientific knowledge is based upon unfounded assumptions that are taken to be true without any sort of justification--rather, they believe that the successes of scientific inquiry have proved that its assumptions are well-founded. For instance, the assumption of science that the future will be like the past is adequately shown by the amazing success of scientific theories in predicting future events--how else could this be possible unless the assumption were true? Pragmatism borrows elements from realism and yet attempts to account for the critiques made by skeptics and relativists. It is essentially a type of philosophical opportunism--it borrows the best stances from a large number of philosophical systems and attempts to discard the problems of these systems by combining them with others. Famous pragmatists of this type are Peirce and Dewey.


Ethics: Objectivism (Deontology or Logical Positivism) In Ethics, my test measures your tendency towards moral Objectivism or moral Relativism. As a moral Objectivist, you are opposed to Subjectivist moral theories and believe that morality applies to people universally and actually describes objects and situations out in the world as opposed to just subjects themselves. The two types of moral Objectivists my test recognizes are Kantian Deontologists and Utilitarians.

1. Kantian Deontologists believe that the one intrinsic good is a good will. As rational beings capable of making decisions, the moral worth of our decisions is ultimately derived from the intentions behind our actions, not their consequences. A moral being does the right thing not out of recognition of any consequences, but out of a sense of moral duty. For Kant, a good will is the ultimate good because to deny the will is to deny the one thing that makes us rational, moral beings. If an act will accord with or further our status as free, rational beings, and it is possible to will the universalization of such a moral principle without infringing upon our good wills, then an act is good. Kant's categorical imperative provides an objective standard to judge moral worth--it is not hypothetical in the sense of other imperatives, which hide a latent if-clause. For instance, "Eating razors is good" is good ONLY if you tack on an if-clause that says something like: "If you wish to destroy your gums." Thus, the categorical imperative is good, not just IF something is the case, but in ALL cases. It requires people to treat others as ends, and not means to ends, for to treat everyone as a means to an ends would be to deny them their ability to function as rational, free beings--which is what makes morality possible in the first place. The major propnent of this view in the history of philosophy is, quite obviously, Kant.

If that didn't sound like your position, then you are probably the other variety of moral Objectivist--the Utilitarian. 2. Utilitarians define "happiness" or "pleasure" as the sole intrinsic good, and the principle "The greatest pleasure for the greatest number" best reflects a Utilitarian view of ethics. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory, meaning the consequences of an action--not the intentions behind it--determine the act's moral worth. Even if you intended to do great evil with a certain act, if the act produces a net gain of pleasure and happiness for the greatest number, then it was indeed a good act because your intentions weren't realized. What matters in this scenario, obviously, is the consequences of the act. Utilitarianism, of course, can also be reduced to Hedonism. If you do not feel that the greatest happiness of the greatest number matters, but only pay heed to the greatest happiness of individuals, then you are more adequately classified as a Hedonist. But both Utilitarians and Hedonists define "pleasure" as an intrinsic good and determine the moral worth of an act through its consequences. The only difference is whether we measure the collective pleasure of a group or only an individual's pleasure. Prominent Utilitarians include Bentham and Mill.


As you can see, when your philosophical position is narrowed down there are so many potential categories that an OKCupid test cannot account for them all. But, taken as very broad categories or philosophical styles, you are best characterized as an R-A-O. Your exact philosophical opposite would be an N-S-R.

About the Author

Saint_gasoline is a crazed madman who spends all of his time writing OKCupid tests and ranting about philosophy and science. If you are interested in reading more of his insane ramblings, or seeing his deliciously trite webcomic, go to

Link: The Sublime Philosophical Crap Test written by saint_gasoline on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Yeah, that sounds right

I bring you The Personality Defect Test, by way of my Darling Boy. If you were to realize just how appropriate our results are, you would know beyond all doubt that we are a pretty unbearable pair. How other people stand being around us, I'll never know.

Your Score: Haughty Intellectual

You are 57% Rational, 0% Extroverted, 28% Brutal, and 71% Arrogant.

You are the Haughty Intellectual. You are a very rational person, emphasizing logic over emotion, and you are also rather arrogant and self-aggrandizing. You probably think of yourself as an intellectual, and you would like everyone to know it. Not only that, but you also tend to look down on others, thinking yourself better than them. You could possibly have an unhealthy obsession with yourself as well, thus causing everyone to hate you for being such an elitist twat. On top of all that, you are also introverted and gentle. This means that you are just a quiet thinker who wants fame and recognition, in all likelihood. Like so many countless pseudo-intellectuals swarming around vacuous internet forums to discuss worthless political issues, your kind is a scourge upon humanity, blathering and blathering on and on about all kinds of boring crap. If your personality could be sculpted, the resulting piece would be Rodin's "The Thinker"--although I am absolutely positive that you are not nearly as muscular or naked as that statue. Rather lacking in emotion, introspective, gentle, and arrogant, you are most certainly a Haughty Intellectual! And, most likely, you will never achieve the recognition or fame you so desire! But no worries!

To put it less negatively:

1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.

2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more ARROGANT than humble.


Your exact opposite is the Schoolyard Bully. (Bullies like to beat up nerds, after all.)

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Braggart, the Hand-Raiser, and the Robot.



If you scored near fifty percent for a certain trait (42%-58%), you could very well go either way. For example, someone with 42% Extroversion is slightly leaning towards being an introvert, but is close enough to being an extrovert to be classified that way as well. Below is a list of the other personality types so that you can determine which other possible categories you may fill if you scored near fifty percent for certain traits.

The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

Be sure to take my Sublime Philosophical Crap Test if you are interested in taking a slightly more intellectual test that has just as many insane ramblings as this one does!

About Saint_Gasoline

I am a self-proclaimed pseudo-intellectual who loves dashes. I enjoy science, philosophy, and fart jokes and water balloons, not necessarily in that order. I spend 95% of my time online, and the other 5% of my time in the bathroom, longing to get back on the computer. If, God forbid, you somehow find me amusing instead of crass and annoying, be sure to check out my blog and my webcomic at

Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The Darling Boy and I have finally made the decision we’ve been inching toward for many years now. After sitting on the fence and dithering for the last ten years(give or take), T and I have set a rough time line for having a baby.

If I’m being completely honest with myself (and with whomever may be reading this), I have to admit that I’ve never really not wanted children. Sure, there were those summer jobs with the Park & Recreation Department and various babysitting jobs that made me swear I would never have brats of my own (See how you feel after teaching arts & crafts to a group of 30 kids between the ages of 3 and 12; I dare you!), but my habit of compulsively buying used children’s books betrayed the truth. I want a child; I want to be a mom.

The urge hit me hard sometime between 1997 and 1998. I really wanted a baby, pretty much right exactly then. I think the “Monica wants a baby” storyline on Friends woke up the urge. That, and the adorable “Classic Pooh” baby items I kept seeing in stores. I bought some pregnancy books, to try to sort of prepare myself for having a baby.

Originally, the plan was that T and I would have a baby as soon as one of us finished grad school. That turned out to be me in 1999. Then, we decided waited until T finished grad school. Then, the bills started rolling in, and I couldn’t get a decently paying job to save my life (over qualified, doncha know). Then, T decided to leave grad school and get a job. Then, we basically got thrown out of our apartment but were saved when T got a job in Baltimore. Then, more bills started rolling in; I still couldn’t get a decently paying job; and we almost had our power shut off in the middle of winter. Of all the “never an ideal time to have a baby” times, that was the worst time to even consider the possibility.

Our time in Baltimore was an emotionally difficult one for me. I didn’t have really secure employment for the first two years of our three-year sojourn, and I was very aware of our (lack of) money. My dad died from prostate cancer, and I couldn’t imagine raising a child without Daddy in my life. I was pretty depressed November through March each of the three years we were there; I just didn’t react well to the cold, the dark, and the never-melting snow. I started to have doubts about whether or not I really wanted to be a parent. It seemed that every time I turned around, there was another article about the joys of non-parenthood, the pleasures of adults living for themselves, and the trials and pains of childrearing. Throw in the uncertainty of the world after September 11, and maybe you’ll understand the doubts, concerns, and outright fears I had.

Finally, after our worst, truly horrible, winter, T got a job back in Orlando: the city where we met and that has always felt most like home to me. My outlook on life improved; although I still had a hell of a time finding good, steady employment. Our financial situation, while still not good, now is at least secure and improving. I have a job that I love and which loves me back. It’s a very secure position, which isn’t overly dependent on any one market sector. I have some insanely generous benefits, and they’ve just given me a rather large bump in salary. I’ve been there just over two years now; I can be fully vested in my 401(k) plan in another three years. I have no reason to think they won’t work with me on my schedule.

Through the years, I would ask T to give me his thoughts on the whole parenthood thing. I admitted to being most decidedly undecided, but I didn’t really know where T stood on the issue. How much did he want children? Did he want them only because he thought I did? Would he be hurt or relived if I said I did or didn’t? He continued to state he was undecided as well. And we allowed our mutual indecision to carry us along for a while.

As a Christmas/10th Wedding Anniversary present, T’s present to me was a decision: Yes. Let’s start a family. Let’s make this final decision and work toward this goal. The fact that I was so happy I cried should tell you how much that meant to me. I hadn’t dared admit it to myself how much I wanted a child.

So, that leads me to where we are now. Over the Fourth of July weekend, T and I had some heart-to-heart talks and finally decided on a plan. At this time, T and I have decided that I will get off The Pill at the start of the year. We will start trying to have a baby in early April. After that, it’s up to biology.

So, having made this decision, which I’m very happy about, I’m still pretty damn well freaked. Is this the right decision?

First, I have to admit that I am fat. Not just pleasantly plump. I love food. I hate exercise. The rest is pretty self-evident. Considering that I’m over 35, can I have a “normal” pregnancy? My doctors have said there may be some complications but nothing to really worry about. Would I be better off losing weight? Almost certainly, but I don’t want to lose weight only to put it back on by getting pregnant. Also, I would be even older than I am now and still risk complications, including the chance of decreased fertility. You know, I’ve been on The Pill for over 15 years; I’m just concerned about getting pregnant. I’ll deal with the rest later.

Then, what if I actually get pregnant? Then what? What if the baby has genetic problems? What if it’s not “normal”? What if I have a miscarriage? What if…?

You get the picture.

And, of course, I still have doubts about my ability to be a good, or even reasonably not horrible, parent. I am not a patient, tolerant person in general. I don’t do especially well around sick people (ask T about it sometime). I spent most of my late childhood and adolescence taking care of my little sister, and I have greatly enjoyed not being responsible for really anyone except myself for most of the last 18 years. I mean, T is perfectly capable of getting his own dinner and bathing himself. I dislike the idea of setting an alarm on weekend mornings because we have to get ready for the little league soccer game. I don’t have any friends, and I’m not much of a joiner; how am I supposed to help a child develop healthy social lives? I hate putting down my book in the middle of chapter; what if I never get a chance to go on a good reading jag again?

Yeah, I’ve got doubts. I’m also ridiculously excited. . I’ve only told one other person, a co-worker, because I had to tell someone. I will tell my family when I go out there at the end of August; these plans will impact how much I’m able to travel to California to help with my grandmother. I hate to put extra burdens on them, but I can’t afford to fly out there three times a year if we’re trying to save money. I’ll probably let my supervisor know after the Christmas break.

So, that’s where we are. I feel like a nervous wreck, just waiting for time to pass so we can get on with it. (We need to pay a few things off, which is why we’re waiting until the end of the year.) I’m not sure how T feels about it. He’s not a super-expressive guy (unless he’s playing chess or watching football), but he seems relatively unflapped by this rather major decision. Not that I’m complaining; I supposed it’s better than having him running around like a crazy man, preemptively handing out cigars. Still, it feels like there should be more. I’m sure I’m just being insane. Welcome to my reality.

My emotions seem to be running really high, and I’m not sure if it’s normal. Again, we’ve only decided on a rough timeline; there are no physical issues yet. But, seriously, I started reading a book in which the main character’s girlfriend has a miscarriage in the opening pages, and I thought I was going to just fall apart right there. Good thing I was at work and reading on my lunch break. I’m just aquiver with anticipation. I can’t wait to see what I’m like when the hormones start raging.

So, to sum up: We’ve decided to try to have a baby next year. I’m freaked. I don’t think T is. And I don’t know what to think about any of it.

Any questions? Advice? Comments from the Peanut Gallery?

Best HP7 Foiler I've heard today:

Via the "Today's New: My Take" column at

Voldemort's a sled!

(If you need me to explain it, I will, but I promise it won't be funny in that case.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things I promise to blog about soon

1) Baby? Done. See above.

2) Essay writing and higher education

3) Books, books, and more books

4) The joys (or lack thereof) of a low-starch diet

Stay tuned!


I made cookies over the weekend: Chocolate/butterscotch chip cookie bars with lots of walnuts!

I don't make cookies often. Actually I think this might be only the second time since the Darling Boy and I have been together, and that's been over 13 years.

These cookies rule! I might make more next weekend, after the big reading binge. (See the post below.) Stop by if you're in the area, and maybe I'll share.

Who has time to blog? (aka Some thoughts about HP7)

The Darling Boy keeps poking at me to write. I want to post more; I really do. But blogging cuts into my reading time, and I do love my reading time. Anyway, don't expect me to be around next weekend at all. (Not that anyone expects me to be around on any kind of regular basis at this point.)

This weekend is Harry Potter weekend. Yes, at long last, the last book. What will befall our bespectacled hero? Will he live? Will he die? I suspect that certain segments of the internet will be quite deserted Saturday, as millions of readers tune out this world to enter the other. My Darling Boy has generously (and wisely) decided to abscond to the chess shop so that he won't disturb me. No telling which of us will be in greater emotional distress at the end of the day.

Personal predictions:

(Spoiling Books 1-6)

(Spoiler Space)

(No Book 7 spoilers here, I swear. I do intend to speculate some, and I don't know if I will hit the mark on any of them. Read at your own risk.)

(Non-Spoiler Spoiler Space)

(Sorry. People tend to get awfully sensitive about spoilers where I tend to lurk.)

So. Personal Predictions:

Harry lives. Harry has to live. Since Book 1, Chapter 1, Harry has been "The Boy Who Lived." To kill him now would make his survival in infancy and his death-defying Hogwarts career pointless. Harry doesn't die. It would render his entire 17-year existence pointless. Harry will be "The Man Who Survived". (I will it so.)

Ron, Hermione, and Ginny will probably live too. I can't quite articulate why. Rowling doesn't seem to mind killing popular and important characters, but I think this group of friends (and lovers, in the adolescent kind of way) will, like Buffy and the Scooby Gang at the end of Season 3 (Graduation Day Parts 1 & 2), survive the devastation, take a moment, and move on to the next stage in life. There's always a good fight waiting to be won.

Snape is toast. I actually think that Snape is one of the good guys. Lord knows he's not nice, kind, sweet, lovable. Like Sondheim says in Into the Woods, "Nice is different than good." Fact is Snape killed Dumbledore. Even if he did it under Dumbledore's orders, he can't take back that act. He can't return to the Order of the Phoenix (OotP); even if they understand, they won't forget, and they can't pretend that everything is normal. Snape might be able to hide out for a while with the Death Eaters, but as soon as he's ordered to kill Harry or anyone in the OotP, he will falter and be found out. I believe he will be killed, while saving Harry, by Voldemort himself. It sounds cliched, but I think it's the most probable outcome for Snape. On a side note, I don't believe the Lily/Snape 'ship that many internet fans seem to be sailing. I do think that Snape was in love with Lily, but I don't believe for a minute it was reciprocated. Snape will save Harry because Harry has Lily's hazel eyes. (Bonus cookie for anyone who can name that particular reference!)

I think Hagrid is also marked for death. I don't have a good reason, but it just seems right.

I think Mr. and Mrs. Weasley are safe thought. Harry can't lose his entire surrogate family. Percy, however, will die after seeing the error of his ways, apologizing profusely to his family for being a relentless boorish prat (the family, of course, forgives him in a shower of tears and hugs), and defending them all by flinging levitating cauldrons (regulation strength) at Peter Pettigrew (stupid family rat). Fred and George Weasley's various practicale jokes wreak havoc among the Death Eaters; it turns out Bellatrix has a uncontrolable sweet tooth that plays right into the Weasley twins' hands.

Neville is going to have gloriously heroic death. His parents would have been so proud.

The Malfoys survive, but find the family fortune was replaced by leprechaun gold and must now (shudder) work for a living. Malfoy will follow his favorite teacher's footsteps and become the most hated teacher at Hogwarts (except among the Slytherians).

McGonagall will hold down the Hogwarts fort until Harry is ready to assume the mantle of youngest Headmaster in Hogwarts history, but only after his glorious career as the greatest Quidditch Seeker known by the wizarding world.

So. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Until Saturday anyway.